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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Investigation set into mall roof collapse in Elliot Lake, Ontario

   Canada column for Sunday, July 1/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Ontario government wants to know if everything possible was done to rescue people trapped when a shopping mall partially collapsed killing two women in Elliot Lake.
   Premier Dalton McGuinty intervened after hearing rescue workers suspended their search only hours after hearing someone tapping from within the rubble.
   The search resumed and a huge crane was sent from Toronto to the small northern town 335 miles away allowing for the recovery of two bodies on Wednesday.
   Part of the parking garage collapsed into the mall’s food court at the Algo Shopping Center last Saturday afternoon.
   McGuinty said his government’s investigation will review if more could have been done to rescue people and look at emergency procedures across the province.
   Angry residents in the town of 13,000 protested in the streets after the search was suspended when officials said it had become too dangerous for the work to continue.


   Journalist Paula Todd has found Karla Homolka, one of Canada’s most notorious child abductors and killers.
   Acting on tips, Todd said she found Homolka living on the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.
   Homolka, 42, who goes by the name Leanne Bordelais, lives with her husband and has three children, Todd wrote in an e-book about her encounter.
   Concern about her safety prompted Homolka to leave Canada after serving 12 years for manslaughter in a deal to convict her former husband Paul Bernardo who is serving a life sentence in prison.
   They were convicted in the sex slayings of two teenaged girls and the fatal drug rape of Homolka’s sister Tammy, 15, in Ontario.
   "I don't know what evil looks like but not for a second did she seem upset or sad or regretful about what had happened,” Todd said.


   Business briefs:
   - Once the darling Canadian high-tech company, Research In Motion, based in Waterloo, Ontario is reducing its workforce by 5,000 people. With revenues and market share continuing to slide, RIM is trimming its workforce by half and will delay release of its BlackBerry 10 smartphone until next year. Its stock fell to $7.56 a share on Friday, down from a high of about $150 in 2008, and cut 2,000 jobs last year.
   - Walmart Canada is on a hiring binge across Canada as it plans to give jobs to 4,000 additional workers this year. The company is converting 39 former Zellers stores and is completing 73 new stores by year-end. Target will open its first Canadian stores next year also in former Zellers locations.


   Facts and figures:
   A jump in oil and commodity prices on Friday pushed Canada’s dollar higher to 98.19 cents in U.S. funds while the U.S. dollar returned $1.0183 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 were mixed on Friday, with the Toronto exchange index up at 11,582 points and the TSX Venture index lower at 1,191 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (June 27) 4, 10, 19, 24, 32 and 35; bonus 1. (June 23) 12, 19, 28, 34, 36 and 41; bonus 1. Lotto Max: (June 22) 1, 12, 20, 22, 30, 34 and 38; bonus 33.


   Regional briefs:
   - Six people are now facing trial for the human smuggling of about 492 Tamil refugee claimants aboard a ship impounded two years ago in British Columbia. The latest arrest was of Nadarajah Mahendran  as he arrived at the Toronto airport from Sri Lanka. Among the refugees who paid thousands of dollars for passage to Canada were terrorists and human smugglers, police said.
   - Oil prices topping $100 a barrel in the past year have eliminated Alberta’s $3.4 billion projected deficit. There’s concern now for Finance Minister Doug Horner, who announced the good news for the oil-rich province, as prices have dropped to below $80 a barrel. Alberta loses about $223 million for every dollar the price stays down for a year.
   - It’s costing some northern New Brunswick beer drinkers more for their brew this Canada Day holiday weekend. The quick trip to stock up in tax-free beer on the Listiguj First Nation reserve in Quebec has gone up in smoke. The reserve’s drive-through facility had an electrical fire that destroyed up to 400,000 bottles of beer. Plans are to bring in some large refrigerator trucks next week while the facility is rebuilt.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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