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Found 40 results

  1. Montreal urged to attract more skilled migrants 27 September 2007 • Media Center » Video Immigration News Montreal International (MI), an organization devoted to promoted the economic well-being of the Montreal, Canada, presented a paper recommending that measures be implemented aimed at attracting and retaining skilled migrants from abroad. The paper was presented as part of the National Assembly's Committee in Culture on planning immigration levels between 2008 and 2010. "The presence of skilled, talented and creative workers is the primary success factor for urban centres with knowledge-based economies, and these workers allow a region like Greater Montréal to increase its competitiveness and ability to attract foreign companies and investment," said Pierre Brunet, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Montreal International. "Given the intensified global competition and the resulting challenges in attracting 'brains,' it is imperative for our current and future prosperity that governments adopt measures that encourage the most qualified candidates to move, work and live here," he added. Latest news To facilitate this goal, MI proposed a series of initiatives to attract and retain skilled foreign labor in the Metropolitan Montreal region. The region has a particular need for high-technology workers, including people skilled in Information and Communications Technology, Aerospace, and Life Sciences. The initiatives include simplifying procedures in obtaining work permits, getting help from the government of Quebec in recruiting overseas workers, and promoting permanent residency over temporary migration. They would also like to see Quebec simplify its selection procedures for temporary workers. Currently, candidates from abroad are asked to hand in the same documents as candidates who live in Quebec, even if they have already handed in the documents required to obtain a work permit. MI also proposed an immigration agreement with France to promote maintaining the "francophone nature of Quebec". It suggested that the Quebec and Canadian governments initiate dialog with the French government to reach an agreement on the free movement of professionals.
  2. The Canadian government is changing the rules on foreign ownership of airlines in Canada. They can now own up to 49% of an airline up from 25%. So it is a possibility that Porter will be bought. The other new small discount players could also be bought and give more access to Canadians. Also I saw a few days ago that Southwest Airlines is looking to fly into Canada in the future. Time will tell how things turn out. It would be nice to have a carrier similar to Ryanair operate within Canada.
  3. Brazil’s economy The devil in the deep-sea oil Unless the government restrains itself, an oil boom risks feeding Brazil’s vices Nov 5th 2011 | from the print edition DEEP in the South Atlantic, a vast industrial operation is under way that Brazil’s leaders say will turn their country into an oil power by the end of this decade. If the ambitious plans of Petrobras, the national oil company, come to fruition, by 2020 Brazil will be producing 5m barrels per day, much of it from new offshore fields. That might make Brazil a top-five source of oil (see article). Managed wisely, this boom has the potential to do great good. Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, wants to use the oil money to pay for better education, health and infrastructure. She also wants to use the new fields to create a world-beating oil-services industry. But the bonanza also risks feeding some Brazilian vices: a spendthrift and corrupt political system; an over-mighty state and over-protected domestic market; and neglect of the virtues of saving, investment and training. So it is worrying that there is far more debate in Brazil about how to spend the oil money than about how to develop the fields. If Brazil’s economy is to benefit from oil, rather than be dominated by it, a big chunk of the proceeds should be saved offshore and used to offset future recessions. But the more immediate risks lie in how the oil is extracted. The government has established a complicated legal framework for the fields. It has vested their ownership in Pré-Sal Petróleo, a new state body whose job is merely to collect and spend the oil money. It has granted an operating monopoly to Petrobras (although the company can strike production-sharing agreements with private partners). The rationale was that, since everyone now knows where the oil is, the lion’s share of the profits should go to the nation. But this glides over the complexity in developing fields that lie up to 300km (190 miles) offshore, beneath 2km of water and up to 5km of salt and rock. To develop the new fields, and build onshore facilities including refineries, Petrobras plans to invest $45 billion a year for the next five years, the largest investment programme of any oil firm in the world. That is too much, too soon, both for Petrobras and for Brazil—especially because the government has decreed that a large proportion of the necessary equipment and supplies be produced at home. How to be Norway, not Venezuela By demanding so much local content, the government may in fact be favouring some of the leading foreign oil-service companies. Many would have set up in Brazil anyway; now, with less price competition from abroad, they will find it easier to charge over the odds. Seeking to ramp up production so fast, and relying so heavily on local supplies, also risks starving non-oil businesses of capital and skilled labour (which is in desperately short supply). Oil money is already helping to drive up Brazil’s currency, the real, hurting manufacturers struggling with high taxes and poor infrastructure. When it comes to oil, striking the right balance between the state and the private sector, and between national content and foreign expertise, is notoriously tricky. But it can be done. To kick-start an oil-services industry, Norway calibrated its national-content rules realistically in scope and duration, required foreign suppliers to work closely with local firms and forced Statoil, its national oil company, to bid against rivals to develop fields. Above all, it invested in training the workforce. But Brazilians need only to look at Mexico’s Pemex to see the politicised bloat that can follow an oil boom—or at Venezuela to see how oil can corrupt a country. Petrobras is not Pemex. Thanks to a meritocratic culture, and the discipline of having some of its stock traded, Petrobras is a leader in deep-sea oil. But operating as a monopolist is a poor way to maintain that edge. Happily, too, Brazil is not Venezuela. Its leaders can prove it by changing the rules to be more Norwegian.
