The 23rd ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the International Freight Association is being held in Montreal, Canada, the second largest country in the world, yet with a population of only 30 million. Canada offers a world of contrasts – modern cities rich in art and culture are on the doorstep of rugged mountain ranges and the great outdoors.
Montreal, the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, is dynamic and modern, successfully blending the old with the new. Founded by the French, conquered by the British and then occupied by the Americans, Montreal is steeped in history and cultural significance. Historic sites and museums rub shoulders with the boutiques, more than 5000 restaurants, as well as nightclubs and casino for which the city is famous.
As in the past, the meeting will enhance existing relations and friendships between members, allow new members to introduce themselves and their company and, most importantly, be a forum for discussions and decisions on how best to continue to take the International Freight Association forward.
Our aim is to make the IFA a strong and powerful voice at the forefront of the industry. Our steady growth ensures we have the highest quality of members. Now surpassing 68 members from every continent we celebrated three years ago our 20th anniversary, testimony to the IFA's stability and commitment.
Most importantly, the AGM will be a forum for discussions and workshops, networking sessions and making decisions about our continuing expansion.
You will have time to
· meet in informal sessions with colleagues
· organise one-to-one meetings with other members
· participate in your area or specialty meetings
· socialise and enjoy networking
Canada was founded on with a unique blend of English and French cultures. As such, both languages enjoy official status throughout the country. Canadians are entitled to receive federal government services in English or French anywhere in the country.
Although English and French are the only two official languages in Canada, countless other languages are spoken on the streets and in homes. Almost every language and culture in the world can find some representation, and a home, in Canada.
Although most Canadians identify themselves as Christian, Canada is a secular and tolerant society. All religions are free to assemble and worship as they wish.
The majority of Canadians live in major cities within 200 kilometers of the American border. Canada's large cities, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary, all have unique styles, climates, economies and cultural characteristics. Toronto is a large cosmopolitan centre often compared to New York. Montreal is a bohemian, bilingual city with a thriving cultural scene and European flavour. Vancouver is sometimes called the "city of glass" for its scenic natural setting and glittering glass architecture. Calgary is an economic success story, and the centre of the booming Canadian oil industry.
Canada's geography is highly varied. The West coast is mountainous, and largely covered in an old-growth rain forest. The Parries of Western Canada are flat with wide-open space stretching from horizon to horizon. Central Canada is covered by a rocky face called the Canadian Shield and littered with lakes and rivers. Southern Ontario and Quebec are home to rolling hills, fertile farmland and hundreds of cities and towns. The East coast is known for its attractively rugged Atlantic shore and windswept beaches.
Canada's economy is booming. As of 2006, Canada's GDP is approximately C$1.077 trillion, with a GDP per capita of approximately C$32,800. In 2006, Canada's unemployment level fell to a 32-year low of 6.3%. In practical terms, this means that anyone who wants a job can usually find one.
Canada is in the enviable position of having a rich natural resource base on which to base its economy, with the oil, timber and mining industries driving the economy. Canada's manufacturing and service sectors are also highly advanced. Canada's technology, research, and pharmaceuticals sectors are world-class, and it is a world leader in biotechnology, telecommunications and aerospace engineering.
Canada's proximity to the United States makes cross-border trade easy and efficient. Most of Canada's exports are sold to the American market. Indeed, although this fact is little-known in America, Canada is by far the biggest trading partner of the United States. As well, Canada's Membership in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has meant that Canadian companies have almost unfettered access the wider North American market.
Canada uses a decimal-based currency, 100 cents make up one Canadian Dollar, symbolized with a standard dollar sign ($). In general, one American Dollar is worth approximately C$1.10. Coins and banknotes are issued in the following denominations:
The leading credit cards are accepted everywhere, namely Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Traveler’s cheques are generally accepted in large hotels, some restaurants and major stores. Otherwise, they must be cashed at an exchange office or bank.
There are numerous exchange offices in Québec’s main cities. Airports also offer exchange services. Some businesses accept American money, but they offer a less competitive rate than the exchange offices.
Banking institutions are generally open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can withdraw cash from most automatic teller machines (linked to the Cirrus, PLUS System or Interac networks) any time, seven days a week.
Stores, shopping centres and most businesses are generally open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Some establishments open earlier and close later in the evenings, such as pharmacies and grocery stores. A few shopping centres are open every weeknight until 9:00 p.m. Business hours for banks are much more restricted.
TAXES AND TIPPING
Two taxes—the Québec sales tax (QST) and the federal goods and services tax (GST)—are added to the selling price of most goods and services. Several tourist regions charge a tax on accommodations. The amount is $2 or $3 dollars a night or 3% of the price of the room per night, before the QST and GST is added.
You must leave a tip on service received in restaurants and bars and from taxi drivers and hairdressers. The amount, which is not included in the bill, generally represents 10 to 15% of the total bill (before taxes). In Québec, for a restaurant bill, one usually adds the amounts of the two taxes (QST and GST) together, the sum of which equals approximately 15%. Tipping bellhops or porters is at your discretion (in general, $1 per bag carried).
A local call made from a public telephone costs 50¢. You can pay with coins or by using a prepaid card (you’ll pay more if you use your credit card). For long distance calls, using a prepaid card is usually the best bargain. Foreign cell phones may work in Québec depending on the technology used and the service offered by your provider.