Canadians will learn officially today that there will be a general election Oct. 14, the day after the country's Thanksgiving.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has arranged to meet with Governor General Michaelle Jean today to request the "dissolution" of Parliament, setting the stage for his quest to give his Conservative government a majority.
Harper said the current minority government has reached the stage of being unworkable. He goes into the election with a lead in personal popularity over Liberal leader Stephane Dion.
The Conservatives have been running attack ads all year, lately over Liberal plans for a carbon energy tax, which Dion has recently modified.
The Liberals will be telling voters that "hockey dad" Harper is dragging Canada into a budget deficit and has broken his word by taxing income trusts and going back on his promise of a fixed election date of October 2009.
Harper's party ended almost 13 years of Liberal government when it was elected in January 2006.
Canadians uneasy about Afghanistan
Canadians are increasingly feeling the country is paying too high a price for its involvement in Afghanistan.
A Canadian Press-Harris Decima survey found two-thirds of those surveyed felt that way even before the deaths in the past week of three more Canadian soldiers.
There have been 96 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat and two aid workers killed in Afghanistan.
Canada is spending $1.8-billion (U.S.) for aid and reconstruction and is committed to remain until at least July 2011.
Among the projects to be completed are rebuilding a dilapidated irrigation dam, building 50 schools and training 3,000 teachers, along with training police and national army troops.
News in brief
• Prime Minister Harper plans a "broad" independent investigation into the countrywide listeriosis outbreak blamed in 13 deaths and 38 illnesses. The outbreak is linked to tainted meat from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto, resulting in a huge recall. In the past week, there have also been listeria monocytogenes bacteria recalls of sliced mushrooms and cheese from other Ontario companies.
• The closing of the (John) Deere and Co. plant in Welland, Ontario, with the loss of 800 jobs is blamed on Canada's stronger dollar, which has escalated manufacturing costs. The farm-machinery company will move production to the United States or elsewhere by the end of next year, with the first job cuts in February.
• Thomas Bata, owner of the global shoe company bearing his name, has died in Toronto at age 93. Bata's father, Tomas, a ninth-generation cobbler, founded the shoe empire in the Czech Republic in 1894. It has been run since 2001 by Thomas Bata's son, Thomas George Bata. Thomas Bata is survived by his wife, Sonja, the son and three daughters.
Facts and figures
There's no further interest relief as the Bank of Canada kept its trendsetting rate steady at 3 percent and the prime stayed at 4.75 percent.
Canada's dollar slumped to a one-year low even though Statistics Canada said the job market showed a mild recovery last month.
There were 15,200 jobs created in August, while the jobless rate was steady at 6.1 percent and hourly wages were 3.8 percent higher than a year ago.
The dollar dipped to 93.69 cents U.S. on Friday, while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0673 Canadian, before bank exchanges fees.
Canadian stock markets plummeted with Toronto's composite index off at 12,576 points, and the TSX Venture index was 1,786 points on Friday.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 5, 21, 28, 32, 43, 46; bonus 13. (Aug. 30) 2, 26, 29, 36, 37, 45; bonus 31. Super 7: (Aug. 29) 1, 3, 16, 18, 22, 28, 43; bonus 8.
• Emergency Measures officials on Canada's east coast have warned of high winds and rain through the weekend as the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna hit the region. Environment Canada predicted the post-tropical storm will have sustained winds of 50 mph when it reaches the Maritimes today.
• Power crews from southwestern Ontario are among those working in Louisiana to help restore electricity cut by Hurricane Gustav. The crews include those from Chatham-Kent Hydro, Essex Power, Bluewater Power, Elk Energy and Middlesex Power, who are working 12- to 16-hour days until the lights are back on.
Jim Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.