By The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 0 Comments
TORONTO – After a lockout spanning almost nine weeks, about the only thing the…
TORONTO – After a lockout spanning almost nine weeks, about the only thing the NHL and NHL Players’ Association are talking about is taking a break.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has proposed placing a two-week moratorium on talks after NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told him that he didn’t know how the sides could proceed, multiple sources told The Canadian Press on Thursday night.
The offer was made during a phone conversation on Wednesday and didn’t produce an answer. According to the sources, Fehr told Bettman he would need to bounce the idea off his membership before responding.
The potential freeze comes with talks already having fallen silent after a busy stretch of meetings last week in New York. However, by the time negotiations broke last Sunday afternoon it was clear that pessimism and some bad feelings had made their way into the bargaining room.
Some of the tension can be chalked up to losses that are beginning to mount. On Thursday, players missed their third paycheque of the season while the league moved closer to making another round of game cancellations, prompting some to suggest the entire year could be in danger.
Asked about that possibility on Thursday morning, deputy commissioner Bill Daly replied: “I hope not.”
“But I’m more discouraged now than I have been at any point in the process,” Daly added.
The NHL is expected to start wiping games beyond Nov. 30 off the schedule early next week. There had previously been hope for a shortened 68-game season starting Dec. 1, but that now appears to be gone.
In total, the lockout has already forced the cancellation of 327 games, including the Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings at Michigan Stadium. The league’s other big mid-season event — the Jan. 27 all-star game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus — is also expected to be formally cancelled in the near future.
Earlier this week, NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr indicated that he thought a new CBA could be completed quickly once a breakthrough was made in negotiations.
“One thing Bill Daly and I agree upon is that when the moment is right the deal could be done very quickly,” Fehr said Monday. “One days, three days or whatever.”
The right moment doesn’t appear to be forthcoming. Fehr also acknowledged that the union and league remained split on three major issues: the division of money, player contract rights and who pays for the damage caused by the lockout.
The lack of progress in talks has started raising fears that the NHL might lose another year to a labour dispute. Even though the 2004-05 season was cancelled by Bettman on Feb. 16, it’s strongly believed the league wouldn’t put the decision off that long if the 2012-13 season was to meet the same fate.
A deal that saved a 48-game season following the 1994-95 lockout was signed on Jan. 11.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 8:10 PM - 0 Comments
Talking with big city mayors, about the situation in Gaza, and the need for a national energy strategy
Message of the day
“Canadians spend a month every year waiting in traffic.”
Questions not answered
- Will the government agree to partner with the municipalities on this infrastructure spending?
With the big city mayors in town, Power & Politics sat down with mayors Jim Watson, Gregor Robertson and Naheed Nenshi to talk about their $2.5 billion per year demand for infrastructure. Nenshi said that cities are the economic and political engines of the country, and that quality of life is a necessary condition for growth. Robertson said that the Economic Action Plan did help to start addressing the accumulated infrastructure deficit, but that there is still a lot of work to do, especially with congestion and a lack of transit. Watson said that all levels of government have a stake in having good infrastructure and keeping products moving along highways and rail, and that it’s in their own self-interest not to rely on property taxpayers to pay for major infrastructure projects.
By Anne Kingston - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 7:53 PM - 0 Comments
A backless dress, a shirtless FBI and all the latest on the scandal
The Benghazi hearing began, and a day before David Petraeus is set to testify he started to get his side of the story out through sympathetic media channels. It offered a telling glimpse of the former top four-star general’s talent annexing the press corps.
- Day 6: Things are getting stranger
- It’s like Mean Girls for people with jobs
- Petraeus and the Shlock Doctrine
First, National Journal reported Petraeus told his former spokesman, retired Army Col. Steven Boylan, that Broadwell is the only mistress he ever had and that began in November 2011 — two months after he became CIA chief.
By Emily Senger - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 5:18 PM - 0 Comments
Fans celebrate ‘Breaking Dawn Part 2’ with 11.5 hours of sparkling vampires, teenage angst and sexual tension
They skipped class, skipped work, called in sick, or used up a precious vacation day. However they got there, the fans gathered in a half-full downtown Toronto movie theatre for a marathon of epic proportions: all five Twilight films screened back to back, culminating with the newest release, Breaking Dawn Part 2 at 10 p.m.
That’s approximately 11.5 hours of sparkling vampires, teenage angst and sexual tension — until, at least, (SPOILER ALERT) the fourth movie, Breaking Dawn Part 1, where Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) finally get married and consummate the deal.
At the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, the fans come prepared.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 4:56 PM - 0 Comments
Bob Rae was in Toronto today to deliver a speech on energy policy. Included in that was a defence of putting a price on carbon.
