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Friday, April 29, 2016

Duffy found not guilty; Niagara Falls turns purple

   Canada column for Sunday, April 24/16

Niagara Falls turned purple to honor the Queen and Prince. (Parks Canada photo)
   By Jim Fox

   Mike Duffy is back at work as a senator after a three-year expulsion now that he was cleared of 31 charges of defrauding the Canadian government.
   Judge Charles Vaillancourt, in a four-hour verdict, had harsh words for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office and its conduct over the expenses scandal involving Duffy, 69.
   The ruling after a 62-day trial took issue with the prosecution’s contention that the former TV broadcaster had deliberately defrauded taxpayers by submitting claims for disputed housing, office and travel expenses.
   Vaillancourt was extremely critical that Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, gave Duffy $90,000 to repay his living expenses to try to defuse the controversy.
   “The political, covert, relentless, unfolding of events is mind boggling and shocking,” Vaillancourt said, acquitting Duffy of all counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
   Lawyer Donald Bayne said that Duffy has been subjected to “more public humiliation than probably any Canadian in history.”
   Senator Patrick Brazeau faces a fraud and breach of trust trial this year while senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses continue to be examined by the police. Seven other senators are being asked to repay a total of $528,000 in disputed expenses.


   Canada’s Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario turned a regal purple Thursday night to honor Queen Elizabeth on her 90th birthday – and, perhaps to pay tribute to Prince.
   Many people said it also honored the “Purple Rain” singer who died at his home in Minnesota at age 57.
   Toronto played a big part in the life of Prince as in the early-to-mid 2000s, he lived in the city's Bridle Path neighborhood.
   At the time, he was married to Manuela Testolini, who was born in Toronto.
   Prince performed two of his last sold-out shows at Toronto’s Sony Center last month.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Government spending plans aiding Canadian economy

   Canada column for Sunday, April 17/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Liberal government’s spending plans are already proving to be a boost for the Canadian economy.
   The Bank of Canada kept its trend-setting interest rate unchanged at 0.5 percent while predicting economic growth as shown by the gross domestic product to rise by 1.7 percent this year, up 0.3 percent from an earlier prediction.
   The central bank noted this was due to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government deciding to invest $25 billion in additional spending over the next two years for such things as infrastructure projects.
   The spending was included in the recent federal budget that projected a deficit of $110 billion over five years while the previous Conservative government was reducing spending to avoid going into the red.
   “The mix of policies that we have today is a more favorable one for economic growth than what we had before," bank Governor Stephen Poloz said.
   Spending by the government is helping to counter lower oil prices affecting the Canadian economy’s commodity-abundant provinces.
   The dollar dropped from a seven-month high topping 78 cents U.S. with news of the key interest rate remaining steady and lower oil and gold prices.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Canadian dollar, stocks soar after higher oil prices, job creation numbers

   Canada column for Sunday, April 10/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Strong employment numbers and higher oil prices are giving Canada’s dollar and stock markets a boost.
   The dollar rose above 77 cents US, up more than one cent on Friday, as Statistics Canada reported 40,600 jobs were created last month.
   The job numbers showed the largest one-month increase in employment in six months.
   As the price of crude oil strengthened to almost $40, so did Canada’s fortunes as an oil-rich nation.
   Last month’s job advances were significant as 35,300 were for full-time work and pushed the unemployment rate down 0.2 percent to 7.1 percent from a month earlier.
   While Alberta’s unemployment rate fell to 7.1 percent in March from 7.9 percent, there were more people out of work in Calgary and Edmonton.
   Over the past year, Canada has added 129,600 net new jobs, an increase of 0.7 percent.
   Meanwhile, the pace of housing starts in Canada slowed in March due to drops in multi-unit construction.
   Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said the seasonally adjusted annual rate was 204,251 units, down from 219,077 in February.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Many Americans say they would move to Canada if Trump wins: Vox.com survey

   Canada column for Sunday, April 3/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians might want to prepare to welcome millions of fleeing Americans should polls be correct that Donald Trump might win the presidency.
   A survey conducted by Vox.com of 2,000 registered voters showed 28 percent claimed they’d likely “consider moving to another country, such as Canada” with a Trump victory.
   And, they wouldn’t be hampered by a large wall at the border between the U.S. and Canada.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said claims of Americans wanting to move to Canada occur after every U.S. election.
   It happened, however, when George W. Bush was elected in 2004, with immigration to Canada doubling by 34,000 Americans in a decade.
   With Trump’s campaign promises and popularity, searches online about “how to move to Canada” have surged, according to Simon Rogers of Google.
   The Canadian technology industry that has long lost talented workers to the U.S. is fighting back seeking Silicon Valley, California talent over concerns about Trump.
   Sortable, a Kitchener, Ontario tech company, has been running Facebook ads featuring a photo of Trump with the tag line: “Thinking of moving to Canada? Sortable is hiring.”  http://sortable.com/careers-at-sortable/
   Cape Breton, Nova Scotia radio host Rob Calabrese has set up a website called “CapeBretonIfDonaldTrumpWins,” offering to provide a new home for anyone seeking refuge.