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Friday, December 19, 2014

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



   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 14/14

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (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.

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   Canada is being directly requested to respond to a United Nations’ global call for help in resettling more than 100,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years.
   This is an opportunity for Canada that has “a leading role in global refugee protection to really show its strength,” said the UN’s Furio De Angelis.
   Last year, Canada agreed to take in 1,300 of the most-vulnerable people from refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
   It is estimated that 3.8-million people have become refugees as a result of the civil war in Syria since 2011.
   Selcuk Unal, the new Turkish ambassador to Canada, has been lobbying the Canadian government to take on a larger role as well as there are more than 1-million Syrian refugees in his country.

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    News in brief:
   - A request for an emergency debate on whether job cuts at the Veteran Affairs department are hampering its work was rejected by House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer. The Liberals wanted the discussion after learning that the number of employees in the department that decides and manages pension eligibility for ex-soldiers was reduced by 33 percent since 2009. Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino said they were “back-office staff” and the government was reducing bureaucratic expenses.
   -  Former TV journalist and federal privacy commissioner Bruce Phillips has died at age 84 in Penticton, British Columbia after suffering a stroke last June. He worked for several news outlets in the 1970s and 1980s and was host of the CTV show Question Period. He later served as Canada’s privacy commissioner between 1991 and 2000.

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   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has fallen to 86.74 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1528 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 unchanged at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,852 points and the TSX Venture index 667 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline is lower at $1.0499 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (Dec. 10) 1, 2, 7, 16, 27 and 30; bonus 18. (Dec. 6) 15, 17, 18, 19, 34 and 44; bonus 10.  Lotto Max: (Dec. 5) 10, 14, 15, 16, 42, 45 and 48; bonus 49.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Former Quebec Lieutenant-Governor Lise Thibault, 75, has pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and breach of trust involving more than $700,000 in alleged improper expenses. An auditor’s investigation highlighted personal spending on gifts, trips, parties, meals and skiing and golf lessons. Judge Carol St-Cyr ruled earlier against a motion for royal immunity for Thibault who was a Quebec-appointed representative of Queen Elizabeth II.
   - Alberta is in need of more high-skilled workers for high-paying jobs and wants the Canadian government to lift the limit on the number of economic immigrants it can admit for permanent residence. Jobs Minister Ric McIver said the province wants the government to “take the cap off” the maximum number of migrants to the province. It is estimated the oil-rich province will fall short by 96,000 jobs by 2023. This year, Alberta was limited to 5,500 immigrants under the program.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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