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Canada report

Truckers end protest, Trans-Canada blockade

Published September 11, 2005

About 1,000 independent truck drivers angered by high fuel prices have ended a three-day blockade of the Trans-Canada highway in New Brunswick.

Police told the truckers they would be arrested and fined if they didn't end the protest that caused shortages at grocery stores and a virtual shutdown in the flow of commercial traffic into and out of the Maritimes.

Truckers snarled traffic by parking along the Trans-Canada and major highways near the Quebec border and in St. Quentin, Grand Falls, Edmundston, Kedgwick and Woodstock, near a border crossing to the United States.

News in brief

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale is expecting a federal budget surplus of $2.6-billion, below the $3-billion earlier predicted for this year. All surplus dollars pay down the federal debt. Cutting into the surplus were plans to spend $4.6-billion on social programs, $4.25-billion for hospitals and $700-million for child care.

Prime Minister Paul Martin met in Ottawa with Chinese President Hu Jintao to talk about increased trade and investment. Martin told the Chinese leader Canadians are very concerned about China's human rights record and want to see things improve. Canada wants to double its current $30-billion in trade a year with China by the end of the decade.

Facts and figures

The Bank of Canada nudged its key interest rate higher by 0.25 percent to 2.75 percent in the first increase in 11 months. Commercial banks moved up their prime lending rates by a similar amount to 4.5 percent.

Canada's dollar rose to a 13-year high Friday at 85.14 U.S. cents while the U.S. dollar returned $1.1745 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

Stock markets are higher, with Toronto's composite index at 10,844 points and the Canadian Venture Exchange 1,976 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 2, 3, 16, 37, 45 and 49; bonus 22. (Sept. 3) 8, 12, 22, 37, 42 and 46; bonus 24.

Regional briefs

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe thinks Canadians are increasingly ready to accept and even support Quebec's separation. Canadian business leaders won't turn their backs on an independent Quebec and "go bankrupt out of patriotism," Duceppe said. The federal government is "keeping Quebec from evolving as it would like and Quebec is holding back Canada," he added.

Nova Scotia Premier John Hann has postponed thoughts of a fall provincial election. The top priority of the minority Conservative government is to deal with soaring energy prices, he said. The Legislature will reconvene Oct. 13 and discuss an energy plan to help drivers along with homeowners facing higher heating costs this winter.

[Last modified September 11, 2005, 01:15:08]

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