  4. voici le lien (foreign direct investment) :http://www.fdiintelligence.com Le Québec en tete en amerique du nord (growth of capital investment of 321%) pour 2014
  5. I don't really foresee the volume of foreign capital required coming in to Mtl. and thus upsetting its affordability. There are too many vacant locations as is, and not enough population and economic growth to massively reverse the situation. The one-in-six rule: can Montreal fight gentrification by banning restaurants? | Cities | The Guardian The one-in-six rule: can Montreal fight gentrification by banning restaurants? A controversial law limiting new restaurant openings in Montreal’s Saint-Henri area has pitted business owners against those who believe they are fighting for the very survival of Canada’s ‘culture capital’. Who is right? In downtown Montreal, traditionally low rental rates are coming under severe pressure amid a deluge of new restaurants and cafes. Matthew Hays in Montreal Wednesday 16 November 2016 12.30 GMT Last modified on Wednesday 16 November 2016 12.31 GMT In Montreal’s Saint-Henri neighbourhood, the hallmarks of gentrification shout loud and clear. Beautiful old brick buildings have been refurbished as funky shops, niche food markets and hipster cafes. Most notably, there are plenty of high-end restaurants. More than plenty, say some local residents – many of whom can’t afford to eat in any of them. Earlier this month, the city council agreed enough was enough: the councillors of Montreal’s Southwest borough voted unanimously to restrict the opening of new restaurants. The bylaw roughly follows the “one-in-six” rule, with new eateries forbidden from opening up within 25 metres of an existing one. “Our idea was very simple,” says Craig Sauvé, a city councillor with the Projet Montreal party. “Residents need to be able to have access to a range of goods and services within walking distance of their homes. Lots of restaurants are fine and dandy, but we also needs grocery stores, bakeries and retail spaces.” It’s not as though Saint-Henri is saturated with business: a number of commercial and retail properties remain empty. In that environment, some residents have questioned whether it’s right to limit any business. Others felt that something had to be done. Tensions boiled over in May this year, when several restaurants were vandalised by a group of people wearing masks. At the grocery store Parreira Traiteur, which is attached to the restaurant 3734, vandals stole food, announcing they were taking from the rich and giving to the poor. “I was really quite shocked,” says co-owner Maxime Tremblay. “I’m very aware of what’s going on in Saint-Henri: it’s getting hip, and the rents are going up. I understand that it’s problematic. They were under the impression that my store targets people from outside the area, which isn’t really the case. I’ve been very careful to work with local producers and artisans. Why would you attack a locally owned business? Why not a franchise or chain?” Not everyone is sure the change in regulation will work. “The bylaw seems very abstract to me,” says Peter Morden, professor of applied human sciences at Concordia University who has written extensively on gentrification. “I wonder about the logic of singling out restaurants. I think the most important thing for that neighbourhood would be bylaws that protect low-income and social housing.” Alongside restaurants, chic coffee shops have become emblematic of Montreal’s pace of change. As the debate rages, Montrealers are looking anxiously at what has happened to Canada’s two other major metropolises, Toronto and Vancouver. Both cities have experienced huge spikes in real-estate prices and rents, to the point where even upper-middle-class earners now feel shut out of the market. Much of Vancouver’s problem has been attributed to foreign property ownership and speculative buying, something the British Columbia government is now attempting to address. This has led to concern that many of the foreign buyers – mainly Chinese investors – could shift their focus to Montreal. For now, the city’s real estate is markedly cheaper than that of Vancouver or Toronto: the average residential property value is $364,699, compared with Toronto’s $755,755 and Vancouver’s $864,566, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. And rent is cheaper, too: the average for a two-bedroom apartment in central Montreal is $760, compared with Toronto’s $1,288 and Vancouver’s $1,368. Montrealers have little desire for their city to emulate Vancouver’s glass-and-steel skyline. The reasons for this are debatable – the never-entirely-dormant threat of Quebec separatism, the city’s high number of rental units and older buildings, its strict rent-control laws and a small-court system seen to generally favour the rights of tenants. But regardless of why it’s so affordable, many Montrealers want it to stay that way. There is widespread hostility towards the seemingly endless array of glass-and-steel condos that have come to dominate the Vancouver and Toronto skylines. If Montreal does look a bit grittier than other Canadian cities, it owns a unique cultural cachet. The inexpensive cost of living makes it much more inviting to artists, which in turn makes the city a better place to live for everyone; its vibrant musical scene is the envy of the country, and its film, dance and theatre scenes bolster the city’s status as a tourist attraction. In this context, Montreal’s restaurant bylaw is designed to protect the city’s greatest asset: its cheap rents. “I would argue this is a moderate bylaw,” says Sauvé. “We’re just saying one out of every six businesses can be a restaurant. There’s still room for restaurant development.” He says the restaurant restriction is only part of Projet Montreal’s plans, which also include increased funding for social housing. “Right now, the city sets aside a million dollars a year to buy land for social housing. Projet Montreal is proposing we spend $100m a year. The Quebec government hasn’t helped with its austerity cuts: in the last two budgets, they have cut funding for social housing in half. There are 25,000 people on a waiting list.” Perhaps surprisingly, the provincial restaurant lobby group, the Association des Restaurateurs du Quebec, doesn’t have an issue with the bylaw. “We understand the impact gentrification can have,” says spokesperson Dominique Tremblay. “We understand the need for a diversity of businesses. Frankly, if there are too many restaurants on one street, it’ll be that much harder for them to stay open. There won’t be enough customers to go around.” Even despite having been robbed, Tremblay says he recognises the anxiety that swirls around the subject of gentrification. “People feel a neighbourhood loses its soul,” he says. “I get that. I’d rather we find a dialogue, not a fight.”
  6. Story God bless Quebec for making life so hard for foreign trained doctors to practice here, even after passing exams here in Canada / Quebec. Honestly if they got rid of the damn language law, Montreal and the rest of the province would grow in more ways than one. Down with Bill 101.
  7. 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.
  8. Tembec Industries Files Bankruptcy as Foreign Firm (Update1) By Christopher Scinta Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Tembec Industries Inc., a unit of Montreal-based Tembec Inc., filed for protection from U.S. creditors to implement the debt restructuring approved by a Canadian court in February. The company said in papers filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York that its assets and debts exceed $1 billion. Tembec Industries filed under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, saying it wants the debt restructuring that was approved by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to govern U.S. creditors. Chapter 15 allows foreign companies to reorganize outside the U.S. while protecting them from U.S. lawsuits and creditor claims. Holders of more than 98 percent of the company's notes and 95 percent of its stock voted earlier this year in favor of the restructuring that swapped debt for new equity, Michel Dumas, the company's chief financial officer, said in a statement to the court. Tembec had to restructure its debt due to the rising value of the Canadian dollar, declining U.S. home construction, a glut of timber because of a beetle infestation in British Columbia and falling newsprint demand, according to court papers. Douglas Bartner, an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York that filed the petition, didn't immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment. Tembec produces about 1.7 billion board feet of lumber, 1 million tons of paper and 2.1 million tons of pulp a year, according to court papers. Virtually all of Tembec's assets are in Canada, so the reorganization plan approved by the Canadian court should govern, Dumas said. Tembec joins another Canadian wood-products company, Pope & Talbot Inc., in filing for U.S. Chapter 15 as a foreign entity. The case is In re Tembec Industries Inc., 08-13435, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Scinta in New York at [email protected] Last Updated: September 4, 2008 16:37 EDT
  9. Montreal's Greek consulate has already felt the impact of the Greek government's austerity measures, but many in the city's 80 thousand-strong Greek community are more angry at the rioters in their homeland than they are about the cuts. Hundreds of people rioted in the streets of Athens on the weekend, setting fires and looting stores, after the Greek parliament passed a new round of measures aimed at staving off bankruptcy. Politicians voted to slash the country's minimum wage and axe one-in-five civil service jobs over the next three years. Foreign consular offices have not been left unscathed. "We have had cuts, yes," confirmed the Greek consul-general for Montreal, Thanos Kafopoulos. "But we still try to maintain service, and we are also trying to increase revenues." Kafopoulos said many Greek expatriates living in Montreal own property and have investments in their native country - and they are divided over the solution. "There is concern. There is sadness, and there is worry about the process that Greece is going through," he said. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/02/13/montreal-greeks-react.html
