One of Canada's leading military commanders is accused of murdering two women and sexually assaulting two others as police have reopened "cold case" investigations into other deaths.
Col. Russell Williams, 46, who was commanding officer at Canadian Forces Base Trenton (Ontario) and has flown the prime minister's airplane, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jessica Lloyd of Belleville and Cpl. Marie-France Comeau of Brighton, one of his base's officers.
The fallout has shaken the military, with Gen. Walter Natynczyk telling troops at Canada's largest air base "to stand tall and to stand proud," while "honoring" the families that have lost loved ones.
Williams was arrested in the sex slayings of Lloyd, 27, whose body was found beside a highway on Monday, and Comeau, 37, killed in her home in November. He is also charged with breaking into the houses of two other women overnight and sexually assaulting them.
Police are searching the Ottawa home Williams shares with his wife, Mary-Elizabeth Harriman, associate executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and their lakeside cottage in Tweed, near the airbase.
The Toronto Sun reported that Williams, known then as Russell Sovko, was friends with convicted "school-girl" sex slayer Paul Bernardo when they were students at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus in the 1980s.
Jolie thanks Canadian Forces for Haiti work
Movie star Angelina Jolie has thanked members of the Canadian Forces for their humanitarian work on a visit to Jacmel, Haiti.
Canadians have been keeping the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean island's second air-entry point open and are aiding the people in the area.
"I think that all the efforts being made to deliver aid to Haiti are amazing," Jolie said, adding: "It's beautiful to see the enthusiasm of the people who are here in support of the Haitian people."
The quake killed 27 Canadians while 73 remain missing despite weeks of searching.
Canadians have donated more than $100 million to the relief efforts, with the money being matched by the federal government.
Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean's parents were born in Jacmel and she visited there often as a youngster.
News in brief
• A poll shows Canadians aren't all that confident about the economic rebound, at least just yet. There is renewed concern over household income and future employment, the TNS Canadian Facts' Consumer Confidence Index found. Canadians need to feel better about their financial situation before there's a "sustained, consumer-driven economic turn-around," TNS said.
• An ambitious Toronto councilor is out of the race for mayor after multiple cases of sexual infidelity came to light. Adam Giambrone, 32, dropped out of the race after he admitting having "intimate relations" with women other than his live-in girlfriend, Sarah McQuarrie. To make up, Giambrone and McQuarrie headed off to Paris at midweek, reports said.
Facts and figures
Canada's dollar has made some gains, rising to 94.74 cents U.S., while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0556 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 0.25 percent and the prime lending rate is at 2.25 percent.
Stock markets advanced, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,368 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,485 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 13, 24, 30, 32, 37 and 48; bonus 49. (Feb. 6) 4, 12, 14, 15, 21 and 23; bonus 13. Lotto Max: (Feb. 5) 10, 19, 25, 29, 39, 41 and 42; bonus 21.
• Giving the middle finger and showing his fist to opposing politicians resulted in Liberal Abel Leblanc being ejected from a session of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly. He was told to leave after making the gestures and inappropriate comments to Conservative Margaret-Ann Blaney in an argument over the sale of New Brunswick Power assets to Hydro Quebec.
• A suspicious package caused the closing of a major transportation hub in Vancouver harbor for much of the rush hour on Thursday, a day before the Olympics started. When police blew up the package near the SeaBus commuter ferry terminal, it was found to contain a fishing rod. Police later spoke with the man who had bought the rod and said he had just forgotten to take it with him.
• A judge has banned a Prince Edward Island teen from using the Internet for 18 months for posting a threatening message on Facebook. The 16-year-old boy told fellow students there would be a shooting at Charlottetown Rural High School. The unidentified youth admitted to the hoax. Judge Nancy Orr also ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service work.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com.