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Campbell offers defeated rival a job as her deputy

Kim Campbell, who takes over as Canada's prime minister on Friday, has asked her leadership rival to become deputy prime minister.

By offering the post to Jean Charest, 34, Campbell is attempting to heal a rift from the somewhat bitter Conservative leadership race as the party prepares for national elections this fall.

Campbell called on Charest with the "scars of the Conservative leadership campaign threatening party unity," the Canadian Press reported.

Charest has appeared disgruntled over his loss to Campbell, 46, in the vote last Sunday in which the party selected a successor to retiring Brian Mulroney.

Charest reportedly might prefer to be the party's Quebec lieutenant, which would give him more political independence and a better position for a future leadership bid.

A native Quebecer, Charest would help the party attract votes from the mainly French-speaking province where Campbell, a Westerner from Vancouver, might not do well.

Canadians will be thrilled by her new government taking office Friday, Campbell said. It will offer a "clear vision" that focuses on economic well-being and policies with a "human face," she added.

Outspoken Canadian media magnate Conrad Black has mocked Canada's pretentions of being morally superior to the United States.

He amused an audience of U.S. business leaders in New York by warning that Canada risks becoming a "society of overcompensated self-pitiers" led by politicians elected only on the strength of their promises to be "most caring."

Americans are tired of being lectured about Canada's superior health-care system, its tighter gun control laws and relative absence of homelessness, he said.

While it's true that Canada has fewer poor people than the United States, its safety net of social security programs has become a hammock, Black said.

He ridiculed the idea of "social spending to demonstrate compassion," blaming the country's $700-billion (Canadian) debt on the 40-year-old policy of pouring aid payments into have-not provinces.

From the west

Premier Ralph Klein rode a wave of popular support to return the Conservatives to a seventh straight majority in the Alberta election. "Trust me, I'm Ralph" was the theme of the former TV reporter and Calgary mayor's campaign.

Vancouver teachers ordered back to work by the British Columbia government, ending a three-week strike, are waiting for binding arbitration to settle their dispute. Money was the main issue for the 54,000 teachers, who earn$37,000 to $60,300 (Canadian) a year.

Facts and figures

The Bank of Canada interest rate has dropped to a 20-year low of 4.94 percent, but the prime lending rate remains at 6 percent.

Canada's dollar rose to 78.51 U.S. cents Friday while a U.S. dollar returned $1.2737 Canadian.

Stock markets were higher; Toronto's composite index closed Friday at 3,906 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 8, 12, 20, 26 and 39; bonus 24. (June 12) 1, 3, 13, 21, 32 and 45; bonus 37.

In brief

Canada's seniors will receive a $1.91 monthly raise in the security pension paid to those 65 and older. The new rate will be $383.51 (Canadian), while the guaranteed income supplement increases to $455.76.

Prime Minister Mulroney is almost gone, but the cost of his goodbyes may not soon be forgotten. A two-hour TV tribute last week cost $400,000 (Canadian). Also leaving and not seeking re-election is Trade Minister Michael Wilson, who pushed the goods and services tax and free trade.

Premier Bob Rae's socialist Ontario government will legislate a three-year wage freeze for 1-million public sector workers if they fail to agree to a "social contract" by Aug. 1 to save $2-billion (Canadian).

Canadians celebrated tax freedom day last week. That's when workers have paid off taxes and begin "keeping" their take-home pay for the rest of the year.