Canada column for Sunday, July 28/13
THE CANADIAN REPORT
By Jim Fox
Canada’s crime rate has fallen to its lowest level in 41 years with a large drop in murders and violence.
The figures from the Canadian Center for Justice Statistics also show that Toronto had a seven-percent drop in police-reported crime last year – the lowest rate among municipalities for the sixth year.
There were almost two-million criminal incidents investigated by the police last year, about 36,000 fewer than the previous year.
Of that number, 543 homicides were reported across Canada, 55 fewer than in 2011.
That brought the murder rate down to its lowest level since 1966, the report said.
Crime rates overall fell in most provinces except New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island and the territories.
The highest police-report crime rates were in Kelowna and Regina while Quebec City followed Toronto with the lowest.
The statistics listed Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Thunder Bay as the most violent cities.
Coinciding with the drop in crime were initiatives taken by the federal government to get tough on criminals including the passing last year of an omnibus crime bill with stiffer penalties.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is now calling for the decriminalization of marijuana.
Saying that it is “not worse for you than cigarettes or alcohol,” the son of the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau said he wants to the drug to be legalized, taxed and regulated.
“I realized that going the road of legalization is actually a responsible thing to look at and to do,” he said.
The Conservative government questions his judgment, saying these drugs are “illegal because of the harmful effect they have on users and on society.”
On its website, the Conservatives said the government “has no interest in seeing marijuana legalized or made more easily available to youth.”
News in brief:
- Gifts for royal baby Prince George include a $100,000 donation to a child-focused charity by Prime Minister Stephen Harper along with a Canadian-handcrafted blanket. Governor-General David Johnston is giving a selection of Canadian children's books while Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo has sent mukluks (winter boots) and mocassins. Mayor Shair Green of Prince George, British Columbia has prepared a gift basket.
- A Canadian politician has been fined $7,000 by Canada's telecommunications regulator for robocalls made during the last election campaign. Along with Paul Dewar of the New Democratic Party, Strategic Communications Inc. was fined $10,000 in an unrelated case. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission said political candidates and telemarketers must refrain from making unsolicited automated calls.
Facts and figures:
The Canadian dollar advanced to 97.34 cents U.S. on Friday while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0272 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,647 points and the TSX Venture index 922 points.
Lotto 6-49: (July 24) 2, 5, 12, 22, 44 and 48; bonus 10. (July 20) 3, 20, 24, 26, 37 and 47; bonus 35. Lotto Max: (July 19) 3, 17, 19, 20, 34, 35 and 43; bonus 4.
- The mayor of Lac-Megantic, Quebec wants the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway to immediately reimburse the town $4 million for the environmental cleanup after a deadly train derailment. Colette Roy-Laroche said the money will pay to remove millions of gallons of oil spilled after a runaway train crashed on July 7 killing about 47 people and destroying many downtown buildings.
- Police in Winnipeg are searching for a mother whose two children were found dead in their home. They are looking for Lisa Gibson, 32, a hospital pharmacist who is on a maternity leave. The search is centered around the house near the Assiniboine River where Anna, 2, and Nicholas, three months, were found.
- Random acts of kindness have broken out at Tim Hortons coffee shops in three Canadian cities. In the past week, someone has “paid it forward” for 500 cups of coffee, worth $859, for the next customers in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa. Michelle Robichaud of Hortons didn’t reveal their names but said it isn’t a publicity stunt by the company.
Jim Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org