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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Oh, say can you see the new gender neutral words in O Canada?



   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 4/18

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   “O Canada,” the country’s national anthem, is going to be reworked to make it more gender neutral.
   For the sake of political correctness, the Senate has approved a bill to change the second line of the anthem from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”
   The change fulfills the dying wish of Liberal politician Mauril Belanger who had sought the change for years.
   It gained more urgency when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and it was passed by the Commons two months before his death.
   Also in a case of correctness, Halifax councillors decided to immediately remove a statue of Edward Cornwallis from a downtown park.
   This followed protests to end the reverence of colonial figures as part of reconciliation with the country’s native people.
   After a 12-4 vote, the bronze figure of Halifax’s contentious military founder was placed in storage until a decision is made on its fate.
   Cornwallis is viewed by some as a brave leader while others say he was the commander of a bloody and barbaric extermination campaign against Mi’kmaq inhabitants.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ontario Conservative leader quits after sexual misconduct claims



   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 28/18

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Ontario Conservative party has been thrown into disarray after leader Patrick Brown abruptly resigned over sexual misconduct claims by two unidentified women.
   Brown, 39, a bachelor, denies being involved in inappropriate actions with the young women about 10 years ago.
   In his fall from power, Brown says he will remain a politician for Simcoe North as he fights the accusations.
   The bombshell comes just months before Brown was to lead his party into the June 7 provincial election as a favorite against the ruling Liberals and New Democrats.
   The Conservatives appointed finance critic Vic Fedeli to be interim leader while naming Brown’s successor will be done by March 31.
   Fedeli suggested that Brown take a leave of absence to defend himself, adding that he “believes the women.”
   Meanwhile, Kent Hehr has resigned from the federal cabinet as sport and disabilities minister after being accused of making inappropriate sexual remarks while a provincial politician a decade ago.
   “Harassment of any kind is unacceptable and Canadians have a right to live and work in environments free from harassment,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Bank of Canada boosts trendsetting interest rate



   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 21/18

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The cost of borrowing has gone up again as Canada’s central bank raised its trendsetting interest rate.
   The jump by one-quarter percent by the Bank of Canada is the third increase since last summer and the highest rate in nine years.
   An impressive increase in economic numbers led the bank to raise the rate but it warned of the potential impact of uncertainties about rewriting the North America Free Trade Agreement.
   There’s speculation the bank will increase the rate at least twice more this year but potential negatives about the agreement’s outcome could affect its outlook.
   The bank said “some continued monetary policy accommodation will likely be needed” to keep the economy operating close to its full potential.
   “We can't just relax and assume that it would be a small shock,” said bank governor Stephen Poloz.
   Trade impacts of the deal’s demise might not have such a major impact on Canada but would likely impact the amount of investment in the country.
   Canada’s major banks almost immediately raised their prime lending rate by 0.25 percent to 3.45 percent.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Protests over Tim Hortons shops cutting employee benefits over $14 minimum wage



   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 14/18

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Protesters have gathered outside the iconic Tim Hortons coffee shops encouraging a customer boycott.
  They’re upset that some of the chain’s franchisees have eliminated paid breaks and reduced health benefits for employees to compensate for having to pay a higher minimum wage.
   That was explained as a way to cope with higher costs with the Jan. 1 increase in Ontario’s minimum to $14 an hour from $11.60 and to $15 next year by the provincial government.
   Parent company Restaurant Brands International denounced the action against the workers, saying it doesn’t reflect its values.
   Many franchised owners say, however, they have “no alternative” but to implement such cost-saving measures “in order to survive.”
   Restaurant Brands has confirmed that some Hortons locations as well “in select markets have slightly increased prices for some breakfast menu items.”
   The Canadian-based multinational fast food restaurant, founded by Horton, the late Toronto Maple Leafs’ hockey player, has more than 4,600 outlets in 90 countries.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Baby it's cold outside; Canada caught in the deep freeze



   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 7/18

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   They’re talking about the weather in eastern Canada but unable to do much about it aside from keeping warm and away from blizzard “bombs.”
   Unrelenting frigid air has much of Canada in its grip, setting record low temperatures in Toronto and many places.
   In Atlantic Canada, a ferocious storm cut power to 150,000 customers, flooded coastal roads, battered sailboats and downed trees with hurricane-force winds.
   Affected by the “weather bomb” with up to 20 inches of snow were Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
   Just as things appeared to be warming after Toronto set a record -23 C (-10 F) overnight Friday, plus wind chill, Environment Canada issued a province-wide warning to prepare for more cold and snow.
   Toronto has opened additional warming centers and is using armouries as shelters for the homeless.
   The so-called polar vortex with frigid Arctic air has turned the usual free-flowing Niagara Falls into a frozen spectacle.

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cold snap alters plans for outdoor activities, New Year's Eve on Parliament Hill



   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 31/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Cold enough for you?
   An unusual long-lasting cold snap has put much of Canada under a wave of frigid Arctic air.
   Environment Canada’s Alexandre Parent said the polar vortex is being felt across Ontario, the Prairies, Quebec and the Maritimes with overnight temperatures hitting -40 Celsius/Fahrenheit.
   It is so cold it’s causing havoc with New Year’s Eve festivities on Parliament Hill in Ottawa where the outdoor show is being shortened.
   It is the grand finale for Canada’s 150th anniversary year but with temperatures to be about -28 Celsius (-18F), it’s too much to take.
   While the show must go on, musical entertainment and DJs have been canceled but there will be still be fireworks and a laser show at midnight.
   Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said there is a concern for people being outside for a long time in the cold.
   Toronto is among other cities cutting back on New Year’s Eve outdoor parties where the temperature there is to be -14C (7F).

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Canada's Prime Minister broke conflict laws with vacations: Ethics commissioner



  Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 24/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been found to have violated conflict-of-interest rules by accepting family vacations from an Islamic leader.
   Federal ethics commissioner Mary Dawson said this concerns vacations at Bells Cay, a private Bahamian island owned by Imam Aga Khan, last Christmas and in March 2016.
   Dawson said it can be seen as a gift to influence Trudeau with the billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader and his charitable foundation.
   The commissioner also said Trudeau didn’t recuse himself in 2016 from private meetings about the Aga Khan and a $15-million grant to his endowment fund of the Global Center for Pluralism.
   “I’ve always considered the Aga Khan a close family friend, which is why I didn’t clear this family trip in the first place,” Trudeau said.
   At the same time, John Kerry, then U.S. Secretary of State, was also a guest on the island.
   Dawson said a monetary penalty was “not relevant” for Trudeau who will be spending the holidays in Canada this Christmas.

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