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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ontario's Liberals re-elected to form a majority government

   Canada column for Sunday, June 15/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Ontario Liberal government – despite a recent history of scandals including one that is said to have cost taxpayers $1 billion – has decisively won re-election.
    Voters gave the government of Premier Kathleen Wynne another chance, endorsing her spending plans as opposed to the Conservatives’ get-tough austerity proposals.
   Wynne, the province’s first lesbian premier, was able to put behind her the setbacks of her controversy-plagued predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, since she was appointed his successor last year.
   The unexpected majority win gave the Liberals their fourth straight mandate after a campaign that had the Conservatives and New Democrats accusing the government of corruption and incompetence.
   Labor unions turned against the Conservatives after leader Tim Hudak vowed to eliminate 100,000 government jobs and impose wage freezes to reduce the deficit.
   Hudak resigned as leader when his Conservatives only had 27 members elected while the Liberals had 59 and the New Democrats 21.
   Wynne had to defend the Liberals for the cancelation of two gas plants under construction at an estimated cost to the public of $1.1 billion in order to win the last election.


   Danny, the police dog whose handler was one of three Mounties shot and killed in Moncton, will be going back to work.
   "It wouldn't be fair to Danny to retire him as he loved his work as much as Dave did,” said Constable Dave Ross’ widow, Rachael Ross.
   At the funeral, the German shepherd whimpered and stood on his hind legs to sniff the Stetson belonging to his slain partner.
   Sergeant Eric Stebenne said Danny will bond with a new human partner and be retained and tested.
   Ross and Constables Fabrice Gevaudan and Douglas Larche were killed while Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were injured in the June 4 shooting.
   Justin Bourque, 24, is being held on three counts of murder and two of attempted murder.


    News in brief:
   - The federal New Democratic Party has been ordered to repay $1.13 million for mailing about two-million partisan messages. Lisa Raitt, the minister responsible for Canada Post, said 23 New Democrats improperly used the government’s free postal privileges not intended for such mailings. The party has done nothing wrong, said New Democrat House Leader Peter Julian, who called it a “Conservative witch hunt.”
   - Heavy sea ice and international trade blockades are being blamed for a big drop in the number of seals taken in the commercial hunt off Newfoundland this year. Fewer than 55,000 harp seals were landed compared to 91,000 last year and 69,000 in 2012, said Frank Pinhorn of the Canadian Sealers Association. The total commercial harvest has a federal quota of 400,000 seals.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar has advanced to 92.02 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0866 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 unchanged at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,980 points and the TSX Venture index at 994 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is up at $1.3587 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (June 11) 4, 27, 33, 38, 41 and 46; bonus 14. (June 7) 3, 24, 28, 40, 43 and 48; bonus 15. Lotto Max: (June 6) 3, 5, 17, 30, 36, 47 and 49; bonus 31.


   Regional briefs:
   - Mayor Joe Fontana of London, Ontario will be sentenced July 15 for fraud, forgery and breach of trust. Judge Bruce Thomas said the former federal cabinet minister abused the public trust by altering a contract for expenses in 2005. Police said the $1,700 taken was for his son's wedding reception.
   - British Columbia’s 40,000 school teachers say they will launch a full-scale strike on Tuesday to back contract demands. The members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation voted 86 percent in favor of leaving their jobs after several weeks of one-day strikes over wages and class sizes.
   - A helicopter swooped into a courtyard at a Quebec prison and took off with three prisoners awaiting trial for murder. The daring jail break at Orsainville Detention Center in suburban Quebec City was similar to an escape last year by two inmates at the St-Jerome, Quebec detention center.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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