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Consensus is forming that 2014 will be the economic turning point for the United States and that is, traditionally, good news for Canada. But is it?
Most rosy is the forecast by UBS that U.S. GDP will grow by about 3 per cent in 2014 and in 2015 then beyond. The IMF has also just raised its U.S. forecast.
“There has been good action taken by Congress to eliminate the fear about the budget and to reduce the sequestration. We see the Fed having taken some very well-communicated action concerning the tapering of the program, and those are good signs — in addition to which we see some good numbers: Growth is picking up and unemployment is going down,” head of the IMF Christine Lagarde said this week. “So all of that gives us a much stronger outlook for 2014, which brings us to raising our forecast.”
Interestingly, if the United States grows by 3 percent that will virtually match China’s growth, in absolute dollars. (Lest we forget the math. A 3 percent rate in the U.S. is based on a nominal GDP of US$17-trillion and China’s equally rosy forecast of 7.5 percent is based on a nominal GDP of less than US$8-trillion.)
The turning point has come due to the energy boom in the U.S., the housing recovery, the health of its manufacturing sector and productivity rates, banking stability, job growth, low consumer debts and an improved fiscal situation due to the spending cuts imposed by sequestration.
Canada, unfortunately, has some headwinds that, until addressed, will likely decouple Canada’s growth from its neighbour’s in the short and medium term.
Here they are, not necessarily in order of importance:
— Canada lives beyond its means as an economy, with trade and export deficits, despite the benefits of high commodity prices in the past few years.
— Canada’s productivity lags U.S. rates considerably, representing a negative metric that makes export growth difficult. The reasons are varied and include the fact that the Canadian economy is balkanized into political spheres of influence, variant tax and labour laws, non-tariff barriers internally and disparate worker credentials because it lacks a national trade agency to insure the fair flow of workers, goods and services or an over-arching Inter-provincial Commerce Commission. There is no free trade within Canada.
— Canada’s dollar is headed to as low as 88 cents U.S. this year, according to some projections, which is a symptom of problems but also, ironically, somewhat helpful in exports if sustained but not helpful concerning the following issue.
— Canada’s federal and Western provinces are pitch-perfect when it comes to debt levels, spending and investment. Their Triple A or high AA credit ratings reflect that.
But Eastern Canada, on the other hand, is a problem, a clearly defined have-not part of the country with high unemployment rates, high underemployment rates and spendthrift provinces led by Ontario which has the biggest debt of any sub-national government globally. In 2003-4, debts were C$140-billion and in 2013-14 are expected to reach $260-billion and heading higher.
So this means that as the Canadian dollar falls, repayments to foreigners increase as does the need for the Bank of Canada to begin increasing interest rates. The only solution is to bite the bullet, something that vote-hungry politicians have failed to address in the past.
In light of that realization, Goldman Sachs and others are shorting the Canadian dollar.
— Consumer debt is Canada is worrisomely high. The housing bubble in Ontario, condo craziness, has forced prices for all real estate upwards, and increased borrowing, with the result that Canadians now have switched places with the Americans as holders of the highest consumer debt. (Americans were forced to shed their borrowing after the 2008 meltdown but Canadians continued the tradition.)
(This debt overhang will slow consumer spending in Canada, but the newly lower debt levels south of the border are expected to enhance U.S. growth in the next few years.)
— Canada’s cornerstone exports are facing declines. Natural gas is being replaced by U.S. shale gas production. Crude oil, Canada’s most valuable export, is expected to drop in price $20 a barrel due to increasing supplies: the U.S. shale oil boom, Canada’s increasing production, a relaxation of the embargo against Iran if it fulfills its pledges on the nuclear portfolio and Mexico’s invitation to foreign oil companies to help increase production for its moribund national oil giant.
The one bright spot would be approval, finally, of the Keystone Pipeline, with its 800,000 barrels a day of exports. Another would be the Northern Gateway proposal to the B.C. coast.
But both are political footballs for different reasons and may not happen for years, if ever.
The Iranian diplomatic deal, if successful, could enhance world peace but would unleash much oil onto the market. The embargo has limited exports from 2.5 million barrels per day to one million.
