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Fritz
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #75 on: 2010-10-04 20:24:30 »
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For the record I felt this should be noted here. Anyone that has watched the History channel on organized crime and the stories from Montreal over the years has suspected this to be true; inspite of the out cry from the politicians.

Cheers

Fritz



Quebec: The most corrupt province
Why does Quebec claim so many of the nation’s political scandals?

Source: Macleans
Author: Martin Patriquin
Date: 2010.09.24


JACQUES BOISSINOT/CP/ TOM HANSON/CP

Marc Bellemare isn’t a particularly interesting man to look at, so you’d think the spectre of watching him sit behind a desk and answer questions for hours on end would have Quebecers switching the channel en masse. And yet, the province’s former justice minister has been must-see TV over the past few weeks, if only because of what has been flowing out of his mouth.

Bellemare, who has been testifying in an inquiry into the process by which judges are appointed in Quebec, has particularly bad memories of his brief stint in cabinet, from 2003 to 2004. The Liberal government, then as now under the leadership of Premier Jean Charest, was rife with collusion, graft and barely concealed favouritism, he says—the premier himself so beholden to Liberal party fundraisers that they had a say in which judges were appointed to the bench. “It happened in [Charest’s] office. He was relaxed, he served me a Perrier,” Bellemare testified. The two spoke about Franco Fava, a long-time Liberal fundraiser who, according to Bellemare, was lobbying for Marc Bisson (the son of another Liberal fundraiser) and Michel Simard to be promoted. “I said, ‘Who names the judges, me or Franco Fava?’ I was very annoyed. I found it unacceptable,” Bellemare recalls. He remembers Charest saying, “ ‘Franco is a personal friend. He’s an influential fundraiser for the party. We need men like this. We have to listen to them. If he says to nominate Bisson and Simard, nominate them.’ ”

Judicial selection may be a topic as dry as Bellemare’s own clipped monotone, yet the public inquiry currently under way has been a ratings success. It has veered into bizarro CSI territory, complete with testimony from an ink specialist who discerned that Bellemare had used at least two different pens when writing notes on a piece of cardboard. And despite his reputation as a bit of a crank, and the fact his supposedly airtight memory is prone to contradictions and convenient lapses, Quebecers believe Bellemare’s version of events over that of Jean Charest, the longest serving Quebec premier in 50 years—by as much as four to one, according to polls.

Part of the reason for this is the frankly disastrous state of Charest’s government. In the past two years, the government has lurched from one scandal to the next, from political financing to favouritism in the provincial daycare system to the matter of Charest’s own (long undisclosed) $75,000 stipend, paid to him by his own party, to corruption in the construction industry. Charest has stymied repeated opposition calls for an investigation into the latter, prompting many to wonder whether the Liberals, who have long-standing ties to Quebec’s construction companies, have something to hide. (Regardless, this much is true: it costs Quebec taxpayers roughly 30 per cent more to build a stretch of road than anywhere else in the country, according to Transport Canada figures.) Quebecers want to believe Bellemare, it seems, because what he says is closest to what they themselves believe about their government.

This slew of dodgy business is only the most recent in a long line of made-in-Quebec corruption that has affected the province’s political culture at every level. We all recall the sponsorship scandal, in which businessmen associated with the Liberal Party of Canada siphoned off roughly $100 million from a fund effectively designed to stamp the Canadian flag on all things Québécois, cost (or oversight) be damned. “I am deeply disturbed that such practices were allowed to happen,” wrote Auditor General Sheila Fraser in 2004. Fraser’s report and the subsequent commission by Justice John Gomery, which saw the testimony of Liberal prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, wreaked havoc on Canada’s natural governing party from which it has yet to recover.

We remember Baie Comeau’s prodigal son, Brian Mulroney, and his reign in Ottawa, which saw 11 cabinet ministers resign under a cloud in one seven-year period—six of them from Quebec. Mulroney’s rise was solidified by an altogether dirty battle against Joe Clark in Quebec that saw provincial Conservative organizers solicit Montreal homeless shelters and welcome missions, promising free beer for anyone who voted for Mulroney in the leadership campaign. Clark’s Quebec organizers, meanwhile, signed up so-called “Tory Tots,” underage “supporters” lured by promises of booze and barbecue chicken. And in 2000, organizers for Canadian Alliance leadership hopeful Tom Long did Mulroney’s and Clark’s camps one better, signing up unwitting Gaspé residents both living and dead to pad the membership rolls.

The province’s dubious history stretches further back to the 1970s, and to the widespread corruption in the construction industry as Quebec rushed through one megaproject after another. Much of the industry at the time, according to a provincial commission, was “composed of tricksters, crooks and scum” whose ties to the Montreal mafia, and predilection for violence, was renowned.

As politicians and experts from every facet of the political spectrum told Maclean’s, the history of corruption is sufficiently long and deep in Quebec that it has bred a culture of mistrust of the political class. It raises an uncomfortable question: why is it that politics in Canada’s bête noire province seem perpetually rife with scandal?

Certainly, Quebec doesn’t have a monopoly on bad behaviour. It was in British Columbia that three premiers—Bill Vander Zalm, Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark—were punted from office in short order for a variety of shenanigans by their governments in the 1990s. In the mid-’90s, no less than 12 members of Saskatchewan Conservative premier Grant Devine’s government were charged in relation to an $837,000 expense account scheme. Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister—and the first to go down in scandal, with his government forced to resign—came from Ontario. And the East Coast? “The record of political chicanery is so overflowing in the Maritimes that they could likely teach Quebec a few tricks,” Montreal Gazette political writer Hubert Bauch once wrote.

Still, Quebec stands in a league of its own. Maurice Duplessis, its long-reigning premier (and certainly one of its more nationalistic), was a champion of patronage-driven government, showering favourable ridings with contracts and construction projects at the expense of those that dared vote against him. Duplessis typically kept $60,000 cash in his basement as part of an “electoral fund” to dole out to obliging constituents. His excesses sickened Quebec’s artistic and intellectual classes, and their revolt culminated in the Quiet Revolution, which brought in a large, stable (and, as far as its burgeoning civil service was concerned, faceless) government less prone to patronage in place of Duplessis’s virtual one-man show.

