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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Harper's Conservatives getting down to business with majority

   Canada column for Sunday, May 8/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Savoring the majority mandate he fought hard to win from voters, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is preparing to get down to business.
   After his Conservatives scored a decisive victory in the federal election, Harper is able to go about relatively unimpeded in implementing his agenda.
   The first order of business after selecting his new cabinet will be to implement the budget the opposition parties rejected and defeated the minority government.
   This means the country can “turn the page on the uncertainties and (four) repeat elections of the past seven years,” Harper said.
   Voters rewarded the Conservatives - who are credited with pulling the country out of the recession better than other nations – with Harper’s first majority government with 167 elected and a stable government for the next four years.

   In a surprising rally, the socialist New Democratic Party led by Jack Layton formed the official opposition in Parliament with 102 elected.
   The separatist Bloc Quebecois was reduced to merely four elected members by the New Democratic sweep along with the defeat of leader Gilles Duceppe.
    The Liberals elected only 34 while leader Michael Ignatieff was personally defeated in Toronto.
    Ignatieff, a former professor at Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge universities, then resigned as leader and has taken a one-year political science teaching position at his alma mater, the University of Toronto.
   Also elected was Green Party Leader Elizabeth May who defeated former Conservative cabinet minister Gary Lunn in British Columbia.


   Investigators with the SPCA have unearthed a mass grave of some 100 sled dogs that were slaughtered by an outdoor adventure company near Whistler, British Columbia.
   The gruesome execution of the dogs – no longer needed after the Vancouver Winter Olympics – became known after Howling Dog Tours manager Robert Fawcett received worker’s compensation over his anguish in killing the animals.
   “Depending on what the evidence demonstrates, that would guide who we would recommend charges against,” said SPCA general manager Marcie Moriarty.
   “It’s something we owe to the 100 dogs instead of just leaving them there,” she added.


   News in brief:
   - After a long, lingering winter Canadians can look forward to a warmer-than-normal summer, according to Environment Canada. The forecast for the whole country indicates this hotter trend, said senior climatologist David Phillips. The preliminary forecast also shows there should be more rain in Atlantic Canada and the western Prairies with drier conditions in between.
   - Canada’s unemployment rate fell last month to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent in March as the economy regained the number of full-time jobs lost in the recession. Jobs created last month totaled 58,300 – more than twice the number predicted but they were mostly lower-paying, part-time positions.


   Facts and figures:
   With the drop in oil prices, Canada’s dollar settled lower on Friday at $1.0343 in U.S. funds. The U.S. dollar is worth 96.69 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Canadian stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,537 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 2,089 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 8, 9, 26, 39, 46 and 47; bonus 38. (April 30) 1, 6, 7, 24, 30 and 48; bonus 4. Lotto Max: (April 29) 1, 13, 20, 24, 39, 45 and 47; bonus 25.


   Regional briefs:
   - Prime Minister Harper will attend the funeral of Betty Albrecht, 59, who suffered a brain hemorrhage as she prepared to attend the victory party for her husband in last Monday’s election. The wife of Kitchener, Ontario Member of Parliament Harold Albrecht died on Wednesday in a Hamilton hospital. They had been married 39 years and had three children and nine grandchildren.
   - Plains Midstream Canada will not be allowed to reopen its pipeline that ruptured and flooded northern Alberta with more than a million gallons of crude oil until a cleanup is completed. Premier Ed Stelmach said the company must also make repairs to its aging pipeline near Little Buffalo.
   - Floods southeast of Montreal have forced about 1,800 people from their homes as Premier Jean Charest is asking for help from the Canadian Forces. Affected communities in the Monteregie region include St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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