OTTAWA - Canada's trade deficit grew to a record $3 billion for March as the drop in oil prices weighed on exports, Statistics Canada said Tuesday, but economists suggested things may pick up.
"Canada's trade deficit widened to a record in the first quarter, as the weaker Canadian dollar doesn't appear to have had a meaningful positive impact yet and the U.S. economy struggled in the period," Bank of Montreal senior Benjamin Reitzes wrote in a note.
"However, with our neighbour to the south expected to bounce back in the second quarter, the loonie staying relatively weak (even if it rebounded in recent weeks), and oil prices staging a modest comeback, Canada's trade profile is expected to improve in the months ahead."
Stephen Harper is already taking credit for jobs he says will be created by the Canada-European Union trade and investment pact. He may be premature. “Put very simply, it’s because our government negotiated a free-trade deal,” the prime minister said in March after Honda announced plans to export an unspecified number of autos to Europe from its Alliston, Ont., plant. “This is an example of what our government is doing.” There were only two problems with this pre-election bit of braggadocio. First, Honda says its planned exports to Europe will create only a “modest” number of jobs. Second, and more important, the Canada-EU deal, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), is by no means a done deal. Growing opposition inside Europe to a similar free-trade pact being negotiated with the United States has already sideswiped CETA. At the very least, this opposition promises to delay the EU’s final ratification of the Canada deal. It could derail it.
The Alberta government escalated its campaign to build tar sands pipelines under Premier Jim Prentice by seeking to have First Nations become full-blown proponents of the projects in return for oil revenues.
Documents obtained by the Guardian show that under a proposed agreement the province would have funded a task force of Alberta First Nations and government officials to “work jointly on removing bottlenecks and enabling the construction of pipelines to tide-water in the east and west coasts.”
The push was part of a broader diplomatic offensive launched by Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice after he came to power in late 2014, making approval of pipelines his highest priority. Prentice is currently struggling to win re-election.
First Nations have been at the forefront of a growing movement that has delayed the construction of pipelines that would carry Alberta’s controversial tar sands to international markets, raising fears among politicians and investors that the crude will remain landlocked.
The middle-class income of a Canadian family of four, with both parents working, appears to have stalled, at least according to the "typical" example presented in last week's federal budget.
Henry and Cathy, raising their two kids Grace and Elizabeth, pull in $120,000 between them, says the example highlighted on page six of the main budget document – no change from the income of the "typical" family in the 2014 budget.
On Tuesday April 21st, Joe Oliver presented his first budget as Finance Minister. Its 518 pages have been universally described in less than flattering terms. It is really the Conservative platform dressed up as a budget -- long on promises, short on funding.
In order to get to "balance" he prematurely sold valuable shares in General Motors, losing $100 million in taxpayer's money in the process. He then mugged the emergency fund for $2 billion, leaving only $1 billion for serious emergencies. The emergency in this case was his mandate to "balance" the budget come hell or high water.
It's been obvious for years that climate change is not a priority for this government, but to produce a 518 page document that is the basis for the Conservatives' next election platform and not mention the existential threat of the century is truly appalling.
If ever the Canadian public needed a more graphic demonstration of Conservative misplaced priorities and contempt for the concerns of the majority of Canadians, it is in the failure to mention climate change in this key governance document.
On April 11, 2015 there were dozens of rallies across Canada demanding true leadership to deal with the climate crisis we face around the world. The federal Harper government continues to be a climate laggard refusing to address the need to reduce our carbon emissions and violate Indigenous peoples rights with its zealous pro-tar sands agenda. For the first time in Quebec, Indigenous peoples led the march to show our resolve to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth and demand justice. As I stood before a crowd of 25 000 people from across Canada, I spoke of the contamination, despair and detrimental impacts my family and many other communities face from resource extraction happening in our homelands of Northern Alberta.
