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Metro Snapshot: January 22, 2009

<strong>For all that you need to know today, read the Metro Snapshot.</strong>

THE BUDGET DANCE: Offering the caveat that Canadians needed an election like "a hold in the head," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said his party is prepared to defeat next week's federal budget,
a move that would either hand power to the opposition coalition or send
Canadians back to the polls. Ignatieff warned that the budget must
protect the poor, stabilize the country's flagging employment
situation and create jobs for the future to earn Liberal support.

The
Liberal leader had earlier expressed concerns that the Conservative
government would plunge the country too far into debt with a string of
budget deficits. Such concerns were backed up by two separate economic forecasts prepared in advance of the budget darkly that warned the federal government is on the brink of completely reversing the previous decade's paydown on the national debt with a series of deficits that could total as much as $100 billion. Canadians,
perhaps accustomed to black ink after a long line of budget surpluses,
also expressed weariness about budget deficits in a new poll that indicated an even split
between those that thought the government should run a deficit and
those that believed the Ottawa should attempt to juggle its finances to
avoid one.

When the drama on Parliament Hill was at its peak last fall, the participation of the Bloc Quebecois
drew plenty of criticism. If a similar scenario develops in the wake of
a budget defeat next week, the same criticism could be expected after
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe pledged to continue fighting for sovereignty during a joint news conference with Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF BUDGET DEFICIT: The Canadian Federation of Students said that students owe the federal government a record $13 billion in loans -- a figure that doesn't include money owed to provincial governments or credit card debt. Arguing that it is bad policy to saddle a generation of students with enormous debts, the group argued for education funding to be part of an economic recovery package.

GITMO'S TIME TO GO: A senior administration official said that President Barack Obama planned to sign an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre within a year, as well as halting military trials of the terrorism suspects held there -- a decision to which some families of 9-11 victims reacted with outrage.

With the closure of Gitmo imminent and trials halted, a tiny crack appeared in the the Conservative government's long-standing position that they would not seek to repatriate Canadian terrorism suspect, Omar Khadr. Defence Minister Peter McKay indicated that the government had picked up on Obama's cue, and that "everyone involved in these cases will be reassessing their positions."

EVERYBODY OUT: The Israeli military announced its last remaining soldiers had left Gaza, completing a full withdrawal. Israel also dispatched Foreign Minister -- and prime ministerial hopeful -- Tzipi Livni to Brussels in the hope of securing a commitment from the European Union to contribute ships, soldiers and military technology to anti-weapons smuggling operations.

The timing of the pullout lent weight to the theory that Israel had hoped to diffuse the volatile situation in Gaza before President Obama took office. Obama made several phone calls to leaders in the region, including the Palestinian president, in keeping with his campaign promise to actively engage in Middle East peace efforts.

A BIRD IN THE HAND: Investigators found what was thought to be remains of a bird in the engine of the US Airways flight that crash landed in the Hudson River last week.

FOUR'S A CROWD: As the first birthday of Nova Scotia's MacKinnon quadruplets approached, mom Christa MacKinnon took the chance to acknowledge all the help that she gets from "a huge community that loves them.”

 
 
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