Greetings to thousands of readers the past month from the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Russia, India, Germany, France, Japan and Latvia.

Total Pageviews

Monday, November 20, 2017

Keystone pipeline springs a 210,000-gallon leak; bad news for TransCanada Corp.

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 19/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   It couldn’t have come at a worse time as the original Keystone pipeline sprung a big leak in the United States.
   TransCanada Corp. said the Keystone pipeline leaked about 210,000 gallons of oil near Amherst, South Dakota.
   The incident happened just days before the Nebraska Public Service Commission is to decide the fate of an $8-billion plan to expand the pipeline network.
   The cause of the spill is not known but it is something that environmentalists have warned could happen and they continue to oppose the plans.
   TransCanada wants to route the pipeline more directly from Alberta into Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska to connect with existing lines to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.
   Nebraska’s commissioners are to vote on the project Monday as the last major regulatory hurdle since President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead to the pipeline that was rejected by then-President Barack Obama.
   A cleanup is under way and the pipeline has been closed for repairs.
   “This is exactly the kind of disaster we can expect more of if Keystone XL is approved,” said the environmental group 350.org.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Canadians are 'on the road again' heading for their place in the sun in Florida

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 12/17


“Along Interstate 75,” an exit-by-exit guide to driving to Florida from Canada and return.


  (c) By Jim Fox

   Get your motor runnin' and head out on the highway.
   That refrain by Steppenwolf is a common one for thousands of Canadians who are doing that en route to their winter playground in the Florida sun.
   The annual migration of the so-called “snowbirds” to the warmer environs of the “Sunshine State” is well under way.
   Writer Dave Hunter is the authority on the I-75 expressway to the sun with an internet-updated printed guidebook for the 958 miles to Florida from Windsor-Detroit.
   Hunter and wife Kathy, who split their time between Mississauga, Ontario and Lakeland, Florida have written the book on travel to Florida.
   They have been making this trek for 48 years and writing about it the past 24 years in their “Along I-75” guidebook and companion publication, “Along Florida’s Expressways.”
   Each page is packed with helpful information, covering 25 miles or 30 minutes of driving, reporting on road conditions, construction zones and more.
   There are 3,000 listings of what is within a mile of each exit including gas stations, restaurants and lodging. Details: i75online.com


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Florida's "love affair" with Canadian visitors; Governor announces discount deals

   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 5/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   While expressing his “love” for Canadians, Florida Governor Rick Scott was in Toronto to launch a discount program for visitors from the north.
   The new Canadian Power Play Program features 20-percent discounts on airfare, rental cars and lodging to counter the colorful currency’s recent weakness.
   This will “help even out the dollar value,” Scott said at a news conference at Union Station.
   “We love Canadians – you’re a big part of our state and our biggest group of international travelers,” he said.
   The governor stressed that Canadians are “so important to Florida’s tourism industry and the 1.4-million jobs it supports for families.”
   There were 3.3-million Canadians visiting Florida last year, accounting for 23 percent of the state’s international visitors and they spent $3.6 billion.
   “We are doubling down on our efforts to bring more Canadians to the Sunshine State with our new Canadian Power Play Program,” said Ken Lawson, Visit Florida president and ceo.
   Twenty-six Florida businesses and tourism partners including Air Canada are participating in the program, with details at LoveFlorida.ca


Monday, October 30, 2017

NAFTA deal "in real peril" says former Canadian prime minister

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 29/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The negotiations to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement are “in real peril,” says Canada’s former Conservative prime minster.
   In a memo titled “Napping on NAFTA,” Stephen Harper said he fears the negotiations are going badly and it is no bluff that President Donald Trump might move to end the agreement.
   “I believe this threat is real,” Harper said in a letter to clients of his firm Harper & Associates Consulting and obtained by the Canadian Press news service.
   He criticizes the government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for too quickly rejecting U.S. proposals and having a too-close negotiating partner in Mexico.
   “In fact, the U.S. is both irked and mystified by the Liberals’ unwavering devotion to Mexico,” Harper wrote.
   Harper, whose government was ousted by the Liberals in 2015, said another misstep is Canada’s priorities on labor, gender, Aboriginal and environmental issues.
   Liberals call the memo “ill-timed and perplexing,” and accuse Harper of negotiating publicly against the government of Canada.
   While evaluating the U.S. demands, the government should consider whether it is “worth having a trade agreement with the Americans or not,” Harper said.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Canada's political leaders to push a NAFTA deal across the U.S.

