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Pesticide phaseout is urged

A government committee is calling for less-than-perfect lawns to protect the health of Canadians.

The Commons Environment Committee is recommending pesticides used to treat lawns, golf courses and parks be phased out over five years, calling them a "threat to human health and the environment."

"Dandelions don't pose a threat to health _ but herbicides do, particularly to children," said committee chairman and Liberal Member of Parliament Charles Caccia.

After a year of study, the committee also said food-related pesticide use should be more tightly controlled and urged more organic farming.

"The choice facing us is clear: either to continue with our chronic dependence on pesticides . . . or to give public health protection clear precedence," Caccia said. "We have already done so with tobacco, lead and asbestos."

Pesticide manufacturers said the committee ignored the benefits of their products and Canada's "stringent and modern regulatory system."

Pie throwers convicted

A cream pie in the eye for Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Stephane Dion resulted in two Quebeckers being convicted of assault Wednesday.

Patrick Robert and Benoit Foisy, who donned their trademark red clown noses outside the Montreal courtroom, were given six-month suspended sentences.

They hit Dion in the face as he served dessert at a Montreal soup kitchen.

The two are members of a group called Les entarteurs, which is known for throwing pies at politicians and actors with "big egos."

"This is not over. . . . We are here to stay," they vowed.

News in brief

Manitoba Lotteries Corp. president Bill Funk was fired Monday after a provincial auditor's report cited lax spending policies and misleading public statements. Funk is suing the province for unjust dismissal and defamation. Police are investigating to see if further action is warranted.

The Canadian government is advertising for Chinese language interpreters to prepare for the expected arrival of more human smuggling ships from China. About 600 illegal Chinese migrants were on four ships intercepted last summer off British Columbia's secluded coastline.

Stephen Truscott, 55, who 41 years ago was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl near Clinton, Ontario, wants to clear his name. He's asking the Justice Department to investigate his claim that he was wrongly convicted. Truscott was paroled after 10 years in prison after first being sentenced to death at age 14.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar dropped even though the Bank of Canada took the U.S. lead and raised its key interest rate by half a percentage point to 6 percent to fight inflation. Also up one-half percent is the prime lending rate at 7.5 percent. Statistics Canada said, however, inflation was down to 2.1 percent in April from 3 percent in March.

The dollar regained to 66.89 cents U.S. Friday after falling 1 cent on speculation Canada will be reluctant to match future interest rate increases. The U.S. dollar is worth $1.495 Canadian.

Canadian stock markets gained, with the Toronto Stock Exchange 300 Index at 9,419 points Friday and the Canadian Venture Exchange at 3,424 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 1, 13, 23, 36, 37 and 48; bonus 16. (May 13) 2, 10, 11, 27, 33 and 37; bonus 7.

Regional briefs

The Alberta government says it will invoke closure to shut off debate and thwart opposition stalling over its tax reform legislation. Government house leader Dave Hancock said opposition to tax cuts is "insane."

A $500,000 public grant will help film producers in Canada's Atlantic provinces to sell their work, paying for airline tickets to film and TV festivals and lessons on writing business plans.