Canada column for Sunday, May 21/17
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Canada is approaching the impending renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement as something that will be “routine.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said “modernizing trade agreements is standard practice” for trading nations.
U.S. President Donald Trump through Congress has formally given the required 90-day notice to Canada and Mexico to rework the 25-year-old agreement.
Elements of the deal are “outdated” and do not reflect modern standards, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.
Areas needing to be “modernized” include intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, environment and labor, of which Canada is in agreement.
The goal is to conclude the negotiations “with timely and substantive results for U.S. consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers,” Lighthizer said.
Freeland will meet in Mexico City on Tuesday with Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray to discuss the agreement and trade.
“Our objective is going to be to negotiate a great deal for Canadians and I’m very confident we can do that,” Freeland said.
Protesters criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s environmental record as he met in Seattle with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
The two leaders discussed the development of the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, an initiative to strengthen technology industry ties between British Columbia and Washington.
As well, Trudeau continued his efforts to promote Canada’s technology sector to state officials and attended a Microsoft CEO Summit.
“We’re both strongly engaged on issues of climate change,” Trudeau said, although protesters rapped his environmental record and support for oil pipelines.
News in brief:
- The Ontario government is moving ahead with a “comprehensive environmental assessment” for a long-discussed high-speed rail line between Toronto and Windsor (at the border with Detroit). The 210-mile corridor, costing about $21 billion, would reduce travel time in half to two hours. Premier Kathleen Wynne said the first phase between Toronto and London could be completed within eight years and the balance by 2031.
- A survey by Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University shows almost 40 percent of Canadians eat lunch at their desks. This reflects increasing workplace pressures and shifting attitudes toward meals, it said. The survey found 37 percent ate lunch at home and the remaining in a cafeteria or kitchen-type room. “It really speaks to how pressured workers are,” said researcher Sylvain Charlebois.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has advanced to 73.87 cents U.S. as the U.S. dollar is lower at $1.353 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 down at 15,423 points while the TSX Venture index is up at 802 points.
The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.10 a liter or $4.18 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (May 17) 9, 17, 36, 38, 41 and 45; bonus 39. (May 13) 18, 19, 22, 26, 30 and 47; bonus 43. Lotto Max: (May 12) 11, 25, 26, 28, 38, 44 and 45; bonus 20.
- It will take an election recount this week to determine the final standing in the May 9 election in British Columbia. Election-night counts showed former Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals won 43 ridings – one short of a majority. Confirming the absentee ballots and judicial recounts will decide whether the province ends up with a minority or majority government.
- Alberta’s two conservative parties plan to merge to form the United Conservative Party. The unity deal was announced by Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Conservative Leader Jason Kenney. It still has to be approved by party members. Kenney said the proposed deal represents the reunification of a family that has been divided and ensures the defeat of the current New Democratic government.
- It’s a festive time in Montreal as the bilingual English-French city marks its 375th birthday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a former resident of the city when his dad, Pierre, was prime minister, paid tribute to its founders. He also highlighted the city’s cultural diversity with its “francophone roots and indigenous origins.”
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com