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Vote Monday may end Liberal government

By JIM FOX
Published November 27, 2005


Canada's shaky minority Liberal government is expected to fall Monday in a nonconfidence motion, triggering a federal election in January.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper introduced the motion, calling the Liberals law-breakers over the sponsorship scandal in which hundreds of millions of dollars were diverted to supporters.

The socialist New Democrats under leader Jack Layton have withdrawn their support of Prime Minister Paul Martin's government elected only last year.

Layton condemns the Liberals for policy failures, citing increases in private health care, greenhouse gas emissions and smog, a drop in foreign aid levels and a retreat from Canada's role in peacekeeping.

Opinion polls say 35 percent of voters who want to replace the current government cite the scandal while 57 percent are simply looking for a change.

It's expected Martin will suggest an election date of Jan. 16 or 23 with a brief campaign pause over the holidays.

Canada considers ban on bulk prescription drug exports to U.S.

The Canadian government will consider a bill to ban the bulk export of prescription drugs to the United States and establish an early warning system to detect shortages caused by the cross-border trade.

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said the bill would keep Canada a step ahead of efforts by the U.S. Congress to legalize bulk imports of cheaper brand-name Canadian drugs.

It would also address concerns about Canada's ability to respond to infectious disease outbreaks by detecting shortages with help from manufacturers, pharmacists and others in the supply chain.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association, Canadian Medical Association and patient advocacy groups want a total ban on Internet pharmacies selling less expensive Canadian drugs to uninsured and underinsured Americans.

News in brief

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is suing his friend, Peter C. Newman. He accuses the celebrated Canadian author of turning private conversations with him into "scandalous gossip" in his new book The Secret Mulroney Tapes: Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister. Newman is also accused of libeling disgraced newspaper magnate Conrad Black in his 2004 memoir Here Be Dragons.

--Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae will head an inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people, many of them Canadians. He will listen to requests by the victims' families to address specific issues, including how terrorism is financed in Canada, flaws in extradition laws and problems with witnesses being intimidated.

--Immigration Minister Joe Volpe has announced a $700-million program to clear away a long-standing backlog of immigrants waiting to get into the country. This is in addition to $1.3-billion for settlement programs. The government wants to admit 300,000 immigrants a year within five years, an increase of 50,000 to 75,000 a year from the current level.

--Thirty-six wild ducks from Canada's Atlantic provinces have tested positive for H5 and H7 strains of bird flu. Researchers say these results do not indicate any increased threat to human health or commercial poultry flocks. More testing will be done to determine the specific H5 strain, but officials don't believe it is the deadly H5N1.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is higher at 85.58 U.S. cents while the American greenback is worth $1.1684 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 3 percent while the prime lending rate is 4.75 percent.

Canadian stock markets are higher. The Toronto Stock Exchange composite index reached a five-year high and was 11,038 points Friday while the Canadian Venture Exchange was 2,065 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 4, 6, 10, 17, 33, 49; bonus 37. (Nov. 19) 1, 6, 8, 11, 23, 46; bonus 13.

--Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

[Last modified November 27, 2005, 01:19:10]


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