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Monday, November 20, 2017

Keystone pipeline springs a 210,000-gallon leak; bad news for TransCanada Corp.



   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 19/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   It couldn’t have come at a worse time as the original Keystone pipeline sprung a big leak in the United States.
   TransCanada Corp. said the Keystone pipeline leaked about 210,000 gallons of oil near Amherst, South Dakota.
   The incident happened just days before the Nebraska Public Service Commission is to decide the fate of an $8-billion plan to expand the pipeline network.
   The cause of the spill is not known but it is something that environmentalists have warned could happen and they continue to oppose the plans.
   TransCanada wants to route the pipeline more directly from Alberta into Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska to connect with existing lines to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
   Nebraska’s commissioners are to vote on the project Monday as the last major regulatory hurdle since President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead to the pipeline that was rejected by then-President Barack Obama.
   A cleanup is under way and the pipeline has been closed for repairs.
   “This is exactly the kind of disaster we can expect more of if Keystone XL is approved,” said the environmental group 350.org.

   ---

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Canadians are 'on the road again' heading for their place in the sun in Florida



   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 12/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT



“Along Interstate 75,” an exit-by-exit guide to driving to Florida from Canada and return.

   ---

  (c) By Jim Fox

   Get your motor runnin' and head out on the highway.
   That refrain by Steppenwolf is a common one for thousands of Canadians who are doing that en route to their winter playground in the Florida sun.
   The annual migration of the so-called “snowbirds” to the warmer environs of the “Sunshine State” is well under way.
   Writer Dave Hunter is the authority on the I-75 expressway to the sun with an internet-updated printed guidebook for the 958 miles to Florida from Windsor-Detroit.
   Hunter and wife Kathy, who split their time between Mississauga, Ontario and Lakeland, Florida have written the book on travel to Florida.
   They have been making this trek for 48 years and writing about it the past 24 years in their “Along I-75” guidebook and companion publication, “Along Florida’s Expressways.”
   Each page is packed with helpful information, covering 25 miles or 30 minutes of driving, reporting on road conditions, construction zones and more.
   There are 3,000 listings of what is within a mile of each exit including gas stations, restaurants and lodging. Details: i75online.com

   ---

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Florida's "love affair" with Canadian visitors; Governor announces discount deals



   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 5/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   While expressing his “love” for Canadians, Florida Governor Rick Scott was in Toronto to launch a discount program for visitors from the north.
   The new Canadian Power Play Program features 20-percent discounts on airfare, rental cars and lodging to counter the colorful currency’s recent weakness.
   This will “help even out the dollar value,” Scott said at a news conference at Union Station.
   “We love Canadians – you’re a big part of our state and our biggest group of international travelers,” he said.
   The governor stressed that Canadians are “so important to Florida’s tourism industry and the 1.4-million jobs it supports for families.”
   There were 3.3-million Canadians visiting Florida last year, accounting for 23 percent of the state’s international visitors and they spent $3.6 billion.
   “We are doubling down on our efforts to bring more Canadians to the Sunshine State with our new Canadian Power Play Program,” said Ken Lawson, Visit Florida president and ceo.
   Twenty-six Florida businesses and tourism partners including Air Canada are participating in the program, with details at LoveFlorida.ca

   ---

Monday, October 30, 2017

NAFTA deal "in real peril" says former Canadian prime minister



   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 29/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The negotiations to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement are “in real peril,” says Canada’s former Conservative prime minster.
   In a memo titled “Napping on NAFTA,” Stephen Harper said he fears the negotiations are going badly and it is no bluff that President Donald Trump might move to end the agreement.
   “I believe this threat is real,” Harper said in a letter to clients of his firm Harper & Associates Consulting and obtained by the Canadian Press news service.
   He criticizes the government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for too quickly rejecting U.S. proposals and having a too-close negotiating partner in Mexico.
   “In fact, the U.S. is both irked and mystified by the Liberals’ unwavering devotion to Mexico,” Harper wrote.
   Harper, whose government was ousted by the Liberals in 2015, said another misstep is Canada’s priorities on labor, gender, Aboriginal and environmental issues.
   Liberals call the memo “ill-timed and perplexing,” and accuse Harper of negotiating publicly against the government of Canada.
   While evaluating the U.S. demands, the government should consider whether it is “worth having a trade agreement with the Americans or not,” Harper said.

