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Party makes quick name change

What's in a name? Enough for a proposed new political party in Canada to change the one it adopted just two days earlier.

The Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance, which intends to unify the divided Canadian right, got its name at a weekend conference.

But jokes began spreading quickly about how the initials of the new name, CCRA, took on a toilet humor reference if the word "party" was added to the end.

Alliance officials emphasized that the formal name lacked any room for adding "party" at the end, but the jokes persisted in editorial cartoons, newspaper columns and other references.

"They gave themselves a name that we cannot pronounce in front of kids," said Prime Minister Jean Chretien, whose governing Liberal Party is the main target of the alliance.

So the alliance on Monday changed its name, switching the order to the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, or CRCA. The shortened reference, Canadian Alliance, remained the same.

Alberta to Ottawa:

Let us run health care

CALGARY, Alberta _ Alberta Premier Ralph Klein announced an additional $1-billion for health care over the next three years, while warning Prime Minister Jean Chretien to butt out of the debate over the province's medical system.

Klein paused in the middle of his annual televised provincial address Monday night to deliver a pointed message to Ottawa. It came shortly after he announced measures to soothe Albertans' concerns over health care _ the top priority in a province flush with oil and gas revenue from its booming oil patch.

"I want to say something to the prime minister of Canada: Sir, the federal government contributes less than 13 cents of every dollar Alberta spends on health care. Somebody who pays that small a percentage of the trip cannot demand the right to give directions," he said.

Klein's remarks follow sparring between Alberta and Ottawa on private sector participation in the province's health care system.

Alberta wants to use private hospitals to do major surgery, reasoning that these facilities will save money because taxpayers won't have to pay for the "bricks and mortar" involved in building hospitals.

The province says patients will not be charged for operations at these private centers because Alberta would use medicare cash to fund the facilities.

But Ottawa could penalize Alberta by withholding cash transfers if the proposal violates the tenets of the Canada Health Act.