Tag Archives: Canada

“Canada Just Got Played”: How Mexico Stabbed Canada In The Back, by Tyler Durden

Has Trump divided and conquered (at least as far as trade goes) North America? From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In what was the biggest economic news of the day, Donald Trump concluded bilateral trade negotiations with Mexico, a deal which he called the US-Mexico Trade Agreement (profiled previously) and which will replace the trilateral NAFTA which has – for now at least – been scrapped until Canada also comes to the negotiating table and hammers out an agreement with the US (read: concedes), from a position of weakness and virtually no negotiating capital.

There were some odd twists in the announced deal, for example the agreement on the “sunset clause”, which as some pointed out is strange as it is a “trilateral matter” – i.e., one which would involve Canada – and it was unclear how it squares with the U.S.Mexico pledge that their talks were purely on bilateral issues.

Confirming that Trump was engaging in some good old “divide and conquer”, was the announcement from a White House official that, if Canada doesn’t agree to a renegotiated NAFTA, it will go ahead with a two-way deal with Mexico, although another official claimed that splitting up the negotiations is “standard practice and not about squeezing Canada.”

That may not have been exactly true because even though Mexico’s foreign minister Luis Videgaray said it’s necessary for Canada to be part of the deal, he then said that if a trilateral Nafta deal with Canada is impossible, a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Mexico would also be acceptable.

At this point the alarm bells went off, and as Globe and Mail correspondent Adrian Morrow said, “it looks like the U.S. and Mexico went far beyond bilateral issues and agreed to a pile of trilateral stuff without Canada.” He also noted that while it was unclear whether any of the negotiated terms were okay with Canada, “it puts enormous pressure on Ottawa to agree or hold up the deal.”

To continue reading: “Canada Just Got Played”: How Mexico Stabbed Canada In The Back

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The Saudi-Canada Clash: A Values War, by Patrick Buchanan

The Saudi Arabian government does not much value being told by Canada how to run their country. From Patrick Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Is it any of Canada’s business whether Saudi women have the right to drive?

Well, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland just made it her business.

Repeatedly denouncing Riyadh’s arrest of women’s rights advocate Samar Badawi, Freeland has driven the two countries close to a break in diplomatic relations.

“Reprehensible” said Riyadh of Freeland’s tweeted attack. Canada is “engaged in blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs.”

The Saudis responded by expelling Canada’s ambassador and ordering 15,000 Saudi students to end their studies in Canada and barred imports of Canadian wheat. A $15 billion contract to provide armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia may be in jeopardy.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has been backsliding on his promises to modernize the kingdom, appears to have had enough of Western lectures on democratic values and morality.

A week after Pope Francis denounced the death penalty as always “impermissible,” Riyadh went ahead and crucified a convicted murderer in Mecca. In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can get you a death sentence.

Neither President Donald Trump nor the State Department has taken sides, but The Washington Post has weighed in with an editorial: “Human Rights Are Everyone’s Business.”

“What Ms. Freeland and Canada correctly understand is that human rights … are universal values, not the property of kings and dictators to arbitrarily grant and remove on a whim. Saudi Arabia’s long-standing practice of denying basic rights to citizens, especially women — and its particularly cruel treatment of some dissidents — such as the public lashes meted out to (Ms. Badawi’s brother) — are matters of legitimate concern to all democracies and free societies.

“It is the traditional role of the United States to defend universal values everywhere they are trampled upon and to show bullying autocrats they cannot get away with hiding their dirty work behind closed doors.”

The Post called on the foreign ministers of all Group of Seven nations to retweet Freeland’s post saying, “Basic rights are everybody’s business.”

To continue reading: The Saudi-Canada Clash: A Values War

Thinking is Dangerous, by Francis Marion

Hat tip to Francis Marion at theburningplatform.com:

Canadian government departments have quietly blocked nearly 22,000 Facebook and Twitter users, with Global Affairs Canada accounting for nearly 20,000 of the blocked accounts, CBC News has learned.

Moreover, nearly 1,500 posts — a combination of official messages and comments from readers — have been deleted from various government social media accounts since January 2016. CBC Nov 2017

Trudeau to Facebook:

Fix your fake news problem or face stricter regulations…

The Star.com Feb 8, 2018

Bank of Canada’s Poloz Is Right to Be Worried, by Peter Diekmeyer

Canada’s central bank has had a role in the “all-everything” bubble. From Peter Diekmeyer at Sprott Money via wolfstreet.com:

Three possibilities come to mind.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz cited numerous worries plaguing the economy during his speech to Toronto’s financial elites at the prestigious Canadian Club. However, the title of Poloz’s presentation, “Three things keeping me awake at night” seemed odd, given positive recent Canadian employment, GDP and other data.

Poloz highlighted high personal debts, housing prices, cryptocurrencies and other causes for concern, along with actions that the BoC is taking to alleviate them. His implicit message was (as always) “We have things under control.” But if that’s all true, then Canada’s central bank governor should be sleeping like a baby. So, what is really keeping Mr. Poloz up at night? Three possibilities come to mind.

The Poloz Bubble

Firstly, far from just a housing bubble, Canada’s economy shows signs of being in the midst of an “everything bubble.” Bitcoin, for example, hovered near CDN $23,000 this week. Stock and bond valuations are not far behind in their relative loftiness. Worse for Poloz, who took office four years ago, his fingerprints are all over those bubble-like levels.

Canadian stock, bond and house prices were already at dizzying heights when Stephen Harper hired Poloz with the implicit expectation that he would juice up the economy, in preparation for what Canada’s then-Prime Minister knew would be a tough upcoming election.

Poloz didn’t disappoint, promptly delivering a nice Benjamin Strong-styled “coup de whiskey” to asset prices in the form of two interest rate cuts, which brought the BoC’s policy rate down to just 0.50% during the ensuing months. Although Harper lost the election, loose BoC policy continues to provide the Canadian government with free money to borrow and spend as it wishes.

Here’s Canada’s ballooning Money Supply  M2 (via Trading Economics):

More broadly, the Poloz BoC’s current policy, like that of the US Federal Reserve, is to boost asset prices even higher in the hope that the resulting wealth effect will trickle down to spur economic activity among ordinary Canadians.

To continue reading; Bank of Canada’s Poloz Is Right to Be Worried

After Fake Promises of Transparency, NAFTA Negotiations Start in Secrecy. And Lobbying is Heating Up, by Wolf Richter

Meet the new trade agreement, same as the old trade agreeement. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Americans aren’t allowed to know what’s being negotiated at their expense.

The first round of re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico began on Wednesday and is scheduled to last through Sunday. And the one thing we know about it is this: Despite promises in March by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (USTR) that the negotiations would be transparent, the USTR now considers the documents and negotiations “classified” and they’ll be cloaked in secrecy.

But corporate lobbyists have access. And they’re all over it.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation put it this way:

Once again, following the failed model of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the USTR will be keeping the negotiating texts secret, and in an actual regression from the TPP will be holding no public stakeholder events alongside the first round. This may or may not set a precedent for future rounds, that will rotate between the three countries every few weeks thereafter, with a scheduled end date of mid-2018.

But during his confirmation hearing in March, Lighthizer had promised to make the negotiations transparent and to listen to more stakeholders and the public. The EFF reported at the time that in response to Senator Ron Wyden question – “What specific steps will you take to improve transparency and consultations with the public?” – Lighthizer replied in writing (emphasis added):

“If confirmed, I will ensure that USTR follows the TPA [Trade Promotion Authority, aka. Fast Track] requirements related to transparency in any potential trade agreement negotiation. I will also look forward to discussing with you ways to ensure that USTR fully understands and takes into account the views of a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including labor, environmental organizations, and public health groups, during the course of any trade negotiation.

He said that “we can do more” to ensure that we “have a broad and vigorous dialogue with the full range of stakeholders in our country.”

Senator Maria Cantwell tried to have Lighthizer address the skewed Trade Advisory Committees that currently advise the USTR, by asking:

“Do you agree that it is problematic for a select group of primarily corporate elites to have special access to shape US trade proposals that are not generally available to American workers and those impacted by our flawed trade deals?”

To continue reading: After Fake Promises of Transparency, NAFTA Negotiations Start in Secrecy. And Lobbying is Heating Up

“Investors Are Being Swindled”: Canadian Accountants Slammed, by Peter Diekmeyer

Don’t delude yourself that American standards are all that much higher than Canadian standards. From Peter Diekmeyer at wolfstreet.com:

People “mistakenly believe their pension plans, mutual funds, and other investments are safeguarded.”

Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau was one of the country’s top pension fund management professionals before he went into government. But when he recently addressed Concordia University business students, not one asked about the country’s $4 trillion national debt, much of which is pension-related.

That’s not surprising – because, as the Fraser Institute notes, nearly three quarters of those debts are not included in the federal and provincial governments’ financial statements. So, Canadians have no clue how bad the country’s true financial situation is.

This lax reporting is spread throughout the system, including public companies, says one expert.

“Investors are being systematically swindled out of large amounts of retirement savings,” says Al Rosen, a forensic accountant and co-author of Easy Prey Investors, a recently-released book that details shortfalls of Canada’s lax reporting standards.

Accounting scandals abound

“Investors mistakenly believe that their pension plans, mutual funds, and other investments are safeguarded,” says Rosen. “In fact, they are suffering losses that are monumental, compared to individual publicized scams.”

A key challenge, says Rosen, relates to Canada’s use of International Financial Reporting Standards, which “assign excessive power and choice to corporate management, providing them the ability to inflate corporate profits.” Rosen cites a range of accounting scandals including Valeant, Nortel, and Sino-Forest as examples of Canadian laxness.

In one famous fraud case, Bre-X, auditors couldn’t be bothered to check if the company’s gold mine, its only major asset, actually existed. External accountants instead essentially relied on a manager’s claim that he had “found gold” in the core samples he presented to a valuation firm, when they signed off on the statements.

To continue reading: “Investors Are Being Swindled”: Canadian Accountants Slammed

Top Canadian Court Permits Worldwide Internet Censorship, by Electronic Frontier Foundation

Canada’s highest court just ruled that Canadian courts get to decide what people, including people outside of Canada, get to see on Google. From Aaron Mackey and Corynne McSherry and Vera Ranieri of the Electronic Frontier Foundation at wolfstreet.com:

A country has the right to prevent the world’s Internet users from accessing information, Canada’s highest court ruled on Wednesday.

In a decision that has troubling implications for free expression online, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a company’s effort to force Google to de-list entire domains and websites from its search index, effectively making them invisible to everyone using Google’s search engine

The case, Google v. Equustek, began when British Columbia-based Equustek Solutions accused Morgan Jack and others, known as the Datalink defendants, of selling counterfeit Equustek routers online. It claimed California-based Google facilitated access to the defendants’ sites. The defendants never appeared in court to challenge the claim, allowing default judgment against them, which meant Equustek effectively won without the court ever considering whether the claim was valid.

Although Google was not named in the lawsuit, it voluntarily took down specific URLs that directed users to the defendants’ products and ads under the local (Canadian) Google.ca domains. But Equustek wanted more, and the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that Google had to delete the entire domain from its search results, including from all other domains such Google.com and Google.go.uk. The British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld the decision, and the Supreme Court of Canada decision followed the analysis of those courts.

EFF intervened in the case, explaining [.pdf] that such an injunction ran directly contrary to both the U.S. Constitution and statutory speech protections. Issuing an order that would cut off access to information for U.S. users would set a dangerous precedent for online speech.  In essence, it would expand the power of any court in the world to edit the entire Internet, whether or not the targeted material or site is lawful in another country. That, we warned, is likely to result in a race to the bottom, as well-resourced individuals engage in international forum-shopping to impose the one country’s restrictive laws regarding free expression on the rest of the world.

To continue reading: Top Canadian Court Permits Worldwide Internet Censorship