   ---

Monday, October 23, 2017

Canada's political leaders to push a NAFTA deal across the U.S.



   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 22/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadian politicians are crossing the United States trying to save the North American Free Trade Agreement.
   Key demands by the U.S. that both Canadian and Mexican leaders say are not possible hampered the fourth round of talks in Washington.
   As negotiations faltered and were postponed until next year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is important for his cabinet members to promote the merits of reaching the trilateral trade pact.
   They are reminding U.S. lawmakers that 35 states list Canada their top customer and nine-million Americans depend on trade with Canada for their jobs.
   Startling demands at the latest talks concerned automobiles, dairy and other issues.
   The U.S. wants cars and trucks to have 50 percent U.S. content to avoid tariffs within a year.
   President Donald Trump said Canadian dairy policies are hurting mid-western farmers.
   Trade negotiators are demanding that Canada’s supply management system for dairy, chicken, eggs and turkey be scrapped within 10 years.

   ---

   As Sears Canada winds up its business with liquidation sales – blaming online shopping for part of its demise – a survey shows Canadians prefer shopping in stores.
   BMO Capital Markets surveyed 1,200 people, asking if they would consider buying products in five categories from Canadian Tire, Walmart or Dollarama.
   It asked if shoppers would prefer to buy the products online from the retailer’s website, the retailer’s store or at Amazon.ca, assuming they were the same price.
   It found those surveyed overwhelmingly preferred to buy at a physical retail location, as opposed to online in every category.

   ---

   News in brief:
   - The Canadian government is reworking its proposed tax-reform proposals aimed at business owners and the wealthy. It will simplify limiting private corporation owners who lower taxes through “sprinkling” earnings with family members. It will scale back passive investment income so only three percent of the most-wealthy private corporations will pay higher taxes and eliminate a change to ease the passing down of a family business.
   - Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip that featured “Canadiana-laced lyrics,” has died at age 53. He had an aggressive form of brain cancer and went on a cross-Canada farewell tour with the group last year.
   - Canada’s retail sales have started slowing after a red-hot year as the annual inflation rate moved up to 1.6 percent last month from 1.4 percent in September. Excluding higher gas prices, the rate was 1.1 percent while retails sales dropped 0.3 percent. The inflation rates are within the Bank of Canada’s ideal target of two percent as the central bank plans to announce its plans for interest rates on Wednesday.

   ---

   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has dropped to 79.19 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.262 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.2 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 15,857 points while the TSX Venture index was down to 789 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.108 a liter or $4.21 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Oct. 18) 11, 25, 33, 35, 40 and 42; bonus 15. (Oct. 14) 16, 22, 28, 29, 32 and 34; bonus 43. Lotto Max (Oct. 13) 8, 14, 16, 17, 18, 34 and 41; bonus 43.

   ---

   Regional briefs:
   - Three men were killed while trying to repair an ammonia leak at an arena in Fernie, British Columbia. Two were city employees while the third worked for CIMCO Refrigeration of Calgary. Also in B.C., former provincial cabinet minister and long-time Vancouver radio broadcaster Rafe Mair has died at age 85.
   - It’s expected that New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant will be calling an early election in the province. He plans to meet Monday with Lieutenant-Governor Jocelyne Roy, saying his Liberal government has “accomplished” its mandate over the past three years. That’s a usual sign of an early election call instead of waiting until next September.

