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Canada report: U.S. visitors warned about student protests in Quebec

Continuing violent student protests have prompted the U.S. Consulate to warn Americans about visiting Quebec.

The advisory from the consulate in Montreal urges U.S. citizens visiting or living in the province to "exercise caution" to avoid injury.

Over the past three months, students have been protesting a plan by the Quebec government to raise tuition fees from the lowest in Canada at $2,168 a year by $1,625 over five to seven years.

A proposed deal reached between student leaders and the government last weekend was overwhelmingly rejected by student associations.

"While the majority of the protests have been peaceful, some participants have incited violence by throwing rocks and engaging in other acts of vandalism," the advisory said.

About 170,000 university and community college students are boycotting classes in the protest.

Police are investigating whether militant students were responsible for setting off smoke bombs in the subway system and disrupting travel for 200,000 people during the morning rush hour on Thursday.

The consulate said there are "no indications foreigners or U.S. citizens are being threatened or targeted," but they should "remain alert while on the streets."

About 140,000 jobs created in 2 months

Canada's economic rebound continued last month with strong job creation.

Statistics Canada said the economy added 58,200 jobs in April as Canadians found work in most regions of the country and in most goods-producing industries.

Stagnant job figures also got a jump in March, with the creation of 82,000 positions, most of them in Central Canada.

Much of the latest growth were full-time jobs and all within the private sector, as governments continue to cut back on employment levels.

Even as Canada has added 214,000 new jobs over the past year, the unemployment rate edged up one-tenth of a point to 7.3 percent last month as more people sought employment.

News in brief

• The federal government is critical of Canadian environmental charities accepting money from foreign donors to finance their campaigns against oil and gas projects. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver accuses "environmental and other radical groups" of trying to use such "special-interest" money to hijack hearings on a pipeline that would transfer Alberta oil sands bitumen to a port on the British Columbia coast for shipping to Asia.

• Mexican police have arrested two men and three women for the robbery-related deaths of a Canadian graduate student and her boyfriend last December. The burned and partially buried bodies of Ximena Osegueda, 39, a student at the University of British Columbia, and her Mexican companion, Alejandro Santamaria, 38, were found on a beach near Huatulco. Police said gang members took the couple's bank cards, phones and car.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is slightly lower at $1.0039 in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback is worth 99.60 cents 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 are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,706 points on Friday and the TSX Venture index 1,346 points.

Lotto 6-49: (May 9) 2, 6, 15, 19, 24 and 38; bonus 9. (May 5) 5, 6, 30, 32, 45 and 46; bonus 41. (May 2) 18, 19, 33, 40, 44 and 47; bonus 10. Lotto Max: (May 4) 3, 5, 6, 25, 37, 43 and 45; bonus 21.

Regional briefs

• The amount of debris from Japan's earthquake and tsunami is growing on the beach at Haida Gwaii on the north coast of British Columbia. It includes a container holding a motorcycle as well as building materials, fishing gear and a rusty fishing vessel. It's estimated there are more than 1.65 million tons of tsunami debris drifting across the Pacific Ocean toward Canada's West Coast.

• Ontario isn't planning its own long-gun registry, now that the federal one has been disbanded, but is requiring stores to keep records of people who buy the weapons. The federal government wants provinces to stop keeping any records. Quebec has started a legal challenge preventing the destruction of the previous registry records.

• Nova Scotia residents held memorial services to remember the 26 workers who died in the Westray mine disaster 20 years ago. The massive underground methane-gas explosion at the coal mine in Plymouth was among the worst in Canadian history. The gas erupted into flames, with a fireball racing through the tunnels. Premier Darrell Dexter said the incident led to more-stringent safety regulations.

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

Canada report: U.S. visitors warned about student protests in Quebec 05/12/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 8:22pm]
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