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Sunday, September 17, 2017

U.S. might not support Canada in enemy attack: NORAD official

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 17/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada might have to go it alone should the country ever face an enemy attack.
   U.S. policy is “not to defend Canada,” said Lieutenant-General Pierre St-Amand, top Canadian officer at the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado.
   While Canada would have no say in what to do if North America is targeted by a missile, the U.S. could ultimately decide to intervene at the last moment, he added.
   That’s largely due to the Liberal government upholding a 2005 decision to remain outside the U.S. missile shield after a divisive national debate.
   While many people are calling for Canada to get back in the pact, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the country’s position is “not going to be changed any time soon.”
   St-Armand delivered news to the Commons defense committee that is concerned about missile tests and threats by North Korea.
   One piece of good news was there has been “no direct threat to Canada,” said Mark Gwozdecky of Global Affairs.
   He said the North Korean government sees Canada as a “peaceful and indeed a friendly country.”


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Canada Navy ship heads to the Caribbean, Florida with relief supplies, aid

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 10/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   A Royal Canadian Navy ship is en route to Florida and the Caribbean islands to offer aid to areas devastated by Hurricane Irma.
   HMCS St. John’s was being deployed for a training exercise in the Caribbean when it returned to Halifax to be loaded with additional relief supplies and a CH-124 Sea King helicopter.
   The ship, with a crew of about 250 along with an air detachment, is carrying humanitarian assistance supplies and disaster response equipment, said National Defense spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government has been in contact with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and others in the U.S. to determine the needs and to co-ordinate potential assistance as requested.
   Among the relief aid, the ship carries water purification systems, primary medical care supplies, food and items to keep people warm and comfortable for “a rapid response,” Le Bouthillier added.
   Global Affairs Canada has been in touch with Canadians in the path of the storm and offered assistance to those requiring emergency services, Trudeau said.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Canadian gas prices soaring due to speculators, hurricane

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 3/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Speculators, not Hurricane Harvey or oil shortages, are being blamed for Canadian gasoline prices soaring.
   Prices jumped nearly 10 cents a liter (38 cents a U.S. gallon) since Harvey roared ashore in Texas and more big jumps are happening this weekend.
   Gas prices jumped to $1.23 a liter in Ontario and will rise another 9 cents this weekend, said Dan McTeague of Gasbuddy.com.
   Montreal drivers will be paying as much as $1.42 per liter ($5.39 a U.S. gallon), he added.
   Price watchers say things will remain high until refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast return to normal operation as flood waters recede and damage is assessed.
   With inventories declining and wholesale prices rising, there will be a bigger impact in Eastern Canada more than in the west because that is farther from the problems.
   Canadians have had to pay about 75 cents more a U.S. gallon than a week ago in Toronto while the typical increase in affected states is only about 20 cents, McTeague said.
   “We don’t have enough supply in Canada . . . we’re just not in a position where we can sell spare capacity,” he said.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Government called on to review honoring historic figures over treatment of Indigenous people

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 27/17

   By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is being urged to review honoring historic figures as a teachers’ group wants the name of Canada’s first prime minister removed from schools.
   The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario wants new names for schools named after Sir John A. Macdonald over his treatment of Indigenous people.
   It’s an opportunity to “seize this opportunity” to acknowledge Canada’s past and engage with native people on correcting historical wrongs, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly’s office said.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in June the government would remove the name of Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation, from the national capital building housing his office.
   The decision was made after Indigenous politicians and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Langevin was a proponent of the residential school system.
   The system took sent native children away to government-sponsored religious schools to assimilate them into Euro-Canadian culture.
   New Democrat Romeo Saganash, a residential school “survivor,” said a full discussion is needed into the role of historic figures in the “dark realities of colonialism.”


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Weak inflation continues in Canada; could keep low-interest rate steady

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 20/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Still-weak inflation could result in Canada’s central bank holding off further interest-rate increases.
   While the rate of inflation advanced last month to 1.2 percent, it’s still below the Bank of Canada’s ideal target number of 2 percent.
   The bank raised its key rate by 0.25 percent to 0.75 percent last month, suggesting inflation softness was mainly temporary.
   After dipping to 1 percent in June, the lowest level in almost two years, the 4.6-percent higher prices for gasoline over a year ago were a large contributor to the July advance.
   Other higher categories were natural gas, hotel and motel accommodations and home replacement costs.
   There were lower prices for video equipment, furniture and internet access while the price for electricity in Ontario had its biggest drop in 14 years after the provincial government capped increases and prices.


Monday, August 14, 2017

More shelters opened in Montreal for refugees as Canada's copes with influx

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 13/17

   (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.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Quebec tries to cope with huge influx of Haiti refugees from the U.S.

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 6/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The trickle of asylum seekers pouring across the Canada-U.S. border into Quebec has turned into a flood, leading to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium providing temporary refuge.
   A makeshift reception center has also been established at what was once an unmarked roadside ditch in Hemmingford.
   There has been a surge in the number of people, largely from Haiti, seeking refuge in Canada over fears they will be deported from the U.S.
   Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said 50 people a day were illegally crossing from New York State but the number has surged to 150 daily since mid-July.
   The influx is causing authorities to scramble to provide temporary accommodation as the newcomers await a ruling on their refugee claims.
   Asylum seekers were being bused to the Olympic Stadium that will accommodate as many as 600 people until mid-September.
   “Our government is committed to offering protection for those fleeing war, persecution and natural disasters without compromising the safety and security of Canadians,” said Liberal Member of Parliament Marc Miller.