Several major Canadian retail chains slashed prices to try to counter the race to the border for Black Friday and other deals in the United States.
With the Canadian dollar nudging parity with the U.S. greenback and anger over the expanded and combined federal and provincial sales taxes at 13 percent in Ontario and 12 percent in British Columbia, there is an increased interest in crossing the border.
To stem the flow, Sears Canada launched its first Black Friday promotion by matching the prices in U.S. stores on hundreds of items.
Sears Canada president Dene Rogers spoke of "massive savings on a broad range of merchandise" along with a price-match guarantee "without the hassle of cross-border shopping."
Toys "R" Us Canada is having a one-week half-price event, and electronics superstore Future Shop and Walmart Canada are holding big sales to keep shoppers at home stimulating the Canadian economy.
While Canadians are used to paying higher prices, Elliot Chun of Future Shop said his chain is "committed to fair-market pricing." He said some products "will be equal or less to comparable products in the U.S."
Canada Customs officers were processing long lines of returning shoppers this weekend. Those who exceed their duty-free limit are subject to duties of 5 percent or more plus Canadian sales taxes on their purchases.
Danny Williams, Newfoundland and Labrador's feisty premier, is resigning.
Williams, 61, who has led the Conservative Party since 2001, will leave politics on Friday to be succeeded by Deputy Premier Kathy Dunderdale until the election in fall 2011.
Williams, who underwent heart surgery this year, has been encouraged to enter federal politics but said that's not what prompted his resignation.
News in brief
• A court martial will be held for Brig. Gen. Daniel Menard, Canada's former top soldier in Afghanistan, who is accused of having an affair with a subordinate and obstructing justice. The married father of two was relieved of his duties and sent home in July. In May, he was fined $3,500 at a court martial for negligence after saying that he accidentally fired two rounds from his assault rifle.
• The Ontario government has an ambitious $87 billion plan to rebuild the province's electricity system over the next 20 years, relying on nuclear, wind, solar and biomass power. Energy Minister Brad Duguid said there will be an end to smog-producing coal-fired generation by 2014. The cost of building a "clean and modern energy system" will be a doubling in the price consumers pay over the next two decades.
Facts and figures
Canada's dollar dropped more than 1 cent U.S. on Friday to 98.08 U.S. while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0196 Canadian before bank exchange fees. The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,906 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 2,044 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 5, 11, 26, 28, 35 and 46; bonus 49. (Nov. 20) 1, 10, 13, 23, 41 and 43; bonus 39. Lotto Max: (Nov. 19) 4, 13, 25, 29, 36, 40 and 48; bonus 24.
• Consumers shouldn't be concerned about eating turkey after an outbreak of bird flu on a farm in Rockwood, Manitoba. The farm is under quarantine and the 8,200 birds will be "humanely euthanized." The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the virus does not pose a risk to food safety when poultry is properly handled and cooked.