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Ford predicts 'knockout' in first televised debate of Toronto mayoral campaign

TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he's ready for tonight's first televised debate in this year's mayoral campaign — and jokes that he's expecting to win by a knockout. When asked today for his prediction about the debate with the top four challengers for his job, Ford laughingly responded "a knockout in the first 15 seconds."

Manitoba politicians will vote on opposition push for inquiry into minister

WINNIPEG - Manitoba politicians will vote next month on an opposition push for an inquiry into former NDP cabinet minister Christine Melnick. Tory house leader Kelvin Goertzen gave notice Wednesday that he will introduce a motion after next week's spring break to have a legislature committee set up to conduct the probe. The committee, which would have people testify under oath, would determine whether Melnick or Premier Greg Selinger is telling the truth about a controversial immigration debate in April 2012 that was criticized by the ombudsman.

Manitoba politicians will vote on opposition push for inquiry into minister

WINNIPEG - Manitoba politicians will vote next month on an opposition push for an inquiry into former NDP cabinet minister Christine Melnick. Tory house leader Kelvin Goertzen gave notice Wednesday that he will introduce a motion after next week's spring break to have a legislature committee set up to conduct the probe. The committee, which would have people testify under oath, would determine whether Melnick or Premier Greg Selinger is telling the truth about a controversial immigration debate in April 2012 that was criticized by the ombudsman.

Nova Scotia finance minister to release 2014-15 budget on April 3

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government will deliver its spring budget April 3. Finance Minister Diana Whalen recently warned that wage and other cost pressures combined with poor economic growth will add to the government's challenges in the 2014-15 fiscal year. Whalen has said civil service job cuts are not a priority in the upcoming budget. The last fiscal update Whalen released in December projected a $481.7 million deficit for 2013-14 due to a large unfunded liability in the public service pension plan and a drop in government revenue.

B.C. NDP leader says leave for member connected to audit still being worked out

VICTORIA - The leader of B.C.'s Opposition New Democrats says his party is still figuring out the terms of caucus member Jenny Kwan's unpaid leave from the legislature, which was prompted by her connection to an audit of a Vancouver-based non-profit group. Kwan announced the leave on Friday after writing a $35,000 cheque to cover her family's trips to Disneyland and Europe, which were paid for by the Portland Hotel Society, a group that works with some of Canada's poorest and most vulnerable people.

Delaware loses final bid to revive 'secret courts'

By Tom Hals (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a ruling that shut down Delaware's novel program to have judges hear private arbitration cases, which critics blasted as "secret courts". The U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled last year that having state judges decide arbitration cases in secret violated the U.S. Constitution.

NDP leadership hopeful MLA Rob Fleming gives leadership race a pass

VICTORIA - The leadership bid for B.C.'s New Democrats remains a two-person race after yet another potential candidate has taken a pass on entering the contest. Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming announced he will not be running. Fleming, who serves as the party's education critic, was one of at least seven candidates who were expected to join the leadership race. So far former NDP house leader John Horgan and Mike Farnworth, who finished second to current leader Adrian Dix in the 2011 leadership contest, are the only two contenders for the party's leadership.

Nova Scotia government committee seeks input on how to improve report cards

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government is asking for input from the public about how report cards can be improved. The Education Department has launched an online survey, with responses being accepted until April 11. A committee that includes students, parents, teachers and school board staff will review the surveys and deliver a report to the department on April 30. Last year, then-education minister Ramona Jennex said she heard from parents who said they weren't satisfied with the language used in report cards.

Saskatchewan Finance Minister Ken Krawetz tables tight, balanced budget

REGINA - Saskatchewan's finance minister has tabled a budget that holds the line on spending and doesn't increase taxes, but it also doesn't save for the future. The budget includes $14.07 billion in revenue and $14 billion in spending — leaving a thin surplus of $71 million. Ken Krawetz (KRAH'-vetz) says the province had to keep spending in check because revenue is down 0.7 per cent compared with last year.

Bruce Ralston named new house leader for British Columbia New Democrats

VICTORIA - B.C. New Democrat Bruce Ralston has been named the Opposition house leader while John Horgan runs for the party leadership. Ralston, the member for Surrey-Whalley, will take over house duties immediately from Horgan, who announced on Monday that he's running to replace Leader Adriane Dix. Horgan, the NDP's energy critic, said he decided to enter the leadership race after other New Democrats persuaded him to run. Horgan and NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth are the only contenders so far in the leadership bid.
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