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Greetings to thousands of readers the past month from the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Germany, France, Japan and Latvia.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

U.S. portrayed as "softer, gentler" in ads in Canada


   Canada column for Sunday, July 29/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   A “softer, gentler America that looks a lot like Canada” is being portrayed in a tourism ad campaign called “Discover America.”
   The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. made that assessment of the campaign that depicts the U.S. with a diverse population and stunning landscapes.
   The U.S. is spending $20 million in Canada on ads at a time when money to promote Canadian tourism has been slashed by the federal government.
   This cross-border competition for tourists is “scaring the daylights” out of the tourism industry here, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported.
   It is said to be the first national effort to sell America to the rest of the world since the Reagan administration and has arrived in Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan.
   Ads will appear in Brazil, South Korea, Germany, Australia, China and India this fall and next year.
   The centerpiece TV commercial features the folksy Land of Dreams sung by Roseanne Cash accompanied by diverse musicians.
   Scenes of urban and nature vistas flash across the screen interspersed with multicultural images such as smiling women in hijab and musicians playing the sitar.
   “Discover this land as never before” is the tagline.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Woman killed in Colorado theater shooting narrowly missed being caught in deadly Toronto gang crossfire last month


   Canada column for Sunday, July 22/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   A Denver woman who narrowly missed being caught in a deadly shooting in a Toronto shopping mall was one of the victims of the carnage at a Denver-area movie theater.
   Jessica Ghawi, 24, was among 12 people killed when a gunman open fire in a packed theater during the Thursday night screening of Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo.
   Ghawi, who tweeted under the name Jessica Redfield, said in a blog that she was "blessed" to have left the area moments before the June 2 incident at the Eaton Center while visiting Toronto.
   Two gang members were killed and seven people injured in the incident that was only the start of a summer of violence in the city once called “Toronto the Good.”
   In the worst mass shooting in Toronto’s history, two people attending a neighborhood barbecue were killed and 23 wounded in an exchange of gang-related gunfire.
   The attack in the east-end Scarborough community last Monday night was followed by random gun killings in each of the next two days across the city.
   Police, municipal, provincial and federal politicians as well as members of the city’s “African-Canadian” community are planning to meet in the coming week to review the incidents and discuss what more needs to be done.

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

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (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.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cabinet minister resigns amidst spending scandal


   Canada column for Sunday, July 8/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The resignation of federal politician Bev Oda in a spending scandal has led to an unexpected Cabinet shuffle.
   Prime Minister Stephen Harper replaced the embattled Oda, Canada’s first Japanese-Canadian Member of Parliament, with Julian Fantino in her former post as International Cooperation Minister.
   Fantino, now a politician and former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner, is succeeded as Associate Minister of National Defense by Bernard Valcourt, who also continues as Minister of State for Atlantic Canada and La Francophonie.
   “These changes to the ministry ensure continuity as we focus on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” Harper said in a statement.
   Oda’s resignation followed intense pressure from politicians and the public for her to quit after information was revealed about “excessive” spending.
   Harper praised Oda’s accomplishments while she said it was a “privilege to have served” in her Toronto-area Durham district. She did not say why she was resigning.
   Oda billed the government for swanky hotel accommodations in London, hired a luxury car and driver at $1,000 a day and even charged a $16 glass of orange juice. Reports said she also modified expense statements from earlier trips.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Investigation set into mall roof collapse in Elliot Lake, Ontario


   Canada column for Sunday, July 1/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (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.