  10. The French election and business The terror The 75% tax and other alarming campaign promises Apr 7th 2012 | PARIS | from the print edition EUROFINS SCIENTIFIC, a bio-analytics firm, is the sort of enterprise that France boasts about. It is fast-growing, international and hungry to buy rivals. So people noticed when in March it decamped to Luxembourg. Observers reckon it was fleeing France’s high taxes. It will soon be joined by Sword Group, a successful software firm, which voted to move to Luxembourg last month. As France enters the final weeks of its presidential campaign, candidates are competing to promise new measures that would hurt business. François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, and the current favourite to win the second and final round on May 6th, has promised a top marginal income-tax rate of 75% for those earning over €1m ($1.3m). He has declared war on finance. If the Socialists win, he pledges, corporate taxes will rise and stock options will be outlawed. Other countries welcome global firms. “France seems to want to keep them out,” sighs Denis Kessler, the boss of SCOR, a reinsurer. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an even leftier candidate than Mr Hollande, has been gaining ground. Communists marched to the Bastille on March 18th to support him. The right offers little solace. Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent, is unpopular partly because of his perceived closeness to fat cats. To distance himself, he has promised a new tax on French multinationals’ foreign sales. If Mr Hollande wins, he may water down his 75% income-tax rate. But it would be difficult to back away from such a bold, public pledge. And doing business in France is hard enough without such uncertainty. Companies must cope with heavy social charges, intransigent unions and political meddling. The 35-hour work week, introduced in 2000, makes it hard to get things done. Mr Hollande says he will reverse a measure Mr Sarkozy introduced to dilute its impact by exempting overtime pay from income tax and social charges. The 75% income-tax rate is dottier than a pointilliste painting. When other levies are added, the marginal rate would top 90%. In parts of nearby Switzerland, the top rate is around 20%. French firms are already struggling to hire foreign talent. More firms may leave. Armand Grumberg, an expert in corporate relocation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a law firm, says that several big companies and rich families are looking at ways to leave France. At a recent lunch for bosses of the largest listed firms, the main topic was how to get out. Investment banks and international law firms would probably be the first to go, as they are highly mobile. Already, the two main listed banks, BNP Paribas and Société Générale, are facing queries from investors about Mr Hollande’s plan to separate their retail arms from investment banking. He has also vowed to hike the corporate tax on banks from 33% to nearly 50%. In January Paris launched a new €120m ($160m) “seed” fund to attract hedge funds. Good luck with that. Last month Britain promised to cut its top tax rate from 50% to 45%. No financial centre comes close to Mr Hollande’s 75% rate (see chart). Large firms will initially find it hard to skedaddle. Those with the status ofsociété anonyme, the most common, need a unanimous vote from shareholders. But the European Union’s cross-border merger directive offers an indirect route: French firms can merge with a foreign company. Big groups also have the option of moving away the substance of their operations, meaning decision-making and research and development. Last year, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, the boss of Schneider Electric, an energy-services company, moved with his top managers to run the firm from Hong Kong (where the top tax rate is 15%). For now, the firm’s headquarters and tax domicile remain in France. But for how long? Pressure to leave could come from foreign shareholders, says Serge Weinberg, the chairman of Sanofi, a drugmaker. “American, German or Middle Eastern shareholders will not tolerate not being able to get the best management because of France’s tax regime,” he says. At the end of 2010, foreign shareholders held 42% of the total value of the firms in the CAC 40, the premier French stock index. That is higher than in many other countries. It is not clear whether the 75% tax rate would apply to capital gains as well as income. As with most of the election campaign’s anti-business pledges, the detail has been left vague. Mr Sarkozy has offered various definitions of what he means by “big companies”, which would have to pay his promised new tax. Some businessfolk therefore hope that the most onerous pledges will be quietly ditched once the election is over. But many nonetheless find the campaign alarming. French politicians not only seem to hate business; they also seem to have little idea how it actually works. The most debilitating effects of all this may be long-term. Brainy youngsters have choices. They can find jobs or set up companies more or less anywhere. The ambitious will risk their savings, borrow money and toil punishing hours to create new businesses that will, in turn, create jobs and new products. But they will not do this for 25% (or less) of the fruits of their labour. Zurich is only an hour away; French politics seem stuck in another century. http://www.economist.com/node/21552219
  11. Free-trade zone for Shanghai Mr Li's big idea Jul 16th 2013, 5:34 by V.V.V. | SHANGHAI IF PRESS reports are to be believed, Shanghai's dreams of surpassing Hong Kong to become the region's leading financial centre may have a powerful supporter in Beijing. According to Xinhua, the official government newswire, the ruling State Council has approved plans championed by Li Keqiang, the newish premier, for an ambitious free-trade zone in the mainland's second city. The idea has set the country's press and local wags alight with speculation about how far such an idea could go. Take the conservative view, and the project is a useful albeit limited boost to trade and regional integration. On this view, the new free-trade zone would integrate modern transportation and communications infrastructure with a tax-free framework for domestic and foreign firms. This would help boost China's efforts to become a pan-Asian supply chain hub. Allowing the free movement and warehousing of metals, for example, could also allow Shanghai to develop world-leading commodities exchanges. But if you listen to the plan's more enthusiastic boosters, this idea represents nothing less than a crucible for all of the liberal economic reforms that the new administration hopes will eventually take off across the country. Those dreaming of faster financial liberalisation say that the new zone will allow foreign banks, currently inhibited by red tape from achieving scale or much profitability, to expand rapidly and easily. Domestic banks, currently restricted in their overseas activities, are supposedly going to be allowed to experiment in the new zone with products and services currently banned at home. Technology enthusiasts are claiming that the long-standing ban on video game consoles will be lifted—if consoles are themselves manufactured in the Shanghai free-trade zone. What to make of all this? It is not yet clear what the government really intends to do. However, one problem that officials will confront is that of leakage: since innovations are sure to produce price differences inside and outside the zone, how exactly will they keep enterprising locals from finding ways to arbitrage the difference? The more ambitious the scheme, the more likely it is to fail; the more conservative it is, the less relevant it becomes. That is why the only serious and sustainable way forward for China is to liberalise the entire economy, not just a tiny sliver of it. http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2013/07/free-trade-zone-shanghai?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/bl/libigidea
  12. http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/montreal/montreal-real-estate-tax-foreign-investors-vancouver-1.3704178 A new tax on foreign buyers in Vancouver has real estate agents predicting a spillover effect into other Canadian markets. But it's unclear if Montreal, often an outlier when it comes to real estate trends, will be among them. "I really don't think this is something that's looming for Montreal," said Martin Desjardins, a local realtor. The market here is "nothing compared to what's happening in Toronto and Vancouver," he said. The new 15 per cent tax, which took effect Tuesday, was introduced by the British Columbia government with the intent of improving home affordability in Metro Vancouver, where house prices are among the highest in North America. Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has said he is examining the possibility of a similar tax "very closely," as a measure to address Toronto's skyrocketing home prices. Experts believe the Vancouver tax could exacerbate the booming housing market in Toronto and, potentially, affect other Canadian cities. Brad Henderson, president and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, said some foreign nationals could turn to areas not subject to a tax — either elsewhere in British Columbia or farther afield. "Certainly I think Toronto and potentially other markets like Montreal will start to become more attractive, because comparatively speaking they will be less expensive,'' Henderson said. However, the Montreal market has so far remained off the radar of foreign investors. France, U.S top Montreal foreign buyers the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said the number of foreign investors in the Montreal area is small and concentrated in condominiums in the city's downtown. The report found that 1.3 per cent of condominiums in the greater Montreal region were owned by foreigners last year. That number jumps to nearly five per cent in the city's downtown. Residents of the United States and France accounted for the majority of foreign buyers, while China (at eight per cent) and Saudi Arabia (five per cent) accounted for far fewer buyers. Francis Cortellino, the CMHC market analyst who prepared the study, said it's difficult to determine whether the Vancouver tax will change the situation much in Montreal. "We're not sure yet what [buyers] will do," he said. "There are a lot of possibilities." In Montreal, Desjardins said the foreign real estate buyers most often operate on a much smaller scale, often consisting of "mom and pop investors" or people from France looking for a more affordable lifestyle. "I don't think it will ever be to the point where we'll have to put a tax," he said. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  13. LIST :: http://www.financialpost.com/magazine/fp500/list.html The beat goes on The right numbers are up. But momentum? That’s another thing Cooper Langford, Financial Post Business Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2008 Related Topics Story tools presented by Good stories start in the middle of the action, so let's do that - specifically at the No. 162 spot on the 2008 edition of the Financial Post 500, our annual ranking of Canada's largest companies by revenue. In that position: Martinrea International Inc., a Vaughan, Ont.-based auto-parts maker that's put the pedal to the metal in pursuit of growth. In a year when the loonie hit par with the U.S. buck and belt-tightening at Detroit's Big Three throttled the auto sector, Martinrea did a surprising thing: It more than doubled its revenue to $2 billion. In the process, it also jumped 168 places, making it one of the highest-climbing firms on our list. That an upstart underdog in a declining sector can deliver such a positive outcome says a lot about the stories, themes and companies that define this year's FP500. Some firms have had great years, but for many others it was just the opposite. And in a lot of cases, one company's good fortune comes at the expense of others. Martinrea, for example, made its big leap because it was able to acquire a major rival at depressed market prices. Likewise, factors such as the price of oil - which rose to within a hair's breadth of US$100 per barrel in 2007 - boosted most oil producers while hammering other companies that were directly or indirectly hurt by the high cost of fuel. Martinrea's success is revealing in one other way as well. With total revenue of all the FP500 companies increasing by just $44 billion in 2007 - to $1.583 trillion from $1.539 trillion - the little parts maker's $1.1-billion revenue gain represents fully 2.5% of the entire increase. When you're counting on a company that represents a meagre 0.1% of the total FP500 revenue to do that much heavy lifting, you have to wonder about the strength of the underlying economy and the prospects for the year ahead. Meanwhile, the theme of surprise extended to some of the largest companies on the FP500, too. Start with Royal Bank of Canada, which returns as No. 1 overall. No one doubted that it would retain its crown as Canada's largest corporation, but how many thought it would also lead our list of top revenue gainers? After all, the financial sector was hammered last year by fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis and the choked credit markets that followed. Yet RBC - thanks to its well-diversified base of revenue streams - shone through with a year-over-year increase of more than $5 billion. And then there's EnCana Corp. (No. 13), Canada's largest energy company and one of its most profitable firms. Many people will no doubt be surprised to find that it tops our list of biggest profit decliners. Granted, it still earned $4.3 billion, but that's off $2.1 billion from 2006, despite a 24% increase in revenue to $23 billion. Blame a steep mid-year dip in the price of natural gas, the erosion of margins due to the rising dollar and ever-escalating costs that resulted from shortages of materials and skilled labour. (A complete series of "Top 5" breakout lists and profiles accompanies this story.) ANYONE LOOKING for more predict-able outcomes can still hang their hat on the global commodity boom. While price increases didn't match those of 2006, there was still enough steam in the market for it to have a major impact on the list - powering up some of 2007's largest percentage revenue gains. Yamana Gold Inc. (No. 340), for example, leapt onto the FP500 with a 318% increase, to $800 million, following its $3.5-billion acquisition in September of Meridian Gold Inc. Soaring oil prices continued to stoke more than a few bottom lines across the energy sector - average revenue growth there came in at 18.8%. Leading the way was Calgary-based Harvest Energy Trust (No. 94) with a revenue increase of 193.2%, to $4 billion. This gain was due, in part, to its mid-2006 acquisition of North Atlantic Refining Ltd. in Come By Chance, N.L., a groundbreaking $1.6-billion deal that turned Harvest into Canada's first vertically integrated oil and gas royalty trust. At the same time, however, energy costs - coupled with the strong dollar - weighed heavily on central Canada. They wreaked havoc particularly on forestry companies already reeling from the collapse of the U.S. housing market. Indeed, of the 19 forestry firms on our ranking, only four avoided outright revenue declines. Nine of the remaining firms saw a double-digit fall in their income. Weyerhaeuser Canada Ltd. turned in the worst performance, stumbling to the No. 384 position from No. 231 as its revenue fell to $648 million - a 50% decrease, which earned it the dubious distinction of this year's "Worst Fall." The picture looks only a little brighter in the beleaguered manufacturing sector, where half of the 28 ranked firms posted revenue declines. In broad terms, though, the economy absorbed the worst of these impacts. Much like corporate revenue and profit (which climbed 4.4% for the FP500 as a whole, compared to a 34% rise in 2006), GDP growth held steady, clocking in at 2.7%, the same as 2006, but down from 2.9% in 2005. Unemployment, meanwhile, fell to 6%, its lowest level in 33 years. These kinds of numbers, it seems, were good enough to keep consumers in stores with their wallets open, as a look at some of the newcomers to the FP500 suggests. For evidence, look no further than the No. 288 position, occupied this year by consumer electronics manufacturer LG Electronics Canada, with revenue of $1 billion. A few ranks further down, at No. 311, you'll find Kia Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Korean auto maker Kia Motors, with revenue of almost $900 million. Equally intriguing - given fears for the future of the music and video retail business - is the arrival on the FP500 of HMV Canada Inc. at No. 500, with revenue of $407 million. Granted, HMV's revenue is actually down 0.6%, yet it still made the jump from No. 510 last year on the Next 300 list. DEALING WITH volatility and a rapidly changing economic landscape may have been the biggest theme in corporate Canada during 2007, but it wasn't the only one: Foreign takeovers also swept the market. The headlines were bigger in 2006, when iconic Canadian firms such as Hudson's Bay Co., Inco Ltd. and Dofasco fell into foreign hands. But it wasn't until last year that the number and value of takeover deals hit truly astonishing levels. In the first six months of 2007, the value of foreign M&A activity in Canada soared to $153 billion, according to investment banking firm Crosbie & Co. Inc., eclipsing the total of $102 billion for all of 2006. By the end of the year, the value of deals reached a record-setting $186.8 billion, with international miner Rio Tinto plc's $44.9-billion acquisition of Alcan Inc. (No. 7) leading the way. Other deals included Houston-based Marathon Oil Corp.'s $7.1-billion bid for Western Oil Sands Inc. (No. 296), Abu Dhabi National Energy Co.'s $5-billion takeout of PrimeWest Energy Trust (No. 398) and IBM Corp.'s $4.4-billion acquisition of software maker Cognos Inc. (No. 261). With those kinds of names and numbers in the air, it's no surprise that the flurry of activity reignited the age-old debate about the "hollowing" of corporate Canada. Dominic D'Alessandro, who recently announced he'll retire next year as CEO of Manulife Financial Corp. (No. 2), weighed in during his annual address to shareholders in May 2007, saying: "I sometimes worry that we may all wake up and find that, as a nation, we have lost control of our affairs." Others wondered what all the fuss was about. In a March 2007 report, the Institute for Competitiveness & Prosperity argued that Canada's ability to produce companies that are global leaders far outweighs the losses it has witnessed due to foreign takeovers. Among the examples it used to make its case were Research in Motion Ltd. (No. 65), North American convenience-store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. (No. 24) and ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. (No. 367), a manufacturing-solutions firm active in the international health-care, electronics and automotive sectors. We'll keep our opinions to ourselves, but here's one notable fact: According to Crosbie & Co., Canadian firms made twice as many acquisitions abroad as foreign firms did here. At $93 billion, however, the total value of those deals was only half the value of foreign takeovers in Canada. GIVEN ALL that acquisition activity in 2007, it's almost inevitable that some companies now on our list will have disappeared when it comes time to compile the FP500 for 2008. Others may fall off because their revenue stumbles to levels where they no longer make the cut-off. But the FP500 is a renewable resource; for every firm that leaves, there's another that takes its place. A scan of the Next 300, which follows our main ranking, offers hints. Companies that stand out include The Data Group Income Fund, which rose more than 100 positions to No. 507 and was just $10 million shy of making the big chart, as well as rising food manufacturer Lassonde Industries Inc. at No. 505, up from No. 545 in 2006. The biggest wild card for next year's ranking, however - one that affects nearly every company on both the FP500 and the Next 300 - has to do with where the economy will take them. The FP500 as a whole hasn't had a year of revenue decline since 2004 (and the drop was a miniscule $2 billion), but it looks like a distinct possibility if current GDP forecasts prove accurate. In late April, the Bank of Canada called for GDP growth of just 1.4% in 2008, with most private-sector forecasts in the same ballpark. While Canada's domestic markets should do okay, a weak U.S. economy will drag us down. Results like that, at least a full percentage point lower than 2007's 2.7%, would make it hard for FP500 revenue totals to stay out of the red. If so, spunky companies like Martinrea may be fewer and farther between when we do this again next year.
