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Anti-terrorist unit to be disbanded

Published Oct. 10, 2005

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police's highly secretive 50-man, special anti-terrorist squad is about to be disbanded after spending at least $25-million and never dealing with a terrorist incident during the six years of its existence, the Toronto Globe and Mail has learned.

Its duties will be assumed by the army as part of a cost-cutting move, police sources say. The squad, called the Special Emergency Response Team, or SERT, was formed in 1986. Costs of its operation are based on information obtained by the Globe and Mail under the Access to Information Act.

Since being formed, SERT has trained at a special camp at Dwyer Hill, near Ottawa, where money has been lavished on equipment and training facilities, including a new gymnasium, swimming pool and a state-of-the-art combat shooting range.

SERT has so little to do, police sources said, its bored members have been relegated to part-time armed patrols of embassies and diplomats' homes in the national capital to give them a break from the monotony of constantly training for a terrorist event to happen.

Court says prisoners may vote: Thousands of Canadian jail inmates may get a chance to vote in the next elections thanks to a landmark high court decision.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously Monday that a law barring prisoners from voting violated the charter of rights guaranteeing every citizen the right to vote.

The Justice Department has not decided whether to appeal to Canada's Supreme Court on the issue, which must be cleared up before the next federal elections to be held by mid-1993.

German sentenced for smuggling Sikhs: A Canadian judge jailed a German landscaper for 15 months and fined him $5,000 Canadian ($4,350 U.S.) for smuggling 13 Sikhs from India into the east coast port of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Christian Muhme, 29, and a partner hid the Sikhs in a van, then drove it aboard a Polish container ship docked in Bremerhaven, Germany. A Canadian customs officer found the Sikhs on Jan. 27 after the ship docked in Halifax. The Sikhs, who paid $9,400 Canadian ($8,175 U.S.) each for their nine-day voyage to Canada, have applied for refugee status, claiming persecution in India.

Wage increases slow in 1991: Wage hikes for Canadian workers slowed sharply in 1991, restricted by the country's recession, falling consumer inflation and government cutbacks, the government said Monday.

Annual wage increases in major labor contracts negotiated last year averaged 3.6 percent, down from 5.7 percent in 1990, the Department of Labor said. It is the first fall since 1986.

"When a recession takes hold, industry is less able to pass price increases so they try to hold down labor costs," said Craig Wright, an economist with the Bank of Montreal.

Public sector wages rose by an average of 3.5 percent in 1991, the lowest level since the government started keeping records in 1978, the government said.

The average public sector rise in 1990 was 5.6 percent.

Private sector increases declined to 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 1991 from a peak of 6.4 percent in the third quarter of 1990.

Economists expect Canada's annual inflation rate to drop to about 1.4 percent when January figures are released Friday. That would be the lowest level since 1971.

_ Information from the Toronto Globe and Mail and Reuters was used in this report.