News for the unnewsed

A recent review of 300 of Alberta’s various decision-making boards discovered that many consist of several Conservative party members. Three of 100 significant agencies, boards, and committees were found to consist completely of Tory members, according to an Edmonton Journal investigation. MLAs and other government officials may be qualified for the positions, but their party orientation could conflict with their work. Board members are hired to make decisions that best reflect public opinion and are independent of political influences. Provincial boards are currently responsible for 50 per cent of the provincial budget.



Blair set to jet to Calgary

Former British prime minister, Tony Blair, is coming to Calgary next month.

TD Canada Trust is funding the Oct. 26 event, with 1,500 of Calgary’s finest–and richest–who plan to attend. Blair’s 40 minute speech is currently selling for $400 per plate and will focus on important political issues such as the war in Iraq, Albertan oilsands, and his relationship with George W. Bush. This is Blair’s first stop in Canada and local officials see this as positive recognition of the city.



CSIS questioned in India Air fiasco

Canadian Security Intelligence Service was severely questioned in the India Air bombing hearing earlier this week. Former B.C. prosecutor, James Jardine, testified that he asked for the phone call recordings of two major suspects immediately after the accident happened. The phone calls took place three months prior to the bombing, but they were erased before Jardine was able to get ahold of them in an act described as “unacceptable negligence,” according to a cbc.ca article. Surviving transcripts state that the tapes contain information about a murder plot that may have led to a charge. During the trial, he described his struggles with acquiring information from both CSIS and the RCMP. Jardine believes changes need to be made regarding communication between organizations.



Dollar countinues its rise

The Canadian dollar is quickly approaching American currency, rising as high as 98.64 cents U.S. on Sep. 18. The U.S. Federal Funds rate dropped 0.5 per cent to 4.75 per cent. The Canadian counterpart is now at 4.5 per cent, making foreign investment increasingly attractive. Overall, the Canadian dollar has risen about 60 per cent since its all time low of 61.79 cents in Jan. 2002. Americans are experiencing a decline in their housing market and growing credit concerns. In Canada, record oil prices are helping the dollar rise, but not without concerns. The Ontario auto and B.C. forestry industries expressed concerns that a higher dollar may hurt trade to the U.S. and result in more job losses.



Monks hold mass protest

Nearly 2,000 Burmese monks attended protests this past Tuesday. Four monks were arrested after protests over fuel prices Aug. 15 were forcefully ended. The monks gave the Burmese government until Monday to release the captives and issue an apology. When neither request was achieved, the Alliance of All Burmese Buddhist Monks arranged another protest with over 1,000 monks in the Mandalay alone. Monks are urging bystanders not to get involved. The government is concerned because of the monks popular political influence.

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