Due to being an Indigenous activist who speaks out against environmental destruction I have been labelled by the Canadian government as an "adversary." Both "Aboriginals" and "environmentalists" were labelled as such in 2012 when secret government documents were accessed through the Freedom of Information Act. And now the Harper government is taking this to yet another extreme by attempting to pass an anti-terrorism law called Bill C-51 which includes targeting the "anti-petroleum movement" as "extremists" because they oppose "critical infrastructure" projects like the tar sands and tar sands pipelines. This bill is an attempt to silence people who do not agree with the Harper government and can be used to target and criminalize democratic peaceful protest movements.
"Senate finance officials signed off on Mike Duffy's expenses to live in Ottawa even though they had been informed he had been living in his Kanata home for seven years, the suspended senator's lawyer argued in court today.
Duffy's lawyer, Donald Bayne, continued his cross examination of Nicole Proulx, the former head of Senate finance, which oversees the budgets, contracts and expenses of senators.
1) Analysis: Mike Duffy, Gerald Donohue and the $64K question
2) Duffy's 'unsolicited contracts' drew Enbridge warning to PMO
3) Day 14: Duffy lawyer blasts witness for not meeting with him
Duffy had 'no discretion' to change contract services, court hears
On the 15th day of the trial, Bayne argued in provincial court in Ottawa that his client never tried to hide the fact that he lived in the Ottawa area. Indeed, Duffy mentioned in an email to finance officials that he and his wife had paid utilities at his Kanata-based home for seven years."
OTTAWA - "When our government first came to power, we worked hard to reduce Canada's substantial federal debt. We did it in short order, by more than $37 billion." — Finance Minister Joe Oliver's budget speech to the House of Commons on April 21.
When the Harper government delivered its first balanced budget this week in eight years, Finance Minister Joe Oliver was eager to burnish his party's conservative fiscal credentials.
The difference between how much women and men are paid in Canada isn't just a large amount — it’s actually a life-changing one.
According to Catalyst Canada, a nonprofit organization that focuses on expanding opportunities for women and business, Canadian women earn $0.82 to every $1 earned by men. That’s marginally better than the U.S.’s $0.78 for every $1, but sets the gap in Canada at 18 per cent — much higher than in other countries, specifically in Europe.
“The global pay gap was about $4,000 on average between men and women, and the Canadian pay gap was just over $8,000,” Alex Johnston, executive director of Catalyst Canada, told the Globe and Mail.
OTTAWA - In August 2011, with six provincial elections on the horizon, the Prime Minister's Office circulated a set of rules for Conservative MPs to keep in mind when wading into provincial politics, including leadership races.
The basic principle was simple — support conservative candidates, but do it quietly.
An unexpected outburst of legal wrangling over admissible evidence has forced Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt to put the trial of suspended Senator Mike Duffy on hold until next week.
At issue: whether Duffy's defence lawyer, Donald Bayne, should be permitted to question witnesses on a 2010 report from the Senate internal economy committee on the findings of an independent audit into senators' office and travel expenditures,
OTTAWA — Conservative ministers may be using taxpayer-funded offices to promote the Conservative party rather than doing government work, opposition parties suggested this week.
“It’s a black hole of accountability,” NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus told The Huffington Post Canada. “We’ve never really been able to get a clear picture of what these ministers’ regional offices actually do.”
An email obtained by The Huffington Post Canada shows a “caucus liaison” employee in Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s ministerial office in Toronto informing Conservative MPs of upcoming events in the Greater Toronto Area with Defence Minister Jason Kenney.
OTTAWA - Canada's auditor general says National Defence should have kept a closer eye on its former watchdog, who extended consultant contracts without proper authorization and approved his own hospitality expense claims.
In a hard-hitting new report released Tuesday, auditor general Michael Ferguson paints a searing portrait of the office of the Canadian Forces ombudsman, which investigates complaints against the military and the defence department.
The investigation focused on the decisions and conduct of former ombudsman Pierre Daigle, who retired last year and was replaced by Gary Walbourne.
OTTAWA - Canada's auditor general is taking issue with the quality of health care in remote First Nations communities, lacklustre efforts to rehabilitate prisoners and the dearth of oversight governing boutique tax credits — the Conservative government's election bauble of choice.
