Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 17/16
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized on behalf of Canadians to a group of Syrian refugees who were pepper-sprayed in Vancouver.
Police are considering it a “hate crime” when about a dozen people were sprayed by a man on a bicycle at a Syrian welcome ceremony.
The man rode away quickly after spraying the crowd outside the Muslim Association of Canada center and is being sought by the police.
One of those hit in the attack was refugee Youssef Ahmad al-Suleiman who said the reaction of the prime minister and the public in condemning the incident reinforced his appreciation of Canadians and his adopted country.
Immigration Minister John McCallum called it an “isolated” incident but suggested there’s the need to guard against an anti-refugee sentiment.
As the government’s focus shifts to integrating the 10,000 Syrians who have arrived so far, there must be an effort to be sure the newcomers aren’t given special access over Canadian citizens to such things as social housing, he said.
The Syrians being resettled in Canada so far have come from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, with about 25,000 expected to arrive by the end of next month.
The value of Canada’s dollar has cracked the 70-cents U.S. mark – dipping to 69.5 cents, the lowest in 13 years.
This is boosting costs for “snowbirds” and travelers who have to pay about $1.46 for each U.S. dollar with credit card and bank exchange fees.
The dollar’s decline has been blamed on slumping oil prices, as Canada is a major exporter of crude and other commodities.
There’s also speculation the Bank of Canada will cut its trend-setting interest rate by 0.25 percent.
Canada’s dollar bottomed out historically at 61.79 cents U.S. in 2002.
News in brief:
- Canadians made a run for the U.S. border in large numbers to try to cash in on the record-breaking Powerball lottery jackpot. There was some concern as U.S. customs officers advised it is illegal once out of the country to “import” a Powerball ticket back into the United States. Canadians would be subject to a 30-percent U.S. federal tax along with state taxes on winnings but pay no tax at home.
- Canada’s new Liberal government’s plans to spend money to stimulate the economy could result in a possible budget shortfall of $15 billion a year. In a pre-budget national tour, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said to help the economy, the government will cut taxes for middle-income earners and raise them for the highest paid. There are also plans to overhaul child benefits so they help more families, he said.
Facts and figures:
The Canadian dollar has dipped to 69.56 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.437 in Canadian funds, before bank and credit card 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 12,165 points and the TSX Venture index at 491 points.
The average price of gas is lower at 93.61 cents a liter nationally or $3.55 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Jan. 13) 6, 8, 25, 39, 46 and 47; bonus 28. (Jan. 9) 5, 22, 30, 33, 45 and 48; bonus 29. Lotto Max: (Jan. 8) 13, 15, 21, 24, 25, 36 and 48; bonus 10.
- Thousands of people and businesses lost power, schools were closed and flights delayed across the Maritimes by a fierce winter storm at mid-week. Marine Atlantic ferry crossings between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland/ Labrador were delayed by a day and winds hampered traffic on the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. The storm dumped up to a foot of snow with strong winds.
- Investigators are reviewing the possibility that heavy hydraulic fracturing in the Fox Creek area of Alberta has caused numerous earthquakes. Repsol Oil and Gas has stopped the blasting operations in rocks while energy regulators investigate the latest largest quake that measured 4.8 on the Richter scale. There have been 366 seismic events in the region in the past year.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com