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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Unused money held by corporations should be used to boost economy: Bank of Canada governor

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 26/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   There’s too much “dead money” in Canada that should be working to improve the economy, the head of the country’s central bank says.
   Company owners are sitting on piles of cash that could be spent on expanding businesses or at least be given back to shareholders, said Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney.
   Speaking at a Canadian Auto Workers meeting, Carney said the level of caution by business owners “could be viewed as excessive.”
   A study said Canadian businesses have set aside $526 billion in unused cash assets.
   Business investment and consumer spending provide the “chief support” for the continuing economic recovery, he said.
   Ongoing international concerns have led to a “less robust” business investment than what was previously expected, causing some of the caution.
   Auto workers’ president Ken Lewenza called for some of that unused money to be reinvested into technology, the workplace, productivity and training.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cross-border battle escalating over Canadian shoppers in Bellingham, Washington

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 19/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   A cross-border battle has broken out as many residents of Bellingham, Wash. are fed up with hordes of shoppers invading from Canada.
   Thousands of people have supported a Facebook page urging the Costco store in Bellingham, 30 miles south of British Columbia, to ban Canadian shoppers during specific American-only hours.
   “Bellingham Costco needs a special time just for Americans," residents say.
   Spurred by lower prices and taxes, Canadians are scooping up the bargains – in particular a gallon of milk at half the price, cheese and gasoline selling for one-third less.
   Numerous Canadians interviewed said they buy 15 to 20 gallons of milk at a time and fill up their cars and cans with gas before returning home.
   Bellingham relies on its Canadian visitors and shoppers, said Chamber of Commerce president Ken Oplinger.
   “In the last two years, our sales tax generation has doubled or tripled the pace in the rest of the state and its almost entirely because of the Canadians coming south,” he said.
   Just down the road in Burlington, Wash., Mayor Steve Sexton says Canadians and their money are welcome there.
   “We appreciate you and look forward to serving you,” he said on the Facebook page called “Burlington Washington Welcomes Our Canadian Friends and Neighbors.”

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Environmental science to determine fate of proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline plan: Harper

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 12/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Science, not politics, will decide the fate of a proposed $6-billion twin pipeline to deliver oil to a British Columbia port for shipment to Asia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.
   Canada is looking to supply China and Asian countries with some its vast oil reserves now that the U.S. administration has rejected a proposed pipeline to move Alberta crude to Texas refineries.
   The Northern Gateway project would have two pipelines transport Alberta oil sands bitumen about 700 miles to a tanker terminal on the west coast near Kitimat.
   Scientific environmental reviews are underway with a deadline of Dec. 31 next year for the assessment to be complete.
   The pipeline is “obviously in the vital interests of Canada,” Harper said.
   The future is “going to be based on commerce with the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.
   Environmentalists and aboriginal groups are opposed to the plan while British Columbia Premier Christy Clark wants strict environmental protections and a greater share of royalties for the province.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No further duty-free shopping breaks for same-day trips

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 5/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians should expect no further duty-free breaks for shopping trips to the United States, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says.
   The Canadian government has rejected a request from New York State Democratic Congressman Bill Owens seeking the duty exemption rules be made the same as for Americans shopping in Canada on same-day trips.
   Many Canadians make a run to the border in search of lower prices, a larger selection of goods and to pay only about half the sales taxes as at home.
   Duty-free exemptions for Canadians returning with goods were eased in June but not for same-day trips.
   “Our government has no plans to create an exemption for day trips under 24 hours as it would disadvantage retailers in border communities and elsewhere in Canada," Flaherty told Owens.
   U.S. residents can return home with $200 in duty-free goods for same-day trips.
   Canadian shoppers can now bring back $200 in goods after 24 to 48 hours and $800 for longer trips before duties apply.