Business Marketing & News From Canada

Business and marketing news.

Month: April 2019 Page 3 of 12

Canadian Arctic has all the mineral ingredients for prized blue gemstones

Canadian Arctic has all the mineral ingredients for prized blue gemstones


Baffin Island holds some of its treasures in plain sight with rocks that produce rare gems sitting exposed to the elements, scientists say.

A new study from the University of British Columbia shows the area is home to a mineral that is prized by jewellers and collectors.

Study co-author Philippe Belley said in an interview that cobalt-blue spinel, “which is a ridiculously rare gemstone” gets a lot of interest from gemologists and jewellers but there’s not enough supply.

The most significant source of the gems is Vietnam, and even then production is limited, said Belley, who’s a PhD graduate within the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences.

He and report co-author UBC mineralogist Lee Groat conducted the first scientific study of the cobalt-blue spinel in Canada.

Research campsite on Baffin Island. (Submitted/Lee Groat)

Easy to spot on the island

Baffin Island is “really unique” because it has all the “right ingredients” needed to produce coloured gemstones but the area is “virtually” unexplored, Belley said.

“The rock is extremely well exposed so not only is it easy to see if you have a gem occurrence by just walking on the surface and doing geological mapping, but its also suitable for remote detection methods using drones and satellites to collect data on the rocks.”

Using remote detection can’t be done in most other gem-producing areas because of plant cover or challenging terrain, Belley said.

The researchers analysed 14 occurrences of spinel on Baffin Island, including two of cobalt-blue spinel, to better understand how it forms.

“It’s finding the right chemical components in the right concentration,” he said. “We found that most gem occurrences on Baffin Island were formed from the transformation of a mixture of mud and magnesium-rich limestone under high temperature and pressure.”

Almost 2 billion years old

They found it was formed 1.8 billion years ago at temperatures of about 800 C, but cobalt was only present in high-enough concentrations to produce gem-quality stones in small, localized areas.

Baffin Island spinel contains up to 500 parts-per-million of cobalt, giving it a vivid blue colour comparable to the best sources worldwide, Belley said in the news release.

Spinel also comes in red, pink and violet, Belley said.

Other gems found on Baffin Island include beluga sapphires, used in the Queen’s sapphire jubilee brooch, and lapis lazuli, a rock used as a gemstone by the Egyptians, he said.

Mining for the gems on Baffin Island wouldn’t necessarily leave a large geographical footprint, he said.

“Most gemstones are either mined from a relatively small mine and a lot of them are mined by one or a few people or families around the world, which is called artisanal mining.”

Baffin Island, Nunavut





Source link

Trump calls on Federal Reserve to cut interest rates

Trump calls on Federal Reserve to cut interest rates


U.S. President Donald Trump called on the Federal Reserve to begin cutting interest rates, saying the economy will take off like a “rocketship” if the Fed begins loosening policy.

Trump, speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, said that he believes the central bank “really slowed us down” with the four rate hikes it imposed last year.

The president said those were unnecessary because there is “very little, if any inflation.”

“I think they should drop rates and I think they should get rid of quantitative tightening. You would see a rocket ship,” Trump said.

Trump has announced he intends to nominate to conservative political allies — Stephen Moore and former 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain — for two current vacancies on the seven-member Fed board.

Not meddling, says economics advisor

A top economics adviser to Trump says the administration is not trying to damage the independence of the Federal Reserve by appointing two of Trump’s close political allies to the Fed board.

Larry Kudlow, head of the president’s National Economic Council, says in an interview on the Fox Business Network that the administration is allowed to put people at the central bank who share the president’s views on the economy.

Kudlow was responding to criticism after Trump’s announcements that he plans to nominate conservative political allies — Stephen Moore and former 2012 GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain — to the two vacancies on the seven-member Fed board.

Trump’s choices were seen as escalating an effort by the White House to exert political pressure on the central bank.



Source link

'I'll continue to speak my voice': Jody Wilson-Raybould 'incredibly open' to future in federal politics

‘I’ll continue to speak my voice’: Jody Wilson-Raybould ‘incredibly open’ to future in federal politics


Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says she hasn’t ruled out a future in federal politics, saying she is “entirely committed” to public policy issues like reconciliation and climate change just as she was when she first ran for a seat in Ottawa nearly four years ago.

Despite being at the centre of the months-long SNC-Lavalin controversy, Wilson-Raybould told CBC’sThe Early Edition that she’s still “incredibly open” to being involved with decisions made in Ottawa. 

