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Canadians willing to hold U.S. over the oil barrel

Canadians want energy exports to be used as bargaining leverage if the United States demands to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a poll suggests.

A Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll found that 61 percent support using oil to back their demands.

"Canadians like the idea of free trade — they're ready to be tough in negotiations," said Bruce Anderson, Harris-Decima president.

Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential contender, said he wanted to reopen the deal that covers Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has resisted calls to fire his chief of staff Ian Brodie over free-trade comments suggested to have damaged Obama's campaign and possibly Hillary Clinton's.

Harper instead ordered an investigation into a document leak and comments that the Democratic contenders told Canadian officials that threats to renegotiate the trade deal were just political posturing.

Canadian companies produced a record 1.01-billion barrels of oil last year with two-thirds exported — most of that to the United States.

Frigid weather sets off a warm pilgrimage

Another fierce winter storm raced toward eastern Canada from the U.S. Midwest on Friday as Canadian airports were handling record numbers of people heading out to warmer climates for the March school break.

Toronto's Pearson International Airport sent off 100,000 passengers, 14 percent more than a typical day, and was expecting the same number returning on March 16.

Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips calls it the "winter from Hell," with storm after storm with snow and freezing rain in central and eastern Canada.

Especially hard hit have been Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, approaching or surpassing record amounts of snowfall for a season.

News in brief

• The Canadian government is planning to issue higher-security electronic passports starting in 2011 that will be valid for 10 years instead of the current five. Details of the plans in the federal budget are aimed at enhancing border security without harming the movement of people and goods over the border.

• Canada had a court victory in the first test of its 2006 softwood lumber truce with the United States. The court rejected a complaint that could have cost British Columbia and Alberta timber mills about $75-million in extra export taxes. A second ruling was lost that could impose smaller export quotas on producers east of Alberta for six months.

Facts and figures

Canada's economy created a "stunning" 43,000 new jobs in February, ignoring economic storm clouds, analysts say.

The jobless rate was unchanged at a 33-year low of 5.8 percent while wage pressures rose as the average hourly pay was up 4.9 percent from a year ago.

A strong economy coupled with higher energy prices kept Canada's dollar above parity with the U.S. currency.

The dollar was $1.0106 cents U.S. Friday while the U.S. greenback returned 98.95 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 4 percent while the prime lending rate is 5.75 percent.

Canadian stock markets are lower, with the Toronto Exchange index at 13,190 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 2,718 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 17, 20, 33, 35, 37, 40; bonus 25. (March 1) 3, 7, 9, 28, 31, 43; bonus 2. Super 7: (Feb. 29) 5, 11, 12, 14, 32, 34, 46; bonus 17.

Regional briefs

• Premier Ed Stelmach cruised to victory in Alberta's provincial election, for the Conservative Party's 11th consecutive majority government. The Conservatives increased their number of representatives in the Legislature, winning 72 of the 83 seats.

• The Ontario government will predict "modest" surpluses for the next two years in its budget on March 25, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said. Even with a downturn in the manufacturing sector, Ontario is on track for a $750-million surplus. The budget will help strengthen the province's economy and include initiatives to help retrain laid-off workers, he said.

• The federal government has given its environmental approval for the proposed $4.6-billion Keltic liquefied natural gas terminal on Nova Scotia's northeastern coast. Keltic Petrochemicals Inc. and MapleLNG Ltd. plan to build and operate a wharf, liquid natural gas marine terminal, transfer pipelines, storage tanks and regasification facilities in Goldboro.

• An explosion that blew a large overhead door off a garage in Calgary was caused by an experiment to make home brew, fire officials say. The door was blown into a neighbor's yard when someone was experimenting with a home-made moonshine setup and it exploded. No one was injured.

Jim Fox can be reached at

Canadians willing to hold U.S. over the oil barrel 03/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:30am]
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