By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
The last three weeks for the Natural Resources Minister have been fun.
Vs. James Hansen, April 24.
A leading climate change activist and former NASA scientist is “crying wolf” with his “exaggerated” comments about the effects of oilsands development on the environment, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver charged Wednesday … ”It does not advance the debate when people make exaggerated comments that are not rooted in the facts. And he should know that,” Oliver said to reporters, following a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Vs. James Hansen, April 24.
I couldn’t help myself: I asked Oliver what he thought of Hansen’s willingness to chain himself to the White House fence to protest the pipeline. He couldn’t help himself either. Given the dirty oil in California, he replied, “he should be chaining himself to a mannequin in Rodeo Drive.”
Vs. Al Gore, May 6.
Oliver told CTV’s Power Play Monday that Gore’s remarks were “over the top,” but he doesn’t think the prominent Democrat’s criticism will have an impact on Keystone’s approval in the U.S … “I think that what is happening here is that, as the decision approaches, some of the more strident voices in opposition to the development of hydrocarbons are out there with their exaggerated, over the top comments,” Oliver said in a phone interview from Europe, where he’s lobbying against proposed legislation that would require a reduction in the greenhouse gas intensity of vehicle fuels.
Vs. the European Union, May 9.
Canada’s Natural Resources Minister is raising the prospect of a trade fight with the European Union over its proposal to label oil-sands crude as dirty even as both sides try to seal a major deal to liberalize two-way … “This fuel-quality directive is discriminatory towards Canadian oil and not supported by scientific facts,” Mr. Oliver said.
Vs. some concerned scientists, May 9.
He also took a swipe at a group of scientists who have sent him an open letter raising concerns about the environmental impact of pushing ahead with pipelines and other oil projects. Mr. Oliver said every major resource project has been opposed by some groups. “The position of these scientists is unfortunately unrealistic in the real world because what they want to do is to see a diminution of the use of hydrocarbons and they look upon the oil sands as a symbol, as an example of that,” he said adding that the global demand for energy will increase by 33 per cent over the next 25 years. “Even under the most optimistic scenarios for renewables, hydrocarbons, fossil fuels, will represent at least 63 per cent of the source of energy by the year 2035. So we have to be realistic. The world needs energy.”
Vs. Marc Jaccard, May 10.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as desperate,” Oliver said of the recent barrage of federal emissaries travelling the globe to talk up Canada’s oilsands in the face of projects like the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Rather, he said, it’s oilsands opponents who are starting to sound panicky. “It’s pretty clear that opponents are getting desperate, hence the shrillness of their arguments, the hyperbole and the exaggeration that we’re hearing from some sources.” …
At the same time, Mark Jaccard, one of Canada’s leading energy economists, is about to take a European tour of his own — to denounce the federal government’s penchant for pipelines at a time when they have no solid plan to reduce emissions from the oilsands. Jaccard’s arguments only serve to undermine Canadian and global prosperity, Oliver said, because they would result in a shortage of affordable energy. “I think there are some people who really have a vision of the world which isn’t realistic,” he said. “They would like to see the world powered by alternative energy. I think that would be great if it could be achieved, but it can’t be entirely, or even to a majority extent.”
By Erica Alini - Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 2:57 PM - 0 Commentsof Photos
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 10:43 PM - 0 Comments
The U.S. blogger Matthew Yglesias often reminds his audience that there is no particular need to believe anything one reads in a U.K. newspaper. Even when there’s truth in a story, it comes encrusted with so much supposition and topspin it is hard to take the right measure of a story. (You may say we are the same. I plead no contest.) I should have reminded myself of this when the Mail announced William Hague’s plan to launch a worldwide network of commonwealth embassies to tackle “superpower” EU.
The story’s distinguishing characteristics included quotes from Hague that said nothing about the sharing of resources; and truly excellent quotes from a nameless “one British diplomat,” who saw this as revenge for the Blitz: “The EU is so burdened by history it doesn’t know what it wants to do and is hopeless at speaking with one voice. We Brits know who we are, who our real friends are, and between us we have been a rather good influence on the world in the past century.”
