By The Canadian Press - Friday, December 13, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – A key measure of household debt rose to a new high in the third quarter.
Statistics Canada says the level of household credit market debt to disposable income increased to 163.7 per cent in the third quarter from 163.1 per cent in the second quarter.
The increase means Canadians owe nearly $1.64 for every $1 in disposable income they earn in a year.
During the quarter, households borrowed $25.1 billion including $19.7 billion in mortgages. Total mortgage debt at the end of the third quarter stood at just over $1.1 trillion, up 1.8 per cent from the second quarter.
Consumer credit debt totalled $505 billion at the end of the quarter, up one per cent from the previous three-month period.
However, despite the increase, household net worth gained 2.2 per cent in the third quarter on the back of a strong stock market. The value of shares and other equities gained 3.7 per cent in the quarter, while the value of household real estate gained 1.5 per cent.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM - 0 Comments
Usually, when we hear about U.S. Congress in Canada, we’re hearing about how it can’t do its job. Usually, there’s some kind of fiscal crisis, and we hear all about brinkmanship and hostility and breakdowns and acrimony. We also hear about all the congressional leaders, both Republican and Democrat, who face each other down and refuse to concede much at all. The president gets involved. Talks break down, then recommence, then break down all over. Then, at virtually the last second, some middling solution to the crisis of the time appears. Both sides lay down their rhetorical weapons and the nation endures.
This week, we’ve heard from two other people: Rep. Paul Ryan, who most of us remember as the guy who wanted Joe Biden’s job in 2012, and who now chairs the House of Representatives’ budget committee; and Sen. Patty Murray, the Democrat who chairs the Senate’s budget committee. The pair negotiated a budget deal that lasts two years. It eases those dramatic cuts, known as sequestration, that emerged after a past crisis. It cuts down the deficit by $23 billion. It’s modest, but it’s bipartisan.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on Ryan’s budget committee, was cautiously happy. ”It is not the budget agreement I or many of my colleagues would have written but I do believe on balance, at the margin, it represents a small but positive step forward,” he told CBS News after the budget passed through the House.
What’s remarkable is just how much legislators marginalized the Tea Party’s voice. The House vote was 332-94, including 169 Republicans. Those who joined forces with Democrats soundly drowned out the loud, proud right-wingers who stood opposed.
$1.012 trillion: Total spending approved by the House of Representatives for the 2014 fiscal year
“It’s doing what the American people expect us to do, and that’s coming together and finding common ground. Stick to our principles, but find common ground.” —Speaker John Boehner
What’s above the fold
The Globe and Mail Transport Canada will designate crude oil as a highly dangerous substance. National Post An attempt to return pro baseball to Montreal will likely fail. Toronto Star Hydro One‘s pension plan is almost as generous as OPG’s deal in Ontario. Ottawa Citizen Governor General David Johnston wants mentally ill soldiers to get help. CBC News Kim Jong-un‘s execution of his uncle could mean a wider purge of dissidents. CTV News The lineup to pay respects to Mandela’s body is still thousands long. National Newswatch The Conservative Party has lost 10,000 donors in a year.
What you might have missed
THE NATIONAL Polar bears. An environmental commission created under the NAFTA that ensures Canada, the U.S., and Mexico enforce their own environmental laws may conclude that Canada didn’t adhere to its federal Species at Risk Act when it didn’t declare polar bears a threatened or endangered species. THE GLOBAL Same-sex marriage. Australia’s top court threw out a law passed last October in the Australian Capital Territory that legalized same-sex marriage. The court deemed Parliament, which shot down a gay-marriage bill in September 2012, the final arbiter of the law. Twenty-seven marriages are now invalid.
By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press - Friday, December 13, 2013 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford was slapped with a libel notice late Thursday for televised comments he made about a reporter, who said the remarks amounted to an accusation of pedophilia.
Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale would not comment on his suit that also names Vision TV, which aired the Ford interview, saying an article he wrote for his newspaper would have to stand.
“Enough is enough. I can’t tolerate it. I won’t tolerate it,” Dale wrote.
“I’m asking Ford to immediately retract the false insinuation that I am a pedophile. I am also serving Vision TV, which twice broadcast Ford’s vile and defamatory remarks…even though their interview was filmed days before it aired.”
The notice also calls for Vision TV to apologize.
Ford said a day after the interview that he stood by “every word.”
In the interview broadcast Monday, Ford told host Conrad Black that Dale had perpetrated the worst invasion of his privacy during a May 2012 incident.
“Daniel Dale is in my backyard taking pictures. I have little kids. He’s taking pictures of little kids,” Ford told the former media baron and convicted felon.
“I don’t want to say that word but you start thinking what this guy is all about.”
Dale maintains he was writing a story about a plot of public land adjacent to Ford’s house that the mayor wanted to buy, so he went to take a look when the mayor emerged from his home to confront him.
The reporter said at no time did he ever take any photographs of the mayor’s family, house or even his property — and a police investigation bore that out.
He said he was suing reluctantly, and only because Ford was repeating lies about what had actually happened.
He cited Ford’s comments on the Washington-based “Sports Junkies” program on Thursday in which Ford said, “When you’ve got young kids, that freaked me right out.”
The comments brought renewed attention to the “malicious and defamatory insinuation” that the reporter had some sort of “predatory interest in young children,” Dale said, adding that he has received strong support.
“Dozens of people, including people personally harmed by pedophilia, have offered me a total of thousands of dollars in donations for my legal fees,” Dale said.
The libel notice is the first step in the process of suing for defamation. If Ford refuses to apologize and withdraw the comments, Dale said, the mayor would have to be prepared to “repeat his lies under penalty of perjury” in a courtroom.
There was no immediate response from Ford or his lawyer to the libel notice.
On Tuesday, however, a defiant Ford refused to apologize to Dale or clarify his comments.
“I stand by my words, what I said with Conrad Black,” an angry Ford told a news conference.
“I stand by every word I said.”
ZoomerMedia, which owns Vision TV, posted a statement on the website for its radio station AM740.
“As there is now the threat of legal action, ZoomerMedia will not be making a statement until such time as we can consult with our attorneys to consider the allegations and determine next steps,” the statement said.
Also late Thursday, Black told The Canadian Press that Dale was on thin ice with the action.
“If the Star goes to court with this turkey, they’ll be killed,” Black said in an email.
“They raised the pedophilia question; Ford didn’t.”
