- - Monday, November 29, 2010


Conservatives eye election boost

OTTAWA | Canada’s governing Conservatives could score a significant political win Monday if they manage to grab a safe parliamentary seat from the main opposition Liberal Party, which is struggling in polls.

If the Conservatives do win the by-election in the constituency of Vaughan, a suburban city north of Toronto, it would give them a boost ahead of a federal election that many political observers expect in the first half of 2011.

The Conservatives have a minority of seats in the House of Commons. To capture a majority, they need to win more seats in suburbs of Toronto, Canada’s biggest city.

Polls show the Conservatives would lose seats in the House if an election were held now, even though the polls also say voters are not enthused by the performance of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, a former academic who took over the party in December 2008.

The Conservatives, who derive much of their support from the West and rural voters, do not hold a single seat in any of Canada’s main three cities: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.


Calderon urges summit to look past borders

CANCUN | Mexican President Felipe Calderon called on negotiators Monday to put aside national interests and act on behalf of all humanity to fight climate change.

Opening a two-week conference, Mr. Calderon urged delegates to overcome the deep divide between rich and poor countries that has stymied efforts to negotiate a climate treaty for three years.

“It would be a tragedy if our inability to see beyond our personal interests or national interests makes us fail,” Mr. Calderon said in a speech to 15,000 delegates, businessmen, activists and journalists. “The atmosphere is indifferent to the sovereignty of states.”

The annual U.N. conference in this coastal resort begins amid mounting evidence that the Earth’s climate already is changing in ways that will affect both sides of the wealth divide of nations.

After a disappointing summit last year in Copenhagen, no hope remains of reaching an overarching deal this year setting legal limits on how much major countries would be allowed to pollute. Such an accord was meant to describe a path toward slashing greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury, when scientists say they should be half of today’s levels.


Child prisoners handed over to Afghans

OTTAWA | Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan captured children suspected of working with the Taliban and then handed them over to an Afghan security unit reported to have abused prisoners, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said.

The report - first made public late Sunday - is the latest blow to the image of Canada’s increasingly unpopular combat mission in southern Afghanistan, which is due to end next year.

The question of Afghan detainees has been one of the most difficult issues for the minority Conservative government since it took power in early 2006.

The CBC, citing a Defense Department document, said that since 2006 Canadian soldiers had captured children and then transferred them to a special wing at Kandahar’s Sarpoza prison, which is run by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security.

Last year, a Canadian diplomat said that as early as 2006, he had sent reports indicating that the directorate was abusing detainees.

A briefing document sent to Defense Minister Peter MacKay in March said Afghan authorities were now sending child prisoners to a separate juvenile rehabilitation center.

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