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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Canadian border guard escapes death by shooter; no plans to speed up arming officers

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 21/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government has no plans to speed up the arming of border guards even though an agent narrowly escaped death when shot.
   Lori Bowcock was critically wounded when shot in the neck by a Seattle man trying to cross into Canada last Tuesday.
   The gunman, identified as tattoo artist Andrew Crews, 32, then shot and killed himself at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Surrey, police said.
   The 2 p.m. shooting was at the busy crossing between British Columbia and Washington State, south of Vancouver.
   Bowcock, of London, Ontario, began working with the Canadian Border Services Agency at the crossing in July and was previously a 911 dispatcher with the Ontario Provincial Police.
   She remains hospitalized and doctors expect she will make a full recovery.
   Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said he is “deeply concerned” by the shooting and that the arming of border agents is a key component of strengthening the agency.
   Officers are being trained to carry and use firearms and all 4,800 should be ready to do so by 2016, he said.


   The XL Foods beef-processing plant in Alberta – linked to 15 people becoming ill and the center of a massive product recall – remains closed.
   There are reports that JBS USA, a subsidiary of Brazil global meat-packing giant, will take over management of XL with an option to buy the company.
   The Canadian Food Inspection Agency will decide when the country’s second-largest packinghouse with 2,000 workers will be allowed to reopen.
   The facility has been idle since Sept. 27 over E. coli contamination and the recall of
1,900 products from across Canada, the U.S. and 20 countries.


   News in brief:
   - Canada’s largest grocery store chain, Loblaw Co. Ltd., is immediately cutting 700 management and administrative positions at its Toronto head office. The subsidiary of George Weston Ltd., with 135,000 employees at more than 1,000 stores, is restructuring to cut costs. It faces increasing competition from expanded Walmart grocery offerings and the arrival next year of U.S. discount retailer Target Corp.
   - Executives of Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. said they will ask the Canadian government to intervene after broadcast regulators rejected a proposed $3.4-billion takeover of Astral Media’s TV and radio empire. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission said the proposal would place too much power in one company. “BCE failed to persuade us that the deal would benefit Canadians," said chairman Jean-Pierre Blais.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is lower at 1.0094 in U.S. funds while the U.S. currency returns 99.06 cents Canadian before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets have advanced, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,446 points and the TSX Venture index 1,310 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Oct. 17) 4, 20, 22, 23, 42 and 44; bonus 41. (Oct. 13) 6, 14, 26, 27, 34 and 46; bonus 37. Lotto Max: (Oct. 12) 5, 7, 12, 15, 35, 45 and 47; bonus 40.


   Regional briefs:
   - Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, 57, has abruptly announced he is quitting. As well, he immediately suspended the business of the legislature until his successor has been named, likely in late January. McGuinty headed the minority Liberal government and has not confirmed suggestions that he plans to seek the leadership of the federal Liberal party.
   - Hackers from the group Anonymous say they have identified a man in his 30s from New Westminster who was the alleged tormenter of Amanda Todd, 15, who committed suicide over cyberbulling. The teen from Coquitlam, British Columbia posted a YouTube video describing bullying and sexual exploitation she faced for years. In London, Ontario police have arrested eight teenaged girls on suspicion of criminal harassment in a bullying investigation at a high school.
   - Restoration of the iconic Bluenose II schooner whose image appears on the Canadian dime has passed a milestone with the addition of her masts. The hull was returned to the water last month in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The project, which has taken two years and cost $17 million, culminates next spring when she returns to service.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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