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Promoting Cdn. stimulus model

Finance Minister Joe Oliver says while some European countries need more stimulus spending, that's not what he's planning for Canada.

Oliver says the G20 nations will come close to meeting their goal of raising global GDP by more than $2 trillion over the next five years if they all implement solid economic plans.

But though G20 finance ministers pledged this weekend that infrastructure investment was key to that target, Oliver says not every country needs to take the same approach.

With Canada out of recession, Oliver says economic growth here will come from increased labour mobility, lower taxes and increased trade, among other things.

But Oliver says some European countries need to act more aggressively in implementing stimulus spending programs like Canada had during the recession.

Oliver says he told his G20 counterparts in Australia this weekend that those programs need to be timely and temporary and backed-up by plans to get budgets back in balance when the stimulus is no longer required.

The Canadian Press


Protest draws large crowd

Thousands marched through downtown Montreal on Saturday to denounce the Quebec government's planned pension reforms for municipal workers.

The rally, which spanned several street lengths, was organized by union groups opposed to the changes.

The march ended at the Montreal office of Premier Philippe Couillard.

Marc Ranger, the leader of the union coalition, says he believes the protest movement will grow once the rest of the population realizes the extent of the government's austerity measures.

He says the pension reforms are part of a larger cost-cutting program that will effect health care and social services.

The legislation proposed by Couillard's government calls for a 50-50 split between municipalities and unionized workers on pension contributions and deficits.

It would also allow municipalities to temporarily suspend cost-of-living hikes.

The Canadian Press

Premier: PC campaign positive

MONCTON, N.B. - New Brunswick's premier said Saturday he feels good about the campaign waged by his Progressive Conservatives while his Liberal rival tried to visit as many ridings as possible ahead of Monday's provincial election.

David Alward strolled through farmers' markets in the Moncton area Saturday morning, shaking hands and offering to discuss election issues. Alward said he ran a positive campaign.

"Look at the ads that we've done, they're asking people to say 'Yes' to the future of New Brunswick," he said.

The Progressive Conservatives are running on a platform to develop natural resources, such as forestry and shale gas, as a way to create jobs and generate much needed revenue.

The other parties have attacked the plans, saying not enough information has been released on the forestry strategy and more study is needed before shale gas development can proceed.

Still, Alward said he believes his message is resonating with voters as he travels throughout the province.

His campaign bus has driven more than 10,000 kilometres since the campaign began.

Alward also attended a barbecue in Shediac and a farmers' market in Bouctouche.

Ironically, one of the people singing with a band playing at the farmers' market was the local Liberal candidate.

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant made brief stops Saturday to shake hands with candidates and hand out bottled water to volunteers in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton areas, including the new riding of Fredericton West-Hanwell, where NDP Leader Dominic Cardy cast his ballot Saturday and is vying for a breakthrough.

Gallant has ratcheted up his attack against Cardy in the dying days of the campaign, accusing the New Democrats of failing to explain how they'll pay for their major promises. Some pundits have said the Liberals could be worried about bleeding votes to the NDP in close races.

But when asked whether he was worried about vote-splitting, Gallant replied: "We're worried for people thinking they're going to vote for a party that won't deliver change."

"The Conservatives want to keep doing what they're doing," he said. "The NDP have made it very clear that they like the approach of reckless cuts and not focusing on job creation."

Gallant took that message later in the day to supporters at a barbecue in Oromocto-Lincoln, another new riding where Tory cabinet minister Jody Carr is running.

Gallant shrugged off suggestions that he was targeting ridings where the Liberals need to make inroads, saying every area is important at this point in the campaign.

"There's people who are undecided, there's some people who haven't heard our message yet of growing the economy, creating jobs and helping families that are struggling in our province," he said. "We have to continue to work to knock on every single door and make as many phone calls as possible."

Aside from two advance polling days, people were able to cast their votes at returning offices six days a week since the campaign began.

A spokesman for Elections New Brunswick says almost 70,000 people voted in the advance polls, while more than 25,000 people voted early at their returning offices.

As well, special ballots were conducted at nursing homes, special care homes and 13 university and college campuses.

Cardy spent the day campaigning in Rothesay, Saint John and Fredericton.


The Canadian Press


Doug Ford launches campaign

Rob Ford's brother Doug officially launched his campaign for Toronto mayor Saturday in the shadow of his ailing sibling, who he said was "coaching me all the way" despite his hospitalization.

Doug Ford kicked things off with a campaign-office pep talk to a joyful throng of supporters who cheered and chanted "I love you."

"Thank you, thank you. My heart is beating right now," he said to applause.

And he brought word from his hospitalized brother, saying the controversial mayor appreciates all of the kind words he's gotten during his illness.