I also want to say today, to everyone in this room, that we have to move the discussion along with respect to this question of carbon pricing. Do you know who’s providing the leadership today on carbon pricing? The province of British Columbia. And the province of Alberta. They’re not afraid to talk about carbon pricing. They’re not afraid to use market mechanisms to force innovation and more conservation. They’re not afraid to send the right messages to markets. They’ve done that. They’ve moved ahead of the game. The Conference of CEOs, under the leadership of John Manley, has said exactly the same thing. We have to send a signal to the markets about the price of carbon going forward and we have to do it in a way that, once again, will force producers and force the industry to become more innovative. And that’s a more effective way to do it than, and this is really ironic coming from a so-called Conservative government, the kind of centralized, command-and-control regulatory approach which now seems to be the vogue in Ottawa.
Now, you and I both know our shared experiences as a country in trying to have a national conversation on this question of carbon taxing or cap-and-trade—either technique, either method of trying to create a signal to the markets about price. But I’m here to tell you that if we don’t send a signal to the markets about price, the market won’t take us seriously when it comes to conservation and the market won’t take us seriously when it comes to greening the economy and the world won’t take us seriously when it comes to those things.
What’s more, the industry itself is asking for this. Talk to a CEO of any major energy company in Canada and they will tell you we need to know what prices are going to be and what government policies are going to be in order for us to make and justify the investments to our shareholders that we know we have to make. Two projects right now on carbon capture, two separate major projects on carbon capture, have been put on hold by two major companies for the simple reason that there is no signal to the market. That’s wrong.
But I know full well that anyone who steps up to the plate and says this is something we have to do and at the same time provide for tax cuts to lower and middle income people, provide for real cuts in income taxes, make sure that regions that are badly effected are helped and not hurt, it’s quite possible to do it, but anyone who suggests it will immediately have their head blown off. But, having my head blown off many times, I don’t mind. What I do mind is the absence of national leadership. What I do mind is the fact that the provinces are getting together, and getting together again at the end of this month, they’re going to be talking about the need for a national energy strategy. They, themselves, are taking steps to move forward. The province of Ontario, the province of Manitoba, the province of Nova Scotia, they all want to move forward. Quebec wants to move forward. It already is ahead of the federal government when it comes to setting targets and getting there and sending signals to market. So the federal government is hiding under its chair while that conference is going on. And the federal government is hiding under its chair when the national industry and the CEOs of this country are looking for leadership. And they don’t find it.
By Julia Belluz - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 4:35 PM - 0 Comments
This is the third part of a series of articles adapted from the 2012 Hancock Lecture, “Who Live and Who Dies, Will Social Media Decide?” delivered at the University of Toronto by Julia Belluz. This installment looks at the credibility of health information on the Web, and the pitfalls and potential of social media for health. Read parts one, two, and four.
We started the Science-ish blog because it seemed there was a widening gap between science—what is known in health research—and how it’s presented in the media by key opinion leaders, and then implemented in health policy. The question was: If we believe what’s reported about health, what politicians say about health, could we really make well-informed choices about health? This is a public health problem.
Sometimes even sources that seem credible mislead us. This year, I had an opportunity to interview Dr. Oz. when he was in Toronto and ask about his use of scientific evidence to back the claims on his show. I was prompted to do this after hearing from doctors who had patients coming into their offices on myriad supplements because Dr. Oz told them to do so.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:58 PM - 0 Comments
Industry will always favour a carbon tax over emissions regulations: it dilutes costs & defers real action on environment.
I responded with a question.
So do you agree then that a regulatory approach will actually be costlier than a carbon tax or cap and trade?
Ms. Ambrose tweeted back.
Regs target industry change ie: new technology. Carbon tax merely raises revenue for govt: no certainty of environmental change
I asked another question.
Wouldn’t cap and trade provide for certainty and mitigate the impact of increased costs on consumers?
To that I added a link to this post by Stephen Gordon.
Ms. Ambrose hasn’t responded, but I’ll update this post if she does. I’ve also asked her office if she’d like to do an interview about environmental policy and carbon pricing. There is, indisputably, a debate to be had about greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and how governments should respond to those challenges. I’ve filed a standing request with the offices of Peter Kent and Joe Oliver if either (or both) want to sit down for an interview and I’m happy to chat with anyone who has an opinion on the matter.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:53 PM - 0 Comments
BRANTFORD, Ont. – Former Boston Bruins forward Stan Jonathan has been charged with criminal…
BRANTFORD, Ont. – Former Boston Bruins forward Stan Jonathan has been charged with criminal negligence causing death after a hunting accident on the weekend left a Hamilton man dead.
Peter Kosid was shot and killed on Sunday while crossbow hunting for deer on a friend’s property on a Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, about 100 kilometres west of Toronto.
Six Nations Police said a deer hunter fired from the roadway into the bushline area. The bullet struck Kosid, who was wearing camouflage, from about 375 metres away.
Police said Jonathan and Kosid were not known to each other and were not hunting together.
Jonathan, a prominent member of the Six Nations band, was released after a bail hearing Wednesday. Details of the hearing cannot be revealed due to a publication ban.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 14.
