tampabay.com

Deal may put off spring election

By Jim Fox, Times Correspondent
Published February 24, 2008


The Canada report  

The Canadian government has set 2011 as the date to end its military mission in Afghanistan in a compromise that could head off a spring election.

Canadian troops were to have left next year but the extension to 2011 as detailed in a motion by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to appease the Liberals threatening to defeat the minority government over the issue.

Harper also said that after next February, the mission will focus on training and reconstruction.

"It's progress. We are pleased by that," Liberal leader Stephane Dion said, while both the New Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois oppose any extension.

The government wants the new deadline to be conditional on Canadian forces getting helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. As well, it wants NATO allies to provide an additional 1,000 troops to assist in Kandahar by next February.

There's still the chance of the government being defeated if there is opposition to Tuesday's federal budget.

Harper has also threatened to call for an election if the Liberal-dominated Senate doesn't pass an omnibus crime bill by March 1.

News in brief

-Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the Ontario government needs to stimulate its lagging manufacturing sector and create jobs by reducing taxes for businesses. This would attract more investment as Ontario is falling behind other provinces such as British Columbia and Alberta, he said. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty replied that the federal government should help manufacturers and not lecture provincial officials about their spending.

-Police in Quebec have arrested 16 people in connection with a computer hacking ring. Computers in more than 100 countries have been compromised by the suspects, police say. They are accused of disabling computers to allow remote access in order to steal information.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar remains below parity at 98.72 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0130 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 higher, with the Toronto Exchange index at 13,509 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,660 points.

Lotto 6-49: Wednesday 1, 6, 8, 38, 39, 40; bonus 31. (Feb. 16) 19, 29, 33, 35, 44, 49; bonus 22. Super 7: (Feb. 15) 3, 6, 12, 15, 16, 17, 29; bonus 35.

Regional briefs

-Two weeks after being rescued when her sport utility vehicle plunged off a bridge into the icy Red River in Winnipeg, Lisa Klassen, 23, is recovering at home. She is the younger sister of Olympic speed-skating champion Cindy Klassen, who has called off the rest of her season to help Lisa.

-Antipoverty activists have defaced the office of British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell with green and yellow paint. The paint represents Olympic colors and is a protest against the 2010 Games and the lack of social housing, the protesters said.

-Natalie Pasqua, 27, wept after a Calgary jury found her guilty of second-degree murder for shoving Gage Prevost, 17, into a moving transit train last summer over a $10 drug debt. The jury recommended that she be eligible for parole in 10 years, the minimum time allowed.

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