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Campbell scrambles to win in vote today

Defense Minister Kim Campbell is attempting to keep ahead of a fast-closing rival in order to be named Canada's next prime minister today.

The 3,846 delegates attending the Progressive Conservative leadership convention in Ottawa will decide between Campbell and growing favorite Environment Minister Jean Charest, 34. Three others in the race are far out of the running.

The winner will succeed retiring Prime Minister Brian Mulroney _ who hasn't indicated his favorite _ and must call a national election by year's end.

Although Campbell was the early favorite, her campaign has been slowed by her candor, particularly remarks about the "evil demons of the papacy" and calling politically unconcerned Canadians "condescending SOBs."

She admitted that the comments "hurt me in the short term" but that she has learned from the mistakes and "wears the scars proudly."

In the tortoise-and-hare chase, Charest continues advancing with a steady, composed pace.

Campbell is perceived as "elitist and somewhat inflexible," much like Mulroney, while Charest appears "genuine and sincere while avoiding mistakes," said Professor Terry Downey, a University of Waterloo political scientist.

In advance of the voting, polls showed Campbell had the backing of 46 percent of declared delegates compared with 41 percent for Charest. Many delegates remained undecided and others were reconsidering their backing of Campbell.

A public opinion poll showed 39 percent of Canadians supporting Charest and 24 percent, Campbell _ a major reversal from earlier.

Rabble-rousers turned Montreal into a war zone early Thursday.

What started as victory celebrations after the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup turned violent.

Damage was estimated at $10-million (Canadian) as vehicles, police cars and buses were damaged and shops looted. About 170 people were injured and 130 arrested.

Canadians have become "very crabby" consumers, says Allan Gregg, head of Decima Research.

He told a Retail Council of Canada convention that consumers have lost faith in once-trusted stores and brand names. They do more comparison shopping, put off major purchases and buy less due to the lingering recession and job losses.

People have been forced to lower their expectations, believing pre-recession good times won't return, and there's "no particular joy or status in consumerism," he said.

Facts and figures:

The Canadian dollar dropped to a six-month low below 78 U.S. cents but regained to 78.13 cents Friday. A U.S. dollar returned $1.28 Canadian.

The Bank of Canada trend-setting interest rate was up slightly at 5.17 percent while the prime lending rate remained at 6 percent.

Stock markets were lower, with oronto's composite index at 3,866 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 18, 27, 28, 34, 38 and 45; bonus 19. (June 5) 17, 23, 32, 33, 40 and 47; bonus 27.

In brief:

The collapse of a scaffold led to the deaths of four workers in a 10-story fall at the Garden City Skyway in St. Catharines, Ontario. Six other workers waited for an hour to be rescued from narrow ledges under the highway bridge they were painting.

Finance Minister Don Mazankowski, 57, doesn't plan to seek re-election and will go home to Vegreville, Alberta. Winnipeg lawyer Paul Edwards has succeeded Sharon Carstairs as Manitoba's Liberal leader. Veteran Saskatchewan politician Murray Koskie has quit the Cabinet as police investigate expense claims of several legislature members.

The high-flying Vancouver residential real-estate market soon could see price drops of 5 to 10 percent, analyst Ozzie Jurock says. Big price hikes _ to $300,000 (Canadian) and more for residential lots _ and oversupply should put the brakes on the market, he says.