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Canada Report for August 3: Harper condemns Hamas, Russia

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder speaks at a news conference regarding the planned $1 billion bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Michigan and Canada have appointed members of a group to oversee construction of the bridge.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder speaks at a news conference regarding the planned $1 billion bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Michigan and Canada have appointed members of a group to oversee construction of the bridge.
Published Aug. 2, 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues with his hard line against terrorists even as the United States and United Nations condemned the violence in the Middle East.

"Obviously, no one likes to see the suffering and loss of life that has occurred," Harper said, referring to the deaths in Gaza in fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Harper believes Israel is justified in its actions and said Canada would do the same to fight back against terrorism.

"We hold the terrorist organization Hamas responsible for this — they have initiated and continue this conflict and continue to seek the destruction of the state of Israel," he said.

Harper also said Russia was involved in the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that killed 298.

"There is zero doubt that those people who are responsible for violence and destabilization in Ukraine are acting as agents of the government of Russia."

Harper also blamed China for a recent cyber attack on National Research Council Canada's computers that was denied by the Chinese government.

Windsor-Detroit bridge approved; work begins

Work is moving ahead on plans to build a $1 billion bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit.

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority, a Canadian government agency, will manage the project that will have six lanes and is expected to open in 2020.

A U.S. court rejected a request for an injunction by the owner of the private Ambassador Bridge, and a final permit was issued for the new structure.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said the bridge is needed for "growing trade and traffic at Canada's busiest U.S. commercial border crossing," where there is also a two-lane tunnel.

Canada has agreed to finance the construction of the new bridge, with assistance from the U.S. government.

News in brief

• Toronto police Chief Bill Blair, 60, who has been a target of criticism from Mayor Rob Ford, is losing his job. The Police Services Board decided not to renew him for a third five-year term in April. Board chair Alok Mukherjee said the police service needs some "fundamental" changes in how it operates.

• The British Columbia government has approved a proposed $5.3 billion mine at one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world. The environmental approval will allow Toronto-based Seabridge Gold's Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell project near Stewart in the north. Plans are to mine 145,000 tons of ore a day for up to 52 years.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar has dropped to 91.64 U.S. cents, while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0912 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 1 percent, and the prime-lending rate is unchanged at 3 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,215 points and the TSX Venture index at 999 points.

The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is up at $1.3107 (Canadian).

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Regional briefs

• Justin Bourque, 24, of Moncton, has been found mentally fit to stand trial for the murders of three Mounties and wounding of two others. Bourque was arrested June 4 in the shooting deaths of Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Douglas Larche and Dave Ross in the New Brunswick city.

• The opposition Wildrose party is demanding a police investigation into former Alberta Conservative premier Alison Redford's use of government aircraft. Reports say the provincial auditor-general found that Redford's office booked "false passengers" on some flights so she could fly alone and took her daughter on dozens of trips. Redford resigned in June after a party revolt over her spending.

• There's a battle over the sale of milk in containers, as opposed to the long-standing plastic bags in Ontario. The Dairy Farmers of Ontario is concerned over a test project in Mac's Convenience Stores that sells milk in three-liter jugs. The group says that could eliminate the standard four-liter pack of milk contained in three plastic bags. The Ontario Dairy Council wants to open up the market entirely to three-liter containers.

Jim Fox can be reached at