The story was picked up immediately at Conservativehome, a group blog dedicated to holding the hands of Conservative supporters as their party is buffeted in the polls. (There are similar sites for every party.) “Eurosceptics don’t always have cause to celebrate,” the writer notes mournfully, mentioning (this seems significant — ed.) a titanic merger of British and French aerospace defence contractors that could be worth tens of billions of euros. That’s the sort of real, consequential story Brits who are skeptical of the EU would really want to be distracted from with a handy bit of pixie dust. And here comes one now! “William Hague has good – exciting – news for those who despair,” the writer said, before launching into the anglosphere super-embassy yarn. This will “seek to head off the creeping influence of European Union diplomats,” the blogger said. Loooook. Shiny object. Continue…
By Brian Bethune - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
Samuel Huntington, the American political scientist who wrote The Clash of Civilizations, once claimed that “Islam’s borders are bloody.” He should perhaps have cast his eye on Europe’s. Since 1988 more than 15,000 illegal migrants have perished trying to enter the heavily guarded European Union. Most drowned during the dangerous voyage across the continent’s southern sea border in overcrowded vessels, but others have suffocated in trucks, fallen from trains and buses or frozen to death in mountain passes. There have even been pitched battles: on Oct. 6, 2005, several hundred desperate Africans tried to scale the tall barbed wire fences that kept them from the North African Spanish enclave of Melilla; six died and many more were injured by the wire or by security forces beating them back with truncheons and rifle butts.
All this—the naval patrols, the soldiers, the detection technologies that form what Carr calls “the most sustained and extensive border enforcement program in history”—takes place at the edges of a continent which, although stagnating in a xenophobia-boosting financial crisis, still prides itself on its abolition of interior borders and still asserts that the defence of human rights is the cornerstone of its foreign policy. And to what avail? There are somewhere between five and eight million illegals in Europe, people mired in permanent statelessness, poverty and insecurity. Carr often compares the war on illegal immigration with the war on terror, but for sheer uselessness, the war on drugs is a better parallel: close one migrant route and another one immediately opens; deport one group of desperate people and another arrives.
Considering that the greying continent actually needs immigrants, Carr has some humane and sensible suggestions, the most important being that Europeans pay attention to their own history, and not just the blood-soaked ethnic warfare part. The EU only broke down its interior borders after a prolonged period of worry on the part of rich northern nations that they would be overwhelmed by over-breeding, low-income southern Europeans. Look how that turned out.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 7:12 AM - 0 Comments
While Europe grapples with financial crisis, it is also fighting to preserve its history….
While Europe grapples with financial crisis, it is also fighting to preserve its history.
“The region is facing cultural calamity,” the Washington Post reports in a feature that considers the unusual measures being enlisted to fight the battle.
Among the examples, listed by reporter Ariana Eunjung Cha:
- The Palazzo Manfrin in Venice is up for sale.
- The caretakers of Versailles have agreed to let two hotels open on the palace grounds.
- City planners in Seville have okayed the construction of an office tower near the cathedral where Christopher Columbus is buried.
- The government in Greece has voted to allow paying cinematographers access to the Parthenon, the Poseidon Temple and Delphi.
Government officials acknowledge that some of the deals they are striking are not ideal. But the officials are in a race against time. … No one wants to have another Pompeii, where in October a portion of the wall surrounding the ancient city — frozen in time since the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the 1st century — collapsed in front of crowds of tourists after it was weakened by water damage and climbing ivy.
By macleans.ca - Friday, June 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
Twenty years was enough.
After two decades of marriage, Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair…
Twenty years was enough.
After two decades of marriage, Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s wife, Anne Sinclair has left him.
Sinclair, who recently revamped her journalism career as a news editor for the Huffington Post’s French edition, threw Strauss-Kahn out of their home in Paris a month ago. It is said that he is now living with a friend.
By Alan Parker - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 5:10 PM - 0 Comments
A leading British political magazine has branded German Chancellor Angela Merkel “Europe’s most dangerous leader” and compared her to Adolf Hitler.
The cover of the current issue of the left-leaning weekly New Statesman depicts Merkel as The Terminator with prosthetic eye and leather jacket and asks: “Will the German chancellor relent before she terminates growth and pushes us into a new Depression?”
In the accompanying article, published Wednesday, New Statesman senior editor Mehdi Hasan goes further: “Merkel is the most dangerous leader since Hitler.”
