Canada briefs – September 6

Residents in Trois-Rivieres, Que., spent Labour Day cleaning up after a small tornado ripped through the city Sunday night.

Tornado rips through Quebec community

TROIS-RIVIERES, Que. — Residents in Trois-Rivieres, Que., spent Labour Day cleaning up after a small tornado ripped through the city Sunday night.

Powerful winds reaching 130 kilometres an hour uprooted trees in the community northeast of Montreal and caused damage to about 70 homes.

Andre Cantin of Environment Canada says the tornado ranked as zero on a scale up to five and was over in about a minute. Cantin says there have been four tornadoes in Quebec so far this year and the province averages six annually.

The mayor of Trois-Rivieres, Yves Levesque, says no one was hurt in the storm. He says the clean-up is well underway, though some are still without power.

Ontario premier faces questions on tax hikes

TORONTO — Premier Dalton McGuinty wants Ontario voters to believe he won’t raise taxes again if the Liberals are re-elected Oct. 6, but he wouldn’t say the words Monday as he launched his campaign platform.

McGuinty answered ”No” when specifically asked if he would raise taxes again, but when pressed by reporters to state in a full sentence that he would not raise taxes, the premier refused to say all the words.

“Will you say it?” he was asked repeatedly.

“I just did,” said McGuinty. “We will not.”

The Liberal leader also declined to say why voters should believe him personally after he promised before the last two Ontario elections not to raise taxes, and did so both times, first with a health-care tax of up to $900 per worker in 2004 and with the harmonized sales tax in 2009.

“Ontario families have made their contribution,” he said. “They have done their share, and what an enormous difference that has made.”

The opposition parties said McGuinty cannot be trusted when it comes to tax hikes, which the Progressive Conservatives called the elephant in the room.

“Dalton McGuinty is a liar,” said PC candidate Andrea Mandel-Campbell standing in front of a giant inflated red elephant.

“He said he would not raise taxes, not once but twice, and he will raise taxes again.”

The New Democrats also said voters won’t trust McGuinty.

“He can make promises till he’s blue in the face, but he’s got an eight- year track record,” said NDP candidate Paul Ferreira.

“One of the reasons people have decided it’s time for a change is because the premier has broken his word a number of times. The trust factor is gone.”

Manitoba NDP seeking fourth mandate

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s election campaign will officially kick off this morning.

Premier Greg Selinger will visit the lieutenant-governor at 10:30 a.m. local time to launch the NDP’s effort to win a fourth consecutive majority provincial government.

Selinger has also scheduled his first rally for the River East constituency — a Winnipeg seat currently held by the opposition Progressive Conservatives.

Under Manitoba’s fixed election-date law, voters will go to the polls Tuesday, Oct. 4.

While the campaign officially starts Tuesday, the politicians have already been busy over the past week promising everything from fitness tax credits to new funding for doctors.

Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen and Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard are expected to focus on crime and community safety Tuesday — an area where they say the government has fallen short.

United Express plane skids off Ottawa runway

OTTAWA — A United Express plane carrying 44 people skidded off the runway on Sunday at Ottawa’s international airport.

Emergency and airport officials said all the passengers travelling from Chicago got off the plane safely and were taken into the terminal on city buses.

“No injuries, everybody is absolutely fine,” said Krista Kealey, the director of communications at the Ottawa airport.

Marc Messier, a spokesman for the Ottawa fire service, said the Embraer 145 suffered some damage to the undercarriage and a wing causing a substantial fuel leak.

He said city fire crews assisted airport firefighters in controlling the fuel spill.

The plane was completely sitting on a grassy area surrounded by emergency vehicles. The plane appeared to be tipping up with the rear of the plane stuck in the grass and the nose elevated higher than normal.

One frightened passenger who tweeted from the plane said people were screaming as the plane skidded and a wing went into the dirt.

It’s not the first time a United plane has skidded off the runway in Ottawa.

In June, 2010 a United Express Embraer 145 with 36 people aboard went off the runway. Three people were taken to hospital.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the accident.

The TSB said in a release that the plane was operated by Trans States Airlines as United Flight 3363.