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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Optimism over prospects of "tweaked" North American Free Trade Agreement



   Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 19/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians are cautiously optimistic that any “tweaking” of the North American Free Trade Agreement won’t impact the country greatly.
   President Donald Trump told visiting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the trade relationship with Canada is “outstanding,” calling only for a “few tweaks.”
   “If we’re going to change it, we’re going to do things that are good for both Canada and the United States,” said David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S.
   Trump said his major concern was trade with Mexico that greatly puts the U.S. at a disadvantage.
   Both leaders are seeking common ground to help the middle classes prosper, Trudeau said.
   “What I saw from the American president was a focus on getting things done for the people who supported him and who believe in him, while demonstrating good relations with one’s neighbors,” he added.
   Later in the week, Trudeau addressed members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on the passing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement that Canada is to ratify by the spring.

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    After getting the nod from President Trump, TransCanada is again seeking approval of its Keystone XL pipeline route in Nebraska that had been rejected by the former U.S. government.
   The multi-billion-dollar project, still being hotly contested by environmentalists, would carry 830,000 barrels a day of Alberta crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.
   A decision from the Nebraska Public Service Commission is expected by the end of the year and the company has also filed a presidential permit application for the project.

    ---

   News in brief:
   - A six-alarm fire destroyed the Badminton and Racquet Club in mid-town Toronto. It took about 120 firefighters almost 24 hours to control the fire. It caused the evacuation of nearby condominiums, offices and retail businesses. There were no serious injuries but damage to the 1922-era building was “astronomical,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop. The cause is under investigation.
   - They’re running out of space to put all the snow after a third recent blizzard struck Atlantic Canada. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador received more than a foot of new snow. It followed a dump of three feet of snow in central New Brunswick, parts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
   -  Stuart McLean, bestselling author and humorist on CBC Radio’s "The Vinyl Cafe," has died at age 68. The celebrated storyteller had been diagnosed with skin cancer and died in Toronto.

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   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is lower at 76.25 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.311 Canadian, 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 higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,840 points while the TSX Venture index is 844 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.063 a liter or $4.03 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Feb. 15) 1, 16, 17, 24, 41 and 46; bonus 22. (Feb. 11) 10, 11, 21, 28, 38 and 44; bonus 17. Lotto Max (Feb. 10) 11, 16, 19, 22, 24, 38 and 41; bonus 48.

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   Regional briefs:
   - A Calgary jury has convicted Douglas Garland, 57, of murdering Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their grandson Nathan O'Brien, 5, in 2014. He will serve a life term. The trial was told traces of their bodies were found burned on the farm owned by Garland who had been upset over a patent dispute with Alvin Liknes.
   - Nova Scotia teachers went on strike Friday to protest in Halifax over the provincial government’s plan to impose a contract on them. Premier Stephen McNeil said the government has been unable to negotiate an agreement with the teachers’ union and its 9,300 members for 16 months.
   - It wasn’t a case of “finders keepers” after a worker recycling a television in Barrie, Ontario found $100,000 in cash and banking records inside. The worker at GEEP recycling turned it over to his manager and police found the owner – a 68-year-old man from Bolsover. He said he had forgotten about the money from an inheritance that he hid there.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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