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Serious crime in Canada falls to a 38-year low

Criminal activity across Canada has fallen to its lowest level in 38 years with the fewest murders since 1966.

Statistics Canada reported the rate continued a 20-year decline last year even as the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for the passing of bills to get tougher on criminals.

Severe criminal acts dropped by 6 percent last year, with fewer homicides, attempted murders, serious assaults and robberies, according to the report.

There were 554 reported murders last year, 56 fewer than a year earlier, while attempted murders totaled 693, down from 801 and the lowest in 30 years.

Police reported investigating 437,000 violent incidents, 7,200 fewer than in 2009, while property crimes, including car thefts and break-ins, and drunken driving showed declines.

There were increases in sexual assaults, firearms crimes, criminal harassment, child pornography and drug offenses.

The figures show Manitoba is the most violent province, while its capital city, Winnipeg, is Canada's most violent city.

The decline in serious crime was common across Canada, except for an increase in incidents in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Heat records set across the country

In what has sometimes been called "naturally air-conditioned Canada," heat records have been falling in the midday sun.

Toronto was the hot spot in Canada on Thursday, reaching 100.2 degrees, while heat records were set all across Ontario and Quebec, where it hit 95.3 degrees in Montreal.

With humidity factored in, the heat felt like 120 degrees, forecasters said, adding that the hot and humid weather still had several days left to go in the current cycle.

News in brief

• Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard, a married father of two, who retired from the military after being removed as commander in Afghanistan, has acknowledged having a sexual affair with a subordinate. At his court-martial, four counts of obstructing justice were withdrawn, and he could face imprisonment of up to two years or a fine, or both. His subordinate, Master Cpl. Bianka Langlois, was earlier reprimanded and fined $700.

• The Mounties have identified about 1,800 immigrants who became Canadian citizens through fraudulent means, and their citizenship will be revoked, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said. "Canadian citizenship is not for sale," he said, noting that those identified through a three-year investigation submitted fraudulent applications or made other false claims. Kenney said most of the individuals were counseled by three or four crooked immigration consultants on how to concoct fake proof of residency in Canada. The consultants are under investigation.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar rallied to a three-year high against the U.S. currency at $1.0537 in U.S. funds on Friday. The U.S. greenback slipped to 94.90 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

Canada's core inflation rate, excluding gasoline and other "volatile items," fell to 1.3 percent last month from 1.8 percent in May. The overall inflation rate was down to 3.1 percent from 3.7 percent, easing concerns about interest rate hikes for now.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 1 percent, while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.

Canadian stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,434 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,039 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 2, 21, 23, 30, 34 and 42; bonus 46. (July 16) 2, 12, 23, 35, 39 and 49; bonus 44. Lotto Max: (July 15) 3, 7, 8, 12, 18, 24 and 41; bonus 1.

Regional briefs

• The Canadian government will join with Alberta to begin environmental monitoring of the province's vast oil sand reserves. Environmentalists have criticized the development of the third-largest oil reserve in the world over concerns about air and water contamination. There is also a concern that environmental issues with the oil sands could affect the U.S. consideration of a proposed pipeline to move crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

• Four people were injured when a sudden windstorm toppled the main stage at the Ottawa Bluesfest during a Cheap Trick concert. A truck driver for the band had a broken leg and equipment was destroyed, but no band members were hurt. The severe thunderstorm also caused power outages on both sides of the Ottawa River.

• Violet Large of Truro, Nova Scotia, who gave away most of a multimillion-dollar lottery win, has died at 79. The woman and her husband, Allen, won $11.2 million, tax-free, in a Lotto 6-49 drawing last year. They then quietly gave away most of the money to family, friends, churches, charities, fire halls and hospitals. They said they were content to continue living modestly in their small 147-year-old house.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Serious crime in Canada falls to a 38-year low 07/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2011 9:22pm]

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