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Politicians reject war ultimatum

By JIM FOX
Published April 29, 2007


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The Canadian government has rejected an attempt to block any extension of Canada's combat role in Afghanistan.

Even as polls show that 63 percent of Canadians want the troops to be pulled out in 2009 as planned, the Conservative government rejected a motion in a vote of 150-134 that would have made that the ultimate end date.

The motion also called for the government to advise NATO allies that Canada would be handing over its duties then.

Opposition politicians say this shows Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided to extend the mission although he continues to deny it.

Polls also show 52 percent of Canadians support the country's involvement in the war.

The government is also disputing reports that some prisoners captured by Canadian forces are being tortured after being turned over to Afghan authorities.

Get to know Canada

A Florida political science professor who "loves revealing Canada's many surprises" has written the ultimate primer on all things Canadian.

John Santosuosso of Florida Southern College in Lakeland has written Canada: An Introduction for Americans, released by PublishAmerica $19.95; publishamerica.com, Amazon.com.

One of few U.S. professors teaching Canadian courses, Santosuosso calls Canada his "second home" and has traveled to every province.

"Canada is a good friend but it is not just like us, and there is far more there than moose and Mounties, " he said.

He points out Canada is America's largest trading partner and its biggest source of imported oil and the only major supplier that is "politically stable."

As well, he writes about Canada's birth and growth, the "distinctly Canadian ways of doing things, " multicultural diversity, building the economy and trips to places "many Canadians have not yet discovered."

In brief

- A drama teacher at a Delta, British Columbia, elementary school said she regrets having her students re-enact the Virginia Tech massacre. South Park principal Doug Thomson said the teacher made a huge error in judgment. Canadian Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, who taught French at the Virginia university, was one of the 32 people killed by the student gunman.

- Empire Co. - controlling shareholder of Canada's No. 2 grocery store chain, Sobeys Inc. - plans to take the company private in a deal worth $1-billion. Empire, a 72 percent owner, will pay $58 a share for the Nova Scotia chain. Sobey's shares jumped 51 percent to $57.25 while Empire shares added $1.39 to $41.65.

- Protesters from the Mohawk tribe say blockades that paralyzed passenger and freight rail traffic on the busy Toronto-Montreal corridor last weekend will escalate. Negotiations with police helped end the 30-hour blockage of the Canadian National line in Deseronto. Mohawks say the dispute is over a gravel quarry they believe is on their land.

Facts and figures

The Bank of Canada has left its key interest rate at 4.25 percent but hints of a possible rate increase this year to counter inflationary pressures. The prime lending rate remains at 6 percent. On Wednesday, bank governor David Dodge said he will retire next January.

The Canadian dollar rose to 89.18 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar is $1.1213 in Canadian funds before bank exchange fees.

Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index higher at 13, 597 points while the Canadian Venture Exchange dropped to 3, 285 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 6, 12, 19, 24 and 29; bonus 40. (April 21) 17, 29, 33, 43, 45 and 49; bonus 18.

Regional briefs

- Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay wants to recapture some of the spirit of Expo '67 in launching an ambitious downtown renewal project. Meanwhile, Quebec Premier Jean Charest inaugurated a subway line extension from Montreal to nearby Laval that will carry 50, 000 passengers daily.

- Ontario's Liberal government has used its majority to prevent the auditor general from investigating how Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration grants were issued. Opposition politicians wanted to examine how $20-million was given to multicultural organizations without formal applications. Instead, the government will ask the beneficiaries to account for the money.

- Manitoba voters will elect a new provincial government on May 22. New Democratic Premier Gary Doer set the date for the election. Intense campaigning is expected to woo middle-class voters in Winnipeg, called a key to winning the election.

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

[Last modified April 29, 2007, 01:01:01]


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