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Found 30 results

  1. Montreal's tempest in a beer cup A summertime deal between Labatt and the city's Gay Village raises questions about private interests dominating public spaces From Tuesday's Globe and Mail August 5, 2008 at 3:57 AM EDT MONTREAL — Stéphanie Dagenais didn't mind the Bud Light parasols and cups she was forced to use on her restaurant patio in Montreal's Gay Village. It's when the brewery started telling her Bud Light had to go in those plastic cups that the manager of Kilo bristled. "I think it's an aggressive way of doing a sponsorship," said Ms. Dagenais, who was forced to sell the beer under an exclusive deal struck between Labatt, which brews the beer in Canada, and the Gay Village business improvement group. The business association sold the right to sell beer on 54 new patios along a stretch of Ste-Catherine Street to Labatt, part of a summer-long festival that will see cars banished from the street. Owners say the $100,000 deal came with minimum sales quotas for each bar and restaurant, including a healthy sample of Bud Light. Patrons at a bar on Ste-Catherine Street in Montreal drink Molson Export out of the Bud Light cups required through Labatt’s sponsorship of the area. (John Morstad for The Globe and Mail) The Globe and Mail The deal irks restaurateurs like Ms. Dagenais, who doesn't sell much beer at her small restaurant, best known for tasty desserts, and others who try to tempt palates with fine dining, wine and specialty ales. A representative of the business group even suggested Bud Light is a popular beer among gays in the United States. While the banishment of cars from the street has been good for many businesses and great for pedestrians, the sponsorship is triggering a broader tempest in a beer cup over how much control private enterprises should have over public space. "I guess everything has a price," said Ms. Dagenais, who has several cases of Bud Light collecting dust. "But should it be that way? I don't think so, but it seems to be the way we work in North America." Christopher DeWolf, a writer for Spacing Montreal, an urban affairs website affiliated with the Toronto magazine Spacing, questions how corporate interests were allowed to take over a public street. "The closure to cars has created a destination, it creates an ambience that is impossible with cars," Mr. DeWolf said. "But here you have a product foisted on merchants and their customers. It raises the question of how far we should allow private interests to have such control over our public spaces. I think it's a burden on merchants and it restricts public choice." Bernard Plante, director of the Gay Village business association, said the deal is no different than exclusive beer rights negotiated at other city venues. He pointed to the privately owned Bell Centre where only Molson beer is sold. Mr. Plante brushed aside complaints about the use of public space, saying his business group is provincially legislated and democratically run. "These are the decisions we made on behalf of businesses on the street," Mr. Plante said. Merchants could shed the restraints of sponsorship when the deal runs out after the summer of 2009, he added. But they will have to agree to pay for the street closing, including the cost of street decor and rent to the city for having patios on public streets and sidewalks. Across North America, summer festivals run by private entities take over parks and streets, often with exclusive rights to allow access and to sell products. Many of the examples are more intrusive than the Montreal beer sponsorship. In one infamous example in the United States, Washington's National Mall was fenced off for a Pepsi product launch and concert - a 2003 scene described by the Project for Public Spaces as "singularly shocking for its sheer scope and audacity." Steve Davies, a vice-president of the New York-based group that encourages sensible integration of private business in public spaces, says sponsors get in trouble when they start constraining normal commercial activity. "It goes too far when they use a sponsorship to start telling dozens of private businesses what to do on public land over an entire summer," Mr. Davies said. In Montreal, big chunks of major downtown streets are regularly closed to traffic for short periods for everything from the Jazz Festival to Just for Laughs. The Gay Village pedestrian mall will last 2½ months. Mr. DeWolf said Montreal has one big thing right: The city usually emphasizes free public access, even if access to products like food and drink are often restricted. Labatt officials could not be reached yesterday. But Jean-Luc Raymond, owner of La Planète, which specializes in international cuisine, says he's noticed a little more flexibility from his brewery representative since the controversy broke out. Mr. Raymond has managed to get a little more of the fashionable Stella Artois and a little less Bud Light. "The Bud Light is still languishing," he said, "but I'm not like some others who have to try to sell Bud Light and cheesecake."
  2. Many cities bum rush towards bankruptcy, raising taxes instead of cutting spending, but one city – Colorado Springs – has drawn the line. When sales tax revenues dropped, voters were asked to make up the shortfall by tripling their property taxes. Voters emphatically said no, despite the threat of reduced services. Those cuts have now arrived. More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled. The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter. Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks… City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. I bet they do find private funding. That and community involvement is a better solution than throwing more money to government bureaucrats. A private enterprise task force is focusing on the real problem; the city’s soaring pension and health care costs for city employees. Broadmoor luxury resort chief executive Steve Bartolin wrote an open letter asking why the city spends $89,000 per employee, when his enterprise has a similar number of workers and spends only $24,000 on each. Good question, and also the subject of my Fox Business Network show tonight. Government employee unions are a big reason cities spend themselves into bankruptcy. Some union workers in Colorado Springs make it clear that they are not volunteering to help solve the budget problems. (A) small fraction of city employees have made perfectly clear they won’t stand for pay cuts, no matter what happens to the people who pay their wages. The attitude of a loud minority of employees, toward local taxpayers, sometimes sounds like “(expletive) them.” Maybe those workers should sense change in the air. Colorado Springs residents understand that if you can’t pay for it, you can’t have it. And if a rec center has to be closed, or the cops lose their helicopters, or government workers get a pay cut, so be it. Read more: http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/02/11/colorado-springs-walks-the-walk/#ixzz0fH4d5Mpd
  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. http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/02/25/lawrence-solomon-transit-competition/