Yet corruption didn’t disappear; it just took another form. Under the Quiet Revolution, Quebec underwent an unprecedented modernization, both in mindset and of the bricks and-mortar variety. The latter occurred at a dizzying speed; over 3,000 km of major highway were built in the 1960s alone. But modernization came at the price of proper oversight: in 1968, referring to widespread government corruption, historian Samuel Huntington singled out the province as “perhaps the most corrupt area [in] Australia, Great Britain, United States and Canada.”

It got worse. The speed at which the province developed required a huge labour pool—and peace with Quebec’s powerful unions. Peace it did not get: the early ’70s were synonymous with union violence at many of Quebec’s megaprojects, particularly Mirabel airport and the James Bay hydroelectric project in Quebec’s north—where union representative Yvon Duhamel drove a bulldozer into a generator. As the Cliche commission, an investigation into the province’s construction industry, noted in 1974, the Quebec government under Bourassa knew of the violence and intimidation, and as author and Conservative insider L. Ian MacDonald later wrote, “permitted itself to be taken hostage by the disreputable elements of the trade union movement.”

A young lawyer named Brian Mulroney sat on the commission; he helped pen the report detailing “violence, sabotage, walkouts and blackmail” on the part of the unions. Another lawyer named Lucien Bouchard, who served as the commission’s chief prosecutor, noticed a large number of union cheques made out to the Liberal Party of Quebec, though this was never investigated.

RELATED: COYNE on what’s behind Quebec’s penchant for money politics

Apart from the arguably ironic casting of Mulroney as an anti-corruption crusader, the legacy of the Cliche commission was twofold. It spelled the end of Bourassa’s first stint as premier and ushered in the sovereignist Parti Québécois, which promptly enacted the strictest campaign financing laws in the country, banning donations from unions and corporations and limiting annual individual donations to $3,000. These laws have effectively been rendered toothless since then. According to a study by the progressive
party Québec Solidaire, the senior management at four of Quebec’s big construction and engineering firms each donated the maximum or near the maximum allowable amount to the Quebec Liberal party, to the collective tune of $400,000 in 2008 alone. The Parti Québécois and the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ), too, benefited from certain firms’ largesse, though on a much smaller scale.

The province’s construction industry, meanwhile, remains as wild and woolly as ever. According to La Presse, a long-standing price-fixing scheme on the part of 14 construction companies drove up construction prices across the province. In several cases, according to a Radio-Canada investigation last year, these companies used Hells Angels muscle to intimidate rival firms. A fundraising official with the Union Montréal, the party of Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, was found to have led a scheme in which three per cent of the value of contracts was distributed to political parties, councillors and city bureaucrats. And the industry is well connected: until 2007, Liberal fundraiser Franco Fava was president of Neilson Inc., one of Quebec’s largest construction and excavation firms.

There are some who posit that government corruption is inevitable in part because government is so omnipresent in the province’s economic life. According to Statistics Canada, Quebec’s provincial and municipal government spending is equivalent to 32 per cent of its GDP, seven percentage points higher than the national average. The province is frequently home to giant projects: consider Montreal, with its two ongoing mega-hospital projects, or Hydro-Québec’s massive development of the Romaine River in the north shore region. So there is a temptation (even necessity) to curry favour with power. “In Quebec, it’s usually a case of old-fashioned graft,” says Andrew Stark, a business ethics professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business. “The state occupies a more prominent role, and people in the private sector rely on the state for appointments or contracts, so they make political contributions to do so. In the rest of the country it’s reversed: it’s people in public office using public money to give themselves private-sector-style perks.”

These links between private business and the public sector notably led to Shawinigate, when it emerged that then-prime minister Jean Chrétien had called the president of the government-run, and ostensibly arms-length, Business Development Corp. to discuss a loan application from businessman Yvon Duhaime to spruce up the Auberge Grand-Mère in Chrétien’s Shawinigan riding. The loan was granted. “I work for my electors, that’s my job,” Chrétien said at the time–even though he still stood to gain from his share of the neighbouring golf course. As several critics noted at the time, the golf course would have likely increased in value following the renovations.

But the factor most important to this history of corrupton may be Quebec’s nagging existential question of whether to remain part of the country. That 40-year threat of separation has been a boon for provincial coffers. As a “have-not” province, Quebec is entitled to equalization payments. In the past five years, according to federal Department of Finance data, Quebec’s share of the equalization pie has nearly doubled, to $8.6 billion, far and away the biggest increase of any province. This is due in large part to aggressive lobbying by the Bloc Québécois.

According to many on both the left and right, obsessing over Quebec’s existential question has come at the expense of proper transparency and accountability. “I don’t think corruption is in our genes any more than it is anywhere else on the planet, but the beginning of an explanation would be the fact that we have focused for so long on the constitutional question,” says Éric Duhaime, a former ADQ candidate who recently helped launch the right-of-centre Réseau Liberté-Québec. “We are so obsessed by the referendum debate that we forget what a good government is, regardless if that government is for or against the independence of Quebec.”

After nearly losing the referendum in 1995, the federal Liberals under Chrétien devised what amounted to a branding effort whose aim was to increase the visibility of the federal government in Quebec. The result: a $100-million scandal that saw several Liberal-friendly firms charge exorbitant amounts for work they often never did. The stench of the sponsorship scandal has yet to dissipate, so damaging was it to Quebec’s collective psyche. “Canada basically thinks . . . [Quebecers] can be bought off by some idiotic ad campaign,” wrote Le Devoir’s Jean Dion in 2004.