Jonathan spent eight seasons with Boston and Pittsburgh and was known for his fighting skills as well as his scoring touch. His best offensive season was 1977-’78, when he had 27 goals and 25 assists in 68 games as the Don Cherry-led Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup final before losing to Montreal in six games.
Jonathan finished his NHL career with 201 points (91 goals, 110 assists) and 751 penalty minutes in 411 games. He had 12 points (8-4) and 137 PIM in 63 career playoff games.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:51 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – The Quebec Court of Appeal says the federal government cannot be sued…
MONTREAL – The Quebec Court of Appeal says the federal government cannot be sued or held liable for damages in lawsuits involving Big Tobacco.
And in a province where big tobacco is being sued for $27 billion in a landmark case, the ruling could have an impact on the landmark trial.
Tobacco companies have tried using the federal government to defend themselves in the case, saying their cigarette sales simply followed government guidelines. The companies say they will sue Ottawa to recoup damages if they lose the case.
The verdict was rendered late yesterday by the province’s highest court.
It comes on the heels of a unanimous Supreme Court of Canada ruling in July 2011 that decided the federal government can’t be dragged into court cases aimed at getting tobacco companies to foot the bill for smokers who get sick.
The latest Quebec ruling says the Supreme Court case, involving two lawsuits from B.C., is no different from the case in Quebec.
A massive, two-year civil trial underway in Quebec has often heard from tobacco companies who’ve defended themselves by saying they were simply following federal health authorities’ recommendations. The companies say the ruling will not have any impact on their defence.
The federal government had been pursued as a third-party defendant and the tobacco industry had said it would seek to recover damages from Ottawa if it lost.
Because the feds had been involved in the case Quebec for many years, they were obliged to defend themselves and denied any liability.
The three tobacco companies have 30 days to determine whether they will appeal.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:47 PM - 0 Comments
BATHURST, N.B. – A New Brunswick mayor whose city was devastated by a van…
BATHURST, N.B. – A New Brunswick mayor whose city was devastated by a van crash that killed seven high school basketball players says he hopes a movie based on the tragedy will help his community heal, despite outcry from some mothers who lost their sons in the accident.
Stephen Brunet said the made-for-TV movie, set to air Sunday on CBC Television, is a “feel-good story” that focuses on the success of the Bathurst High School boys’ basketball team after the January 2008 crash that killed most of its players and the coach’s wife.
“It’s not about the tragedy. It’s about how people picked up the pieces after the tragedy and carried on,” said Brunet.
“Some of the mothers are still grieving, which is a natural thing to be doing … but it’s not about their children. It’s about the team that carried on after and went forward, moved on and made everybody proud in Bathurst.”
The movie, produced by Fredericton-based Dream Street Pictures and CBC Television, recounts the true story of how the Bathurst Phantoms captured a provincial basketball title just 13 months after the horrific accident.
The film’s producers have billed “The Phantoms” as “an inspiring real-life story of triumph in a small town.”
But Isabelle Hains and Ana Acevedo, whose sons died in the crash, have repeatedly slammed the producers as opportunists who are cashing in on the lives of their children and doing so too soon after their deaths.
“This film does not honour our sons’ memory,” Acevedo said in a statement.
“The reality is there is no story without the tragedy and the events leading up to it.”
Daniel Hains and Javier Acevedo, both 17, were on their way home on Jan. 12, 2008, following a game in Moncton, N.B., when their school van collided with a transport truck on an icy highway.
Five of their teammates — Nathan Cleland, Justin Cormier, Codey Branch, Nick Quinn and Nicholas Kelly — were also killed, along with the wife of the team’s coach, Elizabeth Lord.
The coach, who was driving the van, his daughter and two other team members survived.
The premise of “The Phantoms” is reminiscent of “We Are Marshall,” a 2006 Hollywood release starring Matthew McConaughey as Jack Lengyel, the real-life coach who helped Marshall University heal after an airplane crash in 1970 that killed most of its football team.
Lengyel visited Bathurst months after the van crash to speak with grieving students, teachers and parents.
Rick LeGuerrier, a producer of “The Phantoms,” said while the movie makes reference to the van crash, the accident itself isn’t depicted.
He said he wouldn’t have moved forward with the two-year project, which was filmed in Bathurst, if the community of about 13,000 hadn’t been receptive.
“We respect the opinions of those who’ve spoken out (against the movie),” he said in an interview. “We decided that we would be very, very sensitive along the way to any of the opinions that were expressed.”
Ultimately, LeGuerrier said he and co-producer Tim Hogan — a Bathurst native — are proud of the movie.
“What this team was able to accomplish gave people hope. … That’s the story we wanted to tell.”
Hains and Acevedo fought for months to block production of “The Phantoms,” along with Marcella Kelly, the mother of Nicholas Kelly.
The mothers, who run a blog dedicated to their children, have long pressed for provincial and national changes in the rules governing student travel, including the kinds of vehicles and tires used on vans.
A spokeswoman said none of the women was available for an interview.
