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  1. http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/montreal-now-a-member-of-the-world-tourism-cities-federation-575257221.html MONTRÉAL, April 11, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Montréal is now officially a member of the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF). This non-profit organization is a select club made up of the world's leading tourism cities, such as Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. Initiated in 2012 by Beijing, its primary objective is to promote exchanges between top international destinations and share tourism development experience. With its headquarters in China, the organization is committed to improving the attractiveness of tourism cities and promoting harmonious economic and social development in these centres. "We are delighted to see that Montréal has a seat at the table with the world's biggest tourism superpowers. This is an excellent opportunity to position our city among the very best urban destinations on the planet," said Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montréal. "Montréal will have the chance to draw inspiration from these reputed destinations to enhance its tourism potential. In addition to participating in discussions, we will seize the opportunity to forge closer ties with various Chinese institutions. China is an important market for Montréal, with very promising tourism and economic opportunities," added Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal. With new direct flights to China and increased economic missions to the country, Montréal is now in an excellent position to attract more tourists from this rapidly developing country. Moreover, tourist traffic from China is expected to increase 15% annually for the next three years. About Tourisme Montréal Tourisme Montréal is responsible for providing leadership in the concerted efforts of hospitality and promotion in order to position the "Montréal" destination on leisure and business travel markets. It is also responsible for developing Montréal's tourism product in accordance with the ever-changing conditions of the market.
  2. Montreal to host conference on reducing growth BY MICHELLE LALONDE, GAZETTE ENVIRONMENT REPORTER http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Montreal+host+conference+degrowth/6600947/story.html MONTREAL - Just as events are forcing Quebecers to debate some fundamental questions about our economy and our future, five Montreal universities happen to be hosting a weeklong conference on “degrowth” – a movement that questions whether economic growth should be our society’s primary goal. “Degrowth is an attempt to force us out of this lock-step way of thinking that growth is always good,” said Peter Brown, a professor at McGill University’s School of Environment and one of the conference’s organizers. Brown said the conference – which starts Sunday and ends Saturday, May 19 – has been in the works for years and is modelled on similar conferences in Paris in 2008 and Barcelona in 2010, and is leading up to a global conference on the issue next fall in Venice. But he admits the timing is serendipitous. The Occupy movement, the recent record-breaking Earth Day march in Montreal, concerns over the push to develop northern Quebec and the continuing student strikes are all signs that many Quebecers are questioning the “business-as-usual” approach to economic development. Brown says all of these movements may find common ground in the notion that a narrow focus on growing the economy at any cost, while discounting effects on the environment and human well-being have led mankind to commit some catastrophic errors. Gross domestic product should not be used as the key measure of a country’s well being, because it ignores the cost of creating wealth (for some), such as environmental degradation and human suffering, say proponents of degrowth. Errors like runaway global warming, habitat destruction and a widening wage gap between rich and poor will lead to calamity for future generations, and a forced, unplanned “degrowth” period that will be painful, they warn. “Any healthy civilization looks after future generations ... we just don’t do that,” Brown told The Gazette on Thursday. The conference will feature panels and lectures by academics and activists prominent in the North American degrowth movement. The big draw will be a public lecture by ecologist David Suzuki called Humanity in Collision with the Biosphere: Is it Too Late? on Friday at 11 a.m. at UQÀM. (Admission to Suzuki’s talk is free, but registration is required). The conference, titled Less is More; Degrowth in the Americas, runs from May 13 to 19. Registration costs $200 per day, or $390 for all seven days, with reduced fees offered to students or members of “grassroots Montreal-based organizations.” Talks will be recorded and posted on the conference website (montreal.degrowth.org). [email protected] Twitter: @mrlalonde © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette ********************************************************************************************************************* Québec - Forward Never, Backwards Ever
  3. http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Celine+Cooper+Montreal+city+state/9536579/story.html Montreal as its own city-state? BY CELINE COOPER, THE GAZETTE FEBRUARY 24, 2014STORY Quebec Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau, left, is applauded by Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, right, and members of the government after he presented his budget speech, Thursday, February 20, 2014 at the legislature in Quebec City. Photograph by: Jacques Boissinot , THE CANADIAN PRESS Greetings from Administrative Region 06. What’s that? Oh. You may know it by another name — Montreal, the second largest city in Canada. The economic hub of Quebec. The city that generates approximately 65 per cent of provincial tax revenues. One might assume that buoying a metropolis — investing in the human potential, entrepreneurship and global networking opportunities the city has to offer — would be a central plank in any provincial or federal budget. Then again, one might be wrong. Last Thursday, Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau tabled the 2014-15 provincial budget. In his budget speech in the National Assembly, Marceau stated that his government acknowledges Montreal’s unique status as the metropolitan economic engine of Quebec. His budget commits to the renewal of the province’s annual $25-million investment in the city. In anticipation of the 375th anniversary of Montreal in 2017, a total of $125 million is earmarked for four projects: Parc Jean Drapeau, Espace pour la vie, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. But dig a little deeper and things start to ring hollow. For example, there is no detail regarding what Montreal will get back from these investments, or whether these projects may, in fact, increase the city’s operating expenses in terms of security, maintenance or infrastructure. On more pressing challenges facing Montreal, the budget doesn’t go far enough. There is $6 million set aside for fighting homelessness — an urgent concern for many residents of the city. But there is no new money allocated for social housing, public transit or immigrant integration, and no money earmarked for the retention of families on the island of Montreal. To be fair, it seems almost silly to take this budget seriously. No one expects it to be voted on in the National Assembly. Before Marceau had even completed his announcement, the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Liberals had roundly rejected it. Beyond the proposed increase in daycare user fees from $7 a day to $9 by 2015, it is non-controversial and lacking in detail. There are no general tax increases to irk voters. Detailed spending information is conveniently omitted. In short, this is less a budget than a financial framework for an election campaign. With the latest CROP poll putting the PQ into majority-government territory and MNAs headed for a two-week leave on Thursday, many expect an election to be called as early as this week. Either way, Marceau’s announcement gives voters an idea of how Montreal will be positioned symbolically (or not) in the coming electoral campaign. Why does this matter? With half of the province’s population concentrated here (close to 4 million people), our metropolitan area has some serious demographic heft. As Journal de Montréal columnist Benoît Aubin recently pointed out, if Montreal decided to go its own way and become the 11th province of Canada, it would be more populous than all the Atlantic provinces combined. Yet provincial governments across Canada — including Quebec’s — continue to take a relatively flat approach to budgeting. Despite our urbanizing world, cities are still seen as “creatures” of the provinces, just another administrative region on an electoral map — in Montreal’s case, Administrative Region 06. But in the imminent general election campaign, expect to see some pushback. Real acknowledgement of Montreal as Quebec’s metropolis means revising the fiscal arrangement between Quebec and Montreal and negotiating a meaningful devolution of powers from the province to the city. “It’s time a major economic engine of the province and the country is accorded more rights,” as Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre was quoted as saying in a Gazette article last week. Interestingly, François Cardinal, a columnist at La Presse, has emerged as one of the strongest, most coherent champions of giving Montreal more power. In an article titled Manifesto for a City State published recently in the journal Policy Options, he writes: “ … what Montreal needs is special treatment, more autonomy and more diverse sources of revenue. In short, it needs a premier who will stand on the balcony of City Hall and proclaim: “Vive Montréal! Vive Montréal libre!” On issues of both economy and identity, cleavages between Montreal and the rest of Quebec have been growing deeper. Although often dismissed as a pie-in-the-sky idea, I’m starting to see an increased momentum behind the idea of Montreal as its own city-state. As we head into an election, provincial parties would wise not to dismiss it out of hand. Twitter:@CooperCeline
  4. Article by FDI intelligence (financial times) Rankings: 1. New York City 2. Sao Paulo 3 Toronto 4.MONTREAL 5. Vancouver 6. Houston 7. Atlanta 8. San Francisco 9. Chicago 10. Miami "Canadian cities Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively, and performed particularly well in the attraction of knowledge-intensive FDI. All three locations were among the top 20 key destination and source cities for FDI. With the exception of New York, Montreal-based companies invested in more FDI projects than other city in the Americas region" "Business friendly Canada Placed in third, Montreal’s success lies in retaining and developing relationships with existing investments – data from fDi Markets shows that one in five FDI projects since 2003 were expansions. Montreal tops strategy list The prize for Best Major American City for FDI Strategy 2013/14 is awarded to Montreal. It beat 126 competitors across North and South America who submitted information regarding their FDI strategies. In its American Cities of the Future submission, economic development agency Montréal International stated that its economic development strategy has centred predominantly around high-tech clusters, and in particular aerospace, life sciences and health technologies, as well as information and communications technology (ICT). Elie Farah, vice-president of Investment Greater Montréal, says: “The year 2011 was one of the best for Montréal International in terms of attracting FDI since 2005. This is partially explained by the investments from Europe which, in the past two years, have become the main source of FDI in the region.” http://www.fdiintelligence.com/Locations/Americas/American-Cities-of-the-Future-2013-14
