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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Canada's Liberals on spending spree to boost economy

   Canada column for Sunday, March 27/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s new Liberal government intends to spend its way to greater prosperity as it projects a $29.4 billion budget deficit for the coming year.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that Canadians not worry as his government intends to again balance the budget “in the coming five years.”
   During last fall’s election campaign, the Liberals pledged to invest in infrastructure and put more money into people’s pockets to grow the economy – “and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” he said.
   The spending plans are contained in the government’s first budget and ended almost a decade of fiscal restraint under the Conservatives.
   Finance Minister Bill Morneau said it will create 100,000 jobs and boost economic growth nationally.
   It provides $6.6 billion over two years for infrastructure projects and $13 billion to help aboriginal communities that includes water and wastewater systems and education on reserves.
   There’s $10 billion more over two years for new payments to families with children and $3.4 billion over five years to increase the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors and restoring the Old Age Security pension eligibility age to 65 from 67.
   The government will also spend $2 billion over three years on infrastructure improvements at colleges and universities, and $2 billion over two years for a low-carbon economy fund.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Retirement age for pensions being reset at 65 by Liberal government

   Canada column for Sunday, March 20/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s “official” retirement age when people can begin receiving the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will be restored to 65, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
   As promised in the election campaign last fall, the new Liberal government will undo the previous Conservative government decision to move the eligibility age to 67.
   It is an important step, Trudeau said, in “how we care for our most vulnerable in society.”
   The previous government said it would raise the eligibility age for the OAS by two years beginning in 2023 in order to protect the sustainability of the plan.
   Trudeau said he believes “a little bit of sophistication” along with the trend to people working longer before taking the pension at a higher amount will make better sense.
   In a meeting at Bloomberg News in New York, Trudeau also said he is focused on an infrastructure spending program over 10 years that will lead to economic benefits for the country.
   Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor and company founder, welcomed Trudeau whom he called “Canada’s New Hope” in an opinion column.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Canada-U.S. friendship revived under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

   Canada column for Sunday, March 13/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Wasn’t that a party, eh?
   The first families of Canada and the United States appeared to be best friends forever as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was honored at a state dinner in Washington.
   While the best of neighbors, the relationship between the countries is again warming with Liberal Trudeau’s election in October.
   It was the first official visit for a Canadian prime minister in 19 years, the last being when Jean and Aline Chretien were the guests of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
   “We have a common outlook on the world,” Obama said of Trudeau, who in turn called him “a deep thinker with a big heart but also a big brain.”
   The first ladies hit it off, too, with Michelle Obama introducing Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau as her “soulmate.”
   As well as the glitzy dinner with numerous Canadian-born celebrities and high-powered political and business leaders, Trudeau got down to business during his three-day visit.
   They agreed on Obama’s desire to advance initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases and finding new sources of non-carbon based energy that aligns with Canada’s foreign policy.
   The two countries will also implement added border security measures including pre-clearance for low-risk travelers and sharing information on people entering and leaving each country.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Go ahead, eat your "ugly" veggies!

   Canada column for Sunday, March 6/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   “Ugly” food can be a good thing, especially for shoppers seeking bargains as prices soar due to the weakened value of the Canadian dollar.
   Weston’s Loblaw chain is expanding its “Naturally Imperfect” foods nationally after offering the “ugly” line of apples and potatoes in Ontario and Quebec.
   After the successful test, the company is adding “unsightly” peppers, onions and mushrooms costing 30 percent less than their good-looking counterparts.
   “Canadians are really looking for some options . . . and having greater accessibility to that healthy eating product of value,” said Dan Branson, Loblaw’s senior director of produce.
   With the Canadian dollar slumping to 75 cents U.S. and factors such as the California drought, imported fresh fruit and vegetables have jumped 12.9 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively.
   The less-than-perfect selections are now in Loblaw’s Real Canadian Superstore, Your Independent Grocer and most No Frills stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
   Real Canadian Superstores and Your Independent Grocer locations in the Atlantic provinces and the Yukon have also joined the program.