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Canada-U.S. border concerns among Biden’s official visit talking points




U.S. President Joe Biden heads north next week for his first visit to Canada as president. Ahead of the visit, both countries are laying out a wide range of potential topics spanning from migration policy to continuing support for Ukraine.

Details of the coming trip— on March 23 and 24 —were confirmed by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the White House on Thursday last week. The trip also includes an address to Parliament.

The two world leaders have had chances to connect over the past two years. Biden’s first “virtual” international bilateral was with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February of 2022 when both countries were still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Biden and Trudeau have met on the sidelines of various international events, yet, there has not had a trip dedicated to the U.S.-Canada relationship.


“To me it’s overdue…. if it hadn’t been for COVID, it should have happened right away,” said Chris Sands, director of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute in Washington. “Trump never did a state visit, the one time he went to Canada was for the G7 in 2018 and that ended badly. The last senior nationally-elected figure to visit Canada was Biden in 2016 at the end of the Obama administration.”

Sands described the gap in U.S. presidential visits north of the border as a “kind of timeout” from state visits. “The problem is Presidents and Prime Ministers see each other at all kinds of other things…. the importance of the trip is going to say hello to Canadians,” he added.

Here’s a look at some of the cross-border issues to be discussed during the visit:


The United States and Canada are under pressure to address the sharp increase in the level of irregular migration on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports an 846 per cent increase in irregular crossings from Canada along a section of the northeastern border. The flow of asylum seekers entering Canada from the United States has also spiked; nearly 40,000 last year, many at irregular border crossings like Roxham Road on the Quebec-Vermont border.

“That increase in the number of people arriving is quite stark… for Canada they are significant,” said Susan Fratzke, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

The border issue is opening up a new line of attack for the opposition in both countries. “This is Joe Biden’s border crisis,” said New York Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik at the launch of the all-Republican Northern Border Caucus last month. “What the Biden administration needs to do is focus on border security and admit that we have a problem.”

In Canada, the Conservatives echo this sentiment. “If we are a real country, we have borders. And if this is a real prime minister, he is responsible for those borders,” Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre told reporters last month in Ottawa

Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser met with American counterparts last week in Washington and the work towards a “lasting solution” is ongoing. But, with Quebec bearing the brunt of the migrant increase, Premier Francois Legault urged the prime minister to prioritize renegotiating a decades-old asylum pact during Biden’s visit.

Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, individuals are required to request asylum at the first safe country they enter, preventing migrants from transiting through the United States to request asylum in Canada. The issue: the claim needs to be at legal border crossing.

“The only way to effectively shut down, not just Roxham Road, but the entire border to these irregular crossings is to re-negotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement,” Trudeau told reporters last month.

However, Fratzke says it is not that easy. “It may send a message…but even if it’s changed, it’s likely that people will still continue to try to cross in different ways,” she added.


Another likely topic is the transition to clean energy and critical minerals. These are essential components in green technologies from solar panels to electric vehicle batteries and a potential growing source of middle-class jobs. Canada is home to nearly half of the world’s publicly listed mining and mineral exploration firms. This represents a combined market capitalization of $520 billion, according to the Canadian government’s critical mineral strategy.

A large component of that strategy is a mineral value chain, which keeps the mining, refining, and manufacturing in Canada, but the process is not without delays.

“This is kind of a pinch point…the American position generally is Canada has been a bit of a disappointment. Not that they don’t have it, it’s just they aren’t moving fast enough,” said Sands. “The American process is a mess as well, but the United States is moving faster to develop critical minerals.”

Canada has issues with the Americans as well, like parts of U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which offers billions of subsidies to incentive EV battery manufacturing in America.

“Because of their size, 10 times bigger in terms of population than Canada, it is a massive effort for our government to be able to be competitive in that space,” Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told CTV News earlier this month.

“Canada will want to turn the subject to American subsidies, America can always out subsidize,” said Sands. “I think there’s a good case that as industrial policy, the U.S. is defeating its purpose…. all [they’re] doing is just moving EV battery factories in the United States at the expense of South Korea, Europe and Canada. That isn’t going to create more.”

