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Abuse allegations blasted

VANCOUVER -- Family members of former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong, including his ex-wife, have condemned new allegations of domestic and sexual abuse against him.

The family issued a statement Wednesday decrying the latest allegations by reporter Laura Robinson, whom Furlong is suing over an article she wrote about his time as a teacher at two Catholic schools in northern B.C.

A statement of defence Robinson filed this week includes new claims alleging Furlong physically abused his former spouse and sexually assaulted a common-law partner.

"These shocking allegations are without merit and portray a character whom none of us recognizes," said the statement from Furlong's children, Maria, Johnnie, Damien, Emma, Molly, their mother Margaret, and their stepmother Gail, along with Furlong's 11 grandchildren.

The family said they felt compelled to speak out about the "serious, unsubstantiated" allegations contained in the court documents filed Monday.

In them, Robinson said she was contacted after the original article was published last fall by a former neighbour of John and Margaret Furlong when they lived in Prince George, B.C., from 1970 to 1972.

Robinson also said in the court documents she was contacted following publication of the original story by Furlong's former common-law spouse, who told her "that she had been physically, emotionally and sexually abused by the plaintiff" while they lived together in Nanaimo, B.C., from 1979 to 1982.

Antarctic rescue difficult

RESCUERS looking for three Canadians aboard an airplane presumed to have gone down in Antarctica were grappling with bad weather conditions Wednesday, as low visibility and strong winds hampered search efforts.

No information was available on the fate of the trio aboard the ski-equipped Twin Otter, which is owned by Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air.

A spokesman for the U.S. National Science Foundation, which operates a research station helping in the search for the missing plane, said the three people aboard the aircraft are thought to be Kenn Borek crew members.

The plane was flying from the South Pole to an Italian base in Antarctica's Terra Nova Bay.

Friday big day for Ford

TORONTO -- Rob Ford will learn Friday whether he has succeeded in his court battle to keep his job as mayor of Toronto.

A Divisional Court panel is set to issue its decision at 10:30 a.m. Friday on an appeal of a previous ruling that Ford should be dismissed from office for violating conflict-of-interest rules. Ford's lawyers have argued the ruling was legally flawed.

In November, an Ontario Superior Court justice ordered Ford removed as mayor for taking part in a council vote that he repay $3,150 raised for his private football foundation. The ruling was put on hold pending the Divisional Court decision.

If Ford loses the appeal, it will be up to council to appoint an acting mayor for the balance of Ford's term or call a byelection.

Info on Sahara siege scant

OTTAWA -- Canada was making little headway Wednesday in firmly establishing whether any of its nationals were part of a group of terrorists linked to al-Qaida who mounted a deadly siege at an isolated Algerian energy plant.

The federal government still has no substantial information from Algeria to confirm claims Canadians were among the hostage-takers at the Sahara Desert gas plant, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday.

Harper said he has not spoken to Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, who claimed two Canadian nationals were among the band of al-Qaida-linked militants who took hundreds of workers hostage at the natural gas complex.

"People in our government are in contact with the government of Algeria," Harper said. "We have no substantial information at the present time on these particular individuals, but obviously we will continue to work with the government of Algeria to find out more about this particular matter."

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 24, 2013 A10

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