Friday, October 31, 2008

Candy Recalled in the GTA

The Canadian Food inspection Agency is warning consumers that some Hershey's candy, which was recalled years ago was found in Toronto for sale. The recalled treats include Hershey's chocolate chips, milk, and dark chocolate bars, Glosettes, Eat-More bars, Reese peanut butter cups, Oh Henry, and Cherry blossoms. However, this does not affect snack sized bars that are sold for Halloween. So far there as been over 640 products from five independent convenience stores. The agency will not name certain stores because that may unfairly label them. They believe that big box stores would not be carrying any recalled products and that rather it would be local convenience stores. This is not the first time that Hershey has been forced to recall dozens of products after salmonella had been detected in a plant in Ontario. The contamination was traced to an emulsifying agent, so lecithin. Some of the recalled chocolate bars were stolen in 2007 from a recycling plant that was told to dispose of them, however, they were taken and sold back to stores for cheap prices. Luckily so far no illnesses have been reported.

I think that this is pretty crazy considering that something like candy is something that is bought everyday especially by kids. Whoever decided to steal and sell it is a horrible person, or people, because they know that kids are most likely to be targeted during this. Most importantly parents and children should be warned being that today is Halloween. Although the snack sized bars are not affected many people still have the chance of buying the tainted chocolate bars.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

200 Killed in Pakistan Earthquake

Yesterday in Quetta Pakistan a strong earthquake struck an impoverished area in Pakistan killing at least 170 people and leaving 15,000 homeless. Officials in Pakistan said that they are distributing tents, along with blankets and food for as many as the homeless as possible. “There is great destruction,” said Ziarat Mayor Dilawar Kakar. “Not a single house is intact.” Aftershocks happened throughout the rest of the day one which estimated a 6.2 magnitude. Mr. Kakar said the death toll from the quake was 170, with 375 injured. Around 15,000 people lost their homes, he said. Farooq Ahmad Khan, head of the disaster authority, said 2,000 houses were destroyed and that teams were scrambling to erect shelters for 2,500 to 3,000 people.

This is obviously a tragic event, but it raises the question of relief support from Canada. Not only for this specific occasion but for many occasions in the past. Canada normally contributes extremely well when other countries need relief support. I hope to see that Canada may help in a small way if this matter gets worse.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Ontario Bill Would Ban Cellphone Use While Driving

The Ontario government may make a bill as early as tomorrow, following provinces such as Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec in banning electronic devices (cell phones) while driving. Transport Canada's 2008 report on driver cellphone use shows that 37% of drivers using a cellphone while driving have been seen to have unsafe driving behaviours such as tailgating and speeding. The Ontario Medical Association released a report stating that cellphone use is as bad to a driver as being at the legal limit of alcohol consumption. Premier Dalton McGuinty announced in May that he was considering legislation that would ban all hand-held devices, not just cellphones, forcing drivers to use headsets or speaker systems instead. Newfoundland had been the first province to ban cell phones while driving in 2003. The cost for disregarding this law could be up to $400 and four points off your license. About 50 countries already have this law in place.

I think that this law should be instated. However it would be rather hard to enforce seeing that a police would physically have to see a person on the phone. Also I think that in emergency situations a cell phone is needed and that this law would have to be exclusive of certain situation. Even if it was exclusive of these situations it would be hard to know why someone is on the phone, and if being an emergency purpose it would be wrong to stop that person.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Loonie Dives, then Climbs Back

The Canadian dollar dove another cent on Thursday. This hit a four-year low of 78.48 cents U.S. It then recovered to 79.57 cents on news that the Canadian government will temporarily guarantee inter-bank borrowing. The currency went down about 24% year-over-year, early Thursday and down almost 7% from the end of last week, bringing up the rising value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce noted that the U.S. dollar continues to dominate the world. Like many other currencies the Loonie has been sinking, with the crisis of a potential recession. In addition to the Canadian dollars depreciation there may be a pay cut by raising the price of imports.

I don't think that the fall of the Loonie effects my life personally however I know that it will effect many people around me such as my parents. At the same time however I believe this may be good for economy, because much of our economy is based on manufacturing companies selling to the United States as well as internationally, this means we will be getting more than when the dollar was 110.3 cents, its all time high. Overall, I believe this is good for Canada, although many believe it may not seem so.

Friday, October 17, 2008

E. Coli Victim Total Goes Up

The number of people effected by a potentially deadly E. Coli virus has risen to 131 after a Harvey's food chain in North Bay was shut down and thought to be the source of the outbreak. Yesterday the city's health unit have said that a possible 93 people could be infected with the virus, and 22 people are definitely sick. Due to the incubation time of the virus it is projected that the peak of the outbreak will be in the next three or four days. So far 9 people have been reported to hospital, as well as other recovering at home. The areas medical officer fears that the outbreak will spread beyond North Bay and the Public Health Agency of Canada is also helping out. The Harvey's restaurant was closed last Sunday which means that Sunday was the last day anyone could be exposed to the virus. The exact number of people that had been in the restaurant that day has not been determined but 75 people have reported feeling sick after eating at that restaurant.

