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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Canada parties for the country's 150th birthday

   Canada column for Sunday, July 2/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   As more than a half-million people gathered on Parliament Hill for Canada’s 150th birthday this weekend, greetings have come from south of the border.
   Not in a tweet, but U.S. President Donald Trump issued a statement wishing Canada the best on its big day.
   “The United States cherishes our relationship with Canada,” he said, adding: “Throughout the years, no two countries have formed a bond as unique as ours.”
   Trump noted the relationship as Canada and the United States “have stood together steadfastly in times of peace and war, through prosperity and hardship.”
   As well, he said “we are united by the world's longest border but above all by the shared values we together hold so highly.”
   Security was tight as the country prepared its largest-ever party outside the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.
   Along with the hundreds of thousands of revelers in the capital, Canadians in more than 2,000 communities and around the world were celebrating.


   Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has fueled expectations of an interest-rate increase.
   Since the Canadian economy has had “surprisingly” strong growth in the first quarter of this year, interest rate cuts two years ago have appeared to have done their job, he said.
   There is speculation a bank-rate increase could be made later this month.
   His comments pushed the Canadian dollar to a four-month high of 76.57 cents U.S. and higher on Friday.
   An increase in the bank rate at 0.5 percent and upon which banks set their prime and mortgage rates would be the first in nearly seven years.


   News in brief:
   - Canada’s ceremonial Order of Canada honorees grew by 99 on Canada Day, July 1. The new inductees in the order include Canadian notables Jeopardy TV’s Alex Trebek; soccer star Christine Sinclair; hockey legend Mark Messier; actor Mike Myers; actress Catherine O’Hara and musician Alan Doyle. In the past 50 years, about 7,000 people have been honored.
   - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is confident Canada will win the battle over the U.S. softwood lumber anti-dumping duties again. The U.S. suggests Canadian wood is harvested from government-owned land and sold for less than market prices. It’s the fifth time since 1981 the U.S. has accused Canada of unfair lumber trade only to have the international trade tribunal rule against it each time.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has advanced to 77.13 cents U.S. as the U.S. dollar is worth $1.296 in Canadian funds 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 15,182 points while the TSX Venture index is 766 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.041 a liter or $3.95 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (June 28) 8, 21, 25, 34, 46 and 48; bonus 4. (June 2) 3, 11, 16, 40, 43 and 46; bonus 36. Lotto Max: (June 23) 2, 3, 6, 22, 24, 42 and 46; bonus 27.


   Regional briefs:
   - Sixteen years of Liberal rule in British Columbia have ended after the minority government was brought down in a non-confidence vote. The New Democrats will now take over after reaching a deal with the Green Party to rule under Premier-designate John Horgan. The new coalition government is also in a precarious position having just 44 members in the 87-seat assembly.
   - Robin and Heather Vargas of Charleston, S.C. are following through with their threat to move to Canada rather than live under a Donald Trump government. They selected to move to Halifax by the end of the year after “falling in love with the country.” Heather said “we would just like to have a better quality of life and we’re a little afraid for the future and we thought we could find that in Canada.”


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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