  14. (Courtesy of CBC) Read more by clicking the link. It would be something to see, but would it actually happen?
  15. Greece | Oil | Keystone XL | RRSPs | BoC | Apple | Target | Bombardier How the falling loonie and low rates could lure more foreign investors to Canadian housing Republish Reprint Garry Marr | February 26, 2015 | Last Updated: Feb 26 7:12 PM ET More from Garry Marr | @DustyWallet Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email Typo? More Jason Payne/Postmedia News, file Jason Payne/Postmedia News, fileLennon Sweeting, a Toronto-based dealer with US Forex which trades in currencies, says the loonie is making housing more attractive to foreign buyers. Canada’s two priciest housing markets may not need the boost, but Toronto and Vancouver could be on the verge of a spike in foreign investment. Toronto's rental market reborn as housing prices surge out of reach for many ‘There’s a huge demand for rental… We are seeing for the first time in 40 years people are starting to build rental,’ says managing director of Timbercreek Asset Management With the loonie falling about 10% against the U.S. dollar in the last six months, foreigners who have their money parked in greenbacks or in currencies pegged to the American dollar are likely to ramp up their interest in the Canadian marketplace, say industry experts. Alberta, which is now facing a crunch of new listings and weak demand, is unlikely to see any benefit as investors run away from the province over oil price fears. “The reputation of the oilpatch here has been tarnished a bit,” says Dan Scarrow, the Shanghai-based managing director of Canadian Real Estate Investment Centre, which was set up just two months ago, and is run by Vancouver-based Macdonald Real Estate Group. He says the opposite is true in Vancouver and Toronto, where prices in January were up 7.5% and 6.1% respectively from a year ago, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. “With the Chinese economy slowing down a bit and with the Canadian dollar depreciating 20% versus the RMB, it might change the calculus of some people of how much they want to leave in China and how much they want to bring to Canada.” To [foreign investors], the Canadian market has gone on sale Mr. Scarrow’s firm caused a stir last year with data it produced from its client base that showed 33.5% of all single-family homes sales in the Vancouver area could be traced to buyers from mainland China. Foreign buyers and their position in the marketplace have been a concern for some market watchers, who fear these investors are inflating housing prices. But there hasn’t been definitive data. Even the chief executive of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., Evan Siddall, conceded there were data gaps. The Crown corporation finally produced data two months ago on the condominium market that showed as much as 2.4% of Toronto highrises were in foreign hands and 2.3% in Vancouver, with some people still disputing those findings. Mr. Scarrow says in terms of Chinese investors they are divided between people still living overseas and people already living in Canada but with money still parked in RMBs. With Chinese New Year over, he expects investment to pick up. Related Foreign buyers taking over — this time it's Canadians in Florida IMF says housing in Canada overvalued by as much as 20% “Decisions have been held off until this week,” he says. “There is a lag for these things in terms of stats and what we see on the ground.” Brian Johnston, chief operating officer of Toronto-based Mattamy Homes, has never been a believer of the idea that foreign investment was a huge factor in Canadian housing, but he says when you get can a 10% to 20% currency swing it has to be positive. “To [foreign investors], the Canadian market has gone on sale,” said Mr. Johnston, noting his company also develops property in the United States it tries to sell to Canadians. “The reverse is true for them. The price of U.S. real estate just went up by 10%.” Lennon Sweeting, a Toront0-based dealer with US Forex which trades in currencies, says the loonie is making housing more attractive to foreign buyers. “The Bank of Canada has tried to offset lower prices with a weaker currency making investing in Canada more attractive,” said Mr. Sweeting, adding most high net worth investors are likely holding U.S. dollars right now. “Absolutely it makes it easier to buy [Canadian real estate]. If you’re holding U.S. dollars you are looking at buying at a discount and there’s plenty of supply.” Low interest rates have also boosted demand, even though foreign investors tend to have to put up larger down payments when borrowing to buy property. Shaun Hildebrand, senior vice-president at condo research firm Urbanation Inc., noted new condo sales in the Greater Toronto Area in 2014 rose over 50% from a year ago but it’s hard to pinpoint how much is attributable to foreign investors. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see more foreign investment in 2015,” said Mr. Hildebrand, adding surveys of Urbanation clients peg the foreign component of Toronto’s condo market at just under 5%. sent via Tapatalk
  16. For the third year in a row, and the 7th overall, Canada was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language category, for Rebelle. Monsieur Lazhar was nominated in 2011 and Incendies was nominated in 2010. It has no shot at winning though, Austria's Amour will take the Oscar (Amour was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Picture) Still, Quebec cinema is on fire! http://blogs.montrealgazette.com/2013/01/10/rebelle-nabs-oscar-nomination-for-best-foreign-language-film/
  17. Montréal ranks first for university research in Canada - Montréal universities received $1 billion in funding MONTREAL, Nov. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Greater Montréal ranked first among all metropolitan areas in Canada, both in terms of funding allocated to university research and in number of university researchers. Such were the findings of an analysis conducted by Montréal International based on ranking issued by the Research Infosource firm on research funding attributed to Canadian universities by federal and provincial organizations, and the private sector. The study also found that in 2006, six of Montréal's main university establishments managed research funds totalling a billion dollars, i.e. 18% of the country's total research budget. Greater Montréal is also the national champion in terms of number of university researchers, who numbered close to 5,500 in 2006, i.e. over a thousand more than its closest competitor, Toronto. These statistics once again confirm Montréal's vocation as Canada's capital of university research. Montréal has held on to the lead position in this respect since 1999. During the 1999-2006 period, Montréal universities alone had over $6.5 billion at their disposal, i.e. 20% of the Canadian total. Pierre Brunet, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Montréal International, underscored the pivotal role of university research in the context of today's knowledge-based economy: "Research activities and the spinoffs of our university system help make Greater Montréal more competitive on the world stage. Because innovation is a powerful driver of economic development and a key element of the drawing power of urban centres, particularly in the high-technology sectors, Montréal's universities can certainly be considered as extremely strategic assets." Recognized as a world-class centre for academic instruction, Montréal boasts 11 university establishments, notably McGill University, Concordia University, Université de Montréal, Université du Québec à Montréal, Institut national de la recherche scientifique and Ecole de technologie supérieure, all of which are mentioned in the study. About Montréal International Montréal International was created in 1996 as a result of a private/public partnership. Its mission is to contribute to the economic development of Greater Montréal and to enhance its international status. Its mandates include attracting foreign investment, international organizations and strategic workers, and supporting the development of innovation and high-technology clusters in the region. Montréal International is financed by the private sector, the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, the City of Montréal and the governments of Canada and Québec. Since 2000, Montréal International has been involved in 379 direct foreign investment projects totalling $5.6 billion. From these investments, 28,186 jobs have been created and 5,459 jobs have been maintained. For further information: Céline Clément, Communications Advisor, Montréal International, (514) 987-9390, [email protected], www.montrealinternational.com