Black declined to discuss the matter further or elaborate on previous comments that Dale might have a case because it was now a legal action.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who has assumed most of the mayor’s powers in light of the various scandals, has denounced Ford’s comments as “beyond the pale” and called on him to apologize.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, December 13, 2013 at 5:38 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – A federal ban on inefficient light bulbs goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014, almost seven years after it was announced with fanfare by a then-rookie Conservative government.
But the tough regulations are being watered down, and there are no federal rules yet on recycling a class of bulbs that meet the new standard but contain toxic mercury.
The Conservative government announced an aggressive plan in 2007 that would effectively remove most incandescent bulbs from retail shelves in favour of more expensive alternatives, such as compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs.
The new rules were set to start in 2012, but then were postponed to Jan. 1, 2014, to “allay” consumer concerns about cost and flexibility.
In the meantime, the government proposed allowing a newer kind of incandescent bulb, filled with halogen gas, to remain on store shelves even though it doesn’t meet the tough efficiency standards that were proposed in 2007 when the environment was top of mind for most Canadians.
By The Associated Press - Friday, December 13, 2013 at 5:27 AM - 0 Comments
BEIJING, China – World stock markets were tentative Friday as investors prepared for the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision next week on whether to reduce its monetary stimulus.
Asia’s heavyweight market benchmark, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225, rose 0.4 per cent to 15,403.11 and Hong Kong, Taiwan and Sydney also rose. Shanghai and Seoul declined.
In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 shed 0.1 per cent to 6,440.29 and France’s CAC 40 was down 0.1 per cent at 4,066.75. Germany’s DAX added 0.1 per cent to 9,022.77.
“The unwinding of unconventional monetary policy is a good thing long term. However it will cause short-term vibrations,” said Evan Lucas, a strategist for Australia’s IG Markets, in a report.
Futures augured gains on Wall Street, with Dow futures up 0.2 per cent.
In Asia, Singapore gained but markets fell in Thailand, Malaysia and Jakarta, which might be more exposed if a reduction in the Fed’s stimulus hurts U.S. demand for imports or sparks short-term capital flight from Asian economies.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.1 per cent to 23,245.96. Taiwan’s Taiex added 0.2 per cent to 8,376.44 and Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7 per cent to 5,098.4. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.3 per cent to 2,196.07.
Strong U.S. retail sales and signs of an imminent budget agreement in Congress have reinforced expectations that the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Dec. 17-18 might decide to start reducing its $85 billion worth of monthly financial asset purchases.
The U.S. stimulus has buoyed stocks over the past few years, and its potential reduction has jolted markets in recent months. However, any tapering is expected to be accompanied by a renewed commitment by the Fed to keep interest rates low. That, analysts say, helps explain why stock markets are still trading at relative highs and why bond markets aren’t too volatile.
The focus will likely remain on the Fed until its decision next Wednesday.
The future of the Fed’s stimulus has been the main driver across all markets since May, when chairman Ben Bernanke first mooted the possibility.
Benchmark crude oil for January delivery was off 1 cent at $97.49 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents on Thursday to settle at $97.50.
In currency markets, the dollar rose to 103.56 yen from 103.56 yen. The euro gained to $1.3767 from $1.3745.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, December 13, 2013 at 5:26 AM - 0 Comments
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – More than two-thirds of New Zealanders who voted in a national referendum Friday said they oppose the government’s program of state asset sales.
The results of the poll are symbolic only. The referendum is not binding and the conservative government says it plans to carry on with its policy.
The government this year raised 4 billion New Zealand dollars ($3.3 billion) by selling 49 per cent stakes in energy companies Mighty River Power and Meridian Energy and a 20 per cent stake in national carrier Air New Zealand.
It plans next year to sell a 49 per cent stake in a third power company, Genesis Energy.
Preliminary results showed voter participation in the mail ballot was a relatively low 44 per cent. About 895,000 people voted against the sales and 433,000 in favour.
Opponents say the program is unnecessary and ideologically driven. The government argues it has helped it reduce foreign debt and allowed it to invest in hospitals, schools and roads.
Opposition leader David Cunliffe said in a statement that New Zealanders always knew the sales were a terrible idea and the government should now call off its Genesis plans.
But Finance Minister Bill English said the referendum was a “costly stunt” and opponents would be disappointed after less than 30 per cent of all eligible voters cast a vote against the sales.
The referendum was held after asset sale opponents gathered more than 300,000 signatures on a petition calling for the vote.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 8:54 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – A high-profile Conservative Senator is retiring from the upper chamber effective in June 2014.
Hugh Segal says he is going to become master of the University of Toronto’s Massey College.
Segal was at odds with his party this fall over its decision to push through legislation suspending three senators at the heart of the ongoing expense scandal without pay.
There has been speculation he would depart, though in a statement released Thursday he praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his “support and counsel” during his time in the Senate.
Segal was appointed to the Senate in 2005 by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, but had a long career as a backroom power in federal and Ontario politics.
Segal served as chief of staff to Brian Mulroney and there was an effort in 1993 to draft him to run in the leadership race to succeed the prime minister.
In 1998 Segal did seek the leadership of the then Progressive Conservative party and finished second to Joe Clark.
Segal also held a senior position in the government of former Ontario premier Bill Davis.
“As a proponent of senate reform I have spoken in favour of term limits as a feasible start to this process,” Segal said in a statement issued Thursday night.
“Late 2014 would mark my ninth year in the senate and the time is right for new challenges.”
The current master of Massey, John Fraser, issued a statement calling Segal a “warm, engaging and energetic figure.”
Segal is the third Conservative senator to quit in recent weeks—Ontario Sen. David Braley announced earlier this month he is quitting while Nova Scotia Sen. Gerald Comeau said last month he is stepping down.
Segal’s departure will not affect the Harper government’s commanding majority in the upper chamber, where it currently holds 57 seats compared to 32 for the Liberals.
By Emily Senger - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 5:12 PM - 0 Comments
Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale is going to sue Toronto Mayor Rob Ford over comments the mayor made during an interview with Conrad Black.
Toronto Star editor Michael Cooke made the announcement of the defamation lawsuit on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
#robford reporter Daniel Dale will sue over the pervert accusation with the Toronto Star's full and complete support. Stand by.
— Michael Cooke (@TorStarEditor) December 12, 2013
In the interview, which aired Monday on Vision TV, Ford seemed to suggest that Dale—who has been reporting on the mayor’s ongoing problems during the crack video scandal—is a pedophile.
On Tuesday, Ford told reporters he stands by his words.
