Greetings to thousands of readers the past month from the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Germany, France, Japan and Latvia.

Total Pageviews

Sunday, April 27, 2014

European leaders eye Canada's oil and gas reserves as U.S. pipeline plan approval stalls

   Canada column for Sunday, April 27/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Tapping into Canada’s vast oil and gas reserves has become an attractive proposition for European leaders as a decision on a proposed pipeline to ship crude to U.S. refineries remains stalled.
   Marcin Bosacki, Poland's ambassador to Canada, said his country is in favor of importing Canadian oil and gas, given the turmoil with the Russian invasion of Crimea.
   “We are absolutely in favor of increasing the abilities of western Canada oil and gas to be exported to Europe,” he told Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird who is visiting the country.
   Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said the European Union should become less dependent on Russian energy sources.
   “The crisis in Eastern Europe underlines the importance of moving ahead responsibly on the export of our oil and natural gas,” Baird’s press secretary Adam Hodge said.
   “Canada is one of the only countries with substantial energy reserves that offers an open and transparent market and the backing of a stable democracy that respects the rule of law,” he said.
   Meanwhile, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the U.S. administration’s further indefinite delay of the proposed $5.4-billion oil pipeline to tap into Canada’s crude oil hurts employment and energy security on both sides of the border.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Further interest-rate cuts possible: Bank of Canada governor says

   Canada column for Sunday, April 20/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Bank of Canada’s governor said a further interest-rate reduction is possible as he pared back the country’s first-quarter economic growth estimate.
   “We are neutral – that means a rate cut cannot be taken off the table at this stage,” Stephen Poloz said.
   His comments came as the central bank kept its trendsetting interest rate at 1 percent, where it has been since September 2010.
   Economic growth will slip to 1.5 percent, down one percent, for the first quarter largely because severe winter weather kept shoppers home. Full-year economic growth was revised to 2.3 percent, down 0.2 percent.
   The somewhat negative comments caused the dollar to fall, giving another boost to the economy by making Canadian goods less expensive in the U.S. and abroad.
   Exports could be harmed, however, due to the Russian situation with Ukraine, Poloz said.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Tributes on the death of Jim Flaherty, former finance minister

   Canada column for Sunday, April 13/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Tributes are pouring in from around the world after the sudden death of former Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty.
   Flaherty, who was 64, died at his Ottawa condominium Thursday of a heart attack just three weeks after he resigned from his cabinet position.
   Known for his “Irish wit” and friendliness, he continued as a Member of Parliament while preparing to take some time off and find a job outside of government.
   His family had urged him to take a break from his hectic lifestyle and to help restore his health.
   Flaherty had been battling a painful skin condition, bullous pemphigoid that required him to take a steroid medication resulting in weight gain and fatigue.
   Credited with leading Canada relatively unscathed through one of its worst economic times, he had set the stage for a return of a budget surplus in the next year.
   He was married to Christine Elliott, deputy leader of the Ontario Conservatives, and they have triplet sons John, Galen and Quinn.
   The G20 finance ministers and central bankers noted his “refreshing honesty and good humor.”
   “His hard work and leadership were instrumental in helping to shape the recovery and in charting Canada’s path back to surplus,” the group said in a statement.
   Calling it a “very sad day,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the death is “an unexpected and terrible shock.”


Monday, April 7, 2014

Letter mailing cost soars as post office says it's a "case of necessity"

   Canada column for Sunday, April 6/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The cost of mailing a letter within Canada has jumped by 35 percent – to 85 cents from 63 cents.
   The new rate is part of a “tiered-pricing structure” implemented by Canada Post, with a single stamp costing $1, or 85 cents if bought in booklets of 10.
   Mailing a letter to the United States from Canada now costs $1.20, up from $1.10, and internationally it is $2.50, up from $1.85.
   Canada Post said the higher prices “better reflect the cost of serving various customer segments as bulk mailers and businesses pay less.
   Calling it a “difficult decision, but also a case of necessity,” Canada Post said it has a mandate to “fund its operations with revenues from the sales of its products and services.”
   It’s part of an “overall plan to save postal services” and includes ending door-to-door delivery to urban addresses within five years, as announced earlier.
   Mail will be delivered to neighborhood group boxes for pickup with many now in new subdivisions.