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In Canada, CBC to cut jobs and favorite programs

A casket contains the remains of Cpl. Tyler Crooks, one of four Canadians killed March 20 in Afghanistan. A comedian and a Fox News host recently ridiculed the Canadian military.

Associated Press

A casket contains the remains of Cpl. Tyler Crooks, one of four Canadians killed March 20 in Afghanistan. A comedian and a Fox News host recently ridiculed the Canadian military.

Radio and TV programs that are favorites of Canadians will be cut and 800 jobs lost as the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. slashes costs.

At a time when Canada is trying to maintain and increase its domestic content, the public broadcaster faces a $140 million (U.S.) deficit for the coming fiscal year.

With no additional money available from the federal government, this means that award-winning CBC radio shows Outfront and the Inside Track will disappear, and coverage of sports programs will be scaled back, officials said.

On TV, there will be fewer episodes of the Border, Little Mosque on the Prairie and Being Erica, along with staff cuts at Fifth Estate and Marketplace.

Calling it a "huge cut for the CBC," Richard Stursberg, executive vice president of English services, said there would be more repeats but attempts are being made to protect the broadcaster's most popular national and regional shows.

Part of the plan announced by CBC president Hubert La­croix includes selling $100 million in assets. If that is unsuccessful, there are predictions the number of layoffs will jump to 1,300.

Fox News draws ire for military comments

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld has apologized for ridiculing the Canadian military's efforts in Afghanistan and calling Canada a "ridiculous country" with no army.

Gutfeld said he "may have been misunderstood," but his cutting remarks came as four more Canadian soldiers were killed in the conflict.

Defense Minister Peter Mac­Kay was angered and demanded an apology. He said Canadian soldiers have been fighting in Afghanistan for eight years with 116 deaths — the highest casualty rate among allied countries.

"I didn't even know that they were in the war," comedian Doug Benson said on the show.

Benson had a four-night appearance booked for an Edmonton comedy club that has been canceled because of the backlash.

Outraged Canadians posted the segment at www.youtube.com/watchtv under the title "How to Lose Friends and Alienate Countries."

News in brief

• Suncor Energy is offering $15 billion to take over Petro-Canada, a deal that would create the largest energy company in Canada and the fifth biggest in North America. The deal, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, would result in the demise of Petro-Canada, the integrated oil company created by the government in the 1970s to assert Canadian control over the country's energy sector.

• Police in Barbados have charged Curtis Joel Foster, 24, with murdering Terry Schwarz­feld of Ottawa. Schwarzfeld, 60, a prominent member of Canada's Jewish community, and her daughter-in-law, Luana Cotsman of Guelph, Ontario, were attacked last month. Foster was sentenced to two years in jail for crimes committed along the same stretch of beach.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is slightly higher at 80.81 U.S. cents, while the U.S. greenback returns $1.2374 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent, while the prime lending rate is 2.5 percent.

Stock markets are higher for the past week, with Toronto's composite index at 8,864 points and the TSX Venture index at 972 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 9, 16, 34, 42, 44 and 48; bonus 13. (March 21) 14, 19, 34, 37, 39 and 42; bonus 47. Super 7: (March 20) 10, 23, 28, 29, 31, 32 and 46; bonus 3.

Regional briefs

• Ontario residents will pay more for most products and services when the provincial and federal sales taxes, now totaling 13 percent, are combined July 1, 2010. To blunt the impact of the "harmonized" taxes, the government will give families rebates of $810 ($1,000 Canadian) with household incomes of less than $130,000. The budget also cuts business and personal taxes while offering billions in economic recovery money for transit, health care and infrastructure projects.

• Improvements to Manitoba's dikes and floodway are being put to the test by Red River floodwaters. Premier Gary Doer said ring dikes around vulnerable towns in southern Manitoba were raised and the floodway protecting Winnipeg was expanded after flooding in 1997. The real threat is coming from ice jams along the river that have caused flooding north of Winnipeg.

• A witness testified that an Edmonton Transit bus driver was on her cell phone when she struck and killed an elderly woman in a crosswalk last year. In Toronto, police said a 28-year-old woman on her cell phone walked against a red light into the side of a turning truck and was killed.

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

In Canada, CBC to cut jobs and favorite programs 03/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 28, 2009 6:38pm]

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