Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 4/16
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments that former Cuban president Fidel Castro was a “legendary revolutionary and orator,” have been widely condemned.
Trudeau recently returned from a diplomatic visit to Cuba and was commenting on the death of Castro by expressing his “deep sorrow.”
While being a “controversial figure,” Trudeau said he is remembered as a “larger-than-life leader” who made significant improvements to Cuba’s education and health-care systems.
He referred to his father, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, as having a close relationship and was “very proud to call him (Castro) a friend.”
Criticism even came from Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American senator for Florida, who asked on Twitter, “Is this a real statement or a parody? Because if this is a real statement from the PM of Canada, it is shameful (and) embarrassing.”
Conservative leadership candidate Lisa Raitt said Trudeau should be ashamed for the remarks that have “placed himself on the wrong side of history – against the millions of Cubans yearning for freedom.”
The Cuban dictator was a pallbearer at Pierre Trudeau’s funeral in 2000 along with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Climate change activists are upset over Prime Minister Trudeau’s approval of two oil pipeline expansions, including the controversial Trans Mountain line through suburban Vancouver.
The Liberal government aims to boost Canada’s resource economy and the Kinder Morgan plan will triple the capacity of its line from Alberta to British Columbia.
Also approved was Enbridge’s replacement of an old pipeline from Alberta to Wisconsin.
The approved projects will result in 1 million more barrels of oil a day from Alberta’s oil sands for global markets.
The government, meanwhile, has “permanently shelved” the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline across northwestern B.C. for environmental concerns.
News in brief:
- Canada’s national jobless rate dropped to 6.8 percent last month as the economy added another 10,700 jobs. Statistics Canada said over the past year Canada has gained 183,200 jobs overall as full-time work fell by 30,500 positions and part-timers grew by 213,700 jobs. Lowest jobless rates were 6.1 percent in British Columbia, 6.2 in Quebec and 6.3 in Ontario while Alberta was 9, Prince Edward Island, 10.8 and Newfoundland and Labrador, the highest at 14.3 percent.
- Much of Canada’s farm crops will go unharvested unless there is an improved migrant work program, the Conference Board of Canada warns. The board study said labor shortages are growing as migrant workers account for only 12 percent of the agricultural workforce. The Canadian government is expected to make a policy announcement soon to revamp its temporary foreign workers program.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has advanced to 75.24 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.329 Canadian, before exchange fees, as oil prices have increased.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index down at 15,065 points while the TSX Venture index is up at 748 points.
The average price for gas in Canada is $1.02 a liter or $3.87 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Nov. 30) 15, 16, 20, 24, 26 and 31; bonus 37. (Nov. 26) 13, 14, 31, 39, 42 and 45; bonus 44. Lotto Max: (Nov. 25) 2, 11, 20, 22, 31, 35 and 47; bonus 39.
- The Toronto-area real estate market continues its hot streak with a shortage of property listings pushing the average price for a detached house to $1.35 million, up 32.3 percent from a year ago. In the suburbs, the price climbed by 25.5 percent to an average of $957,517. The Toronto Real Estate Board said sales of 8,547 properties were up 16.5 percent with an average selling price for all types of housing at $776,684.
- Thousands of customers lost their power in Atlantic Canada as the region was hammered by a midweek pre-winter snowfall and strong winds. Hardest hit was New Brunswick with 10,000 power outages that closed schools and offices and resulted in transit buses being pulled from service in Fredericton. Snowfall amounts reached about 11 inches in the region and into southwestern Newfoundland.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com