"He wants to thank each and every one of you. He wants to thank the people of Toronto for the overwhelming support."

Rob Ford remains in hospital receiving treatment for a rare form of cancer, prompting him to decide not to seek re-election _ he's instead running for a seat on council.

Doug Ford announced earlier this month he would enter the race.

After delaying his campaign launch and making several visits to his brother in hospital, Doug set things rolling with a brief speech, saying "now it is time to get out there and meet the people."

Striking a positive note, he promised his campaign would "convey a vision, a vision of continuing prosperity" stemming from his brother's term as mayor.

He then set off on a round of door knocking, getting backing from residents working in their yards and from passing motorists.

"You've got my support," said one man working on his car.

Though Rob Ford couldn't be there in person he was still lending a hand to his brother's campaign, Doug Ford said.

"He's enthused about the election," Doug said.

"He's coaching me all the way."

Added Doug Ford: "I don't know how we're going to hold him down there (in hospital). He wants to get out on the campaign trail himself."

Ford, a city councillor, had been managing his brother's re-election drive, but now finds himself trading jabs with the two main rivals _ former New Democrat MP Olivia Chow and ex-Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory,

The three will face off for the first time in a debate on Tuesday.

Doug Ford has been his brother's staunchest defender during months of scandal involving Rob Ford's admitted drug use, heaving drinking and eye popping verbal gaffes.

The Toronto election is Oct. 27.

The Canadian Press

Cougar shooting to be reviewed

Alberta's justice minister has ordered a review into the shooting of a cougar near a Calgary hospital.

Jonathan Denis says he's no expert on how the situation should have been handled, but he says he is asking for a full review of the matter.

Wildlife officers shot and killed the cougar on Thursday after it wandered near the hospital and was lying in tall grass.

Brendan Cox, an Alberta government spokesman, explained that the officers had hoped to tranquilize and trap the cougar but determined the adult male cat was too riled up.

Cox said cougars can become agitated when they get hit with a tranquilizer dart, adding the cat could have run into a more populated area.

The shooting was posted on YouTube and people watching the incident can be heard in the video questioning why the cougar was killed. (CHQR)

The Canadian Press

Iraq mission 'a done deal'

Former prime minister Jean Chretien says the federal government's decision to send special forces to northern Iraq to help fight an extremist group could pull Canada into further commitments in the region.

In an interview with CBC radio, Chretien says Canada is now fully a part of the action being taken against the extremist al-Qaida splinter group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Chretien — who famously refused to join the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003 because it was not sanctioned by the United Nations — says Canada's involvement in a mission in Iraq is "a done deal."

He also tells CBC he finds the Harper government's insistence that Canada's current contributions aren't a combat mission "a bit unusual."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the current Canadian commitment is limited to 69 special forces commandos who are to only advise and assist Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters who are resisting ISIL forces in northern Iraq. The deployment is to be reviewed within 30 days.

But Chretien says he thinks that commitment could grow, with Canada being pressed to contribute further.

He compared the current situation in Iraq with the war in Vietnam, saying the U.S. began its actions there with "a few advisers."

"You cannot be a little bit in it. You're in it or out," Chretien told CBC. "The other side knows we are part of it. Of course if they refuse to act, the partners will say you are not keeping your word."

The U.N. Security Council urged the international community on Friday to expand support for the Iraqi government as it fights the Islamic State group and its allies.

The Canadian Press

Pres. can't interfere w courts

Egypt's president says he can't interfere with his country's courts in the case of a jailed Egyptian-Canadian journalist.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says if he had been in power at the time when Mohamed Fahmy and his fellow Al-Jazeera English colleagues were arrested, he would have simply deported them instead of letting their case go to trial.

But el-Sissi, who took power in June, says if Egypt is to have an independent judiciary, his government "can't accept criticism or comment" on court rulings."

He did not address whether he would pardon the three after their appeals process is finished.

Fahmy was working for Qatar-based satellite news broadcaster Al-Jazeera English when he was arrested on Dec. 29 along with two colleagues — Australian correspondent Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian producer.

The trio were accused of supporting the banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. They were also charged with fabricating footage to undermine Egypt's national security.

The journalists denied all charges against them, saying they were just doing their jobs.

Fahmy and Greste were later found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison, while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years. The judge's sentencing reasons said the three journalists were brought together "by the devil'' to destabilize the country.

The trial was denounced as a sham by many observers and their convictions brought heavy international criticism.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has said "bullhorn diplomacy'' won't win Fahmy's release and has said Canada is pursuing all legal avenues to secure Fahmy's release.