I think that this is a horrible outbreak in Ontario. I also believe that things like this could be prevented. I think that health guidelines and inspections should be much more tighter as well as much more often in order to secure the safety of customers at these restaurants. I think that the Public Health Agency of Canada should worry more about the prevention of such outbreaks rather then having such panics after an outbreak occurs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Harper Wins Stronger Minority Government

As of midnight last night, Stephen Harper's minority government had been reelected, only now stronger with 143 seats. Following the Conservatives came the liberals with 76 seats, Bloc with 50 seats, and NDP with 37 seats. Stephen Dion went out respectively stating "...he promised to work closely with the Conservatives to tackle any economic troubles." Harper needed to build himself up in Quebec however in the last couple weeks of his campaign he faltered, ensuring that he wouldn't win a majority government. The conservative had won 109 seats in Ontario alone.

I do not really know what to think of this current election. Personally I do not think that it will effect me personally. I also think that although what has been said throughout he elections many things will cease to change, or atleast will not be very apparent to the general public.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Canada Afghan Mission $18 Billion

By the year 2011, the war in Afghanistan will cost Canadians about $18 billion, or about $1,500 per household. Kevin Page the parliamentary budget officer fears that the costs might be much more. Page is an independent non-partisan watchdog of Parliament. Page says that the budget for the war does not meet the standards. Page says that "He estimated that Canada is spending as much as $200 million each month in Afghanistan, where 97 soldiers, one diplomat and two aid workers have died." The Conservative government had managed to make a rough estimate of $8 billion, however that did not include many of the after effect costs. "Page’s forecast provides a range, suggesting the final bill could be anywhere between $14 billion and $18 billion, but it is based on the assumption that the current deployment of 2,500 troops and support staff remains the same. If the mission expands, so will the costs."

I think that the expenses that are being paid for this war are ridiculous. However, I find it more ridiculous that Canadians were not given a clear estimate of what the costs would be. It seems that the Conservative government will have under guessed the estimate cost by almost half of what it will turn out to be. I think that this is also one of the biggest issues in the upcoming election and that the government who has the best way pertaining to this issue, may be victorious.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Canadian Child Poverty at Steady Level

A report that was released today illuminates the current child poverty situation in Canada. Child poverty right now is at the same level it was in 1989, which was also the year parliament pledged that child poverty would be eliminated by 2000. In 2006 a report from the Community Foundation of Canada, was released stating that 1.6 million children, or 23% of Canadian children are living in poverty. "That level of child poverty has virtually not changed in about 20 years, we just have not been able to move the needle on child poverty," CFC president Monica Patten said in a press release. Among the 15 communities profiled the report found that Toronto and Vancouver had highest rates of child poverty, while Oakville (ON), and Calgary had the lowest. The report graded each community on each community's' quality of life, but more specifically in the gap between rich and poor, health, housing and the environment. The study also showed that The median income of non-immigrant Canadian families increased by more than 5 per cent from 2000 to 2005 while immigrant families' incomes fell by one per cent. Recent immigrants' (those in Canada less than five years) incomes fell more than three per cent. In 2007, only 22 per cent of Canadians hadn't finished high school, down from almost 38 per cent in 1990. The obesity rate in Canada has swollen to 16 per cent in 2007 from 12 per cent in 1996.

I think that this report is actually quite shocking, as it would be thought that child poverty was almost completely gone, considering that many of us do not see it in our day to day lives. I also think that is very shocking that a large percent of the child poverty is actually in Toronto. I think that more needs to be done by the government to help abolish poverty, although only so much can be done at once. It will take tens of years to get to the point where we should be at in terms of the rates of child poverty. However, it was promised in 1989 and should once again be brought a major topic.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Peel Region Drug Bust

Yesterday morning over $4 million dollars of drugs, including 70,000 Ecstasy tablets, 205kg of cocaine, 7kg of ketamine, as well as a quanitity of marijuana and a $12,000 in cash was seized in a drug bust in peel region. This was part of a massive undercover operation called "Vanquish" that has taken all those drugs off of the streets. Arrests happened over an eight month period. In all, ten people face a total of 39 charges including conspiracy and trafficking. Peel cops worked along side with officers from several different jurisdictions to make these arrests. The accused were from many areas such as Mississauga and Brampton, however most of them lived in Toronto. The arrests did not only occur at one large time but officers arrested people in hand to hand deals. This was an extremely undercover operation. Cops believe they have made a large impact on the drug lords because of this bust.

I believe that this drug bust is very positive for the city of Toronto. It is clearly one of the more major busts and should impact the amount of drug trafficking that happens in Toronto. It is very obvious though that many drug transactions still happen regardless of the countless effort from our police forces. However, I believe that slowly, one by one we may be able to eradicate most of the drugs in our city.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Taser Kills Again

Yet again another taser has killed a man in Vancouver B.C. An RCMP resorted to using his taser after a man had jumped through a house window. The man had died on the way to a hospital, and was suspected to be the robber of a bank that had occurred earlier in the day. RCMP arrived at the house to find the man naked jumping through the window of a house that had reportedly had a woman in it. The RCMP had tried to subdue the man once they had gotten hold of him but he attempted to run back into the house. At this point they decided to use their tasers on him. This is the second time in the Vancouver area that this has happened. Last Monday, police tasered another mentally old 16 year old mother, they say they feared that she would hurt her young baby. Last year, Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died at the Vancouver airport after four Mounties subdued him with a taser.

These incidents constantly cause people to raise the question of whether or not tasers are safe, and should be used. Personally I think that they are a good alternative to using many other weapons but I still think that police need to find another different weapon that can guarantee that the victim has no chance of death. I also think that police should use more discrimination when using their tasers, as at many times they may actually not need to use them.