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Greetings to thousands of readers the past month from the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Germany, France, Japan and Latvia.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Cyberattack concerns caused Canadian officials to react, plan



   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 25/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The threat of a major cyberattack on the electrical grid and telecommunications systems in Canada has government officials planning with critical infrastructure operators.
   An internal document said “insiders” could unleash devastating viruses and cripple systems.
   This has officials consulting with operators of electrical grids, transportation hubs and other key infrastructure facilities.
   The briefing notes for Public Safety Canada, obtained by the Canadian Press newswire under the Access to Information Act, said the “insider threat is difficult to detect and can cause real damage.”
   Rogue employees, state-sponsored hackers, sophisticated criminals, “cause-motivated hacktivists” and people out to make mischief online all pose a threat, the document warns.
   No special hacking skills are required to wreak digital havoc, just a portable memory key loaded with a malicious code, it said.
   The document was prepared for Monik Beauregard, a senior assistant deputy minister at Public Safety Canada, who chaired a panel on Friday at an intelligence conference on the global implications of the challenges to cybersecurity.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Give the integration of foreigners into Canadian society some time, prime minister says



   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 18/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The integration of foreigners, including Muslims, into Canadian society is nothing new and will take some time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
   Since last November, Canada has “resettled” 30,647 Syrian refugees and more continue to arrive.
   Trudeau told a conference in Montreal, hosted by the “progressive think-tank” Canada 2020, that being fearful of immigrants is “nothing new” here or around the world.
   There were similar circumstances when the Italians and Greeks settled in Montreal in the 1950s and they faced “tremendous” discrimination and distrust, Trudeau said.
   Canadians shouldn’t be “overly impatient” with integrating newcomers as the “first generation is always going to have challenges,” Trudeau said.
   In a panel discussion, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Canada is a “beacon of how a civilized G7 country should treat those who are vulnerable and need help.”
   He praised Trudeau for his “progressive” politics and said his election last October inspired him.

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Emergency repairs ordered for Ambassador Bridge on Canada-U.S. border



   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 11/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The crumbling infrastructure of the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-U.S. border has prompted the Canadian government to order emergency repairs.
   Documents show Transport Canada has had concerns about the structural integrity of the privately owned bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario and Detroit– the busiest border crossing in North America – for some time.
   Transport Minister Marc Garneau has called on the bridge company owned by Manuel Moroun of Grosse Pointe, Mich. to do everything possible to speed up repairs.
   An engineering firm two years ago inspected the 86-year-old suspension bridge over the Detroit River and recommended the Canadian side be thoroughly rehabilitated or replaced.
   “The safety of the Ambassador Bridge is of critical importance,” Garneau said, adding: “Should action not be taken in a timely manner, I will not hesitate to take additional safety measures.”
   The 1,850-foot bridge carries about 10,000 trucks and 4,000 automobiles a day between the two countries.
   Politicians from both countries turned down Moroun’s proposal to build a second span on the bridge and will instead construct a new nearby structure to be called the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tentative pact averts Canadian postal strike



   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 4/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   A two-year tentative agreement that averts the threat of a nationwide postal strike does little but put off the inevitable, businesses leaders warn.
   Canada Post and its 51,000 workers have agreed to a “peace treaty” that ends nine months of negotiations and assures businesses that the mail will go through – for now.
   The government agency said the demands of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers were too rich at a time of reduced mail volumes, pension shortfalls and an estimated $8 billion solvency deficit.
   As well, the post office will have to confront lost business and a government review of its operations, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said.
   The deal, while putting off some of the major issues for two years, “will be a relief for a lot of small business owners,” said federation president Dan Kelly.
   The threat of a strike forced them to look at alternatives in advance, he added.
   A special mediator appointed by the government helped both sides reach the agreement that calls for an independent body to study the major issue of pay equity between city and rural letter carriers.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Stephen Harper, Canada's former leader, has left politics for good



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 28/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, defeated in last October’s election, has resigned after two decades in politics.
   Harper quit as aMember of Parliament for Calgary in a statement and on video on Friday.
   After his election defeat to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, Harper left his position as Conservative party leader but remained in Parliament.
   He led the Conservatives to a minority government, becoming prime minister in the 2006 election and again in 2008 before winning his first majority in 2011.
   “On seven occasions, I have been deeply humbled by your trust and support, time and again,” Harper said of his election victories.
   As he leaves politics for a career as an international issues consultant, Harper said among his “proudest accomplishments” were guiding the economy through the 2008 recession and the tough-on-crime agenda.
   Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose also noted his foreign policy, including support for Israel and opposition to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Canada reviews security measures after attach thwarted



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 21/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is looking at toughening national security measures after police narrowly thwarted a terrorist attack.
   Of concern are peace bonds such as the one issued to Aaron Driver, 24, who was on his way to launch a bomb attack when Mountie sharpshooters shot and killed him in a taxi outside his home in Strathroy, Ontario.
   Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said there are “limitations” and the government is looking at having terrorist sympathizers undergo mandatory de-radicalization counseling.
   The government is also spending $35 million to establish a center for countering violent extremism.
   Driver was under a court-ordered bond with strict conditions to limit his movements, travel, internet communications and cell phone use after his arrest last year.
   Even so, he was able to acquire bomb-making materials, make a “martyrdom video” and set out to blow up a device to cause mass casualties in an unnamed urban area.
   His plans were foiled when the FBI advised the Mounties about the video and they were able to identify and confront him as he left the house.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Police thwart an attempted terrorist attack in Ontario



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 14/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   FBI and Canadian police worked together in a “race against time” to thwart a terrorist attack just before it was about to happen.
   It all started with an early-morning tip from the FBI about a potential suicide bomber planning an attack somewhere in Canada.
   The end came three hours later when police identified the suspect and nabbed him in a taxi leaving his home in small-town Strathroy, Ontario, west of Toronto.
   In the ensuing scuffle, a bomb was detonated in the taxi, injuring the driver, and the assailant – Aaron Driver, 24, a known terrorist sympathizer – was dead.
   The police were acting on a tip of a “martyrdom video,” showing a black-hooded and masked man warning that he was planning to detonate an explosive device in an urban center during the morning or afternoon rush hour, said Mountie deputy commissioner Mike Cabana.
   The angry video threat included a Muslim prayer in Arabic and warning of immediate retaliation for Canada’s participation in the “war on Islam.”
   The challenge for the authorities was to try to identify the man in the video and find him quickly, which they did, Cabana said.
   Driver had been under a court order not to associate with any terrorist organizations and other restrictions after his arrest last year when he praised Islamist terrorist activities and the 2014 attack on Canada’s Parliament.