  5. Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Citizen 03.17.2015 Ottawa’s share of new immigrants continues to decline as newcomers increasingly opt for the economic opportunities of Western Canada or the cultural diversity of Montreal. A Statistics Canada study released Wednesday reveals that the percentage of immigrants who cited Ottawa as their intended destination has dropped to 2.4 per cent in 2012 from 3.4 per cent in 2000. It means that the actual number of immigrants settling in Ottawa has gone down even as Canada welcomed more newcomers. Annual immigration to Canada rose to 280,700 in 2012 from 227,500 in 2000. “The recession hit Ontario pretty hard and it’s normal that immigrants don’t want to go to someplace where economic conditions are not as good,” said Gilles Grenier, a University of Ottawa economics professor who specializes in labour market and immigration issues. The Statistics Canada research paper, Changes in the Regional Distribution of New Immigrants to Canada, examines the country’s evolving settlement pattern. It shows that new immigrants have started to look beyond Toronto and Vancouver to destinations such as Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, where — at least until the recent crash in oil prices — economies have been booming. Montreal, already a major destination, has also seen its share of newcomers increase substantially to 18.1 per cent in 2012. Meanwhile, Toronto, which attracted almost half (48.4 per cent) of all new immigrants in 2000, saw its share of newcomers fall to 30 per cent in 2012. Still, that city remains the country’s biggest magnet for immigrants. StatsCan analysts suggested that the new settlement pattern reflects changes in regional economic activity and employment. “In short, labour market conditions were better in Western Canada than they were in the rest of the country,” the report concluded. That more newcomers were settling outside of Toronto and Vancouver was also a reflection of Canada’s revised immigration system. Provincial nominee programs (PNPs) allow provinces to select and nominate immigrants to meet their own economic goals and growth targets. “Over the 2000s, the PNPs considerably increased the number of immigrants going to destinations that previously received few immigrants,” the study found. The percentage of immigrants arriving in Canada as provincial nominees increased to 13 per cent in 2010 from one per cent in 2000. The program has been particularly successful at attracting immigrants to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. StatsCan analysts said the distribution of newcomers within Canada has also been affected by shifts in the country’s immigration sources. In the late 1990s, most of Canada’s immigrants came from China and India, and they tended to settle in Toronto and Vancouver. By 2010, however, the Philippines was the biggest source of Canadian immigrants, and they have settled in cities across the country, the report said. Montreal’s growth as a destination city was driven by increased immigration from Africa, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Gilles Grenier said the study shows that Canada’s immigration system is maturing. “It’s a good thing that immigrants disperse in Canada,” he said. “Because Ontario, for many years, was the main destination for immigrants in Canada, especially Toronto, where almost half the population is foreign-born.” The recent drop in oil prices, however, could cause immigration patterns to shift again, Grenier warned, as immigrants chase new job opportunities. BY THE NUMBERS 48.4: Percentage of new immigrants who wanted to settle in Toronto in 2000 30: Percentage of new immigrants who wanted to settle in Toronto in 2012 5.5: Average unemployment rate in Toronto in 2000 9.2: Average unemployment rate in Toronto in 2010 21.3: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that came from China in 2000 12.8: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that came from China in 2010 14: Percentage of Canadian immigrants that arrived from the Philippines in 2010 Source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/News/ottawa/Ottawa+share+immigrants+decline+newcomers+look+Montreal/10902540/story.html
  6. Le Petit Maghreb By Joel Ceausu Little Italy and Chinatown are getting a new sibling — and since it’s just a few blocks, maybe Louise Harel won’t mind. Le Petit Maghreb is now more than just a casual moniker for a certain part of the city: it’s an official part of Montreal’s commercial destination network, and an unofficial but growing tourism draw. The area in the Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension borough has received $40,000 from the city of Montreal’s Programme réussir à Montréal ([email protected] Commerce) recognizing the efforts of the local Maghreb business association for revitalization of Jean-Talon Street between Saint-Michel and Pie-IX boulevards. “Thanks to this support, local businesspeople finally have the means to create an official new district in Montreal,” said a clearly delighted borough mayor Anie Samson. “It’s excellent news for the Maghreb community, as well as the growing attraction of our borough and Montreal.” The local Maghreb community hails mostly from North Africa, particularly Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Over the years, this important stretch of Jean-Talon has become a gathering place for Montreal’s Maghreb community — estimated at about 150,000 people. The funds will be used to develop a master plan to mobilize businesses, reach targeted communities, and carry out an economic and physical strategy to define a public image for the sector. About half of the 105 area businesses are related to Maghreb culture in bakeries, butchers, Arab pastry shops, restaurants and tearooms, along with hairdressing salons and travel agencies. Malik Hadid is also happy that after three years of work the designation will become official. “I am very happy that the Association can count on the support of [email protected] Commerce,” said the travel agency owner and local association president. He was quick to add that the Maghreb association also enjoys close cooperation with the borough, the local economic development agency and Station 30 police. The city’s [email protected] program is already at work in other neighbourhoods around the island, helping spruce up commercial districts and adding appeal to important arteries using architecture, infrastructure and marketing, and helping boost investment by matching funds of local investors. Other east-end streets selected for the program include Promenade Fleury, Jean-Talon St. in Saint-Leonard, and Charleroi in Montreal-Nord.
  7. City has designs on becoming fashion centre $2.4 million for clothing industry. Quebec, Montreal launch 3-year plan to promote local couturiers The GazetteMarch 4, 2009 Retail sales are declining and people are thinking twice before spending money to renew their wardrobe. But as far as Quebec's minister of economic development is concerned, support for the province's clothing industry never goes out of fashion. "It's clear that consumers are slowing their spending because they don't know what's going to happen to them," Raymond Bachand told reporters yesterday as the Quebec government and the city of Montreal announced plans to promote this city as a centre of fashion design. "But there are still 92 per cent of Quebecers who are at work," he noted. "This is the best timing because what we're doing ... is focusing on our designers, helping our designers ... getting buyers from around the world to come to this fashion show, getting our designers to go elsewhere in the world ... branding Montreal as a city of creation and design and putting it on the world market. "This is not a one-shot deal. ... This a long-term vision of building Montreal. ... We always have to keep in mind where we want to be in 18 months, where we want to be in two years." Bachand and Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay met with reporters during the first full day of Montreal Fashion Week to announce a three-year plan to promote internationally this city's fashion and design industry and the people working in it. During Fashion Week's kickoff Monday night, the province announced a $1.1-million investment in three local fashion enterprises in addition to the $82 million over three years earmarked in 2007 to bolster the industry. Tremblay, who this week confirmed the economic downturn has compelled the city to trim $100 million in costs, shared Bachand's opinion that the $2.4-million set aside for the plan would be money well spent. "Everyone's talking about stimulus in the economic situation we're going through," Tremblay said. "We want to encourage Montrealers, Quebecers and Canadians to buy local, to encourage our local designers, the ones that are known and the ones that are less known. "We want to make sure we have better recognition around the world. ... We don't want to copy what is happening in other cities or by being Paris, London or New York. "We want to be different." The local fashion industry employs about 50,000 people and accounts for more than 80 per cent of the exports by Quebec's clothing industry. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  8. April 29, 2009 By LANDON THOMAS Jr. LONDON — Tetsuya Ishikawa reaped the fruits of London’s financial boom, structuring and selling his small share of the complex securities that fueled both his professional rise and the uninterrupted economic growth of Britain. When the boom went bust last year, he lost his job at Morgan Stanley, along with about 28,000 other Londoners working in finance. Mr. Ishikawa, who has written a fictional memoir, has no plans to return to the City, as London’s banking district is known. But Britain’s revenue-starved Labor government will find no such escape. “By 2010, the U.K. will have the largest budget deficit in the developed world,” said Richard Snook, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Business Research in London. “The problem is that the financial services industry has been a huge cash cow for the British government for the last 10 years and now it is going into reverse.” The country’s budget deficit has soared to 12 percent of gross domestic product; its public debt burden could soon reach 80 percent of annual economic output, a figure that would leave it roughly in the same position as Greece. But at a time when Britain more than ever needs a financial sector firing on all cylinders, its economic engine is conking out — for a number of reasons, including some that critics blame on the government. All told, more than 70,000 jobs in finance are expected to disappear over the next two to three years, a big chunk of the total estimated job losses of about 280,000 in London. The British government has poured hundreds of billions of pounds into preventing several of its largest banks from falling into bankruptcy as the extent of their bad bets became evident. But there is little prospect of a revival anytime soon, as the government is about to impose stiffer demands on banks to keep high capital ratios and to rely less on leverage and once-lucrative trading activities. That, combined with a more aggressive posture by the regulatory authorities to put a check on bonuses, is likely to hasten what has already been a sharp falloff in corporate and income taxes from the City. The economic contribution from the British financial sector, according to the Office for National Statistics, peaked at 10.8 percent of G.D.P. in 2007 — up from 5.5 percent in 1996, just before Labor took over. By comparison, the contribution from financial services in the United States to the American economy never exceeded 8 percent. In a bid to capture more revenue, the British government has decided to raise tax rates on the affluent, many of them working in finance. But the new top income tax rate of 50 percent for those earning at least £150,000, or $219,000, may only make things worse, said Mr. Snook, the economist. “These people are highly mobile