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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pipeline safety, environmental concerns after major Canadian spill

   Canada column for Sunday, July 31/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The safety of oil pipelines remains a major concern after a major spill in Saskatchewan.
   Cities and towns along the North Saskatchewan River were looking for other sources of drinking water after a Husky Energy pipeline spilled up to 66,000 gallons of oil into the river.
   This happened just as public hearings are to begin on Aug. 8 on the proposed Energy East Pipeline.
   “All of these incidents shake public confidence,” Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, which wants to build the pipeline, said in an interview with the Canadian Press news service.
   “There's no question that things like that cause people concern – and rightfully so,” he added.
   TransCanada is also behind the Keystone XL pipeline that would have moved Alberta oil sands product across the U.S. but was rejected by President Barack Obama.
    Energy East would be a $15.7 billion pipeline to ship 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan through Quebec and into New Brunswick.
   It would supply Eastern Canadian refineries and provide oil for shipment overseas but is facing significant opposition from environmentalists.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

U.S. "war dodgers" want right to remain in Canada

   Canada column for Sunday, July 24/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   U.S. soldiers who fled to Canada rather than fight the war in Iraq are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to let them remain in the country.
   Marine Corporal Dean Walcott, who has lived in Ontario since 2006, said he is “shocked and dismayed” court cases are still pending.
   Jeremy Brockway, another Marine, came to Canada in 2007 with severe post-traumatic stress syndrome to “save his life,” wife Ashlea said.
   Trudeau earlier expressed support for the two dozen or so remaining war dodgers and said the government was looking into the issue.
   His father, the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, gave sanctuary to about 100,000 U.S. deserters and draft dodgers in the 1960s.
   War resister Rodney Watson, who has a Canadian-born son, has spent almost seven years in a church sanctuary in Vancouver to avoid deportation.
   Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign said U.S. soldiers who sought refuge in Canada should be welcome to stay.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Senate expenses scandal winding down with charges withdrawn

   Canada column for Sunday, July 17/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The highly publicized Senate expenses scandal resulting in criminal charges against several Canadian senators has come sputtering to an end with the last fraud case dropped.
   “It’s official, I’m back in the Senate,” said an elated Sen. Patrick Brazeau.
   He had just learned that prosecutors were withdrawing fraud and breach of trust charges concerning his expense claims.
   Assistant Crown Attorney Suzanne Schriek told Judge Robert Maranger the prosecution believes there was no longer any “reasonable prospect of conviction” after the acquittal of Sen. Mike Duffy in April on similar charges.
   “Having seen the ‘proof’ against me, what a waste of time and taxpayer’s money – perhaps that’s the real scandal,” Brazeau said.
   The Senate ordered Brazeau to repay $55,000 in housing expenses and continues to pursue others for amounts it believes were inappropriately claimed.
   After Duffy’s high-profile, 62-day trial in which he was acquitted of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, the Senate dropped charges against retired Sen. Mac Harb.
   Police then decided not to proceed with any charges against Sen. Pamela Wallin whose expense claims were under review.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Unite-the-right movement launched in Alberta by Jason Kenney

   Canada column for Sunday, July 10/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Federal Member of Parliament Jason Kenney is calling on former prime minister Stephen Harper to help him “unite-the-right” in Alberta.
   The Calgary politician has decided against making a bid to succeed Harper as Conservative leader to instead seek to become leader of the party in the western province.
   He plans to resign from his federal position on Oct. 1 when the Alberta leadership race begins.
   An endorsement from Harper would be “more than welcome” to unite Alberta’s right-wing parties – the Conservatives and Wildrose.
   This would be an attempt to defeat the ruling socialist New Democrats led by Premier Rachel Notley in the 2019 election.
   A merged “free-enterprise party” would bring back the “Alberta Advantage” slogan of the long-gone days of balanced budgets and huge oil and gas revenue surpluses that are under attack by the New Democrats’ policies, Kenney said.
   Other measures would include scrapping the planned carbon tax and review the government’s moves to cancel the flat income tax system and raise corporate taxes.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Love-in for Trudeau and Obama at the "Three Amigos" gathering in Ottawa

   Canada column for Sunday, July 3/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   U.S. President Barach Obama heaped praise on Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while calling for more defense spending as the “three amigos” met in Ottawa.
   “If I can borrow a phrase, the world needs more Canada. NATO needs more Canada. We need you,” Obama said in an address to Parliament.
   His rousing speech was greeted by Canadian politicians chanting “four more years” to the outgoing U.S. president, knowing it isn’t a possibility unlike Canada.
   The heartfelt comments came before Canada Day on Friday that marked the country’s 149th birthday as Trudeau hosted Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
   “The enduring partnership between Canada and the United States is as strong as it has ever been and we are more closely aligned than ever before,” Obama said.
   Trudeau, who was elected prime minister last October, has brought “new energy and hope” to the cross-border relationship, he added.
   Obama then bluntly called on Canada and other NATO allies to contribute their “full share to our common security” in military spending and action.
   The three North American leaders pledged to enhance deeper continental integration in trade and find new initiatives on battling climate change and cleaner energy sources.