Hasan says the “fiscal self-flagellation” of austerity measures Merkel insists some of Germany’s European Union partners adopt are “destroying the European project, pauperising Germany’s neighbours and risking a new global depression.”
Hasan also characterizes Merkel as the world leader who “poses the biggest threat to global order and prosperity” — more dangerous than Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu or North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
On Thursday, a spokesman for Merkel’s office said, “We do not comment on such matters.”
Reaction in both Britain and Germany has so far been muted, but the president of the World Jewish Congress immediately leaped to Merkel’s defence.
Ronald S. Lauder condemned the New Statesman for what he called a “despicable and totally unfair attack.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Lauder said: “To compare the democratically elected leader of today’s Germany with the brutal dictator Hitler is revolting and sickening. Not only is Chancellor Merkel a committed European, but there are few statesmen in Europe who have done more for Israel and the Jewish people.”
The New Statesman was honoured in 2009 as News Magazine of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors.
By Stephen Marche - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
Across Europe, quality of life is dropping, providing fertile ground for the far right
Ahead of the June 17 elections in Greece, Athens was the scene of a gruesome nostalgia trip. The ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party took to holding torchlit parades through the streets. The party rejects the term neo-Nazi, but there’s little doubt about its source of inspiration. Their symbol, the twisting maeander, is highly reminiscent of a swastika; they send teams of threatening young men into the streets wearing black shirts; their leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, specializes in flamboyant, melodramatic fist-shaking speeches, awash in self-pity; and several prominent members have openly approved of Hitler. These are not fringe figures in the Greek political landscape anymore. During the last legislative election, barely a month ago, they managed to take seven per cent of the vote. This time around they earned 6.92 per cent.
They are not unique to Greece. Just as the 1970s gave rise to a slew of European left-wing terrorists in the wake of turbulent social and economic change in the 1960s, so the failure of globalization is inevitably coughing up a new breed of fascism across the Continent.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM - 0 Comments
Talking to the House this weekend, Peter Kent discussed the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy and carbon pricing (emphasis mine).
Peter Kent: … One major point of disagreement with the National Roundtable report was, it again recommended carbon pricing. And I’ve got to say again, our government is not going to impose a carbon tax on Canadians…
Evan Solomon: But they’re not saying carbon tax. To be fair, they said it could be a price on carbon, which could be a cap-and-trade. They have not said or recommended, quite specifically, a carbon tax at all.
Peter Kent: Carbon pricing in any form is a carbon tax, because to be a realistic dollar figure, it would get Canadians at the gas pump for example, and right across the economy, but at the gas pump, it would get us to where Europeans are.
Evan Solomon: But you know they have one in Alberta, provincially. They have a $15 a tonne, it goes to a fund, nonetheless it’s a price on carbon.
Peter Kent: But that will do nothing to get GHG actual emissions down. The carbon market in Europe is under $10 a tonne, half of what it was when they began that market. The EU is no longer issuing. It’s a volatile market, which is probably the most unstable market in the world … we believe that the emitters who are regulated are the ones who will actually get emissions down.
During the 2008 campaign, the Conservatives loudly opposed a carbon tax, while promising to pursue a continental cap-and-trade system. But, according to the Environment Minister, a carbon tax and cap-and-trade are the same thing.
Continental cap-and-trade wasn’t merely a campaign promise either. The Harper government repeated the promise in its 2008 Throne Speech. Jim Prentice identified continental cap-and-trade as an exciting opportunity in November 2008. Mr. Prentice then referenced it in his December 2008 speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland. In September 2009, Mr. Prentice lobbied the Alberta government on the virtues of cap-and-trade. And, in December 2009, the Harper government claimed to be “working in collaboration with the provinces and territories to develop a cap and trade system that will ultimately be aligned with the emerging cap and trade program in the United States.”
Peter Kent ran, unsuccessfully, as a Conservative candidate in 2008. Presumably, he endorsed the party’s platform. Even if he didn’t, as recently as last May, the Environment Minister allowed that cap-and-trade “can always be something to consider in the future.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Scott Clark dissects the Harper government’s loud refusal to be part of an IMF initiative to backstop Europe.
