Economics & Finance & Trade

Wildfires evolving into national threat

As of June 6, a total 424 wildfires were burning across Canada, more than 250 of which are considered out of control. This is according to a briefing by seven federal cabinet ministers who said the current fire situation, being fought by civilian and military responders, is one of the most severe on record and that the long-range forecast is for continued abnormal fire activity. [node:read-more:link]

China not wanted in trade bloc?

A government document released in response to an Access to Information Act request suggests that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants China excluded from a Pacific Rim trade bloc. China has been trying since 2019 to join and while Trade Minister Mary Ng says Canada would be receptive if China improves its labout and environmental standards, the document quotes the PM as saying last fall that high standards could be helpful if they hinder China’s chances. [node:read-more:link]

Cryptofund accused of lying

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, has been accused by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission of lying to regulators and investors and transferring “billions of dollars” to a separate company controlled by its Canadian co-founder, Chinese expatriate Changpeng Zhao. “We allege that Zhao and the Binance entities not only knew the rules of the road, but they also consciously chose to evade them and put their customers and investors at risk,” the SEC’s director of enforcement said today. [node:read-more:link]

Saudis to cut oil output

In a bid to prop up global crude oil prices, Saudi Arabia announced June 4 that it will cut daily production by at least 11% to some nine million barrels in July atop a broader OPEC deal to limit supply. “This market needs stabilisation,” said its energy minister. A UN database indicates that Canada imported some US$2.77 billion worth of Saudi crude in 2022. [node:read-more:link]

Amazon fined for privacy violations

Amazon has agreed to pay a $25 million penalty to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law and deceived parents by retaining voice and location data recorded by its Alexa voice assistant. The Seattle-based company will refund $5.8 million to customers for alleged privacy violations involving its doorbell cameras. [node:read-more:link]

Quebec company penalized for bribery

A Quebec company, Ultra Electronics Forensic Technology, has agreed to pay some $10.5 million in a case involving attempted bribery of Philippines officials as it sought police contracts. This is according to a statement of facts about a court-approved deal with prosecutors to avoid prosecution in Canada, only the second deferred prosecution deal since the Criminal Code was amended in 2018 to address corporate malfeasance. Charges against four executives have been conditionally stayed. [node:read-more:link]

Economic growth accelerates

Measured as gross domestic product, the Canadian economy expanding by an annualized 3.1% in the first quarter, increasing the odds for another Bank of Canada interest rate hike. Statistics Canada said today that the quarterly surge exceeded expectations not only of the central bank but also private-sector economists. [node:read-more:link]

Feds optimizing real estate

The coronavirus-driven shift to remote and hybrid work for federal employees has accelerated a government plan to reduce its physical footprint across Canada. “There were opportunities even before the pandemic,” says Paul Thompson, Deputy Minister of Public Services & Procurement Canada, which manages some 6.2 million square metres of office space, more than half in the national capital region. [node:read-more:link]

Alberta government majority reduced

The May 29 general election in Alberta has resulted in a reduced United Conservative majority government for Premier Danielle Smith, who immediately renewed her commitment to confronting the federal government on a range of issues. The UCP was leading or elected in 49 ridings today compared with 60 at dissolution of the legislature while the New Democratic Party under Rachel Notley saw its seats increase to 38 from 23. [node:read-more:link]

More airline labour turbulence?

The union representing Air Canada’s more than 4,000 pilots has pulled out of a 10-year deal which has given them annual pay increases of 2% over the first nine years. It sets the stage for “full bargaining this summer,” the union says. Canadian airline pilots have long complained they are paid less than their U.S. counterparts. [node:read-more:link]

Pension investment returns improved

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which manages the primary retirement program for working Canadians, has reported a 1.3% return in the 2022-2023 fiscal year compared with the previous year’s 0.2%. Gains in private investment offset weak performance by stocks and bonds. [node:read-more:link]

Fossil fuels a wildfire factor

As wildfires persist in the three western provinces and parts of the U.S., a peer-reviewed study published in a Britgish quarterly journal has drawn a measurable link to fossil fuel sector’s carbon emissions. Among other things, the researchers concluded that more than a third of the total burned forested areas in the regions between 1986-2021 can be traced back to 88 major fossil fuel producers and cement manufacturers. [node:read-more:link]

France bans short-haul flights

Despite airline industry questions about its legality under European Union rules, France has banned domestic short-haul flights over distances which can be serviced by rail in under two and a half hours. The measure is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. [node:read-more:link]

China and Russia cement ties

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said today that western “pressure” was taking his country’s relationship with China to an “unprecedented high.” He was speaking in Beijing as officials signed agreements on trade and sports cooperation. After talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, he said the relationship is “characterised by mutual respect of each other’s interests, the desire to jointly respond to challenges […] and the pattern of sensational pressure from the collective West.” [node:read-more:link]

Canada mends fences with Saudis

Nearly five years after Canada and Saudi Arabia broke off most relations when Canada criticized the Saudis’ human rights record, they announced today that full diplomacy has been restored. Career diplomat Jean-Philippe Lineau, a former trade commissioner and most recently Consul General in Dubai, has been appointed ambassador to Riyadh. [node:read-more:link]


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