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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Terror rampages have changed life for Canadians

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 26/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Life as Canadians have known it has changed after a terrorist’s rampage in the nation’s capital and two soldiers being run down by a car in Quebec.
   Canada has prided itself as a haven of civility with its government buildings quite freely open along with easy access to politicians.
   Giving Prime Minister Stephen Harper around-the-clock Mountie protection and a major review of security on Parliament Hill are among the first measures.
   This follows a rampage Wednesday by Michael Zehaf Bibeau, 32, who killed a soldier at the National War Memorial and then ran through the halls of the Parliament building shooting a rifle, wounding three people.
   Harper has drawn a link between the gunman’s actions and international terrorism.
   “We live in a dangerous world – we will be prudent, we will not run scared,” he said.
   It is believed that Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers, 58, a former Mountie, shot and killed Bibeau.
   Martin Couture-Rouleau, called a radicalized Muslim, ran down two Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on Monday killing one of them, before being killed by police.
   Politicians, police forces and intelligence officials are assessing security around the Parliament, at Armed Forces bases and across the country.


   Canada has sent six fighter jets to join an international combat mission against Islamic State extremists in Iraq.
   Defense Minister Rob Nicholson said CF-18s Hornets and Hercules aircraft have been deployed in the fight.
   “All Canadians should be proud of our men and women in uniform who are dedicated to providing safety and security whenever they are called upon,” he said after the jets left Cold Lake military base in northern Alberta.
   About 600 personnel along with two surveillance planes and an aerial tanker are to be based in Kuwait.


    News in brief:
   - Canada is being asked by humanitarian groups to immediately let 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country. They say the Canadian government planned to admit 1,300 Syrians last year but only 200 have been accepted so far. Press secretary Kevin Menard said that since the start of the Syrian conflict, Canada has provided protection to more than 1,640 Syrians and is considering the next steps.
   - Canada’s central bank will study the impact of falling oil prices on the economy. As Canada is a major producer of oil, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said it will have to predict how long the trend might last along with all the negative and positive variables. Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the government will continue with its tax-cutting pledges despite the drop in prices.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 89.03 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1232 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is unchanged at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,486 points and the TSX Venture index 810 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline is lower at $1.1990 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (Oct. 22) 10, 13, 24, 29, 31 and 32; bonus 7. (Oct. 18) 6, 30, 35, 37, 41 and 43; bonus 22. Lotto Max: (Oct. 17) 18, 19, 32, 36, 38, 40 and 43; bonus 1.


   Regional briefs:
   - The Ontario government is planning to crack down on distracted drivers by raising the fines to as much as $1,000. It would apply to drivers texting and talking on a hand-held phone and for driving while high on drugs. Fines now range from $60 to $500 but would jump to $300 to $1,000. Ontario Provincial Police have found that distracted driving has become the No. 1 killer on the roads.
   - The top new flavored potato chip is Jalapeno Mac N’ Cheese, according to a contest by Lay’s Canada. Randall Litman of Calgary submitted the winning taste suggestion and won $50,000 and one percent of future sales. Litman said the variety of foods at summer barbecues was his inspiration. The other finalists were Bacon Poutine, Cinnamon Bun and Tzatziki kettle chips.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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