-30-

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sears Canada winding up business after 65 years



   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 15/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Sears Canada, a retailing giant here for 65 years, will soon be no more.
   The company is winding up its business, closing the remaining 130 stores and ending the jobs of 12,000 employees. It closed 59 stores and laid off 2,900 workers in June.
   Sears received court approval Friday to liquidate its remaining stores as no viable buyer could be found for the struggling retailer.
   Judge Glenn Hainey of the Ontario Supreme Court said he was satisfied there was no viable alternative after restructuring attempts and a sale failed to materialize after it received protection from creditors in June.
   Retail analysts said Sears was unable to adapt to a changing marketplace as it lost customers to Walmart, Canadian Tire, Best Buy, Costco, Winners and Amazon.
   The company had sales declines for more than a decade after being given a lifeline with the demise of iconic department store chain Eaton’s in 1999 when Sears bought its remaining assets.
   Sears Canada began as Simpsons-Sears in 1952 with a mail-order business in partnership with Sears Roebuck Co. of Chicago. It was spun off from U.S. based Sears Holdings in 2012.

   ---

Monday, October 9, 2017

TransCanada cancels Energy East pipeline: reaction mixed



   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 7/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The decision by TransCanada to cancel its proposed $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline has been greeted with cheers and disappointment.
   Environmentalists were thrilled while opposition politicians blamed the Liberal government for the demise of the plan to build the 2,800-mile pipeline.
   It would have carried 1.1-billion barrels of crude oil daily from the Alberta oilsands in the west to refineries in the east in Quebec and New Brunswick.
   Also canceled was the Eastern Mainline project of 230 miles of natural gas pipeline in Ontario.
   TransCanada president Russ Girling announced the decision that followed the National Energy Board’s revision of its policy to now also review indirect greenhouse gas emissions.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the move a “business decision” because of dropping oil prices.
   It is a “grave disappointment” as the project would have created thousands of jobs, said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
   He said court challenges with the Trans Mountain expansion in British Columbia and that province’s now-abandoned NorthWest natural gas project can be blamed on Canada’s “convoluted” regulatory framework.

   ---

Monday, October 2, 2017

Bombardier battered by 220-percent duty, with more expected



   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 1/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Trade winds are buffeting Montreal-based Bombardier Inc., caught in a subsidies battle with the U.S. and Brazil.
   The U.S. Department of Commerce has announced a nearly 220 percent countervailing duty against Bombardier’s CSeries planes.
   Now, at the request of Brazil’s Embraer S.A., the World Trade Organization is also establishing a panel to review subsidies the airline company receives.
   Still more bad news is expected Wednesday when Bombardier believes the U.S. will announce it will impose a large anti-dumping duty on CSeries planes.
   Boeing complained that the Canadian aircraft maker has benefited from improper government subsidies, giving it an unfair advantage when selling its CSeries jets in the U.S.
   The Brazilian company said government subsidies have allowed Bombardier to sell the CSeries jets at artificially low prices that distort the global market and harm competitors.
   The Canadian government is “very confident” its support of the aerospace industry respects international trade rules and will defend the interests of Bombardier, said Joseph Pickerill of the International Trade department.

   ---

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Canada might withdraw Boeing order over trade rift: Trudeau

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 24/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada won’t buy planes from U.S.-based Boeing if it follows through with a trade battle.
   Canada won’t do business with Boeing while it’s “busy trying to sue us and trying to put our aerospace workers out of business,” he added.
   At issue is Trudeau’s contention that Canada will withdraw from its $6-billion purchase of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets unless Boeing drops its action against Montreal-based Bombardier.
   Boeing accuses Bombardier of selling its CSeries passenger jets to U.S. airlines at “absurdly low prices” due to government subsidies.
   The U.S. International Trade Commission is expected to release preliminary results of its investigation on Tuesday that could result in fines or tariffs against Bombardier.
   Boeing wants the U.S. government to impose preliminary countervailing duties of 79.41 percent and later anti-dumping duties of 79.82 percent.
   Canada might also exclude Super Hornets from bids to replace the aging fleet of CF-18 jets, with the cost for 88 airplanes as much as $19 billion.

