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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Prime Minister skips Trump inauguration, meets with Canadians instead



   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 15/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (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.”

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   A cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Trudeau is viewed as a bid to improve relations with incoming U.S. President Donald Trump and boost international affairs.
   Chrystia Freeland, who speaks fluent Russian after being a journalist in Russia for four years, replaces Stephane Dion as Foreign Affairs Minister, with responsibility for Canada-U.S. relations.
   Francois-Philippe Champagne succeeds Freeland in international trade, Karina Gould heads Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef moves to the Status of Women position and Patty Hajdu becomes Minister of Labor.

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   News in brief:
   - Canada isn’t far behind big U.S. cities for the worst traffic bottlenecks, the Canadian Automobile Association says. A survey showed the most consistently congested stretch is Highway 401 through Toronto that’s the ninth worst in Canada and the U.S. Toronto had five of the 10 busiest Canadian highways while Montreal had three and Vancouver two.
   - The funerals were held in Nova Scotia for former Canadian soldier Lionel Desmond, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Afghanistan in 2007. Desmond, 33, killed his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter before killing himself.
   - Canada’s Competition Bureau has assessed $1.1 million in penalties and costs against online retailer Amazon over pricing practises. The concerns related to the “unsubstantiated” list prices Amazon used to compare what it charged for items. The bureau said it is “pleased” the company has put procedures in place to validate list prices received from its suppliers.

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   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar has risen to 76.02 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.315 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 lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,477 points while the TSX Venture index is 788 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.116 a liter or $4.24 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Jan. 11) 24, 34, 36, 38, 42 and 43; bonus 30. (Jan. 7) 1, 10, 18, 19, 23 and 27; bonus 48. Lotto Max (Jan. 6) 10, 13, 18, 19, 38, 47 and 48; bonus 42.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Opposition politicians are concerned that Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister plans to spend six to eight weeks a year at his vacation home in Costa Rica. In an emergency, the Conservative premier said he would return home immediately even as Deputy Premier Heather Stefanson would serve in his place. “We need a full-time premier who’s engaged,” said Andrew Swan of the New Democratic Party.
   - The British Columbia government has approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. Premier Christy Clark said it meets environmental conditions and includes a revenue-sharing agreement worth up to $1 billion. Kinder Morgan Canada’s $6.8-billion project will include state-of-the-art spill prevention and response measures. It also projects $20 billion in economic growth over 20 years, she said.
   - Online booze orders were a huge hit among drinkers, mainly in the Toronto-area, over the holidays. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario said there were online sales of $2 million in November and December for the new service. Customers are charged $12 for home or office delivery or no charge if the items are picked up at a store.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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