Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 1/15
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Stephen Harper’s almost 10-year reign as Canada’s prime minister will end on Wednesday when Justin Trudeau is sworn in after his Liberal party’s decisive election victory.
Harper will leave office just before the swearing-in of the Liberal government but will remain a Member of Parliament for Calgary.
Prime Minister-designate Trudeau is expected to recall Parliament next month to begin fulfilling his election promises, starting with a tax break for the “middle class.”
Other pledges are withdrawing fighter jets from combat overseas, quickly resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees, amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, raising taxes on high-income earners and creating a national inquiry into missing and murdered women.
The election win has prompted Canada Post to immediately halt the further installation of community mailboxes in a program that was to end home delivery to save money.
Trudeau said he would keep door-to-door mail delivery and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers wants his government to reverse cuts to postal services that have been made so far.
Cross-border shopping in the U.S. by Canadians has dropped along with flying out of American airports due to Canada’s weaker dollar, now worth about 76.5 cents U.S.
Canadians had taken advantage of lower fares, with about five million people flying from U.S. border airports a year, before the dollar fell from around parity with the U.S. dollar.
There has been up to a 25-percent decline in air travel from U.S. airports while the number of Canadians shopping and travelling in the U.S. is 26 percent lower than a year ago.
Same-day car trips are off by 34 percent while total car trips are down 24 percent, Statistics Canada said.
- The Quebec government is propping up Bombardier with a $1-billion U.S. lifeline to help the Montreal-based company complete development of its CSeries jet. The company, which lost $4.9 billion in the latest quarter, will match Quebec’s contribution. Premier Philippe Couillard called it an “investment” as the company directly employs 18,000 people and supports 40,000 in the province’s aerospace industry.
- Royal Dutch Shell has decided not to proceed with the Carmon Creek oilsands project in northwestern Alberta to extract 80,000 barrels of crude a day. The company cited a lack of pipelines to coastal waters and after a review of the design and costs. CEO Ben van Beurden said the company faces “touch choices” in managing affordability and exposure “in the current world of lower oil prices.”
Facts and figures:
The pace of economic growth in Canada slowed in August to 0.1 percent from 0.3 in July and 0.4 in June, Statistics Canada said.
The Canadian dollar has advanced to 76.53 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.306 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Markets are lower with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,614 points and the TSX Venture index 540 points.
The average price of gas has risen to a national average of $1.031 a liter or $3.91 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Oct. 28) 8, 9, 15, 26, 37 and 48; bonus 12. (Oct. 24) 1, 13, 28, 34, 37 and 45; bonus 32. Lotto Max: (Oct. 23) 2, 7, 12, 28, 29, 38 and 48; bonus 27.
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says housing markets in most major Canadian cities are overvalued. This is due to the soaring cost of buying a house or underlying economic conditions that don't support current prices, a study found. The government housing agency identified “problematic conditions” in Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina due to overvaluation.
- Toronto’s former mayor Rob Ford, who admitted to smoking crack cocaine and abusing alcohol, said he is again battling cancer. Ford, who dropped out of the mayor’s race last year due to health problems and was elected a councilor, said he is certain a new tumor found on his bladder is cancerous. Ford said he will undergo more rounds of chemotherapy and “won’t stop fighting until the day I die.”
Jim Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org