The mothers complained about the use of CBC funding for the film and asked the province’s auditor general to investigate the granting of a $250,000 film tax credit to the filmmakers. But the CBC ombudsman as well as the provincial and federal auditors general refused to intervene.
The women also filed a complaint with the provincial ombudsman in an effort to reverse a decision by school officials to allow some filming at Bathurst High School. Acting provincial ombudsman Francois Levert asked the women last month to direct their complaint to the District Education Council in Bathurst.
Brunet, who was mayor at the time of the crash, said most people in the community are supportive of the film. A number of residents signed on to be background actors and are eager to see themselves on the small screen, he added.
He said he’s hopeful the story told in the film is one of triumph overcoming tragedy.
“It was a very, very difficult time,” Brunet said of the crash. “It affected everybody and we pulled together as nothing ever before and we tried to back the parents and help the parents through their difficult time.
“We know that they’ll never get over what happened.”
— By Melanie Patten in Halifax
By LuAnn LaSalle, The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Everybody’s got their two cents’ worth on tipping.
Whether tapped out on…
MONTREAL – Everybody’s got their two cents’ worth on tipping.
Whether tapped out on tipping or generous with gratuities for food and drink, patrons and servers don’t always see eye-to-eye on tips, say experts.
“A tip is our way of saying thank you for doing a great job,” says etiquette expert Margaret Page.
As soon as it becomes expected, then it’s part of a person’s wage or salary and it’s not optional, says Page of Etiquette Page Enterprises in Vancouver.
“And that’s not the intention of the tip,” she adds.
Page said a 15 per cent tip is the standard for a good meal and 20 per cent for a really good meal with “exceptional” service. She said the tip is added before the tax, which of course goes to the government.
Tipping has been making headlines recently after those on the receiving end, who got nothing for their efforts, acted on their discontent.
A woman who left no tip gained Internet notoriety after spending almost $140 at a restaurant and writing: “Single mom, sorry” in the space reserved for the tip. A photo of the bill was posted on social news website Reddit by her server.
The photo of the woman’s bill has gone viral and been viewed more than 600,000 times, sparking much online commentary about her behaviour.
She did write on her credit card bill, however, “Thank you, it was great.”
“Oh, that’s just wrong,” said Giuseppe, a waiter at an upscale Montreal restaurant known for its service.
He acknowledges that the tip is always at the customer’s discretion, but he does expect between 15 and 25 per cent for the service that he gives.
“Service is about trust,” said Giuseppe, who didn’t want his last name used or his establishment identified.
“We are building a relationship.”
Tipping was also in the news when a Pizza Hut employee in Des Moines, Iowa, became so upset after a woman didn’t give him a tip that he allegedly pulled down his pants and urinated on her front door, a local TV station reported.
The woman apparently said she didn’t have the money for a tip. It was reported the delivery man was fired after his manager viewed the incident on security camera footage.
Website tipthepizzaguy.com says drivers should be tipped because they bring dinner to your door.
“Your tips are greatly appreciated. It’s what keeps drivers moving,” the website says, adding drivers should get a gratuity even when there is a delivery fee, because that fee goes to the business.
Associate prof. Bruce McAdams estimates that tips from full-service restaurants bring in $6 billion a year to the Canadian economy, based on a 15 per cent tip rate. But he noted it has to be questioned how much is being declared and how it is distributed among staff.
In Canada, there’s an expectation that restaurant tips be between 15 per cent and 20 per cent, he said.
Tipping, however, is a “social norm,” said McAdams, who teaches at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Guelph.
“We tip because we don’t want to look like a cheapskate or it’s expected,” he said from Guelph, Ont.
What about those tip bowls at coffee shops and fast food restaurants?
Page said it’s not necessary, but it’s always nice if customers want to drop some spare change in the bowl.
Rodney, a regular at a pub in Old Montreal, says his tipping “depends on what change I have.”
While it isn’t the same level of service, Rodney said he does tip $1 for every beer he drinks because “it just seems fair.”
Technology is also playing a role in tipping at times.
On wireless payment terminals used for credit cards, the tip has been automatically set by some restaurants at 20 per cent and consumers haven’t readily accepted it, Page said.
“I can tell you almost immediately in Vancouver that those restaurants reset their terminals.”
For those unsatisfied with their restaurant experience, Page said refusing to tip doesn’t send a clear message because some customers just don’t tip and not all cultures have the practice of tipping.
“If you’re really unhappy, you need to let the management know or let the waiter or waitress know why you’re unhappy.”
Please be civil, she advises.
“What’s critical in this is your tone of voice.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 2:52 PM - 0 Comments
An exchange from today’s “press gaggle” aboard Air Force One.
Q I’m just speaking of the aftermath yesterday — he seemed to almost go out of his way to dismiss the idea of a carbon tax, kind of rule it out. Why did he — why was he so –
MR. CARNEY: We would never propose a carbon tax, and have no intention of proposing one. The point the President was making is that our focus right now is the same as the American people’s focus, which is on the need to extend economic growth, expand job creation. And task number one is dealing with these deadlines that pose real challenges to our economy, as he talked about yesterday.
