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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Environmentalists' concern rising after major pipeline rupture in Alberta

   Canada column for Sunday, July 26/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   There is growing concern in Canada’s oil patch about the safety of pipelines after a major rupture in northern Alberta.
   A Nexen Energy pipeline leaked 13.1-million gallons of emulsion -- a mixture of bitumen, water and sand -- near Fort McMurray.
   Nexen senior vice president Ron Bailey said it is believed the leak occurred between June 29 and July 15 when a contractor discovered it near the Long Lake oil sands facility.
   Greenpeace Canada environmentalist Mike Hudema said for the leak to go undetected for up to two weeks and discovered by chance is cause for alarm.
   The pipeline was installed only last year and a warning system didn't detect the leak.
   “It’s disheartening to see the site and it’s disappointing that this has happened,” said Nexen Energy CEO Fang Zhi.
   “Our focus as of now is ensuring the safety of our workers on the site, minimizing whatever impact on the environment and on the wildlife, as well as understanding the root causes of this incident through investigations,” he added.
   “Warning bells should be going off for Canada’s premiers right now about the dangers they are bringing to their communities if new pipelines are built, because that’s what they’re calling for with the Canadian Energy Strategy,” Hudema said.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Canada's dollar dips to six-year low as Bank of Canada cuts interest rate

   Canada column for Sunday, July 19/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The value of the Canadian dollar has plunged to its lowest level in six years as the Bank of Canada cut its key interest rate to 0.50 percent to stimulate the economy.
   While not calling the financial situation in Canada a recession, bank governor Stephen Poloz revised the outlook for the economy due to the impact of lower oil prices and slumping exports in the second quarter.
   “I’m not going to engage in a debate about what we call this,” Poloz said. “There's no doubt we have worked our way through a mild contraction.”
   It’s the second time this year the central bank has cut its trend-setting rate aimed at giving consumers and businesses lower rates to spur spending and exports of Canadian products.
   The 0.25 percent cut resulted in an immediate drop in the dollar’s value to below 77 cents U.S. on Friday – the lowest since the recession of 2009.
   The lower outlook for economic growth is partly due to oil producers making big cutbacks in investment as prices have dropped.
   With the U.S. economy “gathering more momentum” and lower interest rates, Canada’s economy should grow now through the end of the year, Poloz said.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Trudeau and Liberal popularity slipping to third in public opinion polls

   Canada column for Sunday, July 12/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   After a “honeymoon” period of popularity when Justin Trudeau took over the leadership of Canada’s Liberal party in 2013, support for him and the party is waning.
   The 43-year-old had much name recognition being the eldest son of the late flamboyant Pierre Trudeau, Liberal prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984.
   Public opinion polls place the Liberals in third place behind the socialist New Democratic Party and the ruling Conservatives who are tied for the lead.
   A Forum Research poll of 1,200 Canadian voters gave the two leading parties support at 32 percent each and 26 percent for the Liberals.
   Over the past year, the Forum polls have gone from giving Trudeau and the Liberals a comfortable lead to a tie and now third place in advance of the Oct. 19 election.
   When asked about leadership quality, respondents to the recent poll said New Democratic leader Tom Mulcair would make the best prime minister at 27 percent, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper received 25 percent and Trudeau had 23 percent.
   EKOS pollsters said Mulcair is “picking up all the marbles as Trudeau fades.”
   The polling company said the results “seem to suggest that the Liberals’ numbers are suffering from a lack of clarity in the party plans for the country and its citizens.”


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Canada's not heading for a recession: Finance Minister Joe Oliver says

   Canada column for Sunday, July 5/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government begs to differ with a Bank of America economist’s suggestion that the country is in recession and faces a plunging dollar.
   Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the economy will avoid a recession even as the Gross Domestic Product has declined from January through April.
   Instead, Canada expects “solid growth” after a weak first quarter, he said. 
   U.S. economist Emanuella Enenajor said the recession has begun with a shrinking number of Canadian factories and the impact of the falling price of oil, a major Canadian commodity.
   She expects the Bank of Canada to cut interest rates again, possibly at its next setting on July 15, to avert any slowdown.
   Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce economist Andrew Grantham said technically the country can be considered in a recession now but Bank of Montreal economist Doug Porter calls it a “sluggish economy, not one in recession.”
   Enenajor predicts the Canadian dollar will fall to below 77 cents U.S. this year after dipping below 80 cents now.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Canadians and Americans buying up properties in both countries

   Canada column for Sunday, June 28/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   As the value of the Canadian dollar rises and falls, real estate investors from Canada and the United States are expanding their horizons.
   Now that the Canadian dollar has settled around 80 cents U.S., more Americans are looking north to buy vacation and recreational properties.
   Re/Max agent Priscilla Sookarow recently closed a deal with a Texas family for a $3-million vacation property in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.
   A big lure, along with the natural beauty of the area and Canada’s natural air-conditioning in the summertime, is the U.S. dollar being worth about $1.23 in Canadian funds.
   Other hot areas are British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, Atlantic Canada and Muskoka and Niagara lakefront in Ontario.
   It mirrors Canadians buying up houses and vacation properties in Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Hawaii from 2007 to 2011 as prices bottomed out.
   Now, many Canadians are cashing in those properties as prices have recovered and the U.S. dollar has strengthened.


Celebrate Canada Day across America‏

Get ready to celebrate Canada's birthday with "Canada Day Across America"!

Let's ensure that the many friends of Canada across the United States are included in the festivities. Starting this week, we are featuring an interactive map of Canada Day gatherings throughout the U.S. on our special CDAA site