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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Canadian government speeds up efforts to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 15/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The new Liberal government is advancing its commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by the end of the year.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also told Defense Minister Harjitt Sajjan to end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq and Syria, as promised in the election campaign.
   The selection of refugees is underway with a focus on choosing people who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
   United Nations staff members are working with Canadian officials to assess the cases.
   Furio De Angelis, Canadian representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said it is “an extraordinary effort but not everyone is eligible.”
   Priority is being given to people in immediate physical danger, survivors of violence or torture, medical needs or a woman, child or adolescent at risk.
   In “mandate letters” to his cabinet members, Trudeau referred to “refocusing Canada’s efforts” to training local forces and humanitarian support and away from combat.
   There is a “need to revitalize, focus and support peacekeeping operations around the world," he said.


   Montreal is dumping 2.1 billion gallons of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River to facilitate repairs on an aging tunnel linked to a treatment facility.
   Federal and Quebec environmental experts gave their approval to the one-week measure, saying it wouldn’t harm the fast-moving river.
   Water samples are being taken throughout the work, said Richard Fontaine, head of Montreal’s waste water management department.
   Mayor Denis Coderre said there was “no other option” and the work will “protect our river” and avoid breaks or ruptures that might cause a larger problem in the future.


   News in brief:
   - Signing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty could be Canada’s worst-ever policy decision due to its intellectual property provisions, says Jim Balsillie, former co-chief executive of Research in Motion. The 12-country agreement could cost Canada billions of dollars in lost prosperity in innovation as it would favor more dominant countries such as the United States and companies that already own ideas, he said.
   - Aerospace manufacturer Bombardier Inc. of Montreal must present a “strong business case” if it wants federal money to help with its CSeries jet project, Prime Minister Trudeau said. The Quebec government has pledged $1 billion for part ownership of the company and wants the federal government to match the contribution. Bombardier directly employs 18,000 people and supports 40,000 other in the province’s aerospace industry.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 75.01 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.333 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 lower with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,084 points and the TSX Venture index 523 points.
   The average price of gas is down at a national average of $1.053 a liter or $4 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Nov. 11) 8, 13, 20, 24, 37 and 42; bonus 22. (Nov. 7) 2, 3, 9, 17, 20 and 21; bonus 11. Lotto Max: (Nov. 6) 1, 10, 12, 20, 29, 35 and 47; bonus 4.


   Regional briefs:
   - Electrocution was ruled out as the cause of death for a Nova Scotia couple found dead in a Mexico hotel hot tub. Charles and Dorothy Mackenzie, in their 60s, of Baddeck were at the Playacar Palace hotel in Playa del Carmen for their daughter’s wedding. Investigators said the man died of a heart attack and his wife drowned.
   - Transport Minister Marc Garneau said his government is rejecting a proposed runway extension at the Toronto Island Airport. He said there will be no further discussions with Porter Airlines at the downtown Billy Bishop Airport. It would have allowed Porter to use larger planes including 12 Bombardier CSeries jets it had ordered.
   - The British Columbia government has approved a $1.5 billion expansion of the Hemlock Resort near Agassiz. Since buying the small ski-hill resort in 2006, the Berezan Group has invested $10 million in improvements and will now turn it into an “all-season playground.”


   Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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