and they will leave London,” he said. “The impact on public finances will be negative.” Britain’s top tax rate will soon rank fourth behind those of Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands — not quite the advertisement one would expect from one of the world’s leading financial centers. In many ways, Mr. Ishikawa’s career tracked the credit explosion that has now imploded. When he began work as a lowly credit analyst in 2002, banks in London issued about £20 billion in securities linked to various mortgage instruments. His career took off as that figure surged to over £180 billion by 2008, when Mr. Ishikawa secured for himself a $3 million bonus from Morgan Stanley as a reward for peddling assets that turned out to be toxic. With that line of business virtually defunct, banks in the coming years must return to lower-risk and lower-return businesses like equity and bond underwriting, foreign exchange trading and traditional deal-making — businesses that may well be profitable, but can in no way make up for the loss of such a lush specialty. The Center for Economic and Business Research estimates that corporate and income taxes from the financial industry will shrink from 12 percent of the overall tax take in 2007 to 8 percent this year and perhaps lower in the years ahead, a prospect that could force Britain to increase its already substantial borrowing requirement. The crisis has humbled all financial centers, from Wall Street to Dubai. According to an index produced in Britain that ranks financial centers around the world, the City of London still comes out on top, closely followed by New York. The gap, though, between these two and Singapore, which is now third, is narrowing. Lord Adair Turner, the chairman of the Financial Services Authority, agrees that London as a financial center will be in for an adjustment and says that a large portion of the banking industry’s profit contribution to the economy was “illusory.” But even in a more restrictive environment, he points out, London’s importance as a global financial hub and the most valuable trading center in Europe will not go away. “The City is important today for the same reason it was important in 1890,” he said. As for Mr. Ishikawa, who is 30 and grew up in Britain as the son of a successful Japanese executive, he is putting his hopes into a new career as a writer. His book, “How I Caused the Credit Crunch,” chronicles the debauched excesses of the boom — he was briefly married to a Brazilian lap dancer — by lightly fictionalizing his six-year stint in finance. “I really don’t miss it,” he said, sipping a coffee near the building where he was laid off. “There are many more kids out there more hungry than me.” Like Faruq Rana, for example. Mr. Rana, the 26-year-old son of Bangladeshi immigrants, was born and reared in Tower Hamlets, a district abutting Canary Wharf that has Britain’s highest unemployment rate. From his window, he can see the towers of Citigroup and Barclays reaching into the sky and his ambition to one day work as a trader in one of those buildings soars nearly as high. “Every day when I wake up and open up my window, I can smell my job,” said Mr. Rana, who is a student in a government-financed program at Tower Hamlets College that prepares local youths for jobs in the financial industry. Unlike Mr. Ishikawa, Mr. Rana did not go to Eton or Oxford, but he remains undeterred. “I have the motivation and the drive,” he said. “I think I can be one of them.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/business/global/29city.html?ref=global-home
  9. Take the test here Your political compass Economic Left/Right: 0.75 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.03 Graph
  10. Edmonton's economy hottest in Canada: CIBC Western city tops ranking for first time as Calgary slips into second spot OTTAWA -- Edmonton's weather may be cold but its economy isn't, says CIBC World Markets, which reported Monday that the Alberta capital has the hottest local economy in Canada, surpassing Calgary. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver also rank high in economic activity, while there's little economic momentum in the national capital region of Ottawa-Gatineau, according to CIBC's economic activity index, which is based on nine economic variables. "For the first time on record, the city of Edmonton tops our city ranking in terms of economic momentum," it said, crediting strong population growth, impressive employment gains, low unemployment rate, and below-average personal and corporate insolvency rates. Calgary, meanwhile, slipped into second spot with a score of 24.5, compared with 30.1 for Edmonton. Calgary's slippage reflects what the report said was a slowdown in the pace of job creation momentum in the city -- less than that of Edmonton, Saskatoon and Victoria -- and a cooler housing market. Saskatoon reached third spot with a score of 23.7, propelled by strong job and population growth, and the hottest housing market in the country. "Interestingly, Montreal is currently enjoying some renewed momentum," the report said, noting that Montreal's third-place score of 22.8 -- the only other city with a ranking above 20 -- indicated improvement in labour and housing market activity. However, the report cautioned that the momentum in Montreal's industrial economy -- based on data up to September -- is not likely sustainable with a loonie at or near parity with the U.S. dollar. Toronto, the country's largest city, had a consistently strong showing in the rankings with a score of 17.5. This reflects the growing diversity of the city, which has the fourth-fastest population growth in the country, and which boasts relatively high-quality employment. However, its labour market is softening with below-average job growth and above-average unemployment of 7%. Vancouver's ranking, at 17.3, just slightly below Toronto's, is due to the fact that -- while it did not excel in any area -- the city was above average in many areas, including strong population and job growth. Among the larger cities, Ottawa-Gatineau had the lowest ranking at just 4.7, reflecting what the report's author CIBC economist Benjamin Tal said was "some softening in employment growth, housing activity and non-residential building permits." There has been a cooling in the city's large high-tech sector, which was very strong over the past two years. The other cities and their rankings were: Sherbrooke 16.3, Victoria 15.8, Trois-Rivieres 13.6, Regina 12.5, Saint John 11.4, Quebec City 10.2, Halifax 9.1, Kitchener 8.8, Greater Sudbury 7.9, London 7.8, Hamilton 6.0, St. John's 5.5, Kingston 3.4, Thunder Bay 3.0, St. Catharines-Niagara 2.4. Two cities had negative readings -- Saguenay -2.8 and Windsor -3.3 -- highlighting the difficulties in their manufacturing sectors. "The recent appreciation in the dollar and the weakening in the U.S. economy are probably adding another layer of difficulties facing those cities," the report said.
  11. A new era of prosperity RICHARD FOOT, Canwest News Service Published: 8 hours ago Boom times for have-not provinces are redrawing Canada's economic and political map. The remarkable growth is resource-driven: potash and uranium in Saskatchewan, offshore oil in Newfoundland and Labrador To find the front lines of the global commodities boom, drive an hour east from Saskatoon on the Yellowhead Highway to Lanigan, Sask., home of the world's largest potash mine. Two huge, dome-covered warehouses, each about the size of a football field, stand on the mine site, eerily empty except for a few dusty sweepings of potash on the floors. "A decade ago there would have been a mountain of potash in here," said Will Brandsema, general manager of AMEC, whose engineering firm recently completed a $400-million expansion of the mine for the Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. Potash Corp.'s Lanigan mine in Saskatchewan. The price of the mineral has soared to nearly $1,000 a tonne from about $100.View Larger Image View Today, worldwide demand for the pinkish, chalk-like mineral is so great, Potash Corp. can't keep its warehouses full. In the past four years, the price of potash - the basic ingredient of fertilizer - has soared to nearly $1,000 per tonne from about $100, largely because of rising populations in China and India and their sudden appetite for high-value, fertilizer-grown food. Thanks to a quirk of geologic good fortune, Saskatchewan is filled with potash and now produces more than a quarter of the world's supply. What was for years an unremarkable export has suddenly become one of the most treasured commodities on Earth - pink gold, you might call it - which, alongside surging sales of oil, uranium and even grain, is suddenly making Saskatchewan the economic envy of the nation. About 3,000 kilometres away, another once-poor province accustomed to life on the economic fringes is also reaping a windfall from its natural resources. Skyrocketing oil prices are fuelling an extraordinary economic turnaround in Newfoundland and Labrador, where a fourth offshore oil project will soon be in development. Petrodollars are transforming St. John's from a down-at-the-heels provincial capital into a bustling energy city brimming with stylish restaurants, affluent condo developments and a sense of euphoria not seen there since cod were first discovered on the Grand Banks. "The Newfoundland and Saskatchewan economies have gone from stagnant to stellar," Statistics Canada declared in its May Economic Observer. "These two provinces have moved beyond old stereotypes and stepped into a new era of prosperity." Both provinces led the country last year in growth of exports, in the rate of housing starts and in growth of gross domestic product - the only provinces, along with Alberta, whose per capita GDP was above the national average. In June, a report by the TD Bank Financial Group called Saskatchewan "Canada's commodity superstar" and said if the province were a country, it would rank fifth in the world among member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in terms of per capita GDP. It would trail only Luxembourg, Norway, the United States and Ireland. (Alberta would come second if ranked on the same list.) John Crosbie, who announced the cod fishery's shutdown as federal fisheries minister and is now the province's lieutenant-governor, expressed the mood of many Newfoundlanders while reading his government's throne speech in March: "Ours is not the province it was two decades ago," Crosbie said. "We are - for the first time in our history - poised to come off equalization very soon. This is a stunning achievement that will reinforce the bold new attitude of self-confidence that has taken hold among Newfoundlanders and Labradorians." What do such economic shifts mean for the country as a whole, and how will the rise of two weaker provinces, coupled with the manufacturing malaise in Ontario, affect the workings of confederation? First, many economists say it's a mistake to underestimate the resilience and strength of the huge Ontario economy. They also say the surging energy economies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland face their own challenges, including cyclical commodity prices, the social costs of rapid development and severe labour shortages. Canada is already facing a labour crunch that's only going to worsen with time. In six years, said economist Brian Lee Crowley, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, there will be more people leaving the country's labour force than entering it. The new demand for workers in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, especially in construction and engineering, can only exacerbate the problem. In 2006, for the first time in 23 years, Saskatchewan stopped losing people, on a net basis, to other provinces, thanks to the thousands of workers streaming home from Alberta to new jobs in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and elsewhere. As job opportunities also grow in Newfoundland, and competition for skilled workers intensifies, the