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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Trump accuses Canada of "smooth" moves in trade as steel, aluminum tariffs loom

   Canada column for Sunday, March 4/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s a “smooth” operator when it comes to trade with the U.S., says President Donald Trump.
   His comments come as U.S. lobbyists are pushing to spare Canada from punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum.
   Such penalties to be detailed in the coming week are “ill-conceived and counter-productive” as Canada buys more American steel than any other country, the Wall Street Journal commented.
   “Mr. Trump is punishing our largest trading partner in the middle of a NAFTA renegotiation that he claims will result in a much better deal,” it added.
   The United Steelworkers union is calling for Canada to be excluded from the tariffs that are primarily aimed at China.
   We have an integrated economy and if it gets undone, America will pay a heavy price,” the union said.
   Despite a cozy relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump is unwavering.
   “We lose a lot with Canada – people don’t know it. Canada is very smooth. They have you believe that it’s wonderful – and it is – for them. Not wonderful for us,” he said.


   The federal Liberal government’s budget ahead of next year’s election contains no tax increases but includes an $18.1-billion spending deficit.
   “It is a plan that puts people first – that invests in Canadians and in the things that matter most to them,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.
   There’s more money for national parks, the environment, scientific research, a paternity leave plan and pay-equity law.
   Planning will being headed by Dr. Eric Hoskins, who resigned as Ontario health minister, for a national pharmacare plan to cover prescription drugs and availability.


   News in brief:
   - Compensation to consumers for a 14-year, bread price-fixing scheme pulled down George Weston Ltd.’s profit in the fourth quarter. Net income for the Toronto-based food processer and grocer dropped to $28 million from $82 million a year ago. Special items include a $25 Loblaw gift card to repay customers over bread costs.
   - Reacting to the Florida school shooting, Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op will stop selling products from Vista Outdoor Inc. that makes firearms similar to those used in the mass shooting. David Labistour, MEC chief executive, said he is hopeful this will “inspire a wider discussion throughout our industry and North America.”
   - Canada’s economy grew by 3 percent last year, compared with 1.4 percent in 2016. Statistics Canada said growth was largely due to increased household spending followed by inventory and business investment along with an increase in exports.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is lower at 77.57 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.289 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1.25 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.45 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,342 points while the TSX Venture index is 824 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is up at $1.205 a liter or $4.58 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Feb. 28) 3, 14, 36, 38, 40 and 48; bonus 23. (Feb. 24) 3, 13, 19, 26, 33 and 44; bonus 5. Lotto Max: (Feb. 23) 13, 17, 24, 32, 33, 44 and 45; bonus 48.


   Regional briefs:
   - First he was out, then he was in and now he’s out again as former Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has dropped out of the party’s leadership race. Brown stepped down as leader after two women made allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Brown said he is working to clear his name and has a libel suit against CTV network over its reporting. Seeking the leadership are Christine Elliott, Tanya Granic Allen, Doug Ford and Caroline Mulroney.
   - Thirty-one Newfoundland oil refinery workers are instant millionaires after winning a $60-million Lotto Max jackpot. The workers at the North Atlantic oil refinery in Come By Chance each collected almost $2 million in tax-free cash. For one couple, it was a double win as they each held a share in the ticket. Some 300 family members joined the celebration at a convention centre in St. John’s to receive the huge jackpot.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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