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Sons say Trudeau's health failing

The Canadian news media has been on alert since Thursday when the sons of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau issued a statement saying he was "not well" and receiving medical attention at his Montreal home.

The Toronto Star on Friday quoted the family priest, Father Benoit Lacroix, saying he has been asked to "be on hand" and that "it certainly seems he won't be able to come back."

A second statement from the sons Friday said Trudeau's condition is stable and no immediate change is expected. They asked to respect their wishes for privacy.

No details were given about his medical condition, but some friends say Trudeau, who will be 81 next month, is in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

Trudeau was prime minister from 1968 until 1979 and from 1980 until 1984.

"He had a vision of Canada which not everybody shared but he commanded respect, commanded an image and gave Canadians a sense of pride," said historian Desmond Morton of McGill University.

Day: Chretien's time has passed

Alliance leader Stockwell Day has launched his election campaign even though the date of the next Canadian election isn't yet known.

At a caucus in Saskatoon, the leader of the newly formed right-wing party called Prime Minister Jean Chretien a leader whose time has passed.

"Jean Chretien can be proud of his past _ he has served his country for almost 40 years," Day told 1,000 supporters. "But most Canadians believe that he represents an earlier era in Canadian politics, not the future."

A week earlier, Chretien called him "Blocwell Day" after two separatist Bloc Quebecois members of Parliament switched to Day's camp.

In brief

+ The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is urging the federal government to give more significant tax cuts and debt reduction through its estimated $5-billion surplus this year and next. The Chretien government, however, is considering allotting more money to social programs.

+ Giuliano Zaccardelli is the new commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Chretien announced the appointment of Zaccardelli, 52, the former deputy commissioner, to replace the retiring Philip Murray.

Facts and figures

Canada's jobless rate jumped to 7.1 percent in August from 6.8 percent a month earlier even though a hot economy is creating more jobs, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The Canadian dollar was lower Friday at 67.69 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar was worth $1.4773 in Canadian funds, before exchange fees.

There's no change in the Bank of Canada key interest rate of 6 percent or the 7.5 percent prime lending rate.

The Toronto Stock Exchange 300 Index lost 242 points Friday to close at 10,819 points, but the Canadian Venture Exchange index was up at 3,647 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 20, 27, 31, 40, 42 and 45; bonus 32. (Sept. 2) 4, 6, 12, 27, 28 and 46; bonus 18.

Regional briefs

+ With energy prices at record highs, oil-rich Alberta, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are reaping the rewards, Bank of Montreal chief economist Tim O'Neill said in a regional forecast. Crude oil price surges haven't dampened consumer spending or ignited inflation, he added.

+ Alberta taxpayers will each receive $300 and households will be given a $20 a month credit next year on their electric bills, Premier Ralph Klein said. The government's generosity as a provincial election looms is the result of a growing budget surplus and is to offset the high cost of natural gas, gasoline and other fuels.

+ Canadian Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal said he has found no new way to end a bitter dispute over native fishing rights on the East Coast and warned that his officers would continue to enforce the law. Officers continue to seize boats and equipment in St. Mary's Bay near Yarmouth as natives defy orders to stop fishing for lobster out of season.