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Monday, August 29, 2016

Stephen Harper, Canada's former leader, has left politics for good

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 28/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, defeated in last October’s election, has resigned after two decades in politics.
   Harper quit as aMember of Parliament for Calgary in a statement and on video on Friday.
   After his election defeat to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, Harper left his position as Conservative party leader but remained in Parliament.
   He led the Conservatives to a minority government, becoming prime minister in the 2006 election and again in 2008 before winning his first majority in 2011.
   “On seven occasions, I have been deeply humbled by your trust and support, time and again,” Harper said of his election victories.
   As he leaves politics for a career as an international issues consultant, Harper said among his “proudest accomplishments” were guiding the economy through the 2008 recession and the tough-on-crime agenda.
   Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose also noted his foreign policy, including support for Israel and opposition to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.


   Authorities discovered 1,500 “raft people” invading Canada last weekend.
   It happened when winds pushed participants of the Port Huron Float Down across the St. Clair River into Sarnia, Ontario.
   They were supposed to float on rafts and inner tubes seven miles from Port Huron’s Lighthouse Beach to Chrysler Beach in Marysville, Mich.
   Police and the Canadian Coast Guard had to rescue many of the participants, described as being “over-refreshed” and without life jackets, from the fast-moving current and arrange for buses to take them back over the Blue Water Bridge to the U.S.
   Funding campaigns have been set up to repay Sarnia the $8,100 cost of saving the “float refugees” and the cleanup.


   News in brief:
   - Canada has advised the United Nations that it is ready to resume peacekeeping missions around the world. The Liberal government ended Canada’s military action in favor again of committing 600 soldiers, including engineers and medical specialists, to peacekeeping operations. Canada needs to act with “responsible conviction as a determined peacebuilder,” Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said.
   - Canada Post and the union representing 51,000 workers have agreed to allow a government-appointed mediator to help them reach a new contract and avoid a looming strike. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has threatened to begin rotating strikes and work-to-rule action as soon as Monday to back contract demands. Major issues are wage parity between rural and city letter carriers and pensions.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 77.28 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.293 Canadian, before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 14,691 points while the TSX Venture index lower at 810 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada has risen to $1.038 a liter or $3.94 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Aug. 24) 4, 17, 22, 30, 36 and 38; bonus 3. (Aug. 20) 11, 20, 26, 32, 39 and 43; bonus 49. Lotto Max: (Aug. 19) 19, 22, 25, 32, 37, 45 and 47; bonus 40.


   Regional briefs:
   - Environment Canada said tornadoes touched down in Windsor and nearby LaSalle, Ontario leaving a trail of destruction. There was extensive damage to 15 houses but only four people had minor injuries. These were called the most powerful tornadoes in Ontario this season, with seven confirmed to date.
   - More people among the 80,000 forced from their homes by the Fort McMurray, Alberta wildfire have returned home. Families from some 242 houses still can’t return because the area remains contaminated with highly caustic ash and carcinogens from the May fire. Damage was estimated at $3.6 billion and “human activity” is suspected as the cause.
   - It’s the case of the purloined porker missing from the Unicorn Pub in Calgary. Owner Mel Lafleur said he saw on surveillance video a man sitting on Henry the pig – a 30-pound glass fiber ornament that’s a fixture of his bar. The man and two other people were then seen leaving with Henry and he’s appealing to the bacon bandits for his safe return.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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