Everyone rightly is worried about the fiscal cliff and the effect that going over the cliff would have on the economy. And as the President said yesterday, well, let’s do something that we all agree on that would mitigate over half of the potential damage caused by the fiscal cliff — that would be caused by the fiscal cliff. Let’s pass tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people. The Senate has done that. The only obstacle is the House, the Republicans in the House; obviously, the Democrats in the House are absolutely ready to pass that tax cut, the extension of tax cuts for 98 percent.
It is inconceivable to me, going back to I think the first question, that you could make an argument to the American people that it is right economic policy to hold the middle class hostage, to tell the middle class that their taxes are going to go up unless the top 2 percent of the American people, the wealthiest American people, the millionaires and billionaires get a tax cut. That’s just bad policy, and it’s –
Q So if you don’t do anything with the carbon tax, what can you do about climate change in the short term? He talked about a national conversation, but beyond that, what does he want to do?
MR. CARNEY: Well, the President, as he spoke about yesterday, has already taken significant steps, including doubling our fuel-efficiency standards, including doubling our renewable energy production and the investments that we’ve made in other areas of clean energy that will improve the situation from what it would have been in terms of carbon emissions.
But there is more work to do. I don’t have items that I’m going to lay out here on Air Force One for you, but I think the President gave a pretty expansive response to a question about this yesterday.
Compare and contrast this with the president’s response yesterday (in which the President didn’t rule out the possibility) and a Treasury Official’s comments earlier this week (which seemed to suggest some openness to the proposal if Republicans were prepared to propose it).
What’s interesting is the contention that the Obama administration “would” never propose a carbon tax. President Obama already did propose a cap-and-trade system. So either the Obama administration sees a difference between a carbon tax and cap-and-trade—a difference the Harper government no longer recognizes—or that “would” requires some explanation.
By Brian D. Johnson - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 1:43 PM - 0 Comments
One of the strangest movie franchises every created has finally drawn its last breath. At least for now. Nothing is more undead than a blockbuster franchise, so just because they’ve run out of novels, that doesn’t rule out more movies, as James Bond has amply proven. But the series finale, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, brings Stephanie Meyer’s series to a close. Which will come as a relief to a certain breed of pallid bloodsuckers. I’m talking about film critics, of course. It’s easy for us to be cynical about these movies. Their erratic tone, which careens between unabashed romance and shabby camp, almost encourages it. And even the most devoted fans aren’t immune to the odd burst of derisive giggling. That’s part of the fun. I’m not a fan—wrong gender, wrong age.
But I’ve always been twi-curious, and as I’ve dutifully sat through each of the installments, there have been plenty of guilty pleasures along the way. Twilight‘s extended family of bloodsuckers are downright adorable—the best-looking, most wholesome collection of vampires you could ever wish to meet. It’s hard not to feel affection for them. Even while panning the honeymoon-from-hell of Breaking Dawn Part 1, I had to admit that “the actors are such a perky, spirited bunch you want to cheer them on, like a high school football team.”
The finale is, above all, a fond farewell to these characters, who are now getting along like never before.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 1:37 PM - 0 Comments
Stephen Colbert responds to criticism of his suggestion that Windsor is the Earth’s rectum.
Growing up near Windsor, my understanding was that the city was generally regarded as “Canada’s armpit.” Whether Canada’s armpit could also be the Earth’s rectum I leave to those with an expertise in metaphorical anatomy.
By Daniel Barna - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 12:17 PM - 0 Comments
And the Internet is not happy about it
Yesterday People Magazine officially unveiled professional beefcake Channing Tatum as their choice for this year’s Sexiest Man Alive. Today, their staff is being escorted to work one by one, by armed bodyguards. Or at least they should be. Last year when Bradley Cooper was awarded the coveted title over presumptive victor Ryan Gosling, a small army of the Canadian actor’s aggrieved fans (Goslingers? Goslingites?) gathered en masse outside the Time Warner headquarters in Midtown Manhattan to protest what they believed was the most egregious oversight in the history of insignificant celebrity awards, since the time Pink edged Beyonce for “best abs” in that now infamous 2003 issue of In Style.
This time, Gosling die-hards have yet to storm the streets of New York City in protest. Whether their restraint is out of respect to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, who are, you know, still dealing with true trauma, or whether it’s due to the taste of stale granola still lingering from last year’s occupy movement, remains up for debate. But their noticeable absence outside has done little to suppress their overwhelming presence online. They’re not pleased, and they want everybody to know it.
By Stephen Gordon - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 12:08 PM - 0 Comments
Mulcair told reporters the increasing supply of oil in the U.S., combined with soft demand, is already having an impact on the Canadian energy industry. He said while Eastern consumers pay higher prices for oil, producers in Western Canada are hit by the price differential — the discounted price they must accept for their crude as a result of surging production and jam-packed pipeline capacity in the U.S.