  5. Investing in infrastructure A question of trust Chicago pioneers a new way of paying for infrastructure May 12th 2012 | CHICAGO AND WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition FOR decades America has underinvested in infrastructure—even though poor roads, delayed flights, crumbling bridges and inefficient buildings are an expensive burden. Deficiencies in roads, bridges and transport systems alone cost households and businesses nearly $130 billion in 2010, mostly because of higher running costs and travel delays. The calculated underinvestment in transport infrastructure alone runs to about $94 billion a year. This filters through to all parts of the economy and increases costs at the point of use of many raw materials, and thereby reduces the productivity and competitiveness of American firms and their goods. Overall the American Society of Civil Engineers reckons that this underinvestment will end up costing each family in the country about $10,600 between 2010 and 2020. Yet though investment in infrastructure would bring clear gains in efficiency, there is little money around, and all levels of government are reluctant or unable to pile up more debt. Traditional sources of funding, such as the (flat) tax on petrol, have delivered a dwindling amount of revenue as soaring prices at the pump have persuaded people to drive less. The federal government has been unable to get Congress to agree on other ways to generate new sources of funding for transport, to the point where money for new highways has almost dried up. For years America has talked about a federal infrastructure bank, which would blend private and public finance and would yield returns over a long number of years. Various other countries have tried the idea, but it has never caught on in the United States. Barack Obama wants $10 billion in funding as initial capital for a national infrastructure bank as part of his jobs plan. So far the idea has gone nowhere in Congress. In March the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announced that his city could not wait for such help from elsewhere and will go it alone. With the speedy approval of the city council he created a new breed of infrastructure finance known as the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT). The trust is not so much an infrastructure bank with money to hand out, but a city effort to match public infrastructure needs to private investors on a case-by-case basis; something more like an exchange. The city will finance the running costs of the trust itself to the tune of $2.5m. Several financial institutions are already lined up to make investments totalling $1.7 billion, among them Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, Ullico, Citibank and JPMorgan. The background to this is that Mr Emanuel wants to spend about $7 billion to rebuild the city of Chicago—on everything from streets, to parks, to the water system, schools, commuter rail and the main airport. Tom Alexander, a spokesman for the mayor, says the city cannot ignore the future as it deals with the present. But raising the money needed for new investment, while maintaining the current infrastructure, is a daunting task. The CIT allows Mr Emanuel to tap the private sector for money, rather than just raising taxes and borrowing. The private sector will invest money in projects and get it back in the shape of tolls, user fees, premium pricing or even tax breaks. The first project is an investment of $225m to make city buildings more energy-efficient. This is expected to reduce annual energy costs by $20m, and the savings will then be used to pay back the investors. The CIT will provide some capital, bond financing and grants. It will also offer tax-exempt debt to entice investors. Returns on investment could vary from 3% on tax-exempt bonds to 8% for equity partners. Private involvement should, in theory, improve the quality of projects that get undertaken. A politically-expedient but financially dubious project would be unlikely to generate enough money to interest private investors. Padding, short cuts or shoddy construction are less likely to be tolerated. And city leaders might in turn overcome their aversion to the efficient pricing of public resources such as parking and busy roads. At the moment, investor appetites are keen and the supply of potential projects looks ample. The project is causing some anxiety in Chicago, though. Although the new trust would leave all the resulting investment under public ownership, the city’s recent bitter experience with a bungled 75-year lease of its parking meters under a previous mayor has left residents fearful. And with reason. For example, experience with public-private partnerships shows that cost-benefit estimates can sometimes prove wildly optimistic. When projects go bad—leaving half-built roads and schools—they become a public problem. Private investment might well end up being recouped in higher user fees. Mr Emanuel is well aware that other cities are watching this experiment with interest. The mayor is a hugely ambitious man, who is undoubtedly keen to leave a lasting legacy, and who some believe may want to remain as mayor for a period of Daleyian proportions. He, of all people, will want to build something that other cities will want to copy, not avoid. http://www.economist.com/node/21554579
  6. Less Charter, more economy. MONTREAL — There was an initial sense among many observers that the Liberal election victory would be good for the economy, at least in the short run. It’s true that some measure of political stability will return to the province as the PQ’s divisive Charter of Quebec Values is thrown in the wastebasket and as the immediate risk of a referendum on sovereignty is removed. But the sobering truth is that Quebec could face years of mediocre economic growth unless it undertakes some major structural reforms. That warning came this week from Glen Hodgson, senior economist at the Conference Board of Canada, who said Quebec is heading for a prolonged period of economic underperformance unless decisive steps are taken by government and the private sector. “Quebecers could face the disagreeable prospect of deteriorating public services combined with a rise in income taxes” unless the province’s competitive position improves, he wrote in an opinion piece in La Presse. Interviewed Tuesday, Hodgson noted that over the past couple of years, during a period of economic recovery, Quebec has been unable to do better than a growth rate of around one per cent. That raises the question: What’s in store once the North American economic cycle shifts back to recession? The current underperformance has weakened the government’s fiscal position and made it less able to withstand the next economic downturn. Combined with a slowdown in private investment and little growth in the job market, this is playing havoc with government revenues. There are reports that the $2.5 billion deficit projected for 2013-14 may run as high as $3.3 billion once the Liberals get a full picture of public finances. Meanwhile, Quebec’s public debt is the highest in Canada, equalling about 50 per cent of its economic production. The Conference Board estimates growth of two per cent this year as the recovery in the United States picks up steam and extends into next year. “But the recovery will not last,” said Hodgson, “because the foundation for growth in Quebec is not solid.” The province’s long-term growth potential is around 1.5 per cent, he says, which will put it behind the eight ball. “You can’t grow at 1.5 per cent and be able to pay for health care when it’s growing at five per cent.” One doesn’t have to look far to find the reasons for Quebec’s troubles. “It’s really driven by demographics, private investment and productivity,” Hodgson said. Demographic forces are hitting Quebec harder than Ontario, which is also struggling with a weak economy. As active participation in the Quebec labour force declines, paying for expensive government programs like health care and education will get more difficult. The Conference Board projects growth in the labour force of just 0.5 per cent after 2015 as baby-boomer retirements kick in. Compensating for that reduction will require integrating more immigrants into the economy, providing more job training and boosting productivity. Former Liberal finance minister Raymond Bachand says he’s optimistic that some of those hurdles can be overcome. Bachand has agreed to head a new economic think tank called the Institut du Québec, which will be a joint venture between the Conference Board and the HEC business school in Montreal. The goal, he says, is to stimulate public debate with evidence-based research on the economy and public finances. Too many think tanks these days have a political bias, he believes. “We’re going to come up with a fiscal outlook in the next few weeks as our first piece of research,” Bachand said. “We know that we have a demographic challenge. We need the labour market to be healthy. “We have to get private investment back and we have to get our health costs under control. That’s the real goal of the Institut: to contribute to the debate from a fact-based point of view.” Between the Conference Board and HEC, the joint venture will have 400 researchers at its disposal to try to contribute to the debate. That should help the new finance minister and other government players get a better sense of the policy options available.
