Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 11/15
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Julian Fantino has been removed as Veteran Affairs Minister after months of demands for his firing by military retirees and opposition politicians.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper demoted Fantino, a former chief of the Ontario Provincial Police, after a series of controversial issues.
Veterans said Fantino wasn’t looking out for their best interests and it was recently learned about cutbacks in jobs and the closing of some service offices.
One of the most compelling arguments against Fantino was that his department let more than $1 billion in funding lapse since 2006 as wait times to process veterans' applications grew.
He returns to his old position as Associate Minister of National Defense.
Taking over from Fantino is Erin O’Toole, a lawyer and Royal Military College graduate who served 12 years with the Canadian Forces.
Kevin Vickers, Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of Commons who was called a hero for stopping a terrorist’s attack on Parliament Hill, has been named Canadian ambassador to Ireland.
Vickers, who previously was a Mountie for 29 years in New Brunswick, shot and killed a man who stormed into the Parliament Buildings shooting a rifle in October.
The gunman had moments earlier killed a soldier at the National War Memorial.
“Kevin Vickers has shown profound leadership and dedication to the security of Canada and its national institutions,” Prime Minister Harper said in naming him to the post.
An Irish-Canadian, Vickers will replace Loyola Hearn, a former Conservative Member of Parliament.
News in brief:
- Protesters gathered outside the venues where disgraced comedian Bill Cosby performed in three Ontario cities. Even with a controversy over a growing list of sexual assault allegations, the shows went on in Kitchener, London and Hamilton. Cosby had promised to give his fans “good laughs” and he was given standing ovations.
- Fired CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi faces three additional charges of sexual assault. A Toronto court hearing was told more alleged victims have come forward in addition to three women earlier. The public broadcaster has now suspended Todd Spencer, executive director of human resources, and Chris Boyce, executive director of radio and audio, over the scandal.
- The Canadian government has offered to help up to 10,000 Syrian refugees find a safe haven in Canada over the next three years. Refugee groups and Syrian Canadians have been calling for a dramatic increase in the number refugees allowed into the country. They also want an overhaul of the existing resettlement program to remove delays and limitations for sponsors.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has dropped to 84.32 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1859 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 lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,368 points and the TSX Venture index 682 points.
The average price of a liter of gasoline across Canada is down to 92.24 cents (Canadian).
Lotto 6-49: (Jan. 7) 10, 16, 31, 36, 38 and 47; bonus 22. (Jan. 3) 12, 21, 28, 37, 40 and 43; bonus 38. Lotto Max: (Jan. 2) 8, 9, 14, 19, 28, 31 and 46; bonus 48.
- Edmonton police say there is a need for more public awareness and reporting of domestic violence after the murders of eight people. Phu Lam, 53, killed seven family members including his wife, eight-year-old son and three-year-old niece, on Dec. 28. A short time later, he killed a woman at her house while looking for another person and later took his own life.
- Extreme cold temperatures across much of Canada led Toronto Mayor John Tory to order the opening of two drop-in warming centers for the homeless on a 24-hour basis. At mid-week, wind-chill readings reached -22F. The cold was believed to be a factor in the deaths of two men.
- The retired HMCS Annapolis warship is becoming a habitat for marine life in Howe Sound, northwest of Vancouver. The ship will be sunk next Saturday by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia. It is to help restore and preserve species such as rockfish and lingcod while providing an interesting place for recreational divers.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com