“It’s in the interests of everyone to try to get the best possible price for our natural resources, to add the jobs here,” Mulcair said at an NDP rally at a nightclub on 17th Avenue S.W. He said focusing on shipping oil from Western Canada to central and eastern provinces, and processing it domestically, could be a solution and a nation-building project on par with railroad construction in the 1800s. “It could be a win-win-win situation.”
- Refineries’ margins are paper-thin, and have been so for decades; that’s why North American oil companies stopped building them long ago and have been shutting them down.
- The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil price set in Cushing, Oklahoma is currently trading at a significant discount from the Brent price set in the North Sea and which is used as the reference price everywhere where supplies are available by tanker, such as Eastern Canada.
- Refineries buying WTI oil are more profitable than those buying Brent oil.
RubinMulcair concludes that the path to prosperity is for Canadians to get in on the business of refining WTI-priced oil – namely, the oil produced in Canada.
This makes no sense to me:
- If refining WTI-priced crude was the path to long-term prosperity, oil companies would be building refineries without any encouragement from Ottawa (or Washington, come to that).
- The WTI-Brent spread opened up sometime around January 2011. The economics of refining have been dodgy for decades.
- The WTI-Brent spread is an opportunity for arbitrage: buying in the low-price market and selling in the high-price market. Ordinarily, arbitrage is a cheap and riskless way of making money. As long as the price differential exists, demand will increase in the low-price market, and supply will increase in the high-price market. The reason why the Brent-WTI differential has persisted is that it was difficult and costly to buy oil in Cushing and transport it to the Gulf Coast, where the Brent price prevails.
- Unsurprisingly, the private sector is falling over itself to take advantage of this arbitrage opportunity. The Seaway pipeline reversal has already begun to ship oil from Cushing to Houston, and the southern part of the Keystone XL project is under way. It makes no sense at all to make policy based on the assumption that the WTI-Brent spread is an immutable constant.
- It won’t be long — a few years — before the WTI-Brent spread is arbitraged away, and we’ll revert to a world where refining is everywhere a marginal business with razor-thin margins, and in which oil production is lucrative – which probably explains why the private sector doesn’t see much point in investing in
Jeff Rubin’sTom Mulcair’s business plan.
Diverting capital and labour away from a lucrative industry towards a marginal one isn’t creating “value-added.” It’s creating value subtraction.
I would also add that if you’re looking for nation-building projects, you might want to choose one whose foundation is more solid than the hope that no-one will notice or take advantage of a pure arbitrage opportunity.
Update: According to Cansim Table 301-0006, some 7,000 people work at oil refineries. Doubling Canadian oil refinery capacity would increase employment by about 0.05%.
By Erica Alini - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
The Canadian housing market continued along its gradual downward trajectory in October, with sales of existing homes lower compared to both the previous month and year-over-year levels, as prices registered the smallest increase since May 2011, the Canadian Real Estate Association said today.
Home resales dipped 0.1 per cent in October from September and actual, non-seasonally adjusted, sales were down 0.8 per cent from October 2011. Prices were still growing, but moderately, up a modest 3.6 per cent from September, the sixth consecutive month of slowing gains. The price increase for townhouses and condo units was even smaller, at 1.2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.
And in a further sign that supply is adjusting to weaker demand, the number of homes that went up for sale in October was down 3.8 per cent after a jump in September, with the Vancouver and Toronto areas leading the way. Calgary, on the other hand, bucked the trend, topping the charts of local markets that saw year-over-year sales increases and registering faster growing prices as well.
All told, after a strong showing in the first half of the year, the level of home sales in 2012 will likely come in roughly in line with the decade’s average.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM - 0 Comments
BDJ on asking the wrong question: ‘I thought, OMG, I’ve just violated the privacy of a teenager’
Find out why Brian D. Johnson, who’s interviewed a slew of celebrities, has never been so nervous and apprehensive as when he recently interviewed Bieber. Find out what topics were off-topic during their time together, and who won at ping-pong. (The Maclean’s exclusive story on Bieber is on newsstands now.)of Photos
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
Exxon Mobile confirms its support for a carbon tax.
“Combined with further advances in energy efficiency and new technologies spurred by market innovation, a well-designed carbon tax could play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions,” Kimberly Brasington, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. “A carbon tax should be made revenue neutral via tax offsets in other areas,” she added.
Exxon’s political action committee gave nearly $1.2 million to political candidates in the past two years, 93 percent of it to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Exxon is the biggest U.S. natural-gas producer. A carbon tax could boost demand for natural gas in U.S. power plants, as gas emits half the carbon dioxide as coal when burned to make electricity.
Nearly four years ago, the company’s chairman endorsed a carbon tax over cap-and-trade.
By Emily Senger - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 10:27 AM - 0 Comments
Using the digital front to win hearts and minds
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 10:26 AM - 0 Comments
Buried in Mitt Romney’s post-election analysis of why he lost – he blames it…
Buried in Mitt Romney’s post-election analysis of why he lost – he blames it on “gifts” to minorities, young people and single women – is an interesting admission about the impact of Obama’s health-care reform on the election.
