Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 22/15
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
The first wave of Syrian refugees is about to arrive in Canada among 25,000 people the new Liberal government pledges in a “rapid resettlement” by year’s end.
Armed Forces’ bases and some decommissioned hospitals are among the facilities being readied to provide housing and other immediate needs for the migrants.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn’t formally indicated any specifics to meet the Dec. 31 resettlement commitment for the group made up mostly of government-assisted refugees and some privately sponsored ones.
A government document suggests the plan will cost the government $1.2 billion over the next six years, with $876.7 million needed through the next year.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the resettlement can be done without compromising safety to Canadians as stringent background checks will be conducted.
He called it a “humanitarian” mission that will “rescue people who are in terrible conditions and fleeing from the scourge.”
After a series of anti-Muslim incidents across Canada, a coalition of anti-racism groups is concerned the migrants will become terrorist “scapegoats,” said Mohamed Boudjenane of the Canadian Arab Federation.
Ontario, which is expected to receive most of the newcomers, has a committee planning for the provision of housing, education, health services and language and employment training.
Deteriorating economic conditions mean the Liberal government has a bigger challenge to meet its pledge of balancing the budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.
The April budget it inherited from the former Conservative government needs updating due to higher expenses and lower revenues tied largely to falling oil and commodity prices, and global uncertainty, he said.
An updated fiscal baseline is about $6 billion lower this year than the forecasts contained in the budget.
“The road ahead is challenging, but it is also one of opportunity,” Morneau said.
News in brief:
- Bell Media is moving ahead with cutting 380 positions, including 270 in Toronto, at its television and radio networks. The latest round includes some well-known TV personalities such as CTV news anchors Dan Matheson, Bill Hutchison and Suneel Joshi. Also losing their jobs are Toronto Newstalk 1010 (CFRB) radio’s Mike Toth and David Woodard, TSN Vancouver Canucks announcer Jeff Paterson and CTV Vancouver’s meteorologist Michael Kuss.
- The proposed merger of Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern to create North America’s largest railway could result in its headquarters being moved outside of Canada. CP chief executive Hunter Harrison said details such as the head office location and distribution of board seats would be worked out during negotiations. The Calgary-based CP’s offer for Norfolk Southern is valued at about $28 billion U.S.
Facts and figures:
The Canadian dollar has slipped to 74.94 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.334 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Markets are mixed with the Toronto Stock Exchange index up at 13,461 points and the TSX Venture index down at 521 points.
The average price of gas is down at a national average of $1.015 a liter or $3.85 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Nov. 18) 3, 8, 25, 27, 36 and 38; bonus 32. (Nov. 14) 5, 8, 23, 39, 41 and 48; bonus 26. Lotto Max: (Nov. 13) 7, 11, 19, 38, 40, 41 and 42; bonus 49.
- Ron Hynes, known as Newfoundland and Labrador’s “man of a 1,000 songs,” has died of cancer in a St. John’s hospital. The singer-songwriter was 64. Among his best-known songs was “Sonny’s Dream,” about a mother worrying about losing her son to the sea. Comedian Rick Mercer called Hynes the “poet laureate” of the province.
- Government-run liquor stores in Manitoba are the best place to sell marijuana should the federal government move to legalize it, says Premier Greg Selinger. Liquor store workers are well-trained about the potential risks of alcohol and would be in the same position to provide advice about marijuana, he said.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com