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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Canada still prefers a three-country NAFTA deal: Prime Minister Trudeau

   Canada column for Sunday, July 22/18

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed the value of a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement as President Donald Trump again attacked Canada’s dairy tariffs.
   There are suggestions a deal might be reached between the U.S. and Mexico before one with Canada’s involvement.
   Trudeau said, however, an agreement with the three partners is preferred as being the best for all involved for “ensuring prosperity for workers across North America.”
   Mexican government officials will be in Washington next Thursday to resume talks but there is no plan for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to join the discussion.
   Trudeau told reporters on Friday that a renegotiated NAFTA “is at the centre of everything we do” to create jobs and expand the economy.
   The U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on Canada were in response to the tariffs of up to 270 percent on dairy, Trump said.
   Under Canada’s supply-management system, there are domestic production quotas on dairy, eggs and poultry to keep prices stable and guarantee farmers a steady income.


   The Canadian government is investigating whether it can find a solution for the potential loss of bus service in western Canada.
   Greyhound Canada says it will end passenger and delivery services in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, northwestern Ontario and rural British Columbia in the fall.
   The company blamed a drop in riders and reduced revenue as well as ridesharing emerging as a threat.
   Prime Minister Trudeau has asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to work with the provinces, communities and Greyhound to see if anything can be done.


   News in brief:
   - A cabinet shuffle for the Liberal government is viewed as preparing for next year’s federal election. The retooled cabinet signals the government’s intent to ease trade dependence on the U.S., address concerns about border control and bolster political forces in key regions, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Among the changes are the naming of Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief, to become minister of border security and organized crime reduction.
   - Canada’s provincial premiers are calling for the federal government to step up its warnings of the dangers of cannabis. New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the provinces need more resources as recreational marijuana use becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17. The goal is to “get cannabis out of the hands of our youth and the proceeds out of the hands of criminals,” he added.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 76.08 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.314 in Canadian funds (bank exchange fees extra).
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is 1.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.7 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 16,435 points while the TSX Venture index is 712 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.316 a liter or $5 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (July 18) 3, 14, 16, 19, 44 and 48; bonus 1. (July 14) 8, 10, 12, 17, 22 and 37; bonus 29. Lotto Max: (July 13) 1, 4, 5, 22, 25, 32 and 34; bonus 27.


   Regional briefs:
   - Wildfires ripping across British Columbia’s Okanagan region have forced residents of about 1,000 houses to flee or be ready to leave quickly. There is a cluster of fires between Kelowna and Penticton, said Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek. The popular tourist area’s wildfires were started by a lightning storm. Across the province, there are 123 fires in the area and in central and southeast British Columbia.
   - Life has changed in a good way for five Ottawa-area friends who won the tax-free $60-million cash jackpot in Lotto Max. The IT professionals have been buying lottery tickets together for 10 years and hit the jackpot on the sometimes unlucky Friday the 13th. All said they will continue working and not make any “big, rash purchases” with each of their $12 million.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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