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Canada report

Party agendas share talk of tax cuts

By JIM FOX
Published October 23, 2005

Signs of a pending federal election are in the air as the government is moving to cut income taxes as part of a campaign platform called the Prosperity Agenda.

Government sources said the Liberal government will announce broad-based income tax cuts along with more money for post-secondary education, research and development, and public infrastructure.

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, who has often mentioned the need for tax relief, wouldn't comment but details are expected in an economic statement next month.

The tax cuts aren't anticipated to be as large as the five-year, $100-billion relief program announced in 2000.

There's concern among Liberals of another attempt by the opposition to overthrow the minority government after the Nov. 1 release of the report on the inquiry into the "sponsorship scandal." The investigation has looked at how millions of dollars were diverted to Liberal-connected businesses and people, often for little or no work.

The Conservatives also plan to seek election on a tax-cut agenda for the vote expected within six months.

Clinton on lumber feud

Canada is correct in getting tough with the U.S. administration over failing to comply with free-trade rulings over softwood lumber, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said in London, Ontario.

North American Free Trade Agreement panels have ruled in Canada's favor, saying $5-billion U.S. in "improper" lumber duties should be returned.

Clinton said he sympathizes with Canada's position in the feud and called for more negotiations, while expressing support for Prime Minister Paul Martin's recent threat of legal action.

"I don't see how your prime minister can be anything but really publicly very tough on this. I don't think he's got an option," Clinton said.

News in brief

Quebec prosecutors will be allowed to appeal the sentence given to Paul Coffin, the first person arrested in the federal sponsorship scandal. The Quebec Court of Appeal will hear the case after prosecutors argued the sentence of only two years sends a message that crime pays. Coffin pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of more than $1.5-million.

Ontario and Manitoba will follow the U.S. lead in extending daylight saving time starting in 2007. Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant and Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said the move is in the best interests of the economy and residents, because America is Canada's largest trading partner and there's a need to be synchronized.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar ended the week higher at 84.45 U.S. cents while the U.S. dollar returned $1.1841 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate by 0.25 percent to 3 percent while the commercial bank prime lending rate rose to 4.75 percent.

Canadian stock exchanges are lower. The Toronto Stock Exchange composite index is 10,210 points while the Canadian Venture Exchange is 1,964 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 11, 19, 33, 35, 39 and 40; bonus 32. (Oct. 15) 1, 20, 31, 32, 45 and 46; bonus 39.

Regional briefs

Gun violence continues in Toronto as a stray bullet hit a bus driver in the face last weekend. Doctors said the 41-year-old man could lose an eye after being hit by a bullet fired outside the bus during a fight. It prompted renewed calls to make the city safer.

The two-week strike by British Columbian teachers is expected to end after the government and union agreed to accept a facilitator's report. Jinny Sims said the executive of the 38,000-member B.C. Teachers' Federation is reluctantly urging teachers to approve the recommendations in a vote this weekend.

Alberta is preparing legislation to allow the province to seize children from parents who are either "reckless addicts" or involved in the illegal drug trade. Premier Ralph Klein said some children are "exposed to activities and toxic chemicals that put their lives at risk."

Ontario homeowners can expect electricity rebates averaging $60 after the government said the price set for power this year was higher than necessary. An energy strategy for Nova Scotia is expected to keep electricity prices stable, but likely not lower them.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

[Last modified October 23, 2005, 01:21:14]


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