   ---

Sunday, September 17, 2017

U.S. might not support Canada in enemy attack: NORAD official



   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 17/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada might have to go it alone should the country ever face an enemy attack.
   U.S. policy is “not to defend Canada,” said Lieutenant-General Pierre St-Amand, top Canadian officer at the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado.
   While Canada would have no say in what to do if North America is targeted by a missile, the U.S. could ultimately decide to intervene at the last moment, he added.
   That’s largely due to the Liberal government upholding a 2005 decision to remain outside the U.S. missile shield after a divisive national debate.
   While many people are calling for Canada to get back in the pact, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the country’s position is “not going to be changed any time soon.”
   St-Armand delivered news to the Commons defense committee that is concerned about missile tests and threats by North Korea.
   One piece of good news was there has been “no direct threat to Canada,” said Mark Gwozdecky of Global Affairs.
   He said the North Korean government sees Canada as a “peaceful and indeed a friendly country.”

   ---

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Canada Navy ship heads to the Caribbean, Florida with relief supplies, aid



   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 10/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   A Royal Canadian Navy ship is en route to Florida and the Caribbean islands to offer aid to areas devastated by Hurricane Irma.
   HMCS St. John’s was being deployed for a training exercise in the Caribbean when it returned to Halifax to be loaded with additional relief supplies and a CH-124 Sea King helicopter.
   The ship, with a crew of about 250 along with an air detachment, is carrying humanitarian assistance supplies and disaster response equipment, said National Defense spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government has been in contact with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and others in the U.S. to determine the needs and to co-ordinate potential assistance as requested.
   Among the relief aid, the ship carries water purification systems, primary medical care supplies, food and items to keep people warm and comfortable for “a rapid response,” Le Bouthillier added.
   Global Affairs Canada has been in touch with Canadians in the path of the storm and offered assistance to those requiring emergency services, Trudeau said.

   ---

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Canadian gas prices soaring due to speculators, hurricane



   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 3/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Speculators, not Hurricane Harvey or oil shortages, are being blamed for Canadian gasoline prices soaring.
   Prices jumped nearly 10 cents a liter (38 cents a U.S. gallon) since Harvey roared ashore in Texas and more big jumps are happening this weekend.
   Gas prices jumped to $1.23 a liter in Ontario and will rise another 9 cents this weekend, said Dan McTeague of Gasbuddy.com.
   Montreal drivers will be paying as much as $1.42 per liter ($5.39 a U.S. gallon), he added.
   Price watchers say things will remain high until refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast return to normal operation as flood waters recede and damage is assessed.
   With inventories declining and wholesale prices rising, there will be a bigger impact in Eastern Canada more than in the west because that is farther from the problems.
   Canadians have had to pay about 75 cents more a U.S. gallon than a week ago in Toronto while the typical increase in affected states is only about 20 cents, McTeague said.
   “We don’t have enough supply in Canada . . . we’re just not in a position where we can sell spare capacity,” he said.

   ---

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Government called on to review honoring historic figures over treatment of Indigenous people

   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 27/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is being urged to review honoring historic figures as a teachers’ group wants the name of Canada’s first prime minister removed from schools.
   The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario wants new names for schools named after Sir John A. Macdonald over his treatment of Indigenous people.
   It’s an opportunity to “seize this opportunity” to acknowledge Canada’s past and engage with native people on correcting historical wrongs, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly’s office said.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in June the government would remove the name of Hector-Louis Langevin, a father of Confederation, from the national capital building housing his office.
   The decision was made after Indigenous politicians and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said Langevin was a proponent of the residential school system.
   The system took sent native children away to government-sponsored religious schools to assimilate them into Euro-Canadian culture.
   New Democrat Romeo Saganash, a residential school “survivor,” said a full discussion is needed into the role of historic figures in the “dark realities of colonialism.”

   ---

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Weak inflation continues in Canada; could keep low-interest rate steady



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 20/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Still-weak inflation could result in Canada’s central bank holding off further interest-rate increases.
   While the rate of inflation advanced last month to 1.2 percent, it’s still below the Bank of Canada’s ideal target number of 2 percent.
   The bank raised its key rate by 0.25 percent to 0.75 percent last month, suggesting inflation softness was mainly temporary.
   After dipping to 1 percent in June, the lowest level in almost two years, the 4.6-percent higher prices for gasoline over a year ago were a large contributor to the July advance.
   Other higher categories were natural gas, hotel and motel accommodations and home replacement costs.
   There were lower prices for video equipment, furniture and internet access while the price for electricity in Ontario had its biggest drop in 14 years after the provincial government capped increases and prices.

