Economics & Finance & Trade

Putin pushes back economically

A suggestion last October that the European Union could sell seized Russian assets to help to rebuild Ukraine has prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to take what he says is temporary control of the Russian subsidiaries of German and Finnish energy companies. Putin’s decree today suggested that the EU notion is “unfriendly and contrary to international law.” [node:read-more:link]

Fiscal brinkmanship slammed

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen worries that if Congress fails to raise the government’s $31.4-trillion debt ceiling, the resulting default could trigger “economic and financial catastrophe.” She says Congress has a “basic responsibility” to increase or suspend the cap unconditionally and “not wait until the last minute.” [node:read-more:link]

South Africa backtracks on ICC

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office said today that his government will not quit the International Criminal Court as he had suggested April 25. It blamed “an error in a comment made during a briefing.” The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Putin who is scheduled to attend a South African summit with Brazilian, Chinese and Indian leaders. [node:read-more:link]

Increased airline passenger protection

Proposed improvements to the rights of airline passengers announced April 24 by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra would put the onus on airlines to show a flight disruption is caused by safety concerns or reasons outside their control. “It will no longer be the passenger who will have to prove that he or she is entitled to compensation,” he said. [node:read-more:link]

Putin protected by South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says his government has decided to quit the International Criminal Court after it issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. That meant that South Africa, which has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, would have had to detain him when he meets Ramaphosa and their Brazilian, Chinese and Indian counterparts for an upcoming summit. [node:read-more:link]

Government strike legitimacy questioned

PSAC President Chris Aylward has said that an “overwhelming majority” of 130,000 striking federal employees voted in favour of job action but Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board documents indicate otherwise. They show that only 42,421 PSAC members had actually voted and, of those, 80 per cent or roughly a third of the overall union members had voted to strike. [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa betting big on EVs

The federal government plans to invest a total of $13 billion in what Volkswagen says has the potential to be the largest electric vehicle battery factory in the world. The German automaker is investing $7 billion in the project in southern Ontario where it is expected to employ up to 3,000 persons directly and create thousands of subsidiary jobs. Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre says the federal subsidies are excessive but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says “it will be worth $200 billion to the Canadian economy over the coming decade” as VW transitions to mostly electric models. [node:read-more:link]

West Coast terminal expansion approved

The federal government has approved expansion of the Robert Banks marine cargo terminal on an artificial peninsula south of Vancouver. Announcing the decision April 20, Natural Resources Minister said the port’s capacity would increase up to 60 per cent. “By the early 2030s, our ports are forecast to be approaching capacity, and we will be unable to meet forecasted demand.” He said. “So now is the time to be planning.” [node:read-more:link]

WestJet pilots vote to strike

The 1,600 pilots who fly for WestJet and its discount Swoop operation have voted in favour of a strike mandate which could lead to a walkout before the May long weekend. Their Air Line Pilots Association representative says the dispute, which is still in federal conciliation talks, is over salaries, job protection and scheduling. [node:read-more:link]

Public service strike begins

More than 155,000 unionized federal employees went on strike today after the government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada failed to reach a deal before a midnight deadline. However, the two sides remain at the bargaining table. [node:read-more:link]

Inflation continues to drop

Statistics Canada reported today that the country’s annual inflation rate in March was 4.3 per cent, a drop from the previous month’s 5.2 per cent and continuing a downward trajectory. The effect of higher mortgage rates was softened by lower energy prices. [node:read-more:link]

New G7 wind and solar goals

Canada and the other G7 countries have pledged to add a combined 150 gigawatts of offshore windpower generation capacity by 2030 as well as installing a collective one terawatt of solar power capacity. “Initially, people thought that climate action and action on energy security potentially were in conflict,” Canadian Minister of Environment & Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said April 16 after their two-day summit in Japan. “But […] they actually work together.” [node:read-more:link]

Parliament back with busy agenda

With the House of Commons and Senate back today from their winter hiatus, two weeks-long spring sessions before summer have a packed agenda for MPs, including discussion of precedence for 25 government bills. They include a pending budget approval bill as well as Bill C-21, which would amend several statutes to improve firearms controls. [node:read-more:link]

Coal “net zero” goal elusive

Environment and energy ministers from Canada and the other G7 have been unable to set a timeline for phasing out coal-fired power plants. In a statement after two days of talks in Japan, they restated a commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Canada’s Steven Guilbeault reiterated his call for “strong language”, adding that “phasing out coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 has never been so urgent” in Canada. [node:read-more:link]

Mixed reaction to border blockade

Nearly 260 pages of emails made public this week showed that individuals who supported the blockade of an Alberta border crossing into Montana early last year didn’t like how the RCMP carried out their duties. While proponents of a crackdown called the blockading truckers “economic terrorists”, critics resorted to “political hit men” while others likened Canada to Communist regimes and called it “Orwellian.” [node:read-more:link]


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