National Newswatch

Obama urged to boot Canada from trade talks or gain concessions

Aug 3 2014 — Barrie McKenna — A powerful group of U.S. members of Congress says the White House should cut Canada out of a major global trade deal unless it opens up its protected dairy and poultry markets. Without more significant concessions on agriculture, Canada should be booted out of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, 140 Democratic and Republican members of […]

Government stifles business in Ontario and Quebec, report says

Jun 25 2014 — Barrie McKenna — Canada is becoming a country of two solitudes when it comes to business investment. Provinces are increasingly falling into one of two camps, according to a report being released Wednesday by the C.D. Howe Institute. In the West, business spending powers the economy. In much of the rest of the country, government spending is swallowing […]

Ottawa’s foreign workers decision hogs spotlight in Western Canada

Jun 22 2014 — Barrie McKenna — The federal Conservatives are suddenly playing defence in the western strongholds of Alberta and British Columbia amid rising tensions over two divisive decisions – the crackdown on temporary foreign workers and approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline. All three men vying to become the next Alberta premier, including front-runner Jim Prentice, complained during a debate […]

Tory majority linked to Canada’s slip in governance rankings

May 8 2014 — Barrie McKenna — Canada generally stacks up well compared to other countries in quality of life, incomes and happiness. But when it comes to good government, Canada is just average, and slipping, according to a new report. Among the key reasons: the Senate expenses scandal, weakened environmental laws, and a lack of commitment to “evidence-based decision-making,” says a […]

Ottawa could act to reduce U.S.-Canada price gap, study says

May 6 2014 — Barrie McKenna — The federal government likes to cast itself as the champion of consumers in combatting the frustratingly large gap between Canadian and U.S. prices. But a new report from the Toronto-based C.D. Howe Institute says Ottawa could fix much of the problem by putting its own house in order first – starting by slashing import tariffs […]

For Harper, income splitting is a political wealth-gap trap

Feb 17 2014 — Barrie McKenna — To some, income inequality isn’t a problem. It’s the natural byproduct of a healthy free-market economy that rewards some for their ambition, hard work and risk-taking. But that isn’t the way most Canadians see it. Polls consistently show that we worry a lot about the gap between rich and poor, and our angst is growing.

Obama won’t rush Keystone decision, White House says

Feb 3 2014 — Barrie McKenna — Barack Obama is refusing to give Ottawa the quick answer it wants on the Keystone XL pipeline in spite of a State Department report that dispels the U.S. President’s main climate-change fears. The White House said Sunday it will wait at least another 90 days to make a final decision as it awaits vital input […]

Ottawa faces first big test of ‘economic diplomacy’

Jan 20 2014 — Barrie McKenna — Canada is facing the first big test of its vaunted “economic diplomacy” push. Remember the Global Markets Action Plan the federal government unfurled in November? The strategy hinges on harnessing all Ottawa’s “diplomatic assets” in relentless pursuit of trade, particularly in a cluster of high-value priority markets. Among the target countries is fast-growing South Korea, […]

Canada-South Korea free trade pact moving closer

Jan 15 2014 — Barrie McKenna — Canada and South Korea are moving closer to a long-delayed free trade deal amid stiff resistance from Canadian-based auto makers. Negotiators have made significant progress towards a final agreement, particularly in agriculture, according to industry and government sources. The federal government is now in discussion with various industry sectors as it carefully analyzes the economics […]

Consumers expected to keep driving Canada’s economy

Dec 23 2013 — Barrie McKenna — A funny thing happened to the Canadian economy in 2013. Consumers, who make up the largest share of the economy, didn’t go into hibernation as so many analysts had boldly predicted earlier in the year. The theory was sound. Canadians are carrying record debts levels. Household debt to income ratios reached 163.7 per cent in […]

Canada Post gears up for pension fight

Dec 16 2013 — Barrie McKenna — Canada Post will push for deeper concessions from its 60,000-plus workers as it scrambles to fix a badly underfunded pension plan, chief executive Deepak Chopra says. Making the $17-billion pension plan sustainable is now among his top priorities, Mr. Chopra said in his first interview since announcing controversial moves last week to stem mounting losses […]