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 22/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadian politicians are crossing the United States trying to save the North American Free Trade Agreement.
   Key demands by the U.S. that both Canadian and Mexican leaders say are not possible hampered the fourth round of talks in Washington.
   As negotiations faltered and were postponed until next year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is important for his cabinet members to promote the merits of reaching the trilateral trade pact.
   They are reminding U.S. lawmakers that 35 states list Canada their top customer and nine-million Americans depend on trade with Canada for their jobs.
   Startling demands at the latest talks concerned automobiles, dairy and other issues.
   The U.S. wants cars and trucks to have 50 percent U.S. content to avoid tariffs within a year.
   President Donald Trump said Canadian dairy policies are hurting mid-western farmers.
   Trade negotiators are demanding that Canada’s supply management system for dairy, chicken, eggs and turkey be scrapped within 10 years.


   As Sears Canada winds up its business with liquidation sales – blaming online shopping for part of its demise – a survey shows Canadians prefer shopping in stores.
   BMO Capital Markets surveyed 1,200 people, asking if they would consider buying products in five categories from Canadian Tire, Walmart or Dollarama.
   It asked if shoppers would prefer to buy the products online from the retailer’s website, the retailer’s store or at Amazon.ca, assuming they were the same price.
   It found those surveyed overwhelmingly preferred to buy at a physical retail location, as opposed to online in every category.


   News in brief:
   - The Canadian government is reworking its proposed tax-reform proposals aimed at business owners and the wealthy. It will simplify limiting private corporation owners who lower taxes through “sprinkling” earnings with family members. It will scale back passive investment income so only three percent of the most-wealthy private corporations will pay higher taxes and eliminate a change to ease the passing down of a family business.
   - Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip that featured “Canadiana-laced lyrics,” has died at age 53. He had an aggressive form of brain cancer and went on a cross-Canada farewell tour with the group last year.
   - Canada’s retail sales have started slowing after a red-hot year as the annual inflation rate moved up to 1.6 percent last month from 1.4 percent in September. Excluding higher gas prices, the rate was 1.1 percent while retails sales dropped 0.3 percent. The inflation rates are within the Bank of Canada’s ideal target of two percent as the central bank plans to announce its plans for interest rates on Wednesday.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has dropped to 79.19 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.262 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.2 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 15,857 points while the TSX Venture index was down to 789 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.108 a liter or $4.21 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Oct. 18) 11, 25, 33, 35, 40 and 42; bonus 15. (Oct. 14) 16, 22, 28, 29, 32 and 34; bonus 43. Lotto Max (Oct. 13) 8, 14, 16, 17, 18, 34 and 41; bonus 43.


   Regional briefs:
   - Three men were killed while trying to repair an ammonia leak at an arena in Fernie, British Columbia. Two were city employees while the third worked for CIMCO Refrigeration of Calgary. Also in B.C., former provincial cabinet minister and long-time Vancouver radio broadcaster Rafe Mair has died at age 85.
   - It’s expected that New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant will be calling an early election in the province. He plans to meet Monday with Lieutenant-Governor Jocelyne Roy, saying his Liberal government has “accomplished” its mandate over the past three years. That’s a usual sign of an early election call instead of waiting until next September.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sears Canada winding up business after 65 years

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 15/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Sears Canada, a retailing giant here for 65 years, will soon be no more.
   The company is winding up its business, closing the remaining 130 stores and ending the jobs of 12,000 employees. It closed 59 stores and laid off 2,900 workers in June.
   Sears received court approval Friday to liquidate its remaining stores as no viable buyer could be found for the struggling retailer.
   Judge Glenn Hainey of the Ontario Supreme Court said he was satisfied there was no viable alternative after restructuring attempts and a sale failed to materialize after it received protection from creditors in June.
   Retail analysts said Sears was unable to adapt to a changing marketplace as it lost customers to Walmart, Canadian Tire, Best Buy, Costco, Winners and Amazon.
   The company had sales declines for more than a decade after being given a lifeline with the demise of iconic department store chain Eaton’s in 1999 when Sears bought its remaining assets.
   Sears Canada began as Simpsons-Sears in 1952 with a mail-order business in partnership with Sears Roebuck Co. of Chicago. It was spun off from U.S. based Sears Holdings in 2012.


Monday, October 9, 2017

TransCanada cancels Energy East pipeline: reaction mixed

   Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 7/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The decision by TransCanada to cancel its proposed $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline has been greeted with cheers and disappointment.
   Environmentalists were thrilled while opposition politicians blamed the Liberal government for the demise of the plan to build the 2,800-mile pipeline.
   It would have carried 1.1-billion barrels of crude oil daily from the Alberta oilsands in the west to refineries in the east in Quebec and New Brunswick.
   Also canceled was the Eastern Mainline project of 230 miles of natural gas pipeline in Ontario.
   TransCanada president Russ Girling announced the decision that followed the National Energy Board’s revision of its policy to now also review indirect greenhouse gas emissions.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the move a “business decision” because of dropping oil prices.
   It is a “grave disappointment” as the project would have created thousands of jobs, said Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
   He said court challenges with the Trans Mountain expansion in British Columbia and that province’s now-abandoned NorthWest natural gas project can be blamed on Canada’s “convoluted” regulatory framework.