  7. Hi guys...Anybody have access to this MERX Private Construction site. I am limited to government bids. How about Habsfan or Mark AC or Lindberg etc etc I hi-lited 4 projects that I don't think we know about on our MTLURB. These are official bids so these are approved and will be proceeding as soon as the bids are accepted. I hope we find a couple of big surprises!!!!!!!!!! Gain access to hundreds of Construction projects with MERX Private Construction MERX Private Construction provides a value-added service tailored to contractors looking for project information needed to bid on contracts in the Canadian construction industry. Reporting on projects from the 'pre-design' stage through to the start of construction, businesses of any size have affordable access to billions of dollars in construction opportunities. From the construction of houses and hotels to office buildings and shopping malls, MERX Private Construction has all the information you need to bid on contracts. Please review the listings below of the latest opportunities posted in your region All of Quebec Townhouses & Condominium- La Cite Verte – Québec Condominium - Place des Jardins (Phase 1-5) Québec Condominium - Bella Vista - Phase 2 (101 Units) St-Laurent Office Building - Complexe Jules Dallard - Phase 2 – Québec Data Centre – Québec Rose Mining Project - Nemaska Condominium Marquise (Phase 2-8) Laval Kipawa Rare Earth Project - Open pit mine – Rouyn-Noranda Westin Resort & Spa Tremblant (Renovations) Mont Tremblant Condominium - Le Signature (Phase 2) Québec Head Office (Conversion) Montreal Niobec Mine Expansion - Saguenay Condominium - Les Haltes du Roi (Phase 3-9) Trois-Rivieres Condominium - Cite de la Gare (Phase 2-5) St-Constant Condominium - SE7T (Phase 1-3) Montreal Condominium - U31 (Phase 1-3) Montreal Senior Residence – Ste Therese de Gaspe Condominium - Les Meandres – Camomille – Quebec Apartments/Condominiums 4+ Stories (72 Units) Rouyn-Noranda Condominium - Ilot Esso – Québec Condominium - Coop Evrelle – Beauport Theatre du Rideau Vert - Phase 2 – Montreal Theatre/Cultural Centre – Longueuil Office Tower - Hotel/Motel - Montreal Commercial Development - Carrefour de la Bravoure – Val-Belair Condominium (Phase 1-4) Terrebonne Condominium - Le URB – Montreal Lithium Spodumene Mine Project – La Corne Condominium - Station 7 (Phase 1-7) St-Jerome Condominium Woodfield Sillery (87 Units) Quebec Condominium- Acces M (79 Units) Quebec Dolbeau Oxygen Manufacturing Facility (Expansion) Dolbeau-Mistassini Quartier Sud - Seniors Residence – Levis Caisse Populaire - Municipal Building – St Liguori Cinema Mega-Plex Guzzo - Sainte-Therese Condominium Apartment Townhouse (160 Units) Aylmer Lac-Leamy Hilton Hotel (Reno) Gatineau 75 Rene-Levesque Ouest (Condominium Building) Quebec 18-Storey Condo Towers – Montreal Apartment - Place Lamoureux (Phase 2-3) Rimouski Condominium (Phase 1-6) Val-David Townhouse Development (Phase 1-6) Beaconfield Condo des rue Equinoxes (Phase 1-4) St Laurent Condominium Phase Three (18 Units) Hudson Condominium Opus - Phase 5 – Lasalle Condominium (Phase 2-4) Vaudreuil Condominium (30 Buildings, 180 Total Units) Mont Tremblant Theatre Le Cube - Montreal Shopping Centre - Place Lorraine - Lorraine The Grove at Montreal Student Apartments (Conv/Renov) Montreal Pricing All of Quebec 109.99/month or 960.00/Pre-Paid Yearly (savings of 359.88) Montreal and District 69.99/month or 660.00/Pre-Paid Yearly (savings of 179.88) Quebec City and District 54.99/month or 480.00/Pre-Paid Yearly (savings of 179.88) Our Flexible subscription options allows you to use our service on a monthly basis with no contract obligations or you can pre-pay our service for the year and save 25% Plan ahead with MERX Private Construction · Search Canadian construction projects by Region or by Project Type Quickly identify projects suited to your business or skill set with our exclusive access to McGraw-Hill Dodge Reports
  8. [MAPS]https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Pernambuco&hl=en&sll=45.495362,-73.568761&sspn=0.001608,0.004128&t=h&hnear=Pernambuco,+Brazil&z=7[/MAPS] Brazil’s north-east: The Pernambuco model Eduardo Campos is both modern manager and old-fashioned political boss. His success in developing his state may make him his country’s next president Oct 27th 2012 | RECIFE | from the print edition IN THE 1980s an American anthropologist, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, carried out fieldwork in Timbaúba, a town in the sugar belt of Pernambuco state, in Brazil’s north-east. She described a place seemingly resigned to absolute poverty. The back-breaking task of cutting sugar cane by machete provided ill-paid work for only a few months of the year. The deaths of young children from disease and hunger were accepted “without weeping”. Traces of that bitter world survive in Timbaúba. In Alto do Cruzeiro, a poor suburb on a hilltop overlooking the town, Severina da Silva, a maid who also runs a shop in her living room, says that some people still go hungry. She is 48 but looks 20 years older. A 31-year-old cane cutter nicknamed “Bill” has six children—a throwback to the days when people had big families instead of pensions. But Bill has a labour contract, with full rights; he gets a stipend and a small plot from the state government to see him through the idle months. That is part of a broader social safety net provided by democracy in Brazil. It includes non-contributory pensions for rural workers. Some 6,000 of the town’s poorest residents take part in Bolsa Família, a cash-transfer scheme started by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president from 2003-10, who was born near Timbaúba. Thanks partly to this cash injection, the town now boasts car and motorbike dealers, new shops, a bank and restaurants. That is a ripple from a broader flood of investment that has made Pernambuco one of Brazil’s fastest-growing states. Once Europe’s most lucrative Atlantic colony, it languished for centuries. While sugar estates on the plains of São Paulo mechanised with world-beating efficiency, those in Pernambuco’s rolling hills struggled. Revival began with a new port at Suape, south of Recife. Its hinterland is now a sprawling industrial complex. Some 40,000 workers are building a vast oil refinery and petrochemical plants for Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company. A new shipyard and wind-power plants rise among the mangroves. Suape is a monument to federal money, industrial policy and an alliance between Lula and Eduardo Campos, Pernambuco’s ambitious governor. But the state’s boom goes wider. Rising incomes have helped Mr Campos attract private investment. Fiat is to start work on a car plant beside the main road north of Recife. A host of smaller food, textile and shoe factories are now setting up in the state’s poor interior, including Timbaúba. While the rest of Brazil worries about deindustrialisation, Pernambuco does not: since Mr Campos became governor in 2007, industry’s share of the state’s economy has risen from 20% to 25%, and will reach 30% by 2015, he says. This boom has brought nearly full employment—and created an acute skills shortage. The refinery is years behind schedule, as is the shipyard’s order book, partly because illiterate former cane-cutters make poor welders. To try to remedy that, Mr Campos has teamed up with the Institute for Co-Responsibility in Education (ICE), a private educational foundation, to reform the state’s middle schools. More than 200 of these now operate an eight-hour day, rather than the four-hour shifts common in Brazil. In return, the government has raised teachers’ salaries and added bonuses tied to results. It is also trying to chivvy mayors into improving primary schools through extra funds and other incentives. That is vital: on average, pupils arrive in middle schools aged 15 with a three-year learning deficit, says Marcos Magalhães, ICE’s founder. Pernambuco is rising up the rankings of state educational performance. Mr Campos’s critics say he should do more to tackle poverty. Alongside the opulent residential blocks towering over its palm-fringed beaches, Recife has 600 favelas (slums), and its lagoons are fetid with untreated sewage. He replies that his government is doing what it can to help the generation scarred by the poverty of cane-cutting, particularly in the drought-stricken semi-desert region farther inland. But his bold bet is that infrastructure, private investment and better education will eliminate the causes of his state’s misery. “We are turning off the flow of poverty while looking after the stock,” he says, using his trademark management-speak. So far that bet has paid off. Mr Campos won a second term in 2010, and his Brazilian Socialist Party did well in this month’s municipal elections, in Pernambuco and beyond. He is nominally an ally of Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s successor as president. But he is also a potential threat to her winning a second term at the 2014 election. Mr Campos was born into politics. Miguel Arraes, his grandfather, was an old-fashioned socialist and Pernambuco’s governor both before and after Brazil’s 1964- 85 military dictatorship. Mr Campos says Arraes taught him that politics is about “bringing people together, rather than dividing them.” Some in Recife complain that he has learned that lesson too well and become a modern version of a traditional north-eastern coronel (political boss), shrinking from challenging the old rural order, trading support for jobs and favours and freezing out dissenters. But his defenders say he gets things done. He was lucky that his less-heralded predecessor laid the foundations of Pernambuco’s renaissance. He has built on them by modernising the state. He faced down the trade unions over school reform and brought private managers to state hospitals. He has set hundreds of targets for his administration, and harries his aides to achieve them. One that he recognises he must meet—or pay a political price—is to finish a new football stadium in Recife in time for next year’s warm-up tournament for the 2014 World Cup. As both the main parties that have run Brazil since 1995 lack new faces, Mr Campos’s success in Pernambuco has turned him into the country’s most-watched politician. http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21565227-eduardo-campos-both-modern-manager-and-old-fashioned-political-boss-his-success
  9. La compagnie aérienne a fait l'achat de Servair Private Charter SA et servira de plate-forme d'exploitation pour le parc aérien de Lufthansa Private Jet. Pour en lire plus...
