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Sunday, June 17, 2012

European debt-ridden countries can learn from Canada: Prime Minister Stephen Harper

   Canada column for Sunday, June 17/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   European countries need to adopt the “Canadian approach” in dealing with looming political and economic turmoil, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
   That’s the message Harper is taking to world leaders at the G20 economic summit in Los Cabos, Mexico on Monday and Tuesday.
   Should Greek voters reject tough austerity measures set out in a financial rescue plan in a government election on Sunday, the stage could be set for the country’s exit from the bloc of nations using the euro currency.
   Canada’s message is that “economic growth and fiscal discipline are not mutually exclusive, they go hand in hand,” Harper said.
   The government is suggesting Canadians didn’t experience a financial, banking or a real estate meltdown as in other countries due to its “strong record” of fiscal discipline.
   That allowed Canada to “quickly put in place extensive, effective stimulus measures when they counted the most,” Harper said.
   “We had budget surpluses and a low and falling debt burden when the crisis hit,” he said, adding: “It is one reason we have weathered the economic crisis so much better than many others.”


   Canadian politicians endured a non-stop 22-hour voting binge as the opposition parties forced consideration of 871 amendments in a budget bill.
   The political manoeuver was aimed at thwarting and making the public aware of the Conservative government’s massive omnibus bill. No amendments were passed.
   Called the “Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act,” the bill includes a maze of changes to statutes, ranging from employment insurance and public pensions to environmental assessments, border security and spy agency oversight.
   The opposition said such massive bills are an abuse of Parliament while Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the 400-page document is “responsible, necessary and will make Canada’s economy stronger.”


   News in brief:
   - Three employees of an armored-car company were shot and killed and another seriously wounded after a late-night Friday robbery at banking machines at Edmonton's University of Alberta. The incident happened at the Hub Mall, a combined shopping area and student residence. No arrests have been made.
   - A major police presence prevented university students and “anti-capitalist” protesters from disrupting the Grand Prix car race last Sunday in Montreal. Police prevented protesters from disrupting the subway line leading to the race site. There were 34 people arrested and police removed dozens more from the area. Students have been protesting for four months over planned tuition-fee increases.
   - A second gang member has died after a shooting two weeks ago in a crowded food court at Toronto's Eaton Center. The 22-year-old man, whose name can’t be released due to a court order, died of injuries while Ahmed Hassan, 24, died at the scene. Six people were injured, including a young boy who was shot in the head. Christopher Husbands, 23, will stand trial for murder and attempted murder.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar advanced to 97.70 cents in U.S. funds on Friday while the U.S. dollar was worth $1.0235 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 lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,529 points and the TSX Venture index 1,252 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (June 13) 7, 11, 15, 22, 37 and 44; bonus 16. (June 9) 8, 18, 29, 37, 38 and 44; bonus 48. Lotto Max: (June 8) 9, 10, 16, 24, 26, 44 and 48; bonus 27.


   Regional briefs:
   - Ontario residents could be voting again in a provincial election only nine months after the last election, if the opposition parties don’t cooperate, Premier Dalton McGuinty warned. The New Democrats and Conservatives threaten to defeat the minority Liberal government on a budget bill. McGuinty said the two parties must support the bill or he will call a “snap election” for next month.
   - The British Columbia government believes its tough drunk-driving laws have saved 71 lives over five years. The amended law is now in place allowing drivers to take a second breathalyzer test and they can challenge the reliability of the machines. A judge ruled last year sections of the law allowing just one test were unconstitutional.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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