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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Refugees seeking asylum in Canada growing in number

   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 26/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Hundreds of refugees are turning up on Canada’s doorstep – many of them risking their lives – to seek asylum.
   Crossing snowy farm fields and trudging through deep snowbanks at night, men, women and young children are making their way into Manitoba, and increasingly Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.
   The influx has grown as the U.S. cracks down on undocumented aliens and since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada welcomes the unfortunate refugees.
   Jean-Nicolas Beuze, United Nations’ refugee agency representative in Canada, said many asylum seekers in Lacolle, Quebec said they are fleeing what they feel is an unwelcoming climate in the U.S.
   Provinces are seeking assistance coping, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said as he announced funding for 14 emergency housing units and $180,000 for a refugee response worker and to pay for paralegal services and transportation costs.
   The refugees are detained by the Mounties and Canada border agents for security checks, medical attention and assistance before being released to await processing.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Optimism over prospects of "tweaked" North American Free Trade Agreement

   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 19/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians are cautiously optimistic that any “tweaking” of the North American Free Trade Agreement won’t impact the country greatly.
   President Donald Trump told visiting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the trade relationship with Canada is “outstanding,” calling only for a “few tweaks.”
   “If we’re going to change it, we’re going to do things that are good for both Canada and the United States,” said David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S.
   Trump said his major concern was trade with Mexico that greatly puts the U.S. at a disadvantage.
   Both leaders are seeking common ground to help the middle classes prosper, Trudeau said.
   “What I saw from the American president was a focus on getting things done for the people who supported him and who believe in him, while demonstrating good relations with one’s neighbors,” he added.
   Later in the week, Trudeau addressed members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on the passing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement that Canada is to ratify by the spring.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares for meeting with President Donald Trump

   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 12/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada and the United States intend to remain best of friends as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump prepare to meet on Monday.
   The Canadian nice, polite and friendly demeanor hopefully will prevail but if pushed on trade issues and jobs, Trudeau plans to stand his frozen ground.
   Somewhat unsettling is Trump’s public rift with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that scrubbed plans for a trilateral meeting of North America’s leaders, dubbed the “Three Amigos.”
   As Trudeau heads off to Washington, his ministers have been preparing U.S. officials about the realities between life on both sides of the border.
   This includes the value of the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump has said needs to be renegotiated to serve America’s interests better.
   As the world’s largest two-way trading partners, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said nine-million U.S. jobs are tied to trade with Canada while the trade surpluses and deficits are fairly even.
   Trudeau said he expects discussion on a “board range of issues,” including creating jobs and “opportunity for Canadian citizens through the continued close integration on both sides of the border.”
   “The president looks forward to a constructive conversation in strengthening the deep relationship that exists between the United States and Canada," said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Canadians reeling from terrorist killings at Quebec mosque

   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 5/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada is not immune from senseless terrorist attacks after six men were killed and 19 wounded at a Quebec City mosque.
   “All of Canada has been shaken by this attack,” but it has unified the country in solidarity with Muslims, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a funeral service for the victims.
   “We will rise from this darkness stronger and more unified than ever before – that is who we are,” he added.
   Police said a gunman stormed the Grand Mosque in the suburb of Ste-Foy during prayers and opened fire before surrendering.
   Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, a Laval University student, faces six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder.
   Among the victims were Khaled Belkacemi, 60, a Laval professor; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, a Quebec government information technologist; and Aboubaker Thabti, 44, a pharmacist.
   Mohamed Yangui, president of the Islamic Centre of Quebec, said there is a need for greater understanding of Muslims.
   “We as moderate Muslims are not terrorists,” he said. ‘We practise a form of Islam that means we are full-fledged and solid members of our community.”