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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rookie Member of Parliament and former labor leader takes over as interim head of the federal New Democrats

   Canada column for Sunday, July 31/11


   By Jim Fox

   A former Quebec labor leader has taken over temporarily from the ailing Jack Layton who propelled his socialist New Democratic Party to become the opposition in the House of Commons.
   A visibly weakened Layton, 61, told a news conference he selected rookie politician Nycole Turmel, 68, to become interim leader as he battles a recurrence of cancer.
   It was Layton’s charisma that was credited with giving the New Democrats resounding success in the May federal election, bumping the Liberals out of the opposition role.
   Layton said he was taking leave of absence to battle an unspecified form of cancer after earlier undergoing treatment for prostate cancer and hip surgery.
  In a raspy voice, Layton said he is “going to focus on treatment and recovery,” but planned to return when Parliament resumes on Sept. 19.
   The appointment of Turmel, who previously headed the Public Service Alliance of Canada, was confirmed by the party executive.
   “Jack Layton has spent eight years building this New Democrat movement for a better Canada, eight years building a team that is ready to tackle any circumstance with hope and optimism,” she said.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crime talks a min-holiday across Canada, statistics show

   Canada column for Sunday, July 24/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Criminal activity across Canada has fallen to its lowest level in 38 years with the fewest murders since 1966.
   Statistics Canada reported the rate continued a 20-year decline last year even as the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for the passing of bills to get tougher on criminals.
   The severity of criminal acts dropped six percent last year with fewer homicides, attempted murders, serious assaults and robberies.
   There were 554 reported murders last year, 56 less than a year earlier, while attempted murders totaled 693, down from 801 and the lowest in 30 years.

Travel tips on crossing the Canadian border upon returning from vacation this summer

(News Release - CBSA)

 Montreal, Quebec, July 19, 2011 – The summer holiday season is upon us, and many Canadians will likely be travelling abroad over the coming weeks. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is making every effort to minimize border wait times during this peak period; travellers can facilitate their re-entry into Canada by keeping the following five tips in mind. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Smuggling ship believed headed to Canada intercepted

   Canada column for Sunday, July 17/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   A human smuggling ship intercepted by authorities was believed to be another one “destined for Canada” with illegal immigrants.
   Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney gave the assessment as he reinforced the need to pass a proposed bill with tougher anti-smuggling laws.
   “That would send a clear signal to those that want to treat Canada like a doormat that they should no longer target Canada for the odious business of human smuggling,” he said.
   The latest incident involved the MV Alicia with about 90 Sri Lankan Tamils that was intercepted by Indonesian authorities.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Canada ends combat role, switches to peacekeeping, training of police and military in Afghanistan

   Canada column for Sunday, July 10/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s journey into combat instead of peacekeeping that cost the lives of 157 soldiers, a diplomat and a journalist has ended in Afghanistan.
   The pullout of troops as ordered by the Canadian government formally took place when the Royal 22nd Regiment handed over its battlefield at Ma’sum Ghar to U.S. command.
   Lieutenant-Colonel Michel-Henri St-Louis said the base, a crusted, petrified volcanic mountain, became a symbol of the Canadian struggle in the past five and a half years and is where many deaths occurred.
   Canada’s Conservative government announced an end to the combat role but said 950 soldiers and support staff will remain to train Afghan police and army troops in Kandahar until 2014.
   “Everywhere in battle where Canadian soldiers have sacrificed their lives, we have examples of similar places in a number of our conflicts,” St-Louis said.
   “Ma’sum Ghar is not Passchendaele, Dieppe, Ortona, Monte Casino, Juno Beach -- or even Kapyong from the Korean War,” he added.
   The pullout was also uncharacteristic. This is the first time in history the Canadian military has left a battlefield while a war still rages.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Canadian postal workers' union challenging back-to-work bill

   Canada column for Sunday, July 3/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Now that Canadians are receiving their mail again, the union representing Canada’s postal workers has launched a legal challenge of the bill that forced them back to work.
   The bill ending the strike/lockout of the 48,000 postal workers included a smaller raise in pay than what they had been last offered by Canada Post.
   The Conservative government was finally able to pass the bill after a 58-hour filibuster by the socialist New Democratic Party.
   On the non-monetary terms, it requires a mediator to choose either the demands of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers or the last offer of the post office.