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Canadian Liberals weigh options after modest gains

The Liberals — even after winning three of four federal by-elections — continue to debate whether to overthrow the minority Conservative government or to resume propping it up.

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion was pleased with the results of the by-elections to fill vacancies in the House of Commons, but an analysis shows party support remained steady in Ontario but dropped elsewhere.

Former Liberal leadership rivals Bob Rae and Martha Hall Findlay were elected in Toronto, but the party lost in Saskatchewan and narrowly won in a former stronghold in Vancouver.

Former British Columbia Cabinet minister Joyce Murray was elected in Vancouver Quadra by 151 votes while Joan Beatty, Dion's personal pick in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, Saskatchewan, was soundly defeated by Conservative Rob Clarke.

Liberal strategists had hoped for stronger support to give them confidence to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government and force a federal election.

The latest national poll shows voter support for the Conservatives and Liberals tied at 32 percent while the New Democrats have 17 percent and the Green Party, 8 percent.

Canadian case gets fast track in Mexico

Two Canadian parliamentarians were given assurances by Mexican officials that they will try to "fast track" the case of a Canadian woman held in a Guadalajara jail.

Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism, and Member of Parliament Rick Norlock went to Mexico to discuss the case of Brenda Martin with the Mexican attorney general's office.

Martin, 51, of Trenton, Ontario, has been held for two years without a trial in connection with a $60-million Internet investment scam run by her former boss.

She denies any involvement in money laundering or participating in a criminal conspiracy while working as a chef for Alyn Waage in Puerto Vallarta in 2001.

Waage, who said Martin wasn't involved, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

News in brief

• Sergeant Jason Boyes, 32, is Canada's 81st solider to die in the conflict in Afghanistan. A native of Napanee, Ontario, and with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Shilo, Manitoba, Boyes was killed by an "explosive device" while on foot patrol.

• It's now apparent that groundhog Wiarton Willie of Ontario got it wrong when he predicted only six more weeks of winter on Feb. 2. Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips says there might be another four to six weeks yet. On the first day of spring, snow and freezing rain fell across Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

Facts and figures

Lower prices for commodities have dropped the value of Canada's dollar to 97.67 cents U.S. The U.S. greenback returns $1.0239 Canadian, before bank exchanges fees.

Canada's inflation rate rose 1.8 percent in February, down from 2.2 percent in January, the lowest in six months. That leaves the Bank of Canada room to keep cutting interest rates to boost economic activity without fear of stoking inflation, analysts said.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 4 percent while the prime lending rate is 5.75 percent.

Canadian stock markets are lower, with the Toronto Exchange index at 12,775 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 2,462 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 23, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45; bonus 43. (March 15) 3, 9, 11, 19, 30, 39; bonus 20. Super 7: (March 14) 12, 22, 27, 29, 37, 43, 44; bonus 11.

Regional briefs

• Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley wants a bill passed to make big rigs slow down, to save lives and cut pollution. He has called for making speed restrictors mandatory on all large commercial vehicles — a move endorsed by the Ontario Trucking Association. The devices would limit trucks to a top speed of 105 kilometers an hour (about 65 mph).

• Guy Beauparlant, 55, was killed when the roof of his house in Shawinigan, Quebec, caved in. He heard a loud cracking noise and rushed his wife and two small children out of their home to safety just before the roof fell trapping him. Three women were killed a week earlier in Quebec when the snow-covered roof of the Gourmet du Village food plant collapsed in Morin-Heights.

• BC (British Columbia) Ferries' newest ship, Coastal Inspiration, is steaming toward Nanaimo from a German shipyard. It is the second of three new Super C-class vessels, including Coastal Renaissance, which has begun service between Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay.

Jim Fox can be reached at

Canadian Liberals weigh options after modest gains 03/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:45am]
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