Canada briefs – May 15

Taxpayers in B.C. will officially begin paying the old provincial sales tax in addition to the goods and services tax starting April 1 next year. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon introduced legislation today that replaces the harmonized sales tax which was rejected by residents in last summer’s referendum.

B.C. finance minister says new PST on April 1, 2013, same as the old PST

VICTORIA — Taxpayers in B.C. will officially begin paying the old provincial sales tax in addition to the goods and services tax starting April 1 next year.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon introduced legislation today that replaces the harmonized sales tax which was rejected by residents in last summer’s referendum.

Falcon says the return to the PST brings back all the old exemptions, meaning consumers will no longer pay seven-per-cent tax on restaurant meals, gym memberships, bicycles, movie tickets and haircuts.

The minister says he still can’t stomach the PST — which he once called a stupid tax — but now he calls it a better stupid tax.

Falcon says the major improvement to the new PST is it provides online access for businesses, which makes it easier to register and update accounts.

Polish PM expresses commitment to battered euro

OTTAWA, Ont. — The battered euro received a rare boost Monday when Poland’s prime minister affirmed his country’s commitment to adopt the currency, despite the financial woes that threaten Europe.

Donald Tusk said Poland has coped well during the economic downturn and will continue to work with the European Union to strengthen the currency that 17 of its 27 members use.

Tusk said Europe’s future depends on a common currency. His vote of confidence on Monday came as the political stalemate in Greece entered its eighth day and raised the possibility of the country’s exit from the eurozone.

Poland committed to joining the eurozone when it became a EU member and “nothing has changed to this extent,” Tusk said Monday after a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill.

“What has changed is just the reputation of the eurozone.”

The ongoing economic turmoil in Europe formed the backdrop for Harper’s meeting with his Polish counterpart.

But Harper demurred on whether the continuing political and economic uncertainty currently facing Greece warrants its expulsion from the eurozone.

“It’s not my place to tell Europeans how to resolve problems within the European Union,” he said as he stood beside Tusk. “Obviously these problems remain serious. They’ve been with us since the financial crisis. And it is essential that they be addressed.”

RCMP didn’t see Pickton as serial killer, allowed file to lay dormant

VANCOUVER — An RCMP officer in charge investigating Robert Pickton told the missing women inquiry the case was dormant for months and she didn’t know they were dealing with a serial killer.

Mounties were investigating tips that Pickton killed a sex worker on his property in Port Coquitlam, B.C., at the same time that Vancouver police were investigating reports of missing women.

Ruth Chapman, a constable whose surname was Yurkiw at the time, took over the RCMP’s Pickton investigation in late August 1999.

Chapman told the inquiry police ran out of leads investigating a tip that Pickton may have killed a sex worker, and she acknowledged she went weeks and months at a time without touching the Pickton file.

When she took over from Cpl. Mike Connor, who was transferred because of a promotion, she wasn’t given a detailed briefing about the case and says she didn’t realize she was dealing with a potential serial killer.

‘Chaos’ erupted during botched siege in Newfoundland

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Mounties wrestled with a high-pressure water hose as they tried a last-ditch effort to flush Leo Crockwell from his Newfoundland home just before he slipped undetected from a weeklong standoff, court heard Monday.

RCMP Sgt. Dave Hains described a scene of “chaos” as officers first blasted water into the two-storey green home the night of Dec. 10, 2010 in Bay Bulls, N.L.

Hains told the jury trial in provincial Supreme Court that too much pressure snapped the nozzle off the hose, spraying water in all directions. He said the Mounties turned off the water and repositioned the hose before pumping thousands of litres into the house owned by Crockwell’s elderly mother.

“We were learning as we were going,” Hains said of the flush tactic.

Hains also said he was the only officer two days earlier to guard one side of the house as officers used a battering ram to try to enter the home.

That’s the same side of the house that Crockwell is alleged to have escaped from the night of Dec. 10.

He was arrested without incident on Dec. 11 after the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was tipped by a couple who’d given him a ride to a home several kilometres away. The Mounties had continued to pump water into the home for hours after their suspect had fled.

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