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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Canadian interest rates likely to stay put: Bank of Canada report

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 27/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians can expect interest rates to stay where they are – or even be cut further – over the next several years, the Bank of Canada said.
   The comment triggered a sell-off of Canadian dollars that pushed the currency almost two cents U.S. lower than a week ago.
   The bank’s monetary policy report also lowered anticipated economic growth.
   “The statement is making it clear we have balanced the risks,” new bank governor Stephen Poloz said.
   Previous bank statements cautioned consumers about over-borrowing but this time it was suggested there could be cuts to the 1-percent key rate that’s been in place for more than three years.
   Continued weakness in exports with restrained spending on machinery and equipment is a major concern keeping inflation below target.
   The bank cited fiscal turbulence in the U.S. and continued weak global demand that have kept Canada’s exports from rebounding.
   A concern for the government has been the risk of reigniting the housing market through increased borrowing that could cause problems for consumers when interest rates begin rising again.
 (For more Canadian news for the week, click "Read More")

Monday, October 14, 2013

Police investigate more alleged financial irregularities in Senator Mike Duffy case

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 13/13

   By Jim Fox

   The Mounties have disclosed additional alleged financial improprieties against Conservative Senator Mike Duffy.
   The Senate’s “expenses’ scandal” has widened into a police investigation in which authorities want a judge to allow access to the banking records of Duffy, a former national TV news commentator.
   In a court statement, police said they are looking at new allegations of fraud and breach of trust concerning Duffy giving $65,000 in Senate contracts over four years to a friend who did little actual work.
   As well, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff had a “quite detailed” calendar and notes about Duffy’s travel, meetings and activities that weren’t given to investigators, Corporal Greg Horton wrote in a statement for a judge’s review.
   Nigel Wright, now the former chief of staff, gave $90,000 in March to Duffy, appointed by Harper to the non-elected Senate, to repay questionable housing and travel expenses.
   The Senate had initially asked independent auditors to review Duffy's expenses after allegations he was improperly claiming a house in Prince Edward Island as his main residence.
   The Mounties are also seeking bank records for Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau in connection with disallowed housing claims.
(Click on Read more for more Canadian news of the week)

Chocolate lovers can scoop up $50 or more rebate in lawsuit against price-fixing

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 6/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   There is sweet news of a $50 rebate for Canadian chocolate lovers as the result of an industry price-fixing scandal.
   The settlement of a class-action lawsuit that alleged price-fixing by four major manufacturers means there will be payback to consumers.
   While denying the allegations, Cadbury Adams Canada Inc., Hershey Canada Inc., Nestle Canada Inc. and Mars Canada Inc., as well as distributor ITWAL Limited, have agreed to pay $23.2 million in compensation.
   Courts in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have approved a settlement of $50 to anyone who submits a form – even without receipts – declaring they bought any of the companies’ products between Oct. 1, 2005 and Sept. 30, 2007.
   There is a higher payback for consumers who have receipts for more than $1,000 in products, all with a deadline to file of Dec. 15. The form is here: https://claims-chocolateclassaction.com/FileClaim/ConsumerClaim
   In June, Hershey pleaded guilty to fixing the price of chocolate products in Canada and was fined $4 million. Trials are proceeding against the other companies named.
  (Click on Read more for more Canadian news of the week)