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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.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Canada boosting defense spending for less U.S.-centric Canadian foreign policy



   Canada column for Sunday, June 18/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s decision to hike its defense spending by $14 billion over 10 years can be summed up in a name: Trump.
   That’s what the Toronto Globe and Mail commented when reporting that Canada will be making major investments in the military.
   This is the promised response to the presidency of Donald Trump, aiming at a less United States-centric Canadian foreign policy, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia said.
   “To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state,” Freeland added.
   Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the Liberal government vision for expanding the Armed Forces would include spending $60 billion over 20 years.
   The plans include adding 5,000 personnel to the Armed Forces and modern capabilities for cyberattacks and armed drones for unmanned airstrikes along with new warships and fighter jets.
   “We’re serious about our role in the world and we must be serious about funding our military,” Sajjan said.
   As well, Canada will spend an additional $198 million on health and wellness in the next decade to better support military personnel, especially the ill and injured, as well as family members.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Terrorism concerns as Canada plans to celebrate its 150th birthday



   Canada column for Sunday, June 11/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   As Canada’s capital prepares to mark the country’s 150th birthday on July 1, there are concerns about potential terrorism.
   “Could the events in Britain happen here? Sadly, the answer is yes,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
   One of the fatalities from last weekend’s London Bridge area attack was Christine Archibald, originally from British Columbia.    
   The 30-year-old woman moved to Europe to be with her fiancĂ© and was caught up in the deadly attack in which seven people were killed and dozens injured.
   Heightened security measures are planned around Parliament Hill but no amount of preparation can guarantee 100-percent safety, Watson said.
   Liberal Member of Parliament David McGuinty, head of a new national security committee, said the government is consulting with Canadian communities about precautions for the celebrations.
   In 2014, terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was shot and killed by security and police officers killing Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a soldier on duty at the National War Memorial, and who then stormed the Parliament Buildings.
   Last Jan. 29, six were killed and eight injured in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Andrew Scheer, new Conservative leader, aims at toppling Liberals




   Canada column for Sunday, June 4/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s Conservatives are looking to Andrew Scheer to rebuild the party that was swept aside by the Liberals in the 2015 vote.
   It took 13 ballots for party members to select Scheer, 38, a Saskatchewan Member of Parliament and former Speaker of the House of Commons, as their new leader.
   In a narrow margin, he was declared the winner with 50.95 percent over leadership front-runner Maxime Bernier of Quebec with 49.05.
   Scheer told cheering supporters the goal is for the Conservatives to form the government in 2019 by defeating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
   In promising “renewed hope for Canada,” Scheer said that the “pain and hardship the Trudeau Liberals are causing Canadians is just temporary.”
   Scheer said he will balance the budget within two years, ending the Liberal job-creating spending spree, and provide tax credits for home-schooled children and those attending private schools.
   The victory makes Scheer, who with wife Jill have five children, the Opposition leader in the Commons.

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   Ontario’s minimum wage will jump to $15 an hour in 2019, Premier Kathleen Wynne said.
   The raise will be phased in over 18 months, rising to $14 an hour next Jan. 1 and to $15 the next January.
   After that, the minimum will rise annually based on the inflation rate.
   The current Ontario minimum wage is $11.40 an hour and ranges across Canada from $10.72 in Saskatchewan to $13 in Nunavut.
   Alberta’s rate will rise to $15 hourly in October of next year.
   The increase, which is a concern for small business owners, is part of a bill that aims to better protect part-time and contract workers, Wynne said.
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   News in brief:
   - Prime Minister Trudeau said he told U.S. President Donald Trump he is “deeply disappointed” with his decision to pull out of the Paris agreement on climate change. “Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth,” Trudeau said. “Canadians know we need to take decisive and collective action to tackle the many harsh realities of our changing climate,” he added.
   - The Canadian government is providing an aid package of $867 million in loans for the forestry industry, workers and communities impacted by softwood lumber tariffs recently imposed by the United States. The aid includes support to expand overseas markets and to help affected workers upgrade their skills and find new opportunities. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she is confident a fair agreement on softwood lumber can be reached.
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   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 74.14 cents U.S. as the U.S. dollar is worth $1.348 Canadian before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 15,452 points while the TSX Venture index is down at 802 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is down at $1.11 a liter or $4.21 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (May 31) 1, 3, 8, 9, 12 and 40; bonus 2. (May 27) 7, 15, 25, 26, 27 and 36; bonus 12. Lotto Max: (May 26) 14, 16, 18, 21, 38, 44 and 49; bonus 15.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Public outrage has resulted in a Montreal private elementary school no longer allowing convicted sex killer Karla Homolka to help with kids. The school run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church is where Homolka’s kids attend. She and ex-husband Paul Bernardo were convicted in the rape and murder of Ontario teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. Homolka was released after spending 12 years in prison in 2005.
   - Nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer has admitted killing eight elderly patients with insulin overdoses because she was “overwhelmingly angry” about her life and saying God urged her to do it. She will be sentenced June 26 for the deaths at three long-term care facilities in Woodstock and London, Ontario. She also pleaded guilty to attempting to kill four seniors and to two counts of aggravated assault.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com




