Canadian Report | Russian warships give prime minister cause for concern

Two Russian military ships shadowed a Canadian warship with Prime Minister Stephen Harper aboard in the Baltic Sea.

The incident occurred as Harper and his wife, Laureen, spent 20 hours on HMCS Fredericton, a Canadian frigate that’s part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization mission.

The exercise is to reassure Eastern Europe alliance members that they will be protected should Russian aggression in Ukraine spread.

Canadian Defense Minister Jason Kenney pointed to the two Russian vessels in the distance that changed course as the Fredericton did.

It’s not unusual for the Russians to monitor NATO exercises from a distance and they “kept a respectful distance and weren’t acting in a threatening way,” Kenney said.

They came within seven nautical miles of the Canadian vessel and earlier a Russian helicopter flew along the port side of the ship.

Harper told crew members that he is concerned about Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

“Mr. Putin’s recklessness threatens global stability, regional stability and has spread fear among our Eastern allies,” he said.

The expenses’ scandal involving Canada’s senators is out of hand, Auditor General Michael Ferguson says.

In a 116-page report, Ferguson called for independent oversight to teach the upper chamber respect for public spending.

He outlined almost $1 million in questionable spending, much of it for travel.

Suspended senators Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau have their cases before the courts for housing expenses claimed.

Ferguson has referred others to the Mounties for criminal investigation and repayment.

News in brief

▪ Edmonton police Constable Daniel Woodall was shot and killed and a second officer wounded by a man they were trying to arrest at his home. Woodall, 35, of the hate-crimes unit, was one of eight police officers shot at by Norman Raddatz, a 42-year-old refrigerator repairman. Police said the gunman then set the house on fire and killed himself. They were investigating Raddatz for anti-Semitic bullying.

▪ The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that medical marijuana can legally be consumed in ways other than smoking such as in cannabis-infused cookies and brownies, cooking oils and tea. The unanimous decision, opposed by the federal government, removes limitations on what constitutes legally acceptable medical marijuana. Until now, authorized users of physician-prescribed cannabis could only consume dried marijuana.

Facts and figures

Canada’s dollar has gained to 81.15 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.2321 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.75 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.85 percent.

Markets are again lower, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 14,747 points and the TSX Venture index 681 points.

The average price of gas is higher at an average of $1.19 a liter or $4.52 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon across Canada.

Lotto 6/49: (June 10) 26, 37, 40, 43, 44 and 45; bonus 3. (June 6) 8, 12, 22, 35, 38 and 44; bonus 27. Lotto Max: (June 5) 2, 10, 13, 16, 30, 33 and 48; bonus 44.

Regional briefs

▪ Jacques Parizeau, Quebec’s former separatist premier who pushed the mainly French-speaking province to the brink of separation, has died at the age of 84. He was the Parti Quebec premier during the 1995 provincial referendum in which Quebecers narrowly rejected independence.

▪ The Ontario Superior Court has ruled that Hamilton can’t pass laws to prohibit the post office from locating group mailboxes. Judge Alan Whitten said Canada Post’s strategy to install community mailboxes on city property is “merely exercising a federal right.” In a cost-cutting move, the post office is installing the boxes as it eliminates home mail delivery.

▪ Sisters Lindsey and Danielle Petersen of Saskatchewan, who were among 10 people who posed naked on Mount Kinabalu, were jailed for three days and fined $1,600 for obscene behavior. Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan said their act was disrespectful to the sacred mountain and caused an earthquake a day later that killed 18 climbers.

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