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Manitoba's premier is new ambassador to U.S.

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, known as "an advocate of good and assertive relations with the United States," has been named Canada's ambassador in Washington.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper used that description of Doer as he named the socialist New Democratic Party provincial leader to the country's most important diplomatic post.

The popular Doer, 61, will quit as premier to succeed Michael Wilson, a former Conservative finance minister who has held the job as ambassador to the United States since March 2006.

Harper went outside his circle of Conservative Party followers to name Doer, the longest-serving of the current premiers.

Among the major Canada-U.S. issues Doer identified are "border security, country-of-origin legislation and how it's applied in agriculture, and the issues of Buy America provisions and how they affect Canadian workers and Canadian communities."

In his 10 years as premier, Doer has also been involved in clean-energy strategies and trade issues with various U.S. governors and companies.

Doer is the second former premier in the last five years to get the Washington job. Frank McKenna, New Brunswick premier from 1987 to 1997, was named ambassador in 2005.

Storm cuts power, but damage is minor

Hurricane Bill was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Eastern Canada last weekend, causing little damage in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre called the storm a "near-miss" although it cut power to about 40,000 houses and businesses across the region.

Bill hit the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia on Aug. 23 with winds of around 50 mph, and it dumped several inches of rain.

The storm sent huge waves crashing over beach areas and flooded roads, including those to Peggy's Cove and Lawrencetown Beach, a popular surf spot near Halifax.

News in brief

• Prominent Canadians have paid tribute to Sen. Edward Kennedy as a long-standing ally who supported Canada's policies on everything from single-payer Medicare to the refusal to invade Iraq. Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney called him "supportive and generous." Raymond Chretien, former Canadian ambassador to the United States, suggested Kennedy should almost be considered an honorary Canadian. "He was a good supporter of our issues," he said.

• In a two-step approach, Canada will spend about $2.5 million to study the safety and effectiveness of the H1N1 flu vaccine. Earlier, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said $10 million will go toward establishing an influenza network to be used by 80 scientists at 30 institutions. The swine flu has contributed to the deaths of 71 Canadians.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar was lower on Friday at 91.62 cents U.S., while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0915 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada interest rate is unchanged at 0.25 percent, and the prime lending rate is at 2.25 percent.

Stock markets are mixed, with Toronto's composite index up at 10,963 points and the TSX Venture index lower at 1,185 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 4, 6, 9, 29, 33 and 49; bonus 15. (Aug. 22) 15, 19, 23, 38, 43 and 49; bonus 33. Super 7: (Aug. 21) 5, 18, 22, 28, 32, 34 and 40; bonus 42.

Regional briefs

• The British Columbia coroner's office said a 56-year-old man died after his laptop caught fire. The investigation led to a warning that people shouldn't leave laptops running on soft furniture because they can overheat and burst into flames. Laptops should always operate on hard surfaces that allow ventilation, as opposed to soft materials that can block airflow vents, the office said.

• Alberta will offer health care workers voluntary early retirement as part of a plan to attack a $1 billion (U.S.) budget deficit. The province is also cutting about $80 million from its education budget and has warned of more cutbacks. The education cuts include limiting teachers' wage increases to 4.82 percent, not the 5.99 percent the Alberta Teachers' Association says it is entitled to in its contract.

• Bradley Howland was given a conditional discharge and eight months' probation for threatening to assault a New Brunswick teacher who stopped the daily playing of the Canadian national anthem. He was convicted of threatening Erik Millett of Belleisle Elementary School. Judge Henrik Tonning said Howland's passion for the national anthem did not justify his conduct.

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

Manitoba's premier is new ambassador to U.S. 08/29/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 29, 2009 8:26pm]
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