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Afghanistan vote could carry fate of administration

By Jim Fox, Times Correspondent
Published February 10, 2008


The Canada report  

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is putting the fate of his minority Conservative government on the line over a proposed extension of Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan.

The House of Commons will consider a Conservative motion to extend the mission beyond next February's pullout date on the conditions Canadian forces get more equipment and that NATO allies provide 1,000 additional soldiers.

The Conservatives say that this is a matter of "confidence" in the government and that if the motion is defeated it would set the stage for a spring election.

The Liberals oppose extending the combat aspect of the mission and are expected to vote against the motion next month, which could cause the government to fall.

Defense Minister Peter MacKay has met with NATO leaders seeking troop reinforcements.

So far, France has pledged some support, but military officials say they can't meet the total number sought, he said.

Doctor faces charges in illegal transplants

The man called "Dr. Horror," who relocated his family to the Toronto area, has been arrested as the alleged mastermind of a kidney transplant ring in India.

Amit Kumar, 40, who had been suspected of fleeing to Canada, was arrested at a hotel in Nepal.

Interpol said Kumar and another doctor are wanted in India on counts of "illegal transplanting of kidneys, cheating and criminal conspiracy."

Police said an organ-trade operation based in a New Delhi suburb forcibly removed kidneys from as many as 500 people to provide high-priced transplants for foreigners.

News reports said Kumar and his wife, Poonam Ameet, bought a house in Brampton, Ontario, last year and moved in with their two young sons.

News in brief

-An inquiry probing the mistakes of Dr. Charles Smith has heard the disgraced pathologist's flawed work helped jail innocent parents for the deaths of their children. Smith's work in about 20 cases of suspicious child deaths is the focus of the continuing inquiry into systemic failings of pediatric forensics in Ontario.

-The sudden disappearance two weeks ago of Karissa Boudreau, 12, has mystified police and residents of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. She vanished from her mother's car in a busy grocery store parking lot. Police said it is puzzling because no one has said they saw her and she left no obvious trail.

-The late Tim Horton, known more now for donuts than for hockey, has been honored again in his hometown of Cochrane, Ontario. The Tim Horton Museum officially opened with a collection of photos, books, jerseys and 568 pucks representing the points the hockey legend scored in the National Hockey League.

Facts and figures

Canada's unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent with the creation of 46,400 new jobs - four times more than anticipated.

Housing starts rebounded to an annual rate of 222,700 units, up from 184,700 in December.

The good economic news could stall further interest rate cuts and pushed the Canadian dollar back above parity to $1.0002 U.S. on Friday. The U.S. greenback returns 99.98 cents Canadian, before bank exchanges fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 4 percent while the prime lending rate is 5.75 percent.

Canadian stock markets are lower, with the Toronto Exchange index at 13,002 points Friday and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,510 points.

Lotto 6-49: Wednesday 2, 4, 11, 30, 34, 47; bonus 42. (Feb. 2) 7, 11, 13, 34, 46, 47; bonus 9. Super 7: (Feb. 1) 11, 13, 17, 28, 34, 40, 42; bonus 8.

Regional briefs

-Toronto police have arrested four men after a wave of violent carjackings in which one person was shot and wounded. Since last weekend, guns were used to steal four vehicles including a sports car that was used later in three gas station holdups.

-An unidentified helicopter pilot was killed and two people were injured when the aircraft crashed near Golden, British Columbia. Six people survived without injuries when the Purcell Helicopter Skiing aircraft went down in Canyon Creek.

-Alberta's Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach, seeking re-election on March 3, has promised more child day care places and family tax credits. The Liberals say they will cap all greenhouse gas emissions in five years while the New Democrats want to increase oil sands royalties to further develop alternative energy resources.

-Ontario Lottery Corp. ads show people doing their "happy dance" after winning. That wasn't the case for retired teacher Audrey Dawe and her family, from Peterborough, Ontario. Upon receiving a check for $24.2-million, photographers repeatedly asked them to smile but they refused. A family member said later they were "grumpy" and just wanted to get home.

Jim Fox can be reached at

[Last modified February 10, 2008, 01:36:56]

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