By refusing to join the G-20 initiative to augment IMF resources, Canada’s credibility in the G-20 will be seriously diminished. Canada has been able to “punch above its economic weight” in international organizations and institutions because of the quality of its advice and the seriousness of it commitments to international institutions. Other members of the G-20 will see Canada’s refusal to participate as a weakening in its commitment to the G-20 and the IMF.
Another reason given for not contributing to the G-20 Fund is that this would require the use of taxpayers’ money. Presumably what the government is saying is that at a time when government spending is being cut it would be inappropriate to “give” taxpayers money to the IMF to help wealthy European countries. This is completely misleading. Funds are not given to the IMF; funds are lent to the IMF. More importantly the funds that would be lent to the IMF would not come from Canadian taxpayers. The funds would come from foreign exchange reserves held at the Bank of Canada. As of May 23, 2012 Canada had foreign exchange reserves of $68.7 billion … Were Canada to contribute to the G-20 fund the “contribution” would involve a transfer of SDRs from the exchange reserves to the IMF in exchange for a commitment that the funds would be repaid. There would be no use of taxpayers’ money and there would be no budgetary impact.
In April, Mark Carney appeared before the House finance committee and Peggy Nash asked the bank governor about Europe and the potential impact on Canada. She then asked Mr. Carney for the pros and cons of contributing to the IMF firewall. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 9:57 PM - 0 Comments
The Prime Minister’s remarks in Montreal today.
“Greetings, everyone. As the Prime Minister of…
The Prime Minister’s remarks in Montreal today.
“Greetings, everyone. As the Prime Minister of Canada, it’s always a great pleasure to welcome our friends to Montreal, a city renowned worldwide for its creativity and its dynamism. First of all, I’d like to thank Mr Desmarais for his kind introduction. I would also like to congratulate the organizers of the Conference of Montreal. They have done a truly remarkable job once again this year, and I would ask you to give a warm round of applause for a man with a great vision, the Founding Chairman of the Conference, Mr Gil Rémillard. I also want to note the presence of a number of Canadian companies that help to make this conference such a great success year after year.
“As it does every year, this Conférence is addressing a number of very hot topics related to the international economic situation. And the theme that most grabs our attention, once again this year, is obviously the instability of the global economy. The global economic crisis, whose effects we are still feeling, has revealed the most fundamental flaws of the Western economies. In that context, Canada remains in a very advantageous position.
“Nevertheless, Canada is very much a part of the global economy, and therefore, we are sometimes at the mercy of its challenges, particularly these days with the crisis in the Eurozone. I am genuinely encouraged by the agreement that was concluded this past weekend among members of the Eurozone to stabilize the Spanish banking situation. These are the kinds of measures that Europeans themselves are able to undertake, and that they must undertake, to move their economy forward. This is the type of self-help that Canada favours.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 5:33 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. For an omnibus bill, an omnibus question.
“Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives’ Trojan Horse budget will slash vital public services that Canadians rely on: food inspections, border security, research and development, housing, health care, employment insurance, Old Age Security. The list goes on and on,” Thomas Mulcair reported.
There were grumbles and objections from the government side.
“The Conservatives cannot even tell Parliament the details of their own proposals or how much they will cost. If the Conservatives are so proud of all these cuts, why are they hiding them?” the leader of the opposition asked, the first of three questions tabled with his opening opportunity. “Why are they ramming them through? If they are so good, why not study them?”
Here Peter Van Loan stood and asserted that which apparently renders all else moot. ”As a result of our Economic Action Plan, consistently opposed by the NDP, we have delivered for Canadians over 760,000 net new jobs so far,” the Government House leader sang. “Economic Action Plan 2012 continues on that path.”
It is a wonder we went so many years referring to that annual document of federal accounting as a “budget.” Such a dreadful word, it practically begged for Orwellian adjustment. It is further to wonder why the finance minister hasn’t been redubbed the Economic Action Minister. Or why the government has stopped with “economic action.” Why not the Bountiful Riches And Everlasting Happiness Plan for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Canada? Jim Flaherty could start calling himself Captain Awesome.
In any event, this was mere segue. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 8, 2012 at 2:41 PM - 0 Comments
Before QP yesterday, the Conservatives used four members’ statements—from Shelly Glover, Randy Hoback, Bernard Trottier and Pierre Poilievre—to lament that Thomas Mulcair would prefer to bail out the “sumptuous European welfare state countries and the wealthy bankers that lend to them”—a “reckless” plan that would apparently “kill jobs and put a huge burden on the economy here at home.” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty then criticized Mr. Mulcair during QP, in response to questions from the NDP leader, and after QP, in a scrum with reporters. Today, another members’ statement—Mr. Poilievre, again—was dedicated to bemoaning it all.