availability of labour will decline and the cost of it will increase, putting further pressures on the dollar and on manufacturers. The rampant growth of Canada's resource-rich economies is also expected to force changes to the federal equalization program. In April, the TD Bank forecast that Ontario, a longtime contributor to equalization, could become a recipient as early as 2010 - not because Ontario's economy is falling apart, but because it is slipping relative to the extraordinary growth of commodity-producing provinces. As the resource boom pushes the average level of provincial revenues higher, provinces like Ontario will fall below that average, and the cost of funding equalization will increase. Yet the federal government won't be able to afford the program, because Ottawa has no access to the commodity revenues that are driving up its cost; natural resource royalties flow only to the provinces. "The amount of money required for that program is going to get bigger and bigger," said Wade Locke, an economist at Memorial University in St. John's. As for Newfoundland and Labrador, over the past decade its per capita GDP has risen to $10,000 above the national average from $10,000 below - the fastest 10-year turnaround of any province in Canadian Newfoundland and Saskatchewan both reaped a bonanza last year from commodity royalties. Newfoundland posted a record $1.4-billion budget surplus; Saskatchewan announced a $641-million surplus plus a $1-billion infrastructure spending spree. While those two provinces enjoy their economic rebirth, recession stalks other regions of Canada, in particular the industrial heartland of Ontario. There, many manufacturers are struggling with high energy costs and a strong dollar, and the North American automakers - once Canada's economic engine - are shedding jobs and shutting factories. John Pollock, chairman of Electrohome Ltd. in Kitchener, Ont. - he is winding up the affairs of a once-proud consumer electronics maker forced to the sidelines by overseas competition - predicts Ontario is entering a period of perhaps a decade or more in which it will no longer drive the country's economy. "There's going to be a period of transition that's going to be tough," he said. "Ontario has supported the rest of the country - provinces like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland - for years. Maybe it's time for a shift." Global financier George Soros recently described Canada's economy as a split personality - half beleaguered by a sluggish manufacturing sector, and half enjoying the wonders of the worldwide resource boom. Never before have the fault lines between Central Canada's energy-dependent provinces and the far-flung energy-rich ones been so stark, says Brett Gartner, an economist with the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary think-tank. "Of course, Ontario's not about to fade away. It still accounts for more than 40 per cent of the national economy," Gartner said. "But let's not discount what's happening in the regions. It's quite astounding." In Saskatchewan, for example, Potash Corp., buoyed by a share price that has made it one of the leading companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange, is spending $3.2 billion to construct new mines and expand existing ones. Much of that work has gone to AMEC, an international engineering firm that recently refurbished a second mill at the Lanigan mine after the facility was closed in the 1980s because of lack of demand. Will Brandsema, who runs AMEC's Saskatoon office, says he can't hire engineers fast enough to fill the jobs created by mine expansions in the potash and uranium industries. Eight years ago, AMEC employed 64 people in Saskatoon; today that number is 325. "You talk about have-not provinces," he said. "Ten years ago, I spent most of my time in the office looking for business. Now I spend most of my time with human resources, looking for people to hire. "It's just amazing the growth here, and not only in potash. Thirty per cent of the world's uranium comes out of this province. And we have other commodities - oil, gas, coal and the whole agricultural side. All of these are going to grow." Saskatchewan left the ranks of equalization-receiving provinces in 2007. Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to become a "have" province this year or next, a startling change considering that the cod fishery - once the foundation of the province's economy - has not substantially reopened since its devastating closure by Ottawa in 1992. "It's currently $13 billion. It's going to be $30 billion in 10 years. The federal government doesn't have the financial wherewithal to fund that program." Yet abolishing or changing equalization, a program required by the constitution, presents huge political problems, particularly in Quebec, which receives the largest equalization payment, although the lowest per capita amount. "You're going to see some serious restructuring of equalization, but not before the next election," Locke said. "The Harper government is not going to do it." Changes to equalization, not to mention a realignment of "have" and "have-not" provinces, could also prompt a new wave of regional beefs and resentments - the bane of confederation. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is already complaining about how much his province's taxpayers contribute to national transfer programs, a system Ontario governments once supported in better economic times. Oil itself could become a flashpoint that divides the country. Public demands in Quebec, Ontario or British Columbia for a national carbon tax would now raise the ire of more than just one oil-producing province. In the meantime, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, which typically wield little weight in national discussions, could use their new economic clout to campaign for a truly effective Senate, with real power to represent regional interests. "There is some realignment of economic power occurring that will influence the national political debate," said former Newfoundland premier Brian Peckford, who now works as a business consultant in British Columbia. "Premiers' meetings, for example, won't be dominated by only a few big provinces. Smaller provinces like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland won't have to shout and demand to be heard. We'll get noticed simply by being there." Still, Peckford - who grew up in a province so poor that he remembers, as a boy, studying his schoolbooks by kerosene lamp - warns Newfoundlanders not to let their budding affluence go to their heads. "I would caution them that as they grow financially, they must also grow emotionally and socially," he said. "The last thing Newfoundland and Labrador should do is get arrogant about this, because one never knows how long it will last. "A lot of Canadians helped us after we joined confederation, so it's our turn now to contribute back." Rags to resources: First of a series Boom times for the "have-nots" are redrawing Canada's economic and political map. Next: Day 2: Flush with commodities cash, Saskatchewan revels in its rebirth. Day 3: From misfit to petro-darling: Newfoundland's remarkable transformation. Day 4: Hard times in the industrial heartland: Ontario's painful transition. Day 5: The ''curse'' of resources: Post-fortune perils. Day 6: Finding new fortunes: Quebec's industrial heartland moves on. http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=6fd0d4f0-4e9c-462d-af41-4ae1b93545a0&p=3
  12. Prosperity gap to widen, Conference Board says Growth in Quebec expected to hit 1.4% DAVID AKIN, Canwest News Service Published: 8 hours ago Booming Saskatchewan will lead all provinces in economic growth this year, while Ontario and Quebec will suffer through a difficult year, said forecasters at the Conference Board of Canada. The widening prosperity gap between the West and those in central and eastern Canada presents federal policy-makers with some unique challenges. The West may need policies that slow growth and curb inflation, while central Canada has few inflationary worries but needs some economic stimulus to encourage growth. In its semi-annual provincial outlook, the Conference Board says Saskatchewan's economy is booming thanks to surging commodity prices, particularly oil and potash, and as a result, the provincial economy there will grow by 4.2 per cent this year. In fact, the Conference Board said workers are leaving Alberta and heading to Saskatchewan to make their fortune. The report says that, as a result, retailers in Canada's flattest province may be in for a particularly good year. "The positive labour outlook, combined with lofty wage gains, is spurring a spending spree. Retail sales are expected to soar by 12.2 per cent in 2008," it said. Meanwhile, in Quebec, things will be a bit better this year, where growth of 1.4 per cent is expected. "Since the middle of 2007, the Quebec economy has been at a near standstill. The weakness in the manufacturing sector has eroded economic gains made in other industries,' the report said. Next door in Ontario, where manufacturers had particular trouble coping with the one-two punch of a fast-rising loonie and skyrocketing energy prices, economic growth will be just 0.8 per cent, the Conference Board said. Only Newfoundland and Labrador will see slower economic growth than Ontario this year. After a stellar year in 2007 with double-digit economic growth, the Conference Board said the pace in Canada's most eastern province is stalled. It predicts growth there of just 0.2 per cent this year. Overall, the Conference Board believes Canada's economy will grow by 1.7 per cent. The forecasters at the independent think-tank are much more optimistic than the Bank of Canada, which said last month it believes Canada's economy will grow by one per cent.
  13. " Moins il y a de liberté, moins il y a de richesse " Les Affaires, 2 août 2008 Le Québec fait piètre figure en termes de ce que vous appelez la " liberté économique ". Que faire pour améliorer la situation ? En effet, selon notre récente étude Economic Freedom of North America, le Québec possède un des niveaux de liberté économique les plus bas parmi les États de l'Amérique du Nord. Nous nous classons au 59e rang sur 60 ! Pour s'améliorer, le Québec doit réduire la taille de l'État, alléger le fardeau fiscal et éliminer les entraves au marché du travail. Par exemple, sur le plan fiscal, le Québec se classe 60e en Amérique. L'élimination totale de la taxe sur le capital pour les entreprises et la diminution des taux d'imposition marginaux pour les particuliers seraient deux mesures qui aideraient beaucoup. Quelles sont les entraves dans le marché du travail ? Le marché du travail au Québec est également plus contraignant qu'ailleurs, avec un salaire minimum et un taux de syndicalisation plus élevés. Par exemple, il est beaucoup plus facile de se syndiquer ici, au Québec, qu'ailleurs en Amérique du Nord. De plus, il y a des lois comme celles régissant les heures d'affaires qui réduisent la liberté économique et compliquent la vie des entrepreneurs. En quoi la liberté économique est-elle importante ? Parce qu'il y a un lien direct entre richesse et liberté économique. Moins il y a de liberté, moins il y a de richesse. Moins il y a de restrictions, plus il y a de possibilités et plus grande est la prospérité. Les Québécois ont moins de choix économiques et cela se reflète dans leur richesse. Seulement 1,8 % de la population gagne plus de 100 000 $ par année. Comment se classe le Canada à l'échelle mondiale ? Selon l'étude Economic Freedom of the World de 2004, le Canada était en 5e place, ex aequo avec les États-Unis et la Grande-Bretagne. Les premiers pays étaient, dans l'ordre, Hong-Kong, Singapour, la Nouvelle-Zélande et la Suisse. Le Québec ne figure pas dans cette étude. C'est précisément pour comparer les territoires à l'intérieur des États-Unis et du Canada qu'on publie Economic Freedom of North America. On constate qu'il y a une grande divergence entre les États américains et les provinces canadiennes.