“I still have a commitment to ensuring that our governments, the government politics in Ottawa, is and becomes a different way of making decisions, a different way of doing politics,” the Vancouver Granville MP said during a phone interview before boarding a flight home from Ottawa.

“And [as for] what the people of Vancouver Granville feel — and I hope that they feel at liberty to tell me how they feel — I’ll make a decision on what I do [in the fall].”

‘I still believe in the values and the principles of equality and inclusion and justice that I feel underpin the Liberal Party,’ Wilson-Raybould said. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Wilson-Raybould first got involved in federal politics because Justin Trudeau, as leader of the Liberal Party, asked her to run in the 2015 federal election. She went on to become the country’s first Indigenous justice minister and attorney general.

But a scandal erupted two months ago when the Globe and Mail reported that Wilson-Raybould had faced inappropriate political pressure on a criminal prosecution decision against SNC-Lavalin. Wilson-Raybould and her former cabinet colleague Jane Philpott both later resigned from cabinet to protest the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file.

Trudeau ejected both MPs from caucus on Tuesday, leaving them as back-corner independents.

Jane Philpott (left) and Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet to protest the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file. The prime minister ejected both MPs from caucus on Tuesday, leaving them as back-corner independents. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Reconciliation issues

On Friday, Wilson-Raybould said she still sees many of the same issues unresolved today as she did in 2015.

“I believe fundamentally that in order to transform indigenous communities, we need to, as a government and as a country, create a space for Indigenous peoples to be self-determinant. And that’s why I ran [in 2015],” she said.

“I do still see … the fundamental need to create the space for a transformative relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights.

“That is something that I am entirely committed to.”

The ousting of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott from the Liberal caucus has fuelled accusations that the party has abandoned its 2015 campaign commitments to Indigenous reconciliation and gender equality — but the former attorney general, despite having fallen out of favour with the party, said she still supports many Liberal ideals. 

“I was a member of the Liberal Party, I still believe in the values and the principles of equality and inclusion and justice that I feel underpin the Liberal Party, and so many Canadians signed up for the Liberal Party back in 2015 believing in the same thing — or even in doing politics differently,” she said, adding that she sees Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as a “worry” for the future of reconciliation.

“I absolutely still believe in that.”

Wilson-Raybould’s constituency office in Vancouver. ‘I hope that they feel at liberty to tell me how they feel,’ she said of her Vancouver Granville constituents, concerning her future in politics. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

‘I was doing my job’

The MP’s riding of Vancouver Granville, formed in 2013, has been in a mix of shock and support for its ousted representative. Wilson-Raybould said she’s been out door-knocking in her riding to talk to constituents in light of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

“I have to say, and this is what I said to people that I found on the doorsteps in Vancouver Granville and chat, is that I was doing my job,” she said.

“I’ll continue to speak my voice as long as I have the great fortune of being the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, in that capacity and then all other capacities I’ll be fortunate enough to fulfil,” she continued.

“I need to, of course, continue to talk to my husband and my family. I’m coming home and I’m so looking forward to getting back to Vancouver talking to my volunteers in the riding, to, particularly, constituents, and hearing what they have to say.”



Source link

'We aren't going to turn the page': Conservatives try again to tie Norman trial to SNC-Lavalin fallout

‘We aren’t going to turn the page’: Conservatives try again to tie Norman trial to SNC-Lavalin fallout


Federal Conservatives made a pitch today — in the wake of the SNC Lavalin affair — to turn the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman into the spinoff political scandal of the spring.

While the pace of the SNC-Lavalin scandal could start slowing down now, following the ejection of both former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and former Treasury Board president Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus this week, Conservatives effectively served notice Friday that they’re not letting the Liberal government off the hook over allegations of political interference in criminal cases.

“We aren’t going to turn the page on the rule-of-law corruption from this government,” former Conservative veterans minister Erin O’Toole said Friday as debate began on an opposition motion which, among other things, repeated a demand that the federal government cover Norman’s legal bills.

The motion also insisted that senior political staff and bureaucrats around Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sign “an affidavit affirming that no evidence or records” related to the criminal case against the former vice chief of the defence staff have been destroyed.

The Conservatives have made similar demands before as they’ve pressed the Liberal government to account for inconsistencies and allegations of political interference in the prosecution of Norman, who faces a single count of breach of trust.

