ABOUT THAT ECONOMY: Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced
that the federal government and Canada's major banks agreed to form a
group aimed at ensuring availability of credit for individuals and
businesses. The agreement is part of a larger strategy to revive the
ailing economy that will likely include tax cuts and stimulus spending, some of which Flaherty previewed yesterday.
However, some groups were urging the government to abandon the idea of tax cuts in favour of a massive $33-billion stimulus package
that could create more than 400,000 jobs. The Canadian Centre for
Policy Alternatives warned Flaherty off the politically easy path of
tax cuts, arguing that the $60 billion in cuts introduced in 2007 have had scant effect on the economy.
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Another argument that could be made: Holding more World Junior Championships tournaments, the most recent edition of which pumped as much as $51 million into host city Ottawa's economy.
TORONTO-CENTRIC: Almost a month after being crowned Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff started putting a Toronto-heavy stamp on the party, surrounding himself with loyalists and supporters by appointing them to several key posts.
CRUEL MISPRINT: As many as 1,100 misprinted scratch-and-win lottery tickets were in circulation in Ontario before being recalled, duping at least one man into thinking he had won $135,000.
INCREASED URGENCY: France and Egypt announced an initiative to halt the fighting in Gaza, hours after Israeli shells exploded near a UN school where hundreds of Palestinians sought shelter from the onslaught, killing at least 30. Israel has consistently rebuffed calls for a ceasefire until conditions ensuring the security of the country's south have been met -- conditions which former British Prime Minister Tony Blair outlined in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Meanwhile, Egypt's Rafah border crossing -- a valuable lifeline for transporting medicine and supplies into the warzone -- has been less than dependable because of frequent closures due to political considerations.
Officials in Western countries were becoming increasingly concerned about the violence in Gaza spilling onto their own streets, with reports of violence against Jews and synagogues emerging from Sweden, France and Britain.
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: Washington, D.C. spun into overdrive, laying the groundwork for the arrival of millions of people expected to attend the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama. Workmen were busily erecting barricades and security officials were finalizing plans for what is expected to be the largest security operation ever for a presidential inauguration.
The new United States Senate was sworn in, but the spotlight was stolen from the freshman senators by the squalid scandal surrounding the appointee to fill Obama's vacated seat. Roland Burris, appointed by embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich, staged an elaborate slice of political theatre after Democrats kept their promise to deny him the seat. Minnesota is the source of another contentious senate battle, where presumably defeated incumbent, Republican Norm Coleman, filed a lawsuit challenging the recount victory of his rival, Democrat Al Franken.
PIPELINE BOMBINGS: Investigators admitted that they have few leads in the "increasingly violent" bombings of EnCana pipelines and wellheads
in northeastern British Columbia. The fourth, and latest, attack struck dangerously close to a nearby
home, and used what police described as high explosives.
ALWAYS GOT TIME FOR TRAFFIC: Municipal politicans in St. John's passed legislation banning the establishment of new drive-thru businesses until potential proprietors can prove to officials that customer's vehicles won't spill out onto the streets. The move was inspired by the popularity of Tim Hortons drive-thrus, where long lines of cars often stretch out onto public roads, sometimes causing traffic accidents.