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Greetings to thousands of readers the past month from the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Germany, France, Japan and Latvia.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Additional security officers working for Stephen Harper's campaign stops



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 30/15

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Conservative leader Stephen Harper, seeking to be returned as the prime minister in the Oct. 19 federal election, had beefed up his security detail.
   Along with the Mounties who are assigned for his personal protection, the Conservatives are also using former members of the Canadian military to act as security during campaign stops.
   Security expert Chris Mathers, a former undercover Mountie, said the private security officers are likely there to deal with “uninvited guests” and to keep the peace at events.
   Conservative spokesman Kory Teneycke said “we don’t talk about it” when asked about the additional security contingent.
   “The whole point about having security at these things to is try to avoid somebody else who has their own agenda ... destabilizing the agenda that you have,” said Alex Marland, a political science professor at Memorial University.
   This happened on Thursday when a man was escorted out of the room when he tried to join journalists asking Harper a question in suburban Toronto.
   The Mounties are providing security for New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau but they have not hired additional security.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ashley Madison hotbed uncovered in Ottawa



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 23/15

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s capital, Ottawa, appears to be the hotbed in the country for members of the Ashley Madison cheating website.
   The distinction of being the infidelity capital of Canada with 189,000 users, or nearly one in five people living there, was determined through analysis of leaked data.
   The Canadian Press newswire search found some of the Toronto-based company’s users made credit-card transactions from computers attached to the Department of National Defense and the House of Commons.
   It reported that one Member of Parliament was registered by name and hundreds associated with the Canadian Armed Forces, other departments and agencies, including justice, public works, the Canada Revenue Agency and the Mounties.
   The website’s slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair” and is marketed to facilitate extramarital affairs.
   Avid Life Media, the parent company of AshleyMadison.com, is facing a Canadian class action lawsuit for a breach of sensitive user information.
   The suit, launched by an Ottawa widower alleges, the privacy of thousands of Canadians was compromised with the leak of personal information.
   Hackers released the full names, street addresses and partial credit card numbers of 1.2 million customers who had paid for the dating service.
   The news media so far in Canada has not been publishing any of the names.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Harper insists he wasn't aware of payment for suspended Sen. Mike Duffy's challenged expenses



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 16/15

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Stephen Harper continues to insist that he was unaware of any arrangements to have suspended Sen. Mike Duffy’s contested expense claims paid.
   Duffy, a former national TV news commentator, is on trial on 31 counts of breach of trust, fraud and bribery.
   Senior officials in Harper’s prime minister’s office were said to be among those who knew in 2013 that Duffy didn’t pay back the $90,000 in disputed housing and travel expense claims.
   Nigel Wright, who was then the prime minister’s chief of staff, wrote a personal check to repay the money for Duffy, who had been appointed to the Senate by Harper.
   The payment was described as a “deliberately deceptive scheme” concocted by the prime minister’s office to quell a political scandal, Duffy’s attorney Don Bayne said.
   Emails showed that Harper was briefed as his staff attempted to manage the scandal.
   On the campaign for the Oct. 19 federal election, Harper said the information he received was that Duffy was going to repay the money and would “explain his own story.”

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

No clear upsets, wins in first Canadian election campaign debate



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 9/15

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Political observers suggest there were no clear winners or losers in the first televised leaders’ debate of the federal election campaign.
   As expected, Stephen Harper last Sunday asked Governor General David Johnston to “dissolve” Parliament to begin an 11-week campaign up to the Oct. 19 election.
   Technically, under the Parliamentary system, Harper is no longer the prime minister and is referred to as the leader of the Conservative party.
   “Honestly, Mr. Harper, we cannot afford another four years of you,” socialist New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair said in attacking the Conservative economic record.
   He said that Harper denied in the 2008 election campaign that the country was in a recession and the party has “added $150 billion to Canada’s debt in the last 10 years.”
   During the debate, Harper made the concession that Canada is now in a mild recession due to the slump in oil prices.
   Liberal leader Justin Trudeau tried to put aside Conservative advertising claims that he is “not ready” for the job of prime minister.
   “What I learned from my father (the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau) is that to lead this country, you need to love this country,” he said.
   Green party leader Elizabeth May highlighted her views on protecting the environment and national security.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper sets in motion October election campaign in Canada



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 2/15

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Stephen Harper has -- as expected -- launched an 11-week campaign for the Oct. 19 federal election.
   The Conservative leader asked Governor General David Johnston today for Parliament to be “dissolved” to officially set in place what will be one of Canada’s longest campaigns.
   Observers suggest Harper is anxious to get the election campaign started to head off potential setbacks such as the ongoing expenses’ fraud trail of suspended Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy and the faltering economy.
   “He would think the longer campaign will enable him to get out from under some of the flak that is yet to come,” said former New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent.
   Before anything happens, the Conservatives want to sign a massive free-trade deal being negotiated now.
   The Trans-Pacific Partnership, involving 12 countries including Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Japan, would be the biggest trade deal in history.

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