  10. What's the deal with that little park at the southeast corner of Sainte-Antoine and Place d'Armes/Saint-Urbain (next to La Presse)? It looks so nice yet every time I've passed by there (hundreds of times), the gates are locked! Is it a private park? If so, who owns it and who can go inside? Any information would be appreciated.
  11. Gun registry favoured only by Quebecers: poll Last Updated: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | 4:06 PM ET CBC News A poll suggests Quebecers are alone in wanting to save the long-gun registry, with most Canadians outside the province appearing content to abolish it. The findings in the latest survey by The Canadian Press/Harris-Decima come a week after the House of Commons gave approval in principle to a private member's bill aimed at killing the controversial registry. In Quebec, a majority of respondents say they're opposed to abolishing the registry, which was created after 14 women were killed at École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989. Fifty-six per cent of Quebecers polled said they oppose abolishing the registry, in contrast to the majority of people questioned in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba-Saskatchewan, who support cancelling the registry. Residents in Ontario who participated in the poll were split on the issue, according to Harris-Decima's results. Quebecers also held distinctive views about the registry's role in public security, with more than half of respondents believing it has helped fight and prevent crime. That's about 19 per cent more respondents than the national average of the other provinces. The poll comes as the debate over the long-gun registry slowly inches forward in the House of Commons. Last week a key vote was held on a private member's bill that would wipe out the registry. Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner tabled the bill on the contentious registry. The Bloc Québécois caucus voted against it, while 12 NDP and eight Liberal MPs backed the Conservative caucus in voting for the bill. On the same day as the vote, Quebec's legislature, the national assembly, unanimously adopted a motion reiterating Quebecers' reliance and belief in the registry. The Conservative government has wanted to abolish the registry on the basis that it is expensive and inefficient. The Harris-Decima poll surveyed about 1,000 Canadians by telephone between Nov. 5 and 8. The poll's margin of error is 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
  12. April 8, 2009 By MERAIAH FOLEY SYDNEY — The Australian government said Tuesday that it would create a publicly owned company to build a national high-speed broadband network worth 43 million Australian dollars in one of the largest state-sponsored Internet infrastructure upgrades in the world. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the eight-year, $31 billion project would create up to 37,000 jobs at the peak of construction, giving a lift to the economy as retail spending slumps and mining companies cut workers amid weakening demand for Australian metals. The plan is “the most ambitious, far-reaching and long-term nation-building infrastructure project ever undertaken by an Australian government,” Mr. Rudd told reporters. The government’s announcement was a surprise rebuff to five private telecommunications firms, including Optus of Singapore and Axia NetMedia of Canada, that had been bidding to build a slower, less expensive network, with fiber-optic cables reaching as far as local nodes, worth around 10 billion dollars. But Mr. Rudd scrapped those proposals in favor of a superior but more expensive network that will deliver broadband speeds of up to 100 megabits per second — fast enough to download multiple movies simultaneously — to 90 percent of Australian buildings through fiber-optic cables that extend directly to the premises. The remaining 10 percent will receive upgraded wireless access. Analysts said the government-sponsored project would be the most ambitious fiber-to-the-premises network to have been undertaken by any nation and would be watched carefully by other governments considering Internet infrastructure spending as a way to stimulate growth as the global economic crisis continues. The Britain, Canada, Finland, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the United States have all included measures to expand broadband access and to bolster connection speeds in their planned stimulus packages. “Compared to what has been done elsewhere, this is quite a unique situation,” said Laurent Horrut, a telecommunications analyst at J.P. Morgan. Most developed countries have relied heavily on private-sector spending to upgrade their Internet networks, and those that have pledged public money have come “nowhere close” to the level of spending announced by Australia, he said. “This will set Australia up as potentially one of the international leaders here,” Paul Budde, an independent telecommunications analyst, said in a statement posted on his blog. “This government understands the trans-sector approach that is needed to stimulate the digital economy.” The government would make an initial investment of 4.7 billion Australian dollars in the enterprise, in which taxpayers would hold a 51 percent share. The remaining costs would be financed by investment from private companies and the sale of infrastructure bonds. Once the network was fully operational, Mr. Rudd said, the government would sell down its interest within five years. Mr. Rudd’s conservative opponent, Malcolm Turnbull, and some analysts criticized the plan, saying the cost of the project would likely be passed to consumers in the form of higher Internet fees. They also questioned whether consumers would embrace a fixed-line, fiber-to-the-premises network over increasingly popular wireless services. Even those who agree that the proposal is both sensible and achievable said setting the right price for companies to access the network would be “a major challenge.” “A low price will discourage private investors, but a high price will discourage consumer uptake and service innovation,” David Kennedy, research director at global advisory and consulting firm Ovum, said in an e-mailed statement. While most analysts agree that investing in communications technology makes economies more competitive, some are skeptical about whether long-term spending on communications infrastructure will provide the short-term stimulus needed to pull countries out of recession. The plan fulfills a 2007 election promise Mr. Rudd made to overhaul the country’s sprawling, antiquated Internet infrastructure. But the government is also holding the project up as a job-creating form of fiscal stimulus in a time when the private sector is shedding jobs at a faster-than-expected rate. On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its benchmark cash rate by 0.25 percentage point to 3 percent, its lowest level since March 1960, amid signs the once-booming economy is continuing to deteriorate. The bank has so far slashed 4.25 percentage points from the cash rate since September in a bid to stop the country from slipping into its first recession in nearly two decades. According to government figures released last week, retail sales fell 2 percent in February, the biggest one-month drop since the introduction of a 10 percent goods and services tax in July 2000. Unemployment data has also gone from bad to worse. Australia and New Zealand Banking said Monday that job advertisements in newspapers and on the Internet had dropped 8.5 percent from February to March and a staggering 44.6 percent from the year before. It warned that unemployment could exceed 8 percent by next year. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/technology/internet/08broadband.html?_r=1&ref=business
  13. Plan for 'private casino' in Snowdon faces stiff fight By Andy Riga, The GazetteJanuary 30, 2009Comments (3) A brand new private betting parlour on Décarie Blvd. in Snowdon? Don’t bet on it just yet. Community groups, the city of Montreal and an anti-gambling coalition say they will oppose a proposal to create the venue – to feature 300 video-lottery terminals as well as betting on televised horse races – near the current site of the Hippodrome de Montréal. Opponents fear such a facility would exacerbate social problems associated with VLTs, which are highly addictive. They say a casino has no place on or near the site. The city expects the provincially owned land – a sprawling piece of prime real estate on the métro network and near the Décarie Expressway and Highway 40 – to be used for housing. Currently, the Hippodrome (formerly known as Blue Bonnets) houses 200 VLTs and offers off-track betting. Under a restructuring plan to be presented in Quebec Superior Court on Monday, racetrack operator Attractions Hippiques wants to permanently remove horse racing from the site. The company, which is in creditor protection, would then build a new gambling venue offering 300 VLTs and off-track betting. It would be built “near the current Hippodrome,” according to the restructuring plan. It is unclear who would pay the bill but Alain Vallières, head of a horse breeders’ group known by the acronym SPECSQ, said his sources say the new facility would cost about $17 million. His group opposes the proposal because it does not include plans for a replacement racetrack in the Montreal area. Attractions Hippiques’ plan for a “private casino” on the Hippodrome site is unacceptable, especially since Côte des Neiges is in