Canada briefs – November 2

The Royal Canadian Legion has named a New Brunswick woman whose son was killed in Afghanistan the Silver Cross Mother for the coming year.

New Brunswick woman named Silver Cross Mother

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Legion has named a New Brunswick woman whose son was killed in Afghanistan the Silver Cross Mother for the coming year.

Mabel Girouard of Bathurst will lay a wreath in Ottawa on Remembrance Day on behalf of all mothers who have lost children in the Canadian military.

Her son was Chief Warrant Officer Robert Michael Girouard, former regimental sergeant major of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in Ontario.

The 46-year-old soldier was killed when a suicide bomber drove his car into a convoy of military vehicles in Kandahar on Nov. 27, 2006.

The 29-year veteran of the Forces was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross posthumously.

His mother will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial on Nov. 11 and will hold the position of Silver Cross Mother until next October.

Volunteer dumped for quip about Williams’ penis

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Political discourse in Newfoundland and Labrador hit another low as the government dumped a volunteer who quipped about the premier’s penis size on Facebook.

The flap comes just days after Liberal Opposition spin doctor Craig Westcott apologized for an email questioning whether Danny Williams is mentally ill or in the last stages of syphilis.

Rural Development Minister Shawn Skinner said Monday that Pamela Pardy Ghent was removed from the province’s rural secretariat for a status update she posted early Sunday morning on Facebook.

It said: “Thinking about sending Liz (Elizabeth Matthews, communications director for Williams) an email asking her to disclose the premier’s penis size….legit question, right? You know, small man syndrome made it to the psych (psychology) books, didn’t it? Besides, what could it hurt? Everyone can take a joke, right?”

Apparently not. Ghent said she got a call Sunday night from a senior rural development official with the provincial government who advised her she was being dismissed.

Ghent’s Facebook friends include various provincial cabinet ministers. On Monday, Skinner confirmed the off-colour posting prompted her ouster.

“I just felt it was totally inappropriate and it was a wrong thing for her to do,” he said in an interview. “She should have thought before she posted that up.”

But Ghent, a freelance writer from Harbour Mille who devoted hours to helping hurricane Igor victims on the Burin Peninsula, says the comment was never meant as a dig at Williams or Matthews. The update was an attempt to poke fun at the absurdity of the Westcott email, she said.

Ottawa keeps 2011 immigration levels steady

OTTAWA — The federal government wants to keep Canada’s immigration levels steady next year but change the mix of newcomers, limiting economic immigrants and boosting the number of spouses and children.

In its annual report to Parliament on immigration, the Conservative government says it aims to take in between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents next year.

That’s the same target as this year and last. But Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is looking to cut the economic class of immigrants by about 5,000 people — despite highlighting the growing dependence of the Canadian workforce on immigrant labour.

Instead, he is increasing the target range for spouses and children, to a high of 48,000 — up from 45,000 in 2010.

He is also expecting the number of refugees to rise, partly because the government has committed to doubling the number of refugees it selects and resettles from overseas camps.

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