On Wednesday, Dale wrote a story in the Star refuting Ford’s claims, under the headline “Rob Ford is lying about me, and it’s vile.” Dale wrote that he had consulted a lawyer and was considering his options.
In an article posted on the Star’s website Thursday, Dale writes that he was ready to announce his intentions not to sue on Thursday morning. Then he heard Ford making the same false accusations on a D.C. sports radio station Thursday morning. “I planned to say in my announcement that I would reconsider my decision if the mayor were to repeat his lies in the future,” Dale writes. “I woke up this morning to learn that he is already repeating them.”
Dale writes that if ZoomerMedia, which owns Vision TV, and Ford do not apologize, he will launch further legal action. The video of the interview where Ford originally made his comments was already removed from both the Vision TV website and YouTube earlier in the week.
Dale also writes that he will remain on the city hall beat, with support from the Toronto Star.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Ontario should significantly raise the gas tax and borrow more money to help raise the tens of billions of dollars needed for public transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, a government-appointed panel said Thursday.
One option is to hike the gas tax by three cents a litre in 2015, climbing to 10 cents after eight years, the panel said. The province could cap the increase at five cents a litre after three years if it hikes the Harmonized Sales Tax by half a percentage point after that.
At the same time, the government should redirect the HST that it collects on the gas tax — about $80 million a year in the GTHA — to transit and raise corporate taxes by half a percentage point to 12 per cent.
Ontario currently imposes a levy of 14.7 cents per litre on unleaded gasoline and 14.3 cents per litre for diesel, which hasn’t changed in more than 20 years.
The gas tax increase would cost the average household in the GTHA about $80 in the first year and $260 after eight years, the report said.
But sitting in traffic for an additional 32 minutes a day could cost a driver more than $700 a year, it said.
“People will get the math,” said panel chairwoman Anne Golden, who said she drove to the news conference, but does use public transit.
Even though both the HST and gas tax are collected across the province, residents outside the GTHA won’t be subsidizing transit in the metropolitan area, she said. They would receive their share of both the HST and gas tax to fund their own projects.
The plan does not ask too much from any one group, she said.
“Riders will pay through their fares … drivers are going to be asked to give through a very carefully graduated increase in gas and fuel taxes,” Golden said.
“Business is going to be asked to contribute through a very modest increase to the corporate income tax and government is being asked to contribute by redeploying the HST funds that it already earns on the gas and fuel taxes.”
Doing nothing to fund transit will have dire consequences in Ontario, Golden warned.
“If we don’t do something to change the pattern of how people move and get to work, we’re going to be in an even worse situation than people now already agree we’ve reached, a kind of tipping point when it comes to congestion and crowding on our transit system,” she said.
Premier Kathleen Wynne echoed Golden’s comments.
“If we abdicate this responsibility now and we do not make investments in transit, then future generations will look back and say: ‘What were you thinking?’”
When fully implemented, the whole proposal will provide between $1.7 billion and $1.8 billion annually for the GTHA, the report said.
But the governing Liberals say they haven’t decided if they will raise the gas tax and borrow up to $2.50 for every $1 the province raises in new revenue, as the report suggested.
The report also proposes a dedicated trust fund so drivers know the extra tax they are paying can be used only for public transit improvements — something the Liberals have already said they plan to do.
Wynne has also said she’ll issue so-called “green bonds” next year to fund public transit.
The government has said the gridlock in the Toronto region is already costing the economy $6 billion a year.
But hiking the tax on gasoline will drive up the cost of everything and won’t create any jobs, said the Progressive Conservatives.
“I think the people will revolt,” said Tory critic Doug Holyday, a former Toronto city councillor.
“That’s no more than a sin tax, just like increasing the cost of alcohol and cigarettes because you want people to quit smoking and drinking, so they want people to quit driving and they want the drivers to pay for the transportation of the whole area.”
Both opposition parties say new levies aren’t needed to build public transit.
The Tories say they can find the money within existing budget to pay for transit, while the New Democrats haven’t said how they’d fund it.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she doesn’t want to give the Liberals another “blank cheque” to waste people’s money with tax hikes.
“There’s no way that we’re going to be supporting new taxes, whether it’s gasoline tax of five or 10 cents, whether it’s a half a per cent increase in the HST,” she said.
Golden, who’s urging an end to partisan warring over transit, said they’re both wrong.
“There’s absolutely no evidence to support the idea that this can be funded from efficiencies or savings,” Golden said.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the panel’s gas tax hike proposal is “troubling.”
“Especially after consulting with the public and hearing loud and clear that it doesn’t trust the government with more hard-earned tax dollars,” Plamen Petkov said in a statement.
Wynne appointed the panel in September — at a cost of about $90,000 — to examine proposals from the transit planning agency Metrolinx, which made many of the same recommendations.
Metrolinx proposed a five-cent-a-litre regional gas tax hike, a business parking levy, development charges and an increase in the HST.
Wynne has ruled out the idea of increasing property taxes, but has promised to bring in tolls for drivers who want to use high-occupancy lanes but don’t have enough passengers.
The panel rejected tolls, saying it’s too costly and takes too long to implement.
History has shown that raising the gas tax isn’t always a politically wise move. Former prime minister Joe Clark saw a quick defeat of his brief Progressive Conservative government after proposing to raise the gas tax by four cents per litre in the 1979 election campaign.
But the Liberals in British Columbia were re-elected in 2009 despite introducing a carbon tax that added seven cents to a litre of gas.
Wynne said her government will continue to invest in public transit because that’s what the province needs.
“You can pick one piece of the plan and say ‘Well that’s really hard to campaign on,’ but I know that people need transit, they want investment in transit, they want GO to be increased.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 4:23 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Quebec authorities are calling it a first — an elected official denouncing people after being the target of alleged corruption.
The province’s anti-corruption squad, known as UPAC, is giving Chateauguay Mayor Nathalie Simon full marks for filing a complaint with police this past September.
The mayor was hailed as a hero Thursday as the unit announced four arrests in a corruption sweep in the working-class town south of Montreal.
Police allege the four men were trying to corrupt Simon with money and personal favours in exchange for decisions that would lead to influential positions within the city’s administration or to land being re-zoned for development projects.
The men are expected to be arraigned in February on charges that include fraud against the government, conspiracy, municipal corruption and breach of trust.
More arrests may be forthcoming.
UPAC chief Robert Lafreniere said Simon’s bravery was key to ending the corruption strategy that targeted her administration.
“We have benefited from the extremely rare yet exemplary co-operation of an elected official,” Lafreniere told a news conference.
