Canada report: More political scandal and a black widow is sentenced

Scandals involving a senator's expense claims and the destruction of government correspondence in Ontario are now being investigated by police.

The Mounties have launched a "formal investigation" into the Canadian Senate expenses scandal and the involvement of Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff.

Wright resigned from Harper's staff last month after it was learned he gave $90,172 to Sen. Mike Duffy to pay back money that was "improperly" claimed as housing and other expenses.

Harper said he was unaware of the "gift" to Duffy that opposition politicians suggest was intended to interfere with an internal audit of Duffy's expenses and to buy his silence.

An audit also resulted in Sen. Mac Harb being ordered to repay $231,649 in expenses, and Sen. Patrick Brazeau must repay $48,745 for disallowed living expenses. Auditors are still looking at travel expense claims of $321,000 paid to Sen. Pamela Wallin.

Ontario police are now investigating the destruction of emails by senior staff in the Liberal government concerning the cancelation of contentious gas plants at a cost of $585 million to help the party win last year's election.

Cloud hangs over the end of 23-year career

Another promise not kept is how opposition politicians referred to the unexpected resignation of former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

After resigning as premier last fall, McGuinty said he would remain as the Liberal Member of the Provincial Legislature for Ottawa South until the next election. His resignation after 23 years in politics came as a controversy mounts over the costs of canceling two gas plants and the investigation of the destruction of government documents.

Former finance minister Dwight Duncan and former energy minister Chris Bentley also left the party and retired from politics after Kathleen Wynne succeeded McGuinty as premier.

News in brief

• The Canadian government said a new airport will be created east of Toronto in an area that will also house the Rouge National Urban Park. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the project on land acquired in 1972 as studies show the Toronto area will require another international airport. Residents who live near the proposed airport site have been objecting to the plans for years.

• Chris Hadfield, who recently returned after six months at the International Space Station, said he is retiring from the space program and moving back to Canada. Hadfield, 53, said he will leave the Canadian Space Agency next month. He told a news conference in Montreal that he is ready to pursue unspecified private interests, outside of government.

• A Kitchener, Ontario, firefighter who saved a man trapped after a car crash in Fort Myers has been given a Carnegie medal for heroism. Nick Dorken was on vacation in Florida on Feb. 23, 2012, when he pulled an unconscious man from a burning car.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar has advanced to 98.28 cents U.S., its highest level in four weeks. The U.S. greenback returns $1.0175 in Canadian funds, 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 are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,213 points and the TSX Venture index at 932 points.

Lotto 6-49: (June 12) 4, 8, 16, 25, 33 and 36; bonus 21. (June 8) 8, 11, 19, 42, 46 and 47; bonus 27. Lotto Max: (June 7) 5, 19, 24, 34, 35, 38 and 43; bonus 8.

Regional briefs

• The Transportation Safety Board said the operating crew of a Via Rail that derailed west of Toronto last year "misperceived" crucial signals telling them to slow the passenger train. Three crewmembers were killed and 44 passengers injured when the train hurtled off the tracks after crossing a slow-speed switch. The board called for installation of an automatic, fail-safe mechanism to slow or stop trains if a signal isn't followed.

• Melissa Shepard, 78, of Nova Scotia, who laced her new husband's coffee with tranquilizers while on their honeymoon, was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison. Her husband, Fred Weeks, 76, recovered after hospital treatment. She also served a prison term for manslaughter in 1992 in the death of her second husband, Gordon Stewart.

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

Canada report: More political scandal and a black widow is sentenced 06/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 14, 2013 8:10pm]

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