Canada

OTTAWA - The International Monetary Fund says Canada and other countries can improve their economies and environment by hiking energy taxes — while cutting them on people and capital.

In a new book, Getting Energy Prices Right: From Principle to Practice, the IMF essentially endorses policies at times advocated by the federal Liberals and NDP calling for what some have termed a "green shift" in the taxation system. The Conservative government, however, has rejected carbon taxes.

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that confessions extracted through so-called Mr. Big police sting operations must be regulated more carefully in order to be admissible in court.

The ruling came today in the case of a Newfoundland man who was initially convicted in the first-degree murder of his three-year-old twin daughters.

The conviction of Nelson Hart was later overturned in 2007 by the province's appeal court, but only by a 2-1 margin.

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says the country's economic output increased in May by 0.4 per cent.

It was the fifth consecutive monthly rise in the real gross domestic product and came in better than was expected. Economists had expected a gain of 0.3 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Service industry growth matched the overall rise, at 0.4 per cent, with most major industrial sub-sectors posting gains.

MONCTON, N.B. - A New Brunswick man charged with fatally shooting three RCMP officers and wounding two others last month in Moncton will return to court today after undergoing a psychiatric assessment.

Justin Bourque faces three charges of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.

Constables Dave Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan and Douglas Larche were gunned down after responding to a report of a man with firearms in a residential neighbourhood on June 4.

Constables Eric Dubois and Darlene Goguen were wounded and later released from hospital.

Candlelight vigils will be held in several cities tonight for a Canadian teacher who has been detained in Indonesia for more than two weeks.

Neil Bantleman, 45, was arrested in Jakarta during a police investigation into the alleged sexual assault of three kindergarten students.

Bantleman, who worked at the prestigious Jakarta International School, was detained along with teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong, who is Indonesian.

Bantleman's brother says the vigils are a show of solidarity for the two men, who have denied the allegations.

TORONTO - A two-toed sloth at the Toronto Zoo which showed a burst of speed when he accurately predicted the winner of the World Cup is to be honoured today.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is to give the sloth named Bob a congratulatory scroll after the mammal picked Germany to win the big soccer match.

Bob was shown an Argentine flag and a German flag by zoo employees days before last month's game

Hanging upside down from a branch, the sloth moved fast and grabbed the German one.

AIR RONGE, Sask. - The federal government committed $2.5 million Wednesday to help train miners in northern Saskatchewan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement at a training college in Air Ronge, a several-hour drive northeast of Prince Albert.

Later in the day at a Conservative party event in Saskatoon, Harper said the mining announcement is another signpost of a revitalized Saskatchewan.

"What's happening in Saskatchewan today is a genuine economic success story," Harper told about 900 cheering supporters in a campaign-style speech.

OTTAWA - "To possess a firearm is a right, and it's a right that comes with responsibilities." — Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney at a news conference in Powassan, Ont., while announcing planned changes to Canada's gun laws, July 23, 2014.

The Canadian Press has examined Blaney's statement and put it to its baloney meter test — a dispassionate examination of political statements that culminates in a ranking of accuracy.

VANCOUVER - Major development projects such as the Site C dam in British Columbia's Peace River watershed could threaten up to $8.6 billion in ecological values, suggests a report commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Faisal Moola, a chief scientist with the environmental group, said the 56,000-square kilometre watershed is a "Fort Knox" of ecological wealth, with ecosystems providing benefits including clean air, clean water, carbon storage and flood and erosion control.

YELLOWKNIFE - A political leader in the Northwest Territories says there are concerns over the federal government's new law requiring the salaries of First Nations chiefs be posted online.

Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus, who is also the Assembly of First Nations' regional chief for the Northwest Territories, says his people are not opposed to the concept of accountability and transparency.

However, he says the problem is that the federal government's new legislation is "an imposition" on First Nations' governments.

VANCOUVER - The British Columbia government has granted environmental approval for a proposed $5.3-billion mine in the provinces north, which would tap into one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world and has already received support from local First Nations.

The provincial environment and mines ministers issued an environmental assessment certificate Wednesday to Seabridge Gold Inc. (TSX:SEA) for the company's KSM project, also known as Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell.

JOHNSONS LANDING, B.C. - Two years after a landslide tore down the slopes of Johnsons Landing, B.C., claiming the lives of four people in a wave of mud, trees and rock, the last of the evacuated residents are finally being allowed to return home.

But the Regional District of Central Kootenay in southeast B.C. is cautioning residents that risks and hazards remain and those problems will have to be weighed when the evacuation order is finally lifted on Thursday.

MONTREAL - Two women are trying to launch a class-action lawsuit against a Montreal-area hospital which is testing patients who underwent bariatric surgery and might have contracted HIV or hepatitis from an improperly sterilized surgical tool.

The women are among 150 patients who received a letter last February from the Lachine Hospital suggesting they get tested.

It was not immediately clear if the women, who were treated in 2013 and 2014 respectively, are infected.