“Obamacare” didn’t come up a whole lot in the election, because Obama didn’t want to talk a lot about it (polls show it is still unpopular overall) and Romney, while pledging to repeal it, was not in a position to make it a centrepiece of his campaign (having famously passed the same plan in Massachusetts, every explanation of why he wanted to repeal it had to be prefaced by an explanation of why state laws are different from federal ones). But the health-care reform was a big factor in the Democratic mid-term disaster of 2010, and though it became less of an albatross for the party once it squeaked by the Supreme Court, it was still expected to be more of a liability than an asset for Democrats this year.
But according to Romney, Obamacare worked to mobilize voters. He thinks this is a bad thing, a case of the government doling out favours to special interest groups; but liberals and Democrats might feel that Romney is making a stronger case for the effectiveness of Obamacare than Obama ever did:
“Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus.”
A lot of liberals are already making fun of Romney, or expressing horror at this point of view: that when people feel the government is making their lives better, it’s some kind of “gift” or bribe, rather than the government doing its job. That’s part of the worldview that Romney expressed in the 47% remarks, and which underlay a lot of the philosophical differences in the campaign. But what’s really odd is to hear the Republican candidate tell people that Obamacare was an asset for the Democrats, after telling us for years that it was going to be their Waterloo.
How could Obamacare be such a liability for the Democrats in 2010, and then, according to their own opponent, a major asset in 2012? This speaks to the big problem the Democrats still have to deal with: while they’ve built a workable majority of voters in the past two Presidential elections, many of their voters are not likely to show up during mid-term elections, which have much lower turnout, and a much older electorate. The Democrats did extremely well in the 2006 election because older voters were frustrated with the Iraq war and took their frustration out on the Republicans. But in 2010, the Democrats were in charge, and the natural disadvantage of the party in power was compounded by the Medicare cuts that Obama’s health-care reform incorporated. The older electorate of 2010 voted against the Democrats because they saw Obamacare as hurting rather than helping them. But in 2012, more people were voting who had trouble affording medical insurance, and they broke for Obamacare, not against it.
The challenge for the Democrats in 2014, when they will once again be the party in power, will be to find a way to minimize their expected losses by figuring out a way to get their base to show up for mid-term elections in greater numbers. If they can ever do that, Republicans will be in real trouble for a while. (On the other hand, if the Democrats find some way to make young voters feel betrayed – like for example cutting the benefits they can expect to receive if and when they retire – then their voting coalition could evaporate.) Meanwhile, Republicans’ challenge in 2014 will be to find a way to avoid blowing their third consecutive chance to take back the Senate, meaning that we can expect them to apply a lot of pressure to keep people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock out of future Senate races. Whether any of this works, I don’t know; this is one thing that not even the polls can predict – yet.
By Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 10:26 AM - 0 Comments
NEW ORLEANS – British oil giant BP has agreed to pay the largest criminal…
NEW ORLEANS – British oil giant BP has agreed to pay the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history, totalling billions of dollars, for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a person familiar with the deal said Thursday.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the deal, also said two BP PLC employees face manslaughter charges over the death of 11 people in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the massive spill.
The person said BP will plead guilty to obstruction for lying to Congress about how much oil was pouring out of the ruptured well. The person declined to say exactly how much the fine would be.
The Deepwater Horizon rig, 50 miles (80 kilometres) off the Louisiana coast, sank after the April 2010 explosion. The well on the sea floor spewed an estimated 206 million gallons of crude oil, soiling sensitive tidal estuaries and beaches, killing wildlife and shutting vast areas of the Gulf to commercial fishing.
The spill exposed lax government oversight and led to a temporary ban on deepwater drilling while officials and the oil industry studied the risks, worked to make it safer and developed better disaster plans.
BP’s environmentally friendly image was tarnished, and independent gas station owners who fly the BP flag claimed they lost business from customers who were upset over the spill. BP chief executive Tony Hayward stepped down after the company’s repeated gaffes, including his statement at the height of the crisis: “I’d like my life back.”
The cost of BP’s spill far surpassed the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska in 1989. Exxon ultimately settled with the U.S. government for $1 billion, which would be about $1.8 billion today.
The government and plaintiffs’ attorneys also sued Transocean Ltd., the Deepwater Horizon rig’s owner, and cement contractor Halliburton, but a string of pretrial rulings by a federal judge undermined BP’s legal strategy to pin blame on them.
At the time of the explosion, the Deepwater Horizon was drilling into BP’s Macondo well. The rig sank two days later.
After several attempts failed, engineers finally were successful in capping the well on July 15, 2010, halting the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico after more than 85 days.
