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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

More new Canadians get citizenship in 2014 -- more than any year in Canada's history.

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 28/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s diverse multi-cultural mix added a record number of new citizens this year.
   More than 260,000 people became Canadians during 2014 – more than in any year in Canada’s history and more than double the number last year.
   With these new citizens “embracing Canadian values and traditions, we are fulfilling our commitment to reducing backlogs and improving processing times,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.
   Recent changes to the Citizenship Act streamlined the application process, he said.
   Since that time, more than 115,000 people have become Canadian citizens, a 90-percent increase from the same period in 2013.
   As well, the citizenship application backlog has been reduced by 17 percent since June to its lowest level in almost three years, Alexander said.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Canadian tourists could feel price, crowd impact from U.S. plans for Cuban ties

   ** Merry Christmas **

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 21/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Plans by the United States government to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba could have a major impact for Canadian tourists.
   More than one-million Canadians visit the tropical island nation each year to enjoy a relatively inexpensive getaway but that could change once the U.S. lifts a 53-year-old travel ban for Americans.
   There would be a “tsunami of curiosity tourism” that would likely cause prices to rise substantially, possibly “squeezing Canadian tourists,” said economics Professor Arch Ritter of Carleton University.
   Other experts agree that Cuba will need a massive investment in infrastructure for hotels and cruise-ship docks to accommodate a new influx of tourists.
   In recent years, Canadian tourism companies have assisted many Americans wanting to visit Cuba by booking trips via Canada.
   When President Barack Obama announced the agreement reached with Cuban officials, it was learned that Canada played a central part in hosting the breakthrough diplomatic talks.
   U.S. officials said Canada was “indispensable” in hosting the majority of the secret talks that took place for more than a year.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Canada wants to "name and shame" price-gouging businesses, manufacturers

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 14/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government wants to “name and shame” businesses and manufacturers who routinely charge higher prices for goods sold in Canada.
   It’s part of the Price Transparency Act but it is not intended to set or regulate prices, said Industry Minister James Moore.
   The act is the result of a Senate investigation into a persistent price gap on items sold in the United States and Canada.
   It found that Canadians pay between 10 and 25 percent more than prices charged in the U.S. for such things as cars, tires, television sets, books, magazines and many other products.
   The act would empower the Competition Commissioner to “do substantive investigations and to expose price gouging against Canadian consumers,” Moore said.
   The Senate’s investigation listed numerous reasons for higher prices including tariffs as well as the “country-pricing” practice of some major companies to charge more to Canadian retailers than those in the U.S. for the same products.
   The legislation should lead to “immediate downward pressure on prices,” Moore said.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Plans have Alberta oilsands crude on the move across Canada and the world

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 7/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Plans are advancing for a $12-billion Energy East pipeline that would carry Alberta oilsands crude to export terminals and refineries in New Brunswick.
   Once it reaches Canada’s east coast, the oil would be shipped to the United States, Europe, China and India by cargo ships.
   It’s one of three major – but controversial – oil pipeline projects involving the export of Canada’s vast supply of crude oil and concerns over environmental impacts.
   The others are the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, still seeking U.S. approval, and the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to British Columbia ports from Alberta.
   Alberta Premier Jim Prentice has been meeting with provincial premiers seeking their support and approval for the Energy East plan.
   TransCanada wants to use a repurposed gas pipeline to carry crude oil two-thirds of the way across the country and build an extension that would lead to Saint John, New Brunswick.
   Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called it a project “of national importance . . . and a nation-building exercise.”
   The project must also be approved by the National Energy Board.