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Envoy: Bush was a great friend to Great White North

Canadians are going to miss President George Bush, says David Wilkins, U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

Bush has done much for Canada while in office, said Wilkins, who will return home to South Carolina after President-elect Barack Obama takes over in January.

Calling Bush a personal friend, Wilkins said Canadians have benefited as he has kept North America safe, strongly supported free trade and responded to issues including Canada's softwood lumber exports and border security.

Polls show Canadians overwhelmingly supported Obama and believed that Bush was "not necessarily a friend of Canada."

A longtime Republican state legislator, Wilkins said that Canadians "are going to miss George Bush more than they think they are."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Obama's victory a "truly inspiring moment" signifying an "era of possibility."

He spoke with Obama by phone to offer his congratulations and mentioned the "strong friendship" between the two countries.

"Our most important international relationship is always with the United States for all kinds of reasons, whether it's on environment and energy, the economy and the financial crisis, or on international peace and security issues, particularly Afghanistan," Harper said.

Liberals send warning to prime minister

Canada's new government gets back to work Nov. 18 when the "throne speech" will outline a plan of action.

The opposition Liberals are warning Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government they will be tougher this time.

Leader Stephane Dion said his Liberals will no longer try to avoid overthrowing the government to avoid another election.

If a major bill is defeated in a confidence vote, Canada's parliamentary-style government would be defeated and an election must be held.

News in brief

• The International Monetary Fund says Canada's economy will avoid a recession by a slim margin with growth of just 0.3 percent next year. All other G7 leading industrial countries will see their economies contract, led by Germany and the United States, it said.

• New Brunswick Mounties have apologized to the family of murdered St. Thomas University professor John McKendy, 59, after admitting they were warned in advance about the potential for violence by his son-in-law Nicholas Baker, 27. Police believe McKendy was killed by Baker, who was later found dead in a rental car outside a Moncton hotel.

• An Ontario health care leader was killed and five people were injured when a truck trailer crashed off a Highway 427 overpass crushing cars below on the Queen Elizabeth Way in Toronto. The crash killed Harry Taylor, 53, employed by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, and injured his daughter, Stephanie Taylor. The trailer of the truck, carrying tons of scrap copper tubing, became unhitched.

Facts and figures

Canada's jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.2 percent in October while the economy added 9,500 jobs, many of them for work on the general election.

The Canadian dollar was lower at 84.09 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returned $1.1892 Canadian.

Stock markets were mixed, with the Toronto exchange lower at 9,556 points while the TSX Venture index was up at 923 points.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is unchanged at 2.25 percent while the prime-lending rate is 4 percent.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 4, 13, 17, 27, 35, 45; bonus 34. (Nov. 1) 18, 25, 33, 40, 42, 49; bonus 19. Super 7: (Oct. 31) 7, 10, 13, 14, 23, 39, 41; bonus 16.

Regional briefs

• There are no classes for 50,000 students at York University in Toronto after teaching assistants and contract faculty members went on strike last Thursday. The 3,200 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees have rejected a 9.25 percent raise over three years with improved benefits. They are seeking better job security and enhanced child care, health benefits and cost-of-living provisions.

• British Columbia Energy Minister Richard Neufeld says a misguided person is likely behind a series of attacks on oil and gas pipelines in the province. It's suspected the bombings involve someone who opposes the rapid escalation of the industry in the Peace River region. The latest blast caused a leak at an EnCana wellhead near Tomslake.

• The southern Saskatchewan town of Ogema has made the short list as one of the most livable places in the world. Ogema has a population of 320 people and is about 50 miles south of Regina. It is recognized for its determination to save the local grain elevator and rail line, and for creating 90 jobs in the past few years.

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

Envoy: Bush was a great friend to Great White North 11/08/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 5:12pm]
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