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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.

   In the past two years, two ships carrying about 800 Tamil migrants who reportedly paid up to $50,000 each arrived off the coast of British Columbia and they were admitted to the country for immigration-processing reviews.
   Several of the crewmembers and organizers of the illicit voyages still face trial for smuggling.
   Other vessels also believed headed for Canada were prevented from leaving port due to increased law enforcement and intelligence presence in Southeast Asia, Kenney said.


   Canadians should soon see an end to stale mail as Canada Post is close to clearing the backlog from a recent labor dispute.
   By Monday, “things should start getting back to normal,” said John Cairns of the postal service.
   Millions of pieces of mail had backed up waiting to be sorted and distributed -- 70-million letters alone were handled last weekend -- after the three-week-long strike/lockout.
   The federal government passed a bill ordering the 48,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to work with less of a monetary settlement than they had been originally offered.


   News in brief:
   - The Canadian government is being urged to do more to reduce the number of handguns coming into Canada from the United States. Jim Bradley, Ontario’s minister responsible for community safety, said the province will spend $10 million over two years to reduce the number of illegal guns on the streets in Toronto. Police Chief Bill Blair said about 70 percent of the handguns seized in the city had been smuggled into the country.
   - Police say they are puzzled by the slaying of Richard Oland, 69, a former brewery executive and philanthropist, of Saint John, New Brunswick. Oland, who previously worked for the family business Moosehead Breweries, was found dead in his office. Police Chief Bill Reid said there was “no evidence at this time to suggest that this was a robbery or a random act.”


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at $1.0473 in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback returns 95.49 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Canadian stock markets are mixed with the Toronto exchange index lower at 13,298 points and the TSX Venture Exchange higher at 2,000 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 2, 8, 28, 29, 34 and 44; bonus 38. (July 9) 4, 7, 23, 31, 33 and 36; bonus 22. Lotto Max: (July 8) 17, 22, 28, 38, 41, 43 and 45; bonus 5.


   Regional briefs:
   - Workers at Ontario’s colleges have voted in favor of a strike to back contract demands. The job action at the 24 community colleges could affect the first week of classes in September, affecting 200,000 students. A major issue for the members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union is job security for full-time workers as colleges hire more part-time and contract staff.
   - Arvid Loewen, 54, of Winnipeg has set a to-be-verified world record for the fastest bicycle ride across mainland Canada. He completed the 3,600-mile journey from Vancouver to Halifax in 13 days, six hours and 13 minutes. That was about three hours faster than the previous mark. During the ride to raise $350,000 for a Kenyan children’s charity, Loewen slept an average of two hours a night.
   - Brian McPherson of Edmonton has been collecting Canadian Tire “money” for 15 years since he was 14 and has finally cashed in. McPherson traded in his stacks of the cash-back coupons offered for cash purchases to buy a riding lawnmower. His stash of the iconic store bucks amounted to $1,053 and was the largest cash-in the chain could recall.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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