  14. Excellent texte de François Cardinal (de La Presse) sur pourquoi Montréal devrait avoir un statut spécial : Manifesto for a city-state Montreal has paid the price for being treated like just another region. Quebec’s economic hub deserves better. François Cardinal Policy Options, November 2013 Far from being a land of forests, plains and prairies, Canada is an urban country. Nearly 70 percent of the population lives in urban centres and more than 90 percent of demographic growth is concentrated in those metropolitan areas. These proportions put Canada at the top of the world’s most urbanized nations. And yet all of Canada’s cities, from Montreal to Toronto, Calgary and even Ottawa, are neglected by federal and provincial political parties. They are short-changed by electoral maps. All are forced by the provinces to labour under a tax system that dates from the horse-and-buggy age. All are relegated to the status of lowly “creatures” subject to the whims and dictates of higher levels of government. It’s as if the country has not yet come to terms with the changes it has undergone since its founding. “Cities do not exist under the Constitution, since it was drawn up in 1867 when we were a rural, agricultural country,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi pointed out when I interviewed him at City Hall. “But today the country is highly urbanized, a fact that, unfortunately, is not reflected in the relations higher levels of government maintain with the cities.” The 2011 federal election offered a good example of this oversight. Every party targeted the “regions,” those wide-open spaces of rural and small-town Canada. The Conservatives’ slogan in French was “Notre région au pouvoir” [Our region in power]. The Liberals cited “rural Canada” as a priority but barely mentioned urban Canada. The Bloc used the slogan “Parlons régions” [Let’s talk about regions] but had no urban equivalent for the metropolis. More critically, the parties felt compelled to appeal to voters in the regions by positioning themselves in opposition to the cities. The most glaring instance came during the French leaders’ debate, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper castigated Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff over his promise to build a new Champlain Bridge. “I would not take Mr. Ignatieff’s approach and divert money from the regions to finance infrastructure for Montreal,” Harper said. The Liberals were not much better. They pledged to develop a plan for public transportation but never specified what it would look like. They promised support for social housing but said they would take the money out of funds for urban infrastructure. The reason for this is not rocket science. With the big-city vote so thoroughly predictable, the parties focus on rural areas or the suburbs where they believe their policies might swing votes. They rarely target the city centres. At the provincial level, the situation is pretty much the same. In fact, the Quebec government was able to relieve Montreal of its “metropolis” title and its dedicated ministry nearly 10 years ago without raising eyebrows. Thus Montreal became just one “region” among all the rest: Administrative Region 06. In the 2012 election in Quebec, Montreal did move up a notch. There was more discussion about the city. But since then, unfortunately, good intentions have been replaced by a charter of Quebec values, which has been broadly criticized in Montreal. Imposing it confirms the implicit trusteeship under which the government rules the metropolis. But even more than urban centres elsewhere in the country, Quebec’s parties have limited reason to take an interest in the city. Montreal is either politically safe (for the provincial Liberals) or a lost cause (for the Parti Québécois). In short, Quebec is no different from other Canadian provinces in treating its major city like a big village that must be attended to, certainly, but not more than any other municipality. The cost of showing the city favour is to risk losing precious votes in rural areas. But major cities are no longer the same municipalities they were in the past. Today, Montreal and Toronto are expected to compete with Paris and New York. They are expected to attract and hold onto businesses, court foreign creative talent, draw more private investment and deliver more and more services to residents, from social housing to public transportation. Providing support services for recent immigrants, developing the knowledge-based economy, building social housing, dealing with antigovernment demonstrations and adapting to climate change are all responsibilities that now fall to cities. They are nothing like the urban “creatures” of the 19th century. Lucien Bouchard could not have been more clear when he said in his 1996 inauguration speech after being elected premier: “There can be no economic recovery in Quebec without a recovery in Quebec’s metropolis.” For once, it appeared the government of Quebec was going to recognize Montreal’s special character and grant it preferential treatment. “The complexity of the city’s problems calls for special treatment and even, I would say, for the creation of a specific metropolitan authority,” Bouchard continued. It seemed as if he was about to usher in an exciting new era. There was now a minister responsible for “the metropolis.” A development commission was set up for the Montreal metropolitan area and it was to be invested with significant powers. A true decentralization of power was in the offing. An economic development agency, Montréal International, was created at this time, as was the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT). But just when it appeared Montreal was going to receive special attention and treatment, the government’s old habits returned with a vengeance. Like a parent who has given too much to one child, the Quebec government decided to restore the balance by giving to the regions with its left hand what it had given Montreal with its right. A local and regional development support policy was introduced in 1997. Then the Ministry of Regions was created and local development centres set up. A few months later, they added government measures for the province’s three metropolitan areas and then, finally, measures for all urban areas. “The reforms demonstrate, once again, the government’s efforts to address Montreal’s specificity without neglecting the needs of the rest of Quebec,” political scientist Mariona Tomàs explained in her fine book Penser métropolitain? But the result was a government policy similar to the previous ones, an across-the-board approach based on a view of Quebec as a collection of communities, rather than a province organized around its main economic hub. “The government’s desire to maintain a territorial balance can be seen in the powers of metropolitan structures,” Tomàs observed. “The law provided the same types of powers for all the urban communities created in 1969, and then for all the metropolitan communities in 2000.” Giving the rural Outaouais region the same powers as Greater Montreal reduces the latter to just one region among many. To this way of political thinking, the metropolis must not be allowed to overshadow any other town, must not be given too much. It cannot receive more attention than others, and cannot be elevated above any other. Canada’s “hub cities,” those few major urban centres like Montreal, are the drivers of economic activity in the country. That was the conclusion of a recent Conference Board study, which pointed to the collateral benefits of a thriving metropolis. It found that strong growth in metropolitan areas spurs growth in neighbouring communities and then in the whole province. But how can Montreal play its role as an economic driver if it is not treated as such? We need only look outside the country to be convinced that we need to roll out the red carpet for the metropolis: to the United States, where big cities have the attention of the country’s leaders; to Asia, where the treatment of major centres sometimes borders on obsessiveness; or even to France, a country that, like Quebec, is marked by a deep divide between “the metropolis” and “the provinces.” France provided a telling illustration of this awareness in early 2013, a few months after François Hollande’s Socialist government took office. Although France was in dire straits, burdened by crushing public debt and being forced to reconsider the fate of its precious social programs, Hollande did not think twice about launching a project of heroic proportions to relieve congestion in Paris. The price tag: the equivalent of $35 billion for a brand new “super metro,” plus $10 billion to extend and upgrade the existing system. Was this completely crazy? On the contrary. Hollande was being logical and visionary. France understands the importance of investing in its metropolis. This is a country that is ready to look after its towns and villages, while not being afraid to give Paris preferential treatment. “A strong Paris is in the interest of the provinces,” commented L’Express magazine in March 2013. Quite so. The article notes, for example, that much of the income generated in Paris is actually spent in the rest of the country. All financial roads — tourism, commuting for work, national redistribution, whatever — all lead to Paris, with benefits to the provinces. L’Express cites the case of Eurodisney to illustrate. Disney had hesitated before settling on building its amusement park in Paris — not between contending French cities, but between Paris and Barcelona. Herein lie the value and importance for the entire country of having a strong metropolis. “Weakening Paris would slow France’s locomotive,” argued L’Express. “And in a train, the cars seldom move faster than the locomotive.” Clearly, what Montreal needs is special treatment, more autonomy and more diverse sources of revenue. In short, it needs a premier who will stand on the balcony of City Hall and proclaim: “Vive Montréal! Vive Montréal libre!” Worryingly, the current state of affairs in Montreal — the revelations and insinuations of political corruption and collusion — is prompting many observers to call for the Quebec government to take the opposite tack and tighten the city’s reins. According to this view, more provincial government involvement is needed to check the city’s propensity for vice. But in fact the only way to make the city more responsible and more accountable is to give it greater power, wider latitude and more money. Montreal’s problem is that it has all the attributes of a metropolis but is treated as an ordinary municipality, subservient to the big boss, the provincial government. Its masters are the minister of municipal affairs, the minister’s colleagues at other departments involved in the city’s affairs and, of course, the premier. Montreal is under implicit trusteeship. This encourages, even promotes a lack of accountability on the part of the municipal administration, which is only half in charge. “It’s not complicated: Montreal is currently a no man’s land of accountability,” says Denis Saint-Martin, political science professor at the Université de Montréal. “There is a political and organizational immaturity problem, which explains the political irresponsibility we have seen in recent years. Montreal needs more power, not less. Montreal needs to be more accountable, more answerable.” Essentially, the metropolis needs to be treated like one, with the powers and revenues that go along with city status. Montreal is a beggar riding in a limousine. Invariably, after a municipal election, the incoming mayor announces a wish list and then gets the chauffeur to drive him up provincial Highway 20 to Quebec City to knock on the provincial government’s door with outstretched hands, hoping for a little largesse. Montreal’s mayor has to beg because the past offloading of responsibilities for delivering services to citizens onto the municipality has not been accompanied by new money. “In Quebec, the province is responsible for much of the regulatory apparatus under which cities operate, which the cities feel restricts their autonomy,” said political scientist Laurence Bherer in 2004, speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Université Laval political science department. “And far from decreasing in recent years, provincial intervention has spread to a variety of areas such as the environment and public security, further relegating the cities to the role of operative rather than architect.” It is unacceptable for the provincial government to be the “operator” of a metropolis. That is why municipalities are rightfully seeking greater autonomy and greater freedom of action from their provincial masters. This is what is starting to happen in other provinces: in Alberta, with its Municipal Government Act, with British Columbia’s Community Charter and especially in Ontario, with the City of Toronto Act, which reads in part: “The [Ontario Legislative] Assembly recognizes that the City of Toronto, as Ontario’s capital city, is an economic engine of Ontario and of Canada.” The Ontario government appears to understand the special role Toronto plays in the wider economy. The City of Toronto Act goes on to say, “The Assembly recognizes that the City plays an important role in creating and supporting economic prosperity and a high quality of life for the people of Ontario [and] that the City is a government that is capable of exercising its powers in a responsible and accountable fashion.” Quebec’s largest city deserves similar treatment: strict accountability in exchange for recognition of its status as an autonomous government and the ability to tap more diverse sources of revenue. Indeed the main reason Montreal is regularly forced to pass the hat in Quebec City is its heavy dependence on property taxes for its income. As a creature of the province, it still operates under the good-old British tax model that sees it derive the bulk of its revenues — 67 percent — from property taxes. This was not a problem a hundred years ago, when Montreal provided only property services to its residents. But its responsibilities have expanded. The standards imposed by Quebec City have proliferated, and the portion of the budget allocated for services to individuals has grown considerably. Yet its tax base remains just as dependent on a single sector: real estate. This situation has a huge drawback. The City does not share the economic benefits that it generates. It might well pour money into the Formula One Grand Prix and summer festivals, invest in attracting conventions and tourists, renovate public spaces to make the urban environment more attractive and friendly. But it will get not a penny back. On the contrary: these investments only increase the city’s expenses in maintenance, security and infrastructure, while the federal and provincial governments reap the sales taxes. Take the city’s jazz festival. Montreal has to pay for security, site maintenance, public transportation to bring visitors to the site, and must deal with the event’s impact on traffic. In return, it gets happy festival-goers and tourists who spend money, stay at hotels, eat at restaurants — and fill provincial and federal coffers with sales tax revenues. They enrich the governments in Quebec City and in Ottawa, but not Montreal, which picks up the tab for the costs. The result is that the hole into which large cities are quietly sinking gets deeper. Big-city economies are dematerializing. The knowledge-based economy, in which Montreal shines, is based on innovation, research and brains, not factories. But for now, grey matter is not subject to property tax. Add to the mix an aging population with more modest housing needs, the increase in teleworking, self-employment and e-commerce, and you have a Montreal that is not only under implicit administrative trusteeship but also in an increasingly precarious financial position. And then people wonder why our metropolis is not playing the role it should be playing. another region. Quebec’s economic hub deserves better.
