Canada briefs — May 12

Federal parties have been granted three more days to broker a deal aimed at averting a parliamentary showdown — and possible election — over sensitive Afghan detainee documents.

Deadline extended

OTTAWA — Federal parties have been granted three more days to broker a deal aimed at averting a parliamentary showdown — and possible election — over sensitive Afghan detainee documents.

Just hours from the Tuesday deadline he’d set two weeks ago, Commons Speaker Peter Milliken agreed to an all-party request for an extension until Friday afternoon.

“I’ll wait patiently,” Milliken told the Commons.

The government and three opposition parties agreed to seek the extension earlier Tuesday after a 90-minute negotiating session.

“We’ve arrived at a point where we think some additional time is both necessary and appropriate and could be productively used,” Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale said.

“It’s complex and it’s exceedingly important that we get it right, both in defending the public interest and in defending national security and getting the right balance between the two.”

Late last month, Milliken gave the parties two weeks to come up with a formula that would allow MPs to scrutinize uncensored documents without risking national security. The papers relate to allegations detainees captured by Canadian troops were tortured by Afghan authorities.


Vet, waitress win prize

TORONTO — A Polish Second World War veteran and a struggling waitress from Toronto are joint winners of a $7.8-million Lotto 6-49 jackpot.

Peter Kaczmarczyk and Krystyna Skwira have been buying lottery tickets together for four years.

The 52-year-old Skwira, who came to Canada in 1989, has at times juggled multiple jobs and in the last 21 years and only taken one short vacation.

Kaczmarczyk says his friend is known for her heart of gold and her willingness to help others before she helps herself.

The 82-year-old Kaczmarczyk came to Canada in 1948, after fighting in the Second World War, and has lived in Toronto since, working as a cab driver for two decades before retiring.

Neither Skwira nor Kaczmarczyk have been home to Poland in many decades, so a trip overseas is in the works for both of them.

“Krystyna didn’t believe that we were going to win, but we did!” Kaczmarczyk said Tuesday.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Skwira. “Today is one of the first days since I came to Canada that I didn’t have to go into work.”

“Peter would tease me that he wouldn’t let me go back to work at the coffee shop if we won,” Skwira added.


Father must drive bullied son to school

ASSINIBOIA, Sask. — A Saskatchewan man says his five-year-old son, who lost a leg in a lawn mower accident, is being bullied on a school bus and officials aren’t helping.

Robert Coomber says Ryan got a black eye after being hit by an older student on the bus ride between Willow Bunch and Assiniboia.

Coomber says he talked to the older student’s parents and the school principal, but nothing happened.

The frustrated father says he went to the school division where he was told he should start driving Ryan the 50 kilometres each way to kindergarten.

It’s not the first time the boy has been bullied on the bus — Coomber says another older student tried to take his son’s prosthetic leg.

The Prairie South School Division would not immediately comment.


Man raised funds for Tamil Tigers

VANCOUVER — The first person charged under a post-9-11 law against raising funds for a terrorist group has pleaded guilty in a Vancouver courtroom.

Prapaharan Thambithurai of Maple, Ont., has admitted to raising money from Tamil immigrants in the Vancouver area, knowing that some of the money would end up funding the banned Tamil Tigers.

Thambithurai was arrested in New Westminster in March 2008 and charged with providing money, property or services to a terrorist group.

An agreed statement of facts read out in court says Thambithurai came to Vancouver, where he once lived, and collected money and pledges from local Tamils, some of whom referred to him as “papa.”

He told them he was raising money for humanitarian purposes, but later admitted to RCMP investigators he knew as much as half would inevitably be kept by the Sri Lankan rebel group.

The Crown is recommending a sentence of two years. Thambithurai’s lawyer has yet to make his recommendation.


Hundreds of animals euthanized

TORONTO — An Ontario animal shelter battling a ringworm infection began euthanizing some 350 dogs, cats and other animals Tuesday, with officials blaming human error for the outbreak.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it decided to kill the animals after an attempt to contain the infection — which had also spread to six workers at the Newmarket, Ont., shelter — failed.

“We have some standard protocols as would any shelter when there is an outbreak of this type,” said Kate MacDonald, the society’s chief executive.

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