Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 27/15
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Saying that Canadians are “a generous and compassionate people,” Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wants to make it easier for Mexicans to come to Canada.
Campaigning for the Oct. 19 federal election, Trudeau said his government would remove visa requirements for Mexican citizens and undo strict regulations put in place by the Conservative government.
The visa requirement and tougher refugee status conditions were imposed since 2009 to deal with a big jump in the numbers of Mexican asylum seekers.
The government said it was acting because many refugee applications were bogus with those fleeing Mexico for economic reasons rather than for security.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has soured Canada’s relationship with Mexico, Trudeau said vowing to “do right by our continental neighbor.”
Claims of bogus refuges are an example of the government “continually stoking fear and anger among Canadians,” he added.
“We need to ensure that Canada is a country that is accepting refugees who are fleeing persecution from all sorts of places around the world for all sorts of different reasons,” Trudeau said.
TransCanada Corp., the Calgary-based company that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S., is planning major job cuts.
The proposed pipeline to transport Alberta crude oil south has been in U.S. regulatory limbo for seven years without approval.
Company spokesman James Millar said falling oil prices and the current environment are having a “profound impact” on its customers.
It plans to eliminate about 20 percent of senior positions among the company’s 6,000 employees after laying off 185 workers last June.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers estimates that 35,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry have been lost so far this year.
News in brief:
- Prime Minister Harper, whose Conservatives are leading in opinion polls in advance of next month’s election, said his government would enact a bill prohibiting tax increases. This would affect personal and business income taxes, sales taxes and “discretionary payroll taxes” such as the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance. He also promises to cut payroll taxes by 20 percent, make the home renovation tax credit permanent and give tax relief to seniors.
- Canada’s budget surplus has grown to $5.16 billion for the first four months of this fiscal year compared with an $817-million deficit a year ago. In the report for July, the Finance Department said there was a $150-million surplus as corporate income tax revenues and the Goods and Services Tax grew at a faster pace than spending. The government finished the 2014-15 fiscal year with a $1.9-billion surplus while a $2-billion shortfall had been predicted.
Facts and figures:
The Canadian dollar is down at 75.02 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.3239 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Markets are lower with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,381 points and the TSX Venture index 542 points.
The average price of gas is lower at a national average of $1.039 a liter or $3.94 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Sept. 23) 7, 13, 19, 35, 42 and 44; bonus 46. (Sept. 19) 12, 15, 17, 21, 25 and 32; bonus 14. Lotto Max: (Sept. 18) 13, 16, 17, 21, 35, 40 and 46; bonus 18.
- Jewish groups say they are “astonished” that a school board vice-chairwoman seeking election for the New Democrats said she didn’t know about the Nazis’Auschwitz death camps until last week. Alex Johnstone, the federal candidate in Hamilton, Ontario, was asked about a “phallic” reference she made to a photo of the fence posts at Auschwitz shown in a Facebook post in 2008.
- Montreal’s La Presse French-language newspaper, is laying off 158 employees as it prepares to eliminate its weekday print edition in January. Publisher Guy Crevier said more than 460,000 people read the digital paper weekly while the number of paid print subscribers has dropped to 81,000 from 161,000. The 131-year-old paper, with 633 permanent positions after the cutback, will print only a Saturday paper after Jan. 1.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com