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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trade issues a concern to Canadian government after Trump comments

   Canada column for Sunday, April 23/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is stressing the importance of trade with the United States after President Donald Trump said Canada is “taking advantage” of U.S. workers.
   In the first bitter criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement as it relates to Canada, Trump called it a “disaster” especially in dairy farming, lumber and energy.
   “We're going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly,” he said.
   Earlier, after meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump praised the bilateral trade relationship and recommended only some “tweaking.”
   More details about the irritants and suggested NAFTA changes are expected in a few weeks.
   Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada buys five times more dairy products than it sells to the U.S. while a protracted dispute on lumber would drive up U.S. housing costs.
   The stable supply of oil from Canada – one-third of all U.S. imports – was called the job-creating lifeblood of the U.S. economy.
   “Any increase of trade barriers between our countries would significantly impact jobs in the United States, as well as in Canada,” she added.


   Politicians are trying to take the heat out of the housing market in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond from Niagara Region to Peterborough.
   The Ontario government announced a 16-point plan to take effect this month that includes a 15-percent “speculation tax” on foreign buyers, similar to British Columbia, as well as expanded rent controls and new fees on homes left vacant.
   “With this tax, we are targeting people who aren’t looking for a place to raise a family – they’re looking only for a quick profit or a safe place to park their money,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne.
   The average price of a house in the Greater Toronto Area has risen to almost $1 million U.S.


   News in brief:
   - X-Files star Gillian Anderson has called on Canada to stop the annual East Coast commercial seal hunt. In a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, she said the seal hunt “puts a stain on Canada’s international reputation.” The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the government is committed to supporting a sustainable, humane and well-regulated harvest and recognizes the “economic and cultural value of sealing.”
   - Canada’s annual inflation rate dipped to 1.6 percent last month, driven largely by a drop in food prices that offset higher costs for gasoline. Along with improved economic numbers, this has led the Bank of Canada to boost its growth projection to 2.6 percent for the year, up from 2.1 percent.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has dropped to 74.08 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.349 Canadian, before exchange fees.
   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 up at 15,614 points while the TSX Venture index is down at 824 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.157 a liter or $4.39 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (April 19) 4, 11, 21, 24, 44 and 49; bonus 41. (April 15) 11, 19, 22, 23, 41and 46; bonus 5. Lotto Max: (April 14) 23, 25, 29, 30, 42, 44 and 45; bonus 20.


   Regional briefs:
   - Heavy rain and spring run-off has forced residents from 150 homes in Rigaud, Quebec by flood waters on the Rigaud and Ottawa rivers. In Mandeville, several hundred houses have been isolated by flooding on the Mastigouche River. Laval also has flooding and the Gatineau, Outaouais and Milles-Iles rivers along with Riviere des Prairies are at flood levels.
   - Cooper, the Atlantic Canada Labradoodle, wasn’t bumped from a WestJet flight but ended up on the wrong airplane. A frantic hunt ended happily when the dog was found near the Hamilton, Ontario airport – 1,500 miles from his intended destination of Deer Lake, Newfoundland. Owner Terri Pittman said he was found in good shape a day after getting away from airport crew.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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