October 24, 2005


Americans stay away: Are U.S. tourists making a political statement? (Ezra Levant, 10/24/05, Calgary Sun)

Why is tourism from the U.S. at a 25-year low this summer?

Some have blamed the rise in gasoline prices. But that doesn't make sense. Travelling from city to city within the U.S. is often a longer drive than heading up to Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, all close to the border. More to the point, the sharp drop in tourism was measured in August -- before hurricane Katrina spiked gas prices.

Some have blamed the strengthening Canadian dollar, saying it has eroded Canada's economic attraction to Americans. But that doesn't make sense, either. The Canadian dollar is worth roughly 85 U.S. cents today.

Last October, it was 81 U.S. cents (and it was 84 U.S. cents last November). Is an extra cent or two really the reason we have the lowest tourism from the U.S. in a generation?

If the dollar is the reason, then one would have expected to see this tourism drop last year -- because between October 2003 and October 2004, the Canadian dollar rose from 76 cents to 81 cents -- a bigger jump than in the past year. And in the year before that, the Canadian dollar positively leapt from 63 cents to 76 cents, or 13 cents in just one year.

How can a three- or four-cent rise in the Canadian dollar over the past year be to blame for falling U.S. tourism, if an 18-cent rise in the previous two years didn't flatten tourism?

The obvious answer is that American tourism wasn't hurt by gas prices or currency fluctuations. It was killed by something else that Americans are thinking about when it comes to Canada in the past year.

Gee -- what could that be?

Lost in the Woods (LAWRENCE HERMAN and GARY HUFBAUER, 10/25/05, NY Times)

AS Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continues her talks in Ottawa today, she may find that the most acrimonious disagreement between Canada and the United States is not a question of hard power - issues like Afghanistan, Iraq and nuclear nonproliferation - but of softwood. A quarter-century-old dispute over Canadian lumber exports, which Washington claims are unfairly subsidized, has escalated to the point where it now threatens broader relations between the two countries.

If it remains unresolved, the softwood war might also spill over into the December ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization, where Washington and Ottawa have long worked together to expand free trade. What kind of example does it set for the rest of the world if the United States and Canada - close neighbors, each other's largest trading partner and crucial allies - cannot resolve their own trade disputes?

American and Canadian lawyers, lobbyists and negotiators have been fighting on and off over Canadian lumber exports to the United States since the 1980's. In 1982, a coalition of 250 American lumber mills claimed that Canadian provinces were subsidizing lumber exports by charging set "stumpage fees" - the price forest companies paid when harvesting standing timber - while American mills were paying open market prices. While the fight over things like stumpage fees is complex enough, it got a sharp twist in 2000 when Congress passed an amendment giving American companies injured by foreign trade the punitive duties imposed by the United States, which in the case of Canadian lumber exports now amount to about $5 billion.

Never mind that the right of the United States to impose such duties is in dispute...

Martin draws a line on guns (SUSAN DELACOURT, 10/25/05, Toronto Star)
Guns are Prime Minister Paul Martin's newest target in what seems to be a deliberate and continuing attempt to take some careful pokes at the United States.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2005 9:29 PM

How about the Blue Jays (though I'll admit I'd have a better case if they were still allowing people to keep their window drapes open in the centerfield hotel rooms).

Posted by: John at October 24, 2005 10:21 PM

What's a Canada?

Posted by: b at October 24, 2005 11:21 PM

Too far to drive.

Posted by: oj at October 25, 2005 12:10 AM

I can't help but notice the closing para in the story....

"But if Martin and company start acting out their threats to interfere with Alberta's oil exports to the U.S., don't be surprised if Condoleezza Rice responds with something a little tougher than a drop in tourism -- say, a one-hour "security inspection" of every Canadian truck crossing the border."

"Condoleezza Rice responds"?? Isn't she that cute little black girl from Birmingham?? Making a nation tremble??

Heh heh heh. I told people waaaaay back when to keep an eye on that chick. She's still goin' places.

Posted by: Andrew X at October 25, 2005 9:08 AM

Worked for the Japs and their cars in the 80s.

Posted by: Sandy P at October 25, 2005 12:28 PM

We could solve this problem.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 25, 2005 12:34 PM

Alberta and BC come on down. We'll trade them the blue states along the border.

Posted by: tefta at October 25, 2005 5:25 PM

Generalissimo Robert Schwartz. I like the sound of that.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 26, 2005 2:18 AM