Canada column for Sunday, March 30/14
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Canadian retailers are concerned that customs agents routinely waive taxes and duties on goods brought back from the United States.
A briefing note prepared for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada Border Services Agency officers waive fees when the value of returning goods is “below a certain threshold” not noted in the released document.
“This threshold was established in consideration of the cost to CBSA of processing a traveler through the collection process,” it said.
“Collections may also be waived in cases where the volume would result in unacceptable border processing delays, when interdiction activities are under way or for reasons determined by local management.”
The government document was in response to the Harper government’s concern over the Canada-U.S. price-gap that helps to encourage cross-border shopping
The Retail Council of Canada has complained the border agency is too lenient with cross-border shoppers, costing the economy millions of dollars in domestic sales.
More than 55-million trips are made by Canadians to the United States annually with 33- million same-day crossings mainly to shop, with collected taxes and duties of about $150 million.
Canadians have no duty-free exemption on same-day trips but can bring back up to $200 in goods after 24 hours and $800 after 48 hours away.
Russian authorities have responded to Canadian sanctions over the events in Ukraine by barring a group of lawmakers and officials from visiting.
The 13 Canadians included House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer and government house leader Peter Van Loan.
This was in response to Canadian travel bans and economic sanctions imposed on Russian officials.
“It is unacceptable action . . . that has inflicted serious damage to bilateral relations," Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.
On a European trip, Prime Minister Harper reminded German leaders of the danger posed by a leader who brazenly seized territory from a neighbor.
“As unfortunate as it sounds, it’s increasingly apparent to me that the Cold War has never left (Russian Premier) Vladimir Putin’s mind,” Harper said.
News in brief:
- Polls suggest the Liberals could win a majority government over separatist concerns in Quebec’s April 7 provincial election. The Leger poll showed 40 percent of respondents support Philippe Couillard’s Liberals, with 33 percent favoring the independence-minded former Parti Quebecois government of Premier Pauline Marois. “We are a free people, we are a happy people . . . and I see no reason to deprive Quebec of Canadian citizenship,” Couillard said.
- Cargo is again moving through the port at Vancouver after a deal was reached to end a strike by container truck drivers. The dispute left hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo stranded when 1,000 non-unionized drivers went on strike in February and were joined by 250 unionized truckers on March 10.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has advanced to 90.32 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1071 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,292 points and the TSX Venture index 990 points.
The average price of a liter of gasoline across Canada is down slightly at $1.3197 (Canadian).
Lotto 6-49: (March 26) 2, 18, 35, 42, 45 and 47; bonus 43. (March 22) 3, 6, 12, 14, 25 and 28; bonus 36. Lotto Max: (March 21) 1, 2, 4, 21, 23, 35 and 40; bonus 5.
- Residents of Atlantic Canada are digging out again as a spring snowstorm dumped up to two feet (60 centimeters) of snow. Power was cut to thousands of customers after high winds pulled down lines across the Maritimes, with 16,000 Nova Scotians in the dark at one point. Snow also closed the Trans-Canada Highway between Truro and Amherst for much of the day on Thursday.
- A gaggle of geese and swans in Stratford, Ontario have to wait longer for their spring to begin. The annual march through the city streets of the swans and geese from their winter quarters to the still ice-clogged Avon River has been put over by one week until April 13. The festivities “have been challenged this year with unrelenting winter weather,” said Cathy Rehberg of the Stratford Tourism Alliance.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com