The Crown accused of him of leaking cabinet secrets to a shipyard executive and a CBC journalist related to a $668 million deal to lease a supply ship for the navy.

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould referenced the Norman case in her secretly-recorded conversation with  Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, suggesting alleged attempts to interfere in SNC Lavalin’s prosecution could taint the public’s perceptions of both the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the Norman case.

‘This is worse than the SNC-Lavalin scandal’

“Canadians should be outraged,” said O’Toole.

“This is worse than the SNC scandal … you may have issues with a company and bad practice by a company, but here is a Canadian who gave three decades of his life to his country, and before that grew up in a family serving the country, who is being hung out to dry.”

The parliamentary secretary for the justice minister, Arif Virani, responded — as the government has before when faced with questions about the Norman case — by chastising the opposition for talking about a matter still before the courts.

Norman’s lawyers will be back in court in two weeks to resume their fight for access to federal government documents to prove their theory that his prosecution is politically motivated.

The federal government has released a few thousand pages of internal documents, but many pertinent ones — including Wernick’s 60 page memo on the case to Trudeau — have been redacted due to solicitor-client privilege.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman follows his lawyer Marie Henein as they leave the courthouse in Ottawa following his first appearance for his trial for breach of trust, on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Conservatives repeatedly have sought assurances that government documents related to the case have not been destroyed. They’ve attempted to connect the handling of Norman’s case against Norman with a scandal that erupted in Ontario over the cancellation of gas plant construction under the former Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty. Government records were destroyed in the course of that scandal.

O’Toole pointed out that many of Trudeau’s government’s current and ex-senior advisers served in the McGuinty government, or its successor under former premier Kathleen Wynne.

“That was the same crew that brought us the billion-dollar scandal in Ontario,” he said.

The RCMP have separately charged a mid-level federal government procurement official with leaking cabinet secrets related to the same shipbuilding deal.

Matthew Matchett is also charged with breach of trust. He is accused of leaking a cabinet memo and slide deck presentation to an Ottawa lobbyist working for one of the shipyards before a meeting on Nov. 19, 2015, while Norman is alleged to have disclosed the results of the secret discussions

O’Toole insisted that Norman was the “only one [that] has been set up as the fall guy.”

The opposition motion will be voted on next week.



Source link

Boeing responds to 2nd software problem on troubled 737 Max jets

Boeing responds to 2nd software problem on troubled 737 Max jets


Boeing has found another software issue that needs fixing on its 737 Max jets, and the discovery explains why the aircraft maker is delaying its schedule for getting the planes back in the air.

A Boeing spokesman on Friday called it a “relatively minor issue” and said the plane maker already has a fix in the works.

The spokesman, Charles Bickers, said the latest issue is not part of the flight-control software that Boeing has been working to upgrade for months.

That software, known by its acronym MCAS, is suspected in two recent deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that led regulators to ground the plane worldwide last month.

FAA defends record

Meanwhile, the acting head of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration told a senator that safety inspectors who certified the Boeing 737 Max jet are properly trained.

In a letter to the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Daniel Elwell said members of the flight standardization board that evaluated the Max are fully qualified for their jobs.

Committee chairman Roger Wicker wrote in a letter to Elwell that whistleblowers had told senators the inspectors didn’t have all the training required by the agency.

The FAA’s certification of the Max is under scrutiny after the crashes, which killed a total of 346 people.



Source link

Feds commit $1.3B to repair crumbling Toronto community housing units

Feds commit $1.3B to repair crumbling Toronto community housing units


Financial relief to help fix Toronto’s decade-long problem of crumbling community housing stock could finally be on the way.

The federal government announced a $1.3-billion funding infusion on Friday aimed at helping the city agency that oversees public housing with a $1.6-billion repair backlog. About $810-million will come in the form of loans, while the  remaining $530-million will be contributions. All of the funding will be distributed over a 10-year period. 

The money for overdue repairs to Toronto Community Housing (TCH) will come from the $13.2-billion National Housing Co-Investment Fund, launched in May 2018. The federal initiative hopes to create up to 60,000 new homes and repair some 240,000 existing units nationwide over the next 10 years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Mayor John Tory at a TCH building in Scarborough to announce the funding boost. The news conference was delayed nearly an hour by protesters who continued to shout while the prime minister spoke.

The $1.3 billion will go to renovating some 58,000 TCH units, according to the federal government. The work is scheduled to begin this spring.

