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Canada mourns its losses in Haiti, plans to help recovery

Homecoming from haiti: Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers follow the hearse carrying the coffin of RCMP Chief Superintendent Douglas Coates on Wednesday. Coates was serving on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti and was killed in the earthquake there.

Associated Press

Homecoming from haiti: Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers follow the hearse carrying the coffin of RCMP Chief Superintendent Douglas Coates on Wednesday. Coates was serving on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti and was killed in the earthquake there.

The body of a former Quebec politician was found in the rubble of the Hotel Montana in Haiti as 147 Canadians remain missing on the earthquake-ravaged island.

It was at first thought that Serge Marcil, 65, survived the quake, but his body was uncovered in Port-au-Prince just two hours before his wife, Christiane Pelchat, arrived to help in the search.

Marcil was a federal Liberal member of Parliament until 2004 and was briefly a Quebec Cabinet minister before that.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said at least 21 Canadians died in the quake and the focus now is on returning the victims home.

Canada is helping to lead the rebuilding efforts and convened a conference in Montreal attended by foreign ministers and senior officials from 14 countries.

"We need to commit to Haiti for the long term," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. "It is not an exaggeration to say that 10 years of hard work await the world in Haiti."

Cannon said the meeting was aimed at establishing "a clear and common vision for the early recovery and longer-term reconstruction of Haiti."

Canada has committed an initial $155 million to the relief efforts and 1,400 troops. The government is also matching donations made by Canadians that now have reached about $70 million.

Conservatives take majority in Senate

The Conservatives have gained a majority in Canada's Senate with the appointment of five new senators on Friday.

Harper said the appointments are "another step toward implementing the government's agenda to fight crime and respect the will of the democratically elected House of Commons."

The new senators are Member of Parliament Bob Runciman and Vim Kochhar, both of Ontario, Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu from Quebec, Elizabeth Marshall of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Rose-May Poirier from New Brunswick.

"The Liberals have abused their Senate majority by obstructing and eviscerating law-and-order measures that are urgently needed and strongly supported by Canadians," Harper's statement said.

News in brief

• Even as the Liberals have edged slightly ahead of the governing Conservatives in public opinion polls, leader Michael Ignatieff said he's not tempted to force a federal election now. "I got a message last autumn," Ignatieff said, referring to public opposition to his plan to try to overthrow the minority government of Harper.

• Canada's economy emerged last fall from a nine-month recession and had growth for a third consecutive month in November. Statistics Canada said the boost of 0.4 percent was led by the mining and energy industries. Most industrial sectors increased production while manufacturing and retail sectors remained weak.

• Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. is expected to win a major chunk of the billions of dollars in U.S. federal money to improve rail corridors across 31 states. Large high-speed rail projects would include upgrading "the backbone of intercity passenger rail" in the Pacific Northwest by extending tracks between Vancouver and Eugene, Oregon.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar dropped to 93.67 cents U.S. on Friday while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0676 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

There is no change in the Bank of Canada's key interest rate of 0.25 percent or the prime lending rate at 2.25 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,195 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,496 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 14, 17, 19, 21, 40, 42; bonus 26. (Jan. 23) 29, 35, 36, 38, 41, 43; bonus 47. Lotto Max: (Jan. 22) 17, 26, 30, 32, 34, 39, 41; bonus 49.

Regional briefs

• The prime minister's office says "mystery" objects spotted over Newfoundland's southern coast weren't missiles, but questions remain. Darlene Stewart of Harbour Mille took a photo of a "long, rocket-like projectile cruising through the sky with a trail of flames and smoke behind it." Liberal Member of Parliament Gerry Byrne said "nobody's providing any real answers."

• Proposed bylaw amendments in Ottawa, Canada's capital, would encourage the police to break up groups of people and deal with those using "indecent" language. The changes are aimed at dealing with "rowdy" groups gathering outside bars in the Byward Market. There would be fines for those engaging in "loud, boisterous, threatening, abusive, insulting or indecent language, or engaging in any disorderly conduct or behavior."

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

Canada mourns its losses in Haiti, plans to help recovery 01/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 7:55pm]

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