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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, January 15, 2017

Prime Minister skips Trump inauguration, meets with Canadians instead



   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 15/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won’t be attending the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20, deciding instead to “re-engage” with Canadians.
   Trudeau is in the midst of a cross-country tour and also won’t go to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
   In his second year in office, Trudeau is making a campaign-style tour to meet with “average Canadians” across the country.
   The tour started Thursday in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and visited cities including Belleville, Kingston and Peterborough before arriving in London, Ontario.
   Over the next few weeks, he will visit Quebec, British Columbia and Prairie provinces followed by Atlantic Canada and the North.
   Trudeau will meet with his cabinet for two days in Calgary before parliament resumes on Jan. 30.
   The at-home tour is a priority, said press secretary Cameron Ahmad, adding that will “provide many great opportunities to engage directly with Canadians.”

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Drunken pilot incident leads to government airline safety review



   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 8/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is reviewing airline safety after a Sunwing Airlines pilot was arrested after being so drunk he passed out in the cockpit.
   Members of the flight crew said they noticed the pilot behaving oddly after boarding a Sunwing flight in Calgary last weekend.
   It was to fly to Cancun, Mexico by way of Regina and Winnipeg with 99 passengers and six crewmembers onboard.
   Pilot Miroslav Gronych, from Slovakia on a work visa in Canada, was arrested for being three times over the legal driving limit for alcohol consumption, police said.
   In Canada, it is against the law for pilots to consume any alcohol within eight hours of flying and individual airlines often have stricter rules.
   Sunwing’s Jacqueline Grossman said the airline has zero tolerance on drinking within 12 hours of duty.
   Transport Minister Marc Garneau told commercial air carriers he is “very concerned” about the incident and wants them to outline and confirm their safety protocols.
   “There is the need to ensure that protocols are up to date and are being implemented with all the required resources, including measures designed to confirm pilots’ fitness to fly,” he said.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Good news, bad for Canadian taxpayers in 2017



   (Happy New(s) Year!)

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 1/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   There’s good news and bad for taxpayers supporting the Canadian and provincial governments as 2017 dawns.
   This give and take will help governments balance their books and provide more assistance for those in need.
   Nationally, higher-income earners will pay more but most Canadians will have more money to keep.
   The enhanced monthly Child Benefit payments led the federal government to end other child tax credits and there are changes to Employment Insurance benefits.
   Also gone is income splitting for families and changes affecting life insurance, business owners selling their companies and some mutual funds.
   Ontario residents will receive an 8-percent rebate on electricity bills but the climate change “cap-and-trade” fee will add about $6 a month to natural gas bills.
   The first-time homebuyers’ maximum land transfer tax refund will double to $4,000.
   British Columbia says goodbye to medical services plan premiums for children while Quebec bids adieu to its controversial health premiums.
   Alberta reduces its small business corporate income tax rate to 2 percent from 3 while the carbon tax on gas and oil will be offset with rebates for lower-income earners.
   Only cash-strapped Newfoundland and Labrador will raise income taxes along with provincial park and campsite fees.

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Prospects brighten for Canada's Keystone XL pipeline with Trump comments



   (Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings and Happy Festivus!)

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 25/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Oil-rich Canada is expecting a boost in prosperity should U.S. President-elect Donald Trump follow through with his apparent endorsement of the stalled Keystone XL pipeline.
   That’s the controversial multi-billion-dollar proposal by TransCanada to move crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries from Alberta’s oil sands.
   After years of delays, debates and protests by environmentalists, President Barack Obama last year rejected the plan, saying the pipeline “would not serve the national interests of the United States.”
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has revealed that he has spoken by phone with Trump about the possibility of reviving the pipeline project.
   “He actually brought up Keystone XL and indicated that he was very supportive of it and hoping that were going to be able to work together,” Trudeau said.
   The project was touted as being the catalyst to create thousands of jobs in Canada and the U.S.
   Trudeau said his Liberal government’s recent approval of two pipeline projects – the Kinder Morgan expansion to British Columbia and Line 3 through Saskatchewan and Manitoba – will create more than 20,000 jobs and expand the markets where Canadian oil will be sold.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

"Trump bump" cited for more interest in Canada



   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 18/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   They’re calling it the “Trump bump” that led to a significant increase in Americans seeking refugee status and seeking information about moving to Canada.
   There has also been a huge spike in online traffic from the U.S. of more than 200,000 users that crashed Canada’s citizenship and immigration website prior to the election.
   As well, Canadian job, real estate and even dating sites have had significant jumps.
   Some dating services suggest that perhaps a quicker way to immigrate to Canada is to marry a Canadian.
   It’s not so easy to be approved as a refugee coming from a democratic country such as the U.S.
   Even so, refugee claims from Americans amounted to 170 in the past 11 months compared with 73 a year earlier.
   It’s not unusual with political changes and concerns, said Toronto immigration attorney Mario Bellissimo.
   “I saw some of this when Bush assumed office (in 2000),” he said.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Basic income plan under consideration by two provinces



   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 11/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Two Canadian provinces are developing a plan to provide its poorest residents with a basic income from the government.
   Ontario is looking to launch its program – the first of its kind considered in North America in decades – next spring to provide a guaranteed annual income for people and families in need.
   Now Prince Edward Island’s legislature has unanimously approved developing a similar pilot project with the federal government.
   It was felt that such a plan would help families build their way back while reducing government bureaucracy.
   Ontario named former senator Hugh Segal to study the options in a $25-million test project that could involve paying people $1,320 a month in place of welfare and Ontario Disability Support Program payments.
   The PEI bill, introduced by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, was supported by the Liberal government and opposition parties.
   “A universal basic income could enable the greatest unleashing of human potential ever seen,” Bevan-Baker said.
   The pilot project would also help determine the costs of a guaranteed income and whether it would deter people from looking for work.

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Prime Minister remarks about Castro called "shameful"



   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 4/16

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments that former Cuban president Fidel Castro was a “legendary revolutionary and orator,” have been widely condemned.
   Trudeau recently returned from a diplomatic visit to Cuba and was commenting on the death of Castro by expressing his “deep sorrow.”
  While being a “controversial figure,” Trudeau said he is remembered as a “larger-than-life leader” who made significant improvements to Cuba’s education and health-care systems.
   He referred to his father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, as having a close relationship and was “very proud to call him (Castro) a friend.”
   Criticism even came from Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American senator for Florida, who asked on Twitter, “Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada, it is shameful (and) embarrassing.”
   Conservative leadership candidate Lisa Raitt said Trudeau should be ashamed for the remarks that have “placed himself on the wrong side of history – against the millions of Cubans yearning for freedom.”
   The Cuban dictator was a pallbearer at Pierre Trudeau’s funeral in 2000 along with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

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