TCH had already budgeted $313 million for repairs this year.



Source link

All B.C. schools must provide free menstrual products for students, government orders

All B.C. schools must provide free menstrual products for students, government orders


All B.C. public schools are now required to provide free menstrual products for students in school bathrooms, the provincial government has announced.

Under a ministerial order issued Friday, schools must make the products available by the end of 2019. 

“This is a common-sense step forward that is, frankly, long overdue,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with school districts and communities to make sure students get the access they need, with no stigma and no barriers.”

A statement from the ministry said B.C. is the first province in Canada to mandate free menstrual products in all bathrooms.

The ministerial order comes with $300,000 in provincial startup funding. A statement said the education ministry will be working with school districts in the coming months to ensure they have funding to meet the new requirements.

In February, the New Westminster school district passed a motion to provide free menstrual products in all its schools. The board said it hoped the move would inspire other districts in B.C. — or the provincial government — to do the same.

The move in New Westminster follows a United Way campaign called Period Promise, which advocates for access to free menstrual products.

Members of the New Westminster school district backed calls by Period Promise to provide free menstrual products in schools in February. (Mike Zimmer/CBC)

Rebecca Ballard, a Grade 11 student in New Westminster, applauded the government’s decision.

“In my own experience, I know that many young women feel awkward asking for menstrual products at a school office, especially if there isn’t an adult there with whom they feel comfortable,” she said at a news conference on Friday.

“I believe the decision to provide this free service also symbolizes a progression towards eliminating the taboo nature of menstruation. This is something all young women go through and should never feel bad about, or ashamed.”

Rebecca Ballard, left, a Grade 11 student in New Westminster, B.C., said young women should never feel ashamed about having their period. (CBC)

Fleming said the stigma-free aspect of providing menstrual products in bathrooms is important for students, who would sometimes need to ask school staff for tampons or pads.

“Administrative leaders … they understand that students don’t want to talk about everything that’s going on with them,” the education minister said Friday.

“This is something that will help students not only have access to a product they can’t afford, that sometimes isn’t available in the school systems, but [now] principals, vice-principals, teachers and support staff won’t necessarily have to know what your business is on a particular day.”

Susanne Skidmore, co-chair of the Period Promise campaign, said she and her colleagues have been working toward this goal — and other, national goals — for 10 years.

“This a fundamental shift to improve accessibility of menstrual products and reduce period poverty across British Columbia.”

The province also announced Friday that it’s providing a one-time grant of $95,000 to support the United Way Period Promise research project. The money will pay for menstrual products at up to 10 non-profit agencies and for research into how best to provide services and products.



Source link

SNC-Lavalin revives court bid for special agreement to avoid criminal trial

SNC-Lavalin revives court bid for special agreement to avoid criminal trial


SNC-Lavalin, the company at the centre of a national political storm, underscores what it calls new and troubling facts in a fresh court bid for a special agreement to avoid prosecution on corruption charges.

The Montreal-based engineering and construction firm cites revelations from recent parliamentary-committee testimony in trying to revive its Federal Court case against the director of public prosecutions.

SNC-Lavalin is asking the Federal Court of Appeal to give it another chance to challenge the director’s decision to not negotiate an agreement that would see the company avoid a criminal trial and a possible prohibition from receiving federal contracts for 10 years.

In a March ruling, the Federal Court tossed out the company’s plea for a judicial review of the 2018 decision.

SNC-Lavalin faces prosecution over allegations it paid millions of dollars in bribes to obtain government business in Libya.

The company unsuccessfully pressed the director of prosecutions to negotiate a “remediation agreement,” a means of holding an organization to account without formal criminal proceedings.



Source link

Driver hurt after attempting U-turn on highway west of Edmonton

Driver hurt after attempting U-turn on highway west of Edmonton


A woman was seriously injured after her van was hit while making a U-turn on a highway west of Edmonton Friday.

The van was travelling east on Highway 627 when it attempted a U-turn at  Range Road 275 at 7:42 a.m., RCMP said in a news release.

  

The van was hit by a westbound SUV.

The 37-year-old woman driving the van was taken to hospital with serious injuries by air ambulance, RCMP said. 

The 45-year-old driver of the SUV suffered minor injuries.

Traffic was diverted onto Highway 779 and Campsite Road for most of Friday morning while police investigated.



