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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Canadian politicians feeling confident of U.S. approval for Keystone oil pipeline

   Canada column published on Sunday, Sept. 4/11


   By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is confident the U.S. administration will approve a $7-billion pipeline to supply Texas refineries with crude oil from Canada.
   "I think that we can look forward to eventual approval by the American government," Environment Minister Peter Kent said of the controversial 1,700-mile pipeline.
   While acknowledging concerns of environmental protesters – with hundreds of them arrested outside the White House – Kent said he supports TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.
   An Obama administration report concluded the pipeline, which would supply about 500,000 barrels of oil daily from Alberta’s tar sands, is unlikely to cause significant environmental concerns. It would double the capacity of an existing pipeline from Canada.
   A final decision is expected by the end of the year and the pipeline could be in operation in 2013.
   "The fundamental issue is energy security,” said TransCanada president Russ Girling.
   This will allow the U.S. to “secure access to a stable and reliable supply of oil from Canada where we protect human rights and the environment.”
   The alternative is to “import more higher-priced oil from nations who do not share America's interests or values,” he added.


   The Consumers’ Association of Canada wants the government to increase the amount of duty-free goods day-tripping shoppers can bring back across the border from the U.S.
   Technically, Canadians are required to pay duty or taxes on everything brought back on same-day visits while $50 in goods are duty free after 24 hours, $200 after 48 hours and $750 after seven days away.
   The U.S. government also urged Canada to raise the exemption after its allowance for returning Americans was increased to $200 daily.
   Higher limits would free up customs agents to identify real threats as opposed to taxable whiskey bottles, said former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.


   News in brief:
   - Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he will “act swiftly” on a report that said police were overwhelmed and lost control of a massive drunken crowd that led to the June 15 riot and almost $2 million damage. An independent government review made 53 recommendations including better police training in the aftermath of the riot during Vancouver’s loss in the Stanley Cup hockey final game.
   - It appears that U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is happy to support American and Canadian autoworkers. Her comment that she is proud to drive a Chevrolet Equinox to support U.S. workers sort of backfired. It turns out the Equinox is built in Canada at plants in Ingersoll and Oshawa, Ontario but her department later said 66 percent of its parts come from the USA.
   - Blockbuster video is fading to black and closing its remaining 253 stores across Canada. The company said no suitable buyer could be found as the business has been hit hard by online movie services. The same day YouTube said it would be expanding its movie-streaming service to Canada.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at $1.0157 U.S. while the U.S. greenback is worth 98.45 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.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto Stock Exchange at 12,586 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,807 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 11, 16, 25, 35, 38 and 41; bonus 37. (Aug. 27) 11, 14, 19, 20, 21 and 47; bonus 45. Lotto Max: (Aug. 26) 6, 11, 12, 14, 35, 43 and 44; bonus 42.


   Regional briefs:
   - The dying remnants of Hurricane Irene hit Eastern Canada with drenching rainfall and high winds, resulting in two deaths. About 250,000 customers were without power in Quebec after 70 mph winds whipped through the province. It also cut power to about 50,000 customers in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
   - There will be no fall election in British Columbia as Premier Christy Clark said the government will stick to the fixed date of May 14, 2013. Before voters recently rejected her government’s imposed Harmonized Sales Tax, there was speculation she would seek a mandate. Clark became premier last March after Liberal premier Gordon Campbell resigned, largely because of the new combined provincial and federal sales tax.
   - Quebec’s “language police” are back to boost the visibility of French on commercial signs. Years after seeking to ban English from storefront windows, the government inspectors will target large global corporations with the “anglophone” names. The concern is to prevent the undermining Quebec’s status as a francophone society.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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