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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, August 20, 2017

Weak inflation continues in Canada; could keep low-interest rate steady



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 20/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Still-weak inflation could result in Canada’s central bank holding off further interest-rate increases.
   While the rate of inflation advanced last month to 1.2 percent, it’s still below the Bank of Canada’s ideal target number of 2 percent.
   The bank raised its key rate by 0.25 percent to 0.75 percent last month, suggesting inflation softness was mainly temporary.
   After dipping to 1 percent in June, the lowest level in almost two years, the 4.6-percent higher prices for gasoline over a year ago were a large contributor to the July advance.
   Other higher categories were natural gas, hotel and motel accommodations and home replacement costs.
   There were lower prices for video equipment, furniture and internet access while the price for electricity in Ontario had its biggest drop in 14 years after the provincial government capped increases and prices.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

More shelters opened in Montreal for refugees as Canada's copes with influx



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 13/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The sudden influx of refugee-seekers at Canada’s doorstep on the Quebec-New York border has prompted the opening of more shelters in Montreal.
   Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board has established 25 processing tents at the border and arranged to house migrants inside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, a former convent and the old Royal Victoria Hospital.
   The recent surge of asylum-seekers, many of whom are from Haiti and are fleeing from the U.S. over fears of deportation, led to “more aggressive action” to deal with the situation, said Shereen Benzvy Miller, head of the refugee protection division.
   Hundreds of people rallied outside the stadium and shouted “refugees welcome” in Creole.
   “This is a vast, rich country that can welcome many, many people who are in bad situations and can’t stay in their own countries,” organizer Serge Bouchereau said.
   The agency has also dedicated 20 of its members for speedier handling of the arrivals of which there were 1,798 people in the first week of this month at Hemmingford, Quebec.
   Canada Border Services is trying to process the arrivals within a few days to await their claims to be heard by the immigration board as they settle across the country.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Quebec tries to cope with huge influx of Haiti refugees from the U.S.



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 6/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The trickle of asylum seekers pouring across the Canada-U.S. border into Quebec has turned into a flood, leading to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium providing temporary refuge.
   A makeshift reception center has also been established at what was once an unmarked roadside ditch in Hemmingford.
   There has been a surge in the number of people, largely from Haiti, seeking refuge in Canada over fears they will be deported from the U.S.
   Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said 50 people a day were illegally crossing from New York State but the number has surged to 150 daily since mid-July.
   The influx is causing authorities to scramble to provide temporary accommodation as the newcomers await a ruling on their refugee claims.
   Asylum seekers were being bused to the Olympic Stadium that will accommodate as many as 600 people until mid-September.
   “Our government is committed to offering protection for those fleeing war, persecution and natural disasters without compromising the safety and security of Canadians,” said Liberal Member of Parliament Marc Miller.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Canada government pleased the U.S. won't proceed with border tax



   Canada column for Sunday, July 30/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The U.S. government’s decision to drop a proposed border tax has been welcomed by Canada as removing the threat of a trade war.
   The unilateral imposition of a revenue-generating border tax would have been a “very destructive action to take,” said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
   It could have come just as negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement are to begin on Aug. 16.
   The lack of action also reduces pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cut Canada’s corporate tax rate to keep pace with the promised steep reduction in the United States.
   Trudeau expressed satisfaction with the move as U.S. officials said they’re “confident” a tax on imports is no longer needed to pay for broader tax reform.
   The border adjustment tax would have been a “serious impediment to trade with Canada,” he said.
   “There is no economic relationship anywhere in the world like the one between Canada and the United States and that needs to be protected,” Trudeau added.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Canada confident ahead of NAFTA proposed changes by the U.S.



   Canada column for Sunday, July 16/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s leaders feel confident that President Donald Trump won’t be “ripping up” the three-country North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received the assurance from Vice President Mike Pense while attending a meeting of state governors in Rhode Island on Friday.
   “We will modernize NAFTA for the 21st century so that it is a win-win-win for all of our trading partners in North America,” Pence said to applause from Trudeau.
   His remarks came days before the U.S. government plans to issue its thoughts about NAFTA negotiations that are to begin next month.
   In a speech to Pense and the governors, Trudeau urged more trade, not less, saying “we must get this right.”
   “We’re grateful for the prime minister’s leadership and his early outreach to this administration,” Pense said.
   He said the U.S. is “looking forward to bringing NAFTA into the future in a way that will equally benefit both our countries.”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sears Canada wants to cut retiree benefits in bankruptcy restructuring



   Canada column for Sunday, July 9/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Sears Canada, in bankruptcy protection from creditors, wants court approval to cut off benefits for its retired employees.
   The company that has been hammered by online shopping and tough competition is raising “significant doubt” about its future in Canada and seeking a buyer.
   Plans are to cut 2,900 jobs and close 59 of its 225 stores as it restructures and to seek court approval to suspend benefits for its retired employees and special payments to its defined benefit pension plan.
   Sears said in its initial court filings that it planned to suspend life insurance, health and dental benefits to certain employees during the restructuring.
   Now it is asking the Ontario Superior Court to extend court protection from creditors to Oct. 4 as it seeks potential investors and buyers and consults with its landlords, employees, suppliers and creditors.
   The restructuring hasn’t affected monthly pension payments to the retirement plan’s beneficiaries.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Canada parties for the country's 150th birthday



   Canada column for Sunday, July 2/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   As more than a half-million people gathered on Parliament Hill for Canada’s 150th birthday this weekend, greetings have come from south of the border.
   Not in a tweet, but U.S. President Donald Trump issued a statement wishing Canada the best on its big day.
   “The United States cherishes our relationship with Canada,” he said, adding: “Throughout the years, no two countries have formed a bond as unique as ours.”
   Trump noted the relationship as Canada and the United States “have stood together steadfastly in times of peace and war, through prosperity and hardship.”
   As well, he said “we are united by the world's longest border but above all by the shared values we together hold so highly.”
   Security was tight as the country prepared its largest-ever party outside the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.
   Along with the hundreds of thousands of revelers in the capital, Canadians in more than 2,000 communities and around the world were celebrating.

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