Today on the Hill: Charge it!!!!!!!!


OTTAWA – The federal government’s battle to lower the fees retailers pay to use credit cards — and theoretically cut costs for consumers — may be coming to an end.

Ottawa could announce an agreement among the credit card companies, big banks and the Competition Bureau today that may result in a reduction of so-called interchange rates.

MasterCard has proposed an as-yet-undisclosed “voluntary” solution to the government after retailers and the Competition Bureau demanded lower fees.

Merchants are charged fees ranging from $1.50 to $3 for every $100 spent when consumers use credit cards to make purchases.

The Harper Conservatives have been promising to force rates lower as part of their consumer-friendly agenda.

But the Opposition New Democrats say they’ll be looking at the fine print before deciding whether they think consumers would benefit from the deal.

Here are some other events expected to take place today on and around Parliament Hill:

— Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and junior minister Lynne Yelich will meet with Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran;

— The Supreme Court of Canada will issue a decision in the case of Luis Alberto Hernandez Febles, a Cuban national who was denied refugee status after entering Canada from the U.S., where he was ordered deported after being twice convicted of assault with a deadly weapon;

— The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada tables its 2013-2014 annual report in Parliament;

— And New Democrat MPs will be getting their “Moe” on as Matthew Dube and Peter Stoffer launch the party’s Movember campaign in support of research and programs to help improve the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues.

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