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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Former press baron Conrad Black back in Toronto


   Canada column for Sunday, May 6/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Not exactly a “snowbird,” former media mogul Conrad Black is returning to Canada from time spent in Florida.
   Allowing a “felon” to enter the country after release from prison and renouncing his Canadian citizenship led to an uproar for two days in the House of Commons.
   Black, 67, was released Friday from the Federal Correction Institute in Miami after serving 42 months for fraud and obstructing justice involving his former Hollinger newspaper chain.
   He has been granted a one-year temporary resident permit allowing his return to Canada where he has a home and wife, Barbara Amiel, in Toronto.
   This could lead to extensions of the permit for the Montreal-born Black and even a bid to regain the citizenship he renounced in 2001to become a British Lord.
   New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair said Black is a British citizen now who has been “convicted of serious crimes” and is being given “special treatment” not granted to other felons.
   Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said there was no political interference and the decision to approve Black’s application to return was made independently by the public service office.


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   Canada has produced its last penny as it eliminates the lowly but costly coin.
   The Royal Canadian Mint commemorated the demise of the penny with a ceremonial coin strike in Winnipeg on Friday.
   It was costing 1.6 cents to produce each penny or about $11 million a year for something this is bothersome for businesses to handle, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.
   The government estimates tens of millions of pennies are being hoarded and while they are being withdrawn from circulation they can still be used indefinitely.
   Canada’s new polymer $20 bills will go into circulation in November after the recent launch of the plastic-like $100 and $50 bills designed to thwart counterfeiters. New ten-and five-dollar bills will follow next year.

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   News in brief:
   - Police said a British Columbia hang glider pilot whose passenger fell to her death will stay in jail until a digital memory card he’s alleged to have swallowed passes through him. William Orders, 50, was arrested for obstructing justice after Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, tumbled out of her harness and fell to her death over the Fraser Valley. Police said the video on the card from the flight would provide evidence of possible negligence.
   - Florida-based daredevil aerialist Nik Wallenda is preparing to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope on June 15. It’s estimated the stunt will be watched by 125,000 people in person and as many as 400 million on TV around the world. A wire stretching 1,850 feet will be anchored between two cranes, one at Table Rock in Ontario and the other on Goat Island on the U.S. side.

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   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at $1.0046 in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback returns 99.53 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,849 points on Friday and the TSX Venture index 1,399 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (May 2) 18, 19, 33, 40, 44 and 47; bonus 10. (April 28) 9, 21, 22, 42, 44 and 48; bonus 28. Lotto Max: (April 27) 3, 23, 28, 40, 42, 43 and 45; bonus 17.

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   Regional briefs:
   - The Quebec government is holding “emergency” meetings with student leaders to try to put an end to three months of protests over proposed tuition fee increases. With unrest and violent protests growing and about one-third of students boycotting classes, both sides remain far apart. Students, many of whom rallied in their underwear to get attention on Thursday, pay the lowest tuition fees in Canada at $2,168 a year. The government wants to raise the rate by $325 in each of the next five years.
   - James Marker, the man credited with inventing Cheezies, the quintessential Canadian snack, has died at age 90 in Belleville, Ontario. The Dayton, Ohio native and Chicago confectioner W.T. Hawkins started the snack-food company in 1949 in Ontario that now employs 100 people. Marker invented a machine to process cornmeal into fried cheese-coated bits, with “no two Cheezies alike.”

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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