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Quebec dredges up monarchy issue once again

By JIM FOX
Published May 6, 2007


Quebec is again questioning the relevance of the monarchy in modern-day Canada.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Benoit Pelletier said it is "not impossible that we might have to reconsider the role of the monarch, the lieutenant-governor and the governor general."

His comments came as Quebec's lieutenant-governor, Lise Thibault, is nearing the end of her mandate after serving since 1996. Lieutenant-governors are the queen's representatives in the provinces while the governor general is a largely ceremonial role to represent the monarch nationally.

Pelletier said the post of lieutenant-governor appears to be "ceremonial and symbolic" and isn't of great interest to Quebeckers. He noted that even in the rest of Canada there are those who question the relevance of the monarchy.

"I'm not saying that the monarchy must be abolished, but it will take some thought, especially on its usefulness and relevance, " he added.

As well, he suggested the monarchy as an institution must be updated in light of modern-day challenges.

The 1982 Constitution that Quebec has never formally recognized would have to be changed to abolish royalty and its symbols in Canada, Pelletier added.

Mint strikes a monster

The Royal Canadian Mint has produced the world's first 100-kilogram gold coin. Only 10 will be made.

The monster gold coin, of which three have already been sold, isn't exactly pocket change.

It costs $3-million and is listed at 99.999 percent pure bullion. As the purest gold of any coin, it has Queen Elizabeth II's image on one side and three maple leaves on the other.

The coin takes about six weeks to make and is offered mainly as a promotional product to give the mint a higher international profile.

"We wanted to raise the bar so that we could say the government of Canada or the Royal Canadian Mint produced the purest gold coins in the world, " said David Madge, the mint's director of bullion and refinery services.

In brief

- Canadian authorities had intelligence indicating an attack on an Air India airliner was imminent days before it happened, says former diplomat James Bartleman, now lieutenant-governor of Ontario. He was testifying at an inquiry into the 1985 bombing that downed the plane off the coast of Ireland after leaving Canada, killing 329 people. He made the Mounties aware of his information but was told the force knew and was taking proper precautions.

- Justin Trudeau, 35, eldest son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has been nominated to contest the next federal election in Montreal-Papineau. He won just a slim victory in the nomination vote over two rivals, Mary Deros and Basilio Giordano. Some felt the privileged Trudeau had no connection with the blue-collar district where he was nominated.

- The mayors of Canada's 22 largest cities want the federal government to provide permanent financial support by giving them one cent of every six cents collected through the Goods and Services Tax. They contend that property taxes are not enough and consistent funding is crucial for cities to improve infrastructure and public transit to attract business and remain competitive.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar has cracked the 90-cent U.S. level. The currency rose to 90.28 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1077 in Canadian funds before bank exchange fees.

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

Stock markets are higher with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13, 687 points while the Canadian Venture Exchange is 3, 322 points.

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Regional briefs

- Joan Roue, great-granddaughter of the designer of the original Bluenose, has announced plans to build a second replica of the famed schooner. As head of Queen of the North Atlantic Enterprises, she said Snyder's Shipyard in Dayspring will construct the Bluenose III. The keel-laying is expected to take place July 1, 2008, with the masted ship, depicted on Canada's 10-cent coin, completed in 2010.

- The Canadian government is giving British Columbia $16.5-million to prepare for possible flooding. Remaining higher-than-normal snowpacks are raising concerns of flooding, especially in the Fraser Valley and parts of the Lower Mainland. Work is already under way in several communities to raise or improve dikes. As well, $4-million will be given to dredge the Fraser River to ensure that deep-sea vessels can sail up the river into port.

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