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Monday, August 22, 2016

Canada reviews security measures after attach thwarted

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 21/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is looking at toughening national security measures after police narrowly thwarted a terrorist attack.
   Of concern are peace bonds such as the one issued to Aaron Driver, 24, who was on his way to launch a bomb attack when Mountie sharpshooters shot and killed him in a taxi outside his home in Strathroy, Ontario.
   Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said there are “limitations” and the government is looking at having terrorist sympathizers undergo mandatory de-radicalization counseling.
   The government is also spending $35 million to establish a center for countering violent extremism.
   Driver was under a court-ordered bond with strict conditions to limit his movements, travel, internet communications and cell phone use after his arrest last year.
   Even so, he was able to acquire bomb-making materials, make a “martyrdom video” and set out to blow up a device to cause mass casualties in an unnamed urban area.
   His plans were foiled when the FBI advised the Mounties about the video and they were able to identify and confront him as he left the house.


   Canadians face the possibility of a strike by postal workers as little progress is reported in contract negotiations.
   Canada Post said that Canadians “could expect” a strike notice to be issued by Aug. 25, when a 60-day negotiation mandate expires.
   The union represents 50,000 workers and Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said the strike mandate is creating uncertainty for businesses and customers.
   The union’s demands were called “too costly” when mail volumes are declining.


   News in brief:
   - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be visit China for a week from Aug. 30 to discuss deepening business ties. Canada wants to make inroads into the rapidly expanding Asian markets and perhaps a free-trade deal. An issue to be discussed will also be Trudeau’s concerns over China’s human rights issues.
   - Politicians and the public are paying tribute to Mauril Belanger, a veteran Liberal Member of Parliament, who died at age 61. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease last November soon after being re-elected to his eighth term for Ottawa-Vanier. He was expected to be elected Speaker of the House but had to withdraw.
   - The family of hockey great Gordie Howe wants his grave site to be back in his home province of Saskatchewan. Known as “Mr. Hockey,” he died in June at age 88 and played for 25 years with the Detroit Red Wings. Plans are proceeding for the cremated remains of Howe and his wife Colleen to be interred at the base of a statue that honors him in Saskatoon.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 77.64 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.287 Canadian, before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,686 points while the TSX Venture index is 832 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is steady at $1.01 a liter or $3.83 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Aug. 17) 2, 12, 19, 38, 41 and 47; bonus 46.  (Aug. 13) 3, 4, 15, 17, 38 and 47; bonus 36. Lotto Max: (Aug. 12) 5, 7, 15, 18, 19, 27 and 28; bonus 25.


   Regional briefs:
   - Ontario 42,000 doctors showed their displeasure by rejecting a proposed contract from the provincial government that would have raised their fees by 2.5 percent a year to 2020. As well, it would have given hundreds of millions of dollars in one-time payments to physicians each year.
   - Prime Minister Trudeau joined Tragically Hip fans in Kingston, Ontario paying tribute to the iconic Canadian rock band’s last-ever concert. It was the final stop on the “Man Machine Poem” tour as lead singer Gord Downie said he faces terminal brain cancer.
   - Two Brockville, Ontario women were told by police to stay away from each other after they engaged in a dog dirt fight. The fight started when one of them found what she believed was her neighbor’s dog's excrement on her property and threw it back. Then the neighbor retaliated by tossing handfuls of poop back and pushing each other.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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