  18. Oscar Nominations came out this morning, and from what I can see, there are three Canadian nominations, all of which are for Quebecers! Denis Villeneuve's Incendies for Best Foreign Language Film http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110125/mtl_nomination_110125/20110125?hub=Montreal Adrien Morot for Best Makeup (Barney's Version) http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20110125/barneys-version-oscar-nomination-110125?s_name=oscars2011&no_ads= Dean DeBlois for Best Animated Feature (co-director of How To Train Your Dragon) http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20110125/oscar-nomination-110125/20110125?s_name=oscars2011
  19. China's Olympic Nightmare What the Games Mean for Beijing's Future Elizabeth C. Economy and Adam Segal From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2008 ELIZABETH C. ECONOMY is C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. ADAM SEGAL is Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Of Related Interest On the night of July 13, 2001, tens of thousands of people poured into Tiananmen Square to celebrate the International Olympic Committee's decision to award the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing. Firecrackers exploded, flags flew high, and cars honked wildly. It was a moment to be savored. Chinese President Jiang Zemin and other leaders exhorted the crowds to work together to prepare for the Olympics. "Winning the host rights means winning the respect, trust, and favor of the international community," Wang Wei, a senior Beijing Olympic official, proclaimed. The official Xinhua News Agency reveled in the moment, calling the decision "another milestone in China's rising international status and a historical event in the great renaissance of the Chinese nation." Hosting the Olympics was supposed to be a chance for China's leaders to showcase the country's rapid economic growth and modernization to the rest of the world. Domestically, it provided an opportunity for the Chinese government to demonstrate the Communist Party's competence and affirm the country's status as a major power on equal footing with the West. And wrapping itself in the values of the Olympic movement gave China the chance to portray itself not only as a rising power but also as a "peace-loving" country. For much of the lead-up to the Olympics, Beijing succeeded in promoting just such a message. The process of preparing for the Games is tailor-made to display China's greatest political and economic strengths: the top-down mobilization of resources, the development and execution of grand-scale campaigns to reform public behavior, and the ability to attract foreign interest and investment to one of the world's brightest new centers of culture and business. Mobilizing massive resources for large infrastructure projects comes easily to China. Throughout history, China's leaders have drawn on the ingenuity of China's massive population to realize some of the world's most spectacular construction projects, the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, and the Three Gorges Dam among them. The Olympic construction spree has been no different. Beijing has built 19 new venues for the events, doubled the capacity of the subway, and added a new terminal to the airport. Neighborhoods throughout the city have been either spruced up to prepare for Olympic visitors or simply cleared out to make room for new Olympic sites. Official government spending for the construction bonanza is nearing $40 billion. In anticipation of the Olympics, the government has also embarked on a series of efforts to transform individual behavior and modernize the capital city. It has launched etiquette campaigns forbidding spitting, smoking, littering, and cutting in lines and introduced programs to teach English to cab drivers, police officers, hotel workers, and waiters. City officials have used Olympic projects as a means to refurbish decaying buildings and reduce air pollution, water shortages, and traffic jams. Yet even as Beijing has worked tirelessly to ensure the most impressive of Olympic spectacles, it is clear that the Games have come to highlight not only the awesome achievements of the country but also the grave shortcomings of the current regime. Few in the central leadership seem to have anticipated the extent to which the Olympic Games would stoke the persistent political challenges to the legitimacy of the Communist Party and the stability of the country. Demands for political liberalization, greater autonomy for Tibet, increased pressure on Sudan, better environmental protection, and an improved product-safety record now threaten to put a damper on the country's coming-out party. As the Olympic torch circled the globe with legions of protesters in tow, Beijing's Olympic dream quickly turned into a public-relations nightmare. Although the Chinese government excels when it comes to infrastructure projects, its record is poor when it comes to transparency, official accountability, and the rule of law. It has responded clumsily to internal and external political challenges -- by initially ignoring the international community's desire for China to play a more active role in resolving the human rights crisis in Darfur, arresting prominent Chinese political activists, and cracking down violently on demonstrators. Although there is no organized opposition unified around this set of demands, the cacophony of voices pressuring China to change its policies has taken much of the luster off of the Beijing Games. Moreover, although the Communist Party has gained domestic support from the nationalist backlash that has arisen in response to the Tibetan protesters and their supporters in the West, it also worries that this public anger will spin out of control, further damaging the country's international reputation. Already, China's coveted image as a responsible rising power has been tarnished. For many in the international community, it has now become impossible to separate the competing narratives of China's awe-inspiring development and its poor record on human rights and the environment. It is no longer possible to discuss China's future without taking its internal fault lines seriously. For the Chinese government, the stakes are huge. China's credibility as a global leader, its potential as a model for the developing world, and its position as an emerging center of global business and culture are all at risk if these political challenges cannot be peacefully and successfully addressed. TIANANMEN'S GHOSTS Nothing has threatened to ruin China's Olympic moment as much as criticism of the country's repressive political system. China lost its bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics to Sydney, Australia, at least in part because of the memory of the violent Tiananmen Square crackdown of June 1989. When China made its bid for the 2008 Games, Liu Jingmin, vice president of the Beijing Olympic Bid Committee, argued, "By allowing Beijing to host the Games, you will help the development of human rights." François Carrard, director general of the International Olympic Committee, warily supported such a sentiment: acknowledging the seriousness of China's human rights violations, he nonetheless explained, "We are taking the bet that seven years from now ... we shall see many changes." Few would place such a bet today. For months, human rights activists, democracy advocates, and ethnic minorities in China have been pressuring the government to demonstrate its commitment to greater political freedom. For many of them, the Olympics highlight the yawning gap between the very attractive face that Beijing presents to the world and the much uglier political reality at home. Exactly one year before the Olympics, a group of 40 prominent Chinese democracy supporters posted an open letter online denouncing the Olympic glitz and glamour. "We know too well how these glories are built on the ruins of the lives of ordinary people, on the forced removal of urban migrants, and on the sufferings of victims of brutal land grabbing, forced eviction, exploitation of labor, and arbitrary detention," they wrote. "All this violates the Olympic spirit." Even Ai Weiwei, an artistic consultant for Beijing's signature "Bird's Nest" stadium, has been critical of the Chinese government. He declared in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, "The government wants to use these games to celebrate itself and its policy of opening up China .... By now, it has become clear to me that this hope of liberalization cannot be fulfilled .... The system won't allow it." Protests have arisen around virtually every Olympic Games in recent history, but Beijing, with its authoritarian political system, is uniquely threatened by dissenting