VIEWPOINT: Soaring loonie flies south with the Canadians
We couldn't have better neighbors than those from Canada. That is my opinion from a lifetime of living next to them. Of course, considering the facts that both sides of my family came from Canada and that I still have Canadian relatives, I might ...
We couldn't have better neighbors than those from Canada. That is my opinion from a lifetime of living next to them. Of course, considering the facts that both sides of my family came from Canada and that I still have Canadian relatives, I might be biased.
But remember this: Through two world wars, Canadians and Americans died side by side defending freedom. Remember also that today, Canadians are shedding blood as they fight terrorism with us in Afghanistan. They are helping us more than some of our other so-called friends and allies, including our southern neighbor.
They don't always agree with us. Sometimes their opposition to specific policies is frustrating, but being a small nation in terms of population gives them a different perspective. Besides, those differences can happen when you have a democracy a real democracy, as both of us have.
Economically, they are our most important trade partner. A lot of the value has to do with joint manufacturing projects between our countries, but in the end, those 30 or so million people buy a lot from the U.S.
Canadian purchases of products from retail stores in Grand Forks are a big share of this city's economy. Their purchases are important to the employment base in Grand Forks.
Now that the "loonie" the Canadian dollar is on par or better with our currency, that significance is growing. If the U.S. economy slows down (as I fear it might), the Canadian trade may save Grand Forks.
Besides, Canadians are a lot of fun to be around.
Readers of my columns, especially the end of the month statistical report, know that the one thing that has perplexed and concerned me was the reported decline in the number of people crossing the border. Given the improved exchange rate Canadians are enjoying and their attitude about "holidaying," as they call it, I thought we'd see a big increase in crossings, not the decreases reported.
Now, maybe I know why. Those aren't people coming across. Well, not real people: In a very roundabout and unofficial, third-hand way, I have been told that the "All Persons" category is only an estimate on the number of people in each car.
Maybe with these higher gas prices, there are more people in each car and there are more cars than in previous years.
The probable miscount at the border may explain why Grand Forks motels and restaurants and lounges are full with people whose sentences end with "eh." Sometimes, I wonder how our government ever manages to keep track of anything.
Canadians are eligible for North Dakota sales tax refunds, and I believe most visitors claim those refunds. Until recently, Americans were eligible for a refund of the "goods and services tax," as the Canadians call their federal sales tax. Now, the Canadian government has decided to no longer refund the goods and services tax to Americans.
It seems to me this would be a good time to do the same with the North Dakota sales tax. Of course, that would take legislative action, so we will have to wait until the next session.
I don't make this suggestion in any sense of getting even. It is just good government, for us as it is for them. We should not expect that when we make a trip to Winnipeg where we get police and fire protection, ambulance service if we need it and paved roads that we get a sales tax break, and neither should they.
Besides, shopping in America still gives Canadians a significant break. In Manitoba, the federal goods and services tax is 6 percent and the provincial retail sales tax is 7 percent, or a total of 13 percent. The most they would pay in state and local sales tax in Grand Forks is 7 percent.
Collecting all the sales tax from Canadian shoppers would add significantly to the local sales tax collections. There is enough Canadian shopping across the state that it even would be significant to the state sales tax collections.
I don't mean for this column to be exclusively about the economics of Canadian shopping. As I said earlier, Canadians are great neighbors. They are fun to be around. They add much to the culture of Grand Forks, and that is a good thing.
Kingsbury can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning (701) 738-0028.