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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Interest rate hikes make living costs more for most Canadians

   Canada column for Sunday, July 15/18

   By Jim Fox

   Canadians are paying more for variable rate mortgages and lines of credit as the central bank raised its key interest rates over free trade concerns.
   The Bank of Canada upped the rate by 0.25 percent to 1.5 percent, the fourth increase in a year as the economy heats up with strong employment gains.
   Canada’s major banks followed by increasing their prime-lending rates one quarter of a point to 3.7 percent.
   Bank Governor Stephen Poloz said the increase was prompted by “the various uncertainties we face” with trade tensions the biggest issue for the country.
   As for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, there could be difficulties for some industries and workers but “the effect of these measures on Canadian growth and inflation is expected to be modest,” he said.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Auto, truck tariffs would threaten Canadian jobs, manufacturing

   Canada column for Sunday, July 8/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s economy and jobs would take a direct hit should the United States carry out its threat to put tariffs on Canadian-made cars and trucks.
   The government retaliated with tariffs on July 1 against President Donald Trump’s new duties on Canadian steel and aluminum.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised quick action on the further threat of a 25-percent tariff on cars and trucks.
   The federal strategy on tariffs is to neither back down nor escalate the dispute, said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
   A CIBC Capital Markets study predicted that U.S. tariffs at 25 percent on foreign auto sales in the U.S. would cut Canadian production by 400,000 vehicles a year.
   That number could rise to 900,000 fewer vehicles annually if such a tariff is aimed solely at Canada.
   The Canadian Automobile Dealers Association wants the government to resist retaliatory tariffs on autos as it would put up to 30,000 sales jobs at risk in the retail sector.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Canada retaliates against U.S. tariffs including taxes on ketchup, whisky

   Canada column for Sunday, July 1/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   A ketchup war highlights the tiff between the United States and Canada over trade.
   Canada’s Liberal government, retaliating for President Donald Trump’s punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum, is hitting back with fees on $16.6 billion on products from the U.S. effective today (Sunday).
   At the same time, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $2-billion financial-aid package to support workers and industries in the vulnerable steel, aluminum and manufacturing sectors.
   Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiled a list of U.S. products facing reciprocal tariffs already on steel and aluminum imports from the U.S.
   The items subject to new duties of 10 to 25 percent are from a wide range of sectors, including ketchup, maple syrup and whisky, lawn mowers, motorboats, playing cards and screws.
   Canada’s dollar-for-dollar countermeasures are reciprocal retaliation to “illegal” and “absurd” tariffs, Freeland said.
   Trudeau will visit Leamington, Ontario today – Canada’s 151st birthday – where U.S. based Heinz closed its ketchup plant with the loss of 700 jobs in 2014.
   French’s then began making its ketchup from those Canadian tomatoes and opened a plant in Toronto as Heinz now ships its U.S. ketchup north and faces new duties.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Governments sort out how marijuana legalization will work in Canada

   Canada column for Sunday, June 24/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Provincial governments are scrambling to determine how it will all work as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canadians will be able to legally use recreational marijuana.
   The legalization of pot becomes effective across Canada on Oct. 17.
   The move was promised in the Trudeau Liberals’ election platform and the launch date had been set for July 1, Canada Day, but procedural issues and delays prevented meeting the target.
   The Cannabis Bill was passed by Parliament, the Senate and given Royal Assent by the Governor-General ending Canada’s near-century-old prohibition.
   Governments in the provinces and territories can decide where and how the products will be sold, either in private stores or government facilities such as liquor stores.
   The age restriction for legal use is 19 but a year younger in Quebec and Alberta and there will be strict regulations on where it can be consumed.
   The government also passed a bill with harsher penalties for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Buy Canadian movement is catching on after U.S. tariffs, threats

   Canada column for Sunday, June 17/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians are being urged to stay cool as they react to punishing tariffs, threats and verbal knocks from U.S. officials.
   An online movement urges a boycott of U.S. goods and vacations and buying T-shirts saying “Buy Canadian Eh” (www.teespring.com/shop/buy-canadian-eh) that is gaining momentum.
   Economists suggest that a trade war could only make matters worse.
   Things heated up after the G7 conference in Quebec last weekend when U.S. President Donald Trump objected to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that Canada wouldn’t be pushed around by the U.S.
   He tweeted that Trudeau was “dishonest” and “weak” while White House trade advisor Peter Navarro went further to comment that there is “a special place in hell” for Trudeau.
   Trump later said Trudeau’s comments would cost Canadians “a lot of money.”
   The Canadian government plans strategic retaliatory tariffs on July 1 to counter the U.S. fees on steel and aluminum and there are threats to expand that to the automotive sector.
   Social media hashtags such as #BuyCanadian, #BoycottUSA and #BoycottUSProducts include #ThanksCanada for Americans to show support for Canadians.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Conservatives devastate opponents in Ontario election with Premier-elect Doug Ford

   Canada column for Sunday, June 10/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Promising to “put more money in your pocket,” Doug Ford led his Conservatives to a sweeping victory in the Ontario provincial election.
   The popularity of the brash former Toronto city councillor along with citing a need for change after 15 years of Liberal rule, voters gave Ford’s party a majority government.
   The Conservatives had 76 members elected while the socialist New Democrats led by Andrea Horwath will form the Official Opposition with 40 elected.
   With a series of scandals, spending concerns and high energy costs, voters failed to give the ruling Liberals even official party status with just seven elected to the Ontario Legislature.
   Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, who was narrowly re-elected in her Toronto district, resigned as party leader.
   Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner made history being the first member of the party elected in Ontario.
   The victory sends a clear message that “Ontario is open for business” and there will be an “era of economic growth and prosperity,” Ford said.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Punitive U.S. tariffs on Canada called "ridiculous" by Trudeau

   Canada column for Sunday, June 3/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the punitive tariffs President Donald Trump placed on Canada are “ridiculous” and will backfire.
   In what was called the worst case of anti-Canadian sentiment in history, the U.S. imposed punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
   Canada responded with retaliatory dollar-for-dollar “countermeasures” on up to $16.6 billion in U.S. imports.
   Trump said the days of the U.S. being taken advantage of in trade deals “are over” at a time of an impasse in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
   “We’re actually going to see hardship happening on both sides, particularly on the American side of the border, as the unintended consequences of putting trade tariffs on their closest ally and trading partner begin to be felt,” Trudeau said Friday.
   It’s not known if Trump will expand on his comments next week at the G7 summit Trudeau is hosting in Quebec.
   Canada’s tariffs will make a long list of U.S. products more expensive beginning July 1.