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Canada seeing its share of political scandals

Conflicts and scandals are taking their toll on Canadian politicians with the court-ordered removal of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and demands that Alberta Premier Alison Redford resign.

Parti Quebecois politician Daniel Breton has left the Quebec Cabinet for alleged "ethical transgressions" and two Quebec mayors quit earlier in a corruption inquiry.

Ford is blaming a "left-wing conspiracy" as he appeals a ruling by Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland that ousted him as mayor for violating conflict of interest rules.

The issue involves Ford taking part in a council vote over repayment of $3,150 in donations he solicited on city letterhead for his private football foundation for disadvantaged youths.

Other mayors in the spotlight are Montreal's Gerald Tremblay and Gilles Vaillancourt of Laval who resigned during an ongoing inquiry into construction industry kickbacks.

London, Ontario, Mayor Joe Fontana, a former Liberal member of Parliament, is being investigated for misusing public funds to pay for his son's wedding. He is resisting calls for him to resign.

Opposition parties in the Alberta Legislature are calling on Redford to step down for an alleged conflict of interest.

Redford denies claims she was involved in a decision to give a multibillion-dollar tobacco litigation contract to her ex-husband's law firm.

Changes at central bank

Mark Carney is leaving his job as governor of the Bank of Canada to head the Bank of England.

Appointed to a five-year term beginning July 1, Carney said it will be a tough job as it's a "critical time for the British, European and global economies."

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Canada's central bank under Carney's leadership has helped to "lead the reform of the global financial system."

News in brief

• Canada's ruling Conservatives won two of three by-elections to fill vacancies in the House of Commons but had to fight off tough challenges by Green Party candidates. Elected in Calgary Center was Joan Crockatt while Erin O'Toole won in Ontario's Durham riding. The New Democratic Party kept its member in Victoria with the election of Murray Rankin.

• The Canadian Food Inspection Agency denies there is a "two-tiered" system that puts the quality of beef exports ahead of meat consumed in Canada. News reports of an agency memo to its inspectors at the XL Foods processing plant in Alberta called for heightened checks of meat destined for Japan over those for domestic consumption. XL Foods recently reopened after being involved in one of Canada's largest beef recalls for meat contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is slightly lower at $1.0067 in U.S. funds while the U.S. dollar returns 99.33 cents 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.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,207 points and the TSX Venture index 1,218 points.

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Regional briefs

• Vancouver politician Joyce Murray and Montreal member of Parliament Marc Garneau, a former astronaut, are the latest contenders seeking to lead the federal Liberal party. Murray, an advocate of legal marijuana and ardent environmentalist, has criticized the party for its history of choosing leaders only from Quebec and Ontario.

• Two men have been arrested for the theft of about 100,000 toys and items worth $2 million from the Salvation Army in Toronto. Calling it an inside job over two years, police recovered a massive stash of toys, food and donated goods in a warehouse. The army's former executive director David Rennie and businessman Umaish Ramrattan were arrested on charges of theft, possession of stolen property and criminal breach of trust.

• Cold and snow are coming this winter, unlike what most of Canada experienced last year, says the Weather Network. "We'll get more winter this year than we did last year," said Chris Scott, director of meteorology. It will be a more "typical" winter for much of the country with more cold air and storm systems dumping "a bit more snow," he said.

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

Canada seeing its share of political scandals 12/01/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 1, 2012 3:31am]

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