Fahmy moved to Canada with his family in 1991, living in Montreal and Vancouver for years before eventually moving abroad for work, which included covering stories for the New York Times and CNN.

The Canadian Press

Magnotta jury complete

A dozen jurors have been selected to hear evidence at Luka Rocco Magnotta's murder trial, leaving just four more spots to fill before the long-anticipated proceedings can get underway.

Magnotta, 32, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including first-degree murder, in connection with the May 2012 slaying and dismemberment of Chinese engineering student Jun Lin, 33.

Five more jurors were added Thursday, meaning the jury currently has six men and six women.

The last two additions of the day were a male retiree who worked as a financial analyst and a woman who works in a call centre.

Earlier on Thursday, three other jurors were selected — a female university employee, a male freelance translator and a man who teaches at a junior college.

All were sworn in and allowed to leave, with Justice Guy Cournoyer telling some of them he was hopeful the trial would begin sometime next week.

Meanwhile, the jury selection process will resume Friday and continue until 16 people have been picked — 14 jurors and two alternates who will serve as a safeguard until the trial begins.

Ultimately, 14 jurors will hear the case and a dozen will deliberate on the final verdict.

The trial is expected to last between six and eight weeks.

While the trial proper has been scheduled to begin Monday, that start date could be delayed if the jury selection is not completed Friday.

Besides the murder charge, Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to committing an indignity to a body; publishing obscene material; criminally harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of Parliament; and mailing obscene and indecent material.

The Canadian Press

Netflix advises CRTC

Regulating the Internet to help boost Canadian content will only hurt consumers, a Netflix executive told the country's broadcast regulator on Friday before being ordered to hand over confidential company information.

In an occasionally tense appearance before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Corie Wright urged the broadcast regulator to let market forces dictate what consumers can watch.

The impact of Netflix and other online video providers on the country's traditional TV broadcasting sector is central to the public hearings before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Wright, Netflix Inc.'s global public policy director, told the five-member CRTC panel that regulating Internet-based video services would fly in the face of competition, innovation and consumer choice.

"Netflix believes that regulatory intervention online is unnecessary and could have consequences that are inconsistent with the interests of consumers," Wright told the final day of hearings.

She said viewers should have the ability "to vote with their dollars and eyeballs to shape the media marketplace."

Several cultural groups, along with at least two provincial governments and a content production group, have argued in favour of regulating Netflix and other online video services, essentially forcing them to pay into funds designed to help finance Canadian television production.

But the Harper government has said it would oppose any tax on Internet-based services, specifically citing Netflix and YouTube.

The Canadian Press

BC police dog takes top spot

A British Columbia police dog has claimed the title of top dog for the third year in a row at the Canadian Police Canine Championships.

Zeke and his handler, Const. Jon Zielinski of the Saanich Police Department, competed against 30 teams at the contest in Kelowna, B.C.

Sgt. Steve Eassie says the amount of effort that Zielinski has put into the partnership since he was paired up with Zeke four years ago is amazing.

Eassie says that besides the incredible connection the six-year-old German shepherd shares with his handler, his all-black colouring also sets him apart in the annual event because most of the other dogs have traditional brown or mixed colours.

Four-legged members of the Victoria Police Department also did well in the competition that tests dogs and handlers in real-life situations.

Wrapping up the top winners: Cst. McLeod and PSD, Uno, from Victoria, took second place overall and Cst. Dennis Dalziel and PSD, Kane, from Edmonton Police took 3rd place overall.

The Canadian Press

Rob Ford musical premieres

Close to 200 people turned out for Thursday's premiere of a musical satire about Toronto's infamous mayor just hours after a cancer-stricken Rob Ford thanked well wishers from his hospital bed for their support.

Organizers made some minor changes to the ending, pulled a planned red carpet, and dimmed the marquee out of respect for Ford's situation but decided the show had to go on in light of contractual obligations to cast, crew and theatre staff.

Some patrons admitted to feeling a touch uncomfortable at watching a show based on the notorious foibles of a man whose substance abuse and often offensive conduct made him a celebrity, a laughing stock and object of scorn.

"It's bad timing that it's opening just as he became ill," said Patricia Ribbans-Hryciw, one of those in the near full house.

"(But) it made Rob Ford look even more likable than he is."

Her husband, Nicholas Hryciw, had no qualms about going to see a funny show about Ford.

"It's not about the illness, it's about the show," he said.

"I loved every minute of it. Everybody was absolutely incredible. I laughed so hard."

In a nod to the mayor's situation, audience members were asked to donate money to cancer research — something they can do at each show.

Earlier Thursday, Ford issued a recorded statement in which he pledged to face his health challenge head on. He also urged voters to rally behind his brother Doug, who entered the mayoral race after the cancer forced him to withdraw.

