Handy Headlines for May 22 2006

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Afghan leader thanks Harper for extending mission

OTTAWA — Afghan President Hamid Karzai has offered his formal thanks to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for extending the Canadian military mission to Afghanistan for an extra two years.

…In a 10-minute phone call Sunday, Karzai also expressed his condolences for the casualties Canada has suffered. Sixteen soldiers and one diplomat have died since the mission began under the former Liberal government.

…The call also came the day after the remains of Capt. Nichola Goddard, the first female Canadian combatant to perish on the mission, arrived home.

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Tories to give judges less-than-recommended raise

…Canadian judges will not be getting the 11 per cent pay hike an independent commission recommended two years ago, CTV News has learned.

…Justice Minister Vic Toews will ignore the recommendation—something he attacked back in December 2004.

…“This proposal is an outrageous abuse of the public trust,” he said back then. “This 11 per cent pay raise is almost four times the Canadian average.”

…In 2004, an independent judicial compensation commission recommended the following:

  * Most federally-appointed judges would make $240,000 per year;
  * Justices of the Supreme Court would earn $285,600 per year; and
  * Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin would earn $308,400 per year.

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Embattled Mexican union leader seeks shelter from firestorm in Canada

OTTAWA (CP) – A union leader at the centre of a labour crisis in Mexico has sought shelter from the storm in Canada, creating yet another awkward situation between the two countries.

…The Mexican government removed Napoleon Gomez Urrutia from his post as head of the National Union of Miners and Metalworkers (Los Mineros) in February, accusing him of masterminding a $61-million money laundering scheme involving workers’ funds.

…To date, there have been no charges laid against Gomez Urrutia or 38 other people under investigation, but his assets and those of the union have been seized and his properties searched.

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EDITORIAL: No show, no clue, no class
(The Toronto Sun)

…You know things are pretty bad in the Liberal Party of Canada when they need to take lessons on decorum from the NDP.

…But that’s apparently what’s necessary as more than half the Liberal caucus snubbed Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s speech to Parliament last week.

…As Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai told the Sun’s Kathleen Harris after counting only 49 of 102 Liberal MPs present when Howard spoke: “Even if you disagree with the politics of the guest, he represents a country that has a strong relationships with Canada. They should have had the courtesy to afford him that respect.”

…As for the explanation offered by Liberal whip Karen Redman for the shoddy attendance by Grit MPs, it’s an eye opener.

…As Redman put it: “I think because it was going in to a long weekend and it was a day when a lot of committee work was cancelled because of Prime Minister Howard’s visit, that some people took that time to go back and work in their ridings.”

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More petulant reports from the MSM

(No “belly” stories this time)

PM needs to show respect on the job
May 22, 2006. 01:00 AM

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be out on the road for much of this week, just as his government seems to be entering a new, tougher period.

…Harper will travel to London, Ont., Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., by week’s end, putting distance between himself and an increasingly nasty climate on Parliament Hill.

…last week has been largely written up as one of the roughest for Harper since he took power on Feb. 6, featuring several less-than-positive displays of his leadership style — particularly his lack of tolerance for dissent and setbacks.

…Though Canadians outside Ottawa may have a limited appetite for tales of power struggles between politicians and the press, this tension in the capital is quickly building to an unworkable situation for Harper, as evidenced by the fact the PMO communications team is no longer able or willing to impart even the most basic information to the media.

…If this was just an issue of inconvenience for the media, it wouldn’t be worth noting at this point. But it’s highlighting a Conservative obsessiveness about control that could backfire in the larger electorate if it revives fears about Harper’s “hidden agenda.”

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Harper’s new black SUV is Bush league, MP says
PM is said to be putting on presidential airs

…Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s motorcade has acquired a presidential look.

…But one MP says the big black SUV now cruising at the rear of the prime ministerial entourage are a bit too remindful of President George W. Bush.

…And the SUV’s gas-chugging potential raises other issues, even for a prime minister who is ditching the last vestiges of the Kyoto accord, New Democrat Pat Martin says.

…the addition of the SUV – and on rare occasions more than one – makes the entire motorcade look like a Secret Service operation.

…Bush has had black SUVs in his motorcade for several years.

…“It looks like something Darth Vader would be driving,” says Martin. “We’ve got this gas-guzzling behemoth touring around with the prime minister. It looks tough, it looks quasi-military. Is that the kind of image the prime minister wants to project?”

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