Canada may snub Boeing, looks to buy Australian fighter jets

In the latest move of a trade dispute between Canada and the U.S., Canada announced it is seeking to buy used Australian fighter jets, a deal that if completed would eliminate the need to purchase American-made Boeing planes.

Public Services and Procurement Canada announced over the weekend on its web site that it had sent a letter to the Australian government expressing interest in its surplus FA-18 fighter jets. If the purchase were to be completed, Canada could back out of a planned $6.3 billion deal to buy 18 Super Hornet jets, made by Boeing, directly from the Pentagon.

Canada’s move on the Australian fighters comes on the heels of the U.S. government slapping hefty preliminary tariffs on the sale of CSeries commercial jets made by Montreal-based Bombardier. Boeing filed a formal complaint earlier in the year alleging that its Canadian competitor had received unfair government subsidies and had dumped its planes in the U.S. market.

Canada is in need of more fighter jets because its air force doesn’t have enough of them to meet its commitments to NORAD and NATO simultaneously, according to Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Retail employee discounts to be taxed

Canada Revenue Agency has advised businesses that purchases made with an employee discount are to be treated as a taxable benefit and reported to the government along with the rest of an employee’s income, a move that will potentially affect 2 million people working in the retail industry.

National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said there has been no change to the tax code, only a reinterpretation of existing law. Previously, a discount only needed to be reported if an employee paid less than the cost of the item to the employer. Beginning this tax year, however, an employee will be taxed on the difference between the “fair market value” of a discounted item and the amount actually paid for it.

Employers will primarily bear the responsibility of keeping track of how much an employee benefited from a discount in a given year.

Karl Littler, the vice-president of public affairs at the Retail Council of Canada, criticized the measure for the burdens he says it will impose on both employer and employee.

“It strikes me as odd that you would want to impose this on what are primarily modest income earners,” he said.

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