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Eastern province still recovering from Igor

Hurricane Igor's backhanded slam across Newfoundland and Labrador left an estimated $100 million in damage with 90 communities cut off by washed-out roads. Thousands of people are still without power.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday he would deploy military aid and offered federal financial aid in the cleanup after he and Premier Danny Williams toured the devastated island region.

After blowing across Bermuda, Igor still had enough strength to destroy property and flood the eastern Canadian province. An elderly man was swept out to sea to his death.

Power is being restored to several thousand Newfoundlanders after the storm broke lines, downed trees, flooded homes and buildings, broke up pavement, collapsed bridges and ripped the roofs off buildings.

On the grounds of the botanical gardens at Memorial University in the capital, St. John's, more than 200 trees were blown down and walkways were washed away.

The Trans-Canada Highway remained closed in some areas due to crater opening in Terra Nova National Park.

Igor hit with much more intensity that tropical storm Chantal that caused $27 million in damage in 2007.

Harper pitches for Security Council seat

Harper has reinforced his bid to have Canada regain its membership on the United Nations' Security Council.

Harper spoke about Canada's record of global involvement in an address to the UN General Assembly and said the country is "ready to serve" on the council.

Canada is competing with Germany and Portugal for one of two available seats.

Of Canada's military and development role, Harper said his country is paying "a heavy price to fulfill our UN obligation to support the lawful government of Afghanistan."

Canada's last term on the Security Council ended in 2000. The permanent council members are the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. There are also 10 seats which are held in two-year terms.

News in brief

• A showdown in the House of Commons resulted in opposition politicians killing a bill by the ruling Conservatives to end the controversial "long-gun" registry. Despite the loss in a 153-151 vote, Harper said his government will continue trying to end the 15-year-old program requiring Canadians to register shotguns and rifles. The program started by the Liberals is costly and ineffective, and treats people "like criminals," he said.

• Canada's Foreign Affairs department is advising against nonessential travel to areas of Mexico bordering the United States due to "high levels" of violence linked to drug trafficking. Canadians should avoid crossing Mexico's northern border by land "as shootouts, attacks and illegal roadblocks may occur at any time," it cautioned. As well, the department warned that "criminals especially target SUVs and full-size pickup trucks for theft and carjacking along highways."

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is higher at 97.55 cents while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0251 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets advanced, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,204 points on Friday and the TSX Venture Exchange was 1,699 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 13, 19, 29, 30, 33, 49; bonus 5. (Sept. 18) 1, 14, 17, 19, 40, 42; bonus 30. Lotto Max: (Sept. 17) 2, 5, 6, 43, 46, 47, 48; bonus 39.

Regional briefs

• Technology being used in Alberta to squeeze oil out of sand — a process criticized by environmentalists — is not so bad after all, the world's leading energy body said. The International Energy Agency studied global energy technology and said Canada might even be ahead when it comes to investment in projects such as carbon capture and storage to reduce emissions. "The oilsands are a resource that can be used. The question is what kind of controls can be used, and I'm confident Canada is looking into these issues," said the IEA's Richard Jones.

• Montreal's new police chief, Marc Parent, said he will put an emphasis on countering street gangs while expanding community policing and dealing with labor issues and allegations against the force of racial profiling. Parent is a 26-year veteran of the force that faces a critical $35 million budget cut this year. He succeeds Yvan Delorme in heading the second-largest force in Canada.

• Aline Chretien, wife of former prime minister Jean Chretien, has been named the first chancellor of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. She will serve a three-year term as the ceremonial head of the bilingual (English-French) university. Chretien, who is fluent in French, English, Italian and Spanish, received an honorary degree from Laurentian in 2003.

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

Eastern province still recovering from Igor 09/25/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 24, 2010 7:46pm]

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