Canada column for Sunday, July 24/11
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(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.
Police reported investigating 437,000 violent incidents, 7,200 fewer than in 2009, while property crimes, including car thefts and break-ins, and drunk driving showed declines.
There were increases in sexual assaults, firearms crimes, criminal harassment, child pornography and drug offenses.
The figures show Manitoba is the most violent province while its capital city, Winnipeg, is Canada's most violent city.
The decline in serious crime was common across Canada, except for an increase in incidents in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
In what has sometimes being called “naturally air-conditioned Canada,” heat records have been falling in the midday sun.
Toronto was the hot spot in Canada Thursday, reaching 100.2 degrees (37.9 Celsius), while heat records were set all across Ontario and Quebec where it hit 95.3F in Montreal.
With humidity factored in, the heat felt like 120F, forecasters said, adding the hot and humid weather still had several days left to go in the current cycle.
News in brief:
- Brigadier-General Daniel Menard, a married father of two, who retired from the military after being removed as commander in Afghanistan, has admitted to having a sexual affair with a subordinate. At his court martial, four counts of obstructing justice were withdrawn and he could face imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine. His subordinate, Master Corporal Bianka Langlois was earlier reprimanded and fined $700.
- Some 1,800 immigrants who became Canadian citizens “fraudulently” have been identified by the Mounties and will have their citizenship revoked, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said. “Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” he said, noting those identified through the three-year investigation submitted fraudulent applications or made other false claims.
The Canadian dollar has rallied to a three-year high against the U.S. currency at $1.0537 in U.S. funds on Friday. The U.S. greenback slipped to 94.90 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
Canada’s core inflation rate, excluding gasoline and other “volatile items,” fell to 1.3 percent last month from 1.8 percent in May. The overall inflation rate was down to 3.1 percent from 3.7 percent, easing concerns about interest-rate hikes for now.
The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
Canadian stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,434 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 2,039 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 2, 21, 23, 30, 34 and 42; bonus 46. (July 16) 2, 12, 23, 35, 39 and 49; bonus 44. Lotto Max: (July 15) 3, 7, 8, 12, 18, 24 and 41; bonus 1.
- The Canadian government will join with Alberta to begin the environmental monitoring of the province’s vast oil sand reserves. Environmentalists have criticized the development of the third largest oil reserve in the world over concerns about air and water contamination. There is also a concern that environmental issues with the oil sands could impact on the U.S. consideration of a proposed pipeline to move crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
- Four people were injured when a sudden windstorm toppled the main stage at the Ottawa Bluesfest during a Cheap Trick concert. A truck driver for the band had a broken leg and the equipment was destroyed but no members were hurt. The severe thunderstorm also caused power outages on both sides of the Ottawa River.
- Violet Large, of Truro, Nova Scotia, who gave away most of a multi-million-dollar lottery win, has died at age 79. The woman and her husband Allen won $11.2 million, tax-free, in a Lotto 6-49 draw last year. They then quietly gave away most of the money to family, friends, churches, charities, fire halls and hospitals. They said they were content to continue living modestly in their small 147-year-old house.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com