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Luck of lottery retailers in Canada scrutinized

Some politicians are questioning the good fortune of members of an Ontario family who were lottery retailers and won 167 prizes worth more than $1.2-million (U.S.) in nine years.

But officials of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. say it appears to be just good luck in all those wins — including several jackpots in the same week — and one prize of $1-million, tax free.

"I guess that's the kind of luck that all of us would want," Conservative leader John Tory said, demanding a further investigation.

Police said they found no evidence of wrongdoing in the case of the Jackson family of Jellicoe and the family's winnings.

An earlier investigation uncovered numerous cases of lottery retailer fraud and suspected cheating, but Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty's government didn't move to prevent dealers from playing the games.

New Democratic Party politicians are calling for a public inquiry, not just the forensic audit under way into wins by retailers since 1995.

Lottery players "have the right to know that these games are fair," Tory said.

Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin was critical of the corporation in a report last year, saying it had a "fatal flaw" of "coddling" retailers, some of whom were among its best customers.

Subsidies seek end to tobacco farming

The Canadian government is giving tobacco farmers $300-million (U.S.) to help them kick the habit for good.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said the money will help farmers find new crops and get out of the tobacco industry.

The money is coming from $1.15-billion in fines on Imperial Tobacco Canada and Rothman's Benson & Hedges, who admitted to offenses related to cross-border (Canada-U.S.) cigarette smuggling in the 1990s.

News in brief

• Vince Weiguang Li, 40, of Edmonton, who is accused of slashing and beheading a bus passenger, refused to speak when he appeared in court in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, on Friday. Prosecutors want a psychiatric assessment on Li, who is being held in the slaying of carnival worker Tim McLean, 22, on a Greyhound bus en route to Winnipeg on Wednesday.

• Bell Canada is cutting 2,500 nonunion jobs, amounting to 15 percent of its management workforce, to enhance its efficiency, lower costs and become more competitive, new chief executive George Cope said. This, along with an earlier reduction of executive jobs, will help save about $300-million (U.S.) in annual costs. Up to an additional 1,000 positions are expected to be eliminated from the work force of about 40,000.

• The Mounties and Transport Canada said a van involved in January's bus crash in New Brunswick, which killed seven members of the Bathurst High School basketball team and the coach's wife, was unfit for the road. The van that skidded into a truck on an icy highway had worn tires and bad brakes, an investigation found.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar dipped to its lowest point of the year on Friday, closing at 97.36 cents U.S., while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0271 Canadian, before bank exchanges fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 3 percent, while the prime lending rate is 4.75 percent.

Stock markets are higher, with Toronto's composite index at 13,496 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,238 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 10, 21, 26, 38, 43; bonus 48. (July 26) 2, 6, 20, 23, 38, 45; bonus 24. Super 7: (July 25) 4, 5, 28, 29, 32, 39, 40; bonus 8.

Regional briefs

• The Alberta government is reviewing its water policies after effectively creating Canada's first private water market, which analysts call a "dangerous precedent." A year ago, the government turned off the tap for new water licenses in the province's arid southern region. Now, those with water to spare can sell it to the highest bidder.

• British Columbia's Sea-to-Sky Highway, linking Vancouver and Whistler, is expected to reopen today after being blocked since late Tuesday by a rock slide. Massive boulders and tons of debris littered the highway south of Squamish near Porteau Cove. No one was injured. Work crews have been trying to stabilize a cliff to open the road.

• A four-day workweek is being considered for provincial government workers in Nova Scotia to conserve energy. Energy Minister Richard Hurlburt said the shorter week with 10-hour workdays from Monday to Thursday is one of several conservation measures being studied.

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

Luck of lottery retailers in Canada scrutinized 08/02/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 10:09am]
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