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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Police concerned over possible violence in economic protests

   Canada column published on Sunday, Oct. 16/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Police in Toronto and Vancouver are concerned over a possible repeat of violence and vandalism as economic activists have expanded their protests to Canadian financial districts.
   There was extensive vandalism in G20 summit protests in Toronto last year and in Vancouver in June during the final game of the National Hockey League playoffs.
   The latest protests across Canada are part of the global initiative spawned by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
   Demonstrators were gathering outside the Toronto Stock Exchange and Bank of Canada offices this weekend and plan to remain there for an indefinite period.
   Organizers called for an “entirely non-violent” protest against corporate greed and the growing gulf between the rich and the poor.
   The Occupy Toronto group said it stands “in unity with the rest of the world to seek and work towards drastic changes to economic systems that are destroying our economy, social fiber and environment.”
   Other protests are taking place in Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and other Canadian cities.


   Air Canada's 6,800 flight attendants wanted to go on strike last Thursday but their efforts were quashed by the Canadian government.
   The members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees instead are protesting that their right to strike was suspended.
   Concerned over the economic impact of a strike, the government referred the issue to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board for a review. That suspended any job action or lockout while the case is examined.
   The government is expected to discuss back-to-work legislation on Monday.
   Air Canada has made an unfair labor practice complaint against the union and is seeking damages to compensate for any losses.


   News in brief:
   - Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae has started a “Hands off our CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.)” petition to fight planned budget cuts. Rae said the Conservative government is using the taxpayer-funded broadcasting network as a “scapegoat for their budget deficits.” The cuts would amount to up to 10 percent from the CBC that receives $1.16 billion a year.
   - Montreal Member of Parliament Thomas Mulcair said he will enter the race to become leader of the federal New Democratic Party. He said he wants to complete the mission set out by the socialist party’s former leader Jack Layton who died in August, three months after voters made the New Democrats the official opposition in the House of Commons. Also in the race so far are Brian Topp, Nathan Cullen, Paul Dewar and Martin Singh.
   - Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has expressed willingness to work with the Conservatives and New Democrats as his Liberals form a third consecutive government. It is the first minority, or coalition, parliament in 26 years as 53 Liberals were elected, one short of a majority. The new government will continue with a focus on jobs and the economy, McGuinty said.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has made another rally, edging closer to parity again with the U.S. greenback.
   The dollar was higher Friday at 98.49 cents U.S. as the U.S. currency returned $1.0153 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.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,982 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,543 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 6, 7, 12, 20, 38 and 40; bonus 43. (Oct. 8) 7, 13, 14, 16, 22 and 48; bonus 32. Lotto Max: (Oct. 7) 12, 13, 24, 25, 26, 41 and 43; bonus 7.


   Regional briefs:
   - A shipwreck off the coast of Cape Breton is an environmental hazard, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said as he called for action by the federal government. So far, the government said all the fuel, lubricants and bilge water have been removed and Transport Canada is investigating the tug company’s actions. Attempts to pull the former Great Lakes freighter off the rocks have failed and it poses a hazard in a prime fishing area, Dexter said.
   - Kathy Dunderdale, 59, was elected premier of Newfoundland and Labrador as the Conservative party won its third-straight majority government. She succeeded Danny Williams who resigned as premier last December. In Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall is seeing re-election as premier on Nov. 7 with his Saskatchewan Party having 38 members in the 58-seat legislature.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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