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Harper vows to refuse pension to serial killer

The Canadian government wants to ensure that convicted serial killer Russell Williams, who headed Canada's largest air force base, doesn't receive any pension benefits.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government will take "all necessary actions" to make sure Williams loses those benefits of about $60,000 a year.

Williams, 47, ex-colonel at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, admitted to killing two women, sexually assaulting two others in their homes and more than 80 break-ins in which he stole women's and girl's underwear. The court was shown photos Williams took of himself posing in the stolen garments.

Williams, who flew prime ministers and even Queen Elizabeth II on royal visits, has been officially kicked out of the military and stripped of his title and medals as he began serving a life term.

Judge Robert Scott commented on the "depths of the depravity" and how Williams will "forever be remembered as a sado-sexual serial killer."

He sentenced him to the maximum term of "life," which means no parole for at least 25 years for killing Marie-France Comeau, 38, who was under his command at the base, and civilian Jessica Lloyd, 28.

Williams admitted the "despicable crimes" and said he would spend "the rest of my life regretting most of all that I have ended two vibrant, innocent and cherished lives."

Passage expected for product recall law

A bill giving the government the power to quickly recall dangerous products is expected to be passed by the end of the year.

The proposed bill would update Canada's 40-year-old consumer safety law and require retailers and those in the distribution network to keep records of the origin of products and where they've been shipped.

Once a product is declared unsafe, the bill would bar further distribution.

News in brief:

• Canada wants to tighten control over human smugglers and those arriving in Canada as phony refugees. Proposed legislation would allow the government to designate the passengers aboard human smuggling ships as "irregular arrivals," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said. These arrivals could be held in detention for up to a year and considered separately from legitimate arrivals. In the past year, two smuggling ships have brought hundreds of Sri Lankan "refugees" to Canada.

• The Bank of Canada has cut its economic growth forecast over global uncertainty and slowing domestic demand. This year's growth projection was lowered to 3 percent, down half a percentage point, and next year's rate is forecast at 2.3 percent and then 2.6 percent in 2012. A major concern is a slower recovery in the United States that will curtail demand for Canadian products.

Facts and figures:

Canada's dollar declined on news the central bank is taking a pause in raising its trend-setting interest rate.

The dollar traded for 97.35 cents U.S. on Friday while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0273 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

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

Canada's annual inflation rate rose to 1.9 percent last month from 1.7 percent in August while retail sales climbed by 0.5 percent to $36.1 billion in August.

Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index down at 12,601 points and the TSX Venture Exchange up at 1,878 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 9, 10, 14, 15, 19 and 29; bonus 35. (Oct. 16) 20, 28, 32, 36, 42 and 46; bonus 21. Lotto Max: (Oct. 15) 3, 14, 17, 25, 30, 33 and 39; bonus 7.

Regional briefs:

• Syncrude Canada has been fined $3 million, the largest environmental penalty imposed in Alberta, for the deaths of 1,600 ducks. The world's largest producer of synthetic crude oil from oil sands was convicted for the duck deaths at a tailings pond near Fort McMurray in 2008. The images of the birds coated in thick black water, clay, leftover bitumen and heavy metals angered environmentalists opposed to the tar sands.

• Quebec police believe an elderly man accidentally killed himself after rigging a rifle to rope to protect his mobile home. Jos Lawrence Potvin, 75, of Levis installed a gun pointed at the door of his room and connected a string to the trigger. Somehow he set off the weapon by mistake, making him a "victim of his own fear," said police spokeswoman Ann Mathieu.

Jim Fox can be reached at canada report@hotmail.com

Harper vows to refuse pension to serial killer 10/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 23, 2010 8:42pm]
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