Greetings to thousands of readers the past month from the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Germany, France, Japan and Latvia.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Canada's spends to boost economy: Deficit doubles in September

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 27/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s spending deficit under the new Liberal government doubled to $2.4 billion in September from a year earlier.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier backed away from his election campaign vow for a balanced budget by the end of the government’s four-year term.
   Instead, the current budget spending plan is said to help create 100,000 jobs and boost national economic growth.
   Revenues in the month were about $21.7 billion, down from $22 billion, with lower corporate income taxes, non-resident income taxes and excise taxes, and duties, the Finance Department reported.
   Infrastructure and other program spending to stimulate the economy rose to $22.2 billion, up from $21.2 billion a year ago.
   In the first half of the fiscal year, there was a deficit of $7.8 billion compared with a surplus of $1.6 billion in the April-to-September period last year with the previous Conservative government.
   For the current fiscal year, the government has forecast a $25.1-billion deficit.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Canada urged to respond "in an intelligent way" to any NAFTA changes by Trump

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 20/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Concerns that a Donald Trump presidency will result in changes or the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should prompt Canada to respond in an “intelligent way.”
   Former Cabinet minister Perrin Beatty, now president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, made the comment and said “the world has changed” as a result of Trump’s election victory.
   The president-elect spoke of renegotiating “our horrible trade agreements” with China and NAFTA to get “a much better deal for America.”
   Speaking to the Confederation Club, Beatty said Canada should be prepared to move on its own trade agreements should there be a collapse of U.S. participation in such deals as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
   Steps should include Canada diversifying its trade, maintaining openness to the global economy, and removing barriers to Canadian goods and services, he suggested.
   NAFTA, enacted 22 years ago between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, is the “envy of the world” and Canada should fight for a deal to benefit all.
   “Revisiting the agreement could provide an opportunity to modernize the deal and to present Canadian requests,” Beatty said.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Moving to Canada website crashes after Trump win

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 13/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   There’s been some unprecedented interest by Americans in moving to Canada since Donald Trump became the U.S. President-elect.
   For some time, numerous celebrities and people have expressed an interest in getting to know Canada better.
   It hasn’t been this way since the era of the Vietnam War when thousands of draft dodgers and resisters fled to their northern neighbor’s country.
  The Canadian immigration website crashed on U.S. election night and until 8:30 a.m. the next day when it couldn’t handle a huge surge in traffic from Americans looking for advice on how to move north.
   There were more than 200,000 users accessing the website, five times higher than usual, said department spokesperson Sonia Lesage.
   Upsetting to some U.S. residents are comments by Trump about deportations of illegal immigrants and reopening international trade agreements.
   Moving company HireAHelper, operating in Lakeland, Florida and other U.S. cities, is advertising “free help loading the truck” for people relocating to Canada and has a guide on how to make the move. hireahelper.com
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Trump on his victory and said “we offer our hand in partnership with our neighbors as friends and allies as they move forward.”


Monday, November 7, 2016

Former "confidant" of PM fined for illegal lobbying

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 6/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   A “confidant” of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been fined $50,000 for illegal lobbying.
   Ontario Court Judge Catherine Kehoe said the fine for Bruce Carson is a necessary deterrent.
   He was convicted on three counts for his work on the national energy strategy while a director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment and later vice-chair of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada.
   Court was told he was under a five-year prohibition from lobbying public office holders since he had worked in the Prime Minister’s Office until February 2009.
   He had been paid about $600,000 for lobbying work from 2009 to 2011 and the judge ruled he had contact with officials of numerous government offices.
   “It is necessary to impose a significant fine to deter Mr. Carson and others who would engage in lobbying and ignore the law, which goes to the heart of the integrity of government and public trust of government,” the judge said.
   Carson was found not guilty last year of influence-peddling for attempting to have government officials buy water filtration systems from a company that employed his former escort girlfriend.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

No plans yet to eliminate Canada's 5-cent coin

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 30/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

  First it was the $1 bill and then the $2 note switching to coins in Canada, followed by the elimination of the penny.
   So, could the nickel be facing retirement next?
   Not so fast, the government insists as an internal analysis on the pros and cons of keeping the nickel says it will stay for now.
   There are “no plans to discontinue the nickel,” said David Barnabe of the finance department, even though New Zealand and South Africa have eliminated the coins over the past decade.
   Even as the purchasing power of the nickel “has eroded over time (down 40 percent over 25 years) relative both to prices and incomes,” the analysis found it is still cost effective to mint them.
   “As there are virtually no goods or services that can be purchased for a nickel, or several multiples thereof, the coin is generally used only to make change as part of larger transactions,” the study reported.
   The nickel entered circulation in 1858 while the penny was dropped in 2013, leaving businesses to round up to the nearest nickel amount.
   Some Canadian bankers suggest the nickel won’t be around five years from now.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Gloomy economic outlook: Bank of Canada confirms

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 23/16

   By Jim Fox

   Canada’s central bank has presented a gloomier picture of the country’s economic growth.
   The Bank of Canada downgraded economic predictions noting an expected drop in housing sales due to new government rules and a lingering decline in exports.
   Bank governor Stephen Poloz said the economy also continues to struggle from the plunge in oil prices that began two years ago.
   The economy isn’t expected to return to full capacity until mid-2018 instead of the late 2017 time frame it had expected a few months ago, he said.
   The Gross Domestic Product is expected to expand by 1.1 percent this year, down from the July projection of 1.3 percent, with growth of 2 percent next year, down from 2.2 percent.
   Bank members considered lowering the trendsetting key interest rate of 0.5 percent where it has been since July 2015 but has again kept it there for now.
   Finance Minister Bill Morneau will deliver his fall economic update to the House of Commons on Nov. 1.
   There are indications it will include ways the Liberal government can stimulate the stalled economy.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Canadians don't like Trump's remarks about their health care program

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 16/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians are taking issue with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for referring to their health-care system as being “catastrophic.”
   Canada’s “mostly free” publicly funded doctor and hospital services can’t cope with demand, resulting in people going to the U.S. for treatment, Trump said.
   The Fraser Institute said 45,619 people sought non-emergency medical procedures outside of Canada last year largely because of long wait times at home.
   The number is about 1 percent of the patients of physicians who responded to a survey, the report said.
   Data from doctors gives a “general estimation” of the number of “medical tourists,” said Bacchus Barua of the Vancouver-based institute.
   The numbers are then applied to the total number of medical procedures carried out in Canada, as recorded by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, he added.
   Some critics are skeptical of the institute’s methodology.
   Even so, Ron Labonte, a health-sciences professor, said the number of people leaving for hospital care is very small.