Or a new hockey arena, it seems. Earlier this month, eight Quebec Conservative MPs donned Nordiques jerseys and, through wide smiles, essentially said Quebec City deserved $175 million worth of public funding for a new arena. “As MPs, we cannot ignore the wishes of the population that wants the Nordiques to return,” Jonquiere-Alma MP Jean-Pierre Blackburn told the Globe and Mail. “In addition, our political formation, the Conservative party, has received important support in Quebec City.”

It won’t be the Conservatives’ first foray into patronage in the province. According to a recent Canadian Press investigation, a disproportionate percentage of federal stimulus money reserved for rural areas went to two hotly contested ridings in which the Conservatives barely edged out the Bloc. Now, as always, keeping the sovereignists out seems to be priority number one for the feds, and the favoured way is through the public purse strings.

The federalist-sovereignist debate has effectively entrenched the province’s politicians, says Québec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir. “Today’s PQ and the Liberals are of the same political class that has governed Quebec for 40 years. The more they stay in power, the more vulnerable to corruption they become. There hasn’t been any sort of renewal in decades,” he says. “We are caught in the prison of the national question.” If so, it’s quite a prison. Crossing the federalist-sovereignist divide is something of a sport for politicians. Lucien Bouchard went from sovereignist to federalist and back again. Raymond Bachand started his political career as a senior organizer for René Lévesque’s Yes campaign in 1980; today, he is the minister of finance in Charest’s staunchly federalist government. Liberal Jean Lapierre was a founding member of the Bloc Québécois, only to return to Martin’s Liberal cabinet in 2004. Many Quebec politicians never seem to leave. They just change sides.

Veteran Liberal MNA Geoff Kelley says all the bad headlines are proof, in fact, of the system’s efficacy at weeding out corruption. Yes, two prominent former Liberal ministers, David Whissell and Tony Tomassi, have left cabinet amidst conflict-of-interest allegations. (A construction firm Whissell co-owned received several no-tender government contracts, while Tomassi used a credit card belonging to BCIA, a private security firm that received government contracts and government-backed loans.) No, it “doesn’t look good” when five Charest friends and former advisers join oil-and-gas interests just as the province is considering an enormous shale gas project. How about the nearly $400,000 in campaign financing from various engineering and construction companies? No one has shown any evidence of a fraudulent fundraising scheme, he counters. “I’m not saying it didn’t happen, I’m just saying it hasn’t been proven.” Kelley blames much of the government’s ailments on an overheated Péquiste opposition. As for Bellemare’s allegations, Kelley rightly points out that they are just that: allegations.

He thinks the system is working. Far from being kept quiet, Bellemare has the ear of the province, thanks to the commission Charest himself called. The Charest government, Kelley notes, will institute Quebec’s first code of conduct for MNAs in the coming months. “I’m not saying everything’s perfect, [or] everything’s lily white,” Kelley says. “Obviously these things raise concerns, they raise doubts, and I think mechanisms have been put in place to try and tighten up the rules.”

For many Quebecers, though, talk of renewal is cheap. As they know all too well, rules in the bête noire province have a habit of being broken.

CLARIFICATION: The cover of last week’s magazine, with the headline “The Most Corrupt Province in Canada,” featured a photo-illustrated editorial cartoon depicting Bonhomme Carnaval carrying a briefcase stuffed with money. The cover has been criticized by representatives of the Carnaval de Québec, of which Bonhomme is a symbol.

While Maclean’s recognizes that Bonhomme is a symbol of the Carnaval, the character is also more widely recognized as a symbol of the province of Quebec. We used Bonhomme as a means of illustrating a story about the province’s political culture, and did not intend to disparage the Carnaval in any way. Maclean’s is a great supporter of both the Carnaval and of Quebec tourism. Our coverage of political issues in the province will do nothing to diminish that support.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #76 on: 2010-10-18 21:10:38 »
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The reader comments at the end .... and two different takes on the same story.

Sigh

Fritz



Telegraph: Canadian pilot who flew for the Queen pleads guilty to murder
A Canadian Air Force pilot, who once flew the Queen across the Atlantic, has pleaded guilty to murdering two women and sexually assaulting two others.


CBC: Williams to lose rank but not pension

Canadian military officer exposed as serial killer

Source: Japan Today
Author: AP
Date: 2010.10.19



BELLEVILLE, Ontario — Canada

He was a square-jawed Canadian Air Force officer with a brilliant future, a man entrusted with flying prime ministers and Queen Elizabeth II. On Monday, he was exposed as a serial killer with a shocking fetish for girls’ panties that he documented in a trove of twisted photos of himself.

At a hearing that reduced victims’ relatives to tears, the lurid photos were shown one by one in court as Col Russell Williams, 47, pleaded guilty to murdering two women, sexually assaulting two others and committing dozens of break-ins in which he stole underwear from the bedrooms of girls as young as 11.

He faces an automatic sentence of life in prison with no possibility for parole for at least 25 years.

Williams was expressionless and dressed in a somber dark suit. He kept his head down during the 40 minutes it took to read all the charges.

Until his double life came to light with his arrest earlier this year, Williams was the commander of Canada’s largest Air Force base and served as a pilot for some of the country’s top leaders and for the queen during a 2005 visit.

The charges against the elite pilot—a tall, fit figure who did his job with quiet diligence and appeared to be in a stable marriage—shocked the country and its military with the possibility of a serial killer in its officer corps.

“The tragic events surrounding Col Russell Williams stunned all Canadians and none more so than the members of the Canadian Forces. Today’s guilty plea is the first step in a healing process that will no doubt take many years,” said Gen Walt Natynczyk, chief of the defense staff and a Canadian Forces spokesman.

Among other things, Williams pleaded guilty to murdering Jessica Lloyd, 27, whose body was found in February, and Marie Comeau, a 38-year-old corporal under his command who was found dead in her home last November. Both women were asphyxiated.

Williams also pleaded guilty to attacking two other women during separate home invasions in the Tweed, Ontario, area in 2009. One of the women, a 21-year-old single mother, said she was tied up, blindfolded, stripped and held captive for more than two hours while he forced her into sexual acts and photographed her.

