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.
Border issues and the still unresolved softwood lumber agreement were discussed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump during a phone call on Thursday.
They two leaders discussed “a range of bilateral relations issues” that included Canada-U.S. border security and the upcoming G7 and G20 summits,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The White House statement noted the border talks included “implementation of the administration's actions to protect America from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals and others.”
They also discussed working together on the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.
News in brief
▪ The Canadian government had a budget shortfall of $14 billion in the first nine months of the fiscal year compared with a $3.2-billion surplus a year ago. Payments to people, including seniors, were up $5.7 billion or 9.3 percent and direct-program spending rose $8.9 billion, or 11.3 percent. Revenues, such income taxes, were down $1.9 billion or 0.9 percent.
▪ Cha-ching! That’s the sound heard around the Royal Bank of Canada as it racked up$3.03 billion in net income in the first quarter, up 24 percent from a year ago. Credit quality improved, helped by stable economic conditions in Canada and higher oil prices, CEO David McKay said. Revenue in the period was $9.55 billion.
Facts and figures
Gasoline prices that jumped by 20.6 percent in the past year helped push Canada’s annual inflation rate in January to 2.1 percent. The jump coincided with implementation of carbon-pricing policies in Ontario and Alberta.
The Canadian dollar has advanced to 76.37 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.309 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 15,600 points while the TSX Venture index is 836 points.
The average price for gas in Canada is steady at $1.063 a liter or $4.03 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Feb. 22) 9, 21, 25, 26, 31 and 41; bonus 11. (Feb. 18) 11, 13, 14, 20, 43 and 49; bonus 25. Lotto Max (Feb. 17) 5, 9, 14, 24, 33, 37 and 46; bonus 38.
▪ Media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau is returning to his family business, Quebecor as CEO, after a brief foray into politics. Peladeau, 55, had spent 14 years running the Quebec-based media company before being elected by the Parti Quebecois in 2014 and elected leader a year later. Opponents had been demanding that he sell his controlling shares in Quebecor that he refused to do.
▪ When in doubt, blame the GPS. A man who drove his SUV into a Toronto streetcar tunnel, jamming it at the Union Station platform did just that. He blamed the device for leading him into the downtown tunnel at 5 a.m. resulting in a six-hour delay on two of the busiest transit routes. A special crane was needed to remove the vehicle and the man was given a traffic ticket.
Jim Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org