Welcome

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.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Postal delivery to the door to end for 100,000 addresses across Canada this year



   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 23/14

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Door-to-door mail delivery will end this year in 11 cities including neighborhoods in Oakville, Calgary, Winnipeg, Halifax and Repentigny, Quebec.
   Canada Post announced the centers where people will have their mail delivered instead to community boxes this fall in a cost-cutting move.
   It’s the first phase of the postal service’s five-year changeover and will affect about 100,000 addresses.
   Canada Post said the changes are necessary with costs rising and mail volumes dropping and since just one-third of Canadian are still getting five-day-a-week home delivery.
   The initial neighborhoods affected are in areas that have nearby community mail boxes and the infrastructure is already in place, the post office said.
   In the larger cities, mail will continue to be delivered to businesses while in smaller cities, most households and a larger number of businesses will switch to group boxes.
   Also affected by the change this year will be Fort McMurray, Alberta; Kanata, Ontario; Bois-des-Filion, Charlemagne, Lorraine and Rosemere, all in Quebec.

   ---

   Prime Minister Stephen Harper still doesn’t have an answer from U.S. President Barack Obama whether he will approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
   When asked about the fate of the project to ship Canadian oilsands crude to the U.S. by pipeline, Obama instead called on Harper to work with him to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
   “I said previously that how Keystone impacted greenhouse gas emissions would affect our decision,” Obama said at the “Three Amigos” summit in Mexico.
   There is a “shared concern” about climate change, Harper said, noting a recent U.S. State Department report gave the Alberta oilsands a good grade on environmental impact.

   ---

Monday, February 17, 2014

Canadian government to tackle "cross-border" price discrimination



   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 16/14

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Conservative government plans to crack down on “unjustified cross-border (Canada-U.S.) price discrimination” that results in Canadians paying more for goods.
   The federal budget outlined legislation to end “country pricing” where multinational companies set higher prices for goods in Canada than those charged in the United States.
   Canadians have grown accustomed to paying higher prices for everything from books, clothing and appliances to tires and auto parts.
   Legislation will address the price gap and empower the country's competition commissioner to enforce the new rules, said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
   The government has been under pressure from consumers to do something about the long-standing price discrimination.
   “There are some companies that look at Canada as a small market, relatively well off, with a large middle class and willing to pay a little more," he said.
   A Senate finance committee report said there are several “complex factors” behind the price differences.
   These include higher transportation costs across the vast country, the need for English and French wording on items, more onerous packaging requirements, provincial regulatory requirements, a smaller consumer market and tariffs.

   ---

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Two senators facing fraud, breach of trust charges over expenses



   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 9/14

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Two disgraced senators are facing criminal charges for fraud and breach of trust over travel and living expense claims.
   The Mounties have arrested Patrick Brazeau, a suspended former Conservative senator, and Mac Harb, a former Liberal senator who resigned from the upper house last summer.
   “I can assure you that we continue our work on other significant files," said assistant police commissioner Gilles Michaud.
   He was referring to investigations of allegedly fraudulent expenses claimed by suspended former Conservative senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.
   Police are also looking into the circumstances of $90,000 that Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, gave to Duffy to repay disputed expenses.
   The investigation into Brazeau and Harb concern allegations they improperly declared homes outside the nation’s capital as their principal residences, allowing them to receive expenses to live in Ottawa near the Parliament buildings.
   Harb has repaid the Senate $231,649, Brazeau refused to reimburse $48,000 and Wallin has returned about $150,000 in travel expense claims.

   ---

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Canada's Liberal senators have been "set free" by leader Justin Trudeau



   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 2/14

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s Senate has been purged of its 32 Liberals who are now “independents” in the non-elected upper house.
   Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took the action to remove the senators from the party’s caucus in a move to reform the scandal-plagued Senate.
   The now-former Liberal senators say they’ve been “set free” but suggest not much will change.
   “We have agreed that we will style ourselves as the Liberal Senate caucus," said James Cowan, leader of the official Opposition.
   The senators “will remain Liberal party members” and friends with elected Liberal Members of Parliament, he added.
   Trudeau said the move, called “bold and courageous,” will reduce partisanship that should restore the Senate’s role as “an independent chamber of sober second thought.”
   He has challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do the same with the 57 Conservative senators.
   Harper said Canadians want an elected Senate, not “a better unelected Senate.”

   ---