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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Deaths of billionaire Barry and Honey Sherman considered "suspicious"

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 17/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Police say the deaths of the billionaire founder of Canadian generic drug firm Apotex and his wife are “suspicious.”
   The bodies of the philanthropist couple Barry and Honey Sherman were found about noon on Friday in their home in Toronto’s North York.
   Barry Sherman’s net worth was estimated at $4.77 billion, making him the 15th richest person in the country and he had recently put the house up for sale, asking $6.9 million.
   Constable David Hopkinson said police were called in response to a “medical complaint” and autopsies this weekend will determine the cause of death.
   Barry Sherman founded Toronto-based Apotex Inc. in 1974 and turned it into the largest Canadian-owned pharmaceutical company, producing more than 300 generic drugs and employing 10,000 people.
   The company has manufacturing and research facilities in the Toronto area and Winnipeg, and fills 89-million prescriptions a year, exporting to 115 countries.
   Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the Shermans were “generous philanthropists, kind and compassionate individuals, devoted to their family, their friends, their community, this province and this country.”

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bank of Canada keeps interest rate steady; dollar drops against U.S. currency

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 10/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   For people with money in the bank or invested, Canada’s central bank decision to keep interest rates steady wasn’t encouraging.
   However, for those with loans and mortgages, fees will remain unchanged as the Bank of Canada opted not to raise its trendsetting “overnight” rate for the third time this year.
   So, the rate will stay at 1 percent and the commercial bank prime lending rate at 3.2 percent for now.
   “The current stance of monetary policy is appropriate,” the bank said, adding that it will be “cautious in making future adjustments to the policy rate” with less monetary policy stimulus required over time.
   The bank raised its rate by 0.25 percent in July and that amount again last month after no movement in the previous two years.
   A surprise for economists was the Canadian dollar losing about one cent against the U.S. currency to 78.15 cents after the bank failed to increase rates.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Canadians should anticipate a "stormy winter" or a not-so-bad one

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 3/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s official weather prognosticators might have to rely on groundhog Wiarton Willie to get an accurate picture of what’s in store this winter.
   The Weather Network is expecting a “stormy winter,” while government-run Environment Canada doesn’t expect the “classic” Canadian winter of years ago.
   Chris Scott, Weather Network chief meteorologist, predicts wintry conditions from the weather system La Nina producing cooler waters off South America.
   The system resembles that from 10 years ago when Toronto had its snowiest winter ever, he said.
   Global warming and climate change have “tempered” La Nina and made it “not as brutal” as before, said Dave Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada.
   The agency predicts a milder-than-normal winter in the Great Lakes region and eastern Canada while colder in the west.
   The Weather Network calls for big snow this month in the eastern half of Canada, where there has been little so far, with winter to be delayed until January out west.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Canadian politician wants gas prices regulated to avoid "getting gouged"

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 26/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   An Ontario politician wants the provincial government to regulate gas prices so that drivers won’t be “getting gouged at the pumps.”
   New Democrat Gilles Bisson’s “private member’s bill” calls for the Ontario Energy Board to set the retail price of gas and the wholesale markup of petroleum products.
   People are frustrated by fluctuating gas prices in different regions and from day to day, he said.
   Prices often jump overnight and can have a wide spread between southern Ontario and the north with higher transportation costs.
   Liberal government Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, who doesn’t plan to support Bisson’s bill, said it would “hurt consumers” across the province.
   He noted a study by the board found gas costs were often higher in areas, such as Newfoundland, with regulated the prices as retailers merely set their prices at the allowed maximum.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Keystone pipeline springs a 210,000-gallon leak; bad news for TransCanada Corp.

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 19/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   It couldn’t have come at a worse time as the original Keystone pipeline sprung a big leak in the United States.
   TransCanada Corp. said the Keystone pipeline leaked about 210,000 gallons of oil near Amherst, South Dakota.
   The incident happened just days before the Nebraska Public Service Commission is to decide the fate of an $8-billion plan to expand the pipeline network.
   The cause of the spill is not known but it is something that environmentalists have warned could happen and they continue to oppose the plans.
   TransCanada wants to route the pipeline more directly from Alberta into Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska to connect with existing lines to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
   Nebraska’s commissioners are to vote on the project Monday as the last major regulatory hurdle since President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead to the pipeline that was rejected by then-President Barack Obama.
   A cleanup is under way and the pipeline has been closed for repairs.
   “This is exactly the kind of disaster we can expect more of if Keystone XL is approved,” said the environmental group 350.org.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Canadians are 'on the road again' heading for their place in the sun in Florida

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 12/17


“Along Interstate 75,” an exit-by-exit guide to driving to Florida from Canada and return.


  (c) By Jim Fox

   Get your motor runnin' and head out on the highway.
   That refrain by Steppenwolf is a common one for thousands of Canadians who are doing that en route to their winter playground in the Florida sun.
   The annual migration of the so-called “snowbirds” to the warmer environs of the “Sunshine State” is well under way.
   Writer Dave Hunter is the authority on the I-75 expressway to the sun with an internet-updated printed guidebook for the 958 miles to Florida from Windsor-Detroit.
   Hunter and wife Kathy, who split their time between Mississauga, Ontario and Lakeland, Florida have written the book on travel to Florida.
   They have been making this trek for 48 years and writing about it the past 24 years in their “Along I-75” guidebook and companion publication, “Along Florida’s Expressways.”
   Each page is packed with helpful information, covering 25 miles or 30 minutes of driving, reporting on road conditions, construction zones and more.
   There are 3,000 listings of what is within a mile of each exit including gas stations, restaurants and lodging. Details: i75online.com


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Florida's "love affair" with Canadian visitors; Governor announces discount deals

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 5/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   While expressing his “love” for Canadians, Florida Governor Rick Scott was in Toronto to launch a discount program for visitors from the north.
   The new Canadian Power Play Program features 20-percent discounts on airfare, rental cars and lodging to counter the colorful currency’s recent weakness.
   This will “help even out the dollar value,” Scott said at a news conference at Union Station.
   “We love Canadians – you’re a big part of our state and our biggest group of international travelers,” he said.
   The governor stressed that Canadians are “so important to Florida’s tourism industry and the 1.4-million jobs it supports for families.”
   There were 3.3-million Canadians visiting Florida last year, accounting for 23 percent of the state’s international visitors and they spent $3.6 billion.
   “We are doubling down on our efforts to bring more Canadians to the Sunshine State with our new Canadian Power Play Program,” said Ken Lawson, Visit Florida president and ceo.
   Twenty-six Florida businesses and tourism partners including Air Canada are participating in the program, with details at LoveFlorida.ca