The other important export driver in Canada is Ontario’s auto industry but this year the province was overtaken, in terms of production, by the state of Michigan for the first time in a decade. And Ward’s Automotive forecasts a steady decline in Ontario production.
On a positive note, most of Canada’s problems are soluble if electorates, and their public servants, agree to old-fashioned belt-tightening.
Most importantly, Canada has to stop signing free trade agreements with countries that don’t offer reciprocity in terms of export or investment opportunities, such as China and/or the European Union, and forge a Canadian Free Trade Agreement among its provinces and territories. And the US-Canada bi-national issues should be fixed and talks about a development partnership in the North should become policy.
But those are long-term solutions that have eluded Ottawa for generations.
In the meantime, just curbing the excessive growth and overheads of the entire Canadian public sector, and creating a healthy, fair market at home for the Canadian private sector, are bottom-line essentials that any nation-state must enact in order to protect and grow.
What 7 days without power is like 3:58
Tens of thousands still in the dark in Ontario 3:36
The little generator that could2:11
- NB Power warns of outages into new year as storm threatens
- Latest storm updates
- Montreal vows to clear city streets by New Year’s Eve
- NB Power pushes restoration date back to New Year’s Eve
- CBC Weather Centre
- Ice storm’s beauty, ruin captured in stunning photos
- Insurance and the ice storm: Are you covered?
- Ice storm aftermath: Staying safe during power outages
About 30,000 customers in Ontario and New Brunswick remain in the dark one week after a major ice storm blanketed Central and Atlantic Canada, and warming temperatures have caused new power outages in Toronto.
Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said early Saturday that melting ice falling from trees and other structures has led to fresh damage. At about 1 a.m. ET the number of customers without power had dropped below 20,000 for the first time, but by 8 a.m. it was back up to around 23,000. The number is hovering at 18,000 as of mid-afternoon Saturday.
- Ice storm aftermath: Staying safe during power outages
- Insurance and the ice storm: Are you covered?
- Get the latest forecast information at CBC Weather Centre
“Over the morning hours we’ve been moving backwards, but I’m sure our crews will attend to those and we’ll start moving in the right direction again over the next couple of hours,” he told CBC News Network.
Calling it a “story of ups and downs,” Haines pointed out that the current tally — 18,000 — is about the same number that crews have been bringing power to each day.
The falling ice caused at least one injury when a Hamilton worker was struck in the head, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said. Officials couldn’t provide an update on the worker’s condition.
“This is Day 7 and there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Ford in an interview with CBC News midday Saturday. “What that day is, I can not tell you…We’re trying our best.”
In response to the backlash the mayor and other officials have received from people still without power, Ford said “it tears my heart out.”
“We have crews from Ottawa, we have crews from Windsor,” he said. “I share their frustration…it’s all hands on deck [and] we are moving as fast as we can.”
Haines said computer simulations have shown three days, but that there are variables at work like the new outages and the arrival of more crews. The provincial utility, Hydro One, said the outages outside Toronto are largely over, which has allowed it to send crews in to help the city.
“I’m hopeful certainly by the early part of next week the vast majority of customers will be back,” Haines said.
Working around the clock
Haines, who noted that the average Toronto Hydro customer is equivalent to 2½ people, said he sympathizes with people.
“What we can do is work around the clock and we can bring extra resources in from far and wide … we will not stop until the power is on for everybody,” he said.
Haines and Toronto Community Housing CEO Gene Jones (who is still dealing with outages in about 80 housing units) said they will perform a postmortem after the outages are over to see what they might do better next time.
Haines stressed the enormous scope of the damage:
- Forty per cent of the city’s power lines, which would cross Canada twice, have been affected by the storm.
- Thirty-thousand pieces of equipment have been installed back into the grid and about 47,000 metres of cable have gone back up into the air.
- The City of Toronto says about 20 per cent of the city’s tree canopy has been damaged and it could take seven weeks to clean up all the fallen limbs, Haines said.
Amid the rising anger and frustration of those still in the dark, utility companies are pleading for patience, saying crews are working around the clock and nothing else can be done to speed up the process.