  15. Opinion dans la Gazette. Cooper: Can Montreal become a ‘future city?’ BY CELINE COOPER, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE APRIL 8, 2013 Revellers at this year’s Nuit Blanche warm up by the fire at Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. In his new book A History of Future Cities, Daniel Brook writes: “The true city of the future is not simply the city with the tallest tower or the most stunning skyline but one that is piloted by the diverse, worldly, intelligent people it assembles and forges.” Can Montreal be one of these? Photograph by: Tim Snow , The Gazette MONTREAL — What is Montreal’s place among the world’s future global cities? I recently picked up Daniel Brook’s new book A History of Future Cities. In it, he skilfully braids together historical detail, journalism and storytelling to trace the impossible rise of Shanghai, Dubai, Mumbai and St. Petersburg from developing world “instant-cities” into four of the world’s most influential global hubs. Brook looks at how these cities in China, the United Arab Emirates, India and Russia were forged. His description of how soaring cityscapes were planned and erected out of deserts, frozen marshland, oceans and rice paddies through both the ambition of visionaries and the cruelty of despots gives us some context for the emerging Asian era that we are witnessing today. We learn a bit about how the economic development of the world’s nations has come to be inextricably linked to the development of global cities. So what does this have to do with Montreal? As it happens, I started reading this book about future cities on the same day that a sinkhole swallowed two cars at Montreal’s Trudeau airport. On top of the crumbling bridges, man-eating potholes and mould-infested public schools, there was also news that day about Bill 14, the Parti Québécois’s bid to bolster the province’s language laws and further regulate who can speak what, when and where. Much of this discussion focuses on the fear that Montreal is becoming “anglicized.” Which brings me back to the question: what is Montreal’s place in this new world landscape that is no longer necessarily one of nations, but of cities? For many of us who live here, Montreal occupies a special place on the global grid and in our imaginations. We often think of it as a metropolis that straddles old and new, French and English, Europe and North America. But thankfully Montreal and its inhabitants are much more complex than that. As Columbia University sociologist Saskia Sassen and other scholars who study global cities have argued, cities are where new norms and identities are shaped. Despite the fact that it has been hemorrhaging economic clout since the late 1970s and the 1980s, and that its infrastructure is falling apart at the seams, Montreal remains an inspiring, dynamic city. Montreal’s creativity — its colourful population and the ideas they bring to life — is without a doubt the city’s greatest asset. And yet while other urban hubs are leveraging their cultural and linguistic diversity to build intellectual and economic corridors that connect them to the rest of the world, here in Quebec we are told (by our government, no less) that Montreal’s diversity is not an asset but a problem to be managed. There is too much pasta and caffè in our restaurants. Our artists are composing songs in the wrong languages. Our children are learning too much English in the classroom. These things must be regulated with new bills, laws and decrees. It reminds me of a line by urban thinker and activist Jane Jacobs in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, published in 1961. Jacobs wrote: “There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.” And so it is. A History of Future Cities attests to the fact that a built urban environment is important. Dazzling feats of engineering, architectural brilliance, skylines of human-made steel and glass stalagmites are meant to be both inspiring and functional, a draw for the world’s financially and intellectually ambitious people. But one of the most compelling lines in the book — and the one that resonated with me as I pondered Montreal’s future in the world — was this: “The true city of the future is not simply the city with the tallest tower or the most stunning skyline but one that is piloted by the diverse, worldly, intelligent people it assembles and forges.” In other words, a fancy cityscape matters, but the people who live there matter more. For Quebec to succeed as it moves into the future — whether as a sovereign country or as part of the Canadian federation — it needs Montreal to thrive. Montreal’s place among future global cities will depend on not only attracting the world’s best and brightest, but allowing them the freedom to be diverse, to be themselves, and to be brilliant. [email protected] Twitter: @CooperCeline © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette Original source article: Cooper: Can Montreal become a ‘future city?’ Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Celine+Cooper+Montreal+become+future+city/8202375/story.html#ixzz2Puw40uY7
  16. http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/healthy-economic-outlook-for-montreal-and-quebec-city-in-2016-570899271.html OTTAWA, March 3, 2016 /CNW/ - Quebec's two largest cities are forecast to enjoy healthy economic growth in 2016. Montréal and Québec City can expect growth of 2.3 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, according to The Conference Board of Canada's Metropolitan Outlook: Winter 2016. "The depreciation of the Canadian dollar and a healthy U.S. economy is bringing good news to Québec City and Montréal and their export-oriented industries. Economic growth in both cities has been on the upswing. In fact, we expect real GDP growth in both Montréal and Québec City to outpace the national average for the second consecutive year in 2016, after trailing it for five straight years" said Alan Arcand, Associate Director, Centre for Municipal Studies, The Conference Board of Canada. Highlights Montréal is expected to see real GDP growth of 2.3 per cent in 2016, up from 1.7 per cent last year. Québec City's real GDP growth is expected to reach 2 per cent in 2016. Vancouver's real GDP is forecast to grow 3.3 per cent, making it the fastest growing economy among the 28 census metropolitan areas covered in this edition of the Metropolitan Outlook. Montréal Montréal's economic improvement will be driven by a strengthening manufacturing sector, a rebound in construction, and steady services sector gains. Manufacturing output is forecast to expand by 3 per cent in 2016, bolstered by the combination of a weaker Canadian dollar and healthy U.S. demand. Two massive infrastructure projects—the $4.2-billion Champlain Bridge and the $3.7-billion Turcot Interchange—will help the local construction industry shake off three straight years of declines. However, a decline in housing starts will limit overall construction output growth to 2 per cent in 2016. Growth among the services-producing industries is projected to be 2.2 per cent in 2016, the same rate as in 2015. All eight industry sectors will advance this year, with the biggest gains coming from the business services sector and the personal services sector. In all, Montréal is expected to post real GDP growth of 2.3 per cent this year, up from 1.7 per cent in 2015. About 26,000 jobs are expected to be created in 2016. A similar rise in the labour force will keep the unemployment rate at 8.2 per cent, well above the national average of 7 per cent.
  17. The banking system in eastern Europe is increasingly vulnerable to a severe economic downturn, Moody’s has warned, saying western European banks with local subsidiaries are at risk of ratings downgrades. “The relative vulnerabilties in east European banking systems will be exposed by an increasingly tougher operating environment in eastern Europe as a result of a steep and long economic downturn coupled with macroeconomic vulnerabilities,” Moody’s said in a report. The ratings agency said it expected “continuous downward pressure on east European bank ratings” because of deteriorating asset quality, falling local currencies, exposure to a regional slump in real-estate and the units’ reliance on scarce short-term funding. Eurozone banks have the largest exposure to central and eastern Europe, with liabilities of $1,500bn – about 90 per cent of total foreign bank exposure to the region. Shares of the handful of banks with substantial investments in eastern Europe – led by Austria’s Raiffeisen and Erste Bank, Société Générale of France, Italy’s UniCredit (which owns Bank Austria) and Belgian group KBC – tumbled after the ratings agency said it was concerned about the impact of a slowdown and the ability of the parent banks to support their support units in the region. The Austrian banking system is the most vulnerable, with eastern Europe accounting for nearly half of its foreign loans, while Italian banks are exposed to Poland and Croatia and Scandinavian institutions to the Baltic states. Central and eastern European currencies have come under intense pressure in recent weeks. The credit crisis has raised fears over the region’s ability to finance its current account deficits and slowing global growth has heightened concerns over the health of its export-dependent economies. The Polish zloty plunged to a five-year low against the euro on Tuesday, while the Czech koruna hit a three-year trough against the single currency and the Hungarian forint falling to a record low. The Prague and Warsaw stock indices meanwhile fell to their lowest levels in five years, while the smaller markets of Budapest, Zagreb and Bucharest skirted close to multi-year lows. The euro dropped to a two-month low against the dollar on Tuesday on heightened concerns over eurozone banks’ exposure to the worsening conditions in eastern Europe. Amid the growing sense of crisis in eastern European economies, Hungary on Tuesday outlined plans to save Ft210bn (€680m, $860m) this year to prevent an increase in the budget deficit. Hungary’s economy is expected to contract by up to 3 per cent this year, much more than earlier expectations. Antje Praefcke at Commerzbank said eastern European currencies were in a “self-feeding depreciation spiral.” “The creditworthiness of local banks, companies and private households, who hold mainly foreign currency denominated debt, is deteriorating with each depreciation in eastern European currencies, thus further undermining confidence in the currencies,” she said. Ms Praefcke said further depreciation of eastern European currencies was thus a distinct possibility, which was likely to undermine the euro. “The collapse of these currencies is likely to constitute a risk for the euro,” she said. “So far markets have largely ignored this fact, but are unlikely to be able to maintain this approach if the weakness of the eastern European currencies continues.” Western European banks have piled into the former Communist countries in recent years as economic growth in the region outpaced domestic gains. The accession of 10 new members to the European Union in 2004, and of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, added to optimism about the region. In 2007, Raiffeisen and Erste Bank earned the vast majority of their pre-tax profits in eastern European countries including Russia and Ukraine. Since the onset of the global financial crisis, Hungary, Latvia and Ukraine have all received emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund, with other countries in the region expected to follow.
