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Sunday, November 27, 2011

World economic ills aren't discouraging Canadian shoppers for holidays as spending remains strong: survey

   Canada column published on Sunday, Nov. 27/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   The world economic upheaval won’t be the Grinch that steals all of Christmas for Canadians as consumer confidence has turned positive.
   Economic uncertainty elsewhere “is not doing any more major damage to confidence” of Canadians, said Norman Baillie-David of TNS Canada.
   The marketing and social research firm’s much-watched confidence index rose last month after six months of declines but it’s “not a good news story, at least yet,” he added.
   While Canadians indicated that many aren’t ready to make major financial outlays right now, such as buying a car or major appliance, Christmas spending won’t be all that stifled.
   The survey found 59 percent plan to spend about the same as before while those who are cutting back the most are 25 percent of those who spend the most – more than $2,000.
   On average, Canadians will spend $776 this year for holiday gifts, down from $812 last year.
   This indicates that Canadians are saying “things are maybe going crazy everywhere else but my own situation right now is still not that bad,” Baillie-David said.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Canada offers oil to Asia after U.S. pipeline decision delay

   Canada column published on Sunday, Nov. 20/11


   By Jim Fox

   Canada is looking to sell its oil and natural gas in Asia after the U.S. administration delayed a decision on a controversial $7-billion pipeline project.
   Approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline to transport Canadian crude to refineries in Texas from Alberta’s oilsands was a “no brainer,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said earlier.
   He even predicted it would be approved by the end of the year and construction would begin soon afterwards.
   After all, it would have created thousands of jobs in the U.S. and provided a major source of oil to its neighbor and largest trading partner to help ease dependence on crude from non-friendly Middle East nations, he reasoned.
   Harper expressed Canada’s disappointment in a meeting last week in Hawaii with President Barack Obama after the U.S. State Department asked for a different route through Nebraska and a further environmental assessment.
   “This highlights why Canada must increase its efforts to make sure it can supply its energy outside of the United States and into Asia in particular," Harper said.
   Chinese President Hu Jintao said he approves of Canada’s bid to reach out and invited Harper to visit to discuss a potential deal.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy groups to be told to move on

   Canada column published on Sunday, Nov. 13/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   They’ve made their point and now it’s time to move on, Occupy groups camped out in parks and public areas across Canada are being told.
   After weeks of protests against “corporate greed and economic inequity,” tensions are growing and police are being asked to take action.
   There are mounting concerns over safety, highlighted by the drug overdose death of a 23-year-old woman in a tent at the Vancouver protest and open fires.
   With colder weather arriving, protesters are erecting more permanent shelters and using campfires to stay warm in violation of city laws.
   Montreal officials refused to allow protesters to build makeshift wooden cabins but they say they’ll do it anyway.
   Toronto residents have “had enough” of the protesters camping in a downtown park and it’s time for them to go, Mayor Rob Ford said.
   Eviction notices are planned against the squatters in Victoria, Calgary, Regina and Edmonton while police removed the tents in London, Ontario and Halifax protesters left on their own.
   After a scuffle with firefighters over “ceremonial” fires set by a native group, Vancouver protesters were told by the police to pack up but they are asking the British Columbia Supreme Court to allow them to stay.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Canadians might always pay more than Americans: study

   Canada column published on Sunday, Nov. 6/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians have always paid more than Americans for most goods and services and the price “wedge” between the two countries might always be there.
   Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney made that prediction, saying even with efforts to create a uniform North American market with identical tariffs and regulations won’t fully close the gap.
   While the Canadian dollar has been worth more than the U.S. currency for most of this year, shoppers paid an average of 11 percent more than Americans for the same goods in September, he said.
   Testifying before a Senate committee looking into the price gap, Carney said the difference is down from 18 percent in April.

Canadian government aims to shoot down long-gun registry

   Canada column published on Sunday, Oct. 30/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is taking aim at the “costly and ineffective” long-gun registry.
   “We don’t want laws that target law-abiding citizens, hunters and sports shooters,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said while announcing a bill to abolish the list.
   The Conservative government has never been in favor of the registry of owners of rifles and shotguns started by a previous Liberal government and plans to destroy the seven-million files.
   With more than $1 billion spent to establish and maintain the registry, the government believes it has done little to fight crime and the money would have been better used to hire more police officers.