As people all over the world watched a live spill camera on the Internet and television, the Obama administration dealt with a political headache, in part because the government grossly underestimated how much crude was spilling into the Gulf.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans was assigned to oversee tens of thousands of court claims spawned by the explosion. A trial date was set, but Barbier postponed it so BP could hammer out a deal with attorneys for Gulf Coast shrimpers, commercial fishermen, charter captains, property owners, environmental groups, restaurants, hotels and others who claim they suffered economic losses. Relatives of workers killed in the blast also sued.
Barbier gave his preliminary approval to that proposed settlement in May and scheduled a January trial for the remaining claims, including those by the federal government and Gulf states.
In a pretrial court filing, the Justice Department said it would argue that BP’s actions and decisions leading up to the deadly blowout amounted to gross negligence.
“We do not use words like ‘gross negligence’ and ‘wilful misconduct’ lightly,” a Justice Department attorney wrote. “But the fact remains that people died, many suffered injuries to their livelihood, and the Gulf’s complex ecosystem was harmed as a result of BP and Transocean’s bad acts or omissions.”
One of Barbier’s rulings possibly insulates Transocean and Halliburton from billions of dollars in liability. Barbier said Transocean and Halliburton weren’t obligated to pay for many pollution claims because of contracts they signed with BP.
The Justice Department opened a criminal investigation of the spill. The only person who had faced charges is former BP engineer Kurt Mix, who was arrested in Texas in April on obstruction of justice charges. Mix is accused of deleting text messages about the company’s response to the spill, not what happened before the explosion.
The companies also sued each other, although some of those cases were settled last year. BP has sued Transocean for at least $40 billion in damages.
There are still other claims against BP from financial institutions, casinos and racetracks, insurance companies, local governments and losses caused by a government-imposed moratorium on drilling after the spill.
None of those are covered by BP’s proposed settlement with the private lawyers.
A series of government investigations have spread blame for the disaster.
In January 2011, a presidential commission found that the spill was caused by time-saving, cost-cutting decisions by BP, Halliburton and Transocean that created unacceptable risk. The panel didn’t point blame at any one individual, concluding the mistakes were caused by systemic problems.
In September 2011, however, a team of Coast Guard officials and federal regulators issued a report that concluded BP bears ultimate responsibility for the spill. The report found BP violated federal regulations, ignored crucial warnings and made bad decisions during the cementing of the well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico.
BP has repeatedly said it accepts some responsibility for the spill and will pay what it owes, while urging other companies to pay their share.
BP waived a $75 million cap on its liability for certain economic damage claims under the 1990 Oil Pollution Act, though it denied any gross negligence.
Associated Press writer Pete Yost in Washington, D.C., contributed to this story.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
Mankind has long clustered near seacoasts, notes Rutgers historian Gillis, for few other ecological zones offer the food sources and travel ease that coastlines do. But we are currently undergoing what he calls “an unprecedented surge to the sea,” with half of humanity now living within 150 km of an ocean—at a time when climate change, as superstorm Sandy just demonstrated, is playing havoc with those shorelines.
Yet the deep water clearly calls us. Despite the world’s dominant origin myths, developed in agrarian societies, humans aren’t really displaced gardeners from a primordial Eden. We are edge dwellers. Homo sapiens migrated to Africa’s eastern shore at least 160,000 years ago, and some neurochemists think it is at the coast that we became fully human, taking advantage of the fatty acids necessary to large brain development that are so plentiful in fish and shellfish. It was at the seaside, and not in agricultural centres that arose only tens of thousands of years later, that the first settled human communities arose. And when our species went out of Africa 50,000 years ago, it was primarily by coastline that we rapidly spread around the world. When the earliest civilizations arose, particularly in the Mediterranean, most began as seaboard cultures, in large part because melting glaciers raised the sea level by as much as 150 m between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago, drowning coastal plains and routes inland. We were oriented, willingly or not, to the sea.
Those ancient patterns of life changed little until the modern era, Gillis argues, when the respectable classes ceased to go down to the sea in ships themselves. They oriented themselves landward and began thinking of their harbours as dark, dirty and dangerous places. Still worse, in the historian’s opinion, was yet to come: the Disneyfication of gritty fishing villages (Peggy’s Cove rates two ironic pages) and the “era of real estate,” when what had been common land was divided up into resorts and private estates, making it all the harder for societies to adapt to rising waters and burgeoning storms.
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By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Police chiefs are pushing for the resurrection of the government’s “lawful access” legislation.
In recent weeks, Canada’s police chiefs have launched an aggressive campaign – using online videos, Twitter blasts and letters to the editor – to jumpstart discussion about controversial Bill C-30 … Tim Smith, spokesman for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said this week the association decided to resurrect discussion on Bill C-30 after becoming concerned over the summer that the government was going to let the bill “die on the order paper” or that the government might introduce a watered-down version of the bill.
“We were given no indication that they were moving forward with C-30. We then made the decision to re-launch our effort. Out of courtesy we made them aware of the launch a few days before,” Smith said. “Since the launch of the campaign, there has been some discussion (with the government), but nothing towards firmly establishing the direction the government will take on this.”
All our previous coverage of C-30 is compiled here.