Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 13/17
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
The sudden influx of refugee-seekers at Canada’s doorstep on the Quebec-New York border has prompted the opening of more shelters in Montreal.
Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board has established 25 processing tents at the border and arranged to house migrants inside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, a former convent and the old Royal Victoria Hospital.
The recent surge of asylum-seekers, many of whom are from Haiti and are fleeing from the U.S. over fears of deportation, led to “more aggressive action” to deal with the situation, said Shereen Benzvy Miller, head of the refugee protection division.
Hundreds of people rallied outside the stadium and shouted “refugees welcome” in Creole.
“This is a vast, rich country that can welcome many, many people who are in bad situations and can’t stay in their own countries,” organizer Serge Bouchereau said.
The agency has also dedicated 20 of its members for speedier handling of the arrivals of which there were 1,798 people in the first week of this month at Hemmingford, Quebec.
Canada Border Services is trying to process the arrivals within a few days to await their claims to be heard by the immigration board as they settle across the country.
There are reports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau played a key role in securing the release from a North Korean prison of a Canadian pastor known for his humanitarian work.
Hyeon Soo Lim was released on what state media described as “sick bail” after being given a life sentence with hard labour in 2015.
He was arrested for harming the dignity of North Korea’s supreme leader and trying to use religion to destroy the country’s beliefs.
Lim is a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ontario and planned to attend services today.
News in brief:
- Influential Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, 51, said he plans to retire from politics. After a decade in office, Wall said he believes “renewal will be good for the province.” He plans to stay on as the province’s leader and politician representing Swift Current until his successor is chosen in a leadership race. His Saskatchewan Party has won three consecutive provincial elections.
- Netflix is raising its monthly fees in Canada just as CBS announces plans to enter the Canadian market. CBS All Access streaming service is to start next year while CraveTV, owned by Bell Media, and Amazon Prime Video are major competitors. Netflix’s premium plan goes up $2 to $13.99 a month, standard plan up $1 at $10.99 and the basic plan with no high-definition video and one streaming screen rises $1 to $8.99.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has dipped to 78.87 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.267 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.75 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.95 percent.
Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,033 points while the TSX Venture index is 762 points.
The average price for gas in Canada has risen to $1.09 a liter or $4.14 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Aug. 9) 16, 23, 28, 38, 41 and 43; bonus 19. (Aug. 5) 18, 21, 36, 41, 45 and 47; bonus 17. Lotto Max (Aug. 4) 1, 4, 11, 17, 27, 36 and 37; bonus 47.
- Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet said a proposed nuclear waste disposal site on land around Chalk River Laboratories is too close to the Ottawa River in the event of a leak. Many Quebecers get their drinking water from the river and an incident could be catastrophic, he said, adding that radioactivity “can't be cleaned up.” The company produces medical and commercial isotopes and is owned by the federal government.
- British Columbia forest fires have forced 7,000 people from their homes and thousands more are on evacuation alert. In the province’s worst wildfire season since the 1940s, 148 fires continue to burn, with 28 new ones from lightning strikes. With poor weekend fire conditions, access to the backcountry has been banned in a large area of the province.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com