All of this seems to have been inspired by the leader of the opposition’s questions in the House on Wednesday. Mr. Mulcair noted that the Prime Minister had, in an interview with the CBC, expressed concern about the global impacts of the European economic situation, but that, in April, Mr. Flaherty had refused to go along with other G20 countries in contributing to an IMF initiative to backstop Europe. The following is the closest Mr. Mulcair comes to endorsing a Canadian contribution to the IMF’s fund.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister pretends to be concerned now, but two months ago in Washington the Conservatives were singing a different tune. At the G20 meeting in April the Minister of Finance led the effort to block an international plan to resolve the European economic crisis. He told European countries “to step up to the plate” and fix the problem on their own, as if our fate were not intimately connected to theirs, and he gets applause for that from the peanut gallery. When will the Conservatives stop lecturing European countries and put forward a real plan to protect and create jobs here in Canada?
Of the developed economies, only Canada and the United States are declining to participate. Mr. Flaherty’s concerns are, at least partially, related to the IMF’s governance structure. Germany has publicly registered its concerns with Canada’s reluctance.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 8:05 AM - 0 Comments
How I would phrase it is that fiscal discipline and growth are not only both necessary, they are both essential. If you take those two phrases and say by fiscal discipline you mean cutting, and by growth you mean spending, then yes they are incompatible. But I don’t think it’s that simple of equation. I do think that all economies need a sense of fiscal discipline especially over the midterm and if you are in the middle of a debt crisis you can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis. That’s logically impossible. But at the same time you do need, as we are doing in Canada, you need to undertake a range of measures, not just fiscal discipline, to ensure growth. We have an ambitious trade agenda, we are revamping our science and technology policies to get better results, as you know we’re doing labor market reforms, were doing regulatory reforms. These are all things that need to be done to increase the growth capacity of our economy. Where I occasionally get troubled is when I hear some leaders who are in the midst of, let’s face it – very, very difficult fiscal and public opinion situations, things that are nowhere close to the kind of situation we experience, when I hear some leaders talking that way, and they say growth, it sounds like they are looking for some easy way to deal with the problem when in fact the changes you have to make in terms of growth policies are often politically very challenging as well.
By Jonathan Gatehouse with files from Anthony A. Davis - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM - 0 Comments
His life of radical activism lands him in a familiar spot: a European jail cell
The last time Paul Watson was in a European jail, he emerged as a global environmental hero. It was 1997, and the Canadian founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was being held in the Netherlands on a Norwegian government warrant. A court in Oslo had convicted him in absentia and sentenced him to 120 days for sinking a ship in an anti-whaling protest three years before. During the months of legal wrangling over his extradition, the mop-topped vegan conducted countless interviews from a prison pay phone. Celebrities like Pierce Brosnan and Jane Seymour campaigned for his release, while supporters protested outside Dutch embassies around the world. And by the time the court finally ruled in his favour, he had signed up several guards as new members. “Dutch prisons are probably the most civilized you’re going to find anywhere in the world,” he proclaimed.
Which is all to say that the Germans—who arrested Watson at Frankfurt Airport this week, on decade-old charges for a run-in with a Costa Rican shark-fishing vessel, and are now moving ahead with efforts to extradite him to Central America—best tread carefully. The available evidence suggests the “interference with a ship” consisted of a minor collision with no apparent injuries (even if the Costa Ricans are suggesting they might upgrade the indictment to attempted murder). And people who try to bring the world’s most notorious environmental swashbuckler to justice have a way of finding themselves on trial.
By Richard Warnica - Monday, May 14, 2012 at 10:17 AM - 0 Comments
Greece inched closer to new elections—and a possible exit from the Eurozone—Sunday after negotiations…
Greece inched closer to new elections—and a possible exit from the Eurozone—Sunday after negotiations on a coalition government again failed.
From the BBC:
The Greek president has called the four main parties, including the centre-right New Democracy and the Socialist Pasok, to try to form an emergency government to avoid new elections.
But Syriza [a far left party]said it would not attend because it could not back any coalition which supported austerity.
A majority voted against last week.
“No unity government can emerge,” Fotis Kouvelis, head of the Democratic Left party, told Greek television.
“A government without Syriza would not have the necessary popular and parliamentary backing,” said Mr Kouvelis.
Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels Monday as voters across the continent continue to voice their anger over steep austerity measures. Meanwhile, worries over the fallout from a possible Greek collapse are reverberating on both sides of the Atlantic.
From the Atlantic:
The 2012 U.S. presidential election could be in many ways about the global economy. If Europe stabilizes, the global economy will be more likely to steady itself, which could lead U.S. job creation to tick upward, the stock market to advance, and the odds to favor Obama’s reelection. But if Greece lurches off the cliff edge, taking Europe with it, the markets may tank, job creation could stall, and suddenly we’re looking at a Mitt Romney presidency.
By Paul Wells - Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 4:52 PM - 0 Comments
The Financial Times: “Fear Grows of Greece Leaving Euro.” Not sure fear is the word for it. Der Spiegel is calling for Greece’s exit on its cover, and opinion in Greece might best be described as fluid. (More background on the fallout from Greek and French elections is in our latest issue from Colleague Petrou. As always during a Euro crisis — a phrase I could usefully shorten to “as always” — attention turns to the German-French directorate, now featuring a new player.
François Hollande will be sworn in as France’s new president on Tuesday. After that he’ll announce the name of his new prime minister, drop by Paris City Hall to be fêted by the city’s Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë, then hop a flight to Berlin. He becomes the second French president to visit Berlin on his inauguration day, after Nicolas Sarkozy. Both times Angela Merkel has played host. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 8:45 AM - 0 Comments
Since 2008, and throughout the European debt crisis, I have been telling my international counterparts that it is important to overwhelm the problem and get ahead of the markets. This is what the United States did in 2008, and it is what Canada did in 2009 by deploying a fiscal stimulus of roughly 4 per cent of GDP over two years in response to a crisis originating outside our borders. These bold actions paid off. Rating agencies have reaffirmed Canada’s strong AAA credit rating, and we are now on track to return to balanced budgets over the medium term. By contrast, actions taken by the eurozone have fallen short of overwhelming the problem. The “muddle through” approach has led to an erosion of confidence in public leadership and too many missed opportunities.
Ultimately, the adequacy of the actions taken will be judged by the markets. Repeated expressions of confidence by politicians are futile if the markets continue to cast their vote of non-confidence. The markets’ confidence in political leadership will only be restored when it is clear that politicians are willing to see the full scope of the problem, to focus on the key issues instead of pursuing sideshows such as the financial transactions tax, and to set out and implement a plan for tackling these issues.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Friday, April 27, 2012 at 3:13 PM - 0 Comments
Last week, we wondered whether Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials were too stubborn to notice that their push for austerity is choking Europe’s economy. There’s a chance they aren’t.
On Wednesday, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi called for a European “growth compact,” acknowledging that fiscal austerity is “starting to reverberate its contractionary effects.” Merkel agreed with Draghi, though she immediately specified what type of growth she would–or rather wouldn’t–like to see:
By Kate Lunau - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 11:05 AM - 0 Comments
Hired to promote the Mini Cooper Roadster, an ad firm bought naming rights to a cold snap before it wreaked havoc
As of last week, a cold snap across Eastern Europe was responsible for at least 175 deaths. For BMW, the parent company of Mini Cooper, the bad weather had an unfortunate association. Hired to promote the Mini Cooper Roadster, an ad firm bought naming rights to the cold front before it wreaked havoc—and named it “Cooper,” after the car. (The ad agency and BMW have since apologized.) The Free University of Berlin’s meteorological institute sells naming rights to high- and low-pressure systems in Central Europe, which the ad firm must have hoped would raise awareness of the Cooper brand. “People take the same risk when they associate themselves with a cause or a sports team, or use a celebrity endorser,” says Kenneth Wong, a marketing professor at Queen’s School of Business. The problem is that the weather is more unpredictable than, say, Tiger Woods—and a bigger danger to others.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants the Defence Minister to explain his choice of accommodations in Europe.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay charged taxpayers $2,904 for a two-night stay at the luxurious Bayerischer Hof when he went to a security conference in Munich, Germany in February of 2010. MacKay arrived in Munich after attending an informal meeting of NATO defence ministers in Turkey, where he billed taxpayers $2,310 for a three-night stay at Istanbul’s Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel. At $1,452 and $770 a night respectively, these room tabs go far beyond what most taxpayers would consider reasonable.
In Munich, MacKay’s staff stayed at the Munich Park Hilton, an eight-minute cab ride away, for $239 a night. In Istanbul, MacKay’s staff stayed in the same hotel, but paid $276 per night.
By the editors - Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
It’s hard to argue anyone else can save the Old Continent
Among the many desperate calls for help during the current European crisis, that of Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski stands out for its sheer lack of precedent. “I may be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity,” Sikorsky said last week in Berlin to his hosts. “You have become Europe’s indispensible nation . . . nobody else can do it.” Only Germany can save Europe now.
It’s hard to argue against Sikorksi’s logic, at least in the short run. Ireland and Portugal have been bailed out at great expense. Investors were forced to take a massive loss on Greek bonds. Now even major European states such as Italy and Spain are teetering on the edge of insolvency. If these governments lose the ability to continue borrowing, the entire continent could be plunged into complete economic collapse, with grim implications for the rest of the world, including Canada.
Throughout this two-year-long crisis, only Germany has retained the financial and moral clout sufficient to save the day, thanks to its low unemployment rate, reasonable debt levels and robust financial sector. (France, for all its bluster, remains a necessary but junior partner in this project.) After decades of backstopping the European experiment by buying bonds and, more recently, providing the bulk of the recent bailout packages, Germany has begun to exert a new sense of authority. In particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been demanding strict new rules over spending in individual countries as the price for continued German intervention.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, December 5, 2011 at 11:10 AM - 2 Comments
On Europe’s crisis, ﬁghting inﬂation, and his new job heading the financial stability board
He’s among the most respected voices anywhere on ﬁnancial regulation and monetary policy, and the Canadian closest to the centre of efforts to solve the European debt crisis. Governor of the Bank of Canada since 2008, Mark Carney, 46, was also recently named head of the Swiss-based Financial Stability Board. He’s a leading ﬁgure in the struggle to shore up a fragile world economy.
Q: Let’s talk about Europe. You hear people saying we may be in the last days of the euro. What is the way out of this crisis?
A:Let me say two things. One, there are longer-term issues that absolutely have to be addressed. They have to rework the way the monetary union functions—fundamental questions of competitiveness in these economies—which require multi-year reform programs. Those absolutely have to be done for this thing to work in the medium term—and there’s no point saving it in the short term, if it’s not going to work in the medium term. But in terms of creating the bridge so there’s time to do all of that, we have long advocated that they create a mechanism—a ﬁrewall—that ensures that all eurozone countries can fund themselves at sustainable rates for the next two, three years. And that is a requirement that is at least on the order of a trillion euros.
By Paul Wells - Friday, December 2, 2011 at 6:00 AM - 25 Comments
Paul Wells on Alexander Lukashenko’s violent, corrupt, economically and morally bankrupt government
For the longest time, the ruling regime in Belarus permitted Ales Michalevic to practise politics almost as he might if he were living in a democracy. The soft-spoken lawyer from Minsk, now 36, ran as a candidate in last December’s presidential election. He travelled widely, held rallies, met local officials and delivered a centrist message that sought to peel votes away from the country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, by offering only muted criticism of Lukashenko’s violent, corrupt, economically and morally bankrupt government.
And Michalevic was permitted to go about his political business, as were more than a half-dozen other opposition candidates, right up until the election returns came in on Dec. 19. Then the news anchors announced that Lukashenko had won almost 80 per cent of the vote. His nearest rival, Andrei Sannikaü, had won less than three per cent. Michalevic scored even lower. Many Belarusians sensed a gap between the official result and the message of their own hearts. Thousands spilled into the streets to protest. Black-clad thugs showed up to beat them senseless.
The police arrested perhaps 800 people overnight, including seven presidential candidates. The KGB—Belarus is the last country in the world to keep the Soviet-era name for its secret police—came for Michalevic at 4 a.m., while he sat drinking cognac with his campaign staff.