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Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy groups to be told to move on

   Canada column published on Sunday, Nov. 13/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   They’ve made their point and now it’s time to move on, Occupy groups camped out in parks and public areas across Canada are being told.
   After weeks of protests against “corporate greed and economic inequity,” tensions are growing and police are being asked to take action.
   There are mounting concerns over safety, highlighted by the drug overdose death of a 23-year-old woman in a tent at the Vancouver protest and open fires.
   With colder weather arriving, protesters are erecting more permanent shelters and using campfires to stay warm in violation of city laws.
   Montreal officials refused to allow protesters to build makeshift wooden cabins but they say they’ll do it anyway.
   Toronto residents have “had enough” of the protesters camping in a downtown park and it’s time for them to go, Mayor Rob Ford said.
   Eviction notices are planned against the squatters in Victoria, Calgary, Regina and Edmonton while police removed the tents in London, Ontario and Halifax protesters left on their own.
   After a scuffle with firefighters over “ceremonial” fires set by a native group, Vancouver protesters were told by the police to pack up but they are asking the British Columbia Supreme Court to allow them to stay.


   Earlier predictions by the Canadian government about paying off the budget deficit by 2014-15 won’t happen, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has conceded.
   With the challenges of a “fragile and slowing” economic recovery coupled with lower tax revenues, the deficit won’t be paid off until 2015-16, he now says.
   And, that will happen only if all the savings from staff cuts and spending restraints are realized.
   In a move to “protect Canadians, their financial security and jobs,” Flaherty said the government will lighten the tax load on workers and businesses by cutting in half planned payroll tax hikes for employment insurance premiums.


   News in brief:
   - A leading geophysicist said Canada must prepare for a devastating earthquake that could happen “at any time.” John Cassidy of the Geological Survey of Canada said the West Coast is most vulnerable as there have been major quakes there in the past 6,000 years. Other quake zones are the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys, the North Atlantic off Cape Breton and the Arctic off Baffin Island.
   - Police arrested four students during a massive rally in Montreal against a proposed increase in university tuition fees. Students also occupied administrative offices at McGill University over the Quebec government’s plans to raise fees by $1,625 over five years. The average cost to attend a Quebec university is $2,519 a year, far lower than tuition fees in all other provinces.

   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 98.41 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0162 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is unchanged 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,212 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,636 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 12, 30, 36, 37, 40 and 48; bonus 32. (Nov. 5) 14, 18, 22, 34, 36 and 43; bonus 3. Lotto Max: (Nov. 4) 5, 8, 13, 15, 27, 28 and 37; bonus 39.


   Regional briefs:
   - Someone claiming to have recently killed a British Columbia teenaged girl has written to the Mounties saying he will strike again. Corporal Dan Moskaluk said the letter contains some details of the beating death of Taylor Van Diest, 18, of Armstrong on Halloween night.
   - Premier Brad Wall and his Saskatchewan Party were re-elected to a second majority government in a convincing win in the provincial election. The party had 49 members elected while the New Democrats had nine. The previous government was made up of 38 Saskatchewan Party members and 20 New Democrats. No Liberals or Green Party politicians were elected.
   - Unpaid parking, traffic and other “provincial offenses” fines for such things as trespassing and liquor violations in Ontario have topped $1 billion. The Ontario Association of Police Service Boards said there are 2.5-million unpaid fines including $40 million alone in Toronto from 2009. The association wants the government to deny the renewal of vehicle license plate stickers to offenders.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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