voices, and it has responded with a traditional mix of intimidation, imprisonment, and violent repression. Teng Biao, a lawyer and human rights activist, was seized in March 2008, held by plainclothes police for two days, and warned to stop writing critically about the Olympics. Yang Chunlin, a land-rights activist, was arrested for inciting subversion because he had gathered more than 10,000 signatures from farmers whose property had been expropriated by officials for development projects. After a 20-minute trial, he was sentenced to five years in prison. In April, the HIV/AIDS activist Hu Jia, who was also one of the authors of the open letter, was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for subversion, after being held under house arrest for several months along with his wife and baby daughter. Although the vast majority of Chinese are probably unaware of these protests and arrests, Beijing's overreaction demonstrates how fearful the Chinese government is that any dissent or protests could garner broader political support and threaten the party's authority. CRASHING THE PARTY The international community has also raised its own human rights concerns. For more than a year, China has endured heightened scrutiny of its close economic and political ties to Sudan. A coalition of U.S. celebrities and international human rights activists has ratcheted up the pressure on Beijing to do more to help bring an end to the atrocities in Darfur, labeling the 2008 Olympics "the genocide Olympics." The very public attention they have brought to China's relations with the Sudanese government prompted the movie director Steven Spielberg to withdraw as the artistic adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Games. It also seems to have had some effect on Beijing, which now strives to appear as if it is placing more pressure on Khartoum. The Chinese government's questionable human rights record has received even more scrutiny since its violent suppression of Tibetan demonstrators in the spring. In March, Tibetan Buddhist monks marched to commemorate the 49th anniversary of Tibet's failed independence uprising and to call for greater autonomy for Tibet and the return of their exiled religious leader, the Dalai Lama. The demonstrations soon escalated into violent protests. Chinese police forcefully cracked down on the protesters in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and throughout other Tibetan areas of western China, leaving more than a hundred dead and injuring hundreds more. Ignoring international calls for restraint, Beijing closed off much of the affected region, detained or expelled foreign journalists from the area, and created a "most wanted" list of Tibetan protesters. All independent sources of news, including broadcasts by foreign television stations and YouTube videos, were blacked out in China, and text messages in and out of Tibet were filtered. Vitriolic government propaganda condemned the Dalai Lama as a "wolf in monk's robes" and a "devil with a human face but the heart of a beast." Chinese officials accused the "evil Dalai clique" of attempting to restore "feudalist serfdom" in the region and called for a "people's war" against it. The international community immediately condemned the crackdown and called for Beijing to resume negotiations with representatives of the Dalai Lama. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Czech President Václav Klaus, and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk have since announced that they will not be attending the Olympics' opening ceremonies. As the Olympic torch made its way across the globe, the number of protesters along its path ballooned, from a few in Athens to thousands in London, Paris, San Francisco, and Seoul. These large-scale disruptions of Olympic pageantry humiliated the Chinese government and angered Chinese citizens, producing a wave of nationalist counterdemonstrations by Chinese living abroad and millions of virulent anti-Western posts on Chinese Web sites. A bit more than a month after Beijing's initial crackdown, senior Chinese leaders indicated a willingness to meet with the Dalai Lama's envoys. But this does not represent a fundamental shift in policy; it is merely a stopgap measure designed to quell the international outrage. WAITING TO INHALE Although some foreign athletes have joined the chorus of China's critics, the more immediate concern for many Olympians will be whether Beijing can ensure clean air and safe food for the duration of the Games. The city has reportedly spent as much as $16 billion to deliver a "green Olympics"; many of the Olympic sites showcase a number of clean-energy and water-conservation technologies, and for the past seven years the city has been shutting down many of the biggest polluters and steadily weaning the city's energy infrastructure off coal, replacing it with natural gas. On February 26, senior Chinese officials formally announced a more sweeping effort, including restrictions on heavy industry in five neighboring provinces surrounding Beijing, a ban on construction in the months immediately preceding the Olympics, and plans to compensate car owners for staying off the road during the Games. But pollution levels in Beijing are still far above average. On a typical day, the city's air pollution is three times as bad as the standard deemed safe by the World Health Organization. Last August, an air-quality test revealed that pollution levels in the city had barely improved despite one-third of the cars having been removed from the city's roads. Even some senior Chinese officials have reservations about the prospects for a green Olympics. The mayor of Beijing, Guo Jinlong, admitted in early 2008 that bringing traffic and environmental pollution under control by the time the Games begin would be an "arduous" task. After all, there are few economic incentives for businesses to reduce pollution; the central government routinely calls on local officials and businesses to clean up their act to no effect. Many factory managers have agreed to slow production during the Olympics but not to shut down. In the brutally competitive Chinese economy, closing factories for several weeks could well spell the end of those enterprises unless the government provides significant financial compensation. Meanwhile, corruption flourishes, and local officials openly flout environmental laws and regulations. In January 2008, it was revealed by a Western environmental consultant, Steven Andrews, that officials in Beijing's Environmental Protection Bureau had for several years been skewing the city's air-quality data by eliminating readings from some monitoring stations in heavily congested areas. Faced with the prospect of dangerously high levels of air pollution during the Games, International Olympic Committee officials have warned that competition in endurance sports, such as the marathon and long-distance cycling, might be postponed or even canceled. The world's fastest marathon runner, Haile Gebrselassie, has already withdrawn from the Olympic race for fear that air pollution might permanently damage his health. Many athletes are planning to take precautions, such as arriving in Beijing as late as possible, coming well equipped with medication for possible asthma attacks, and wearing masks once there. Beijing's capacity to provide safe food and clean water for the athletes is also in question. In the past year, China has endured a rash of scandals involving food tainted with steroids and insecticides, and as much as half of the bottled water in Beijing does not meet potable-water standards. Some teams, such as the United States' and Australia's, have announced that they will be bringing some or all of their own food and that their bottled water will be supplied by Coca-Cola. Olympic officials have put in place a massive food-security apparatus that will track the athletes' food from the producers and distributors to the Olympic Village. Having promised a safe and green Olympics, Beijing must now deliver. Otherwise, it risks irrevocably damaging the historic legacy of the 2008 Games. BEIJING'S BLIND SPOT Beijing's failure to respond creatively to its critics and effectively manage its environmental and product-safety issues reveals a certain political myopia. China's leaders have long been aware that opponents of the regime would try to disrupt the Olympics. They prepared extensively for disturbances by developing a citywide network of surveillance cameras and training, outfitting, and deploying riot squads and other special police. They also made some attempts to defuse international hostility, such as offering to renew the human rights dialogue with Washington that was suspended in 2004 and publicly pressuring Khartoum to accept a joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force. But Beijing has been unable to counter the images emanating from Darfur and Tibet. Chinese leaders simply saw no relationship between the pageantry of the Olympics and Tibet, Sudan, or broader human rights concerns, and they never figured out how to engage and disarm those who did. They continue to fail in this regard. As a result, tensions will run high until the end of the Games. There are also real worries that with the spotlight focused on Beijing during the Games, some of the opposition to the regime could take an extreme form. For example, Chinese security forces have expressed concern that activists from the religious movement Falun Gong might attempt to immolate themselves in Tiananmen Square. Because of such concerns, the 30,000 journalists covering the Games may find themselves straitjacketed when reporting on controversial stories. And despite recent assurances that a live feed from Beijing will be allowed and that the Internet will be uncensored in China, the government has yet to fulfill its promise to allow foreign journalists unfettered access throughout the country. The Chinese public is already angry about what it sees as a pervasive bias toward Tibet and disrespect of China in the Western media. Chinese citizens are likely to view any disturbances of the Games as an effort to embarrass the country and undermine China's rise. Foreign media, corporations, and governments might all bear the brunt of the sort of nationalist backlash that the French retailer Carrefour endured -- in the form of a consumer boycott -- in the wake of the disrupted torch ceremony in Paris. The combination of demonstrators desperate for the world's attention and the heightened nationalism of Chinese citizens makes for an extremely combustible situation. The official Beijing Olympic motto of "One World, One Dream" suggests an easy cosmopolitanism, but Chinese nationalist sentiment will be running high during the Games, stoked by the heat of competition. In the past, sporting events in China, in particular soccer matches against Japanese teams, have led to ugly riots, and the same could happen during the Olympics. If the Games do not go well, there will be infighting and blame shifting within the party's central leadership, and it will likely adopt a bunker mentality. Vice President Xi Jinping, the government's point man on the Olympics and President Hu Jintao's heir apparent, would likely face challenges to his presumed leadership. A poor outcome for the Games could engender another round of nationalist outbursts and Chinese citizens decrying what they see as racism, anti-Chinese bias, and a misguided sense of Western superiority. This inflamed form of Chinese nationalism could be the most enduring and dangerous outcome of the protests surrounding the Olympics. If the international community does not welcome China's rise, the Chinese people may ask themselves why China should be bound by its rules. As a result, Beijing may find the room it has for foreign policy maneuvering more restricted by public opinion. This form of heightened nationalism has occasionally hurt the Chinese government, as happened after a U.S. spy plane was shot down over China in 2001. When the crew was eventually released, an outraged Chinese public accused the government of weakness and kowtowing to the West. More recently, despite a decade of increasingly close economic, political, and cultural ties between Beijing and Seoul, South Koreans were outraged by the Chinese counterprotests during the Olympic torch ceremony; in response, the South Korean government imposed tight restrictions on the number of Chinese students permitted to study in the country. Sensing the potentially damaging consequences of a prolonged nationalist backlash, the official Chinese media began signaling in May that it was time for people to move on, focus on economic development, and steer clear of staging counterprotests and boycotting Western companies. The barrage of criticism China has endured prior to the Olympics may have brought a short-term gain in forcing the Chinese leadership to agree to meet with the Dalai Lama's envoys, but real reform of China's Tibet policy or a broader willingness to embrace domestic reforms is unlikely to follow in the near term. Nevertheless, the current controversy could yield positive results in the long run. Beijing's Olympic trials and tribulations could provoke soul searching among China's leaders and demonstrate to them that their hold on domestic stability and the country's continued rise depend on greater transparency and accountability and a broader commitment to human rights. Already, some Chinese bloggers, intellectuals, and journalists, such as Wang Lixiong and Chang Ping, have seized the moment to call for less nationalist rhetoric and more thoughtful engagement of outside criticism. The nationalist outburst has provided them with an opening to ask publicly how Chinese citizens can legitimately attack Western media organizations if their own government does not allow them to watch media outlets such as CNN and the BBC. Similarly, they have used the Olympics as a springboard to discuss the significance of Taiwan's thriving democracy for the mainland's own political future, the need for rethinking China's approach to Tibet, and the desirability of an open press. Whatever the longer-term implications of the 2008 Olympics, what has transpired thus far bears little resemblance to Beijing's dreams of Olympic glory. Rather than basking in the admiration of the world, China is beset by internal protests and international condemnation. The world is increasingly doubtful that Beijing will reform politically and become a responsible global actor. The Olympics were supposed to put these questions to bed, not raise them all anew. http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080701faessay87403-p0/elizabeth-c-economy-adam-segal/china-s-olympic-nightmare.html
  20. Ottawa is preparing to crack down on employment-insurance recipients who are not seeking work in areas where employers are forced to bring in foreign workers to fill jobs. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday the government wants to reduce disincentives to work by creating a “greater connection” between the EI program and the temporary foreign worker program, which is under Mr. Kenney’s purview. “What we will be doing is making people aware there’s hiring going on and reminding them that they have an obligation to apply for available work and to take it if they’re going to qualify for EI,” Mr. Kenney told the National Post editorial board on Wednesday. He was touting immigration reforms that will try to streamline the entry of immigrants and foreign workers, favouring entrepreneurs, innovators and those with high quality professional credentials. The reforms would require unemployed Canadians to accept local jobs that are currently being filled by temporary foreign workers. “Nova Scotia province-wide has 10% unemployment, but the only way Christmas tree operators can function in the Annapolis Valley is to bring in Mexicans through this agricultural worker program,” he said, also pointing to the increased number of Russians working in Prince Edward Island fish processing plants and Romanians working at the Ganong chocolate factory in New Brunswick. “Even on the north shore of New Brunswick, which has the highest unemployment in the province, the MPs keep telling me the employers definitely need more temporary workers. What’s going on here?” Minister of Human Resources Diane Finley will soon address the issue in further detail, Mr. Kenney said. The coming changes were first revealed in last month’s federal budget, which proposed spending $387-million over two years to align EI benefit amounts with local labour market conditions. The government will consider more measures to ensure the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will continue to meet those labour needs by “better aligning” the program with labour demands, according to budget documents. At the same time, businesses will have to have made “all reasonable efforts” to recruit from the domestic labour force before they seek workers from abroad. When an employer looks to the government for a labour market opinion, which is one step in getting approval to hire foreign temporary workers, Mr. Kenney said the government will soon point out the number of people on EI in that employer’s region and ensure the people collecting EI are aware of that job opportunity. “If you don’t take available work, you don’t get EI,” he said. “That’s always been a legal principle of that program.” http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/04/18/conservatives-want-unemployed-to-fill-jobs-going-to-temporary-foreign-workers-jason-kenney/