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Constitution questions

QUEBEC -- The Supreme Court of Canada says it will investigate allegations some of its members intervened in the repatriation of the Constitution.

The high court's decision came after urging by Quebec's Parti Québécois government for Ottawa to "open its books" on the events that led to the repatriation of the Constitution by Pierre Elliott Trudeau's federal Liberals in 1982.

The call by Quebec Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Alexandre Cloutier on Tuesday came after the publication of a book that alleges Supreme Court of Canada magistrates interfered in the political process and engaged in backroom discussions.

The judiciary "cannot interfere with the political powers -- that's the basics of democracy," Cloutier told a news conference Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Supreme Court indicated Tuesday the court is concerned by the questions about its credibility and feels it necessary to investigate.

The book, which was released Monday, was written by historian and journalist Frederic Bastien.

Bastien writes Bora Laskin, then chief justice of the Supreme Court, provided information to the Canadian and British governments on the discussions between magistrates about the legality of repatriation.

Another high court judge, Willard Estey, also secretly advised the British government in 1980 the Supreme Court would address the issue, the author wrote.

Bastien suggests that both jurists violated the principle of separation of executive and judicial powers.


Elder ends hunger strike

OTTAWA -- An aboriginal leader from Manitoba who began a hunger strike last week over Ottawa's treatment of First Nations people now says he has ended his protest.

Grand Elder Raymond Robinson had been refusing to eat or drink unless and until Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed to a meaningful dialogue with aboriginal leaders.

He also wanted the federal government to sit down with First Nations on a "nation to nation" basis.

But Tuesday, Robinson -- of Manitoba's Cross Lake First Nation -- took to Twitter to say he'd decided to end his strike, although he didn't say why.


A nice place to visit

TORONTO -- Canada continues to be one of the top-10 tourist destinations in the world, the latest survey by the World Economic Forum suggests.

The WEF's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, which assesses 140 countries across 14 different categories and evaluates their appeal to travellers, said Canada scored eighth in this year's rankings, up one spot from the last survey two years ago.

It cited a number of factors for Canada's allure, including a variety of natural resources, rich cultural diversity and strong air transport infrastructure.

The fact that Canada plays home to a number of World Heritage Sites, including the Rocky Mountains, the historic section of Quebec City and the Rideau Canal, was another draw, the report said.


Google invades Ottawa

OTTAWA -- Google is taking its Street View camera into the Parliament Buildings, meaning virtual tourists will soon be able to click through the historic corridors online.

The company has been given special access to the buildings, including the House of Commons and Senate chambers.

A 360-degree panoramic camera -- mounted on a push-cart dubbed the Google Trolley -- is wheeling through the corridors and historic rooms.

Images of the halls, the library, the memorial chamber and other historic rooms will be available to users of the company's Google Maps feature.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2013 A7

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