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Clark willing to wait to try to unite right

Uniting Canada's right-wing parties will wait until the Conservative party is healthier, leader Joe Clark says.

Enjoying an upsurge in popularity, Clark _ a former short-term prime minister _ said he is "trying to rebuild" his party across the country. He has also been meeting with dissident members of the Canadian Alliance party with a goal of working cooperatively in Parliament.

The Alliance party, which is the official opposition, is in turmoil, embroiled in a dispute over demands that leader Stockwell Day resign.

"It's clearly time for us to take initiatives," Clark said after a caucus meeting.

There will be no attempt to negotiate a united right with Day as it is "too early" and "nothing's yet been determined," Clark said.

A recent poll showed Clark's support has reached 20 percent while Day's has fallen to five percent. The number of politicians that have abandoned Day or been expelled from the party has reached 13.

Rebel member of Parliament Deborah Grey resigned Thursday from the party's executive committee and joins the others calling on Day to resign for being an ineffectual leader.

Day continues to resist attempts to oust him, saying he will continue to serve the voters who elected him and the party.

Additional Alliance members are expected to present a motion this week making it clear that Day has lost the support of caucus in the hopes he will step down.

News in brief

A federal program aimed at forcing businesses to hire more women, aboriginals, visible minorities and disabled Canadians has been a failure, a study suggests. The program, covering large companies working for the federal government, has had little impact since 1995 in getting more jobs for the disadvantaged, the report by SPR Associates concludes. Staff cuts and lack of enforcement of program objectives were blamed.

Toronto's hopes to host the 2008 Olympics were dashed Friday when Beijing was selected, but officials say they will try again. As well, politicians say they will carry out the massive project to complete Lake Ontario waterfront development in the city even though they aren't getting the games _ at least this time.

Games of a different sort are under way this weekend at York University in Toronto. Some 200 athletes are in town for the World Dwarf Games being held simultaneously with the Little People conference. The athletes are joining hundreds of other dwarfs at workshops to learn about parenting, refitting cars and houses and how genetic engineering might be used to combat the condition.

Rogers Communications is paying $123-million for control of the Sportsnet channel from CTV. When the deal is completed, Rogers will own 80 percent of the voting shares of Sportsnet, with U.S.-based Fox Sports holding the rest.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar gave back its recent gains, ending the week lower at 65.07 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar was worth $1.5368 Canadian before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada key interest rate is unchanged at 4.75 percent while the prime lending rate is 6.25 percent.

Stock markets were mixed with the Toronto Stock Exchange 300 Index at 7,760 points while the Canadian Venture Exchange index was 3,125 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 9, 23, 27, 31, 35 and 48; bonus 1. (July 7) 5, 17, 29, 31, 33 and 46; bonus 20.

Regional briefs

The socialist New Democratic Party, which narrowly escaped extinction in May's British Columbia election, won't become the official opposition in the Legislature. Speaker Claude Richmond said with only two elected members _ Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan _ the party doesn't qualify for official status. The New Democrats had been in power since 1991, but the election resulted in the Liberals winning 77 of 79 seats in the Legislature.

Canada's navy has paid a group of Nova Scotia fishermen $116,000 after ships destroyed their fishing traps last summer. Five mackerel fishermen had sought the money to replace their equipment and lost income.

Animal rights activists are trying to stop a planned swim-with-the-dolphins facility at the Granby Zoo near Montreal. The group includes environmentalists, actors and humane societies from Canada and the United States who said the interactive aquarium would endanger the animals and people could be hurt.

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