Lead actor-singer Sheldon Bergstrom of Prince Albert, Sask., said word of the mayor's illness struck a personal chord — his mother died of cancer just six weeks ago.

Bergstrom, who seemed to channel Ford on stage, said he hoped the at-times raucous and raunchy romp through the mayor's recent past would do the family justice.

"We're having some fun, but we're also being respectful at the same time," Bergstrom said minutes after completing the premiere performance.

"We did not want a kick a man when he's down."

Dubbed as "gravy train meets the crazy train" in reference to Ford's campaign promise to cut waste at city hall, the "unabashed, take-no-prisoners comedy" traces Ford's rise to notoriety, starting with reports in May last year of a cellphone video apparently showing him smoking crack cocaine.

Brett McCaig, who co-wrote and produced "Rob Ford the Musical: Birth of a Ford Nation" slated to run through Sept. 28, said he wanted to bring a human quality to a man who had become a "two-dimensional cartoon character."

The Canadian Press

Navy to retire Cold War ships

The Canadian navy is going to retire four veteran ships that have been in service for decades.

Sources tell The Canadian Press that HMCS Algonquin, Athabaskan, Iroquois and Protecteur will be decommissioned, with an announcement expected later today.

The move comes as no surprise for any of the ships.

Protecteur's days were thought to be numbered after a fire in the 45-year-old tanker's engine room left the ship adrift in the Pacific last February and it had to be towed back to Victoria from Hawaii.

Protecteur and sister ship HMCS Preserver were ordered replaced by the federal government a decade ago but their replacements aren't due to enter service until 2019 at the earliest.

The other three vessels, all Tribal class destroyers, were commissioned in the early 70s and have been Canada's largest fighting ships for decades.

The Tribals have been a mainstay of Canada's contribution to NATO and have been sent to various international troublespots. The fourth Tribal, HMCS Huron, was retired in 2000 and sunk as a target in 2007.

Athabaskan left Halifax on Saturday to join an ongoing multi-national patrol of the Caribbean to fight organized crime and drug trafficking. It wasn't clear how long she would be at sea.

The exact timeline for retiring and disposing of the ships is unclear.

The federal government has announced a new class of 15 ships to replace the Tribals and Canada's Halifax-class frigates but it's unclear when work will start on the vessels or when they'll begin entering service.


The Canadian Press

Harper aims at Trudeau

Prime Minister Stephen Harper ramped up his criticism of Justin Trudeau, delivering a stinging attack on the Liberal leader during a pep talk to Ontario Conservatives.

In a speech at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton on Thursday night, Harper took aim at several of Trudeau's past statements, from terrorism to China.

He noted neither the Liberals nor the New Democrats have supported his government's law and order reforms.

Harper accused the opposition parties of believing criminals are victims of society.

He referred to Trudeau's reaction to last year's terrorism attack at the Boston Marathon when the Liberal leader said governments must look at the root causes of homegrown terrorism.

Harper also alluded to opposition criticism of his government's handling of foreign policy, referring to a comment Trudeau once made about admiring China and asked how many Canadians want to live there.

"My point is that Justin Trudeau didn't really want to answer that question because the answer is too obvious," Harper said.

"The best country and the best government in the world is Canada's!"

Trudeau was criticized last year when he was asked which country he admires the most and replied China because having a dictatorship can allow it to turn the Chinese economy around "on a dime."

Harper also reached out to gun owners, apparently alluding to a recent decision by the RCMP to ban a previously legal rifle, the Swiss Arms Classic Green carbine.

Harper said it's completely unacceptable that owners of the weapons should be subject to an "arbitrary stroke of a bureaucrat's pen."

"We have ensured owners of those guns will not face prosecution," Harper said.

"We will take all actions necessary to ensure bureaucrats cannot bring back the long-gun registry through the back door!"

The government said in July it would review the RCMP's decision and was exploring a number of options.

The National Firearms Association estimated there are 1,000 to 1,800 of the rifles in Canadian hands.

The Canadian Press

Kelowna woman killed in AB.

A woman from Kelowna has been killed in Calgary.

The body of Susan Elko, 39, was found knifed to death early Sunday morning in the 200 block of Holy Cross Lane S.W.

First responders were called to the scene around 12:30 p.m. to reports of a woman in medical distress. Upon arrival, they found her deceased.

Her 24-year-old boyfriend, Scott Monrow Ferguson, was charged with second-degree murder on Monday. The pair had been together for the past year.

Friends say Elko was a phenomenal woman, who “brightened and blessed everyone’s lives”.

Police have yet to find a murder weapon, but have been scouring the nearby Elbow River.

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