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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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Canada looks at NAFTA renegotiaton with the U.S. and Mexico as "routine"



   Canada column for Sunday, May 21/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada is approaching the impending renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement as something that will be “routine.”
   Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said “modernizing trade agreements is standard practice” for trading nations.
   U.S. President Donald Trump through Congress has formally given the required 90-day notice to Canada and Mexico to rework the 25-year-old agreement.
   Elements of the deal are “outdated” and do not reflect modern standards, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.
   Areas needing to be “modernized” include intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, environment and labor, of which Canada is in agreement.
   The goal is to conclude the negotiations “with timely and substantive results for U.S. consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers,” Lighthizer said.
   Freeland will meet in Mexico City on Tuesday with Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray to discuss the agreement and trade.
   “Our objective is going to be to negotiate a great deal for Canadians and I’m very confident we can do that,” Freeland said.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Canada is ready to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Mexico



   Canada column for Sunday, May 14/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   “Bring it on,” Canadian leaders suggest as U.S. President Donald Trump moves to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
   Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will be “good, collaborative constructive partners who effectively stand up for the national interest.”
   It is hoped Canada will be able to “conclude negotiations quickly,” as well as meet soon with Trump “trade czar” Robert Lighthizer, she said.
   The U.S. plans to file the required 90-day notice with Congress to renegotiate the pact and start talks with Canada and Mexico later this year.
   The President has said the U.S. is at a big disadvantage with the current NAFTA deal and wants “massive” changes in areas including automobiles, dairy, lumber, pharmaceuticals and the dispute-resolution system.
   Canada and the U.S. already are working on finding ways to eliminate excessive regulations on products crossing the border between the world’s two largest trading partners.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Water, water, everywhere, flooding across Canada

   Canada column for Sunday, May 7/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   A massive storm stalled over central and eastern Canada has resulted in several days of persistent rainfall into this weekend and flooding.
   Lake Ontario is at its highest level since 1993 – almost two feet above average – as measures are ready to remove the 700 residents of the Toronto islands, if necessary.
   The three inches or so of rain have flooded Toronto beach parks and roads near the lake.
   Environment Canada said the weather system is drenching much of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, with officials invoking states of emergency and contingency plans.
   In Quebec, 132 communities have been flooded with about 700 people forced from their homes, with less severe conditions in Montreal.
   In Atlantic Canada, Environment Canada was predicting up to four inches of rain for most of Nova Scotia and two inches in southwestern New Brunswick.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is “ready and willing” with whatever help is needed with the floods and cleanup.
   There is also a risk of flooding in southern British Columbia with thunderstorms, heavy rain, wind gusts and large hail.

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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.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trade issues a concern to Canadian government after Trump comments



   Canada column for Sunday, April 23/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is stressing the importance of trade with the United States after President Donald Trump said Canada is “taking advantage” of U.S. workers.
   In the first bitter criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement as it relates to Canada, Trump called it a “disaster” especially in dairy farming, lumber and energy.
   “We're going to have to get to the negotiating table with Canada very, very quickly,” he said.
   Earlier, after meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump praised the bilateral trade relationship and recommended only some “tweaking.”
   More details about the irritants and suggested NAFTA changes are expected in a few weeks.
   Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada buys five times more dairy products than it sells to the U.S. while a protracted dispute on lumber would drive up U.S. housing costs.
   The stable supply of oil from Canada – one-third of all U.S. imports – was called the job-creating lifeblood of the U.S. economy.
   “Any increase of trade barriers between our countries would significantly impact jobs in the United States, as well as in Canada,” she added.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Marijuana legalization planned for Canada in 2018



   Canada column for Sunday, April 16/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Liberal government – as promised during the 2015 election campaign – is moving ahead with legalizing recreational marijuana use for those 18 and older.
   It’s being called a “bold and risky social experiment” by many and would include tough laws against illicit dealers and those who break them.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said legalizing pot is the best way to keep the drug from being used by younger, impressionable children.
   The law change would become effective in July of next year and end the prohibition on marijuana use that Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said has been an “abject failure.”
   Police forces are spending billions of dollars and countless resources dealing with drug use while dealers are profiting by up to $8 billion a year, he said.
   Liberal politician Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief, said this will promote the “safe, socially responsible use” of marijuana while at the same time rigidly enforcing impaired driving whether by drugs or alcohol.
   The Conservative party called the legalization a bad idea while the socialist New Democrats wanted it sooner.

Monday, April 10, 2017

U.S. is "comfortable" with security at the Canadian border



   Canada column for Sunday, April 9/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians should not be overly concerned about the possibility of stricter security or changes in travel to the United States.
   U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told a Senate committee that his concerns are mainly with the Mexican border and he’d like to see the Canadian border “even thinner.”
   He made a similar comment during meetings in Ottawa, saying he’s “very comfortable with the level of security on the border.”
   Something drawing attention is a “little bit” more enterprising Mexicans entering the U.S. illegally via Canada.
   Montana Democrat Jonathan Tester said the northern border also has its “challenges,” suggesting more stringent security as did North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven.
   “I’m concerned with all the borders,'” Kelly said, adding that the “absolutely great news story in the northern border is that we have Canada there that’s a friend and ally.”
   Canada has “tremendous law enforcement . . .  and they’re very careful about who comes into their country,” Kelly said.

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