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Monday, May 1, 2017

Canada's leader says he helped save NAFTA, for now



   Canada column for Sunday, April 30/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s buddy-buddy relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump might have played a big role in the decision not to dismantle the North American Free Trade Agreement.
   After imposing a hurtful new tariff of up to 24 percent on Canada’s softwood lumber imports, Trump threatened to rip up NAFTA, saying it puts America at a disadvantage.
   Trump says he won’t do that now because Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto are good guys.
   I respect their countries very much. The relationship is very special and I said I will hold on the termination. Let’s see if we can make it a fair deal,” Trump said.
   He was said to be only days away from issuing an executive order to cancel the agreement before speaking on the phone with two leaders.
   Trudeau said he told Trump that a disruption such as ending NAFTA would cause “pain for a lot of families.”
   Gary Hufbauer, a leading U.S. expert on NAFTA from the Peterson Institute, called it a negotiating ploy.
   “True to Trump’s style, the only surprise was the quick reversal,” he said.

   ---


   It turns out a Toronto woman stranded for hours awaiting rescue after scaling a construction crane in the middle of the night is a thrill seeker.
   Friends said Marrisa Lazo, 23, is an “adventure-seeking person” and posts her perilous exploits on the Internet.
   A large part of the downtown was shut down for hours as the rescue took place involving firefighters, police and paramedics.
   Toronto Fire Capt. Rob Wonfor rescued Lazo by climbing up the frame and rappelling down the towering machinery with her.
   Lazo, who was arrested on six counts of mischief, had climbed up the crane, crawled out along the boom and slid down a cable to a large pulley where she became stuck.

    ---

   News in brief:
   - Kevin O’Leary, Canada’s “Trump-like” candidate for the federal Conservative leadership, has dropped out of the race. The businessman and reality TV star on Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank, said he was quitting because he didn’t see a path to victory in Quebec, largely because he doesn’t speak French. He, instead, said he would support Maxime Bernier, a long-time Quebec Member of Parliament, in the May 27 vote.
   - Peter George, the longest-serving president and vice-chancellor of McMaster University, has died at age 75 after a lengthy illness. George, who served three, five-year terms, retired from the Hamilton, Ontario university in 2010. Governor-General David Johnston, who previously headed the University of Waterloo, said George was a “person who’s influenced us all in his leadership for higher education.”

   ---

   Facts and figures:
   Softwood lumber trade sanctions by the U.S. against Canada helped to push the dollar lower to 73.24 cents U.S. The U.S. dollar returned $1.365 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 lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,586 points while the TSX Venture index is 806 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.12 a liter or $4.25 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (April 26) 9, 10, 11, 13, 45 and 49; bonus 24. (April 22) 4, 7, 15, 16, 43 and 48; bonus 26. Lotto Max: (April 21) 3, 4, 13, 16, 35, 47 and 49; bonus 37.

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   Regional briefs:
   - The Ontario Liberal government, seeking re-election next year, will provide free prescription drugs to everyone younger than 25 starting next Jan. 1, regardless of family income. The new pharmacare program was announced in the provincial budget. It extends the existing Ontario Drug Plan that covers prescription drug costs for 900,000 families on social assistance and another three-million seniors.
   - Nova Scotia’s Liberal government is giving an average $160 tax cut to half the province’s population in a budget that contains a $26-million surplus. This would reduce taxes for lower-income earners by increasing the personal exemption on taxable income up to $75,000. It’s reported that Premier Stephen McNeil is expected to set the date soon for an election.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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