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Canada's military sacrifice honored as new name is added to toll

On the day when another Canadian soldier's body was returned from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the Netherlands paying tribute those who fought to liberate Holland.

Navy Petty Officer Craig Blake, 37, of Simcoe, Ontario, was killed by a roadside bomb near Kandahar city and was the 143rd Canadian to die in the conflict.

Overseas on Thursday, Harper placed a wreath at a war cemetery where 968 Canadians are buried.

He praised the veterans for their sacrifice and recalled how Canadian troops fought their way to Rotterdam from Normandy.

The First Canadian Army in five weeks took 41,043 prisoners and had 12,873 casualties.

"We were there for the Dutch 65 years ago and again we stand shoulder to shoulder today in a place like Afghanistan, bringing peace and freedom to another country," said Gen. Walter Natynczyk, Canada's chief of the defense staff.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende thanked Canada for "bringing hope and promise" to his country at a time of despair and oppression.

Accountants: Canada needs pension reform

Retirement prospects are not good for many Canadians unless pension reforms are implemented, a national accountancy group says.

"Canadians' ability to maintain a financially comfortable and healthy lifestyle is bleak unless the retirement system undergoes a drastic makeover," said Rock Lefebvre of the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada.

About three-quarters of Canadians rely on investments such as Registered Retirement Savings Plans, since they have no corporate pension plan.

The current tax system penalizes those who don't have a company pension because of lower RRSP limits, meaning they can't save as much, Lefebvre said.

As concerns grow that Canadians aren't saving enough for retirement, the government is considering an overhaul of the pension system.

News in brief

• Support for an extension of Governor General Michaelle Jean's term of office has come from Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. He said Jean, whose five-year term as Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Canada ends in September, has done a "superb job." Ignatieff is asking the prime minister "to reconsider his decision to replace her."

• Paul Hellyer, former federal defense minister, says noted astrophysicist Stephen Hawking shouldn't condemn extraterrestrials. Hellyer, 86, believes that aliens have visited Earth and contributed to technological advances. Hawking warns that outer space aliens could be "nomads, looking to conquer and colonize" other planets.

Facts and figures

Concerns over Greece's debt crisis and Europe's economy dragged the Canadian dollar down to 95.58 cents U.S. Friday. The U.S. currency returned $1.0462 Canadian before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 0.25 percent while the prime lending rate is 2.25 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,642 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 1,540 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 12, 13, 15, 31, 47, 49; bonus 28. (May 1) 4, 7, 10, 22, 25, 33; bonus 49. Lotto Max: (April 30) 1, 3, 4, 5, 16, 32, 33; bonus 41.

Regional briefs

• British Columbia offered its help to clean up the oil rig rupture in the Gulf of Mexico. Premier Gordon Campbell said environmental and emergency response officers are prepared to go to the affected area. "We felt as friends and neighbors and an important ally to the United States, it was important for British Columbia to express its interest in helping out," Environment Minister Barry Penner said.

• Corus Entertainment is selling its 11 radio stations in Quebec for $80 million to Cogeco. The exit from Quebec will allow the company to focus on television and radio elsewhere in Canada, said CEO John Cassaday. The Quebec stations, including CKAC and CKOI in Montreal, are less profitable than other Corus stations.

• An assistant coach has been suspended after a video posted on YouTube showed 10-year-old hockey players in Humbolt, Saskatchewan, posing with cans and bottles of beer. Also fired was a father who was the minor team's treasurer and filmed the incident. Lorrie Heggie of Sask-Can hockey called it a serious case of misjudgment. The video showed the boys "enjoying a fine beer after a hard game."

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

Canada's military sacrifice honored as new name is added to toll 05/08/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 8, 2010 10:12pm]

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