“Nothing can be held against Ms. Simon. To the contrary, she honourably denounced an unacceptable situation.”
He noted that Simon is the first elected official to come forward in such circumstances.
Lafreniere said Simon’s name was made public because in part it would be clear who was being targeted.
He said it was important to highlight the “exceptional character of the present case” and that he hoped Simon’s actions would encourage other politicians to follow suit.
Police afforded Simon the protection they felt was necessary, he added.
The province’s anti-corruption czar said things are improving in the fight against corruption but that it will take a lot of effort to change a deep-rooted culture.
“It’s clear that some people haven’t gotten the message — in a case like this we’re not talking about allegations from 2007 or 2008, we’re talking about 2013,” Lafreniere said. “So we say we need to be alert and vigilant.”
A summary of the unit’s corruption-fighting efforts for 2013 will take place next week.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 3:10 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Senate’s ethics officer is being asked to investigate the role of the Conservative party’s chief fundraiser in the alleged cover-up of Sen. Mike Duffy’s dubious expense claims.
Liberal Sen. Celine Hervieux-Payette wrote Lyse Ricard on Thursday, asking her to look into the actions of Conservative Sen. Irving Gerstein.
The self-described Tory bagman allegedly agreed to use party funds to reimburse Duffy for paying back his disputed living expenses, according to RCMP documents filed in court last month.
Gerstein eventually balked when the tab rose to more than $90,000 — a sum paid ultimately by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s then chief of staff, Nigel Wright.
Gerstein has confirmed he did dip into the Tory till to reimburse Duffy for $13,000 in legal fees.
At Wright’s behest, Gerstein also allegedly contacted Deloitte managing partner Michael Runia in a bid to ensure the audit of Duffy’s expenses would make no finding as to whether his primary residence was his longtime home in Ottawa or his cottage in Prince Edward Island, the province he was appointed to represent.
In her letter to Ricard, Hervieux-Payette says Gerstein appears to have violated the upper house’s conflict of interest code by interfering in the work of the Senate’s internal economy committee, which had ordered the audit, in order to promote Duffy’s financial interests.
In June, Ricard suspended an investigation into the Wright-Duffy deal after the Senate referred the matter to the Mounties.
However, Hervieux-Payette said there’s no reason for the ethics watchdog to steer clear of Gerstein’s role in the affair.
“We have no indication whatsoever that Sen. Gerstein is being investigated by the RCMP,” she said in an interview, adding that he is so far only a witness who’s been questioned by the Mounties as part of their investigation into Wright and Duffy.
The Conservatives have used their majority in the Senate to thwart several previous efforts by the Liberals to get Gerstein and Runia, who audits the Conservative party’s books, to testify about their role in the affair.
“This is the last recourse that I have,” Hervieux-Payette said of her request to Ricard.
The internal economy committee has heard from Gary Timm, the lead Deloitte auditor on the Duffy file, and two other members of his team. Timm confirmed Runia called him during the audit to inquire about how much Duffy owed in invalid expenses.
He insisted he shared no information with Runia and that the integrity of the confidential audit was not compromised.
By James Keller, The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 2:11 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – Former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong says the RCMP have closed an investigation into allegations of sexual assault against him by a former student and found no evidence to support criminal charges, prompting him to declare he’s been “fully cleared” in one of a series of allegations and lawsuits facing him.
The allegations stem from Furlong’s time teaching in northern B.C. in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which first surfaced in a newspaper article last year. The article quoted several people who said they were former students and claimed to have been verbally and physically abused by Fulong. It’s now the subject of a libel lawsuit by Furlong targeting the author.
Three people, including Beverly Abraham, have filed lawsuits against Furlong alleging sexual abuse, and the RCMP launched its own investigation into Abraham’s claims.
Furlong publicly released a letter Thursday written by an RCMP investigator in Prince George, under the heading: “John Furlong — allegation of sexual assault.”
“Based on the facts uncovered, the allegations made by Beverly Abraham are not supported,” wrote Cpl. Quinton Mackie in a letter sent to Furlong’s lawyer, dated Dec. 5.
“Reasonable and probable grounds do not exist on which to recommend charges against John Furlong to Crown counsel. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are no longer investigating John Furlong with respect to this allegation.”
Two months ago, during a media blitz that saw Furlong defend his reputation and lash out at the reporter behind the original article, the former Olympic official released an earlier letter from the RCMP he received in April.
That letter also said the RCMP “found nothing to substantiate the complaint,” but it also suggested investigators “continue to speak to people” whose names had surfaced in court documents, according to a copy of the letter published by Global News. At the time, the RCMP publicly insisted the investigation remained open.
Neither a spokesman for the RCMP nor Mackie could be immediately reached Thursday to comment on the force’s latest letter to Furlong.
Furlong issued a written statement in which he said the RCMP’s letter to him “fully exonerates” him with respect to Abraham’s allegations. He said his lawyers would be requesting a trial date to deal with her lawsuit.
“I am grateful that the record has now been fully cleared in this matter, and Beverly Abraham’s allegations have been proven to be incorrect,” the statement said.
Some of Abraham’s claims — though not her allegations of sexual abuse — were first published in a September 2012 article written by freelance writer Laura Robinson for the Georgia Straight newspaper. Furlong used his written statement to repeat his attacks on Robinson’s character, describing her as reckless.
Furlong’s written statement does not mention the other two lawsuits he is also facing.
Grace West and another plaintiff, a man who has asked that his name not be published, have filed lawsuits alleging sexual abuse — all of which Furlong has denied.
The Roman Catholic diocese that ran Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake has filed statements of defence that say it could find no records indicating West or the other plaintiff attended the school in the years they claimed to have been victims of abuse.
The Abraham case is the only one that has been confirmed to have been the subject of a formal police investigation.
All three clients are represented by the same lawyer, Jason Gratl, who said the RCMP’s latest letter to Furlong does not change his intention to pursue the lawsuits. He welcomed Furlong’s intention to set a trial date in Abraham’s case.
“Good,” he said, when told of Furlong’s intention to bring the case to trial.
“We’d like a joint trial with all of the plaintiffs.”
Gratl predicted the case likely wouldn’t see the inside of a courtroom for two or three years.
None of the allegations against Furlong or Robinson have been tested in court.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Government House leader Peter Van Loan is striking back at critics of Canada Post’s planned service cuts, comparing them to wealthy big-city dwellers who complained about having to lug their trash to the curb.
The Crown corporation says it will phase out door-to-door mail delivery in Canada’s urban centres as a way to stem rising financial losses — a move that would also slash thousands of jobs.
