Canada briefs – November 4

Canada’s outspoken budget watchdog warns he may have to shut down his office if funding he was promised is withheld.

Fund it or shut it down: Page

OTTAWA — Canada’s outspoken budget watchdog warns he may have to shut down his office if funding he was promised is withheld.

Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page told a House committee Tuesday that he still has not been given any indication he will be given the $2.8 million earmarked for his office this year.

And if he doesn’t get it, he said he won’t be able to retain the qualified staff needed to prepare his reports on government expenditures on everything from budget reality checks to the bottom-line costs of the Afghan war.

”We have a small team of 15 people and four or five on (loan from other departments),“ he said.

“If we don’t have that critical mass, it’s my recommendation that the Parliamentary Budget Office be shut down.”

The office was created by the Conservatives two years ago to give parliamentarians independent contextual information for budget projections. But almost immediately, Page and his staff have proven to be a burr in the government’s saddle.

Publicly and privately, Conservative MPs have complained that Page has been overly adversarial. The Conservatives were particularly incensed that the budget office released an accounting of the Afghan war costs, something it refused to do.

Canadian jailed for illegal flight

ST. LOUIS — A 31-year-old Canadian man has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for stealing a plane in Canada and flying over three states before landing along a dark southern Missouri highway.

Adam Dylan Leon had admitted in August to all federal charges he’d faced: interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, importation of a stolen aircraft and illegal entry.

Leon was born Yavuz Berke in Turkey before moving to Canada, changing his name, and becoming a naturalized citizen. He was described as a good student and was well-liked at the Confederation College Flight School in Thunder Bay, Ont., where the plane was stolen.

He admitted that on April 6, he stole a four-seat Cessna 172 from his flight school and crossed the U.S. border.

Leon landed the plane more than seven hours later on a road off of Highway 60 near Ellsinore, Mo.

He has told the court he suffered from depression.

Family, friends pony up bail

CHICAGO — A lawyer says friends and family of a Canadian man in Chicago accused of participating in a terrorist scheme are willing to post US$1 million in real estate and cash to win his release on bond.

Tahawwur Hussain Rana is set to appear before federal Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan for a bond hearing Tuesday.

He is accused of taking part in a scheme to attack a Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Prosecutors contend Rana might flee if released. He’s originally from Pakistan but holds Canadian citizenship and lives in Chicago.

But defence attorney Patrick Blegen says six families in Chicago, New York, New Jersey and Texas will post their homes to secure a bond.

He also says supporters in Canada would put up enough cash to bring the total to $1 million.

Rana and another man are accused of taking part in the scheme to attack the newspaper because it outraged the Muslim world with the cartoons.

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