Canada's Harper questions need for air security bureaucracy

A man walks along a snow-encased wharf in New Brunswick on Jan. 3.

Associated Press

A man walks along a snow-encased wharf in New Brunswick on Jan. 3.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says U.S. measures for heightened antiterrorism security are similar to the flawed "gun registry approach."

He questioned the need to impose "massive bureaucratic sets of rules" on air travelers instead of responding intelligently to identify threats before something happens.

Harper told CBC TV that he is concerned about the U.S. plan to impose more stringent security measures on travelers from 14 countries.

"Putting people on a list is not the best way to identify a security threat," he said.

"We're going to look at these measures very carefully and we may arrive at different conclusions," he added.

Increased security at major Canadian airports will be the selective use of full-body scanners now being installed.

This was planned before an attempt to blow up an airliner as it was approaching Detroit on Dec. 25 led to tighter security on flights to the United States.

Rebound continues for real estate prices

Canadian real estate prices will surge in the first half of this year before higher interest rates and more houses for sale dampen the rally, Realtor Royal LePage predicts.

Prices set new highs in the past three months, and that momentum will carry over coupled with the typical seasonal undersupply of homes for sale, the company said.

The average price of detached bungalows across Canada now is $306,000. Two-story houses are $343,000 and condominiums, $200,000.

The largest price gains were in St. John's, Newfoundland; Halifax; Fredericton, New Brunswick; Montreal; Toronto; Winnipeg; and Vancouver. Prices dropped in Edmonton and Regina.

News in brief

• Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to "prorogue" or keep Parliament closed until March instead of this month has riled many people including opposition politicians who call it a bid to muzzle their protests. Harper said the suspension of business allows time to plan the next phase of economic stimulus and other measures.

• A rare Canadian penny was in the thoughts of an unnamed buyer who paid $402,500 for the coin at a New York auction. It was one of only three known 1936-dated Canadian cents struck by the Royal Canadian Mint with a small dot below the date to indicate it was actually made in 1937. It bears the image of King George V, who died in 1936.

Facts and figures

The Canadian dollar's climb toward parity with U.S. currency raises concerns it will hamper the economic recovery by making exports more costly on the world market.

The dollar was worth 96.60 cents U.S. on Friday, while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0352 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

There was an unexpected loss of 2,600 jobs in December after big gains in November, while Canada's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.5 per cent.

The Bank of Canada key interest rate is steady at 0.25 percent, while the prime lending rate is 2.25 percent.

Stock markets advanced, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,888 points and the TSX Venture index at 1,589 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 10, 12, 15, 23, 26, 44; bonus 30. (Jan. 2) 16, 22, 25, 33, 39, 48; bonus 28. Lotto Max: (Jan. 1) 7, 9, 13, 18, 27, 33, 44; bonus 15.

Regional briefs

• A major winter storm left tens of thousands of people across the Maritimes in the dark last weekend. At the height of the storm, about 45,000 homes and businesses in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were without power. It dumped up to a foot of heavy, wet snow and produced winds of up to 62 mph.

• A British Columbia mother used a cleaning rag to fight off a cougar attacking her son. Mary Metzler managed to chase away the animal that had pinned her son, David, 7, who was playing outside in Danskin. Also in British Columbia, Austin Forman, 11, was saved by his golden retriever that fought off a cougar in Boston Bar. Police arrived in time to shoot the cougar and save the mauled dog.

• John Tory, who made an unsuccessful bid to become Ontario's Premier, has decided not to make a second run to become Toronto mayor. David Miller isn't seeking re-election. In the race so far are Councilor Giorgio Mammoliti, Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, Liberal strategist Rocco Rossi and former Ontario politician George Smitherman.

• Police are looking for sophisticated crooks who stole a safe weighing 1,600 pounds from the Village Goldsmith store in Red Deer, Alberta. Missing are thousands of dollars in jewelry and cash from the 6-by-4-foot safe that was cut out of a wall and carted away.

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

Canada's Harper questions need for air security bureaucracy 01/09/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 9, 2010 9:15pm]

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