   ---

Monday, August 14, 2017

More shelters opened in Montreal for refugees as Canada's copes with influx



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 13/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The sudden influx of refugee-seekers at Canada’s doorstep on the Quebec-New York border has prompted the opening of more shelters in Montreal.
   Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board has established 25 processing tents at the border and arranged to house migrants inside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, a former convent and the old Royal Victoria Hospital.
   The recent surge of asylum-seekers, many of whom are from Haiti and are fleeing from the U.S. over fears of deportation, led to “more aggressive action” to deal with the situation, said Shereen Benzvy Miller, head of the refugee protection division.
   Hundreds of people rallied outside the stadium and shouted “refugees welcome” in Creole.
   “This is a vast, rich country that can welcome many, many people who are in bad situations and can’t stay in their own countries,” organizer Serge Bouchereau said.
   The agency has also dedicated 20 of its members for speedier handling of the arrivals of which there were 1,798 people in the first week of this month at Hemmingford, Quebec.
   Canada Border Services is trying to process the arrivals within a few days to await their claims to be heard by the immigration board as they settle across the country.

   ---

Monday, August 7, 2017

Quebec tries to cope with huge influx of Haiti refugees from the U.S.



   Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 6/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The trickle of asylum seekers pouring across the Canada-U.S. border into Quebec has turned into a flood, leading to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium providing temporary refuge.
   A makeshift reception center has also been established at what was once an unmarked roadside ditch in Hemmingford.
   There has been a surge in the number of people, largely from Haiti, seeking refuge in Canada over fears they will be deported from the U.S.
   Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said 50 people a day were illegally crossing from New York State but the number has surged to 150 daily since mid-July.
   The influx is causing authorities to scramble to provide temporary accommodation as the newcomers await a ruling on their refugee claims.
   Asylum seekers were being bused to the Olympic Stadium that will accommodate as many as 600 people until mid-September.
   “Our government is committed to offering protection for those fleeing war, persecution and natural disasters without compromising the safety and security of Canadians,” said Liberal Member of Parliament Marc Miller.

   ---

Monday, July 31, 2017

Canada government pleased the U.S. won't proceed with border tax



   Canada column for Sunday, July 30/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The U.S. government’s decision to drop a proposed border tax has been welcomed by Canada as removing the threat of a trade war.
   The unilateral imposition of a revenue-generating border tax would have been a “very destructive action to take,” said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
   It could have come just as negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement are to begin on Aug. 16.
   The lack of action also reduces pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cut Canada’s corporate tax rate to keep pace with the promised steep reduction in the United States.
   Trudeau expressed satisfaction with the move as U.S. officials said they’re “confident” a tax on imports is no longer needed to pay for broader tax reform.
   The border adjustment tax would have been a “serious impediment to trade with Canada,” he said.
   “There is no economic relationship anywhere in the world like the one between Canada and the United States and that needs to be protected,” Trudeau added.

   ---

Monday, July 17, 2017

Canada confident ahead of NAFTA proposed changes by the U.S.



   Canada column for Sunday, July 16/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s leaders feel confident that President Donald Trump won’t be “ripping up” the three-country North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received the assurance from Vice President Mike Pense while attending a meeting of state governors in Rhode Island on Friday.
   “We will modernize NAFTA for the 21st century so that it is a win-win-win for all of our trading partners in North America,” Pence said to applause from Trudeau.
   His remarks came days before the U.S. government plans to issue its thoughts about NAFTA negotiations that are to begin next month.
   In a speech to Pense and the governors, Trudeau urged more trade, not less, saying “we must get this right.”
   “We’re grateful for the prime minister’s leadership and his early outreach to this administration,” Pense said.
   He said the U.S. is “looking forward to bringing NAFTA into the future in a way that will equally benefit both our countries.”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sears Canada wants to cut retiree benefits in bankruptcy restructuring



