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Leaders pledge to keep up fight against Cuba trade act

President Clinton is "still holding a gun to our heads" even though he postponed implementation of part of a Cuba anti-trade bill, Canadian Trade Minister Art Eggleton said.

Clinton's decision to suspend for six months the right of U.S. companies to sue Canadian and foreign businesses operating in Cuba on property expropriated by Fidel Castro is, however, a "move in the right direction," Prime Minister Jean Chretien said.

The Canadian government will continue "concerted efforts" to fight the Helms-Burton Act, he said. Also of concern is a provision that bars entry to the United States by executives and families of Canadian companies active in Cuba.

Canada plans to pass a bill allowing companies to counter-sue U.S. companies that win judgments against them under the bill, as well as challenge it under the NAFTA free trade accord, Eggleton said.

Meanwhile, support for a boycott of the United States, primarily Florida, by Canadian tourists and winter visitors is gaining momentum.

"I'm not about to leave for Florida, not so long as Helms-Burton is the law of their land," said political commentator and broadcaster Dalton Camp in a column in the Toronto Star.

"As matters stand, U.S. politicians would rather have the support of a few crazed Cubans in Miami than the goodwill of 22-million Canadians," he wrote.

Callers to radio shows and letters to newspapers also urged "snowbirds" to forsake Florida for somewhere else next winter _ as recommended by Oxfam Canada and humanitarian groups providing aid to Cuba.

Canada ranks best place to live

Canada has again come out on top in a United Nations' ranking of the best places in the world to live.

Canada ranked high for education, literacy, health care, life expectancy and incomes. The United States was second and Japan third in the ranking of 174 nations.

On Canada's report card, the U.N. indicated several areas needing improvement: creating jobs and wealth, the need for more scientists and researchers, and dealing with a growing gap between the rich and poor.

It's the fourth time in 10 years that Canada has earned the top ranking.

From the west

The Calgary Herald reports executive Earl Joudrie, who was shot six times by his estranged socialite wife, Dorothy, will remarry next Saturday. Joudrie, 62, will wed his former wife's second cousin, Lynn Manning, 54, in Toronto. Dorothy Joudrie, 61, is in an Edmonton mental hospital after being found not criminally responsible of attempted murder.

Hailstorms that battered the Rockies smashed windshields, dented cars and flattened crops from Alberta to Manitoba. Grapefruit-sized hail cracked the windshield and dented the nose of a Canadian Airlines jet, forcing an unscheduled landing in Winnipeg.

Facts and figures

The Bank of Canada trimmed its key interest rate Friday to 4.75 percent from 5 percent, but the prime lending rate remained at 6.5 percent.

Canada's dollar closed higher Friday at 73.17 U.S. cents while a U.S. dollar was $1.3666 Canadian.

Stock markets are lower; Toronto's composite index was 5,005 points Friday while Vancouver was 1,131 points and Montreal 2,475 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 1, 8, 10, 15, 40 and 41; bonus 16. (July 13) 1, 2, 10, 24, 29 and 39; bonus 30.

In brief

There are further allegations of misconduct against Canada's beleaguered military. New evidence indicates soldiers were involved in the abuse of mental patients, black marketeering and sexual misconduct in Bosnia. Thirty-four soldiers and officers are being investigated, said Lt. Gen. Maurice Baril. Earlier, several Canadian peacekeepers were convicted in the slaying of a teen in Somalia caught stealing from their camp.

Ontario says deadbeat parents who fail to make child support payments won't be able to renew their drivers' licenses. Support payments of $900-million (Canadian) are owed, forcing some single parents and their children to live on welfare at taxpayer expense.

What about Bob? That's the name being suggested for the Northwest Territories. A tongue-in-cheek campaign on the Internet suggesting Bob is an attempt to generate interest in renaming what remains of the territories after the new region of Nunavut splits off in 1999. Most people, however, are opting for Northwest Territories.