The plan to deliver mail to communal neighbourhood “superboxes” impacts about one-third of all Canadian households.
Van Loan, who summoned reporters to trumpet the government’s accomplishments during the now-ended fall session of Parliament, says most of his constituents get their mail from superboxes and it presents no big deal.
He says it reminds him of a time when residents of Toronto’s ritzy Rosedale neighbourhood complained about spending cuts that forced garbage collectors to stop coming up their driveways to collect the trash.
Van Loan says most Canadians are already getting their mail from superboxes and that Canada Post made the decision after consulting with customers.
“I am reminded of a time when the city of Toronto was going through some rationalization and trying to figure out how to deliver services,” he said.
“The good people of Rosedale did not like the idea (that) no longer would the garbage man come up to the side of the house to take the garbage, it was going to have to be like it was for everybody else in the country, they would have to get it at the end of the driveway.”
The Canada Post announcement came Wednesday, one day after the House of Commons rose for its holiday break.
Rural residences — a big Conservative constituency — will be spared from the latest service cuts.
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, who is responsible for the post office, says Canadians are sending fewer letters and parcels than ever, leaving the Crown Corporation with no choice but to make tough decisions.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 1:20 PM - 0 Comments
KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian officials were in Brussels on Thursday for talks with the European Union as the bloc’s foreign policy chief said the country’s embattled president “intends to sign” at some point a trade and co-operation agreement he rejected last month.
Demonstrators angry over President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to shelve the long-anticipated agreement will be watching the meeting closely, worried that he could instead sign an agreement to join a Russia-led customs union when he and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet next week.
Yanukovych appears to be in a tough corner. As protesters furious over his decision to turn away from the EU clog the centre of Kyiv, he appears to be leaving his options open for the best deal he can get from his economically troubled country’s powerful suitors.
Russia has put heavy pressure on Ukraine to join its bloc, which includes Belarus and Kazakhstan. Opponents say the bloc effectively tries to recreate the Soviet Union.
Yanukovych has said he is still open to the EU association agreement if he can get a deal providing more aid to Ukraine, which is concerned about the impact of losing trade with Russia. The talks between the EU and the Ukrainian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov could bring clarity on whether such aid is possible.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for signing this document,” Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara told the Interfax news agency on Thursday.
The Kyiv protests swelled to hundreds of thousands after police violently broke up two early rallies. Demonstrators are riding a wave of high morale after riot police stood down from two confrontations with protesters on Wednesday.
Protesters are reinforcing their positions in Kyiv’s centre, erecting sizeable new barricades across streets leading to Independence Square.
EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton, who talked with Yanukovych and opposition figures in Kyiv this week, said the short-term economic and financial issues Ukraine faces can be alleviated by signing the deal, which she said “will help to bring in the kind of investment that he needs.”
“Look, Yanukovych made it clear to me that he intends to sign the association agreement,” Ashton said on arrival for a meeting in Brussels early Thursday after her visit to Kyiv.
Ashton said Ukraine’s economic problems “can be addressed by the support that not only comes from the EU institutions, but actually by showing that he has a serious economic plan in signing the association agreement.”
Ukrainians in the east look more favourably on closer ties with Russia. Yanukovych, who is seeking a bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund to keep Ukraine from going bankrupt, is sensitive to the economic disruption that trade disputes with Russia can cause.
The association agreement sought to improve bilateral trade, streamline industry rules and bring about democratic reforms to promote justice and human rights. It stops short of offering EU membership but would open borders with Ukraine for increased commerce.
At the Vilnius summit where Yanukovych refused to sign the deal, two other eastern nations, Moldova and Georgia, initiated similar association agreements which will only need signatures from their institutions next year.
By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 12:24 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Twice-married former Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker — always believed to have been childless — may have fathered not one but two sons, leaving progeny scattered across the country, The Canadian Press has learned.
It’s a labyrinthine tale of adoptions, broken and reconstituted families whose quest to uncover their roots turned up “Dief” as a common thread, with a gold locket and DNA tests lending credence to their stories.
About 10 years ago, in Western Canada, the three Goertzen siblings began searching for their biological father, Ed Thorne, who had split from their mom four decades earlier.
Stan Goertzen, 52, a retired 32-year member of the Saskatoon police service, found Thorne in Kamloops, B.C. He made a startling discovery.
“He says, ‘Oh, and my biological family has found me, too’,” Goertzen said of Thorne, who died soon after.
“That’s the first time I found out he was adopted.”
Separately and coincidentally, Ruthann Malmgren, now of Rockyford, Alta., had also been looking for Thorne on behalf of her mother, Mary Rosa LaMarche, who years earlier had given him up for adoption.
LaMarche had been Diefenbaker’s housekeeper in Prince Albert, Sask., in the late 1930s, Malmgren said.
At the time, Diefenbaker was having marital difficulties, according to Simma Holt’s biography of his first wife, Edna Diefenbaker. His eye apparently rested on his housekeeper, whom Malmgren described as “free and easy.”
In 1938, LaMarche fell pregnant and was promptly sent to Bethany Home in Saskatoon. Little John was born in February 1939. His birth certificate did not list a father.
Malmgren, 70, remembers her parents were forever fighting. Her dad would say the baby was Diefenbaker’s. He would be angry his wife wore a locket with photos of herself and the infant — a locket Stan Goertzen now has.
“I overheard my father, George Malmgren, when he and my mom were arguing, saying that John Diefenbaker was my mother’s employer, and I guess they had an affair,” Malmgren said.
The baby, John Eric LaMarche, was adopted and renamed Edward Thorne.
Mary Rosa LaMarche, who died about 18 years ago, never did find her son again. Malmgren did.
She tracked Thorne down to Kamloops and, through him, connected with Stan Goertzen around 2003. She told him his biological father, Ed Thorne, was Diefenbaker’s son.
“I laughed my tail off,” Goertzen said. “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me’.”
Content with having found their dad, the Goertzens, who were raised largely on welfare in Prince Albert, didn’t give the apparent connection to Canada’s 13th prime minister much further thought.
One question, however, nagged at the youngest Goertzen brother, Lawrence, who long had doubts about whether Thorne really was his biological father.
Enter George Dryden, 45, who grew up in a Toronto family of privilege only to discover a few years ago that the man who raised him — prominent federal Liberal Gordon Dryden — was not his father.
That revelation prompted Dryden to go on a well publicized quest to confirm long-time family whispers: that he was the product of an affair between his mother, Mary Lou Dryden, and Diefenbaker, a known confidante.
