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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Suspended Sentor Mike Duffy wants speedy fraud trial; plans to "tell all"

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 21/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Disgraced Senator Mike Duffy said he plans to tell all at his upcoming fraud trial that could include calling Prime Minister Stephen Harper to testify.
   Still unknown is whether Harper knew about a secret $90,000 payment made by his former chief of staff Nigel Wright to cover Duffy’s contested expenses.
   The Mounties arrested Duffy, 68, who had been suspended from the Senate, on 31 counts including fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
    His lawyer, Donald Bayne, will ask a judge to waive a preliminary hearing and proceed straight to trial.
   “This will be his first opportunity for a complete airing of all the evidence before an impartial tribunal and his opportunity to clear his name to show that he’s guilty of no wrongdoing,” Bayne said.
   Mentioning the former TV news broadcaster’s poor health after two heart surgeries, Bayne said he wants an early trial – before the federal election in October of next year.


   Doug Ford, brother of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, launched his election campaign on Friday seeking to take over from his ailing sibling.
   The mayor is at Mount Sinai Hospital being treated for a rare form of cancer and dropped out of the mayoralty race for the Oct. 27 election.
   From his hospital bed, Rob Ford, 45, issued an audio statement asking voters to elect Doug to carry on his work.
   Doug Ford had been managing his brother’s campaign and has been a city councilor – a position that Rob Ford now is seeking even while ill.
   Rob Ford has had a rocky time recently after city councilors stripped him of his powers when he admitted to using crack cocaine and entering rehab for his addiction problems.


    News in brief:
   - Montreal’s Mirabel that was billed as the airport of the future when it opened in 1975 is to have its terminal demolished. The move ends a proposal to turn it into a convention center while cargo planes continue to use its two runways. Owned by the federal government, Mirabel was predicted to serve 60-million passengers a year but that never surpassed 3 million. Infrastructure such as a high-speed rail link and highway linking Montreal to the airport were never completed.
   - The summer’s unexpected rise in the core inflation rate could give Canada’s central bank reason to examine interest rates. The annual inflation rate held steady at 2.1 percent in August, the same as July according to Statistics Canada. The core rate that the Bank of Canada closely monitors and excludes “volatile” energy and food categories rose to 2.1 percent from 1.7 percent in July. The bank’s key interest rate has been 1 percent for 4 years and is not expected to rise for another year.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has gained to 91.32 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.095 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is unchanged at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,265 points and the TSX Venture index at 955 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is lower at $1.2866 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (Sept. 17) 3, 8, 10, 19, 31 and 33; bonus 40. (Sept. 13) 2, 7, 17, 31, 39 and 43; bonus 40. Lotto Max: (Sept. 12) 5, 6, 8, 13, 24, 37 and 46; bonus 30.


   Regional briefs:
   - Schools across British Columbia will reopen on Monday after the province’s teachers approved a new contract to end a strike that started in June. The agreement on demands for higher pay and improved classroom conditions by 31,741 members of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation was reached during a six-day bargaining session with a mediator. They will receive a 7.25-percent salary increase over six years.
   - Jim Prentice has become the Conservative premier of Alberta, succeeding Alison Redford who resigned in a scandal over her expenses. Prentice, 58, is working with a 20-member cabinet, 10 fewer than Redford’s. It includes former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel as health minister and former Saskatchewan cabinet member Gordon Dirks as education minister.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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