Prosecutors said Williams targeted girls and women in their teens and 20s and often photographed himself in their underwear, which he then stole and catalogued at home.

At the sentencing hearing following his guilty plea, prosecutors warned the court they would be presenting evidence that was “extremely disturbing.” Prosecutor Lee Burgess said many of the facts would be difficult for his victims to hear, but it was “important to have a full account of the crimes.”

Burgess began by presenting photos of Williams wearing a 12-year-old girl’s cartoon-decorated underwear.

Many of the pictures showed a serious-looking Williams masturbating in or with the stolen lingerie. In one picture, he appears to be wearing his military uniform with his trousers dropped to expose pink panties.

Stunned onlookers in the courtroom wept. Jessica Lloyd’s mother, Roxanne Lloyd, clutched a framed photo of her daughter and wiped away tears.

Authorities said Williams carefully catalogued the photos of himself with time and date stamps on hard drives in his Ottawa home. Some of the photos were panoramic shots of the victims’ bedrooms. He kept the underwear in bags and boxes in his home and would sometimes burn them if he ran out of space.

Prosecutors also said Williams videotaped the assaults and murders.

Authorities said Williams came to the attention of investigators during a police roadblock a few days after Lloyd was reported missing. Tire tracks from his vehicle matched the ones they were looking for.

“He’s just a very twisted individual. There’s no two ways about it,” retired Lt. Gen. Angus Watt, who once promoted Williams, said earlier this year. He was able to lead an elaborate double life and was able to keep it successfully concealed. This was the act of a depraved individual and really has no reflection on the men and women of the Canadian Forces.”

Williams, a 23-year military veteran, has never been in combat but has been stationed across Canada and internationally, including a stint in 2006 as commanding officer of Camp Mirage, the secretive Canadian Forces base widely reported to be near Dubai.

He was photographed in January with Canada’s defense chief and its top general during an inspection of a Canadian aircraft on its way to support relief efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti. Williams killed his second victim just over a week later.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


#

sourpuss at 07:50 AM JST - 19th October

gotta love canadian law. he kills and rapes and is still eligible for parole. sick.
#

limboinjapan at 08:20 AM JST - 19th October

sourpuss:"gotta love canadian law. he kills and rapes and is still eligible for parole. sick."

The article is a little misleading, yes in theory he could be illegible for parole but new laws enacted in recent years have made that possibility for this sort of offender to be kept in jail indefinitely (though some bleeding heart groups have been trying to challenge these laws in court but thankfully have failed up to now)

The title is a little misleading seeing he was exposed months ago and this is just the final faze of this tragedy.
#

lovejapan21 at 09:35 AM JST - 19th October

is it Dexter??
« Last Edit: 2010-10-18 21:13:20 by Fritz » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #77 on: 2010-10-18 22:21:55 »
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Mr. Attaran really nails what is going on in Ottawa, the other guests try to back peddle; but it is real.

Cheers

Fritz


Veterans Affairs had passed around thousands of pages of confidential medical records

Source: Radio Canada: The Currernt
Author: Anna Maria Tremonti
Date: 2010.10.15




Veterans Affairs Leak

Last week Canada's Privacy Commissioner reported that officials at  and financial statements. They were seen by mid-level managers all the way up to the minister. They belonged to Sean Bruyea, a Canadian veteran and a vocal critic of the department. And he told us on The Current that he believes the goal was to use the information to discredit him and he alleges much worse.

The privacy commissioner found the actions of public officials alarming. Sean Bruyea found them unconscionable. But it is their inaction that troubles Amir Attaran. He's a law professor at the University of Ottawa. And he's especially concerned about the fact that this behaviour went on for years, reportedly involving hundreds of bureaucrats and that not a word of it was leaked to the public - by anyone. Amir Attaran was in Ottawa. And Ralph Heintzman is a Professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and Senior Fellow at Massey College at the University of Toronto. 

Listen to Radio Program: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2010/10/oct-1410---pt-2-veterans-affairs-leak.html

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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #78 on: 2010-10-29 12:47:19 »
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I'm certainly not clear, as to the distinction between the 'common good' and 'business interest' and which elected officials really represent ? The political balancing act would seem to me to serve neither very well.

Cheers

Fritz


Rogue mining interests given message

Source: Whitehorse Daily Star
Author: Chuck Tobin
Date: 2010.10.28


Photo by Whitehorse Star
Pictured Above: LARRY BAGNELL

The message has been delivered, says Yukon Liberal MP Larry Bagnell.

Bagnell said Bill C-300 may have been defeated Wednesday evening, but he insists the fiery debate in recent days has impressed upon Canadian mining companies the need to work responsibly while conducting business in developing countries overseas.

“It was a message for those few rogue companies that are hurting the industry, who are hurting the Yukon mining industry, who are giving them a bad name,” said Bagnell, who voted in favour of C-300.

The private member’s bill first introduced in early 2009 by Liberal John McKay was defeated in the House of Commons by a vote of 140-134, with the ruling Conservatives leading the opposition to the proposed legislation.

The intent of the C-300 was to force the federal government to investigate allegations of human rights abuses or substandard environmental practices by Canadian mining and oil and gas companies receiving federal financial assistance to work overseas. It compelled Ottawa to cut off funding where there were findings of guilt.

MiningWatch Canada spokeswoman Catherine Coumans said this morning she has never seen industry respond with such a furious lobby against a piece of legislation.

“They pulled out all the stops,” she said, adding that she too feels as Bagnell does: the legislation may have been defeated, but the message has been driven home.

Carl Schulze, president of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, said the industry lobby was so intense because C-300 opened the door for anybody to go head hunting with absolutely no grounds.

Companies that hold their corporate responsibilities in the highest regard could have been torpedoed by unsubstantiated allegations, he said.

Schulze said in a world where companies depend on the investment community, even a suggestion of impropriety can be devastating to a corporate image.

Bill C-300, the chamber president insisted earlier this week, could have prompted companies to relocate to another country, and take their jobs with them.

