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Monday, June 19, 2017

Canada boosting defense spending for less U.S.-centric Canadian foreign policy

   Canada column for Sunday, June 18/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s decision to hike its defense spending by $14 billion over 10 years can be summed up in a name: Trump.
   That’s what the Toronto Globe and Mail commented when reporting that Canada will be making major investments in the military.
   This is the promised response to the presidency of Donald Trump, aiming at a less United States-centric Canadian foreign policy, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia said.
   “To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state,” Freeland added.
   Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the Liberal government vision for expanding the Armed Forces would include spending $60 billion over 20 years.
   The plans include adding 5,000 personnel to the Armed Forces and modern capabilities for cyberattacks and armed drones for unmanned airstrikes along with new warships and fighter jets.
   “We’re serious about our role in the world and we must be serious about funding our military,” Sajjan said.
   As well, Canada will spend an additional $198 million on health and wellness in the next decade to better support military personnel, especially the ill and injured, as well as family members.


   There’s growing concern over the threat of cyberattacks on Canada’s elections.
   The Canadian spy agency said steps must be taken to counter the threat while it reviewed questions about Russia’s role in the last U.S. election.
   The agency said “hacktivists and cyber criminals” made low-level attacks during Canada’s 2015 election but they had no discernible impact and there are no indications that foreign countries were involved.
   Among the concerns ahead of the 2019 election are that hackers and others could attempt to suppress voter turnout, steal information from parties, discredit candidates and spread misinformation.


   News in brief:
   - Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is calling on residents to open their homes to the homeless who sleep in parks or cars because they can’t afford or can’t find accommodation. Calling it a “crisis,” Helps said housing is in short supply and city residents did this before when opening their homes to workers during the Second World War. Advocates say all levels of government need to provide more social and rental housing.
   - Canada has a new $2 coin, commonly called a “toonie,” that glows in the dark with an iconic design of the Northern Lights. The Royal Canadian Mint is releasing a special set of coins to mark the country’s 150th birthday on July 1. The coin’s glow comes from a “new pad-printed process and a new ink formulation containing luminescent material” and is the first colored, bimetallic coin in the world.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has advanced to 75.54 cents U.S. as the U.S. dollar is worth $1.323 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 15,135 points while the TSX Venture index is 771 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is down at $1.05 a liter or $3.99 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (June 14) 17, 24, 26, 27, 35 and 49; bonus 33. (June 10) 3, 4, 21, 31, 33 and 48; bonus 26. Lotto Max: (June 9) 7, 11, 20, 21, 22, 37 and 47; bonus 38.


   Regional briefs:
   - Ontario is looking into what is calls “potentially ground-breaking clean train technology” to power its GO Transit commuter network. The Liberal government said the $13.5-billion upgrade will also include all-day, two-way GO service on the busiest parts of the regional rail network in and out of Toronto by 2025. The government is also studying hydrogen-powered passenger trains.
   - Daredevil trapeze artist Erendira Wallenda performed a daring, eight-minute “aerial ballet” hanging by her teeth from a helicopter over Niagara Falls. Erendira, 36, performed moves to music over the roaring falls. The stunt coincided with the fifth anniversary of her husband Nik Wallenda’s historic tightrope walk into Canada from the New York side of Niagara Falls. In accordance with state labor law, she was tethered to the helicopter while performing the stunt.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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