Many of the findings in Michael Ferguson's spring report to Parliament touch on some key planks of the government's likely election platform — protecting Canadians and cutting their taxes — while exposing more shortcomings in how the country's aboriginal population is treated.
"We are concerned that the issues we are seeing today may be the symptoms of bigger problems in the future if they are not addressed quickly," Ferguson said in a statement.
Small businesses across Canada are speaking up to warn the government about the economic damage that its "secret police" Bill C-51 will inflict on our economy.
Since we first published a joint letter from 60 leading entrepreneurs, investors, and business people in the National Post last week, dozens of new businesses have joined our campaign calling on the government to scrap the Bill and go back to the drawing board.
Over 100 businesses large and small have now thrown their weight behind this rapidly growing campaign, from industry leaders like Payfirma to community-based small businesses like Whitehorse's Alpine Bakery, Toronto app developers Shoebox, and Vancouver's Ello Foods.
F-35 engines from United Technologies Corp. are proving so unreliable that U.S. plans to increase production of the fighter jet may be slowed, according to congressional auditors. Data from flight tests evaluated by the Government Accountability Office show the reliability of engines from the company’s Pratt & Whitney unit is “very poor (less than half of what it should be) and has limited” progress for the F-35, the costliest U.S. weapons system, the watchdog agency said in a report sent to lawmakers this month.
OTTAWA - Why did suspended senator Mike Duffy's living expense claims in Ottawa land him in a criminal trial, while those of Conservative colleague Carolyn Stewart Olsen never seemed to raise an eyebrow?
It's a question that has popped up occasionally over the years, but now Duffy's defence lawyer is making a habit of dropping the Stewart Olsen name whenever possible.
Stewart Olsen, a former senior aide to the prime minister, sat on the secretive Senate committee that reviewed Duffy's expenses and collaborated with the Prime Minister's Office on altering its final report in 2013.
OTTAWA - Two months after Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to consult widely on doctor-assisted dying, the federal government has yet to reveal how it intends to canvass Canadians' views on the emotional issue — much less how it intends to legislate on the subject.
And time is running out.
When the Supreme Court struck down the prohibition on physician-assisted dying last February, it gave the federal government 12 months to craft a new law that recognizes the right of clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to seek medical help to end their lives.
Yesterday talking about the urgent need to act on a growing climate crisis President Barack Obama said the statement above in his Earth Day speech.
President Obama's speech noted that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. The fact that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded, that droughts, storms, and wildfires are increasing all over the planet in both frequency and intensity, and how climate change is already adversely affecting the air our children breathe, forcing kids to grapple with mounting health impacts. The President also talked about the need to act, to transition away from fossil fuels and start implementing renewables.
The speech was hopeful, and while the U.S. has a long way to go to live up to the ideals found within it, one could not help but be inspired by a world leader taking the time to address the world's most pressing issue.
On the same day in Canada Prime Minister Harper was silent.
There was no Earth Day speech. No urgent call to action. No outlining of the threats we face or the way in which we were going to work together to meet them. There wasn't even an Earth Day tweet -- just silence.
In a video on YouTube, Industry Minister James Moore grimaces as a group of activists approach him with debris covered in bunker fuel that spilled from the vessel Marathassa in English Bay.
The video by political activist group Sh*tHarperDid has since drawn attention on Reddit. It was shot last week at a government press conference to celebrate authorities' "world-class" oil spill response.
Moore is the senior British Columbia MP and has been the lead federal government spokesperson addressing reporters about the spill response and clean-up.
He has repeatedly said the clean-up as "world class," claiming that 80 per cent of the toxic bunker fuel was cleaned up within the first 36 hours. Moore also said 95 percent was cleaned up as of April 11.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced major fiscal policies in Vaughan, Ont., last fall against the advice of Canada's senior public servant, who said Parliament should be informed first, a newly disclosed document indicates.
Harper's unveiling of the $4.6-billion-a-year package of income-splitting and richer child-benefit cheques was made Oct. 30, about a month after he was advised that the House of Commons was the proper place to do so.
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