Growing the electric vehicle sector is a priority for the Liberal government. Just this week, Volkswagen picked St. Thomas, Ont. for the site of its first EV battery factory. The battery plant is expected to come online next year and both federal and provincial officials called the decision a “major vote of confidence” in Canada’s EV sector.

“There’s lots of opportunities for those companies to set up between us,” Invest WindsorEssex CEO Stephen MacKenzie told CTV News.

The St. Thomas plant isn’t the only EV facility seeing money being poured into it. Further east in Nova Scotia, Michelin announced it is spending $140 million on modernizing its Bridgewater plant to produce more electric vehicles tires.


Internationally, the war in Ukraine will likely also take top billing during these meetings. A year into the conflict, the United States and Canada continue to express a desire to hold Moscow accountable for it’s actions with both countries accusing Russia of war crimes.

There are reports the International Criminal Court is planning to open investigations into Russia, something Canada has previously asked for. The United States is not a member of the ICC but it is considering ways to aid the court.

Canada continues to support Ukraine as well. Canadian troops have trained thousands of Ukrainian solders, and it has also committed more than one billion dollars in military aid including eight Leopard 2 Tanks.

On NATO’s eastern flank, Ottawa is also planning to double its presence in Latvia. Defence Minister Anita Anand recently announced the planned purchase of portable-anti-tank missiles, anti-drone technology, and air defence systems for its NATO mission in the country.

The ongoing crisis in Haiti is also likely to come up during the talks. There are reports the Biden administration officials are pressuring Ottawa for a decision on leading a multinational force to assist the country with its battle against gang control.

In January, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters Canada expressed interest in taking on a leadership role. Canada’s top general recently told Reuters he is concerned that the country does not have capacity to lead a Haiti mission on top of supporting Ukraine and NATO.

“There’s only so much to go around… it would be challenging,” Chief of the Defence Staff Wayne Eyre told Reuters.

Closer to home, both leaders are expected to discuss modernizing Norad. This will be their first meeting since the downing of the Chinese surveillance balloon, and three other subsequent unidentified floating objects that prompted days of shootdowns across both U.S. and Canadian airspace.

“The Chinese balloon captured people’s attention and gave a reason for Canada to say yeah, wait a minute, this is a threat… we should be spending more money,” said Sands.


The two-day trip should provide both countries the chance to address simmering irritants and improve relations on both sides of the border.

In a briefing to reporters, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the trip would “reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the U.S.-Canada partnership and promote our shared security, shared prosperity, and shared values.”

Trudeau said in a statement that he looks forward to welcoming Biden to Canada adding, “We will continue working together as we defend our continent and our shared values, create more opportunities for people and businesses on both sides of the border.”

While Sands says there is nothing on the agenda that is “a full-blown crisis,” he described the relationship between the two countries as “isn’t great, but it’s fine.”

“I think we’re just in a period where our internal divisions are worse than our bilateral ones. And so we’re going to kind of just hold the bilateral and try to tamp down any potential crisis,” said Sands.


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Here are 5 ways Budget 2023 will impact your wallet



Much of the federal Liberal government’s 2023 budget is geared towards helping Canadian households make ends meet — or at the very least, for example, shaving a few dollars off the cost of a concert ticket.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland teed up the 2023 spending plans as providing support for vulnerable Canadians who are feeling stressed about their own budgets after a year of high inflation and rapidly rising interest rates.

Some proposed measures will make a direct impact on households, while others will change the kinds of charges and interest rates businesses can levy at Canadians.

Here are five big takeaways from the federal budget you’ll want to know about.



Tax rebate aimed at grocery affordability

One highly touted measure in the 2023 budget is a one-time tax rebate aimed at helping Canadians cope with rampant food inflation.

The so-called “grocery rebate,” as reported by Global News and others ahead of the budget’s release on Tuesday, would be aimed at lower-income households. It would be delivered through the existing GST tax credit mechanism, with an estimated 11 million Canadians and families expected to qualify to receive the support.

The rebate is expected to deliver $467 directly to a family of four, $234 to a single Canadian without kids and $225 to the average senior.

Despite the name, the government won’t be checking that the rebate is spent directly on groceries.

But given that prices for food from the grocery store clocked in at 10.6 per cent annual inflation in February and has remained in double-digits since the summer, groceries continue to be major stressors on household budgets.