desperate need of housing, said Denyse Lacelle, co-ordinator of the Côte des Neiges Community Council, a coalition of 45 local groups. The site should be used for new residential development, including affordable housing, with an adjacent industrial sector expanded onto the site to help create jobs, she said. “With its location minutes from downtown and its massive size – the size of all of Old Montreal – it should be used for housing, not for VLTs,” she said. “If people want another casino in addition to the Casino de Montréal, the farther from residential areas the better.” She said Côte des Neiges, where 40 per cent of residents live in poverty, is no place for a casino. It could cause more financial misery, she explained. The community council, which plans to picket Monday’s court hearing, will press politicians to stop the proposal. The Quebec government, which owns the land on which the Hippodrome is located, would have to okay the company’s plan. Marvin Rotrand, city councillor for the area, said the city has not been consulted on the issue and would “ferociously oppose” plans for gambling on – or near – the Hippodrome site. “Whether it’s 300 poker machines or 2,000, we don’t want any casino” and the social problems it would cause, he said. As for the Hippodrome, “we want it redeveloped mostly for housing. It’s a hedge against urban sprawl – a way to let young families stay in the city.” Between 5,000 and 7,000 units could be built there, he said. Last year, a Quebec public health department study concluded that one out of four people who gamble on both VLTs and horse racing risk developing a serious addiction. Gambling critics describe VLTs as the crack cocaine of gambling, saying they lead to financial ruin for some addicts and suicide for others. Alain Dubois, a spokesperson for Emjeu, a citizens coalition for responsible gambling, said he fears a new facility at the Hippodrome would feature new types of VLTs that are aimed at a new audience: young people. The new VLTs are more interactive and challenging but are just as addictive, Dubois said. “No matter what type of VLT is installed, it’s a worrying proposal,” he said. “Adding machines there in a new building that has the allure of a casino in such a central location could attract many new players,” and leave more Quebecers addicted. [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  14. 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
  15. Think big, Tremblay urges Montrealers People are too ready to slam projects: mayor By JAMES MENNIE, The GazetteMay 23, 2009 Citing a high-profile scheme for a $1-billion downtown casino and entertainment complex that spectacularly crashed and burned after it couldn't shake off public criticism, Mayor Gérald Tremblay has challenged the city's business community and Montrealers in general to support projects that can offer the city "unlimited returns." "You remember the Cirque du Soleil project?" Tremblay asked an audience of about 400 businesspeople who yesterday attended an overview meeting organized by Montreal's Board of Trade of the city's major development projects. "How many of you, individually or collectively, have said: 'I should have written something (in support); I should have taken a stand'? "If that had happened, perhaps we would have ended up with a different project that would have brought people together and created wealth. "The problem is that we only, or almost only, hear from people who are against something; we rarely hear from those in favour." Tremblay's remarks, coming in the middle of a five-hour presentation extolling the virtues of such projects as the Quartier des Spectacles, the 2-22 project slated for St. Laurent Blvd. and the development of the Université de Montréal's science centres, were a stark reminder of how major projects can collapse because of an apparent lack of public support. The Cirque du Soleil entertainment and casino complex had been the object of public criticism and government study ever since the idea was broached in 2004. When a provincially commissioned report found in 2006 that even more study was needed, both the Cirque and Loto-Québec pulled out of the scheme. A year later, Tremblay found himself in the usual position of asking Montrealers to put aside their "negative attitudes" as he announced the $1-billion Griffintown development project, the single biggest private investment in the city's history. But that project, too, was beset by criticism and has since been put on hold because of the economic downturn. Saying he's "fed up of hearing that we're doing nothing in Montreal," Tremblay yesterday told his audience there are still plenty of other projects out there. "Go visit the city of Montreal's website, you'll see 130 projects with a total value of $60 billion. They told me not to talk about them because it's too ambitious. "But too many people continue to look at the $60 billion as an expenditure rather than an investment with unlimited returns." Speaking to reporters afterward, Tremblay said he challenged his audience because "it's easy to work behind closed doors, but it's something else to say, loud and clear, that you're proud of Montreal, that there are good projects out there for the city and that we want to be a part of it. "It's important that citizens have their say, but once they've done so, a decision must be made, and when that time comes, it's nice to hear occasionally from the private sector." [email protected] thegazette.canwest.com © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  16. Méga article très intéressant du magazine The Economist Lien The world economy A glimmer of hope? Apr 23rd 2009 From The Economist print edition The worst thing for the world economy would be to assume the worst is over THE rays are diffuse, but the specks of light are unmistakable. Share prices are up sharply. Even after slipping early this week, two-thirds of the 42 stockmarkets that The Economist tracks have risen in the past six weeks by more than 20%. Different economic indicators from different parts of the world have brightened. China’s economy is picking up. The slump in global manufacturing seems to be easing. Property markets in America and Britain are showing signs of life, as mortgage rates fall and homes become more affordable. Confidence is growing. A widely tracked index of investor sentiment in Germany has turned positive for the first time in almost two years. All this is welcome—not least because the slump has been made so much worse by panic and despair. When the financial system was on the brink of collapse in September, investors shunned all but the safest assets, consumers stopped spending and firms shut down. That plunge into the depths could be succeeded by a virtuous cycle, where the wheels of finance turn again, cheerier consumers open their wallets and ambitious firms turn from hoarding cash to pursuing profits. But, welcome as it is, optimism contains two traps, one obvious, the other more subtle. The obvious trap is that confidence proves misplaced—that the glimmers of hope are misinterpreted as the beginnings of a strong recovery when all they really show is that the rate of decline is slowing. The subtler trap, particularly for politicians, is that confidence and better news create ruinous complacency. Optimism is one thing, but hubris that the world economy is returning to normal could hinder recovery and block policies to protect against a further plunge into the depths. Luminous indicators Begin with those glimmers. It is easy to read too much into the gain in share prices. Stockmarkets usually rally before economies improve, because investors spy the promise of fatter profits before the statisticians document a turnaround. But plenty of rallies fizzle into nothing. Between 1929 and 1932, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared by more than 20% four times, only to fall back below its previous lows. Today’s crisis has seen five separate rallies in which share prices rose more than 10% only to subside again. The economic statistics are hard to interpret, too. The past six months have seen several slumps, each with a different trajectory. The plunge in manufacturing is in part the result of a huge global inventory adjustment. With unsold goods piling up and finance hard to come by, firms around the world have slashed production even faster than demand has fallen. Once firms have run down their stocks they will start making things again and the manufacturing recession will be past its worst. Even if that moment is at hand, two other slumps are likely to poison the economy for much longer. The most important is the banking crisis and the purge of debt in the bubble economies, especially America and Britain. Demand has plummeted as tighter credit and sinking asset prices have exposed consumers’ excessive borrowing and scared them into saving more. History suggests that such balance-sheet recessions are long and that the recoveries which eventually follow them are feeble. The second slump is in the emerging world, where many economies have been hit by the sudden fall in private cross-border capital flows. Emerging economies, which imported capital worth 5% of their GDP in 2007, now face a world where cautious investors keep their money at home. According to the IMF, banks, firms and governments in the emerging world have some $1.8 trillion-worth of borrowing to roll over this year, much of that in central and eastern Europe. Even if emerging markets escape a full-blown debt crisis, investors’ confidence is unlikely to recover for years. These crises sent the world economy into a decline that, on several measures, has been steeper than the onset of the Depression. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook expects global output to shrink by 1.3% this year, its first fall in 60 years. But the collapse has been countered by the most ambitious policy response in history. Central banks have pumped out trillions of dollars of liquidity and, in rising numbers, have resorted to an increasingly exotic arsenal of “unconventional” firepower to ease credit markets and loosen monetary conditions even as policy rates approach zero. Governments have battled to prop up their banks, committing trillions of dollars in the process. The IMF has new money. Every big rich country has bolstered demand with fiscal stimulus (and so have many emerging ones). The rich world’s budget deficits will, on average, reach almost 9% of GDP, six times higher than before the crisis hit. The Depression showed how damaging it can be if governments don’t step in when the rest of the economy seizes up. Yet action on the current scale has never been tried before and nobody knows when it will have an effect—let alone how much difference it will make. Whatever the impact, it would be a mistake to confuse the twitches of an economy on life-support with a lasting recovery. A real recovery depends on government demand being supplanted by sustainable sources of private spending. And here the news is almost uniformly grim. Searching for new demand Take the country many are pinning their hopes on: America. The adjustment in the housing market began earlier there than anywhere else. Prices peaked almost three years ago, and are now down by 30%. Manufacturing production has been falling at an annualised rate of more than 20% for the past three months. And the government’s offsetting policy offensive has been the rich world’s boldest. As the inventory adjustment ends and the stimuli kick in, America’s slump is sure to ease. Cushioned by the government, the economy may even begin to grow again before too long. But it is hard to see the ingredients for a recovery that is robust enough to stop unemployment rising. Weakness abroad will crimp exports. America’s banks are propped up with public capital, but their balance-sheets are clogged with toxic assets. Consumer spending and firms’ investment will be dragged lower by the need to pay back debt and restore savings. This will be a long slog. Private-sector leverage, which rose by 70% of GDP between 2000 and 2008, has barely begun to unwind. At 4%, the household savings rate has jumped sharply from its low of near zero, but it is still far below its post-war average of 7%. Higher unemployment and rising bankruptcies could easily cause a vicious new downward lurch. In Britain, given the size of its finance industry, housing boom and consumer debt, the balance-sheet adjustment will, if anything, be greater. The weaker pound will buoy exports, but fragile public finances suggest that Britain has much less scope to use government spending to cushion the private sector than America does—as this week’s flawed budget made painfully clear (see article). The outlook should in theory be brighter for Germany and Japan. Both have seen output slump faster than in other rich countries because of the collapse in trade and manufacturing, but neither has the huge private borrowing of the sort that haunts the Anglo-Saxon world. Once inventories have adjusted, recovery should come quickly. In practice, though, that seems unlikely, especially in Germany. As the output slump sends Germany’s jobless rate towards double-digits, it is hard to see consumers going on a spending spree. Nor has the government shown much appetite for boosting demand. Germany’s fiscal stimulus, although large by European standards, falls well short of what it could afford. Worse, the country’s banks are still in trouble. Germans did not behave recklessly, but their banks did—along with many others in continental Europe. New figures from the IMF suggest that European banks face some $1.1 trillion in losses, hardly any of which have yet been recognised (see article). This week’s German plan to set up several bad banks was no more than a down payment on the restructuring ahead. Japan has acted more boldly. Its latest package of tax cuts and government spending, unveiled in early April, will provide the biggest fiscal boost, relative to GDP, of any rich country this year. Its economy is likely to perk up, temporarily at least. But its public-debt stock is approaching 200% of GDP, so Japan has scant room for more fiscal stimulus. With export markets weak, demand will soon need to be privately generated at home. But the past two decades offer little evidence that Japan can make that shift. For the time being, the brightest light glows in China, where a huge inventory adjustment has exaggerated the impact of falling foreign demand, and where the government has the cash and determination to prop up domestic spending. China’s stimulus is already bearing fruit. Loans are soaring and infrastructure investment is growing smartly. The IMF’s latest forecast, that China’s economy will grow by 6.5% this year, may prove conservative. Yet even China has its difficulties. Perhaps three-quarters of the growth will come from government demand, particularly infrastructure spending. Not much to glow about Add all this up and the case for optimism fades quickly. The worst is over only in the narrowest sense that the pace of global decline has peaked. Thanks to massive—and unsustainable—fiscal and monetary transfusions, output will eventually stabilise. But in many ways, darker days lie ahead. Despite the scale of the slump, no conventional recovery is in sight. Growth, when it comes, will be too feeble to stop unemployment rising and idle capacity swelling. And for years most of the world’s economies will depend on their governments. Consider what that means. Much of the rich world will see jobless rates that reach double-digits, and then stay there. Deflation—a devastating disease in debt-laden economies—could set in as record economic slack pushes down prices and wages, particularly since headline inflation has already plunged thanks to sinking fuel costs. Public debt will soar because of weak growth, prolonged stimulus spending and the growing costs of cleaning up the financial mess. The OECD’s member countries began the crisis with debt stocks, on average, at 75% of GDP; by 2010 they will reach 100%. One analysis suggests persistent weakness could push the biggest economies’ debt ratios to 140% by 2014. Continuing joblessness, years of weak investment and higher public-debt burdens, in turn, will dent economies’ underlying potential. Although there is no sign that the world economy will return to its trend rate of growth any time soon, it is already clear that this speed limit will be lower than before the crisis hit. Start preparing for the next decade Welcome to an era of diminished expectations and continuing dangers; a world where policymakers must steer between the imminent threat of deflation while countering investors’ (reasonable) fears that swelling public debts and massive monetary easing could eventually lead to high inflation; an uncharted world where government borrowing reaches a scale not seen since the second world war, when capital controls ensured that savings stayed at home. How to cope with these dangers? Certainly not by clutching at scraps of better news. That risks leading to less action right now. Warding off deflation, for instance, will demand more unconventional steps from more central banks for longer than many now seem to foresee. Laggards, such as the European Central Bank, do themselves and the world no favours by holding back. Nor should governments immediately seek to take back the fiscal stimulus. Prolonged economic weakness does far greater damage to public finances than temporary fiscal activism. Remember how Japan snuffed out its recovery in the 1990s by rushing to raise taxes. Japan also put off bank reform. Countries facing big balance-sheet adjustments should heed that lesson and nudge reform along, in particular by doing more to clean up and restructure the banks. Countries with surpluses must encourage private spending at home more vigorously. China’s leaders are still doing too little to boost private citizens’ income and their spending by fostering reforms, from widening health-care coverage to forcing state-owned firms to pay higher dividends. At the same time policymakers must give themselves room to change course in the future. Central banks need to lay out the rules that will govern their exit from exotic forms of policy easing (see article). That may require new tools: the Federal Reserve would gain from being able to issue bonds that could mop up liquidity. All governments, especially those with the ropiest public finances, should think boldly about how to lower their debt ratios in the medium term—in ways that do not choke off nascent private demand. Rather than pushing up tax rates, they should think about raising retirement ages, reining in health costs and broadening the tax base. This weekend many of the world’s finance ministers and central bankers will meet in Washington, DC, for the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank. Amid rising confidence, they will be tempted to pat themselves on the back. There is no time for that. The worst global slump since the Depression is far from finished. There is work to do.