That’s little consolation for people who have been in the dark for a week, including Carmen Andronesu, who is one of more than 1,000 residents who live in a condo complex in Toronto’s north end.
“No matter how much you try calling here and there, it’s like you cannot find help from anywhere,” she said.
Wynne promises help for food spoilage
In a morning news conference, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the concern she’s heard most around the province is spoiled food. She said she’s looking at providing help and would offer details over the next couple of days when a plan had been confirmed.
“We’ve reached out to food suppliers to try to come up with a way of compensating people and getting some extra food — or food vouchers, something to folks, so that’s what we’re working out over the next couple of days,” she said.
Ford said Toronto won’t be looking into any sort of compensation until the power has been restored.
“I can’t give any numbers or any assurances that we can reimburse anyone,” Ford said.
11,000 without power in N.B.
About 11,000 customers in New Brunswick are also struggling through a long power outage, mostly in St. Stephen and the Saint John area.
Some people won’t have their power restored until the new year, according to a tweet from NB Power on Saturday. Gaetan Thomas, the utility’s CEO, said extra crews are being brought in from Quebec tonight, which means more than 200 crews will be working in the province to restore electricity.
Thomas said another large storm, forecast for tomorrow, will also hinder their efforts as it brings freezing rain and snow.
In the rural southern New Brunswick community of Titusville, people without power have been heading to the generator-powered general store to buy kerosene, propane, candles and water.
Owner Mark Carline said the storm and outage has caused him to reflect.
“I think we were all reminded and humbled by the fact that at any given time we could be set back to this state, where we’re scrambling [to get] the basic necessities.”
In Quebec, the outages are almost over: Hydro-Québec tweeted late Friday night that they were “almost there” with only about 400 customers left who needed power restored.
Hundreds of thousands of people are still waiting for their power to be restored after a weekend ice storm wreaked havoc from southwestern Ontario to the Atlantic Coast.
Across Ontario about 350,000 people remained without power early Monday morning, and hydro officials were advising that it could take until Wednesday to get everyone reconnected.
In hardest hit Toronto where the ice splintered a huge number of trees, and turned roads and sidewalks into skating rinks, nearly 250,000 hydro customers were still in the dark by 3 a.m. At a press conference a few hours later, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said crews had brought that number down to 200,000 customers. Some in the city may be in the dark through Christmas, The Toronto Star reported.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told a Sunday afternoon news conference that the province would provide support to municipal emergency crews as they scramble to do their jobs.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford called it one of the worst storms in the city’s history, but said he was not yet ready to declare a state of emergency.
The Toronto Transit Commission warned to expect delays on all surface routes and shuttle buses were put into use between some subway stations. The Sheppard Line and Scarborough RT Line were both closed due to bad weather and buses are in service instead.
Buses were also operating betweenWoodbine Station and Kennedy Station Monday morning. Subway trains were also bypassing Yorkdale Station and North York Centre Station due to power outages.
GO Trains were operating on an adjusted schedule to cope with the bad weather.
Air travellers, however, were still being frustrated by numerous flight cancellations and delays at Pearson International Airport. The airport is advising travellers to check with their airline about flight status in advance and to give themselves lots of time.
You can reach Air Canada’s automated flight system at 1-888-422-7533.Travellers flying with WestJet can call 1-888-937-8538.
Flying with Porter? You can find out more about your flight at 1-888-619-8622.
The storm system also coated much of southern Quebec in ice, and continues to produce freezing drizzle in parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Some 50,000 customers in Quebec and about 6,000 more in New Brunswick were still without power as of late Sunday night.
A few local photos:
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday brushed aside any suggestion he might step down in the next couple of years, saying he would seek a fourth term in the 2015 general election.
“It is interesting to read in the papers one day that I plan to retire, and the next day to read that I intend to trigger elections immediately,” he said in a television interview with the French-language TVA Nouvelles.
“The reality is there are elections on a fixed date in 2015. I intend to lead my party (into the next election), which is the only party which has serious policy on the number one priority of the population, which is the economy.”
