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Liberal leader calls for rejecting U.S. lumber deal

Published July 16, 2006

A leading Liberal leadership candidate wants the party to reject the Canada-United States softwood lumber deal - a move that would defeat the minority Conservative government.

Bob Rae, a former Ontario premier, has dared Prime Minister Stephen Harper to call an election over the trade agreement.

"It is a terrible, terrible deal and it sets an atrocious precedent for all of our trade negotiations with the U.S.," Rae said.

"I would like nothing better than an election on the issue of Stephen Harper's relationship - or perhaps I should say Steve Harper's relationship - to George Bush," Rae said, referring to Bush's new nickname for Harper.

Critics say the deal was a 60th birthday present to Bush and was signed just before Harper's visit to Washington.

The three opposition parties, many forestry companies and some provinces have called it "a sellout." They object to a clause allowing either country to pull out after two years.

Forestry companies would get back $4-billion of the $5-billion in tariffs collected by the United States, and all legal fights against the U.S. penalties would end.

Harper said the deal would be put to a Commons vote in mid September. If defeated, it would result in the government falling and a federal election called.

At G-8, Harper promotes Canada's energy potential

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is touting Canada as an emerging energy superpower.

At this weekend's G-8 summit meeting, Harper said Canada is the world's premier energy investment opportunity.

Unlike G-8 host Russia, Harper said Canada believes in a free, competitive energy market - "not self-serving monopolistic political strategies."

Canada and Russia are the only two net energy exporters among the Group of Eight industrialized countries.

Even though Canada has enough oil and gas to supply the country, Canadians are charged the world price.

News in brief

- A 17th Canadian solder has died in the conflict in Afghanistan. A military funeral will be held Monday for Cpl. Anthony Boneca, 21, of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He was killed in a battle with Taliban insurgents west of Kandahar.

- A cow from an Edmonton-area farm and one from Manitoba have died of mad cow disease. Government officials say neither cow entered the food chain. The dairy cow in Alberta was the seventh case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Canada.

- Bell Globemedia has offered $1.7-billion for Toronto broadcaster CHUM Ltd. The company, which owns CTV, 21 conventional and 17 specialty TV stations, plans to sell CHUM's A-channel and Access television stations but keep its five Citytv stations, specialty TV channels and radio stations. Bell Globemedia is offering $47.25 a share for CHUM nonvoting stock and $52.50 for the voting stock - about a 50 percent premium.

Facts and figures

The Bank of Canada decided against a further increase in its key interest rate despite rising consumer prices. The key rate remains at 4.25 percent while the prime lending rate is 6 percent.

Canada's dollar is lower at 88.61 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1285 in Canadian funds before bank exchange fees.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto composite index at 11,630 points and the Canadian Venture Exchange at 2,630 points.

Lotto 6-49: Wednesday 6, 26, 30, 38, 44 and 45; bonus 16. (July 8) 11, 14, 29, 33, 42 and 44; bonus 7.

Regional briefs

- Three crew members were killed and four injured when a Canadian military Cormorant helicopter crashed off the Nova Scotia coast. The chopper plunged into the Atlantic Ocean during a training exercise near Canso. Investigators said it is too early to speculate on what caused the three-engine aircraft to crash.

- Police are searching for Curtis Dagenais, 41, suspected of shooting two Mounties near Spiritwood, Saskatchewan. Constables Robin Cameron, 29, and Marc Bourdages, 26, are in serious condition in a Saskatoon hospital. They were shot after a high-speed chase involving a domestic assault suspect.

- A dispute over clear-cut logging practices near a northern Ontario reserve led to 100 protesters blocking the Trans-Canada Highway near Kenora for part of a day. They accuse two logging companies of improper tree clearing on native lands near the Grassy Narrows Reserve.

- Nine-year prison terms were given to three British Columbia men who dug a drug-smuggling tunnel between Canada and the United States. Francis Raj, Timothy Woo and Jonathan Valenzuela, of Surrey, were just about to see the light at the end of the tunnel near the Aldergrove border crossing when police moved in.

Jim Fox can be reached at canada

[Last modified July 16, 2006, 02:13:51]

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