MONTREAL - The lead locomotive in the Lac-Megantic rail disaster has been yanked from a U.S. auction following a request by Quebec provincial police.

News of the police demand surfaced last week after a report by The Canadian Press revealed that locomotive MMA 5017 was slated to be sold off Aug. 5 at a Maine rail yard.

The locomotive played a key role in the sequence of events that led to the July 2013 oil-train derailment, which destroyed part of the Quebec town and killed 47 people.

OTTAWA - The justice minister's office says the government won't make Marc Nadon repay any monies he collected during his ill-fated appointment to the high court.

The elevation of Nadon from the Federal Court of Appeal was ruled invalid in March on the grounds it violated Quebec-specific provisions of the Supreme Court Act.

Registrar Roger Bilodeau says that between Oct. 3, 2013, and March 21, 2014, Nadon received the salary and allowances of a Supreme Court judge, in accordance with the Judges Act.

ST. ALBERT, Alta. - It's three times lucky for Alberta in lottery games in the last week.

Emery and Lorraine Cressman of Calgary are the latest multimillion-dollar winners in the province with their Lotto 6-49 ticket worth $7 million.

Emery says he thought he and his wife had won $70,000 when he checked the ticket for the July 19 draw.

It wasn't until he got home and checked the numbers on a computer that he realized the prize was much, much more than that.

OTTAWA - An unflinching Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated his government's hard line on Wednesday on Hamas, Russia and Chinese cyberattacks.

Harper said Hamas is solely responsible for the death and destruction in Gaza following almost a month of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.

His remarks, made following a job training announcement in northern Saskatchewan, came as the United States and the United Nations condemned the shelling of a UN school that was sheltering displaced Palestinians on the Gaza Strip. At least 17 people were killed.

MONCTON, N.B. - One of the two RCMP officers in New Brunswick wounded in shootings last month in Moncton says he has returned to work.

Const. Eric Dubois spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since the June 4 shootings while he was participating at a golf tournament at Royal Oaks Golf Club in Moncton.

The tournament was organized in memory of the three other Mounties who were killed in the shootings.

WINDSOR, Ont. - A new U.S.-Canadian authority will oversee the construction, operation and maintenance of a proposed six-lane bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., officials from both countries announced Wednesday.

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority is a non-profit Crown corporation that will report to Ottawa as it manages the project for the New International Trade Crossing, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said in a news conference in Windsor, where she was joined by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

TRENTON, Ont. - A member of the Canadian Armed Forces has been charged with drug offences in the Trenton, Ont., area.

Provincial police say a suspect was arrested on Tuesday after a brief investigation into the alleged sale of controlled substances in the City of Quinte West.

Two search warrants were executed in Kingston and Trenton and it's alleged that cocaine and $2,880 in cash were seized.

The investigation involved Ontario Provincial Police, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, Kingston police and the RCMP.

OTTAWA - Health Canada says thousands of bike and skateboard helmets are being voluntarily recalled due to a potential safety hazard.

It says FGL Sports Ltd. is recalling its helmets sold under the Capix Evo and Capix Jr Evo brands as a precautionary measure due to a manufacturing defect that may cause cracks near rivets securing the chin strap.

Health Canada says there have been no reports of consumer incidents or injuries related to the use of the helmets.

HALIFAX - A prominent Halifax lawyer apologized in court Wednesday as he was sentenced to three years in a federal prison for sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman who refuted his claim that she consented to a night of sex with him.

Lyle Howe stood in Nova Scotia Supreme Court and issued a brief statement before sentencing, saying he regretted his behaviour and was not proud of what he did.

"I am remorseful for my actions," he said as a few dozen supporters, including his mother and wife, looked on.

LAVAL, Que. - Provincial police say there is still no sign of a Quebec inmate who disappeared from a minimum-security federal penitentiary while serving a murder sentence.

An arrest warrant is out for Robert Gaudette, who vanished from the facility north of Montreal early Tuesday morning.

Sources say he escaped by hopping out a window in his room in a minimum-security housing unit.

The 55-year-old Gaudette had been behind bars since receiving a life sentence in 2002 for the second-degree murder of his wife, Cindy Bouchard.

OTTAWA - Canada's top court will release its decision Thursday on whether confessions elicited from so-called Mr. Big police sting operations can be used in court after the technique helped convict a Newfoundland man of killing his two daughters.

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed early last year to hear the case of Nelson Hart, who was found guilty by a jury of first-degree murder in the drowning deaths of his three-year-old twin daughters, Krista and Karen, on Aug. 4, 2002, at Gander Lake.

TORONTO - Toronto's police Chief Bill Blair, who was in charge during the widely maligned G20 mass arrests four summers ago and has been a frequent target of Mayor Rob Ford's wrath, will lose his job in April after his request for a contract renewal was rejected Wednesday.

The police services board offered no substantive reasons in a statement announcing its decision.

"After considerable discussion related to the Toronto Police Service's continuing need for organizational renewal, the board has decided not to renew the employment agreement of Chief Blair," the board said.