Police issue warrant for leader of daylong blockade

Published July 1, 2007

The aboriginal protester behind the 11-hour blockade of Canada's busiest highway and rail line between Toronto and Montreal will be brought to justice, police say.

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino said there is a warrant for the arrest of Mohawk militant Shawn Brant for mischief.

He is accused of leading the blockade of highways 401 and 2 and the Canadian National rail line near Deseronto on Friday.

Brant said native protesters across Canada are becoming more militant to educate Canadians about native poverty and poor living conditions on reserves.

The daylong rail blockage halted 25 freight trains with $100-million in goods. It also affected 5, 000 commuters and Canada Day holiday weekend travelers as 24 Via Rail passenger trains didn't run between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

This was a "good test run" for future action, Brant said.

Native groups in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick held peaceful protests.

Passport solution?

There are indications the U.S. government is considering allowing "enhanced" drivers' licenses instead of passports for border crossings with Canada.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the passport requirement to go into effect next year for anyone entering the United States by land or sea could be scrapped if the license proposal is successful.

Licenses with photos and citizenship information are being tested at crossings between British Columbia and Washington state.

In brief

- As Canadians celebrate Canada Day - the country's 140th birthday - with parties on Parliament Hill today, activities are also happening across the United States. The Canadian Embassy in Washington says parties and picnics are registered from 42 states in the second year of "Canada Day Across America." Events can be found at www.connect2canada.com/canadaday.

- A poll by the Dominion Institute says half of Canadians surveyed didn't know enough about their own country to pass a citizenship test. Ninety-six percent knew the national anthem is O Canada but four in 10 couldn't recall the first two lines. Only 4 percent could name four federal political parties and only one-third could identify the number of Canadian provinces and territories.

- The United Nations has named the 175-year-old Rideau Canal a world heritage site. Meandering 120 miles between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario, the canal in early years was a commercial and strategic alternative to the St. Lawrence River.

- Canadian Shakespearean actor William Hutt has died at age 87. He joined the Stratford Festival in Ontario in its inaugural season in 1953.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar reached a 30-year high of 95.51 cents U.S. but fell back Friday to 93.86 cents after Statistics Canada reported economic activity was flat in April. The U.S. dollar returns $1.0655 in Canadian funds.

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

Canadian stock markets got a boost after BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, based in Waterloo, Ontario, reported 73 percent higher profits for the first quarter and shares rose by $39.18 to $214.40. The Toronto Stock Exchange index was 13, 907 points and the Canadian Venture Exchange was 3, 174 points.

Lotto 6-49: Wednesday 7, 14, 17, 19, 34 and 37; bonus 11. (June 23) 7, 20, 24, 37, 43 and 49; bonus 21.

Regional briefs

- Health care workers in Saskatchewan are preparing to go on strike after contract talks broke off. A conciliator said the sides were too far apart. Workers want an 8 percent raise over two years.

- Pauline Marois has become the leader of the Parti Quebecois. She succeeds Gilles Duceppe who quit after the party did poorly in the spring election.

- Moosehead Breweries, Canada's No. 3 brewer, based in Saint John, New Brunswick, has selected Boulder, Colo., for its U.S. headquarters.

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