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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Don't fence me in, some Canadian politicians tell the United States

   Canada column published on Sunday, Oct. 2/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Will the proverb “good fences make good neighbors” hold true if Canada is someday fenced off from the United States?
   That’s what Canadian politicians and others are wondering after a leaked report said an option to boost security along the 3,976-mile land border with Canada is to build a fence.
   Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador in Washington, said despite the report there is “no indication” it will happen.
   The draft document for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency suggests using “fencing and other barriers” to manage “trouble spots where passage of cross-border violators is difficult to control.”
   Other options are increased use of radar, sensors, cameras, drones and vehicle scanners along with improved or expanded facilities at ports of entry.
   The Canada Border Services Agency said the fence option hasn’t been part of discussions on ways to improve border management.
   “It is in the interests of both Canada and the United States to ensure that the border remains open, efficient and secure,” it said in a statement.
   A fence along the world’s longest undefended border is “stupid,” said New Democratic politician Joe Comartin.
   “The American people don’t see us as a threat,” he said.


   A report says climate change will cost Canada about $5 billion a year by 2020 and up to as much as $43 billion by the 2050s.
   The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy said that increasing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide will “exert a growing economic impact.”
   The study looked at impacts of warmer weather that would affect the timber industry with more pests and forest fires, flooding with changes in sea levels and human health.
   Roundtable president David McLaughlin said the conclusion is the longer the effects of climate change are ignored, the costlier they become.
   Environment Minister Peter Kent said the government plans to “meet our target of reducing greenhouse gases by 17 percent from the 2005 base level by 2020.”


   News in brief:
   - Several hundred protesters surrounded the Vancouver Club where former U.S. vice president Dick Cheney was speaking, calling for his arrest for war crimes. They chanted and booed Cheney who was in Vancouver to promote his book "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir."Protest organizers said Cheney supported waterboarding, sleep deprivation and interrogation methods prohibited by Canadian and international law.
   - Political opponents say Defense Minister Peter MacKay was wrong to have used a military search-and-rescue helicopter to pick him at a fishing camp and for making frequent use of military jets. As well, Liberal Scott Andrews said MacKay violated conflict-of-interest rules by staying at a lodge owned by Rob Crosbie, who heads the board of directors of the government agency Marine Atlantic.
   - The Canadian government is proceeding with a plan to horrify smokers. New packaging for cigarettes will include graphic pictures of a cancer-infected mouth and of emaciated Barb Tarbox who died of lung cancer at age 42. Tobacco companies say the campaign won’t work as the public already knows the health risks of smoking.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar dropped to a one-year low Friday at 96.26 cents U.S. as the U.S. greenback gained to $1.0389 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is steady at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed with the Toronto exchange index up at 11,617 points and the TSX Venture Exchange down at 1,462 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 2, 14, 29, 32, 41 and 44; bonus 3. (Sept. 24) 3, 8, 15, 16, 20 and 46; bonus 35. Lotto Max: (Sept. 23) 8, 16, 24, 27, 30, 38 and 40; bonus 18.


   Regional briefs:
   - Police arrested 100 people on Parliament Hill in Ottawa after a group of about 400 environmentalists protested the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. They were arrested for obstructing police as they condemned the plan to ship Alberta oil to refineries in Texas. There have also been similar protests in Washington.
   - Hurricane Ophelia is on track to sideswipe eastern Newfoundland today (Sunday) with forecasters predicting it will then be a tropical storm. The island province will bear the brunt of the storm while Nova Scotia will have strong winds and rain. So far, hurricanes Irene and Katia have brought rain, wind and high surf to Atlantic Canada this season.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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