Dryden, who bears a strong resemblance to the former Conservative prime minister, believes previous genetic matching with a known Diefenbaker relative proved the family connection to his satisfaction.
Back in Ostler, Sask., Lawrence Goertzen saw a chance both to confirm whether Thorne was really his dad and to check on the link to Diefenbaker, who led the country from 1957 to 1963 and who died in 1979.
“I got hold of George Dryden and said, ‘Can we kill two birds with one stone?’” said Lawrence Goertzen, 48, who does aircraft repairs at Saskatoon’s John G. Diefenbaker airport.
Stan and Lawrence Goertzen sent body samples to a DNA lab. So did Dryden.
“I was really expecting the test to be negative,” Dryden said, “And that would be the end of it.”
The result this month stunned them all.
“We’re talking about 99.99 per cent probability that they are related,” said Kyle Tsui at Toronto-based Accu-Metrics, which did the tests.
“This is the expected result for an uncle-nephew relationship.”
For Lawrence Goertzen, the DNA test confirmed that Stan and third sibling Darrell are his full brothers and ended doubts that Ed Thorne was his father.
Discovering the connection to Dryden halfway across the country — with Diefenbaker apparently the key link — was almost unbelievable.
“What are the chances?” he said. “It’s incredible.”
Dryden called the test a “very nice surprise, an early Christmas present.”
“I got a feeling there might be Diefenbabies running around all over the place,” Dryden said.
Stan Goertzen considers his search now over.
“It’s like any other Canadian family that might be looking for this type of closure or your roots: I can go back and tell my kids that yeah, grandpa was adopted but we know where he came from,” he said.
“The only thing that makes this unusual or unique is the fact that Diefenbaker’s name has come into the whole picture.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 12:02 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – Lululemon Athletica warned of a tough holiday season as it said it was working to win back its customers after several missteps this year that likely hurt its results.
The retailer (Nasdaq:LULU) reported Thursday improved third-quarter earnings compared with a year ago, but warned that its same-store sales for the key holiday period will come in nearly flat.
Investors sold off the shares on the news, sending the stock down about 10 per cent or US$7.45 to $60.90 in trading on the Nasdaq market.
Lululemon has struggled this year after it pulled its black Luon pants from store shelves after customers complained that the pants were too sheer.
The company blamed the problems on a style change and production issues and moved to fix them, but later, new complaints emerged about the quality and durability of their pricey workout gear.
“There is undoubtedly some impact on traffic and therefore on the business,” chief financial John Currie told a conference call with financial analysts.
“Our job is to make sure that it is a short-term impact by earning back the trust of the guest and that’s what we’re focused on, both in terms of quality and making sure we’re connected with out communities.”
Currie said the company has instituted a program over the holidays called “no humbug.”
“We’ve allocated funds to each store to just surprise and delight the guest in whatever creative ways they want to,” he said.
“Just random acts of kindness because that’s who we are. Just trying to connect with the communities again.”
The retailer, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said Thursday it earned US$66.1 million, or 45 cents per diluted share, for the three-month period ended Nov. 3, up from $57.3 million, or 39 cents per diluted share, a year ago.
Revenues climbed to $379.9 million from $316.5 million for the quarter, while same-store sales were up five per cent after adjusting for currency fluctuations.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 41 cents per diluted share, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.
The company opened 22 stores in the quarter and closed one to bring its total to 247 stores.
In its outlook, Lululemon said it expected diluted earnings per share to come in between 78 to 80 cents on $535 million to $540 million of revenue for the current quarter which runs until the end of January.
On Tuesday, the company named Laurent Potdevin as its next chief executive and announced that founder Chip Wilson will step aside as chairman next year, though he will remain on the board.
Critics accused Wilson of shaming women’s bodies when he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV last month that some women’s bodies “don’t work” for the Lululemon pants.
“It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there,” he said.
Wilson later posted a video message online in which he said he was “sad” for the repercussions of his actions and took responsibility “for all that has occurred.”
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 11:32 AM - 0 Comments
GENEVA – The global airline industry expects its profits to jump to a record high next year, helped by falling jet fuel prices, rising travel demand and cost-cutting.
The International Air Transport Association said Thursday it forecasts a profit of $19.7 billion — well above the $12.9 billion expected this year and the $7.4 billion made in 2012.
But the Geneva-based group, which represents 240 airlines, or 84 per cent of total air traffic, noted margins are dropping. Next year’s profit would come from projected revenues of $743 billion. By contrast, 2010′s $19.2 billion profit was made on revenues of just $579 billion.
Tony Tyler, director-general and CEO of IATA, said that the profit would amount to a little less than $6 per passenger.
“To put that into perspective, the McDonald’s down the road here in Geneva will make about the same amount of profit by selling four Happy Meals at a cost in Geneva of $30,” Tyler told reporters.
That kind of margin, at 20 per cent, is well out of reach for airlines, he said.
“It begs the question of whether $6 per passenger is a reasonable reward for airlines if you consider the technology, skills and capital that is invested,” he said.
Passenger traffic has been expanding by about 5-6 per cent and jet fuel prices remain high, but below their 2012 peak, Tyler said. The $12.9 billion net profit the industry expects for 2013, based on $708 billion in revenue, is itself a significant improvement on the group’s earlier forecasts.
He attributed that to “a slight fall in the high price of oil” and the efficiencies of mergers and joint ventures, along with more success at cutting costs. Mare airlines, for example, are charging passengers separately for food, baggage and other items.
North American airlines are expected to make the biggest profit next year — $8.3 billion, up from $5.8 billion this year — but see only a modest increase in demand for flight travel.
Carriers in Europe, where the economy has fared worse than other developed markets, are expected to have smaller profits — $3.2 billion in 2014 from $1.7 billion this year. But they are due to enjoy a sharper recovery in passenger traffic as the recession ends in some countries.
The highest growth in demand is forecast in emerging markets in Asia, the Pacific region, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.
Asian airlines should see profits hit $4.1 billion next year, ending a three-year drop in earnings, while the Middle Eastern ones should see steady growth — to $2.4 billion from $1.6 billion.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:59 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – On the one-year anniversary of Idle No More, the aboriginal rights movement, about 50 activists marched from Victoria Island to Parliament Hill to protest a reform plan for aboriginal schools.
“It’s not only an issue of saying ‘We don’t accept, we want the (Indian) Act kicked out,” said Chief Gilbert Whiteduck of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation near Maniwaki, Que.
