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Search postponed again

L'EPIPHANIE, Que. -- The search for two missing workers in a Quebec quarry was postponed once again Friday amid concerns the area was at risk of another landslide.

A man and a woman disappeared Tuesday after a landslide swept their vehicles into a gravel pit dozens of metres deep.

Equipment and around 20 rescuers were lowered to the bottom of the quarry on Friday.

But technicians later warned the ground was too unstable to continue the operation and the site was evacuated.

Strong winds also prevented rescue crews from conducting their search Thursday at the quarry in L'Epiphanie, Que.

A third worker whose vehicle also fell into the quarry was rescued by a provincial police helicopter on Tuesday within hours of the collapse.

PM, Marois hold talks

ESTEREL, Que. -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper's first substantive meeting with the new premier of Quebec was relatively amicable, to hear her tell it Friday.

Pauline Marois said the prime minister promised to consult with the provinces while negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, just as they have been consulted during the ongoing talks with the European Union.

She said he also agreed his government would seek local input while refurbishing the federally run share of Montreal's Champlain Bridge.

And she said he sought to reassure her that his reforms to Employment Insurance would be flexible enough to accommodate regions with many seasonal jobs.

The premier -- who had promised to clash swords with Ottawa when she was elected -- said the encounter actually went quite well.

"I must say I'm very satisfied with this meeting," Marois told reporters after.

But Marois said she still has doubts about the EI reforms and will assess whether the prime minister's reassurances ring true.

A meeting between the federal and provincial ministers on the file, Diane Finley and Agnes Maltais, has been scheduled for Feb. 11.

"I told him I would be very skeptical," Marois said. "I still have serious doubts and I will continue to be very vigiliant."

It was their first significant discussion about policy since Marois took office.

IKEA monkey stays put

OSHAWA, Ont. -- Darwin the IKEA monkey will stay at a primate sanctuary for at least the next few months after the woman who describes herself as his mom lost a third bid to get him back.

The primate is at the centre of the hotly contested battle between Yasmin Nakhuda and the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary -- not a child custody fight, but rather one over personal property, a judge reminded everyone Friday.

Darwin has been at the sanctuary since he was scooped up by Toronto Animal Services following his adventure around an IKEA parking lot while decked out in a little shearling coat in mid-December. Nakhuda tried and failed to get him back from animal services that day. She alleges the bylaw officers tricked her into surrendering the monkey.

So she launched a civil action in court to get Darwin back, but as the trial likely won't be heard until the spring, even on an expedited basis, Nakhuda asked the court to let her have Darwin at least until the trial.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Michael Brown denied her interim bid Friday, just as he denied her similar bid in late December.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2013 A21

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