The timeline for the rollout of this rebate is uncertain and depends on when and if the 2023 budget is passed in Parliament.


Cracking down on ‘junk fees’

In the 2023 budget, the Liberal government is declaring war on “junk fees” — defined as “unexpected, hidden and additional fees” that crop up on everything from concert tickets to airfare, from telecom services to excessive shipping costs.

Details were sparse on how and when the government would tackle these fees, but the budget said Ottawa would work with regulatory agencies, provinces and territories to reduce unfair and excessive costs on some common expenses.

The United States government recently announced a similar crackdown on fees as consumers have swiftly complained online in the past few years about the exorbitant amounts charged for tickets to popular concerts, for example.

While some measures in the 2023 budget might reduce what you pay on airfare, others could see those costs rise.

The air travellers security charge (ATSC), which is typically paid by passengers on their tickets and helps to fund security screening and baggage protection services in Canada, is set to rise under the 2023 budget proposals.

The ATSC rate for a round-trip domestic flight would rise almost $5 to $19.87 under the new regime, while an international flight will see the charge hiked by nearly $9 to $34.42 on a flight out of Canada.


Help on loans

The federal government also announced its plans to help Canadians dealing with high interest rates on some loans.

Debt-servicing payments have grown rapidly over the past year as the Bank of Canada raised interest rates in an effort to cool spending and take some stream out of inflation. A rise in the central bank’s benchmark policy rate affects multiple kinds of debt, including mortgages, lines of credit and credit cards.

For Canadians struggling with mortgage payments after a year of rate hikes, Ottawa proposed a new mortgage code of conduct in the 2023 budget.

Through the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, the document would direct financial institutions to provide Canadians struggling to make mortgage payments with “fair and equitable access to relief measures.”

This could include adjusting payment schedules, extending amortizations on the loan or authorizing lump-sum payments, strategies some lenders already offer to clients who are in danger of defaulting on their mortgage.

Beyond mortgages, Ottawa is also planning to crack down on payday loans and predatory lenders.

The budget notes that these loans often target low-income and other vulnerable Canadians with a promise of quick relief at the cost of “very high interest rate loans” that can end up trapping consumers in a cycle of debt.

The Liberals are proposing to amend the Criminal Code to lower the threshold at which a rate of interest would be considered criminal from today’s annual rate of 47 per cent federally to 35 per cent, in line with the current rate in Quebec.

Payday lenders would also be able to charge Canadians no more than $14 per $100 borrowed under the new regime, bringing it down to the cap currently in place in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Standardizing chargers for devices

The federal government is also planning to cut down on the number of charging cables Canadians have lying around their kitchen drawers by standardizing the charging port for smartphones and other devices.

Following the lead of the European Union, which signalled it would mandate USB-C charging ports for small handheld devices and laptops by the end of 2024, Ottawa will also work with international partners to “explore implementing a standard charging port in Canada,” according to the budget.

The document said standardizing the charging port on phones and other devices could lower costs for Canadians and cut down on electronic waste.

Also in the vein of cutting down on waste, the Liberals are proposing a new “right to repair” framework for existing devices.

Currently, fixing broken appliances or devices can come with high fees or face delays when specific parts aren’t available.

The government is looking to roll out a framework in 2024 to make electronics easier to repair with spare parts expected to be readily accessible.

“By cutting down on the number of devices and appliances that are thrown out, we will be able to make life more affordable for Canadians and protect our environment,” the budget read.


Automatic tax filing to help low-income Canadians

Ottawa is also looking to help the estimated 12 per cent of Canadians who don’t currently file tax returns take advantage of benefits they might currently be missing out on.

Starting in 2023, the Canada Revenue Agency is expected to pilot a new “automatic filing system” to help vulnerable Canadians who don’t regularly file taxes receive the benefits they’re entitled to receive.

The government also intends to expand its existing auto-file program, File My Return, which sees low-income Canadians file returns by answering a few questions over the phone.

Ottawa plans to nearly triple the number of Canadians eligible for the auto-file program to two million by 2025.


