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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Massive floodings kills three, forces 100,000 people from homes in Alberta

   Canada column for Sunday, June 23/13


   By Jim Fox

  Massive flooding in Alberta has resulted in three deaths and led to more than 100,000 people being forced from their homes.
   Calgary and dozens of communities declared states of emergency as rain-swollen rivers overflowed their banks.
   Entire communities including High River and Bragg Creek were under mandatory evacuation orders on Friday while in Calgary, the downtown was deserted as businesses and schools were closed.
   The Mounties called in the military for assistance in removing people by helicopters from their rooftops and where roads had been washed out.
   The Edmonton police force sent about 100 officers to help out in Calgary and protect unoccupied neighborhoods.
   Days of heavy rain flooded the Bow River Basin causing problems in a wide area from Banff and Canmore in the Rockies to Calgary and beyond in the north and south to Lethbridge.
   South of Calgary, three people were killed in the high waters including two women swept to their deaths by the Highwood River.
   Water levels on the Bow River were expected to begin subsiding over the weekend, said Bruce Burrell of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.


   Police are now investigating a second senator in an expenses scandal.
   The Mounties are reviewing property documents for Sen. Mac Harb who was ordered to repay $231,649 in “improper” expense claims.
   He said he followed the rules and is asking to have the repayment order quashed as is Sen. Patrick Brazeau who was asked to repay $48,745.
   Police continue investigating Sen. Mike Duffy’s expense payments of $90,172 as an alleged breach of trust.
   He repaid the money with a check from Nigel Wright who resigned as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff when the payment became known.
   An audit continues into Sen. Pamela Wallin’s travel expenses of $321,824. 


   News in brief:
   - Montreal's interim mayor Michael Applebaum has resigned after being arrested in Quebec’s corruption crackdown. He was arrested for fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust and corruption concerning “bribes” in real-estate projects, anticorruption commissioner Robert Lafreniere said. Former mayor Gerald Tremblay resigned earlier over the corruption probe and Gilles Vaillancourt, former mayor of Laval, was arrested for fraud and gangsterism.
   - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he will compensate any group that paid him speaking fees to participate in fund-raising events since he became a Member of Parliament. Trudeau disclosed he received a $1.2-million inheritance from his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, and $1.3 million in speaking fees.
   - Bob Rae, 64, a politician for 35 years, said he will give up his seat in the House of Commons to work as a lawyer on behalf of Native issues. Now a Liberal, Rae was once the New Democratic premier of Ontario.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s inflation rate rose slightly last month to 0.7 percent with slower consumer spending, a weaker global economy and increased competition that kept prices lower.
   Stock market volatility caused the Canadian dollar to drop to 95.64 cents U.S. Friday while the U.S. greenback was worth $1.0455 in Canadian funds, 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 12,020 points and the TSX Venture index at 894 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (June 19) 8, 23, 25, 28, 34 and 39; bonus 47. (June 15) 5, 8, 13, 14, 17 and 30; bonus 1. Lotto Max: (June 14) 2, 12, 15, 18, 21, 22 and 25; bonus 5.


   Regional briefs:
   - The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it would not hear an appeal into a conflict-of-interest case that cleared Toronto Mayor Rob Ford of wrongdoing. The issue involved having the mayor removed from office over an alleged conflict that raised $3,150 for his charitable youth football foundation. Meanwhile, police arrested Shannon Everett, 28, for assault after a frozen drink was thrown at Ford.
   - Two women were killed in an explosion at a fireworks warehouse where they worked in Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec. The blast leveled the BEM Fireworks building southwest of Montreal. People nearby were forced to leave their homes as 150 firefighters battled the resulting fire.
   - A small-town Alberta councilor has resigned from his position after being arrested on crack-cocaine trafficking charges. Wayne Niblow, 36, had served as a member of the Irricana council.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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