  18. Montreal faces uphill battle in new economic order KONRAD YAKABUSKI Report on Business April 9, 2009 MONTREAL -- The Montreal Exchange, now part of TMX Group, is forwarding journalists' calls to Toronto. The new head of BCE Inc. has not taken up residence in the city that, officially anyway, is still home to the telecom giant's headquarters. Alcan's "head office" is shrinking under parent Rio Tinto. AbitibiBowater answers to its bankers in Charlotte, N.C. When Michael Sabia had a getting-to-know-you lunch last week with Quebec Inc.'s grands fromages, the new head of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec found himself talking to a sparser crowd than any Caisse chief before him would have likely faced. The ranks of Quebec Inc., that Quiet Revolution embodiment of Quebec's French-speaking business class, are thinning. Where will this all leave Montreal if, as Creative Class guru Richard Florida recently predicted in The Atlantic magazine, "the coming decades will likely see a further clustering of output, jobs and innovation in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions"? Can Montreal aspire to be one of them? Or has its fate already been sealed? Prof. Florida, now director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at University of Toronto, warns that "we can't stop the decline of some places, and we would be foolish to try. ... In limited ways, we can help faltering cities to manage their decline better, and to sustain better lives for the people who stay in them." Let's be clear: Montreal is not Detroit. St. Jude himself could not save Motor City. The unemployment rate there now stands at 22 per cent. When only one in 10 Detroiters has a college degree, the jobless rate won't be coming down any time soon. If ever. The current economic crisis, as Prof. Florida notes, will "permanently and profoundly" alter the economic geography of North America. Montreal needs to get busy if it is to carve out a place for itself in this new economic order. It has a lot going for it: A vibrant inner city, a deep talent pool of "knowledge" workers, a diverse population and creativity to burn. Its problem is just that Toronto has even more of these things. Toronto also has the support of its provincial government. Montreal's provincial masters seem at best indifferent to it, if not chronically at war with it. How else do you explain why, despite decades of promises, the current Liberal government has yet to proceed with the construction of two new mega-hospitals in Montreal to replace a complex network of antiquated institutions spread over multiple sites? If the new hospitals do get built - delivery is now promised between 2013 and 2018 - will there even be enough doctors to work in them? Quebec pays its general practitioners and specialists about a quarter less than Ontario, and a new interprovincial labour mobility agreement will make it easier for them to practise elsewhere. But Montreal can't afford to lose any more of its "brain surgeons," regardless of their profession. In 1976, Montreal and Toronto had nearly identically sized populations, each with about 2.8 million people living within its Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). Since then, the population of the Toronto CMA has doubled to 5.6 million; Montreal has only managed to reach 3.7 million, a 30-per-cent increase in three decades. In its latest Metropolitan Outlook, the Conference Board of Canada predicted that Montreal will post the weakest growth of any major Canadian city over the next half-decade. Though its economy will not contract as much as Toronto's this year, Montreal's output will expand much more slowly once the recession lifts. Part of the explanation for this may lie in another report out this week, this one also supported by Conference Board data, on Toronto's status as a global city. Though the Toronto Board of Trade's Scorecard on Prosperity highlighted Toronto's shortcomings when compared to the 20 other cities studied, it provided even grimmer news for Montreal. Toronto ranked fourth over all. Calgary was first. Montreal was 13th, the poorest performance of any Canadian city on the list. There are grounds for optimism. The proposed Quartier des Spectacles - the redevelopment of a run-down downtown intersection into a hub for the arts - will help Montreal catch up, or at least decline more slowly relative to Toronto's now superior cultural infrastructure. But it's hard not to be disheartened when the top news story in city politics these days is how Mayor Gérald Tremblay's former right-hand man vacationed in the Caribbean on the yacht of a construction magnate just before the latter's consortium won a juicy municipal contract to install water meters. When this much energy gets absorbed in damage control, how much is left for the kind of creative thinking needed to ensure Montreal's position in Prof. Florida's new economic landscape? Or is it already too late for that? [email protected] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/GAM.20090409.RYAKABUSKI09ART1924/TPStory/TPComment
  19. Toronto a suburb? It's begun RENÉ JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR Apr 08, 2009 04:30 AM Vanessa Lu city hall bureau chief Toronto is at risk of becoming a bedroom community for the booming 905 regions, warns a new report by the Toronto Board of Trade. Cities that were once outer suburbs are now growing employment areas as more businesses have pulled up stakes in the downtown core for cheaper real estate. Meanwhile, the city itself faces increasing disparity between the wealthy, who buy downtown condos where factories once stood, and the poor who inhabit the increasingly deprived inner suburbs. So Toronto remains an attractive place to live, but struggles to keep up with its neighbours on key economic indicators such as employment, productivity and income growth. "It's a tale of two cities," president and CEO Carol Wilding said at yesterday's release. "We see the reverse, or mirror images, from the city proper versus the 905." Wilding agreed with a release for the report that said Toronto has become a "magnet for living, while the surrounding municipalities form the more powerful economic engine." "If you stand back, the data shows that at this point," said Wilding. "Given the employment growth that isn't there in the city centre – yet it is a hugely attractive place – suggests the doughnut effect. ... People flock to and live in the city ... but are actually travelling outwards in the region for employment opportunities." The split between the two regions is reflected in a prosperity scorecard that compares the Toronto region with 20 others around the world on 25 important indicators. While the Toronto region scored very well overall – tying for fourth place with Boston, New York and London, but behind Calgary, Dallas and Hong Kong – the findings show a growing gap between the city itself and surrounding communities. (The study is based on the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area, a tract that includes most of the GTA except Burlington and Oshawa.) If the 416 and 905 area codes were ranked separately, the suburban regions would have taken second place on the world list – after Calgary – and Toronto would have fallen into the bottom half. But Wilding credited Toronto city hall for taking steps to counteract the trend and boost economic growth, including a policy of gradually shifting more of the property tax burden from commercial and industrial property onto homeowners. "I think from a policy perspective, we've put in place many of the changes the data would have suggested we do ... two years ago. We didn't wait," Mayor David Miller said yesterday, reacting to the report. However, he said, "Toronto starts from a very good place" as Canada's financial capital and the third biggest centre of information communications technology in North America. "Council adopted a strategy two years ago because we didn't believe we could take success for granted," he added. "And I think the underlying data says we took the right step and we're on the right path." He noted both the tax rate cuts and the creation of two new agencies, Build Toronto and Invest Toronto, to lure business and investment to the city. Given that traffic is now jammed both ways on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway in the morning rush hour, it hardly comes as a surprise that employment growth has been strong outside Toronto proper. But the data shows the gap is "far larger than people would have expected it to be," Wilding said. Employment in the suburban regions grew by an average of 2.8 per cent a year between 2002 and 2007, compared with 1.1 per cent in the city of Toronto. In fact, most of the employment growth over the past two decades has occurred outside Toronto. "That's a significant divide. Until we start to narrow that, then we aren't serving the interests of the region as a whole," Wilding said. Average real GDP growth during the same period was just 1.2 per cent in Toronto – compared with 4.2 per cent in neighbouring cities. After-tax income growth over the same period was 3.5 per cent in Toronto, compared with 5.9 per cent outside. Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone said the report's data is already a couple of years old and doesn't reflect recent actions the city has taken to stem the flow of jobs. The report cites a 10.2 per cent growth in non-residential building permits in the surrounding regions, versus only 8.9 per cent in the city. But Pantalone pointed out that today, 4 million square feet of office buildings are under construction in Toronto, compared with only 1.5 million square feet in the 905. "That's a historical reversal. It shows those policies are working," he said. "We have established new trend lines to correct that. And it seems to be working." As Miller pointed out, the report isn't all bad news for the city. It notes that Toronto is "a study in contrasts, struggling to keep pace on the economic fundamentals but scoring well on all the attributes of an attractive city." Using research from the Conference Board of Canada, the report points out the city is doing well on indicators such as commuter travel choices, a young labour force, university education and percentage of jobs in the cultural industry. New infrastructure investments by the province, notably in transit, will also help make Toronto more competitive. Some 44 per cent of Toronto residents walk, bike or take transit to work, while only 13 per cent of residents outside Toronto do. One of Toronto's biggest advantages is its diversity, with immigrants making up close to half of the city's residents. That puts it at Number 1 among the 21 global cities, above Los Angeles at 41 per cent and New York at 36 per cent. But Board of Trade chair Paul Massara warned that the talent that exists among newcomers must not be squandered – and their integration has to be ensured. "It's absolutely essential that we get this productive part of the economy working and enhance that," Massara said, noting governments have been working to improve settlement services. With files from Paul Moloney
