Canada column for Sunday, Feb. 12/17
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Canada and the United States intend to remain best of friends as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump prepare to meet on Monday.
The Canadian nice, polite and friendly demeanor hopefully will prevail but if pushed on trade issues and jobs, Trudeau plans to stand his frozen ground.
Somewhat unsettling is Trump’s public rift with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that scrubbed plans for a trilateral meeting of North America’s leaders, dubbed the “Three Amigos.”
As Trudeau heads off to Washington, his ministers have been preparing U.S. officials about the realities between life on both sides of the border.
This includes the value of the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump has said needs to be renegotiated to serve America’s interests better.
As the world’s largest two-way trading partners, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said nine-million U.S. jobs are tied to trade with Canada while the trade surpluses and deficits are fairly even.
Trudeau said he expects discussion on a “board range of issues,” including creating jobs and “opportunity for Canadian citizens through the continued close integration on both sides of the border.”
“The president looks forward to a constructive conversation in strengthening the deep relationship that exists between the United States and Canada," said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
The Trans-Canada Highway near the British Columbia-Alberta border was closed on Wednesday when an avalanche roared down.
No one was injured and vehicles were able to turn around, police said.
The avalanche danger is high due to recent snowstorms with more on the way.
In Atlantic Canada, a fierce winter storm has dumped up more than a foot of snow with high winds across Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
There was freezing rain and snow in Newfoundland and blizzard warnings for southeastern Labrador on Friday.
News in brief:
- You betcha. Social media speculation suggests Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor, will become the U.S. ambassador to Canada. There was no comment from the White House. Bar owner Mike Slankard tweeted: “Stop laughing . . . she speaks almost fluent Canadian.” She would succeed Bruce Heyman who served with the previous government.
- The Emmerson town hall in Manitoba has been opened to provide shelter to refugees who are crossing the U.S.-Canada border in larger numbers. Reeve Greg Janzen said the community will continue to be a “welcoming place” for those seeking asylum in Canada. Canada Border Services and Mounties processed 22 refugees who walked into Canada last weekend. They are searched and screened before being released to await the refugee process.
Facts and figures:
The Canadian dollar is lower at 76.51 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.307 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 15,724 points while the TSX Venture index is at 830 points.
The average price for gas in Canada is lower at $1.058 a liter or $4.02 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Feb. 8) 3, 4, 8, 12, 13 and 46; bonus 26. (Feb. 4) 2, 8, 9, 13, 41 and 44; bonus 27. Lotto Max (Feb. 3) 8, 19, 24, 28, 34, 42 and 48; bonus 17.
- Canada’s population grew to 35.1 million last year, driven by growth in the West, Statistics Canada reported. That’s up five percent from 33.5 million in 2011, with two-thirds from immigration. Some 66 percent of Canadians live within 60 miles of the U.S. border. The three largest cities – Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver – have a combined population of 12.5 million, about half of that in Greater Toronto.
- Nova Scotia’s 9,300 public school teachers are in a showdown with Premier Stephen McNeil’s Liberal government after rejecting a third tentative contract deal. “They deserve better,” said Liette Doucet, teachers union president as a work-to-rule campaign resumed. Education Minister Karen Casey said the failed agreement included $20 million to improve classroom conditions, a key issue in the dispute.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com