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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Canada urged to respond "in an intelligent way" to any NAFTA changes by Trump

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 20/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Concerns that a Donald Trump presidency will result in changes or the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should prompt Canada to respond in an “intelligent way.”
   Former Cabinet minister Perrin Beatty, now president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, made the comment and said “the world has changed” as a result of Trump’s election victory.
   The president-elect spoke of renegotiating “our horrible trade agreements” with China and NAFTA to get “a much better deal for America.”
   Speaking to the Confederation Club, Beatty said Canada should be prepared to move on its own trade agreements should there be a collapse of U.S. participation in such deals as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
   Steps should include Canada diversifying its trade, maintaining openness to the global economy, and removing barriers to Canadian goods and services, he suggested.
   NAFTA, enacted 22 years ago between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, is the “envy of the world” and Canada should fight for a deal to benefit all.
   “Revisiting the agreement could provide an opportunity to modernize the deal and to present Canadian requests,” Beatty said.


   Canadians might not have noticed it yet, but Statistics Canada says food prices last month had their first year-over-year decline in nearly 17 years.
   Competition among stores, a more stable Canadian dollar and bumper crops in the U.S. helped bring the prices down 0.7 percent.
   Food bought at grocery stores had its biggest drop since July 1992 at 2.1 percent while restaurant prices gained 2.6 percent.
   The consumer price index was up 1.5 percent last month compared with a year ago with transportation (gas up 2.5 percent) and housing sectors higher but offset by lower food prices.


   News in brief:
   - The Royal Canadian Geographic Society has chosen the gray jay, also known as the whiskey jack, Canada’s national bird. A two-year search resulted in the selection that “epitomizes the best of the country’s national traits.” The jay, considered to be smart, hardy and friendly is found in the boreal forests of every Canadian province and territory, but nowhere else on earth.
   - Canada’s housing agency wants regulators to consider raising the minimum down payment required on a house to ease affordability and reduce risk to the financial system. Lower down payments would fuel housing demand and lead to higher housing costs, hurting first-time homebuyers, said Evan Siddall of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. There’s other help as the Ontario government said it will offer land transfer tax rebates of up to $4,000 for first-time buyers.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has advanced to 74.03 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.35 Canadian, before 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.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,864 points while the TSX Venture index is at 746 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada has dropped to 98.1 cents a liter or $3.72 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Nov. 16) 3, 5, 6, 9, 33 and 47; bonus 19. (Nov. 12) 2, 4, 6, 22, 25 and 42; bonus 44. Lotto Max: (Nov. 11) 8, 14, 18, 20, 24, 39 and 46; bonus 23.


   Regional briefs:
   - Voters in Niagara West-Glanbrook have elected 19-year-old Conservative candidate Sam Oosterhoff  to fill a vacancy in the Ontario legislature. This makes the first-year political science student at Brock University the youngest person ever elected to the legislature. He succeeds former Conservative leader Tim Hudak. In Ottawa-Vanier, Liberal Nathalie Des Rosiers was elected.
   - A developer has put his plans on hold for now to build a Muslim housing community on Montreal’s south shore. Nabil Warda said he’s faced backlash and his proposal was misinterpreted as a “Muslim ghetto.” Among the critics was Premier Philippe Couillard who said the concept of segregated neighborhoods runs against Quebec’s values of diversity and inclusiveness.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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