- - Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Conservatives win coveted majority

TORONTO | Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his coveted majority government in elections that changed Canada’s political landscape, with the opposition Liberals and Quebec separatists suffering a shattering defeat.

Mr. Harper, who took office in 2006, has won two elections but until Monday’s vote had never held the majority of Parliament’s 308 seats, forcing him to rely on the opposition to pass legislation.

Mr. Harper deliberately has avoided sweeping policy changes that could derail his government, but he now has an opportunity to pass any legislation he wants with his majority.

Meanwhile, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff announced Tuesday that he would step down from the post after the party suffered its worst defeat in Canadian history. Mr. Ignatieff even lost his own seat in a Toronto suburb.

While Mr. Harper’s hold on Parliament has been tenuous during his five-year tenure, he has managed to nudge an instinctively center-left country to the right.

He has gradually lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation that would harm Alberta’s oil sands sector, promoted Arctic sovereignty, increased military spending and extended Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. He also has staunchly backed Israel’s right-wing government.


Army kills 4 pirates; 20 hostages freed

JAKARTA | Indonesian forces killed four Somali pirates in a gunfight after a ship and 20 Indonesian hostages held nearly two months were freed, the military said Tuesday.

About 35 pirates left the MV Sinar Kudus in groups Sunday after they received a requested ransom, Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul said.

A special joint military squad made sure no more pirates were still on the ship and then pursued the groups, catching up with and killing four pirates in an exchange of gunfire.

He refused to discuss the ransom, which media reported was between $3 million and $4.5 million.

The Sinar Kudus was seized in the Arabian Sea on March 16. Soon afterward, the pirates used the hijacked ship to attack another cargo ship nearby, but private security repelled them, the EU Naval Force said.

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