Only four of Canada’s 22 prime ministers, including Pierre Trudeau, father of current Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, have won more than three mandates.
The speculation of Harper’s possible departure has mounted at the end a difficult year for him and his Conservative government.
It has been marked by criminal allegations extending into his office over a Senate expense scandal, and the Conservatives are polling at their lowest level since taking power in 2006, well behind the newly resurgent Liberals under Trudeau.
Harper has denied any knowledge of what police say was corruption by his then-chief of staff, who provided money from his personal funds to a Conservative senator to help pay back expenses determined to be inappropriate. The former chief of staff denies any wrongdoing.
But the affair has tarnished the reputation of Harper, who came to power pledging accountability and avoiding even the appearance of evil after Liberal wrongdoing. The Senate expense scandal overshadowed his government’s biggest accomplishment of the year, a major trade deal with the European Union.
Asked if he would use the Christmas holidays to reflect on his political future, Harper said flatly, “No.”
“My intention for this period is to determine the next steps for the government… We have finished the most productive year of any since we took power. I hope 2014 will be like that,” he said.
“There are a lot of challenges. There are a lot of opportunities for Canada but also a lot of threats, a lot of challenges, and we must ensure a prosperous future for our children.”
Harper said the government was in the process of making fundamental economic changes, for example, launching Canada’s biggest infrastructure plan, and transforming immigration as well as research and development to better serve economic needs.
A year ago today flash mob round dances took place across the country, and thousands of people danced and marched from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill, in Ottawa.
“It was an impressively massive show of cultural and solidarity” said CBC’s Waubgeshig Rice, “and although I was covering it for CBC, I found it impossible not to be moved.”
While some have wondered whether Idle No More is still a growing movement, the flashmob Round Dances taking place across the country this weekend are in indication that there is still a lot of momentum.
So far this weekend flash mob round dances have taken place in Winnipeg, Toronto, Sudbury, Saskatoon, and Lethbridge. There are plans in place for Fredricton, Surrey, and Montreal. And there is a ‘treaty information check stop in Delaronde, SK.
Flash mob round dances in 9 cities this weekend
While some have wondered whether Idle No More is still a vibrant movement, the flash mob round dances taking place across the country this weekend are an indication that there is still a lot of momentum.
A year ago today Idle No More flash mobs took place across the country.
Here are some snapshots of round dances happening across the country this weekend.
This one is a re-share of Aaron Pierre’s Instagram photo at Winnipeg’s Friday flash mob:
To change it up, Idle No More in Treaty 6 Territory held an treaty information check-stop by Delaronde Lake in memory of those who lost their lives defending the land.
By Andrea Hopkins and Leah Schnurr
(Reuters) – Canadian condominium construction has surged but population growth has kept oversupply in check, the federal housing agency said in a report on Wednesday that also showed declining mortgage arrears and high home-equity levels.
In its annual report on the housing market, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp pointed to steady levels of mortgage debt and an increasing number of households as evidence that residential real estate is in good shape, despite warnings from observers that the market is overheated.
Canada’s housing market avoided the crash experienced in the United States five years ago due in part to more conservative lending standards and a stronger economy. While economists have long predicted an eventual correction in Canada, they are divided over whether prices will drop sharply or simply stagnate in a so-called soft landing scenario.
“The main argument here is just that the Canadian housing market still looks fairly normal,” said Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management in Toronto.
The agency’s report showed that as of June 2013, 0.31 percent of residential mortgages were three or more months in arrears, compared with 0.33 percent 12 months earlier, CMHC said. Arrears averaged 0.41 percent in the decades 1990-2010.
About 31 percent of recent buyers made lump-sum payments or increased their regular payments in 2012 to pay off their mortgage sooner, and 44 percent had set their payments above the minimum, the report showed.
The average amount of equity for homeowners with mortgages was 47 percent, and 71 percent had at least 25 percent equity in their homes. Only 7 percent had less than 10 percent equity as of April 2013, suggesting only about 7 percent of homeowners would be “under water” if prices dropped more than 10 percent.
Some 41 percent of homeowners had no mortgage, while the rest typically had solid equity levels, accelerated mortgage payments or declining arrears.
