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Canadian consumers feel ripped off

Tariffs on imports are cited as one reason Canadians are paying on average 13 percent more for goods than their American neighbors even as the dollar is about equal with the U.S. currency.

The Senate Finance Committee said while tariffs are just one factor in prices, they are something the government can do something about.

"Canadian consumers are feeling ripped off," said Sen. Joseph Day, who chaired the eight-month study.

Tariffs used to protect domestic businesses brought in $3.6 billion in revenue for the government in the past year and are being reviewed, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said in calling for the Senate study.

Price differences drive thousands of Canadians to cross the border to shop for groceries, clothing, gas and car parts as well as seek out a larger selection of goods.

Also an issue is the economy of scale with Canada's smaller marketplace, vast distances and higher wages and benefits.

The report noted that a Lexus made in Cambridge, Ontario, sells for $44,950 in Canada but only $40,950 in the United States, including Hawaii. Books are routinely marked up, sometimes by up to 40 percent on some titles.

Travel firm suing over smoking-related delay

Sunwing Vacations plans to sue the David MacNeil family of Cape Breton to recoup up to $50,000 in costs after a disturbance over smoking caused an unscheduled overnight stopover in Bermuda.

When confronted by the crew of a plane en route to the Dominican Republic from Halifax about alleged smoking in the restroom, three family members became verbally abusive.

They were arrested on landing when the plane was diverted to Bermuda. The husband and wife were fined a total of $1,000 for disruptive behavior and failing to obey orders of the flight crew.

The incident caused the Sunwing to put up about 200 passengers in Bermuda hotels, cutting short their vacations. A similar number was forced to wait to return from Punta Canta, spokesman Daryl McWilliams said.

News in brief

• Many schools were closed, flights were canceled, numerous collisions occurred as a fierce winter storm walloped Ontario and Eastern Canada. Ten inches of snow fell in Toronto on Friday, the most since a storm in 2008. The worst of the weather moved into the Maritimes for the weekend, where residents braced for a powerful nor'easter with high winds and snow. It's still balmy out west, with highs in the mid 40s in Vancouver. The same is expected on Monday and Tuesday in Calgary.

• The 100 days of student protests in Quebec last year over proposed tuition fee increases cost taxpayers about $90 million, a report says. The money was for overtime pay for police and security measures as well as repairs to damaged buildings. More than 2,000 students were arrested in the protests that prompted Jean Charest to resign as premier, with his Liberal party losing the election in September.

• A marijuana possession conviction 32 years ago blocked Myles Wilkinson of Victoria from a fantasy football trip to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. He beat out 4 million competitors to win the trip, but immigration authorities stopped him from entering the United States. Instead of seeing the game and partying in person, the NFL invited him as a guest of honor at a Super Bowl party in Vancouver.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar dipped by a half-cent to 99.71 cents U.S. on Friday with weaker-than-expected job creation figures. The U.S. greenback returned $1.0029 in Canadian funds.

The economy lost 21,900 jobs last month, while the jobless rate dropped 0.1 percent to 7 percent as more people stopped seeking work, Statistics Canada said.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is 1 percent, while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 12,780 points and the TSX Venture index lower at 1,204 points.

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

Canadian consumers feel ripped off 02/09/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 9, 2013 5:49pm]

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