Mounties enforce an exclusion zone at the Alton gas site in Nova Scotia May 2019 (APTN file).Kathleen MartensAPTN NewsJust days after the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released its final report, the federal government announced an interim civilian advisory board to oversee the RCMP.But Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale didn’t appoint any Indigenous women to the 13-member watchdog panel announced June 5, even though the inquiry called for major reform of the national force two days earlier.The board does include one Indigenous man – John Domm, the former chief of police of the Nishnawbe-Aski and Rama police services.Goodale described it as “the biggest, single innovation in the management of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 145 years.”He said the board can make non-binding recommendations about police resources and labour relations but will stay out of investigations and operations.Something RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki praised.“I’m confident that they will help us achieve our goal: a modern, effective, healthy and inclusive national police organization, trusted by Canadians for our policing excellence,” she said in a statement.The inquiry’s final report was another in a series of criticisms of the force – especially in the way officers interact with families of victims, and the number of cases that remain unsolved.RCMP officer outside the exclusion zone at the Uni’stot’en pipeline dispute in northern B.C. January 2019 (APTN file).Janet Merlo, a former constable who led the fight to sue the federal government for millions in damages from sexual harassment and discrimination in the RCMP, feels the makeup of the board shows the government still doesn’t get it.“It’s a waste of money and a waste of time,” she said of the advisory committee that is expected to cost about $1.56-million per year.“They want to talk truth and reconciliation and change. What a farce.”Merlo said a dozen inquests and inquiries have already told the government that bad management is to blame.“They haven’t implemented any of the recommendations…if they’re not going to listen to the inquests and inquiries – they’re not going to listen to Joe Public.”Merlo, who attended part of the inquiry’s closing ceremony in Gatineau, Que. on June 3, said Indigenous women could be part of the solution.“There should have been a far greater representation of Indigenous people on that board.”RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale at an announcement in May 2018 (APTN file).Marge Hudson, a former Indigenous RCMP constable and plaintiff in Merlo’s class-action lawsuit, agreed Goodale missed an opportunity to reflect the communities the police serve.“It certainly is a concern,” she said of the lack of Indigenous voices.Merlo said creating the board was part of the agreement to settle her class-action lawsuit in 2016. Along with a promise to hire more female officers.“What we put to them was…you need somewhere for people within the force that are experiencing bullying, harassment and bad behaviour, you need somewhere for them to go and lodge a complaint and know that it’s going to be investigated honestly.“Because you can’t leave them to investigate themselves. They’ve been doing that for years and look at the mess they’re in.”The RCMP has paid out millions in damage claims, and could be on the hook for even more.Merlo said her heart breaks for the families of missing and murdered waiting for Mounties to investigate their cases.“Many of these cops were harassing and assaulting their co-workers, so there was little chance they would ever extend any respect to others in the community,” she said.“As a result of their egos, their failures, and their discrimination, lives and families were forever changed.”There part-time appointees are comprised of six men and seven women, including Wally Oppal – former commissioner of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry in B.C. – and Randy Ambrosie –commissioner of the Canadian Football League.A spokesman for Goodale said appointees will provide “expert external advice” and were selected for their “executive and corporate management” skills.He noted: “Great care was taken to select members who reflect Canadian diversity, gender balance and equality and regional representation, and who support Indigenous reconciliation.”email@example.com@katmarte
CALGARY – Enbridge says it is going to sell off at least $3 billion of its assets next year.The Calgary-based energy giant said it has identified $10 billion of what it describes as non-core assets.Enbridge announced a strategic update late Wednesday to focus the company on its pipeline and utilities businesses following the takeover of U.S -based Spectra Energy earlier this year.“We will rationalize our asset mix to a pure regulated pipeline and utility business model,” Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said in a statement.The company said it is also planning to issue $1.5 billion of common shares and shareholders will see their dividend cheques increase next year.Enbridge (TSX:ENB) said it will pay out a quarterly dividend of $0.671 per common share, payable on March 1, 2018. The dividend represents a 10 per cent increase from the previously quarterly rate.The company has an extensive network of oil and natural gas pipelines that ship about 65 per cent of Canadian crude oil exports bound for the U.S.
