CAREER MOVE: The defection of a former top adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s camp has alarm bells ringing throughout the government. In the words of one official in the Privy Council Office, Kevin Chan had “as much access to information as the prime minister himself.”
NOW ACCEPTING DONATIONS: With the federal budget looming and talk of economic stimulus dominating political discourse, leaders from the lower levels of government are each taking their requests to Ottawa. The provincial premiers will arrive in the capital today, carrying pricey shopping lists of “shovel-ready” projects they argue will help revive the ailing economy. Canada’s big city mayors also descended on the capital with similar intentions, summed up by Halifax mayor Peter Kelly who declared “we’re ready to go, and show us the money.”
Demands the prime minister may want to pay special attention to are those of Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland, who was handed a three-game suspension from his hockey league after he dropped the gloves for a scrap in a recent game of shinny.
The NDP had its own budget demands for the government, insisting that adequate funding for disabled veterans — some of whom have contemplated suicide after enduring pension clawbacks — be a plank in the budget.
THERE GOES ANOTHER ONE: Canadian telecommunications giant Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors, vowing to sell off non-core businesses as it grappled with the global recession. The long-suffering company has been trying to restructure over the past three years, but some experts believed the news would likely be the final chapter in a long fall from grace, leaving employees to ponder what the future holds for them.
The developer of a Dubai skyscraper intended to be the tallest building in the world halted work on the project for one year, citing difficulties related to the economic climate.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?: New research from the University of Calgary found that rats who were fed a fibre rich diet when they were young were significantly less prone to obesity and related chronic diseases than their counterparts who were fed a high protein diet. The study’s author suggested that parents start their children on a fibre rich diet as early as possible to combat obesity in the future.
HATE COMPLAINT: Dan Philip, a prominent member of Montreal’s black community said that a Radio-Canada television show’s joke about shooting a black American president promoted hatred. Philip was also angered by use of the word ‘negre’ in the offending skit, which was aired during a New Year’s Eve episode of the program.
GUESS WHO’S BACK: Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden called for Muslims to launch a jihad against Israel and condemned Arab governments as allies of the Jewish state. The call was heard in a new audio tape that was aimed at harnessing Muslim anger over the Israeli offensive in Gaza, while also promising to open new fronts in the fight against the United States and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Venezuela also spoke out about the military offensive, severing diplomatic ties with Israel.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Egypt and Hamas were close to reaching a deal that would propose a 10-day ceasefire, allowing for further talks to resolve the conflict. Israel has come under increasing fire from critics both international and domestic — as well as more rockets fired from Lebanon — as the Palestinian death toll shot past 1,000 and surveyors estimated that the offensive destroyed as much as $1.7 billion worth of buildings and infrastructure.
IN HIS HONOUR: While it remains to be seen if President George W. Bush — who continued his media farewell tour on CNN’s Larry King Live — will ever have schools or hospitals named after him, there is at least one landmark already bearing the name of the outgoing president. Kabul’s Bush Bazaar is a market near the Afghan capital that is crammed toiletries, paper plates, plastic cutlery, pudding and other goods that came, one way or another, from a nearby American base.
SOCIAL DARWINISM: British legislators called for a national holiday to mark the Feb. 12 birthday of Charles Darwin, whom one of the legislators referred to as “one of Britain’s greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds.”