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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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Canada's businesses get tax break; personal taxpayers pay more for jobless and pension benefits in the New Year

   Canada column published on Sunday, Jan. 1/12

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadian businesses are getting a New Year’s bonus from the government while taxpayers will be paying more.
   Corporate tax rates are being lowered to 15 percent from 16.5 percent effective today in a bid to stimulate new investment and create jobs, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.
   The federal government is, however, increasing the amount deducted from personal paychecks for Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions.
   The increases to pay for jobless benefits and pensions result in a combined total of $306 a year more in payroll taxes. Employers will also pay more for their share for their employees.
   In order to head off a depletion of funds in the Employment Insurance program, a government-appointed committee had recommended an even higher rate increase.
   As well, the government is moving ahead with a plan to cut spending by $4 billion over the next several years to tackle the spending deficit now at $31 billion in the current year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Canadian government nixes Kyoto Protocol to avoid penalties

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 18/11

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s Conservative government has pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s binding climate treaty, to avoid paying $14 billion in penalties.
   Environment Minister Peter Kent said the penalties for Canada not achieving its targets would cost thousands of jobs with no impact on emissions or the environment.
   Instead, Canada is looking for a new global deal to force all countries to lower greenhouse-gas emissions.
   The announcement by Kent to invoke Canada’s “legal right” to withdraw came after his return from United Nations climate talks in South Africa.
   The talks resulted in an agreement to establish a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2015.
   Russia and Japan also refused to continue with the protocol while Kent said he expected others to also withdraw.
   Environmental groups and opposition politicians condemned Canada’s action on Kyoto signed in in the late 1990s by a former Liberal government.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beyond the Border to ease crossing into Canada and the U.S.

   Canada column published on Sunday, Dec. 11/11

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The historic border security and trade agreement for Canada and the United States is intended to ease the movement of people and goods between the two countries.
   Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Beyond the Border measures “represent the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since the North American Free Trade Agreement."
   After their meeting in Washington, President Barack Obama encouraged more Canadians to come to the U.S. as “they spend more money in America than any other visitors.”
   The key goal is to streamline the process of crossing the border through improved screening and security procedures.
   Included will be an entry-exit information-sharing system at land borders to improve the ability to track people who are in Canada illegally or who overstay their visa.
   Critics of the deal suggest Canadians might be giving up too much personal information that will be shared by both countries.
   Some 300,000 people a day cross the border and trade between the two countries amounts to more than $1 billion daily.
   Canadians stayed 47.4-million nights in Florida alone in 2009 and it was suggested they obtain NEXUS passes for “trusted travelers” to ease crossing the border.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Canadians feel safe from crime while government plans to toughen sentences for criminals

   Canada column published on Sunday, Dec. 4/11

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   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   By Jim Fox

   Most Canadians feel safe from crime even as the government prepares to get tougher with criminals.
   Statistics Canada found 93percent of those surveyed felt satisfied with their personal safety, including walking alone at night and being home alone.
   While crime rates overall have been falling for the past decade, a major concern is a rise in youth crime.
   Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government plans to lengthen prison terms and eliminate the deals for time served awaiting trial.
   Westerners were a little more concerned with safety, with British Columbia residents saying they were 89-percent satisfied while those in Prince Edward Island were rated most satisfied at 97 percent.
   Lowest levels of satisfaction were in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Edmonton while the highest were Moncton, New Brunswick, and Kingston, Guelph and Oshawa, Ontario.