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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Canada's dollar bills going synthetic; government acting to end postal strike/lockout

   Canada column for Sunday, June 26/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s colorful folding currency is going polymer.
   The switch to “plastic-like” dollar bills starts with $100 notes in November, 50s by next March and 20s, 10s and 5s by the end of 2013. (Canada replaced its $1 and $2 bills with coins earlier.)
   The new notes probably won’t light cigars as easily as the paper ones, are more durable and laundry-friendly, and paying with plastic will take on a whole new meaning.
   The Bank of Canada expects the new smooth-feeling bills will last 2 1/2 times longer than the current paper and cotton notes.
   It should also thwart counterfeiters, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said, adding “there’s simply no other currency” like these synthetic bills.

   Security measures include raised ink, hidden numbers and metallic images in see-through windows.
   The new 100s have two portraits of former prime minister Robert Borden and an image of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill on the front.
   The reverse shows a researcher at a microscope, a DNA strand, electrocardiogram and a bottle of insulin with the words "medical innovation."
  There’s an image of the research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen and a map of Canada’s North on the new 50s.


   A marathon around-the-clock filibuster has Canada’s politicians debating the passing of a bill to order an end to the national postal workers strike.
   The Conservative government said it is willing to continue as long as it takes while the opposition New Democratic Party said it is against an order to resolve the issue with binding arbitration.
   “We will sit here as long as we need to sit here,” because the bill is necessary as the job action is damaging the economy, Labor Minister Lisa Raitt said.
   The government agency and Canadian Union of Postal Workers continue to be unable to reach a settlement.
   Canada Post locked out the 48,000 workers on June 14 after 12 days of rotating strikes.


   Business briefs:
   - As Target plans to move into Canada with 100 stores in 2013, a judge has refused its bid for a temporary injunction over use of its name. Judge Leonard Mandamin refused to block Canada's Fairweather women’s fashion chain from using the name Target Apparel as it has for a decade. Target failed to prove “it will incur irreparable harm” if Fairweather continues with its apparel name for now, the judge said.
   - Calvin McDonald, formerly of Loblaw, Canada’s largest food retailer, is the new boss of Sears Canada. The retailer faces competition over plans by Nordstrom and Target stores to come to Canada. He replaces ceo Dene Rogers after Sears reported a $49.5-million loss in the first quarter, blamed on cool and wet spring weather.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is lower at $1.0128 in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback is worth 98.74 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Canadian stock markets are higher with the Toronto exchange index at 12,936 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 1,906 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 5, 7, 16, 27, 37 and 49; bonus 25. (June 18) 4, 9, 14, 21, 34 and 45; bonus 25. Lotto Max: (June 17) 2, 7, 14, 16, 22, 27 and 47; bonus 25.


   Regional briefs:
   - As Vancouver residents turn in family members and friends shown in videos from the riot after the hockey’s Stanley Cup final game, an independent review has been launched. The British Columbia government wants to know what led to the violence and whether recommendations after a similar riot in 1994 were heeded. So far more than 120 arrests have been made after cars were set on fire, stores looted and people beaten by rioters.
   - An investigation into violence in Toronto last summer during the G20 summit of world leaders found police were "not properly trained or equipped.” Organized protesters caused “levels of violence we had never seen before in Toronto,” Police Chief Bill Blair said. People came to “infiltrate lawful, peaceful protests and use them as cover to commit vandalism and violence,” he said. There were 1,118 arrests and 97 officers and 39 people were injured.
   - More flood waters are heading north from North Dakota toward Manitoba communities along the Souris River, including Melita, Souris and Wawanesa. The towns are boosting their defenses for the biggest flood crests of the year.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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