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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Suspended senator faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery

   Canada column for Sunday, July 20/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Suspended Senator Mike Duffy is facing 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in connection with the so-called “expenses scandal.”
   The former television news broadcaster was appointed to Canada’s upper chamber by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009.
   His arrest involves claims for housing expenses, travel costs not associated with the Senate business and fraudulent contracts, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said.
   The investigation concerns more than $200,000 in expenses claimed by Duffy, 68, he added.
   Duffy was suspended from the Senate last November along with Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin over expense claims.
   Former Senator Mac Harb resigned last August after paying back $231,000 for ineligible housing and travel expenses.
   Police earlier proceeded with fraud and breach-of-trust charges against Brazeau and Harb while they continue to investigate Wallin’s expenses.


   A Calgary area man faces three counts of murder in the disappearance of a five-year-old boy and his grandparents.
   Douglas Garland, 54, who lives on his parents’ rural property near Airdrie, was linked to Nathan O’Brien and Alvin and Kathy Liknes who have been missing since June 29.
   Police proceeded with the murder charges even as the search continues for the three.
   They indicated a “violent incident” had occurred in the Liknes home, without elaborating.
   Garland had previous business dealings with the couple while his sister has a “relationship” with a member of the Liknes family.


    News in brief:
   - A former Canadian student is among the 298 people killed after a surface-to-air missile brought down the Malaysian Airlines flight Thursday over Ukraine. Andrei Anghel, 24, of Ajax, Ontario, who graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2012, was in medical school in Romania and traveling to Bali for a vacation. Prime Minister Harper expressed his condolences and offered Canada’s help in determining the cause of the crash.
   - Statistics Canada says the annual rate of inflation has risen to a two-year high at 2.4 percent. The agency said Canadians continue to pay more for food, gasoline and most other consumer items, pushing the rate up one-tenth of a percent last month. The biggest gain was in Ontario where the rate rose to 3 percent, with natural gas prices up 38.4 percent and gasoline costing 9.4 percent more than a year ago.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 93.17 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0732 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 mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 15,280 points and the TSX Venture index down at 1,011 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is down at $1.3222 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (July 16) 1, 20, 25, 27, 37 and 46; bonus 7. (July 12) 2, 3, 7, 14, 41 and 42; bonus 40. Lotto Max: (July 11) 1, 6, 10, 16, 18, 21 and 31; bonus 5.


   Regional briefs:
   - “I made a big, big mistake,” Joe Fontana, 64, former federal Cabinet minister and mayor of London, Ontario, said before being sentenced for fraud-related crimes. Judge Bruce Thomas said “personal gain appears to be the only motive” for the fraud. Fontana altered an expense claim for $1,700 for his son’s wedding reception in 2005, claiming it was for a political event.
   - Massive forest fires in Alberta and British Columbia have resulted in Environment Canada issuing air quality advisories. The poor air extends from Jasper National Park to Cold Lake in Alberta. Smoky sky advisories in British Columbia involve Quesnel, Williams Lake, Kootenay Lake and East Columbia along with Thompson, Fraser Canyon, Okanagan, Similkameen, Nicola and Shuswap regions.
   - Now that embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is out of rehab, he calls himself “sober as a judge” and “healthy as a horse.” He spent two months receiving treatment for substance abuse and drinking and is back seeking reelection in October. Ford said he isn’t rattled by protesters and hecklers showing up at political events calling for him to resign.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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