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Harper jumps on opportunity to cut taxes

By JIM FOX, Times Correspondent
Published November 4, 2007


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The minority Conservative government has given Canadians a retroactive income-tax cut while a lower Goods and Services Tax is coming.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper pressed his advantage against a weakened Liberal Party by turning the fall economic update into a minibudget.

Even though opposed, the Liberals abstained from voting on the bill to avoid defeating the government and causing a federal election.

The lowest marginal tax rate was cut 0.5 percent to 15 percent retroactive to last Jan. 1 while the basic personal tax exemption rises to $9,600 from $8,929. It will advance to $10,100 in 2009.

A growing budget surplus also allows the government to drop the federal sales tax by 1 percent to 5 percent next Jan. 1.

Corporate taxes will be cut by 1 percent, making them 20 percent next year, with a drop to 15 percent by 2012. Small business income tax will be reduced to 11 percent in 2008.

In all, the tax savings over five years announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will amount to $60-million, or several hundred dollars a year for the average taxpayer.

As dollar continues rise, prices drop

Canada's soaring dollar reached an all-time high of $1.07 U.S. on Friday on strength from strong employment data and higher oil prices.

The currency jumped by two cents U.S. while the American greenback dipped to 93 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

Pressure continues on retailers to drop prices to reflect those in the United States as shoppers stream over the border.

Wal-Mart Canada is now selling books, magazines, greeting cards and gift wrap at U.S. list prices, instead of the often 20 percent to 40 percent markup printed on them.

Sears Canada said it would be lowering prices, a move announced earlier by Zellers, while Indigo is giving discounts of up to 20 percent on books.

Statistics Canada said cross-border shopping trips by Canadians rose 4.2 percent in August to 1.5-million trips as the dollar started to gain ground.

News in brief

-Former U.S. President Bill Clinton cautioned Canadians to be wary about the rising tide of protectionism in rich countries, including America, because trade is Canada's life-blood. Speaking in Vancouver, Clinton said the United States is growing more protectionist in trade and along its borders as "people are afraid they're going to be losing out."

-Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove warns the latest job cuts at Chrysler will cost many thousands of jobs directly and at parts suppliers. Chrysler is ending a third shift at its Brampton Toronto sedan assembly plant, with the loss of 1,100 jobs, and an undetermined number will be laid off at the minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario.

-The Buffalo Bills want to give Canadians a taste of NFL action in their own country. The Bills plan to play one preseason game and a regular-season one each year in Toronto. About 15,000 Canadians already cross the border for Bills' games and there is talk of bringing an NFL team to Toronto.

Facts and figures

The Canadian economy created 63,000 jobs in October and the jobless rate dipped to 5.8 percent to keep the dollar at a record high around $1.07 U.S.

There's no change in the Bank of Canada's key interest rate of 4.5 percent or the prime lending rate at 6.25 percent.

Stock markets advanced, with the Toronto index at 14,362 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 3,135 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 2, 8, 23, 25, 33, 48; bonus 43. (Oct. 27) 12, 13, 17, 34, 40, 47; bonus 9.

Regional briefs

-Two people were arrested after a one-day-old girl was abducted by a woman at St. Joseph's Health Center in Sudbury, Ontario. The baby was found safe in Kirkland Lake, 180 miles away, after an Amber Alert was issued. Brenda Batisse and Trevor Schramm, both 29, were being held in jail.

-The funeral was held Thursday for Christopher Mohan, 22, of Burnaby, British Columbia, one of two "innocent victims" in a mass murder of six people at a high-rise. Mohan and Ed Schellenberg, 55, were working on a furnace at the apartment when some sort of "gang hit" occurred, police said. Four young men, with criminal backgrounds, were also killed.

-It appears Saskatchewan voters will switch to the Saskatchewan Party in next Wednesday's provincial election. Insightrix Research said among decided voters, 51 percent will vote for the party with the province's name while only 33 percent support the New Democrats headed by Premier Lorne Calvert.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

[Last modified November 4, 2007, 01:20:49]


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