   Canada column for Sunday, July 9/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Sears Canada, in bankruptcy protection from creditors, wants court approval to cut off benefits for its retired employees.
   The company that has been hammered by online shopping and tough competition is raising “significant doubt” about its future in Canada and seeking a buyer.
   Plans are to cut 2,900 jobs and close 59 of its 225 stores as it restructures and to seek court approval to suspend benefits for its retired employees and special payments to its defined benefit pension plan.
   Sears said in its initial court filings that it planned to suspend life insurance, health and dental benefits to certain employees during the restructuring.
   Now it is asking the Ontario Superior Court to extend court protection from creditors to Oct. 4 as it seeks potential investors and buyers and consults with its landlords, employees, suppliers and creditors.
   The restructuring hasn’t affected monthly pension payments to the retirement plan’s beneficiaries.

   ---

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Canada parties for the country's 150th birthday



   Canada column for Sunday, July 2/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   As more than a half-million people gathered on Parliament Hill for Canada’s 150th birthday this weekend, greetings have come from south of the border.
   Not in a tweet, but U.S. President Donald Trump issued a statement wishing Canada the best on its big day.
   “The United States cherishes our relationship with Canada,” he said, adding: “Throughout the years, no two countries have formed a bond as unique as ours.”
   Trump noted the relationship as Canada and the United States “have stood together steadfastly in times of peace and war, through prosperity and hardship.”
   As well, he said “we are united by the world's longest border but above all by the shared values we together hold so highly.”
   Security was tight as the country prepared its largest-ever party outside the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.
   Along with the hundreds of thousands of revelers in the capital, Canadians in more than 2,000 communities and around the world were celebrating.

   ---

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sears Canada restructures with bankruptcy protection



   Canada column for Sunday, June 25/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Battered by slow sales for several years, Sears Canada Inc. will close 59 of its 225 stores as it receives bankruptcy protection to restructure.
   The retailer will cut 2,900 jobs under the court-supervised restructuring approved by the Ontario Superior Court.
   It received 30 days of protection from creditors while it “tries to revamp its business” and seek up to $450 million in financing, the company said.
   Sears stores will continue to operate, except for those closing – 20 department stores, 15 Sears Home stores, 14 Sears Hometown locations and all 10 outlet locations.
   In order to “right-size” its business, Sears said it intends to emerge as a “leaner, more focused operation better able to compete in the hyper-competitive retail industry.”
   Founded in Canada in 1952 as Simpsons Sears, it employs about 17,000 people.
   Marketing strategist Tony Chapman said Sears’ problems were “inevitable” as low-cost producers such as Amazon and Walmart continue “to eat your lunch.”

   ---

Monday, June 19, 2017

Canada boosting defense spending for less U.S.-centric Canadian foreign policy



   Canada column for Sunday, June 18/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s decision to hike its defense spending by $14 billion over 10 years can be summed up in a name: Trump.
   That’s what the Toronto Globe and Mail commented when reporting that Canada will be making major investments in the military.
   This is the promised response to the presidency of Donald Trump, aiming at a less United States-centric Canadian foreign policy, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia said.
   “To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state,” Freeland added.
   Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said the Liberal government vision for expanding the Armed Forces would include spending $60 billion over 20 years.
   The plans include adding 5,000 personnel to the Armed Forces and modern capabilities for cyberattacks and armed drones for unmanned airstrikes along with new warships and fighter jets.
   “We’re serious about our role in the world and we must be serious about funding our military,” Sajjan said.
   As well, Canada will spend an additional $198 million on health and wellness in the next decade to better support military personnel, especially the ill and injured, as well as family members.

