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Tax cuts, strict laws start 2001; Trudeau's death year's top story

Canadians begin the New Year with lower income taxes and tougher privacy and gun laws.

There are tax cuts for all as a result of the Liberal government's five-year plan to cut the burden by $100-billion.

The lowest income tax rate falls to 16 percent from 17 percent on Monday while the "middle rate" of 24 percent drops 2 percent. The 29 percent rate becomes 26 percent for incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 while those earning more continue to pay 29 percent.

Also gone is a 5-percent deficit elimination surtax on higher incomes.

As a result, a two-income family of four earning $60,000 will have a tax cut of $1,021.

New is the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act giving Canadians the power to say yes or no to the collection of data about them. People also have the right to an explanation of why information is being collected and how it will be used.

Still contentious is a law requiring gun owners to get a license for firearms. They were to have applied for a license by today but the government has granted a six-month extension.

Trudeau top newsmaker

The late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was the overwhelming choice as Canadian newsmaker of the year.

His death last September from cancer at age 80 was also chosen the Canadian news story of the year in the annual survey of newspaper editors and broadcasters.

In the 54-year history of the survey, Trudeau has been named newsmaker a record 10 times _ one more than Lester Pearson, another former Liberal prime minister and diplomat.

Last year, Trudeau was named Canadian newsmaker of the 20th century.

In brief

The Rideau Canal, which flows (when it isn't frozen) through Canada's capital, Ottawa, opened for the season Friday as the world's longest skating rink. The 5-mile skateway has been used by the public the past 31 winters and is a big attraction for tourists and a focal point for February's annual Winterlude festival.

Opposition Leader Stockwell Day and wife Valorie celebrated Christmas by welcoming their fourth grandchild. Gabriel Day was born in Red Deer, Alberta, the fourth child of eldest son Ben and wife Karen.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is at a three-month high amid prospects of lower U.S. interest rates but no change at home. The dollar closed Friday at 66.69 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar was worth about $1.49 Canadian before bank exchange fees.

For the week, Canadian stock markets were higher with the Toronto 300 Index at 8,872 points on Friday while the Canadian Venture Exchange was 2,838 points.

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

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 6, 9, 17, 33, 43 and 45; bonus 37. (Dec. 23) 11, 15, 24, 30, 31 and 33; bonus 25.

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