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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Traveling Canadians to be monitored more by the authorities

   Canada column for Sunday, June 29/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The cross-border travels of Canadians will come under additional scrutiny beginning Monday.
   It’s part of an expanded security plan by the Canada Border Services Agency to include information-sharing on all travelers.
   The tracking system involves exchanging entry information collected at the Canada-U.S. land borders so that data on entry to one country would serve as a record of exit from the other.
   This will allow the Canadian government to use the data for such things as catching unemployment insurance cheats to ensuring people ineligible to stay in Canada have left the country.
   Canada also wants to begin collecting information on people leaving by air, which is already done by the United States, by requiring airlines to submit passenger manifest data for outbound international flights.
   The first two phases of the program were limited to foreign nationals and permanent residents of Canada and the U.S., but not citizens of either country.
   The entry-exit initiative is a key element of the perimeter security deal intended to help ease the passage of travelers and cargo across the Canada-U.S. border while bolstering continental security.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ontario's Liberals re-elected to form a majority government

   Canada column for Sunday, June 15/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Ontario Liberal government – despite a recent history of scandals including one that is said to have cost taxpayers $1 billion – has decisively won re-election.
    Voters gave the government of Premier Kathleen Wynne another chance, endorsing her spending plans as opposed to the Conservatives’ get-tough austerity proposals.
   Wynne, the province’s first lesbian premier, was able to put behind her the setbacks of her controversy-plagued predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, since she was appointed his successor last year.
   The unexpected majority win gave the Liberals their fourth straight mandate after a campaign that had the Conservatives and New Democrats accusing the government of corruption and incompetence.
   Labor unions turned against the Conservatives after leader Tim Hudak vowed to eliminate 100,000 government jobs and impose wage freezes to reduce the deficit.
   Hudak resigned as leader when his Conservatives only had 27 members elected while the Liberals had 59 and the New Democrats 21.
   Wynne had to defend the Liberals for the cancelation of two gas plants under construction at an estimated cost to the public of $1.1 billion in order to win the last election.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Gun-rights obsessed man arrested for killing three Mounties in Moncton, N.B.

   Canada column for Sunday, June 8/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   A young man said to be obsessed with gun rights, global conflicts and anger for the police was arrested for killing three Mounties and wounding two others in Moncton.
   Justin Bourque, 24, was captured by heavily armed police in the backyard of a home in the New Brunswick city of 70,000 residents.
   It ended a 30-hour manhunt by 300 officers for the man described by friends as an intelligent, laid back, home-schooled guitar enthusiast.
   The officers were shot Wednesday night as they answered a call about a man dressed in army fatigues walking along a street carrying two high-powered rifles.
   He fled into the woods and eluded capture as the police asked residents to stay in their homes while schools and businesses were closed for the day.
   Bourque was unarmed when he surrendered saying, “I’m done,” but weapons were found nearby.
   The slain officers were Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, 45, Douglas Larche, 40, and David Ross, 33. Wounded were Constables Darlene Goguen and Eric Dubois.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Canada's economy slows during harsh winter

   Canada column for Sunday, June 1/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Bullish predictions about Canada’s economic recovery were dimmed somewhat after a tough winter that slowed spending.
   The economy surprised the experts as it dipped to 1.2-percent growth in the first three months of the year, the slowest pace since the fourth quarter of 2012.
   The output slowed in numerous key sectors and was partially blamed on the harsh winter weather – a similar situation as in the United States where the economy contracted by 1 percent in the first quarter.
   Economists had predicted Canada’s growth at 1.8 percent while the Bank of Canada had expected 1.5 percent.
   Central bank governor Stephen Poloz had called on business owners to make new investments and improve productivity to push the economy into the next phase of the recovery.
  Instead, investment in machinery and equipment fell by 1.5 percent, spending on computers was down 4.1 percent and exports fell 0.8 percent.
   The report is expected to be another factor for the bank to keep the key interest rate and borrowing costs low.