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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Canadian PM awaits Trump visit; Keystone XL plan faces test

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 29/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau awaits a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, TransCanada Corp. is again seeking U.S approval of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
   Former President Barack Obama rejected the multi-billion-dollar pipeline plan in 2015 but Trump has signed an executive order inviting the company to reapply.
   The pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of Alberta oil a day 1,180 miles to Nebraska where it would connect with other lines leading to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
   TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said the project will help meet America’s growing energy needs and create substantial jobs and economic benefits on both sides of the border.
   “We look forward to working with all stakeholders as we develop this project in the interest of both our countries,” he said.
   The project has faced significant environmental opposition that is resuming.
   Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world and is the largest supplier of foreign oil to the U.S.
   Trudeau congratulated Trump on his election win and invited him to visit Canada first – a tradition for incoming presidents between the world’s largest trading partners.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Dollar slips as Bank of Canada warns of possible rate cuts with Trump uncertainty

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 22/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s dollar slipped in value after the central bank warned further interest rate cuts are possible amid uncertainty surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump’s potential protectionist policies.
   Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said there are concerns about the Canadian economy deteriorating as the dollar fell more than one cent to below 75 cents U.S. coupled with falling oil prices.
   Another concern were comments by Trump hinting he might be in favor of a weaker U.S. dollar.
   Poloz warned there would be “material consequences” for trade if protectionist policies come into effect under Trump between the world’s two largest trading partners.
   For now, the central bank has left its trendsetting interest rate at 0.5 percent where it has been since July 2015.
   A rate cut “remains on the table” and it will be there as long as downside risks are present, Poloz said.
   Canada’s annual rate of inflation rose to 1.5 percent last month, up from 1.2 percent in November, but was a smaller increase than expected as lower food costs helped offset gasoline price increases.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Prime Minister skips Trump inauguration, meets with Canadians instead

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 15/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won’t be attending the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20, deciding instead to “re-engage” with Canadians.
   Trudeau is in the midst of a cross-country tour and also won’t go to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
   In his second year in office, Trudeau is making a campaign-style tour to meet with “average Canadians” across the country.
   The tour started Thursday in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, and visited cities including Belleville, Kingston and Peterborough before arriving in London, Ontario.
   Over the next few weeks, he will visit Quebec, British Columbia and Prairie provinces followed by Atlantic Canada and the North.
   Trudeau will meet with his cabinet for two days in Calgary before parliament resumes on Jan. 30.
   The at-home tour is a priority, said press secretary Cameron Ahmad, adding that will “provide many great opportunities to engage directly with Canadians.”


Monday, January 9, 2017

Drunken pilot incident leads to government airline safety review

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 8/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is reviewing airline safety after a Sunwing Airlines pilot was arrested after being so drunk he passed out in the cockpit.
   Members of the flight crew said they noticed the pilot behaving oddly after boarding a Sunwing flight in Calgary last weekend.
   It was to fly to Cancun, Mexico by way of Regina and Winnipeg with 99 passengers and six crewmembers onboard.
   Pilot Miroslav Gronych, from Slovakia on a work visa in Canada, was arrested for being three times over the legal driving limit for alcohol consumption, police said.
   In Canada, it is against the law for pilots to consume any alcohol within eight hours of flying and individual airlines often have stricter rules.
   Sunwing’s Jacqueline Grossman said the airline has zero tolerance on drinking within 12 hours of duty.
   Transport Minister Marc Garneau told commercial air carriers he is “very concerned” about the incident and wants them to outline and confirm their safety protocols.
   “There is the need to ensure that protocols are up to date and are being implemented with all the required resources, including measures designed to confirm pilots’ fitness to fly,” he said.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Good news, bad for Canadian taxpayers in 2017

   (Happy New(s) Year!)

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 1/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   There’s good news and bad for taxpayers supporting the Canadian and provincial governments as 2017 dawns.
   This give and take will help governments balance their books and provide more assistance for those in need.
   Nationally, higher-income earners will pay more but most Canadians will have more money to keep.
   The enhanced monthly Child Benefit payments led the federal government to end other child tax credits and there are changes to Employment Insurance benefits.
   Also gone is income splitting for families and changes affecting life insurance, business owners selling their companies and some mutual funds.
   Ontario residents will receive an 8-percent rebate on electricity bills but the climate change “cap-and-trade” fee will add about $6 a month to natural gas bills.
   The first-time homebuyers’ maximum land transfer tax refund will double to $4,000.
   British Columbia says goodbye to medical services plan premiums for children while Quebec bids adieu to its controversial health premiums.
   Alberta reduces its small business corporate income tax rate to 2 percent from 3 while the carbon tax on gas and oil will be offset with rebates for lower-income earners.
   Only cash-strapped Newfoundland and Labrador will raise income taxes along with provincial park and campsite fees.