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, August 22, 2016

Canada reviews security measures after attach thwarted

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 21/16

   (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.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Police thwart an attempted terrorist attack in Ontario

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 14/16

   (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.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fewer Canadian women working outside the home, government report shows

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 7/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Fewer Canadian women with children are in the workforce as compared with those in many other countries, a government study shows.
   Women’s groups, including the Facebook site TorontoMummies, call it a “crisis” as mothers cope with raising children and finding available and affordable daycare that can cost $1,000 and more a month in Toronto.
   The rate of women between 25 and 54 with children younger than 15 working was 75 percent, based on 2013 statistics, said an internal federal government analysis obtained by the Canadian Press news service.
   This places Canada ninth among member countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
   The document was prepared after last fall’s election when the now-governing Liberal party said it would draft a national framework on early learning and child care.
   The study said the job participation rate for women with young children involved factors such as education, family income and taxes, job availability, child benefits and the availability of affordable child care.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pipeline safety, environmental concerns after major Canadian spill

   Canada column for Sunday, July 31/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The safety of oil pipelines remains a major concern after a major spill in Saskatchewan.
   Cities and towns along the North Saskatchewan River were looking for other sources of drinking water after a Husky Energy pipeline spilled up to 66,000 gallons of oil into the river.
   This happened just as public hearings are to begin on Aug. 8 on the proposed Energy East Pipeline.
   “All of these incidents shake public confidence,” Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, which wants to build the pipeline, said in an interview with the Canadian Press news service.
   “There's no question that things like that cause people concern – and rightfully so,” he added.
   TransCanada is also behind the Keystone XL pipeline that would have moved Alberta oil sands product across the U.S. but was rejected by President Barack Obama.
    Energy East would be a $15.7 billion pipeline to ship 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan through Quebec and into New Brunswick.
   It would supply Eastern Canadian refineries and provide oil for shipment overseas but is facing significant opposition from environmentalists.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

U.S. "war dodgers" want right to remain in Canada

   Canada column for Sunday, July 24/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada rather than fight the war in Iraq are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to let them remain in the country.
   Marine Corporal Dean Walcott, who has lived in Ontario since 2006, said he is “shocked and dismayed” court cases are still pending.
   Jeremy Brockway, another Marine, came to Canada in 2007 with severe post-traumatic stress syndrome to “save his life,” wife Ashlea said.
   Trudeau earlier expressed support for the two dozen or so remaining war dodgers and said the government was looking into the issue.
   His father, the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, gave sanctuary to about 100,000 U.S. deserters and draft dodgers in the 1960s.
   War resister Rodney Watson, who has a Canadian-born son, has spent almost seven years in a church sanctuary in Vancouver to avoid deportation.
   Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign said U.S. soldiers who sought refuge in Canada should be welcome to stay.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Senate expenses scandal winding down with charges withdrawn

   Canada column for Sunday, July 17/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The highly publicized Senate expenses scandal resulting in criminal charges against several Canadian senators has come sputtering to an end with the last fraud case dropped.
   “It’s official, I’m back in the Senate,” said an elated Sen. Patrick Brazeau.
   He had just learned that prosecutors were withdrawing fraud and breach of trust charges concerning his expense claims.
   Assistant Crown Attorney Suzanne Schriek told Judge Robert Maranger the prosecution believes there was no longer any “reasonable prospect of conviction” after the acquittal of Sen. Mike Duffy in April on similar charges.
   “Having seen the ‘proof’ against me, what a waste of time and taxpayer’s money – perhaps that’s the real scandal,” Brazeau said.
   The Senate ordered Brazeau to repay $55,000 in housing expenses and continues to pursue others for amounts it believes were inappropriately claimed.
   After Duffy’s high-profile, 62-day trial in which he was acquitted of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, the Senate dropped charges against retired Sen. Mac Harb.
   Police then decided not to proceed with any charges against Sen. Pamela Wallin whose expense claims were under review.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Unite-the-right movement launched in Alberta by Jason Kenney

   Canada column for Sunday, July 10/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Federal Member of Parliament Jason Kenney is calling on former prime minister Stephen Harper to help him “unite-the-right” in Alberta.
   The Calgary politician has decided against making a bid to succeed Harper as Conservative leader to instead seek to become leader of the party in the western province.
   He plans to resign from his federal position on Oct. 1 when the Alberta leadership race begins.
   An endorsement from Harper would be “more than welcome” to unite Alberta’s right-wing parties – the Conservatives and Wildrose.
   This would be an attempt to defeat the ruling socialist New Democrats led by Premier Rachel Notley in the 2019 election.
   A merged “free-enterprise party” would bring back the “Alberta Advantage” slogan of the long-gone days of balanced budgets and huge oil and gas revenue surpluses that are under attack by the New Democrats’ policies, Kenney said.
   Other measures would include scrapping the planned carbon tax and review the government’s moves to cancel the flat income tax system and raise corporate taxes.