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Tories opposed to snap election

By JIM FOX
Published February 4, 2007


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Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his Conservative government will do its best to avoid plunging the country into a snap federal election.

Since there's little imminent prospect of a Conservative majority government there is no incentive to engineer his government's defeat, Harper said.

"What would be the point of an election, especially if it would just result in another minority anyway?" he asked.

As the Conservatives begin their second year in office - after years of Liberal rule - opinion polls show Canadians are splitting their support among the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois and Green parties.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's March 20 budget is expected to provide further tax cuts.

A proposal to allow income-splitting by couples to reduce taxes has been rejected in favor of widespread tax cuts for all, including businesses.

Income-splitting would have meant savings of thousands of dollars for single-income families and for those earning much higher salaries than their spouse. It would have cost the government billions in lost revenue.

* * *

Canada will act to curb industrial pollution contributing to climate change but won't establish national targets for cutting greenhouse emissions.

Environment Minister John Baird made the comment while vowing to regulate industries that account for half of Canada's emissions.

Targets would require companies to produce fewer emissions per unit of output but would allow total emissions to increase.

The government also opposes suggested green taxes to promote careful use of energy by people and small businesses, which account for the other half of the country's emissions.

News in brief

- There will be an early spring even though real winter weather in much of Canada began only a few weeks ago, say Canada's groundhog weather prognosticators. Ontario's Wiarton Willie and Shubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia joined with U.S. pal Punxsutawney Phil to make the same prediction as they all failed to see their shadows on Friday, Groundhog Day.

- A fiery pileup in a blinding snowstorm resulted in two deaths and 10 people injured on Canada's busiest highway near Cornwall, Ontario. About 20 vehicles were involved in the chain-reaction crash, including a tanker truck filled with gasoline that erupted into flames and a lumber truck. The highway was closed much of the day Thursday and into Friday to clean up the mess and rebuild the section of the melted road.

- Wal-Mart, which came to Canada in 1994, is again named one of the best employers in the country. Report on Business magazine's annual "50 Best Employers in Canada" has listed the retail giant with 70,000 workers five times in the last six years. "This year, our No. 1 corporate goal has been to become Canada's favorite place to work," said Mary Alice Vuicic, Wal-Mart Canada.

Facts and figures

Canada's shiny dollar coin lost a little luster as it closed Friday down at 84.35 cents U.S., making it a little more costly for Canadian "snowbirds" in the United States. The value of the U.S. dollar rose to $1.1855 in Canadian funds before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 4.25 percent while the prime lending rate is 6 percent.

Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,111 points and the Canadian Venture Exchange 2,971 points.

Lotto 6-49: Wednesday 2, 6, 9, 11, 14 and 37; bonus 25. (Jan. 27) 6, 9, 17, 20, 22 and 40; bonus 7.

Regional briefs

- The government of British Columbia took temporary custody of four surviving sextuplets born last month, stirring a controversy over religious freedom. The Vancouver parents are Jehovah's Witnesses who oppose blood transfusions. Government officials said they were obligated by law to temporarily seize the babies to administer life-saving transfusions against the wishes of their parents.

- After years of study, the Canadian and Nova Scotia governments have decided to bury the oozing Sydney tar ponds. The planned $400-million project will involve "stabilizing and solidifying" the ponds so there won't be a further environmental hazard. The ponds at the former Sydney Steel coke ovens have long been considered one of Canada's worst toxic waste sites.

- Parking is expensive in downtown Toronto but this is crazy, says Tom Nolan. A machine-issued receipt said his credit card was being billed $57,806.45 for two hours of on-street parking. The Toronto Parking Authority said they don't know what happened with one of their new "pay-and-display" ticket machines and canceled the charge.

Jim Fox can be reached at canada report@hotmail.com.

[Last modified February 4, 2007, 00:34:42]


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