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Ranking Canada's wealthiest

Canada's wealthiest person is publishing mogul Ken Thomson, chairman of Thomson Corp., with a net worth of about $21-billion Canadian.

Rankings published by Canadian Business magazine show 23 of the 100 wealthiest are billionaires, 41 didn't finish university and three out of four created their own fortunes.

Others in the top five: James, Arthur and John Irving, sons of New Brunswick industrialist K.C. Irving, worth $6.67-billion; Galen Weston, chairman of grocer George Weston Ltd., $5.37-billion; Charles Bronfman, son of Seagram liquor company founder, Sam Bronfman, $5.34-billion; and Jeff Skoll, co-founder of eBay Internet auction business, $4.8-billion.

Rounding out the top 10 are the Bombardier aircraft manufacturing family, $3.42-billion; business executive Jim Pattison, $2.2-billion; Fred and Ron Mannix, heirs of industrial tycoon Fred Mannix, $2.15-billion; Ted Rogers of Rogers Communications, $2.06-billion; and Terry Matthews, founder of Newbridge Networks, $1.95-billion.

Three Canadian women in the top 100 are: Julia Conway, widow of cable company co-founder Geoffrey Conway; Heather Reisman with financier husband Gerald Schwartz; and singer Celine Dion.

Stacking the deck?

Opposition politicians accuse Prime Minister Jean Chretien of stacking the Senate with Liberals.

Chretien named Montreal Liberal Member of Parliament Sheila Finestone, 72, and George Furey, 51, a Newfoundland lawyer and Liberal Party organizer. Also appointed Wednesday was Melvin Perry, 73, a retired Prince Edward Island teacher.

The Liberals have an 11-member majority with 53 representatives in the non-elected Senate.

Meanwhile, Chretien's government is considering tax relief for middle-income earners in next year's budget. Provincial premiers on Tuesday called for the government to cut taxes by about $3.5-billion and provide a similar amount for social programs.

Business briefs

Culinar, Quebec's largest bakery company, is being consumed by Interstate Bakeries. The giant U.S. bread and pastrymaker is buying out Investissement Desjardins, the biggest Culinar shareholder, for about $265-million. Culinar, which makes Vachon snack cakes, will keep its staff of 2,300 and Montreal head office.

Louisiana Pacific Corp. of Portland is taking over Canadian forestry company Le Group Forex Inc. of Quebec for about $800-million. Last month, Weyerhaeuser Co., the largest U.S. lumber producer, bought MacMillan Bloedel of Vancouver for $2-billion.

Inco Ltd. is immediately closing two northern Ontario nickel mines to cut costs. The largest nickel producer in the Western world is ending production at Little Stobie and Levack-McCreedy West Mines near Sudbury. Affected workers are being offered other jobs or early retirement.

Facts and figures

The dollar rose sharply Friday to 67.74 U.S. cents, while the U.S. dollar was $1.4766 Canadian before exchange fees.

Also higher were stock exchanges, with the Toronto 300 Index at 6,989 points, Montreal at 3,725 points, Alberta 2,583 points and Vancouver 403 points.

The Bank of Canada key interest rate is 4.75 percent. The prime lending rate is 6.25 percent.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 19, 27, 33, 41, 43 and 46; bonus 42. (Aug. 7) 4, 10, 23, 25, 39 and 42; bonus 11.

Regional briefs

Speed limits are being raised to 100 kilometers an hour (62 mph) on Manitoba's provincial highways and side roads, from 90 kilometers an hour (55 mph).

Five people were killed when a motorboat carrying 14 passengers flipped over in Vancouver's English Bay last weekend. The boat struck a steel cable between a tugboat and a barge.

Newfoundland was one of the best spots to view Wednesday's solar eclipse. Clear skies replaced the usual fog as the last eclipse of the millennium gave the appearance of two sunrises.

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