CONDOS DOMINATE HOMEBUILDING
With the once-booming but cooling condominium market widely perceived to be the weak spot in Canada’s urban housing market, the CMHC said condo construction was far outpacing construction of detached homes. Even so, there were no signs of oversupply yet because of an increase in the number of people living alone as well as population growth resulting from a strong influx of immigrants.
While single-detached dwelling starts rose just 1.5 percent to 83,657 in 2012, multiple-dwelling starts – typically condos – rose 17.6 percent to 131,170 units. Condos comprised 61 percent of all construction in 2012, continuing a trend that began in 2002.
The surge was most notable in Canada’s biggest cities, where cranes dot the skylines and tens of thousands of new units come on line every year. The share of condominium starts out of total starts was highest in Vancouver at 64 percent, followed by Toronto at 59 percent and Montréal at 58 percent.
While the number of starts suggests a huge supply in the pipeline that will come to the market in the next year or two, the building boom has begun to slow and CMHC said inventories so far are not above historical levels.
Still, economists remain concerned about the level of condo construction already underway in some major cities.
“There’s still a huge supply of condos, particularly in Toronto, coming on the market in 2014, 2015,” said Diana Petramala, economist at TD Bank in Toronto.
Housing starts began moderating in the last half of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, with multiple-dwelling starts declining for three straight quarters before rising modestly in the second quarter of 2013.
In 2012, urban inventories averaged 4.7 units per 10,000 people, CHMC said, only slightly above the long-term average of 4.6 from 1992 to 2012. By the second quarter of 2013, however, inventories were at 5.1 units per 10,000 people.
CHMC said population growth and a shift in the way people are living suggests the demand for smaller housing, including condos, will grow.
Condo ownership rates rose in every age group between 1996 and 2011, but condos were particularly popular with seniors and young adults. In 2011, 19 percent of condo owners were under the age of 35, while 29 percent were 65 and older.
“It does show that some of the demand is being driven by demographic fundamentals, particularly for condos,” Petramala said.
“Some of the over-building may not be as excessive as some people might be warning.” (Reporting by Andrea Hopkins and Leah Schnurr; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Galloway)
By Louise Egan
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Soaring consumer debt and a robust housing market pose an “elevated” risk to Canada’s financial stability, but the overall level of danger has fallen from six months ago, the Bank of Canada said on Tuesday.
“In Canada, the high level of household debt and imbalances in the housing sector are the most significant domestic vulnerabilities to address,” the central bank said in its semi-annual Financial System Review.
These risks could make Canadians vulnerable to an adverse macroeconomic shock and a sharp correction in the housing market, it said.
The bank cut its overall level of risk to the country’s financial system to “elevated” from “high”, citing among other factors continuing stabilization in the euro zone and the start of a modest recovery in that region. Despite the brighter outlook for Europe, it remains the biggest threat to Canada, the bank said.
Tuesday’s report marked the first time the bank has eased its overall risk level since it began classifying risk in this way in December 2011.
The overall level of risk could fall further with continued progress on banking sector reform and other reforms in the euro area. That said, the level could increase if the current low interest rate environment in advanced economies persists longer than anticipated, it added.
The bank listed risky financial investments in a prolonged period of low interest rates as a “moderate” risk and added financial vulnerabilities in emerging markets as another moderate threat.
Canada’s housing market has been a source of concern for policymakers and economists since a property boom helped fuel the economy’s rebound from the 2008-09 recession.
After four government interventions to tighten mortgage rules, the market cooled in late 2012 only to regain momentum through the spring and summer of this year.
The bank, the finance ministry and the banking regulator monitor the market closely. The bank noted an oversupply of multiple-unit dwellings in some areas, and cited an elevated number of high-rise condos under construction in Toronto.
“If the upcoming supply of units is not absorbed by demand as units are completed over the next few years, there is a risk of a correction in prices and construction activity,” it said.
Such a correction could spread to other parts of the market and hit the overall economy, it added.
The bank said simple indicators suggest there is overvaluation in the housing market overall and it said any sharp downturn in a large city could spread, ultimately affecting sentiment, lending conditions as well as jobs and income.