Besides, there are government and private-sector mechanisms in place already to ensure Canadian companies live up to their social responsibilities, he said.

Bagnell insisted Bill C-300 would not have been necessary had Prime Minister Stephen Harper implemented recommendations agreed to in 2007 during round table discussions regarding corporate social responsibility.

The recommendations, he said, were agreed to by representatives of the federal government, industry and non-government organizations.

Key among them was the creation of an independent ombudsman to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by Canadian companies receiving assistance from Export Development Canada, Bagnell said.

He said the federal government announced this week it is beginning to implement a mechanism to ensure companies receiving federal assistance are operating responsibly.

The only shortfall, said the Yukon’s MP, is that companies can only be investigated if they agree to participate.

Bagnell emphasized the vast majority of mining companies have a solid track record when it comes to their social responsibilities.

But a few bad apples shouldn’t be allowed to spoil the whole bunch, he suggested.

Export Development Canada provides Canadian companies working overseas with loans, loan guarantees and insurance.

EDC spokesman Phil Taylor explained today that in 2009, for instance, the federal Crown corporation loaned mining companies $1.3 billion in financial capital. There are no grants, and the Export Development Canada is a self-sustaining commercial entity which does not receive federal government funding, he said.

In 2009, mining companies received $7.3 billion in insurance, either to cover political risk or the potential loss of revenue from foreign companies that don’t want to pay their bills, he explained.

Absent from yesterday’s vote were 13 Liberals, and Bagnell said he accepts there may have been those who didn’t show up because they didn’t want to vote against the majority of their caucus.

The MiningWatch spokeswoman said she knows there were at least four MPs who didn’t show up for that very reason, and maybe as many as seven.

Coumans said both the NDP and the Bloc assured their full support for Bill C-300 from the outset.

The question was always with the Liberals, she said.

Bagnell said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was on the road and couldn’t be there.

Coumans said Ignatieff has always said he doesn’t vote on private member’s bills, though he was there recently to vote against the private motion to defeat the gun legislation. He’s also indicated he has some concerns with Bill C-300, she said.

Coumans said just in the last week the mining lobby has changed its tact from opposing a bill about social responsibilities to attacking legislation that will kill jobs in the mining sector.

And it focused on MPs who come from mining communities, she pointed out.

This week, Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro of Peterbourgh, Ont. sent out a press release criticizing Bagnell for supporting a bill that would kill jobs in the Yukon.

Coumans acknowledged that MiningWatch Canada did have its own lobby effort, but she insisted it did have the resources to come anywhere close to the lobby put forward by industry.

The organization did send out an alert to Amnesty International three hours before Wednesday’s vote asking them to have its membership contact a list of nine Liberal and ask for their support for Bill C-300. Bagnell was on the list.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #79 on: 2010-10-29 13:26:32 »
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There is a great lesson to learn from Norway. Nice to see this kind of news story.

Cheers

Fritz


Norwegians visit Alberta for facts on oilsands

Source: SLAVE RIVER JOURNAL
Author: SHAWN BELL
Date: 2010.10.28


Martin Norman and Ragnhild Elisabeth Waagaard get set for a boat ride on the Slave River.

Two Norwegian environmentalists who flew over the Alberta oilsands last week say they were staggered by the sheer size of the development and amazed that Canada is willing to sell its resources to multi-national companies so cheaply.
Martin Norman of Greenpeace and Ragnhild Elisabeth Waagaard of World Wildlife Fund Norway visited Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta last week after a fact-finding trip to the oilsands on behalf of Norwegian investors.

While neither of them minced words when it came to their own thoughts on oilsands development, calling it risky, unregulated and extremely energy-intensive, they said the most striking part about the industry is the ease with which Canadian governments give away resources to multi-national companies.

"It seems like the Canadian government is giving away the resource to multinational companies at a cost exponential to future generations," Norman said. "That happens involuntarily in third-world countries, but it's strange to see a country like Canada give away their natural resources like this."[Fritz]So did ya read this; leadership of Canada !

As a better way of doing business, they cite Norway's off-shore oil drilling that started in the 1970s, where the government forced industry to pay upwards of 75 per cent royalties on all oil extracted and then put that money into Norway's heritage fund, which is now worth over $400 billion.

Their trip follows months of international pressure on Norway's state-owned oil company, StatOil, for its recent investments in Alberta's oilsands region.

"Since the StatOil AGM (in May) the tar sands has been used in Norway as the poster child of what we do not want," Norman said. "In 2008 hardly anybody knew about the tar sands, but now every day in the media somebody is writing about the issue."

The StatOil AGM also featured a speech to oil executives by former Smith's Landing First Nation chief Francois Paulette that Waagaard called "historic."

"You could see a lot of people were uncomfortable during that speech," Waagaard said from Paulette's kitchen in Fort Fitzgerald.

Now the two Norwegians are facilitating trips to Alberta for Norwegian investors to tour the oilsands, meet with industry executives and downstream communities, and get the facts for themselves.

Considering the Norwegian government owns two-thirds of StatOil, and StatOil now has four leases around Fort McMurray with considerations for oilsands facilities on each, Norman and Waagaard believe it is essential for their compatriots to see for themselves what the development entails.

"This is a Canadian issue, and Canada has to decide what road to take, but we as Norwegians have to decide whether to take that path with Canada or not," Norman said.

Meanwhile they argue that the world has to come to grips with getting away from oil.

"You have to change to renewables," Waagaard said. "You can wait ten or 50 years, but you'll have to do it. You can either choose to do it early, or wait and you might have six degrees of warming and it will be difficult to survive the changes on this planet."
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #80 on: 2010-12-11 21:57:14 »
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No corruption in, La belle 'Provenance'  ..... say it's not so ...

Cheers

Fritz


Canada Revenue Agency fires six, suspends three in Montreal office

Source: The Globe and Mail
Author: DANIEL LEBLANC
Date: 2010.12.10



The Canada Revenue Agency has fired six employees in Montreal and suspended three others without pay as part of a growing scandal into allegations that the tax-collection agency was infiltrated by rogue personnel.