Source link

Former SNC-Lavalin CEO rejects allegations firm paid bribes with EDC money

Former SNC-Lavalin CEO rejects allegations firm paid bribes with EDC money


The former CEO of SNC-Lavalin has lashed out at allegations made by an unnamed company insider, denying taxpayer-backed loans from Canada were ever used to pay bribes under his watch.

“People who talk behind the scenes — they are just chicken,” said Jacques Lamarre in an interview with CBC News. 

CBC News is not naming the SNC-Lavalin insider, who worked on numerous EDC-backed projects, as he fears for his job.

On Wednesday, CBC News reported claims from the insider that it was an “open secret” in the company that money intended for bribes overseas was buried in budgets, disguised as “technical fees” in applications for financing from Export Development Canada

EDC is a Crown agency that provides financial backing and insurance to Canadian companies operating in other countries. Over the past 25 years, EDC has provided up to $4.7 billion in loans to SNC-Lavalin.

The agency says the claim from the insider has prompted it to hire outside legal counsel to review at least one former deal with SNC-Lavalin.

Lamarre was CEO of SNC-Lavalin from the mid-1990’s until 2009. The Quebec business mogul was in charge of thousands of projects — some of which became mired in corruption and bribery allegations, resulting in numerous police investigations and, in 2014, the conviction of the head of the company’s construction division.

He says “technical fees” were often used to hire local staff in foreign countries where it was “very difficult” for SNC-Lavalin to establish operations. According to Lamarre, all contractors were required to sign agreements stating they were not to use money for illegal payments such as bribes or kickbacks.

“It is written in the contract, that they cannot pay bribes. It says it in black and white.”

Lamarre insists paying bribes was not necessary, despite operating in some of the world’s most notoriously corrupt countries.

“No. No. No. For me, I’m not in that business. If we have to pay bribes, I prefer not to bid on that job.”

EDC wants to meet with insider

Export Development Canada has hired outside lawyers to probe allegations from the insider that EDC turned a blind eye to SNC-Lavalin’s abuse of “technical fees.”

Out of the 26 SNC-Lavalin projects EDC has backed since 1995, the agency is reviewing one project in Angola flagged by the insider as involving illicit payments. EDC provided political risk insurance to SNC-Lavalin on a $250-million deal to repair the Matala hydroelectric dam.

“Based on any outcomes of the review, we will carefully examine whether we need to expand the scope,” wrote EDC spokesperson Jessica Draker.

Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin is a construction and engineering giant, with thousands of employees and projects around the world. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

“We would welcome the opportunity to meet with your source regarding his or her concerns,” Draker added.

It’s unlikely EDC will make its findings public, as the agency says it doesn’t discuss details of its agreements with clients, including how much money SNC-Lavalin currently owes EDC. 

The insider also alleges EDC signed off on SNC-Lavalin’s technical fees, counting them as Canadian expenses, while knowing the payments were destined for foreign contractors.

(EDC requires projects to meet certain “Canadian content” quotas to be eligible for financing, as the agency exists to support Canadian exports).

EDC has not directly answered questions put to it by CBC News about this claim.

SNC-Lavalin, this week, declined to comment.

Former CEO Jacques Lamarre acknowledges the foreign payments were counted as Canadian expenses.

“I have no good answer for that,” Lamarre said, insisting EDC was fully aware of SNC-Lavalin’s budget details.

Criminal case

In recent years, SNC-Lavalin has faced a string of bribery scandals both in Canada and abroad, including corruption allegations tied to EDC-backed projects in India, Angola and Algeria. 

The company is also facing criminal prosecution in Canada for alleged offences in Libya between 2001 and 2011. One company executive has already pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud in connection with contracts in that country. A judge in Montreal will rule next month on whether the Quebec-based engineering giant itself should stand trial.  If convicted, SNC-Lavalin could face a 10-year ban from bidding on federal contracts.

Lamarre says he never knew of — or sanctioned — bribery and says any instances where it occurred were isolated, and the result of lone, corrupt employees.

“We never took any chances. We were always black and white,” Lamarre said. “But on the other hand, I cannot say that with 10,000 projects, [that] once and a while we didn’t have problems.”

The company has been lobbying for a deferred prosecution agreement, which former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould opposed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replaced her in January with a new attorney general who could still intervene and impose a settlement that would not bar the company from federal work.

(CBC )

Send tips to dave.seglins@cbc.ca or rachel.houlihan@cbc.ca



Source link

Page 3 of 12

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén