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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.


   There was more anarchy in the streets of Montreal early Thursday by students, “hooligans” and others opposed to university tuition-fee hikes.
   Police said 17 people were arrested after windows were smashed and a riot broke out in the 100th nighttime protest march since February.
   Helping to fuel the protest was the decision by Quebec Premier Jean Charest to hold a provincial election on Sept. 4.
   Charest said voters need to decide if they support his government's tuition increase of $1,800 over seven years to $3,800 a year – from the lowest in Canada – and the rule of law.


   News in brief:
   - There’s a proposed class-action lawsuit by more than 200 women against the Mounties. The suit will allege the Royal Canadian Mounted Police “systematically” discriminated and harassed women on the force. “We didn’t join to be harassed and humiliated or be told our career depended on us being ‘friendly’ or having relationships with our supervisors,” former Mountie Valerie MacLean told a court hearing in Vancouver.
   - A piece of Canadian high-technology is going to Mars on Monday to help explore whether there ever was life on the Red Planet. The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer developed by the Canadian Space Agency is fitted on NASA's Curiosity rover. The device will analyze the chemical composition of rocks and soil on Mars.
   - Lowe’s had its$1.8-billion offer rejected to buy Quebec-based Rona home improvement chain. The Canadian retailer with more than 800 outlets said it is not in best interests of its shareholders to sell at it struggles to compete again U.S. arrivals, Lowe’s and Home Depot.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar bounced back to above parity with the U.S. currency on Friday, reaching $1.001 U.S. while the greenback traded for 99.87 cents Canadian.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index down at 11,666 points and the TSX Venture index up slightly at 1,185 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Aug. 1) 1, 14, 17, 29, 36 and 37; bonus 13. (July 28) 6, 10, 22, 30, 35 and 49; bonus 17. Lotto Max: (July 27) 2, 20, 25, 26, 46, 47 and 48; bonus 44.


   Regional briefs:
   - Still smarting after not receiving a majority government in last October’s provincial election, Premier Dalton McGuinty is calling on Ontario voters to make things right. He will be holding by-elections to fill vacancies in Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan with the resignations of Elizabeth Witmer and Greg Sorbara. McGuinty’s Liberals have 52 elected members, one fewer than the combined Conservatives and New Democrats.
   - Two climbers plunged to their deaths while rappelling near Canmore, Alberta. Ranjit Sidhu, 31, and  Jane Vuong, 25, both of Calgary were on a rock face in the Heart Creek area on a single rope. In British Columbia, Ronald Legare, 74, and his wife Jacqueline, 71, of Christina Lake drowned and a tourist from Scotland is missing after being swept downstream on the Kettle River near Grand Forks while tubing.
   - Loretta Yates discovered a real sweet mess when honey started dripping from her kitchen ceiling in Varney, Ontario. A beekeeper found an estimated 180,000 honeybees and a nest of yellow-jacket wasps in the ceiling. Once he is able to drive them away, Yates expects to be left with about 2,000 pounds of honey.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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