   ---

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Terrorism concerns as Canada plans to celebrate its 150th birthday



   Canada column for Sunday, June 11/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   As Canada’s capital prepares to mark the country’s 150th birthday on July 1, there are concerns about potential terrorism.
   “Could the events in Britain happen here? Sadly, the answer is yes,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
   One of the fatalities from last weekend’s London Bridge area attack was Christine Archibald, originally from British Columbia.    
   The 30-year-old woman moved to Europe to be with her fiancĂ© and was caught up in the deadly attack in which seven people were killed and dozens injured.
   Heightened security measures are planned around Parliament Hill but no amount of preparation can guarantee 100-percent safety, Watson said.
   Liberal Member of Parliament David McGuinty, head of a new national security committee, said the government is consulting with Canadian communities about precautions for the celebrations.
   In 2014, terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was shot and killed by security and police officers killing Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a soldier on duty at the National War Memorial, and who then stormed the Parliament Buildings.
   Last Jan. 29, six were killed and eight injured in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Andrew Scheer, new Conservative leader, aims at toppling Liberals




   Canada column for Sunday, June 4/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s Conservatives are looking to Andrew Scheer to rebuild the party that was swept aside by the Liberals in the 2015 vote.
   It took 13 ballots for party members to select Scheer, 38, a Saskatchewan Member of Parliament and former Speaker of the House of Commons, as their new leader.
   In a narrow margin, he was declared the winner with 50.95 percent over leadership front-runner Maxime Bernier of Quebec with 49.05.
   Scheer told cheering supporters the goal is for the Conservatives to form the government in 2019 by defeating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.
   In promising “renewed hope for Canada,” Scheer said that the “pain and hardship the Trudeau Liberals are causing Canadians is just temporary.”
   Scheer said he will balance the budget within two years, ending the Liberal job-creating spending spree, and provide tax credits for home-schooled children and those attending private schools.
   The victory makes Scheer, who with wife Jill have five children, the Opposition leader in the Commons.

   ---

   Ontario’s minimum wage will jump to $15 an hour in 2019, Premier Kathleen Wynne said.
   The raise will be phased in over 18 months, rising to $14 an hour next Jan. 1 and to $15 the next January.
   After that, the minimum will rise annually based on the inflation rate.
   The current Ontario minimum wage is $11.40 an hour and ranges across Canada from $10.72 in Saskatchewan to $13 in Nunavut.
   Alberta’s rate will rise to $15 hourly in October of next year.
   The increase, which is a concern for small business owners, is part of a bill that aims to better protect part-time and contract workers, Wynne said.
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   News in brief:
   - Prime Minister Trudeau said he told U.S. President Donald Trump he is “deeply disappointed” with his decision to pull out of the Paris agreement on climate change. “Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth,” Trudeau said. “Canadians know we need to take decisive and collective action to tackle the many harsh realities of our changing climate,” he added.
   - The Canadian government is providing an aid package of $867 million in loans for the forestry industry, workers and communities impacted by softwood lumber tariffs recently imposed by the United States. The aid includes support to expand overseas markets and to help affected workers upgrade their skills and find new opportunities. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she is confident a fair agreement on softwood lumber can be reached.
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   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 74.14 cents U.S. as the U.S. dollar is worth $1.348 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 mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 15,452 points while the TSX Venture index is down at 802 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is down at $1.11 a liter or $4.21 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (May 31) 1, 3, 8, 9, 12 and 40; bonus 2. (May 27) 7, 15, 25, 26, 27 and 36; bonus 12. Lotto Max: (May 26) 14, 16, 18, 21, 38, 44 and 49; bonus 15.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Public outrage has resulted in a Montreal private elementary school no longer allowing convicted sex killer Karla Homolka to help with kids. The school run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church is where Homolka’s kids attend. She and ex-husband Paul Bernardo were convicted in the rape and murder of Ontario teenagers Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. Homolka was released after spending 12 years in prison in 2005.
   - Nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer has admitted killing eight elderly patients with insulin overdoses because she was “overwhelmingly angry” about her life and saying God urged her to do it. She will be sentenced June 26 for the deaths at three long-term care facilities in Woodstock and London, Ontario. She also pleaded guilty to attempting to kill four seniors and to two counts of aggravated assault.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com