While the latest data suggest some stabilization in the market, there is still much debate among economists over whether housing is poised to crash and damage the economy, or have a so-called “soft landing”.
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has placed himself in the latter camp, saying he expects record-high household debt to ease gradually as the housing market softens.
The report on Tuesday supported that view.
“The overall moderating trend is expected to resume in due course,” it said. “As long term interest rates normalize with the strengthening global economy, the risk will diminish over time.”
The ratio of household debt to income in Canada hit a record high in the second quarter of 163.4 percent, although the pace of credit growth has been slowing.
Statistics Canada will release third-quarter data on household debt on Friday.
(Reporting by Louise Egan; editing by David Ljunggren; and Peter Galloway)
TORONTO (Reuters) – Canadian police have arrested a Toronto man suspected of seeking to give China classified information about Canadian shipbuilding procurement policies, security officials said on Sunday.
Jennifer Strachan, a chief superintendent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told a news conference that Canadian citizen Qing Quentin Huang, 53, faced two charges of attempting to communicate with a foreign entity.
“On Thursday the RCMP was informed that the accused was taking steps to pass on information of a classified nature to China,” she told a rare weekend news conference.
“In these types of cases, sharing of information may give a foreign entity a tactical, military or competitive advantage by knowing the specifications of vessels responsible for defending Canadian waters and Canadian sovereignty.”
Strachan said Huang, who was arrested on Saturday, had worked for a subcontractor involved in ship design. She declined to say what information Huang had tried to provide to China, but said there was no threat to public safety.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei rejected the allegations.
“The relevant reports about a Canadian man suspected of providing information to the Chinese government are completely baseless,” Hong told a daily news briefing in Beijing on Monday.
Canada has had a complicated relationship with China, with official efforts to boost trade and improve business ties at times conflicting with deep concern about the role that Chinese state-owned entities should be allowed to have in Canada.
Canada last year allowed state-owned energy company CNOOC Ltd to buy up domestic energy producer Nexen Inc, but made clear that it would not allow further purchases of domestic oil sands companies by state-owned enterprises.
Huang was arrested just days after Canada’s official spending watchdog said the government has underestimated the costs of a multibillion-dollar naval shipbuilding plan and will either have to build fewer ships or settle for vessels with fewer capabilities than it initially planned.
The new ships will play an important role as Canada asserts sovereignty claims in the Arctic, a disputed region that is rich in energy and mineral resources.
The news conference announcing Huang’s arrest involved officials from many Canadian security agencies, including several police forces, border services and the secretive spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The Toronto resident, who police said appeared to have been acting alone, will appear in court for a bail hearing on Wednesday. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
(Additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan in BEIJING; Editing by
TORONTO – Ontario’s privacy watchdog is probing reports that private health information is being shared with U.S. border services, saying it’s a matter “of grave concern” to her.
Her office “will investigate the matter and ensure that the personal health information of Ontarians is not being compromised by any organizations under my jurisdiction,” Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian said in an email to Ontario’s New Democrats, who requested her help.
Cavoukian added that she’s already contacted the Health Ministry to confirm that no personal health details are being provided to U.S. border services.
NDP provincial health critic France Gelinas said she’s been contacted by three people who have been denied entry to the U.S. based on their personal health history.
One woman she spoke to, Ellen Richardson, has gone public with her story, saying she was turned away Monday at Toronto’s Pearson airport by a U.S. customs agent because she was hospitalized in June 2012 for clinical depression.
Richardson attempted suicide in 2001 by jumping off a bridge, which left her a paraplegic. But her mental health has improved with medication and professional help from a psychiatrist, she said.
She said she travelled through the United States several times in recent years and never had a problem.
This time, the agent cited the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, which denies entry to people who have had a physical or mental disorder that may pose a “threat to the property, safety or welfare” of themselves or others, she said.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s utterly ridiculous,” she said.
“I was never a threat to others. I would never harm anyone.”
Richardson, who takes medication to combat depression, said she provided the U.S. agent with the name and phone number of her psychiatrist, but it wasn’t enough.
