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Morning Brew: February 12, 2008

Posted by Sisi / February 12, 2008

"Untitled," by Midnight Poutine Flickr pooler Mister Sleeep.

Your morning news roundup for Tuesday, February 12th, 2008:

Habs defenceman Ryan O'Byrne, 23, and forward Tom Kostopoulos, 29, were arrested outside a Florida club in the wee hours of the morning yesterday. They were booked on charges of grand theft and "resisting an officer without violence" respectively. Both were arrested at about 3 A.M. outside a bar called Whiskey Park (the best kind of park) and spent the night in jail. They were released in the morning after paying bails of $2,000 for O'Byrne and $500 for Kostopoulos. Apparently, O'Byrne swiped a woman's purse and cell phone from the bar. When police asked him what he was doing, he said they belonged to his girlfriend...and then he failed to provide a name. Other hockey players were there; everyone backed down except Kostopoulos, who promptly got arrested. It's unlikely O'Byrne will serve time if convicted.

At least 2 suicides were linked to gambling, according to Loto-Québec documents that were released under a court order. The documents include 170 reports on "incidents of distress" at Gatineau's Lac-Leamy Casino and the Casino de Montréal between 1999 and 2007. There have been heart attacks, suicide attempts, and other developments that warranted staff intervention. As for the two who actually committed suicide, one was a Gatineau man who was found in the Ottawa River in 1999. He had lost $17,000 over 2 years at the Lac-Leamy Casino. Few details are available for the other suicide, which happened at the Casino de Montréal in 2001.

The Harper government has reached a compromise with the Liberals over the Canadian mission to Kandahar. The country's troops will be out of Afghanistan by 2011 at the latest no matter how things turn out, according to the new agreement. This means NATO will have to find another nation to replace Canada past 2011, regardless of the government in power. The Liberals are expected to present more amendments to the Tories' proposal this morning. They'd also like Canadian troops to stop playing a combat role against the Taliban by February 2009. For now, the Conservatives aren't amused by the demand.

Total Canadian debt surpasses $80,000 per household, according to the author of a new report. Released yesterday by l'Institut Vanier de la famille, the report by expert Roger Sauvé is called "L'état actuel du budget de la famille canadienne." He warns that loss of jobs could lead a number of families to financial trouble. Although a Canadian recession wouldn't be as serious as an American one, he believes that many families would find themselves unable to survive it. Canadian debt has reached a new high, equaling 131 per cent of total household revenues, after government transfers and income tax. Compare that number to 1990, when the national debt was only 91 per cent of total revenue.

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