Canada

CALGARY - Alberta's biggest city just keeps getting bigger.

The latest municipal census shows Calgary's population went up by 3.3 per cent, or more than 38,000, in 2013.

It's the largest ever yearly increase for a city which now sits just shy of the 1.2 million mark.

The census shows 28,000 more people moved to Calgary than left, while the birth rate was higher than the death rate by nearly 10,500.

FREDERICTON - The manager of the Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton has been appointed to chair a new task force to examine New Brunswick's exotic animal laws and regulations.

Bruce Dougan is a former president of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums and will be one of six people on the task force.

The announcement comes following news the RCMP have completed their investigation into the deaths of two boys who were asphyxiated by an African rock python last August in Campbellton.

African rock pythons are not permitted in New Brunswick.

TORONTO - A new report says Canada's bail system is set up to punish innocent people because of an increasing use of pretrial detention.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, an independent organization that promotes respect for human rights, released the report today.

Study author Abby Deshman says Canadians spend more than $850 million on pretrial detention when for the most part those arrested are facing non-violent and minor charges.

She says heading down this path has a personal, societal and financial cost that is "overwhelming."

FREDERICTON - The RCMP in New Brunswick said Tuesday they have completed their investigation into the deaths of two boys who were asphyxiated by a python and have handed the case to the Crown to determine whether charges should be laid.

Noah Barthe, 4, and his six-year-old brother Connor were killed last August in Campbellton after a 45-kilogram African rock python escaped its enclosure inside an apartment where they were staying for a sleepover.

MONTREAL - Canada's biggest telecom company, BCE Inc., is buying the stake in Bell Aliant that it doesn't already own for $3.95 billion in cash and stock, but will keep the brand's presence in Atlantic Canada.

BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE), which already owns 44 per cent of Bell Aliant, announced the plan to take the company private with an offer worth $31 per share.

"The Bell Aliant brand will stay where it is," Bell Aliant chief executive Karen Sheriff said Wednesday on a conference call to provide details about the deal.

OTTAWA - Retail sales rose 0.7 per cent in May, boosted by sales of new cars and trucks, according to Statistics Canada.

The agency says sales reached $42 billion in the month as gains were made across seven sectors that account for more than half of all retail trade.

Economists had expected a gain of 0.6 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Statistics Canada says motor vehicle sales, along with auto parts, led the way as they gained 2.5 per cent.

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper's office says it's "difficult to imagine" the prime minister would have any relevant information to share in the trial of Sen. Mike Duffy.

Spokesman Jason MacDonald says in an email that the PMO has responded "fully and freely" to requests for assistance from RCMP investigators.

He adds the Mounties have made it clear they don't believe Harper has any knowledge of Duffy's alleged wrongdoing and that there would be no reason for the prime minister to be involved should Duffy's defence team attempt to have him testify.

VANCOUVER - A British Columbia man wanted by the FBI for allegedly directing hackers to steal military secrets from Boeing and other defence contractors will learn Wednesday if he'll be freed on bail.

Su Bin, a Chinese citizen with permanent residency in Canada, was arrested by B.C. Mounties on June 28 and is facing extradition to the U.S.

The FBI alleges Su is the mastermind behind an elaborate operation that had hackers illegally accessing Boeing's computers in California and stealing information about the aircraft company's military projects.

MONTREAL - It's been known to belch oil from its exhaust, it's caught fire at least once and it led the "train from hell" that smashed into Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

And pretty soon locomotive MMA 5017 can be all yours.

The lead engine on the runaway oil train that derailed and exploded last summer in Quebec is scheduled to go to auction Aug. 5., a month after disaster-scarred Lac-Megantic marked the first year of the catastrophe.

WHISTLER, B.C. - United States ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman had little to say Tuesday about a possible decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, but that didn't stop Canada's U.S. ambassador from bluntly stating there's no proof that the pipeline shouldn't be built.

Gary Doer said all the evidence — environmental, economic, safety and scientific — supports a favourable decision by the U.S. government for the Keystone oil pipeline.

OTTAWA - A new report issued by the C.D. Howe Institute says the federal government could create tens of thousands more jobs in the next three years if it stopped worrying so much about a tiny deficit and decided in favour of some stimulus spending.

The report written by McMaster University economics professor William Scarth argues that keeping the deficit at 0.5 per cent of GDP for the next three years could lower the unemployment rate by 0.4 per cent.

TORONTO - A recent Health Canada inspection of the country's only flu vaccine production plant identified 10 issues that need to be addressed, a report from the regulatory agency reveals.

The summary report of the June inspection said none of the problems found poses a critical risk to public health, but seven fall into the major observation category, meaning they are signs production is not consistently hitting required standards.

MONTREAL - Twenty-five locomotives from the fleet of the insolvent Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, the company at the centre of the Lac-Megantic train catastrophe, will be auctioned off Aug. 5.

The lead locomotive, which played a key role in one of Canada's worst-ever rail disasters, is among the engines to be sold off at a Maine rail yard.

Some details:

— The lead locomotive, known as MMA 5017, is a diesel-electric machine.