  17. Europe Works to Contain Crisis Article Tools Sponsored By NYC Times By CARTER DOUGHERTY, NELSON SCHWARTZ and FLOYD NORRIS Published: October 6, 2008 European nations scrambled further Monday to prevent a growing credit crisis from bringing down major banks and alarming savers as Sweden followed Germany, Austria and Denmark in offering new protections for bank deposits. As troubles in financial markets spread around the world, some governments are eager to act to avoid the mistakes of the 1930s when authorities sat on their hands during the Wall Street crash and its aftermath, Julian Chillingworth, chief investment officer at Rathbone Unit Trust Management in London, said. Sweden became the latest European country to offer protection for bank deposits, after the German government offered blanket guarantees Sunday to all private savings accounts. Austria and Denmark also did the same. Britain’s government on Monday scrambled to find ways to help the country’s ailing banking sector and even considered a partial nationalization of the industry. The chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, continued to consult with advisers on Monday on ways to stabilize the banking sector, which may include a recapitalization financed by taxpayers, said a person at the Treasury who declined to be identified because the discussions were private. Stocks fell sharply on Monday in London, Paris and Frankfurt. New bailouts were arranged late Sunday for two European companies, Hypo Real Estate, a large German mortgage lender, and Fortis, a large banking and insurance company based in Belgium but active across much of the Continent. Under the agreement, BNP Paribas will acquire the Belgium and Luxembourg banking operations of Fortis for about $20 billion. The spreading worries came days after the United States Congress approved a $700 billion bailout package that officials had hoped would calm financial markets globally. The crisis in Europe appears to be the most serious one to face the Continent since a common currency, the euro, was created in 1999. Jean Pisani-Ferry, director of the Bruegel research group in Brussels, said Europe confronted “our first real financial crisis, and it’s not just any crisis. It’s a big one.” Britain is coming under increasing pressure to act. Some investors criticized the government for failing to set up an American-style rescue fund and for its piecemeal approach to deal with each problem. “The government needs to get on their front foot and get control of their own destiny,” Mr. Chillingworth said. “We could well be in a period where we see a quasi-nationalization in the banking sector, where taxpayers are taking equity stakes.” Britain partly nationalized Bradford & Bingley last week after the mortgage lender struggled to get financing and brokered a takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB after its shares lost most of its value. From Tuesday, the government will also increase the amount of retail deposits it guarantees to £50,000, or $88,600, from £35,000. Some analysts said guaranteeing deposits might reinstate client confidence but would fall short of bringing back the trust among banks that is desperately needed to encourage them to lend to each other. British banks remain burdened by their exposure to worthless mortgage assets, but the larger problem remains their unwillingness to lend to one another — even after an injection of £40 billion by the Bank of England. “Liquidity is drying up,” said Richard Portes, a professor of economics at the London Business School. “The authorities have to deal with this paralysis in the money markets.” The European Central Bank has aggressively lent money to banks as the crisis has grown. It had resisted lowering interest rates, but signaled on Thursday that it might cut rates soon. The extra money, aimed at ensuring that banks have adequate access to cash, has not reassured savers or investors, and European stock markets have performed even worse than the American markets. In Iceland, government officials and banking chiefs were discussing a possible rescue plan for the country’s commercial banks. In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Peer Steinbrück, appeared on television Sunday to promise that all bank deposits would be protected, although it was not clear whether legislation would be needed to make that promise good. Mindful of the rising public anger at the use of public money to buttress the business of high-earning bankers, Ms. Merkel promised a day of reckoning for them as well. “We are also saying that those who engaged in irresponsible behavior will be held responsible,” she said. The events in Berlin and Brussels underscored the failure of Europe’s case-by-case approach to restoring confidence in the Continent’s increasingly jittery banking sector. A meeting of European heads of state in Paris on Saturday did little to calm worries, though officials there pledged to work together to ensure market stability. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and his counterparts from Germany, Britain and Italy vowed to prevent a Lehman Brothers-like bankruptcy in Europe but they did not offer a sweeping American-style bailout package. The growing crisis has underlined the difficulty of taking concerted action in Europe because its economies are far more integrated than its governing structures. “We are not a political federation,” Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, said after the meeting. “We do not have a federal budget.” Last week, Ireland moved to guarantee both deposits and other liabilities at six major banks. There was grumbling in London and Berlin about the move giving those banks an unfair advantage. But Germany proposed its deposit guarantee Sunday after Britain raised its guarantee. The German officials emphasized that the guarantee applied only to private depositors, not to the banks themselves. But on Monday, Mr. Steinbrück said the government was considering an “umbrella” to protect the banking sector. Unlike in the United States, where deposits are now fully guaranteed up to a limit of $250,000 — a figure that was raised from $100,000 last week — deposits in most European countries have been only partly guaranteed, sometimes by groups of banks rather than governments. In Germany, the first 90 percent of deposits up to 20,000 euros, or about $27,000, was guaranteed. Even before the Paris meeting began it was becoming clear that two bailouts announced the week before had not succeeded and that UniCredit, a major Italian bank, might be in trouble. UniCredit announced plans on Sunday to raise as much as 6.6 billion euros. Fortis, which only a week ago received 11.2 billion euros from the governments of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, was unable to continue its operations. On Friday, the Dutch government seized its operations in that country, and late Sunday night the Belgian government helped to arrange for BNP Paribas, the French bank, to take control of the company for 14.5 billion euros, or about $20 billion. In Berlin, the government arranged a week ago for major banks to lend 35 billion euros to Hypo Real Estate, but that fell apart when the banks concluded that far more money would be needed. Late Sunday night the government said a package of 50 billion euros had been arranged, with both the government and other banks taking part. The credit crisis began in the United States, a fact that has led European politicians to assert superiority for their countries’ financial systems, in contrast to what Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, called the “speculative capitalism” of the United States. On Saturday, Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, said the crisis “has come from America,” and Mr. Berlusconi bemoaned the lack of business ethics that had been exposed by the crisis. Many of the European banks’ problems have stemmed from bad loans in Europe, and Fortis got into trouble in part by borrowing money to make a major acquisition. But activities in the United States have played a role. Bankers said Sunday that the need for additional money at Hypo came from newly discovered guarantees it had issued to back American municipal bonds that it had sold to investors. The credit market worries came on top of heightening concerns about economic growth in Europe and the United States. “Unless there is a material easing of credit conditions,” said Bob Elliott of Bridgewater Associates, an American money management firm, after retail sales figures were announced, “it is unlikely that demand will turn around soon.” Henry M. Paulson Jr., the United States Treasury secretary, hoped that approval of the American bailout, which involved buying securities from banks at more than their current market value, would free up credit by making cash available for banks to lend and by reassuring participants in the credit markets. But that did not happen last week. Instead, credit grew more expensive and harder to get as investors became more skittish about buying commercial paper, essentially short-term loans to companies. Rates on such loans rose so fast that some feared the market could essentially close, leaving it to already-stressed banks to provide short-term corporate loans. Europe’s need to scramble is in part the legacy of a decision to establish the euro, which 15 countries now use, but not follow up with a parallel system of cross-border regulation and oversight of private banks. “First we had economic integration, then we had monetary integration,” said Sylvester Eijffinger, a member of the monetary expert panel advising the European Parliament. “But we never developed the parallel political and regulatory integration that would allow us to face a crisis like the one we are facing today.” In Brussels, Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies, agreed. “Maybe they will be shocked into thinking more strategically instead of running behind events,” he said. “The later you come, the higher the bill.” While the European Central Bank has power over interest rates and broader monetary policy, it was never granted parallel oversight of private banks, leaving that task to dozens of regulators across the Continent. This patchwork system includes national central banks in each of the euro zone’s 15 members and they still retain broad powers within their own borders, further complicating any regional approach to problem-solving. “The European banking landscape was transformed fairly recently,” Mr. Pisani-Ferry said. “When the euro was first introduced, the question of cross-border regulation didn’t really arise.” Optimists say one potential long-term benefit from the current turmoil is that it often takes a crisis to propel European integration forward. “Progress in Europe is usually the result of a crisis,” Mr. Eijffinger said. “This could be one of those rare moments in E.U. history.”
