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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Canada, U.S. to co-operate and control movement of people over their borders as part of new security pact

   Canada column for Sunday, July 15/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Newly disclosed details indicate that Canada and the United States will co-operate more closely on documenting and controlling the movement of people across the world’s longest undefended border.
   The initiatives are described in briefing notes on the Canada-U.S. security agreement.
   The perimeter security plan aims to smooth the passage of people and goods across the 49th parallel border while bolstering defenses.
   One somewhat contentious goal is to keep track of everyone entering and leaving each country and sharing those details.
   This would entail an expanded exchange of simple biographic and biometric data, which could include fingerprints.
   Joining forces will also help to better deal with “irregular flows” of refugees that turn up in North America or migrate within the continent.
   Canada is also preparing to require all travelers to present a secure document such as a passport or enhanced driver’s license when entering the country, as is now required for everyone entering the U.S.


   The Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, one of the busiest Canada-U.S. border crossings, was closed for four hours on Thursday afternoon after a bomb threat.
   Police said the threat had been phoned in to Canadian authorities in Windsor, Ontario, prompting the closing of the mile-long tunnel.
   Remote viewing equipment, bomb-sniffing dogs and police scanned the tunnel and found no trace of any explosive device.
   Traffic was rerouted to the Ambassador Bridge, the other nearby border crossing, from the tunnel under the Detroit River that handles about 4.5-million cars a year.


   News in brief:
   - The 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede was marred by a crash resulting in the deaths of three horses during the popular chuckwagon races. A lead horse collapsed and died while two other horses had to be euthanized due to their injuries. Animal welfare organizations have complained about cruelty issues while activist and retired game show host Bob Barker suggested the Stampede mark its centenary by shutting down.
   - The Ontario government has established a $2-million fund to help businesses devastated by a mall roof collapse in Elliot Lake that killed two women. Businesses affected by the disaster will be able to use the money to reopen in temporary locations and put employees back to work, Northern Development Minister Rick Bartolucci said.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar has advanced to 98.58 cents in U.S. funds while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0143 Canadian, 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 lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,507 points and the TSX Venture index at 1,181 points on Friday.
   Lotto 6-49: (July 11) 5, 8, 14, 18, 43 and 49; bonus 37. (July 7) 3, 20, 27, 29, 38 and 44; bonus 45. Lotto Max: (July 6) 14, 26, 31, 34, 37, 45 and 48; bonus 38.


   Regional briefs:
   - An Ontario company has been fined $200,000 for the deaths of four workers when a scaffold collapsed on Christmas Eve in 2009. Metron Construction was convicted of criminal negligence after the high-rise platform snapped in Toronto sending the workers to their deaths and leaving one badly hurt.
   - Four people are missing and feared dead in a massive mudslide in British Columbia. A wall of rock, mud and trees cascaded down a mountainside beside Kootenay Lake, tearing through the community of Johnsons Landing. At least three houses were destroyed and are unstable, hampering rescue attempts.
   - Federal fishing authorities have ordered 450,000 infected salmon to be destroyed at the Gray Aqua Group Farm near Conne River in Newfoundland. The fish are infected with salmon anemia that is said to be harmless to humans. There is concern because the disease is extremely infectious and can be spread to other farmed salmon and wild fish.
   - It seems that Canada’s “virtually indestructible” $50 and $100 polymer bills can’t stand the heat. The new plastic-like bills have been found to curl up like bacon in a frying pan when near extreme heat. The Bank of Canada is investigating the reports but said the bills can’t be ripped, torn or destroyed by washing and have hidden security features.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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