“Unless we develop it, what little we have now is leading to … extermination and termination.”
Protesters drummed, chanted and waved flags, saying Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has ignored the educational demands of First Nations.
They said the proposed First Nations Education Act fails to provide adequate funding and gives too much power to Ottawa and not enough to aboriginal peoples.
“Nobody can put us in line. These are our children,” said Whiteduck.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Valcourt’s proposed plan fails to address the massive education funding disparity between aboriginal and non-aboriginal children.
“We have to talk about treating Canadians fairly, regardless of the communities they’re in,” Trudeau said.
“We need to make sure we are funding First Nations education to the same level, if not more, depending on the circumstances and the needs, that we do any other Canadians.”
Valcourt said he will continue to work with the Assembly of First Nations, but that simply increasing funding will not by itself reform the education system to improve outcomes for students.
Last year, Idle No More protests attracted thousands marching down Wellington Street to Parliament Hill, with police escorts.
Other speakers at Tuesday’s protest included Chief Theresa Spence, who launched a protest fast last year, and NDP MP Romeo Saganash.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 10:57 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal by a retired Quebec judge who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife.
Jacques Delisle was found guilty in 2012 of the premeditated murder of his 71-year-old wife, Nicole Rainville.
The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the verdict earlier this year despite Delisle maintaining the trial judge had given the 12 jurors erroneous directives.
The former appeals court justice testified at his trial that his wife, who was paralyzed, took her own life with a revolver that was found next to her.
He claimed to have found the woman dead with a gunshot to the head when he returned to his Quebec city home in November 2009.
The Crown argued that Delisle wanted to get rid of his wife to live with his mistress and avoid an expensive divorce.
Delisle was believed to be first Canadian judge to stand trial for such a crime.
By Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:58 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Michael Chong pulls a sepia-coloured photograph down from the wall of his Parliament Hill office. A Hong Kong family, dressed in traditional Chinese clothing, poses stiffly and seriously in the way people would in 1929.
“That’s my grandmother, and she’s pregnant with my father,” he notes. Nearby is a photo of Chong and one of his sons with an enormous tractor — the family still rooted in the small southern Ontario town of Fergus, where his parents settled.
The MP for Wellington-Halton Hills is clearly proud of his heritage, and proud of his parents — his father one of the first Chinese-Canadians to pass medical school in the 1950s, his mother a Dutch immigrant and nurse who helped raise three children.
From that multi-ethnic childhood home, thriving in an overwhelmingly Caucasian town, emerged a thinker devoted to a pan-Canadian identity rooted in its hard-won civic institutions.
“There has been a Canadian identity, fragile as it sometimes may be — an identity forged out of a common history, out of war and out of necessity,” he once wrote.
Chong, 42, has stirred a provocative debate on Parliament Hill and across the country about how to rebalance the power of MPs with that of the Prime Minister’s Office. His recently tabled “Reform Act of 2013″ already has a solid foundation of support within his own caucus.
Chong’s parents tragically never got to see him become a member of Parliament, a minister and a standard-bearer for parliamentary reform. His mother and father died in car accidents 20 years apart — at the same rural intersection.
He speaks about the loss without hesitation, remarking that it is one that so many others have experienced.
“In rural Canada, car accident deaths were something you grew up with,” Chong said.
“I remember going to high school, and there were kids who were killed in car accidents, people whose parents were killed in car accidents.”
Interest in politics blossomed early.
“I remember participating in high school in the re-election campaign for Perrin Beatty,” said Chong, referring to the Mulroney-era cabinet minister. “I had a ‘Vote Perrin Beatty’ button on my pencil case.”
He left Fergus for the big city to attend Toronto’s Trinity College, taking philosophy officially and politics unofficially. Chong immediately fell in with the young Conservatives, and there formed friendships with other familiar names: current ministers Tony Clement, Kelly Leitch and Peter Van Loan, MPs Stella Ambler and John Williamson, former campaign chairman Guy Giorno.
“He’s always been very intelligent, very thoughtful. Kind of an all-around good guy,” said Ambler. “We were friends when we were tiny Tories, and I have a lot of respect for him.”
Chong worked on Bay Street at an investment bank, as an adviser to Toronto’s Pearson airport, and at the National Hockey League Players Association as their chief information officer. Although he wasn’t involved in an organized league, he recalls pond hockey was literally mandatory growing up.
“My parents said to us, ‘Get off the bus, you’re going to have a cup of tea and a cookie, and then you’ll go across the road to the neighbour’s pond and you’re going to play hockey to get some fresh air.’”
There have been criticisms of Chong’s bill, but there likely won’t be any on his command of the subject. Chong is no dilettante in the area of parliamentary reform and Canadian history.
After graduating from university, he embarked on a side project with friends Rudyard Griffiths and Erik Penz that became the Dominion Institute — now called Historica Canada. The objective was to promote a shared identity through knowledge of civics and history.
The inspiration came after the near rupture of the federation during the 1995 sovereignty referendum in Quebec. They viewed the No side’s emphasis on economic reasons for keeping the country together as thin.
“We felt the argument should be we should stay together as a country because we have built something together that is unique in the world,” Chong said.
“We have built political institutions that are unique, that have built the prosperity of our modern society, and that is the more fundamental reason for us to stay together.”
Chong went on to run for the Progressive Conservatives unsuccessfully in 2000, but finally made it into the Commons in 2004 under the new Conservative Party of Canada banner and leader Stephen Harper.
“What struck me was how much the party leaders in Parliament ran Parliament. That’s what really surprised me,” Chong said of his first impressions.
“I didn’t realize the extent to which the three, back then four, party leaders, really ran everything, from committee memberships to appointments, to controlling the boards of internal economy.”
When the party took power in 2006, he was promptly named intergovernmental affairs minister, a seemingly good fit for a man so interested in the state of the federation.
But his time in cabinet was short-lived. By the end of the year, Chong made the decision to resign on principle — he could not support a government policy to recognize Quebec as a nation.
“I still believe today as strongly as I did back then that in the views I had then.”
Since then, he has worked away at reform projects from the backbench, including a 2010 motion to improve question period (It passed, but not much has changed). The perpetually chipper, not particularly partisan MP is well-liked across party lines, which might explain why his current bill has quickly gained momentum.
He also spends a lot of time in the riding, living in the small town where he grew up. Chong and his wife Carrie, who works in advertising, have three boys under the age of nine.
“Mike’s paid his dues, he’s been in Parliament for 10 years as a backbencher, and he’s a relentless constituency MP,” said Griffiths.
