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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Canadians feel safe from crime while government plans to toughen sentences for criminals

   Canada column published on Sunday, Dec. 4/11

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   By Jim Fox

   Most Canadians feel safe from crime even as the government prepares to get tougher with criminals.
   Statistics Canada found 93percent of those surveyed felt satisfied with their personal safety, including walking alone at night and being home alone.
   While crime rates overall have been falling for the past decade, a major concern is a rise in youth crime.
   Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government plans to lengthen prison terms and eliminate the deals for time served awaiting trial.
   Westerners were a little more concerned with safety, with British Columbia residents saying they were 89-percent satisfied while those in Prince Edward Island were rated most satisfied at 97 percent.
   Lowest levels of satisfaction were in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Edmonton while the highest were Moncton, New Brunswick, and Kingston, Guelph and Oshawa, Ontario.


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   Canadians can expect a stormy winter and weather extremes with the return of La Nina, the ocean-atmospheric phenomenon.
   Major rain and snow storms along with more frequent temperature swings in the southern part of the country can be expected now through February, the Weather Network said.
   This should give way to longer periods of average temperatures later in the winter.
   The network said most of British Columbia and the Prairies will have below-normal temperatures while Quebec and Atlantic Canada will be milder.
   Winter weather will arrive late in Southern Ontario, where there is still no snow, while the far north will be colder than usual.

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   News in brief:
   - An Ontario politician wants to protect cellphone users from high fees and confusing contracts. Liberal David Orazietti is seeking approval of a bill to deal with “price gouging” by service providers due to a lack of competition. The real costs of using cellphones, such as added fees, need to be clearly explained, he said.
   - The Bank of Canada joined with five other central banks to help European banks access funds easier to try to head off a global credit crunch and possible recession. The action caused Canadians stock markets to soar along with a three-cent jump in the dollar. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the move to offset uncertainty is a “step forward.”
   - The Canadian Medical Association Journal wants hospitals to stop charging patients for parking. An editorial said parking charges are in reality user fees and an impediment to good care as patients often have to rush back to their cars when their meter is almost expired.

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   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s jobless rate edged up slightly to 7.4 percent last month after the economy shed 19,000 jobs even as employment is up 1.2 percent over the past year.
   The Canadian dollar is higher at 98.07 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0197 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 higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,123 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 1,556 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 12, 15, 23, 36, 43 and 47; bonus 40. (Nov. 26) 2, 18, 23, 35, 47 and 48; bonus 9. Lotto Max: (Nov. 25) 8, 10, 15, 24, 30, 35 and 49; bonus 23.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Toronto’s historic Maple Leaf Gardens, the former hockey shrine for seven decades, is open again. Hundreds of people waited overnight to get into the building that now houses a Loblaws’ food emporium, liquor store and shops. Hockey returns on the upper level in Ryerson University’s new athletic complex.
   - Sections of British Columbia new law against drunk driving are unconstitutional, Judge Jon Sigurdson ruled. Drivers have little chance to defend themselves if they are found to be higher than a .08 blood-alcohol limit, he said. The law goes too far by allowing automatic driving suspensions, impounding vehicles and imposing heavy costs, the ruling said.
   - Two employees of Research In Motion, the BlackBerry maker, have been ordered to pay $71,757 in restitution after their drunken rowdiness forced an Air Canada flight to make an emergency detour to Vancouver. George Campbell and Paul Wilson of Ontario pleaded guilty to mischief after the plane enroute to Beijing had to turn back over Alaska. The 312 passengers had to be booked into hotels and the flight resumed the next day, arriving 18 hours late.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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