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Sharing dinner and an 'outlook'

President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exchange toasts Thursday during a state dinner at the White House.

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President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exchange toasts Thursday during a state dinner at the White House.

Wasn't that a party, eh?

The first families of Canada and the United States appeared to be best friends forever as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was honored at a state dinner in Washington.

While the best of neighbors, the relationship between the countries is again warming with Liberal Trudeau's election in October.

It was the first official visit for a Canadian prime minister in 19 years, the last being when Jean and Aline Chretien were the guests of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"We have a common outlook on the world," Obama said of Trudeau, who in turn called him "a deep thinker with a big heart but also a big brain."

The first ladies hit it off, too, with Michelle Obama introducing Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau as her "soulmate."

As well as the glitzy dinner with numerous Canadian-born celebrities and high-powered political and business leaders, Trudeau got down to business during his three-day visit.

They agreed on Obama's desire to advance initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases and finding new sources of non-carbon based energy that aligns with Canada's foreign policy.

The two countries will also implement added border security measures including pre-clearance for low-risk travelers and sharing information on people entering and leaving each country.

Zika fears, economy hurt tour operator

Concerns over the impact of the Zika virus on pregnant women combined with the lower-valued Canadian dollar to affect the fortunes of tour operator Transat AT.

The Montreal-based company has absorbed $150 million in added costs that put "a lot of pressure on our winter profitability," said Denis Petrin, chief financial officer.

Along with fewer travelers due to the health threats of the mosquito-borne virus, there has been drop in demand for sun destinations from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

News in brief

• Canada's jobless rate rose to 7.3 percent last month, up 0.1 percent for the third consecutive month, Statistics Canada said. There was a net job loss of 2,300 even with 49,500 more part-time positions.

• Five companies were fined $643,500 in total for violating telemarketing rules. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said Future Web Ltd., 8166200 Canada Inc. and NextGen Webstore Ltd., all from Canada, and two companies based in India had called Canadians registered on the national do not call list.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is higher at 75.54 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.323 in Canadian funds, before bank 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.

Markets are higher, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,511 points and the TSX Venture index 576 points.

The average national price for gas is up to 92.9 cents a liter or $3.53 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.

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Regional briefs

• Slumping oil prices have led to further layoffs of about 500 workers at Calgary-based Husky Energy Inc. where 1,400 jobs were cut last fall. It's estimated that 40,000 oil and gas jobs have been lost in the past 18 months in Alberta, including 1,700 at Suncor Energy Inc. and 700 at Cenovus Energy Inc.

• Two homeless men were welcomed with housing and food in Vancouver after it was learned they had been given one-way bus tickets to leave a Saskatchewan shelter. Charles Neil-Curley, 23, and Jeremy Roy, 21, said they received the tickets from the Lighthouse shelter in North Battleford. The Saskatchewan government is investigating the situation.

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

Sharing dinner and an 'outlook' 03/11/16 [Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2016 4:33pm]
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