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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Canada to withdraw from Middle East combat



   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 14/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – in the week when he marked 100 days in the job – has acted on a pledge to end Canada’s combat role in the Middle East.
   As well, he plans to increase federal spending to help the economy and will create thousands of summer jobs for students – many of whom backed his Liberal party as first-time voters.
   With polls saying most Canadians disagree with Trudeau’s military plan, the government will withdraw Canada’s six CF-18 fighter jets from the U.S.-led bombing mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria by Feb. 22.
   Canada will instead increase its military efforts with more special forces deployed to train Iraqi soldiers for the next two years, Trudeau said.
   Air strikes can achieve short-term military and territorial gains, he said, adding “they do not on their own achieve long-term stability for local communities.”
   On the economy, Trudeau said the setbacks of low oil prices can be offset with increased spending on growth-generating projects such as the infrastructure.
   He also announced funding to create 34,000 additional summer jobs for students, who are “not just leaders of tomorrow, but leaders today.”

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   Marie Henein, lawyer for former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi, 48, is calling for his acquittal on four counts of sexual assault and one of choking related to incidents in 2002 and 2003.
   Testimony at his Toronto trial was “so riddled with inconsistencies and improbabilities and proven lies under oath” by the three alleged victims, Henein said.
   Judge William Horkins will give his verdict on March 24.

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   News in brief:
   - TransForce, Canada’s largest trucking company, expects the Western Canadian economy will continue to weaken due to low oil and commodity prices. CEO Alain Bedard said this problem, primarily in Alberta, is “only going to get worse” and drag down the whole country’s economy.
   - The Conservatives have held on to the Ontario riding of Whitby-Oshawa by electing local councillor Lorne Coe to the provincial legislature. He fended off a strong challenge from the governing Liberals, represented by Elizabeth Roy. He succeeds Christine Elliott who resigned after losing the Conservative party leadership to Patrick Brown.
   - A swarm of small earthquakes has rattled residents in McAdam in southwestern New Brunswick. Nine earthquakes hit the area last Monday night after 23 temblors recorded since Feb. 1. The largest quake was 3.3 in magnitude but there were no reports of injuries and only minor damage.

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   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is higher at 72.16 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.385 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Markets are mixed, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index down at 12,381 points and the TSX Venture index up at 511 points.
   The average price of gas has dropped to 83.8 cents a liter nationally or $3.18 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon. Lowest prices in Canada include Calgary at 60.9 and St. Catharines, Ontario, 66.1.
   Lotto 6/49: (Feb. 10) 8, 13, 33, 34, 38 and 43; bonus 12. (Feb. 6) 7, 19, 25, 26, 31 and 44; bonus 35. Lotto Max: (Feb. 5) 6, 7, 8, 9, 17, 23 and 30; bonus 18.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Dennis Oland has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years for the second-degree murder of his father, Richard, whose family owns Moosehead Brewery. Oland, 47, is appealing the guilty verdict reached after a four-month trial. His father was found bludgeoned to death in his Saint John, New Brunswick office in 2011. Prosecutors suggested the motive might have been the younger Oland’s financial difficulties and knowledge his father was having an affair.
   - Victoria police found a cellphone text message with the confession of a driver who rear ended a cruiser. Constable Matt Rutherford said he found this text by the woman who ran into him: “I just got into an accident, OMG. I was trying to txt u. Ran into a cop car. OMGGG.” The woman and her child had minor injuries and she was given a $167 ticket for using an electronic device while driving.

   -30-

   Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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