'Anarchist' group claims it firebombed Canadian bank

Security is being tightened after members of an "anarchist" group claiming responsibility for firebombing an Ottawa bank said they would appear at the Group of Eight and Group of 20 summits next month.

Damage was $500,000 at the Royal Bank branch, with the scene posted on an activist website. No one was injured in the overnight attack Tuesday.

Police say they have identified the suspects and called them part of an "antiestablishment movement."

A message said they object to the bank having been a major sponsor of the Vancouver Winter Olympics as it was held on "stolen indigenous land." They also say the bank is a major player in Alberta's oil tar sands project that environmentalists oppose.

The Mounties and other police agencies are on alert as the anarchists threaten violence at the forthcoming summits.

The G-8 world leaders' gathering on global issues takes place June 25 and 26 in Huntsville, Ontario. The G-20 summit of international finance ministers and central bank governors takes place June 26 and 27 in Toronto.

Kabul car bomb kills top military officer

A car bombing in Kabul has killed Canada's most-senior military officer in Afghanistan.

Col. Geoff Parker, 42, of Oakville, Ontario, died in the bombing of a NATO convoy in the Afghan capital on Tuesday. The suicide bomber's attack also killed five U.S. soldiers and 12 civilians.

Parker was in Kabul preparing to take over as deputy director of stability for Regional Command South headquarters at Kandahar Airfield. He would have been coordinating humanitarian and development activity.

He is Canada's seventh military victim this year and 145th soldier killed in the 8-year-old mission.

News in brief

• Former Cabinet Minister Helena Guergis has been fined $100 by the federal ethics commissioner for failing to report an $800,000 mortgage liability. Guergis, who has been removed from the Cabinet and the ruling Conservative Party, said she had simply forgotten to file a Conflict of Interest Act report. Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said she is also examining another conflict complaint concerning Guergis.

• A survey by Manulife Bank says about half of all Canadians are struggling to pay off their debts. Even though the survey found that one-third of respondents said being debt free was their top priority, about one-quarter had increased their amount of debt in the past year. Canadian household debt is at a record $1.41 trillion and could be a drag on economic recovery as interest rates are poised to start rising.

Facts and figures

International economic concerns dropped the Canadian dollar to its lowest level in three months Friday to 94.24 cents U.S. The U.S. greenback gained to $1.0611 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

It's uncertain if the central bank will start increasing its key interest rate on June 1 to support the dollar and fight inflationary pressures.

The consumer price index rose 0.3 percent last month to an annual inflation rate of 1.8 percent.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 0.25 percent, while the prime lending rate remains at 2.25 percent.

Stock markets are again lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,491 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,454 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 27, 28, 35, 40, 43 and 48; bonus 20. (May 15) 3, 5, 8, 15, 33 and 35; bonus 14. Lotto Max: (May 14) 7, 17, 19, 23, 31, 36 and 41; bonus 1.

Regional briefs

• Canadian officials are increasing their oversight of a new oil drilling venture off the coast of Newfoundland after the oil rig explosion and spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Chevron Canada is drilling the country's deepest oil well in the Orphan Basin about 1.5 miles beneath the surface.

• An Edmonton youngster is in New York for a medical procedure to fix a rare malformation on the left side of his face. The surgery for Maddox Flynn, 2, who has lymphatic cystic hydroma, will cost $50,000 and donations are coming in from across Canada to assist. Edmonton Oilers hockey player Gilbert Brule added $10,000 to help his family pay for the alternative surgery not available at home.

• Toronto's first automated pay toilets are flush with success, offering "modern, state-of-the-art" restrooms that are even heated in the winter. At 25 cents for each use, 20 of the toilets are planned. Cutting the ribbon to open the first one was Mayor David Miller, who said they actually clean themselves after each use. They will help "all of us use the streets of Toronto more conveniently and easily," he said.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

'Anarchist' group claims it firebombed Canadian bank 05/22/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 22, 2010 9:07pm]

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