  18. A quick word for English Language dispute. Quebec parents challenge French Language Charter ELIZABETH THOMPSON, The Gazette Published: 6 hours ago Quebec parents challenging the constitutionality of a Quebec law that blocks some children who attend English private schools from transferring into English public schools will get their day before Canada's top court in December. The Supreme Court of Canada has set aside Dec. 15 to hear two cases that pit the Canadian Charter of Rights against Bill 104, leading some to hope that a final decision in the dispute could now be rendered in time for the start of the 2009 school year. "It appears the court is doing everything it can to hear the case as quickly as possible," said Brent Tyler, lawyer for the parents. The cases centre on Bill 104, adopted by the Parti Québécois government in 2002. Prior to Bill 104, children who were otherwise ineligible to attend English school under the terms of the French Language Charter, Bill 101, could become eligible to attend English public schools after spending at least a year in an unsubsidized English-language private school. Attending English school under a special authorization, such as for a temporary work permit or for humanitarian reasons, could also make a child and their siblings eligible for English education. At the heart of the case is the issue of which takes precedence - the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provides that children who have attended English schools, and their siblings, have the right to attend English schools in Quebec, or Quebec's language charter. Although the parents in both cases lost at the lower court level, they won at the Quebec Court of Appeal which struck down Bill 104, saying the law was inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights. Tyler said the parents got more good news recently when they learned that the federal court challenges program, which was cut then partially restored by the Conservative government, has agreed to provide $70,000 in funding to fight the two cases before the Supreme Court. Tyler says the outcome of the cases could have a significant impact on English schools in Quebec - particularly in the Montreal area. Tyler said there has been a steady stream of English school closures in the Montreal area since Bill 104 was introduced and the phenomenon is more pronounced in areas of town that had been receiving students who became eligible for education in English school by attending a private school. The English Montreal School Board has estimated it has lost about 450 students a year since Bill 104 was adopted. The stakes are high for many private schools as well, said Tyler. Many English private schools in Montreal accept government money at the high school level, but not at the primary level, meaning they can accept students ineligible under Bill 101 in elementary school but not in high school. "On average, 30 per cent of the children enrolled in the primary programs of these schools now will not be able to continue in the same schools if Bill 104 is upheld by the Supreme Court," said Tyler. The challenge to Bill 104 is just one of several cases the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this fall - many of them from Quebec. The first case to be heard, on Oct. 7, will be a challenge by a group of Hutterites to an Alberta law obliging everyone to have their photo on their driver's licences. The Hutterites argue the law violates their religious freedom because their religion believes that the second commandment prohibits them from having their photograph taken willingly. [email protected]
  19. All stars are pointing towards us having a new AC livery unveiled in 2017, along with new uniforms to complement the already underway in-cabin makeover. Whats everyone's thoughts on these options? (Note: I'm not sharing anything private here, as this info and images are already widely avail on the net).
  20. (Courtesy of Chrisd.ca) More info also at this link: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/north-portage-gets-makeover-124695919.html Congrats to ALT expanding into another city
  21. Wanted: biotech plan By DAVID CRANE, FreelanceFebruary 19, 2009 Sector in peril. New financing schemes are needed to maintain health of industry vital to Quebec's future New financing schemes are needed to maintain health of biotechnology industry vital to Quebec's future New financing schemes are needed to maintain health of biotechnology industry vital to Quebec's future Photograph by: Chris Schwarz, From Gazette Files Montreal has big ambitions to become a major biomedical centre in North America. The hope is that this will lead to jobs and wealth creation, just as promoting the aerospace industry has done. And it could. There's an obvious reason why. The world is on the verge of a biomedical revolution that will be a source of good jobs and prosperity for those societies that succeed in developing and commercializing the new knowledge. If the 20th century was known for great advances in the physical sciences and engineering, giving us the information and communication technology revolution, the 21st century could very well be the century of the biological revolution. But with all the new knowledge flowing out of universities and research hospitals, there's a huge problem - how to finance the growth of young startups commercializing this new knowledge into viable companies with a steady flow of revenues and profits. Montreal, for example, has dozens of such companies - like Theratechnologies, ConjuChem Biotechnologies, ProMetic Life Sciences, Enobia Pharma, Akela Pharma, Thallion Pharmaceuticals, Haemacure Corp., CryoCath Technologies, Paladin Labs, Ambrilia BioPhage Pharma, MethylGene, Alethia Biotherapeutics, Supratek Pharma, AngioChem and many more. Quite a few have products either now reaching the market or close to commercialization, or have promising projects in the clinical testing pipeline. But they must be able to attract the financing they need to keep on the road to potential success. In Canada today, the biotech industry is at a crucial point. Venture capital funding is drying up and many companies are running out of cash. Promising young companies may have to delay development of promising compounds. Or they could be forced to sell to bigger, usually foreign, players at bargain- basement prices. According to Thomson Reuters, which tracks venture investing in Canada, Montreal-area life-science companies raised only $69.9 million in venture capital last year, compared with $219.4 million in 2007. This year could be even more difficult. According to the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, only $1.2 billion in new money for investment by venture firms in all high-tech sectors was raised last year, the lowest level on record since the mid-1990s. This is why we urgently need new financing mechanisms to sustain and grow our own life science companies. This should include a capacity to bring about mergers between young Canadian companies where complementarities exist. The industry had hoped the recent federal budget would help address their problems, but advocacy by groups such as BIOTECanada and the Canadian Venture and Private Equity Association were ignored by the Harper government. BIOTECanada had sought several initiatives. These included a one-time redemption for unused tax losses, limited to the lesser of $20 million or twice a company's annual R&D spending, and an exemption from capital-gains taxes in 2009 and 2010 for investors making new direct investments. Both measures would have required companies to reinvest in Canada. The venture-capital industry had sought creation of a $300-million fund of funds to invest in young companies and changes to the R&D tax incentive. British and U.S. biotech companies are facing many of the same challenges. In Britain, some 20 industry and academic leaders have urged the government to set up a $1.8-billion biotech fund, with half coming from government and half from the private sector. The group also wants a separate $900-million fund to make equity investments of $85 million to $170 million to help a small number of companies become more significant companies. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has established a task force to follow up on this. The biotech industry is especially hard to finance. Not only are the human body, and disease, quite complex. But biotech development cycles are long and costly - projects can take up to 20 years to become successful and cost between $200 million to $300 million, or more, to bring to market. Few compounds succeed. All of these factors make R&D financing a challenge. But the goal to improve human health is important and the economic rewards can be high. This, though, depends on finding a better financing model if either of these is to be realized in Montreal or elsewhere. David Crane is a Toronto-based writer on innovation and globalization issues. He can be reached at [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette