In Canada, Trudeau's son talks of Quebec independence

Published Feb. 19, 2012

Canadians are bristling after the son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau suggested he might someday support separatism for Quebec.

Justin Trudeau, 40-year-old Liberal Member of Parliament from Montreal, was commenting on the "values" of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in an interview.

"I always say that if I ever believed Canada was really the Canada of Stephen Harper . . . maybe I'd think of wanting to make Quebec a country," he said.

In explaining his remarks later, Trudeau said it is "ridiculous" to question his devotion to a united Canada.

It was merely the "tone and the values" of the Conservative government that pushed him to say what he did, he said.

Independence-seeking Bloc Québécois politicians were pleased by Trudeau's "realization" that Quebec's values are not shared by the federal government or the rest of Canada.

Other federalist party members recalled that his father had been an archenemy of Quebec separatists.

Government puts end to long-gun registry

The Canadian government has finally killed off the controversial long-gun registry.

Prime Minister Harper's government used its majority to pass the bill 159-130 with the support of maverick New Democrats John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer.

The Conservatives have opposed the registry created by the former Liberal government after the massacre of 14 women at Montreal's École Polytechnique university in 1989.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said it was a "billion-dollar boondoggle" that is ineffective and penalizes law-abiding hunters and farmers.

News in brief

• Cuts in health care spending, freezing doctors' payments and ending full-day kindergarten are among 362 recommendations to eliminate Ontario's escalating budget deficit. In a report, former TD Bank economist Don Drummond also said class sizes should be increased and teachers should work longer than the average 59 years of age before retirement, warning the deficit could reach $30 billion within five years. Also suggested are higher electricity and water charges and closing one of the two Niagara Falls casinos.

• A British Columbia man was sentenced to 17 months in jail for taking part in Vancouver's Stanley Cup street riot in June. Ryan Dickinson, 20, of Coquitlam was part of a mob that caused $1.2 million in damage. There are 46 others awaiting trial from among 125 rioters police have identified so far.

• An agreement reached during Prime Minister Harper's recent trip to China was a 10-year loan of pandas Er Shun and Ji Li. The giant pandas will move into the Toronto and Calgary zoos next year. There is a hope that the male-female pair might mate while living in Canada.

Facts and figures

A jump in gasoline and food prices pushed Canada's annual inflation rate up to 2.5 percent last month from 2.3 percent.

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Canada's dollar is worth $1.0032 in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback returns 99.67 cents Canadian before bank exchange fees.

The key interest rate of the Bank of Canada is 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,445 points and the TSX Venture Exchange index 1,649 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 19, 21, 41, 43 and 47; bonus 9. (Feb. 11) 6, 13, 19, 32, 43 and 44; bonus 9. Lotto Max: (Feb. 10) 1, 5, 25, 35, 38, 44 and 47; bonus 39.

Regional briefs

• Several people were arrested in Montreal when hundreds protested against proposed university tuition fee increases. Strikes are also planned by students as Quebec's Liberal government moves to raise fees by $325 annually over five years. The fees are the lowest in Canada at $2,168 a year for full-time students.

• Someone in Alberta is holding an uncashed lottery ticket worth $1 million tax free. There is just one week left before the expiration date for the holder to cash the Lotto Max ticket bought in Calgary for the draw on Feb. 25 of last year. The winning numbers were 2, 12, 31, 34, 45, 48 and 49. In 2006, a $14.9 million ticket sold in Alberta also went unclaimed.

• Daredevil Nik Wallenda has been given permission to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope next summer. The Niagara Parks Commission reluctantly approved the stunt request from the descendant of the famous circus performers, the Flying Wallendas. He wants to "fulfill a dream" of walking along a cable stretched across the Niagara River between the United States and Canada.

Jim Fox can be reached at