— The make and model of MMA 5017 is a General Electric C-30-7.

VANCOUVER - Every Sunday, Bruce Sauer bundles up old videos, audio equipment, jewellery boxes and hand-carved pipes and carts his wares to no-ordinary garage sale in a Vancouver park.

Sale of the items represents more than just a sizable chunk of income for him in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods.

EDMONTON - Edmonton police allege that three drug dealers trying to drum up business were handing out cocaine samples to young people.

Police spokesman Scott Pattison says the trio parked a truck in a popular location on the city's south side and began luring potential customers over.

Pattison says their contact information for future purchases was printed on the back of five-gram packages of the drug.

Pattison says it's like they were giving out their business cards.

SWIFT CURRENT, Sask. - A 19-year-old from Swift Current, Sask., has successfully swum across the English Channel to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada.

The news was announced on Twitter by the City of Swift Current, which congratulated Meghan Chisholm with the hashtag #proud.

Chisholm swam competitively for years growing up and is now a lifeguard, swimming instructor and coaching assistant for the Swift Current Barracudas swim team.

WINNIPEG - Overall crime is down for the fifth year in a row in Winnipeg but the national picture for the city is not as rosy.

Winnipeg police have released their 2013 statistics showing a 14 per cent decrease in overall crime from the year before.

Violent crime was down 13 per cent and property crime was also down 17 per cent.

Police Chief Devon Clunis says there’s no one cause for the drop in crime but says reaching out to the community has been key.

OTTAWA - Greenpeace and the Inuit have joined forces to protest Arctic seismic testing, warning that plans to gauge oil and gas reserves with high-intensity sound waves in Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait pose grave dangers to marine life.

Inuit activists are staging a protest Wednesday in Nunavut's Clyde River, a tiny Baffin Island hamlet just above the Arctic Circle, a week after Greenpeace took their cause to the United Nations.

OTTAWA - A panel that oversees spending by MPs put off a decision Tuesday on whether the NDP improperly stationed parliamentary staff in party offices in Quebec.

And at the same meeting of the secretive board of internal economy, the New Democrats requested funding to pay the lawyers it's using to sue the board over a demand that it repay money for abusing the party's free mailing privileges.

If the request were accepted, taxpayers would be on the hook for the NDP's legal costs as well as those of the House of Commons to defend against the lawsuit.

CALGARY - The Alberta Energy Regulator says it has a better idea now of what went wrong at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s (TSX:CNQ) Primrose oilsands development in northeastern Alberta, where a mixture of bitumen and water was found to be oozing to the surface more than a year ago.

A "causation review" completed last month by the company, along with a technical review of that work by an independent panel released Tuesday, point to the problems being twofold: faulty wellbores and the manner in which CNRL injects steam underground, the AER said.

TORONTO - The death of a Quebec mayor who was stung multiple times after stepping on a wasps' nest while gardening is a tragic but cautionary tale for those who run afoul of bees, hornets or other stinging insects — especially if they have a severe allergy to their venom, experts say.

Lucie F. Roussel, mayor of La Prairie, died in hospital Sunday after being stung at least 15 times in the garden of her cottage near Stratford, Que., municipal authorities said.

ST. ALBERT, Alta. - If Bill and Andrea Groner tell you they can keep a secret, you can take them at their word.

For seven months, the Edmonton couple hid the fact that they were the winners of the second-largest lottery prize ever awarded in Alberta. On Tuesday, they finally came forward with the news that they held the ticket worth $50 million.

"Do you ever play poker?" asked Andrea, 47, at a news conference announcing the win. "You never give up your secrets.

EDMONTON - The parents of a nine-year-old boy killed in a plane crash are hoping a thief will return a cross necklace that holds some of their son's ashes.

David and Crystal Pentecost moved to Edmonton from Manitoba two weeks ago to try to start anew after Dawson's death last year. Police say a man broke into their pickup truck on Friday and stole the necklace and some loose change.

"It's like losing him again," Crystal Pentecost said Tuesday as she pleaded for the jewelry to be returned. "I don't know where it is. It's my son and ... I feel guilty. I should have done more."

TORONTO - Ontario plans to join Quebec in banning payments to people for their blood and blood plasma after a paid-plasma clinic in Toronto opened its doors to donors.

The governing Liberals re-introduced legislation Wednesday that also incorporates recommended changes to pharmacy oversight after more than 1,200 cancer patients in Ontario and New Brunswick received diluted chemotherapy drugs.

The proposed measures include giving the Ontario College of Pharmacists the power to inspect and license hospital pharmacies and potentially other locations in the future.

OTTAWA - The Royal Canadian Mint is adding to the international hoopla surrounding the birthday of a baby prince with the release of commemorative coins.

Prince George of Cambridge, son of Prince William and his wife Kate, turned one on Tuesday.

The Mint is releasing coins that feature the Queen with her three heirs —Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince George.

Prince George is shown wearing christening robes, resting in his father's arms.

The $20 silver coin and the $200 pure gold coin are available to order.