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Two Order of Canada nominees have their detractors

There are growing demands that abortion pioneer Henry Morgentaler and jailed press baron Conrad Black be stripped of their honors as members of the Order of Canada.

Morgentaler is among 75 Canadians to be named to the order, Canada's highest civilian honor, for contributions to the country.

A Polish Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Montreal, Morgentaler, 85, opened an abortion clinic in 1969 and performed thousands of procedures that were then illegal.

He said access to an abortion was a basic human right and women shouldn't have to risk death to end their pregnancies.

Mary Ellen Douglas of the Campaign Life Coalition said it is outrageous that someone who has "spent his life performing abortions" would be honored.

Morgentaler's clinics were constantly raided, one in Toronto was firebombed, and he spent months in jail. In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canada's abortion law was unconstitutional.

"Dr. Morgentaler is a hero to millions of women in the country. He risked his life to struggle for women's rights," said feminist author Judy Rebick.

Meanwhile, Ontario politician Charlie Angus wants Canada to remove Black from the order because he is a criminal.

Black, who denounced his Canadian citizenship and is serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in a Florida prison, was convicted of fraud and obstruction in Chicago.

Maker of auto parts wipes out 2,000 jobs

The shakeout in the automotive industry blamed on high gas prices has resulted in 2,000 more jobs being lost in Ontario.

Progressive Moulded Products abruptly closed 11 Toronto-area plants, crushed by more than $500-million in debt. The company made plastic trim parts for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

Last month, General Motors said it would close its truck-assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, with the loss of 2,600 jobs.

Magna International, Canada's largest auto-parts maker, is cutting 400 jobs at its plant in St. Thomas, Ontario, due to a drop in truck sales.

News in brief

• Two days after Canada marked its 141st birthday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Quebec City the country's most beautiful city on its 400th birthday. At a ceremony marking French explorer Samuel de Champlain's arrival in 1608, Harper said it signified the "beginning of what we have become today … a strong and proud Quebecois nation and a great Canadian country, strong and free."

• Quebec voters and urban women are losing some faith in the ruling minority conservative government. A Harris-Decima poll found the government's perceived values gap on the environment has cost it some support. The Conservatives and Liberals are tied at 31 percent in popularity, followed by the New Democrats with 16 percent, the Green Party with 12 percent, and Bloc Quebecois with 9 percent.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is lower at 98.18 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0186 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 remain lower, with the Toronto composite index at 14,044 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,551 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 12, 18, 19, 35, 42, 43; bonus 44. (June 28) 4, 16, 20, 23, 28, 44; bonus 32. Super 7: (June 27) 7, 8, 12, 17, 22, 31, 47; bonus 35.

Regional briefs

• Halifax-based Jazz Air, a spin­off airline from Air Canada, is cutting 270 jobs and reducing its capacity by 5 percent because of sharply higher fuel prices. Jazz said it will also eliminate service from Hamilton, Ontario, at the end of this month. It ran 10 daily flights to and from Ottawa and Montreal.

• Two Toronto police officers and three correctional officers are among 23 people arrested in a crackdown on marijuana growing operations. Police Chief Bill Blair said officers Kevin Bourne and Patrick Lee were charged in a drug trafficking case involving marijuana, ecstasy, steroids and money laundering.

• Wildfires are raging across tinder-dry Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. High temperatures have dried the forests, and thunderstorms have sparked blazes. Alberta has had 886 wildfires this year. In Saskatchewan, the 900 residents of Deschambault Lake were forced from their homes by the blazes.

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

Two Order of Canada nominees have their detractors 07/05/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 6, 2008 4:15pm]
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