She was told she would have to get “medical clearance” and be examined by one of only three doctors in Toronto whose assessments are accepted by Homeland Security, she said.
Richardson, who has a website and wrote a book about her struggle with depression, said she has no recollection of police being involved in her 2012 hospitalization.
She said she had become suicidal, wrote a suicide note and called her mother, who came over and called 911.
“I wasn’t a threat to anyone, other than myself,” Richardson said.
Gelinas said another person she spoke to told her that they had been turned away at the border over a physical ailment that had nothing to do with mental health.
She wouldn’t provide any details to protect the person’s privacy, but Gelinas said she was told that the U.S. agent in that case also mentioned a fairly recent, specific medical episode that happened in an Ontario hospital.
Gelinas said at first she tried to find some explanation for why U.S. authorities might have the information, such as police records. She asked many questions, but nothing seemed to explain how the Department of Homeland Security got the information.
“The amount of their personal information that is spit back at them is astonishing,” she said.
“I have no idea how this could happen, but it did. I believe those people. They have given me physical, tangible proof that this happened.”
A person’s medical history must remain confidential, she said. To hear that specific details of a person’s medical history is being shared with a foreign government is “extremely alarming.”
Health Minister Deb Matthews owes Ontarians an explanation, Gelinas added.
U.S. authorities don’t have access to medical or other health records for Ontarians travelling to the United States, said Samantha Grant, a spokeswoman for Matthews.
Government officials referred all other questions to police services, saying it was an operational matter.
Federal law allows personal information to be transferred outside Canada, even without the consent of the individual to whom the information relates. Once the information is in foreign hands, the laws of that country will apply.
Canada’s privacy commissioner has called for the federal government to re-examine the circumstances under which it allows personal information about Canadians to be processed outside Canada.
Mike Sullivan, the New Democrat MP who represents the Toronto riding where Richardson lives, says he has sent a letter to the federal privacy commissioner’s office asking for an investigation into the matter.
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Next: The Most Canadian Words
WHAT IT MEANS: A toonie is a $2 Canadian coin, which followed the cue of the loonie (named after the image of the aquatic bird that graces the $1 coin). IN A SENTENCE: “Hey buddy, can I borrow a toonie? I need to get a Double Double (see the next slide).”
WHAT IT MEANS: A Double Double refers to a coffee (often from Tim Hortons) with two creams and two sugars. IN A SENTENCE: “Yes, hi, I’d like to order a Double Double.”
WHAT IT MEANS: When food, however unappealing it is, is all you crave at the end of the day. Or, you’re just very hungry. IN A SENTENCE: “Your mind wanders when it’s gut-foundered. Is it going to be take-out? Is it going to be pizza?”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong>Shit-Kickers are nicknames for cowboy boots. Hee Haw! <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “I can’t go to the Calgary Stampede without my shit-kickers.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Something that is in a diagonal direction from something else. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “The grocery store is kitty-corner to the school.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A warm wind that blows east over the Canadian Rockies, warming up Calgary in the winter. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “This chinook is giving me a headache.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A slang term for cigarettes <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “Get your darts out.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Stagette is another name for bachelorette party. IN A SENTENCE: “Are you heading out to that stagette this weekend? There’s going to be a stripper.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Cowtown is a nickname for Calgary. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “I’ve been living in Cowtown my entire life.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Another name for underwear used mainly in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and often referring to men’s or boys’ briefs. A gotch refers to women’s underwear. IN A SENTENCE: “Pull your pants up, I can see your gitch.”
WHAT IT MEANS: According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland, a bedlamer is a seal that is not yet mature. IN A SENTENCE: “This harp seal is giving me a hard time, it’s such a bedlamer.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> A toque is a hat most people wear during winter months. And sometimes, you will see this hat reappear in the summer. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “Listen son, don’t go out into this weather without your toque.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> No, no one is getting married. In Western Canada, a matrimonial cake is another term for a date square or tart. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “I wish this coffee shop had matrimonial cakes.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Someone who loves spending time on an ice rink. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “I can’t get any ice time, I have to deal with all these rink rats.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Slang for homogenized whole milk, but shockingly, this term is actually used on milk packaging. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “When you go to the grocery store, don’t forget to pick up the homo milk.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Common slang for a case of 24 beers. IN A SENTENCE: “Are you heading to the beer store? Pick me up a 2-4 of Molson.”