Monday, May 29, 2017

Canadian flyers to get bill of rights; ban on 'bumping'



   Canada column for Sunday, May 28/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadian flyers will be getting their own bill of rights from the government that will end the practise of “bumping” people against their will.
   Bumping has been the subject of ugly scenes recently on several U.S. airlines and will be part of the changes expected to become law next year.
   Even before that happens, Transport Minister Marc Garneau wants the country’s airlines to live up to the spirit of its bill.
   He has called on airline executives to voluntarily stop removing passengers from full flights against their will and to ensure that children can be seated next to a parent at no extra cost.
   The bill would set minimum levels of compensation for people who voluntarily agree to be bumped.
   It would also make airlines establish clear standards of treatment and compensation for circumstances such as lost or damaged luggage, delays while sitting on the tarmac and other non-weather related issues.
   The amendments would raise the cap on foreign ownership in airlines and require railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Canada looks at NAFTA renegotiaton with the U.S. and Mexico as "routine"



   Canada column for Sunday, May 21/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada is approaching the impending renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement as something that will be “routine.”
   Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said “modernizing trade agreements is standard practice” for trading nations.
   U.S. President Donald Trump through Congress has formally given the required 90-day notice to Canada and Mexico to rework the 25-year-old agreement.
   Elements of the deal are “outdated” and do not reflect modern standards, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.
   Areas needing to be “modernized” include intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, environment and labor, of which Canada is in agreement.
   The goal is to conclude the negotiations “with timely and substantive results for U.S. consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers,” Lighthizer said.
   Freeland will meet in Mexico City on Tuesday with Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray to discuss the agreement and trade.
   “Our objective is going to be to negotiate a great deal for Canadians and I’m very confident we can do that,” Freeland said.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Canada is ready to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Mexico



   Canada column for Sunday, May 14/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   “Bring it on,” Canadian leaders suggest as U.S. President Donald Trump moves to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
   Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will be “good, collaborative constructive partners who effectively stand up for the national interest.”
   It is hoped Canada will be able to “conclude negotiations quickly,” as well as meet soon with Trump “trade czar” Robert Lighthizer, she said.
   The U.S. plans to file the required 90-day notice with Congress to renegotiate the pact and start talks with Canada and Mexico later this year.
   The President has said the U.S. is at a big disadvantage with the current NAFTA deal and wants “massive” changes in areas including automobiles, dairy, lumber, pharmaceuticals and the dispute-resolution system.
   Canada and the U.S. already are working on finding ways to eliminate excessive regulations on products crossing the border between the world’s two largest trading partners.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Water, water, everywhere, flooding across Canada

   Canada column for Sunday, May 7/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   A massive storm stalled over central and eastern Canada has resulted in several days of persistent rainfall into this weekend and flooding.
   Lake Ontario is at its highest level since 1993 – almost two feet above average – as measures are ready to remove the 700 residents of the Toronto islands, if necessary.
   The three inches or so of rain have flooded Toronto beach parks and roads near the lake.
   Environment Canada said the weather system is drenching much of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, with officials invoking states of emergency and contingency plans.
   In Quebec, 132 communities have been flooded with about 700 people forced from their homes, with less severe conditions in Montreal.
   In Atlantic Canada, Environment Canada was predicting up to four inches of rain for most of Nova Scotia and two inches in southwestern New Brunswick.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is “ready and willing” with whatever help is needed with the floods and cleanup.
   There is also a risk of flooding in southern British Columbia with thunderstorms, heavy rain, wind gusts and large hail.

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