  20. China's fastest-changing cities Hong Kong Skyline MATT WOOLSEY Forbes.com November 5, 2008 at 2:09 PM EST Ten years ago, the Minnan Hotel dominated the skyline in Xiamen, a special economic zone on the Taiwan Strait. At 168 metres tall – about the size of the skyscrapers that abut New York's Central Park – it was a conspicuous outlier in a developing city. Now, it's beginning to look like a tree in a forest, as buildings just as tall have popped up across the waterfront and in the city centre. But development in Xiamen hasn't been nearly as rapid as in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, two cities on the Pearl River Delta. With dynamic economies based on industry, service, shipping and logistics, they are China's fastest-changing cities by our measures. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing round out the top five. They're followed by Dalian and Nanjing, two cities that have emerged as factory-based growth centres, but are also turning into vibrant markets for consumer goods. Behind the numbers These rankings are based on three measures of China's 20 most populous cities. To gauge recent change, we looked at economic growth using indexed data from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a state research agency. Smaller industrial boomtowns like Hefei and Suzhou scored particularly well by this measure. We also examined the growth of each city as a market, which symbolizes the changing of cities from industrial centres to service-driven economies. For this measure, we looked at data from CASS as an indicator of where growth and change would continue. With global growth slowing, Chinese cities are going to become more reliant on domestic spending. “In the global slowdown, China's domestic market is the key linchpin,” says Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, economic adviser for MasterCard Worldwide. “There's a lot of government spending right now on social welfare programs to try and unlock households' savings.” Finally, we looked at the most obvious and aesthetic indicator of change in China: the cities' skylines. The government that didn't officially use the word “urbanization” until the late ‘90s and that was founded on Mao Zedong's agrarian principles now rules a country more than 50 per cent urban in its population distribution. Skyscrapers and cranes may be the best marker of globalization's effect on China. Using data from Emporis, a global builder based in Germany, we ranked each city by the aggregate height of its skyline. What the future holds If industrialized expansion was the tale of the last 10 years, consolidation will be the story of the next decade. Shenzhen, once a fishing village, has been competing for logistics, financial and technology services with Hong Kong ever since the 1997 changeover. Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong to its north, has grown at an annual clip of 18 per cent since the 1997 changeover, according to the Asia Development Bank. Shenzhen was the mainland Chinese rival to Hong Kong before that city became part of China, but has only recently decided to move toward economic co-operation, instead of competition, with the special administrative region. That means ceding financial services to Hong Kong and enhancing logistical and shipping services in Shenzhen, says Yan Xiopei, vice-mayor of Shenzhen. “We want to connect Shenzhen and Hong Kong,” says Xiaopei. “We will make endeavours for building Shenzhen and Hong Kong into a world-class metropolis.” Not far from Shenzhen, a massive railway and port expansion development across the Pearl River Delta, slated for completion in 2010, will connect the east- and west-bank factory facilities, which manufacture everything from Apple electronics to Wal-Mart products, to the deep-water shipping ports on the east bank. “Factories on the western bank have always been at a disadvantage, because they don't have access to the deep-water ports on the east bank,” says Andrew Ness, executive director of C.B. Richard Ellis, an international commercial real estate firm. “The railway will change that.” Even more obvious in the next decade will be the economic integration of small villages and cities into major metropolises in parts of the Yangtze River Delta outside of Shanghai and in the periphery of the Beijing-Tianjin corridor in the north. Of course, keep in mind that China's idea of a small village can have a population close to one million. “Five-hundred thousand to 800,000 [resident] towns aren't even considered cities, but small townships,” says Fan Gong, director of the National Economic Research Institute in China. “We will see several regions grab together on the river areas and form large metropolitan areas.” According to Mr. Gong, the government is abandoning past policies like the urban registration system, which kept farmers in the country, and is instead encouraging urbanization. Mr. Gong estimates that by 2050, 75 per cent of China's population will live in cities. The rapidly changing nation may no longer be recognizable to Mao, though reformer Deng Xiaoping might enjoy the 92 cities with one-million-plus people.
  21. Poll Finds Faith in Obama, Mixed With Patience Article Tools Sponsored By By ADAM NAGOURNEY and MARJORIE CONNELLY Published: January 17, 2009 President-elect Barack Obama is riding a powerful wave of optimism into the White House, with Americans confident he can turn the economy around but prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. The latest on the inauguration of Barack Obama and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion. While hopes for the new president are extraordinarily high, the poll found, expectations for what Mr. Obama will actually be able to accomplish appear to have been tempered by the scale of the nation’s problems at home and abroad. The findings suggest that Mr. Obama has achieved some success with his effort, which began with his victory speech in Chicago in November, to gird Americans for a slow economic recovery and difficult years ahead after a campaign that generated striking enthusiasm and high hopes for change. Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq — three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the recession will last two years or longer. As the nation prepares for a transfer of power and the inauguration of its 44th president, Mr. Obama’s stature with the American public stands in sharp contrast to that of President Bush. Mr. Bush is leaving office with just 22 percent of Americans offering a favorable view of how he handled the eight years of his presidency, a record low, and firmly identified with the economic crisis Mr. Obama is inheriting. More than 80 percent of respondents said the nation was in worse shape today than it was five years ago. By contrast, 79 percent were optimistic about the next four years under Mr. Obama, a level of good will for a new chief executive that exceeds that measured for any of the past five incoming presidents. And it cuts across party lines: 58 percent of the respondents who said they voted for Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said they were optimistic about the country in an Obama administration. “Obama is not a miracle worker, but I am very optimistic, I really am,” Phyllis Harden, 63, an independent from Easley, S.C., who voted for Mr. Obama, said in an interview after participating in the poll. “It’s going to take a couple of years at least to improve the economy,” Ms. Harden added. “I think anyone who is looking for a 90-day turnaround is delusional.” Politically, Mr. Obama enjoys a strong foundation of support as he enters what is surely to be a tough and challenging period, working with Congress to swiftly pass a huge and complicated economic package. His favorable rating, at 60 percent, is the highest it has been since the Times/CBS News poll began asking about him. Overwhelming majorities say they think that Mr. Obama will be a good president, that he will bring real change to Washington, and that he will make the right decisions on the economy, Iraq, dealing with the war in the Middle East and protecting the country from terrorist attacks. Over 70 percent said they approved of his cabinet selections. What is more, Mr. Obama’s effort to use this interregnum between Election Day and Inauguration Day to present himself as a political moderate (he might use the word “pragmatist”) appears to be working. In this latest poll, 40 percent described the president-elect’s ideology as liberal, a 17-point drop from just before the election. “I think those of us who voted for McCain are going to be a lot happier with Obama than the people who voted for him,” Valerie Schlink, 46, a Republican from Valparaiso, Ind., said in an interview after participating in the poll. “A lot of the things he said he would do, like pulling out the troops in 16 months and giving tax cuts to those who make under $200,000, I think he now sees are going to be a lot tougher than he thought and that the proper thing to do is stay more towards the middle and ease our way into whatever has to be done. “It can’t all be accomplished immediately.” While the public seems prepared to give Mr. Obama time, Americans clearly expect the country to be a different place when he finishes his term at the end of 2012. The poll found that 75 percent expected the economy to be stronger in four years than it is today, and 75 percent said Mr. Obama would succeed in creating a significant number of jobs, while 59 percent said he would cut taxes for the middle class. The survey found that 61 percent of respondents said things would be better in five years; last April, just 39 percent expressed a similar sentiment. The telephone survey of 1,112 adults was conducted Jan. 11-15. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The poll suggests some of the cross-currents Mr. Obama is navigating as he prepares to take office, and offers some evidence about why he has retooled some of his positions during this period.
  22. Canadian retail sales up in 2008: Report By Derek Abma, Canwest News ServiceJanuary 9, 2009 10:04 AM A report released Friday by Canada's largest processor of credit- and debit-card transactions indicates people were spending more money this past holiday season than the year before despite the downbeat economic environment. Moneris Solutions said its data for December sales indicates "resilience" in consumer spending last month and "dramatic growth" for certain categories, such as department stores and clothing retailers. Moneris said it processed two per cent more sales in all merchant categories in December compared with a year earlier. It said sales at department stores — which includes Wal-Mart and Zellers — were up nine per cent, and sales at apparel outlets were up six per cent. "Canadian consumers and retailers are owed a little bit of credit," said Brian Green, senior vice-president of Moneris Solutions. "Despite the inclement weather and despite all the noise about the economy, consumers went out and they bought more this year than they did last year, and retailers gave them a reason to do that." Green said retailers should be credited for their holiday sales performance because they responded to "a more difficult economy" by providing discounts, conducting successful promotions, and ensuring a positive experience for the people that came to their stores. He said in better economic times, the increase in holiday sales processed by Moneris has been as much as seven per cent. Richard Talbot, president of retail-analysis group Talbot Consultants, said he's not surprised by these numbers and never expected this past holiday season to be as bad as some expected. "I was not a great believer in the doom and gloom for Canada that we were led to believe in the media ahead of time because that wasn't the feedback I was getting from the retailers I deal with," he said. Talbot said the economic situation in Canada is not as dire as in the United States, though there could be more difficulties for domestic retailers in the coming year as the downturn for Canada's largest trading partner, the U.S., spills across the border. Moneris' figures for December showed sales for discount retailers, such as the various "dollar stores," were down 11 per cent from the year before. Moneris said it processed nine per cent less sales for wholesale outlets last month, a category that includes Costco. Green said it's possible the bargains being offered by department and specialty stores cut into some of the business for discount and wholesale outlets. Moneris said the average transaction value in December was three per cent less than a year before. Green said it was the first time Moneris, which has been doing these holiday-season comparisons for eight years, has seen a year-to-year decline in the average transaction amount. The company attributed this to a combination of discounting, lower gasoline prices and overall economic conditions. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  23. Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/01/29/qc-charest-protests-india-asbestos.html#ixzz0e4r4XXPU
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