The controversy goes back to 2007, when information from a police investigation into the Mafia led the CRA to start looking into the activities of some of its employees. The government is releasing little information on the situation, in which millions of dollars in tax revenue are at stake.

The CRA first revealed allegations of infiltration last year when it fired two people who are accused of interfering in tax audits of construction companies.

This week, two construction companies pleaded guilty to committing $4-million in tax fraud by claiming non-deductible expenses such as the construction of a luxury yacht and jewellery purchases. The firms also submitted fake invoices from two shell companies that had benefited from inside help at the CRA, according to CRA and RCMP search warrants.

On Friday, the CRA revealed the growing scope of the review into the activities of its office in Montreal, suggesting that the matter goes beyond the construction industry.

“Since December 31, 2008, the Canada Revenue Agency has terminated the employment of six employees and suspended three employees without pay at the Montreal Tax Services Office for a variety of misconducts,” said Erin Filliter, a spokeswoman for Revenue Minister Keith Ashfield.

“Any misconduct by CRA employees as alleged in these cases will not be tolerated. Our government is supportive of this investigation and will ensure that the CRA co-operates with all investigations,” she said.

A federal source added the number of people involved in the alleged fraud might yet be higher, as investigators are also concerned about the activities of people who have retired from the CRA.

The controversy is fuelling calls for a public inquiry into the construction industry in Quebec. Premier Jean Charest has refused, saying it is up to police and other authorities to punish anyone involved in wrongdoing. But critics are charging that this week’s guilty pleas by the construction firms prove that court cases won’t help the public understand how the wrongdoing occurred or who actually benefited.

In the House of Commons on Friday, the Bloc Québécois said the recently exposed tax-evasion scheme was designed to provide large amounts of cash “to pay the personal expenses” of the administrators of the two construction firms that pleaded guilty, Simard-Beaudry Construction and Louisbourg Construction.

“Now that it has gone after the companies that belong to [construction magnate] Tony Accurso, will the Canada Revenue Agency start looking into those who benefited from this money?” Bloc MP Diane Bourgeois asked in the House.

Jacques Gourde, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of National Revenue, said that CRA employees must abide by a strict code of conduct.

“Our government is committed to protecting its fiscal revenues from those who do not want to respect their obligations,” Mr. Gourde said.

The CRA has said that between 2005 and 2007, three of Mr. Accurso's companies “funnelled close to $4.5-million” to two shell companies that issued fake invoices. Earlier this year, the CRA laid tax-evasion charges against Frank Bruno, owner of construction firm B.T. Céramique, accusing him of providing the fake invoices.

Court documents allege that when tax auditors started closing in on Mr. Bruno, one of his cousins, who worked for the CRA, proposed a “plan of action” to keep them at bay. According to the documents, Mr. Bruno opened a bank account containing $1.7-million in 2006 in the Bahamas with two CRA employees, including his cousin Adriano Furgiuele.

In addition, court documents filed earlier this year show the CRA rejected more than $1-million in research and development tax credits that Simard-Beaudry and Louisbourg claimed in previous years. A search warrant said that Mr. Furgiuele’s brother Marcello was involved in the alleged scheme as the head of the Delvex Consulting Group.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #81 on: 2011-01-02 12:45:43 »
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Lets see how our flagship National Health Care and Public Education get eviscerated in 2011, as the rhetoric sets the stage for the "The True North strong and free!"; and money trumps all else.

Cheers

Fritz

PS: I wonder how long those Yankee 'green backs' will remain discounted .... 



No longer No. 1, Canada's economy is struggling to keep up with resurgent G7

Source: Yorkton This Week
Author: Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press
Date: 2011.01.02

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Baker

OTTAWA - It may come off as heresy, but Canada is no longer leading the industrialized world out of the recession — it may be in the process of becoming an economic laggard.

A fresh analysis from economist Jim Stanford of the Canadian Auto Workers paints a far different picture of the economy from what politicians, and indeed some private sector economists, have been telling Canadians for most of the past year.

Rather than No. 1 with a bullet among the G7, Canada could have fallen as far as sixth in recent growth.

That is Stanford's conclusion after comparing average gross domestic product gains in the last two recorded quarters — the second and third of 2010, which encompasses six months from April to September.

Canada averaged a 1.7 per cent advance during the period, beating out Italy's 1.5, but below every other country in the G7. Germany tops the list with an impressive 6.1 per cent in growth.

It's even worse if the calculation is on a per capita basis — a truer measure of economic strength. By that scale, Canada is dead last with a 0.9 per cent gain per person.

"We should stop patting ourselves in the back," says Stanford. "Yes we've had a couple of decent quarters, at the end of 2009 and in the beginning of 2010, but now we're running below capacity."

Stanford also tries to shatter another "myth" of the recovery — that Canada's labour markets have performed superbly, recovering all the jobs lost during the recession, and then some.

It's one thing for Germany to boast that it has recovered all the lost jobs, he explains, since Germany has a stable population. In Canada, where the working-age population is rising by about 1.5 per cent a year, the economy must create 300,000 jobs just to keep up.

"Less than one-fifth of the damage done to Canada's labour market by the recession has been repaired," he says.

Stanford agrees that some of the recent disappointment is due to timing factors. Because Canada's recovery got off the blocks first, it is natural that it would have hit a speed wall sooner.

As well Canada did not suffer as deep a recession as others, so needs less growth to return to pre-recession levels, and unlike many in the G7, it can boast a sound banking system and healthy government accounts that will pay dividends going forward.

But that explains why the economy is no longer growing at five per cent, says Stanford, not why it has slowed to one per cent, well below capacity.

IHS Global Insight chief economist Brian Bethune also thinks Canada's recovery has lost momentum and that some of the wounds have been self-inflicted.

The current slowdown reflects that Canada is tethered to the U.S. and can't deviate for long, he says.

But it also reflects policy differences. While the U.S. government and central bank continues to stimulate the economy, Canada's policy-makers are withdrawing stimulus.

"There's a lot of nervous Nellyism in Canada," he says. "We have the potential to grow faster, but if we continue to overworry about too many things, first inflation and now household debt, it's not going to happen. It's like the Bank of Canada is looking for a rationale for tightening."

Stanford says Canadian governments need to be careful about withdrawing stimulus in 2011 since the corporate sector has not shown itself capable of sustaining the recovery.

But a bigger underlying concern, he says, is the East-West economic divide that is taking form in Canada. Western oil brings wealth into the country, but it also causes the dollar to soar and depress exports of manufactured goods produced in Ontario and Quebec.

"We've got too many eggs in the resource basket," he says. "Alberta is getting a boost from that, but the side effects in terms of a higher dollar, can actually crowd out growth in the rest of the country."

Most forecasters see Canada's lagging growth continuing throughout this year, hovering just above two per cent, below expectations for the U.S.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #82 on: 2011-01-04 15:32:30 »
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Interestingly in small town Canada most municipal dumps have a grave yard for computers to be recycled, but in the major cities location and timing make it difficult to coordinate anything but a single box at the curb.

Cheers

Fritz


Who will rid me of these obsolete PCs?

Source: The Register
Author: Trevor Pott
Date: 2010.01.04

Reuse it or lose it

I never would have believed that getting rid of one’s old computer gear could be the harder side of upgrades – until early last year when I bought a set of Wyse thin clients to replace an aging and mismatched desktop fleet.

I briefly toyed with the idea of making some form of Franken-Beowulf-cluster out of the 40 or so working systems now surplus to requirements, but came to the conclusion that I could probably replace the entire thing with a single modern graphics card. I cherry picked the best systems – those with two cores and hardware assisted virtualisation – as they might come in handy as emergency test-bed capacity. I then set about seeing what I could do about the rest.

In Canada, I cannot simply tip electronics into the bin. I could just pack them all into my car and bring them down to the nearest eco-station, excepting that the eco-station and I tend to have fairly continual scheduling conflicts.

With so many old PCs lying around, I wanted to see if I could fix up some into systems the staff could use. Some of the folk around here have kids; second PC for the home running Ubuntu might be a welcome addition. I figured I could put some extra hours in after work and all would be well. I was wrong.

Canadian tax law is the first hurdle - giving away a decommissioned PC is considered to be a “taxable benefit” . This means determining the “current market value” of the beastie in question and notifying the beancounters such that they could perform some dark rituals and incomprehensible accounting voodoo. This was a no-go.

The next option is to sell the computers to staff members. If I invoice the computers at “current market value,” I can sell the computers on to staff without the accounting hocus pocus. The sticking point is that “current market value” isn’t much of a deal for anyone. With the availability of netbooks and the plethora of things for sale on Kijiji, who wants to pay $150 for a Pentium 4?

I talked to a friend of mine – a sysadmin for a local charity – and wondered if wanted any of this gear. If my fellow sysadmin could have made use of these PCs, it would have solved my problem nicely: he would pick them up and take them away while I don’t have to worry about any messy paperwork. (The tax write-off is so negligible as to not be worth the paperwork.)

Unfortunately for me I was not the only sysadmin in the area with this idea. The sysadmin for another local organisation had recently gotten an upgrade and beaten me to offloading his old systems. The only thing my friend was interested in was taking a bag of RAM and a few hard drives.

It’s important to know where you can properly dispose of your electronics. Proper upgrade planning includes disposal of the old gear. Even better is if that old gear can continue to be useful in some capacity to someone else. I will most likely end up donating these straggler PCs to the Electronics Recycling Association of Canada. For those in the US, there is Computers With Causes. For those in the UK, here is an absolutely staggering list of PC recycling charities. Feel free to mention your favourite charity in the comments section.
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #83 on: 2011-01-05 19:34:57 »
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Regarding the topic of this thread: wouldn't it be more appropriate to say that Canada clubs itself in the head?  It's not like you can actually own a firearm for self-protection or self-icide in Canada :-P
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #84 on: 2011-01-07 17:48:19 »
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Quote from: Ophis on 2011-01-05 19:34:57   

Regarding the topic of this thread: wouldn't it be more appropriate to say that Canada clubs itself in the head?  It's not like you can actually own a firearm for self-protection or self-icide in Canada :-P

I was particularly angry with the state of the Canada that day, so the melodrama of the subject line stuck for me.

I have taken all the required courses ($300.00) and intend to write my exam shortly ($70.00) ;  that will entitle me to purchase a firearm and ammunition, that I will be then allowed to register in the long gun registry; so when a gun crime is committed in my neighborhood my name will appear to the police and I can be questioned as to what I have done with my long gun lately; mean while all those illegally begotten guns are out there killing folks ... I can when in season try to get my wild turkey, or failing that buy a 'Frozen Butterball' at the super market.

Not bitter or disillusioned

Fritz .... Much!
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #85 on: 2011-01-11 09:36:25 »
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I'm Canadian as well, originally from Montreal, currently residing in Raleigh, NC.  I took the classes in Quebec and received my firearm permit without ever shooting a single live round.  Hours of classroom discussion about gun safety and regulations with no practical exercise whatsoever.

In contrast, I recently took a gun safety class here in North Carolina.  30 minutes of theory and 3 hours of firearn handling and range practice with a very talented instructor (http://christilley.com/) .

A night and day experience where the Canadian system simply failed to deliver any kind of knowledge and/or practical benefits.  Then again... maybe that's the whole point.
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« Reply #86 on: 2011-01-13 09:14:14 »
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I guess this is what happens when you consume too much Caffeine along with large quantities of Beer.

Cheers 

Fritz


http://www.redbull.com/cs/Satellite/en_INT/Red-Bull-Crashed-Ice-2011/001242785030624

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppgw9DHYnbs
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #87 on: 2011-01-17 21:26:08 »
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I guess we should hang on; It looks like the banks are covering their asses getting ready in case there is yet another downturn.

Cheers

Fritz


First time home buyers hit again

Source: Financial Post
Author: Garry Marr
Date: 2011.01.17



It’s the first-time home buyer who has once again felt the pinch of new mortgage rules which will restrict the amount consumers can borrow to buy a home.

“It’s a big thing reducing that amortization from 35 to 30,” said Calgary mortgage broker Mark Herman of Mortgage Alliance about the new rules introduced by Ottawa which will go into effect in 60 days.

Amortization lengths were as long as 40 years in 2008 before the government first cracked down. They had been at 25 years for decades before this housing boom.

Mr. Herman, who says about 85% of his clients use the 35-year amortization, calculates that based on a five-year fixed rate of 3.99% someone making $50,000 a year with a $1,200 annual property tax bill and $100 monthly heating bill will soon just qualify for a $238,620 mortgage compared to the $257,451 they would qualify for now.

“It you are first-time home buyer you are going to qualify for 8% less house,” he says. “That 18 grand makes a big difference. It can be the difference between a great place or even no place.”

The government moves, which also include restrictions on home equity line of credit and refinancing, are expected to give the housing market an immediate short-term boost as consumer scramble to borrow ahead of a March 18 deadline for the change.

“You got a boost when the changes are introduced and then you get a lull afterwards,” said Pascal Gauthier, a senior economist with Toronto-Dominion Bank.

He suggests the changes to amortization will probably affect about 20,000 sales, adding the deals may still get done but there will be an impact. “They might look for a little bit less [house],” says Mr. Gauthier, “From our perspective it doesn’t change things a whole lot. At the margin, it will weaken the market for first timers.”

Another of the substantive changes which would allow consumers to refinance up to 85% of their home, down from 90%, will probably have a bigger impact on the condominium market, said Phil Soper, chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services.

“The group hit most dramatically by these changes is the casual investor. These changes and the ones a year earlier have taken a lot of the potential out of the buy and flip,” said Mr. Soper, referring to rules changes in 2010 which forced condominium investors to have a minimum 20% down payment.

The chief executive says some people have been using home refinancing rules to get equity out their principle residence for the purpose of buying second homes. “This doesn’t put the brakes on too dramatically,” said Mr. Soper.

The third element of the changes which would eliminate government insurance on non-amortizing home equity lines of credit should only affect a small segment of consumers, said Vince Gaetano, a principal with Monster Mortgage.

“There were not that many people doing it and if they were doing it was costing them a lot of money,” says Mr. Gaetano, who says the rates on HELOCs where traditionally higher than a conventional mortgage.

He applauded the new rules changes because he believes too many people on the fringe have been entering the housing market without understanding the true cost of home ownership.

“There is a big difference between renting and home ownership and the cost associated with it. It’s unfair to put a young couple behind the eight-ball and scrambling to make due after all the cost associated with a home are occurred,” said Vince Gaetano. “Maybe this doesn’t take people out of the market but just makes them buy something more affordable.”

gmarr@nationalpost.com

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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #88 on: 2011-01-19 19:56:36 »
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Quote from: Fritz on 2011-01-17 21:26:08   

I guess we should hang on; It looks like the banks are covering their asses getting ready in case there is yet another downturn.

Cheers

Fritz


First time home buyers hit again

Source: Financial Post
Author: Garry Marr
Date: 2011.01.17

I liked this reader's response to the story so did many others.

Harper out wrote: Posted 2011/01/17
at 6:26 AM ET

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2011/01/17/flaherty-mortgage-changes.html#socialcomments#ixzz1BX3u72fL

In the first half of 2008, as the subprime mortgage crisis was exploding in the United States, a contagion of U.S.-style lending practices quietly crossed the border and infected Canada's previously prudent mortgage regime.

New mortgage borrowers signed up for an estimated $56-billion of risky 40-year mortgages, more than half of the total new mortgages approved by banks, trust companies and other lenders during that time, according to banking and insurance sources. Those sources estimated that 10 per cent of the mortgages, worth about $10-billion, were taken out with no money down.

The mushrooming of a Canadian version of subprime mortgages has gone largely unnoticed. The Conservative government finally banned the practice last summer, after repeated warnings from frustrated senior officials and bankers that the country's financial system was being exposed to far too much risk as the housing market weakened.

Just yesterday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty repeated the mantra that the government acted early to get rid of risky mortgages. What he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper do not explain, however, is that the expansion of zero-down, 40-year mortgages began with measures contained in the first Conservative budget in May of 2006.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2011/01/17/flaherty-mortgage-changes.html#socialcomments#ixzz1BX3ZZaCD
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Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #89 on: 2011-02-16 15:13:51 »
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Well now lets see: sell all our mineral resources to China; all our oil, natural gas and water to United States; outsource all our manufacturing; and hand our financial control over to England, which is tanking.

Well it use to be lumber and beaver pelts, we've come a long way baby.

Cheers

Fritz


'Clear angst' on Bay Street and Main Street over stock exchange merger: minister


Source: New Glasgow News
Author: Canadian press
Date: 2011.02.16

http://blindflaneur.com/?p=131

TORONTO - Ontario's finance minister says there's "clear angst" on Bay Street and Main Street about a proposed merger between the Toronto and London Stock Exchanges.

Dwight Duncan says the deal, which is up for federal review, has raised a lot of concerns from people -- even those he thought would have embraced the move.

Duncan says he's spoken to a number of people on Bay Street who are "clearly anxious" about the merger.

Ontario has the power to block the deal, but Duncan won't say whether the Liberal government is prepared to use it.

Duncan says he's not ruling anything in or out until he gathers more information about what impact the deal may have on Canada's financial industry, which is centred in Toronto.

The minister says he'll be meeting soon with federal Industry Minister Tony Clement to talk about the proposed merger.

Four provinces — Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta — have regulators that may want to hold their own reviews.

Ontario and Quebec have already indicated they plan to do so.
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