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Ticking debt bomb?

MANITOBA'S debt is rising by $72 a second, or about $6.25 million a day, a rate the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says is unsustainable.

On Tuesday, the organization rolled out its large mobile digital "debt clock" to the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building to call attention to the situation.

Colin Craig, the CTF's Prairie director, said the province's total borrowings and obligations, including those of Crown corporations, stands at more than $28.5 billion and will exceed $30 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

"That's a huge amount of money," said Craig, who was flanked by Tory finance critic Myrna Driedger and Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard at a news conference.

Craig said the taxpayers federation isn't suggesting Manitoba is going to go bankrupt like Detroit "yet," but its spending levels are unsustainable.

Manitoba's finance minister, however, said the province's books aren't in nearly as dire a state as Craig suggests.

Stan Struthers said the ratio of debt to gross domestic product has fallen under NDP rule, and bond credit rating firms have taken note by boosting Manitoba's rating over the 14 years of NDP rule.

"We're going to grow the economy. We're going to be smart about our spending," Struthers said, noting that government debt servicing costs have fallen under the NDP.


Nickel thief sought

A Thompson man is being sought in connection to the theft of $110,000 worth of nickel plates stolen May 13 from Vale's Manitoba smelting operations in Thompson.

Michael James Schwartz, 30, is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-11, weighing 220 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen in Thompson on June 24 and may be driving a blue 2012 Dodge Charger bearing Manitoba licence plate GPL 487.

Schwartz and his brother own Schwartz Bros Construction Limited on Cree Road in Thompson.

The plea for assistance came in connection to an ongoing investigation of a theft of four bundles of nickel plates. The missing plates are described as being approximately 50 centimetres inches by 91 centimetres, stamped on both sides with VALE and INCO.

A surveillance photo showed a flatbed truck driving off with the nickel plates.

RCMP ask anyone with information about Schwartz's whereabouts to call Thompson RCMP at 204-677-6909.


Right-to-life appeal denied

THE Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench has denied an appeal from the estate of Brian Sinclair regarding his much-publicized wrongful death lawsuit.

The court upheld a ruling the estate did not have the right to make a claim for the breach of his right to life under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Tuesday's ruling stated only people who are alive have the right to sue for an infringement of their own life.

Sinclair, a disabled, homeless aboriginal man, died in a Winnipeg hospital waiting room after spending more than 30 hours waiting for care in September 2008.

The court also upheld two other rulings: one, that a member of Sinclair's family cannot sue the hospital for wrongfully making Sinclair's personal health information public and two, the estate cannot file against the province for its role in the operation of the medical facility.

The Sinclair family say they plan to appeal Tuesday's decision.


CFB Winnipeg aids search

A C-130 Hercules airplane from CFB Winnipeg is part of the search for two U.S. fishermen missing on a lake in Nunavut.

An official at the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre at CFB Trenton in Ontario says a call came into the centre from emergency officials in Baker Lake, NU.

A small fishing charter airplane was to have picked up the two men on Monday at nearby Dubawnt Lake.

Their boat was found out of gas and still full of fishing gear, but there was no sign of the men -- a father in his 70s and his son in his 40s.

Their names and hometowns aren't available.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 31, 2013 B2

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