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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hurdles remain to proceed with Keystone XL pipeline approved by President Trump

   Canada column for Sunday, March 26/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   U.S. President Donald Trump said it was a “great day for American jobs and North American energy independence” as he approved the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
   But hurdles remain before TransCanada, based in Calgary, can proceed with the $8-billion project, CEO Russ Girling said.
   The pipeline running 900 miles would carry up to 830,000 barrels of Alberta crude oil a day to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast.
   The company continues to work to reach settlements with landowners along the route in Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota and needs approvals from the state governments to proceed.
   Environmental protesters say they will continue to try to stop the project, which had been rejected by previous President Barack Obama.
   In allowing the presidential permit, the U.S. State Department concluded the pipeline would serve the national interest.
   Girling called it a “significant milestone” for the project.
   “We greatly appreciate President Trump’s administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative and we look forward to working with them as we continue to invest in and strengthen North America's energy infrastructure,” he added.


   Canada’s Liberal government is working to make things better for women with policies announced in the federal budget.
   It includes an option to receive maternity leave earlier or extend parental leave to 18 months at a lower benefit rate from the one year allowed now.
   There is also $7 billion over 10 years to increase access to affordable child care and access to employment insurance benefits for people taking time off work to care for an ill or aging relative.
   Included are measures aimed at increasing the number of women entering the workforce or taking on full-time jobs and $101 million over five years to reduce violence against women.


   News in brief:
   - Air Miles, a major Canadian rewards program, will temporarily not allow holders to cash in miles for in-store purchases. That’s after the company said some store transactions were made with stolen miles. The way in which the miles were fraudulently accessed has not compromised members’ personal information, said spokeswoman Rachael Montgomery. Members can still redeem their miles online for e-vouchers.
   - Higher gasoline prices were offset partly by lower costs for fresh fruit and vegetables last month as Canada’s annual pace of inflation dipped by 0.1 percent to 2.0 percent. There has also been higher than expected retail, wholesale and manufacturing sales, trade and job creation. Economists expect the Bank of Canada to keep its key interest rate of 0.5 percent on hold until next year at least.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is lower at 74.76 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.337 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 15,447 points while the TSX Venture index is 805 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.052 a liter or $3.99 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (March 22) 2, 3, 5, 27, 40 and 46; bonus 28. (March 18) 6, 16, 29, 33, 41 and 48; bonus 23. Lotto Max: (March 17) 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 33 and 45; bonus 15.


   Regional briefs:
   - Concern over new border rules prompted the Toronto District School Board to stop allowing school trips to the U.S. indefinitely. Canada’s largest board with 245,000 students said the 24 trips already approved will continue but the group will turn back if any students with appropriate documentation are turned away. The Girl Guides of Canada is also no longer allowing travel to the U.S.
   - Harsh criticism of Quebec in an article published by Maclean’s newsmagazine has led to the writer, a McGill University professor, to resign as director of the Institute for the Study of Canada. Andrew Potter said the province has a “pathologically alienated and low-trust society” with a glaring absence of solidarity. He will remain as an associate professor in the faculty of arts.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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