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Saturday, January 7, 2012

More Canadians from British Columbia murdered in Mexico; Canada warns of travel to the country

   Canada column published on Sunday, Jan. 8/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Two British Columbia residents have been murdered in Mexico as the Canadian government continues to urge caution about travel to the country.
   The bodies of Carmen Ximena Osegueda Magana, 39, a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, and her Mexican boyfriend, Alejandro Honorio Santamaria, 38, were found partly buried at a beach in Huatulco.
   Police said they had been stabbed and their bodies set on fire, likely after being robbed.
   The Mexican-born Ximena Osegueda, as she was known in Canada, was in the country conducting research.
   Robin Wood, 67, a retired mechanic from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, was killed last week by robbers in a home invasion at Melaque.
   Canada’s Foreign Affairs department said 112 Canadians were killed in accidents, murders, drownings or suicides in Mexico from 2006 to 2010.
   Travel warnings suggest Canadians should “exercise a high degree of caution due to a deteriorating security situation in many parts” of Mexico.
   It warns to “avoid non-essential travel” to the border areas between Mexico and the U.S. “due to continuously high levels of violence linked to organized crime.”
   Concerns about Mexico, though, didn’t defer Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay from marrying Iranian-born Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a human rights activist, over the holidays at a resort there.


   Target Corp. is taking aim at the Canadian marketplace with plans to open the first 24 of up to 135 stores next year.
   The Minneapolis-based company said the first stores will open at malls in Ontario, with 11 outlets in Toronto or nearby.
   In entering the market dominated by Walmart, Target bought the leasehold interests of 189 sites currently operated by the Bay’s Zellers department stores.
   Target Canada president Tony Fisher said about $10 million will be spent to remodel each store to provide “an exceptional shopping experience.”


   News in brief:
   - Three members of a Toronto-area family rushing their child to a hospital in Jamaica were killed in a collision. Garieno Dixon, 27, his wife Diane, 32, their son Ronaldinho, 2, of Mississauga, Ontario, and grandmother Marie Myrie-Smith, 45, of Jamaica were killed in the head-on crash with a truck in St. Catherine.
   - Toronto Roman Catholic Archbishop Thomas Collins has been named a cardinal by Pope Benedict. He is among 22 new cardinals, the red-hatted "princes of the church," who are the Pope’s closest aides and will one day choose his successor. Collins will continue to serve the church in Toronto but will assist in Rome as required.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s economy created 17,500 jobs last month although the unemployment rate edging up a notch to 7.5 percent as there were more people looking for work.
   Canada’s dollar dipped on Friday to 97.73 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0232 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher with the Toronto exchange index at 12,168 points and the TSX Venture Exchange index is 1,523 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 1, 8, 11, 21, 24 and 41; bonus 45. (Dec. 31) 2, 11, 21, 28, 31 and 44; bonus 36. Lotto Max: (Dec. 30) 2, 13, 22, 28, 35, 41 and 42; bonus 4.


   Regional briefs:
   - Canada’s newest multi-millionaires, Gaetan and JoAnn Champagne, will have to wait a month before they can collect their tax-free Lotto Max jackpot of $50 million in cash. That’s because the Hawkesbury, Ontario couple previously owned a store that sold lottery tickets. New regulations require an investigation after earlier incidents involving tickets improperly cashed by retailers.
   - A scientific study funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare that opposes Canada’s annual seal hunt found that harp seals in the North Atlantic are dying at high rates. That’s due to warming waters and a steady decline of sea ice in their traditional breeding grounds, researchers at Duke University in North Carolina said.
   - Despite tightened security at the Canada-U.S. border, a Montreal man was able to cross into Vermont by showing a scanned copy of his passport on an iPad tablet computer.  Martin Reisch had forgotten his passport and thought he would give the electronic version a try. After some hesitation and deliberation, he was allowed to cross into the U.S. and used it to return to Canada as well.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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