WHAT IT MEANS: The Canadian way of saying coloured pencil. IN A SENTENCE: “Do you have a pencil crayon in that pencil case?”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Another word for soda. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “That can of pop has 200 calories.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Another word for bathroom or restroom. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “This washroom doesn’t have any toilet paper.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Slang for “what are you doing” in Newfoundland. IN A SENTENCE: “Did you just get in? Whaddya at?”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> For the most part, a mickey is a flask-sized (or 375 ml) bottle of hard liqueur, but on the East Coast, a mickey is an airplane-sized bottle. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “We’re going out tonight, can someone grab a mickey.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Not a slang term, but this is how Canadians pronounce the letter “Z”. Not zee.
WHAT IT MEANS: A hockey (surprise, surprise) technique when a player gets past their opponent by “faking it.” It can also be used to replace the world detour. IN A SENTENCE: “I am going to deke into the store after work.”
<strong>WHAT IT MEANS:</strong> Hydro refers to electricity, particularly on your energy bill. <strong>IN A SENTENCE:</strong> “My hydro bill went up $10 this month.”
WHAT IT MEANS: A mountie is a nickname for a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. IN A SENTENCE: “Stop speeding, a mountie will catch you.”
NEXT: 50 Of the Best Canadian Foods
Poutine — French fries generously slathered in gravy and cheese curds — is a classic Canadian treat that is said to have originated in Quebec in the 1950s. Since then, it has been adapted in many weird and wonderful ways from gourmet versions with lobster and foie gras to —believe it or not — a doughnut version. It’s also inspired a crop of trendy “poutineries” and a “poutition” to make it Canada’s official national dish.
There are some snacks that define a nation, but not many that taste good to only those who live there. What do we love? The fact they leave our fingers dyed red after we’ve had a whole bag. Ketchup has never tasted so salty, non-tomatoey and outright good. Our U.S. friends may go nutty over Doritos, but we love our ketchup chips. Did you know that Lay’s dill pickle and Munchies snack mix are also exclusively Canadian?
What could be more Canadian than syrup that comes from the maple tree, whose iconic leaf has come to symbolize Canada and its national pride? Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup in the world, accounting for about 75 to 80 percent of the supply. Maple syrup — superfood.html” target=”_blank”>recently elevated to “superfood” status — is a classic sweet topping on pancakes and waffles. Still, that hasn’t stopped some people from thinking of surprising savoury pairings such as maple-bacon doughnuts.
It’s no secret that Canadians are obsessed with bacon. The delicious cured pork product can be made oh so many ways, including ever popular strip bacon and peameal bacon, often referred to as “Canadian bacon” abroad. In fact, Canadians are so passionate about their favourite food that many would probably choose it over sex.
A butter tart is a classic Canadian dessert made with butter, sugar, syrup and eggs — filled in a buttery (yes, more grease) pastry shell, and often includes either raisins or nuts. They can be runny or firm — so it’s hard to mess them up when you’re baking. Also, they never seem to go out of style.
BeaverTails, or Queues de Castor in French, is a famous trademarked treat made by a Canadian-based chain of pastry stands. The fried-dough treats are shaped to resemble real beaver tails and are often topped with chocolate, candy, and fruit. These Canadian delicacies go hand in hand with skiing, and even gained White House recognition during U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2009 trip to Ottawa.
These legendary Canadian no-bake treats originated in (surprise!) <a href=”http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html” target=”_blank”>Nanaimo, B.C.,</a> and are typically made with graham-cracker crumbs, coconut, walnuts, vanilla custard and chocolate. Need we say more? Common variations include peanut butter and mint chocolate.
No one likes to think of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as dinner, but game meat is abundant in Canada and can be found in butchers, restaurants and homes across the country. Among other popular Canadian game is boar, bison, venison, caribou and rabbit.