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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Tougher anti-terrorism bill passed in Canada as two arrests made in railway bomb plot

   Canada column for Sunday, April 28/13


   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government has passed a tougher anti-terrorism bill just after police arrested two men for plotting to blow up a New York-Toronto passenger train.
   Civil-rights’ advocates oppose the bill that gives authorities more powers to detain and question suspected terrorists and prohibit them from leaving Canada to commit terrorism crimes.
   The Mounties arrested Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto and Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal in what they said was a terrorist plot guided by al-Qaida in Iran.
   A year-long investigation alleged the two were conspiring to derail a passenger train that sources said was the Amtrak-Via Rail Canada Maple Leaf train over the Niagara Gorge bridge in Niagara Falls.
   New York congressman Peter King said that Canada-U.S. counterterrorism partners prevented a “major terrorist plot, which was intended to cause significant loss of human life, including New Yorkers.”
   Immigration documents show Canada wanted to deport Jaser in 2004 for criminal offenses but didn’t because he was a “stateless” Palestinian.
   When both were remanded in custody for a bail hearing next month, Esseghaier, a Tunisian, told the judge he doesn’t recognize Canadian laws because they are “not a holy book.”

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Conservatives attack "inexperience" of new Liberal leader Justin Trudeau

   Canada column for Sunday, April 21/13


   By Jim Fox

   As soon as the Liberals selected Justin Trudeau to become their leader, the ruling Conservative government’s attack ads began.
   The ads on television and a website are similar to the attacks on former Liberal leaders Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, suggesting they weren’t up to the job.
   A political rookie and former high-school teacher, Trudeau, 41, was the choice of the party that slumped to third place in the Commons in the 2011 election.
   He is the eldest son of the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau and said he would not dignify the Conservative offensive about his inexperience with a response.
   “Justin Trudeau may have a famous last name, but in a time of global economic uncertainty he doesn’t have the judgment or experience to be prime minister,” Conservative spokesperson Fred DeLorey said.
   After his first-ballot victory over six other candidates last weekend, Trudeau called for an end to Liberal party infighting and division so “the party of (late prime minister) Wilfrid Laurier can rediscover its sunny ways.”
   He said voters are “fed up with leaders who pit Canadians against Canadians, west against east, rich against poor, Quebec against the rest of the country, urban against rural.”

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Royal Bank executive apologizes after uproar over firing workers and outsourcing overseas

   Canada column for Sunday, April 14/13


   By Jim Fox

   An angry backlash against the Royal Bank over outsourcing jobs to foreign workers has led to the chief executive making amends.
   CEO Gordon Nixon said the bank apologizes to “all Canadians” and the 45 information technology workers that were let go will “offered comparable job opportunities.”
   Officials of Canada’s largest bank earlier had denied reports the employees were being replaced with less-costly help from India under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
   It turned out the foreign workers were being supplied by iGate, an outsourcing company the bank has worked with since 2005.
   Human Resources Minister Diane Finley said the program is intended to permit foreign workers only when no Canadians are available.
   “I want to apologize to the employees affected by this outsourcing arrangement as we should have been more sensitive and helpful to them,” Nixon said.
   The bank is reviewing its supplier arrangements and policies while keeping its call centers that support domestic and U.S. business in Canada, he added.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Inquiry set into diluted chemotherapy drugs given to 1,100 cancer patients

   Canada column for Sunday, April 7/13


   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Ontario government is launching an independent inquiry into how diluted chemotherapy drugs were given to more than 1,100 patients for up to a year.
   The underdosing affected patients at London Health Sciences Center, Windsor Regional Hospital, Lakeridge Health in Oshawa, Peterborough Regional Health Center and Saint John Regional Hospital.
   “It’s unacceptable that this should have happened – that the doses would not have been accurate,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne.
   The review will consider if it was a systemic problem, an isolated incident and if the privatization of chemotherapy drug preparation was a factor, Health Minister Deb Matthews said.
   There was too much saline added to the bags of chemotherapy medications that watered down the prescribed drug concentrations by three percent to 20 percent, Cancer Care Ontario said.
   Most hospitals mix their own drugs but the four affected Ontario hospitals and one in New Brunswick had used the same supplier, Marchese Hospital Solutions of Hamilton, Ontario.
   The supplier said the problem wasn’t the result of how the drugs were prepared but the way they were administered at the hospitals.