“He does an incredible amount of work in his constituency and takes that representative function seriously. What I’m really thrilled to see is that all that hard work has developed for him this incredible credibility on this issue of parliamentary reform.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:24 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says its new housing price index rose 0.1 per cent in October, after being flat in September.
The agency says Hamilton was the top contributor to the national increase, with prices rising 0.6 per cent in October.
Builders there cited market conditions and higher list prices for new phases of development as the reasons for the price increase.
The largest monthly price increase in October occurred in Windsor, where prices were up 0.7 per cent.
Builders in Windsor said rising material costs, higher land development costs and market conditions contributed to the gain.
Prices declined in Charlottetown, Vancouver and Victoria and were unchanged in seven of the 21 metropolitan areas surveyed.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:21 AM - 0 Comments
Yesterday, Canada Post announced a five-point plan to regain its fiscal footing. The company’s in a bad place, slated to lose $1 billion in 2020 if the status quo prevails. Change is afoot, and the postal service plans to cut home delivery to five million households and increase the price of stamps. The news hit with a thud.
The reviews came in immediately, and they were roundly negative: How can a postal service with a near monopoly lose so much money? How can the company’s solution be to cut service and increase rates? Why doesn’t it know where the community mailboxes of the future will fit into cramped cities? What happens to seniors who could be adversely affected by the change? Why didn’t the Conservative government, or any Conservative politician, speak up about Canada Post’s uncertain future?
The Tories were almost silent on the matter. Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, who’s responsible for Canada Post and didn’t take interviews yesterday, did release a statement that lauded the postal service’s plan. “The Government of Canada supports Canada Post in its efforts to fulfil its mandate of operating on a self-sustaining financial basis in order to protect taxpayers, while modernizing its business and aligning postal services with the choices of Canadians,” she said. “I look forward to seeing progress as Canada Post rolls out its plan for an efficient, modern postal service that protects taxpayers and is equipped to meet Canadians’ needs now and in the future.”
There’s some wiggling room in that statement, just in case Raitt needs to respond to a public uproar over specific service changes—if it ever comes, which, despite yesterday’s initial harumphing, is not a sure thing. Still, so many questions remain.
6,000-8,000: The number of jobs that will disappear as Canada Post implements its five-point plan
“This is a government trying to minimize what they know is bad news.” —Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
What’s above the fold
The Globe and Mail Canada Post is ending home delivery for five million households. National Post
Canada needs more competition in the letter-mail business. Toronto Star New rules could stifle whistleblowers on Parliament Hill. Ottawa Citizen Ending home delivery has seniors concerned about their mail. CBC News The fake signer at Mandela’s funeral suffers from schizophrenia. CTV News The man, who was hallucinating during the service, sometimes gets violent. National Newswatch Conservatives didn’t speak out about Canada Post’s pending cuts.
What you might have missed
THE NATIONAL Sweeteners. Researchers discovered that the Grand River, which runs through southern Ontario, including the cities of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, is full of sweeteners from soft drinks. Humans don’t digest the chemicals, and they eventually reappear in drinking water. THE GLOBAL Uruguay. The International Narcotics Control Board says Uruguay’s historic decision to legalize marijuana violates the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, a treaty that limits the use of pot to medicinal or scientific purposes because of its “dependence-producing potential.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 8:17 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – A new forecast suggests Ontario home prices will rise about four per cent a year through 2016, down from a decade-long annual average of about six per cent.
The forecast by Central 1 Credit Union says higher mortgage rates in the next three years will restrain housing sales but not cause a market correction.
It also predicts the Toronto condo market will slow as builders delay new construction in the face of weaker demand.
Central 1 says the total number of new condos in Toronto in pre-construction, under construction, occupancy and sell-out phases will be about 100,000 units at the end of 2013.
Chief economist Helmut Pastrick says fears of a housing bubble and a price collapse are misplaced and predicts rising population and land supply restrictions will result in Toronto house prices doubling over the next 25 years.
Central 1 also predicts Ontario’s overall rental apartment vacancy will hold steady at 2.6 per cent through 2014, before declining to less than two per cent in 2016.
The forecast says the average price of residential home sales is forecast to rise at four to five per cent annually through 2016 in the Toronto, Northeast and Stratford-Bruce regions.
Average price increases of two to three per cent annually are forecast in the Northwest, London, Windsor-Sarnia, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas regions.
Average price growth of around one per cent annually is forecast for the Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa and Kingston-Pembroke regions.
Central 1 expects sales growth through 2016 will be concentrated in Toronto, although sales are also forecast to rise in the Northeast, Windsor-Sarnia and Stratford-Bruce regions.
Sales will remain near 2013 levels in the Ottawa, London and the Northwest regions. Sales are forecast to slow in the Kingston-Pembroke, Hamilton-Niagara, Muskoka-Kawarthas and Kitchener-Waterloo regions.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 8:16 AM - 0 Comments
SAN FRANCISCO – A labour group monitoring three Chinese factories that make iPhones and other Apple products says once-oppressive working conditions have steadily improved in the last 18 months, but more must be done to reduce the amount of overtime that employees work.
The audit released Thursday by the Fair Labor Association represents the final assessment in a process that started last year at plants run in China by Apple’s largest supplier, Foxconn.
Reports depicting the Foxconn plants as inhumane sweatshops prompted Apple Inc. to hold its foreign contractors to higher standards. The Cupertino, Calif. company joined the Fair Labor Association last year as part of a commitment to improve the situation.
The report concluded Foxconn factories in Longhua, Chengdu and Guanlan had reached virtually all the goals set out in a plan adopted last year.
Excessively long work schedules remain a problem. The FLA says more than half of the 170,000 employees at the Foxconn factories exceeded China’s legal limit of 36 monthly overtime hours from March through October.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 6:25 AM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – RBC Economics says that after another year of mediocre growth, Canada’s economy is expected to perk up in 2014 thanks to strong growth in the United States.
The bank’s latest economic outlook is forecasting real GDP growth in Canada of 1.7 per cent in 2013, 2.6 per cent in 2014 and 2.7 per cent in 2015, supported by a pick-up in exports and strengthening business investment.
RBC chief economist Craig Wright says a slow and subpar recovery in the U.S. “has no doubt played a part in the underperformance of Canadian exports through 2013.”
But Wright says looking ahead to 2014, RBC expects stronger growth south of the border will translate to increased demand for Canadian exports, especially as the expansion fans out and business investment accelerates.
He says this expected uptick in both exports and business investment is a critical component of the outlook for Canada’s economy.