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PLAY to offer flights to Amsterdam from Hamilton airport



Amsterdam will be available to Canadian travellers on June 22


Hamilton, ON, March 28, 2023 – PLAY, a low-cost airline operating flights between Iceland and Europe, has added Amsterdam to its summer schedule. Tickets for the new route are now available for purchase, and the destination will be available for Canadian travellers when PLAY launches its inaugural flight out of Hamilton on June 22.

As a transatlantic carrier between Europe and North America, PLAY operates from its hub at Keflavik Airport in Iceland, perfectly positioned between the two continents.


From John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, Canadian passengers can fly to Amsterdam for as low as $169. Travel for this new route will be facilitated through Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Since its first flight in June 2021, PLAY has expanded its fleet from three Airbus A320neo aircraft to six in 2022 and will operate 10 Airbus A320/321neo aircraft in 2023. The average age of PLAY’s aircraft is just 2.3 years, making the passengers’ journey comfortable, safe and reliable. With a network of nearly 40 destinations and over a million passengers flown since its launch, PLAY has a solid track record of an impressive 87 per cent on-time performance in 2023.

In Iceland, PLAY is a listed company in the Icelandic stock market with around 4.000 shareholders.

“We are thrilled to launch our services to Amsterdam and connect more customers to our affordable travel options,” said Birgir Jónsson, CEO, PLAY. “Amsterdam is one of Europe’s biggest hubs and a vital destination for our VIA operations between Canada and Europe. At PLAY, our mission is clear: to provide low-cost flights and offer our customers more value for their money. We aim to give the competition a run for their money with our low prices, providing people in Canada the opportunity to save money on their flights and enjoy more experiences in their destination. As we like to say at PLAY: Pay less, PLAY more.”


Learn more or book a flight at See media assets here.



About PLAY

PLAY is a low-cost airline operating flights between Iceland and Europe, and North America as of 2022. Founded in Reykjavík in 2019 by a management team with significant experience in the aviation industry, the company operates flights on new Airbus A321NEO and A320NEO aircraft, offering streamlined, no-frills service that allows travelers to pay less and “play more.” Safety comes first for PLAY. On-time performance, simplicity, happiness and low prices are the airline’s core principles. The airline seeks to enable passengers to see the world, but not without considering its environmental impact. PLAY is being developed with sustainability initiatives and benchmarks in place to track and reduce fuel consumption, offset carbon emissions, and limit waste. Learn more or book a flight at or follow them on InstagramTwitter and Facebook at @PLAYairlines. For media resources, visit PLAY’s online newsroom,  


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The Recipee Band Brings Back The LIIVE Reunion




                                                 Brings Back

                                     THE “LIIVE REUNION” 

                                  “Are you ready?”




Toronto, ON – The Recipee Band’s live music experience that ran for 7 years returns!!  April 6th at the Black Pearl Restaurant, 184 Pearl Street Toronto.  Tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite with limited tickets at the door.  The event is 80% sold.  Don’t miss out on the iconic sound of Canada’s “The Recipee” band and their special guests, Mike Ferfolia, Jarelle, Oh! The Artist, Yosvanii, and more.  The group are known for the passion of their music, combining R&B, Gospel, Reggae, Pop, Rock, and Soul.  Their first single, “Edges Laid (Tonight)” is an example of the strength of the combined talent each of the band members brings every time they step into the studio or live on stage.  2023 will bring two highly anticipated singles from “The Recipee” followed by an album in 2024.  

“The Recipee” band members, Jason Larmond, Otis Williams, Juwayon Clarke, Jonathan Kerr and Omar Lunancontinue to perform at major events with Juno and Grammy winning artists.  Their soulful sound and ability to connect with sold out audiences everywhere is respected both nationally and internationally.  “The Recipee” has performed with Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Deborah Cox, Andy Kim, Ray Robinson, Daniel Caesar, Brandy, Foxy Brown, Ginuwine, Usher, 98 Degrees, Jordan Knight & Carvin Winans as well as Canada’s very own Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, Divine Brown, Shawn Desman & Shawn Hook. With a Canadian Urban Music Award, and drumming championships, the group is constantly evolving… securing their set at the table.  Get your tickets now to The April 6th “Live Reunion” Music Event.  “The Recipee” will bring the house down!!!


DATE:  April 6, 2023  


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Media RSVP & Inquiries: 

Sasha Stoltz Publicity:

Sasha Stoltz | | 416.579.4804

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