TORONTO – Canada’s main stock index rose modestly Tuesday, helped in part by strength in the energy sector as the price of oil surged nearly US$1.The S&P/TSX composite index was up 9.57 points to 16,357.55, as the March crude contract advanced 90 cents to US$64.47 per barrel.Colum McKinley of CIBC Asset Management attributed the rally in oil prices to recent positive comments from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that its members and non-OPEC member Russia will continue to limit their production.“Inventory data over the last number of weeks has shown significant draws … and that’s positive, giving the market a clear sense that the supply and demand imbalance is quickly correcting,” said McKinley, a vice-president and portfolio manager of Canadian equities at CIBC.“If you look over the last numbers of months, you saw oil prices move higher. (Energy stocks) have moved higher but they have definitely lagged the commodity. We expect and we’re starting to see some catch up in that trade where the valuations on the energy stocks will start to expand to reflect a greater confidence in sustaining a larger oil price than originally anticipated by the market place.”South of the border, U.S. stocks were mixed as household goods makers including Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble sunk following disappointing quarterly reports. Solar power companies, however, spiked in early trading after President Donald Trump approved tariffs on imported solar-energy components in a step intended to help U.S. manufacturers.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average edged back 3.79 points to 26,210.81. The S&P 500 index added 6.16 points to 2,839.13 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 52.26 points to 7,460.29 — both record highs for the third trading session in a row.On the Canadian corporate front, shares of BCE Inc. were down 32 cents, or 0.55 per cent, to $57.72 after subsidiary Bell Canada alerted some customers on Tuesday — 100,000 by media reports — that some of their personal information has been illegally accessed in a data breach.Meanwhile, Cara Operations Ltd. Restaurants was up $2.45, or 9.83 per cent, to $27.38 following news that the Vaughan, Ont.-based company is growing its restaurant empire yet again with a $200-million deal to buy Keg Restaurants Ltd.In economic news, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the world economy expanded at a 3.7 per cent annual pace last year, the fastest since 2011, and said it believes growth will accelerate to 3.9 per cent in 2018-19. The IMF noted surprisingly strong growth in Europe and Asia and predicted that U.S. tax cuts will give the American economy a short-term boost.In currency markets, the Canadian dollar closed at an average trading value of 80.30 cents US, up 0.03 of a U.S. cent.Elsewhere in commodities, the February natural gas contract climbed 22 cents to US$3.44 per mmBTU.The February gold contract was up US$4.80 to US$1,336.70 an ounce and the March copper contract was down nine cents to US$3.11 a pound.– With files from The Associated Press.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.Companies in this story: (TSX:BCE, TSX:CAO)
MONTREAL – Laurentian Bank says it has successfully resolved issues related to mortgage loans sold to an unnamed lender.Laurentian said in December that an audit found that the mortgages in question did not meet documentation and eligibility requirements and would need to buy back as much as $304 million in mortgages.Laurentian revised that amount a month later to $392 million and said it had repurchased $180 million in loans, with another $88 million expected by the end of the fiscal second quarter.As part of an agreement with the lender, the bank will repurchase an additional $115 million of ineligible mortgages during the third quarter of 2018, slightly lower than the bank’s initial assessment.The bank says any future purchases by the lender will be subject to terms and conditions to be agreed upon at the time of each purchase, including a pre-funding audit of the mortgages.Laurentian’s chief executive Francois Desjardins said last December that the issues largely involved loans that were misflagged and it found no evidence of wilful wrongdoing.He said some problem mortgages involved a failure to obtain or properly store documentation such as proof of income needed to adjudicate the loan, and to a “lesser extent” Laurentian found “client misrepresentation” which involved embellishing assets or revenue.“We have made important headway in addressing this situation, which has no impact on our clients, and are confident that it will be completely resolved by the end of the fiscal year,” Desjardins said in a statement released late Tuesday.“This has been a learning experience and since November 2017, we have been implementing enhanced quality control and origination processes throughout the bank. We firmly believe that this significantly strengthens our mortgage origination and securitization activities.”Companies in this story: (TSX:LB)
MONTREAL – Among the items bequeathed by globe-trotting chef, author and TV host Anthony Bourdain was something that most people would never consider.Bourdain, who took his life in early June in France, wrote in his will that his estranged wife should dispose of frequent flyer miles and other possessions in a way she believes he would have wanted.While loyalty points aren’t typically top of mind for bereaved family members, they can be a valuable asset in a person’s estate, especially if the departed shared Bourdain’s passion for travel.The value of unredeemed loyalty points reached $16 billion last year in Canada as memberships have grown by 68 per cent over the past five years to an average of 12.3 cards per person in 2017, according to Bond Brand Loyalty, a leading global customer engagement agency.“Passing along loyalty points is going to be a more common consideration as baby boomers start to age and consider death,” said Queen’s University marketing professor Ken Wong.The onus is on the program member to leave written instructions to their executor dictating what should be done with all their assets, Wong said.“Most people will note their (Guaranteed Investment Certificates), they will note their investments and so on but they won’t talk about loyalty points.”Collectors of loyalty points may decide to switch cards if they discover in the fine print that their rewards die with them, Wong added.“These people worked hard to earn those points and they shouldn’t just disappear when they pass,” added Patrick Sojka, a travel rewards expert and founder of RewardsCanada.ca.With no industry standard, rules differ among programs, he said.Most require the submission of a death certificate, some charge a fee and others state that the rewards are forfeited upon death. The programs also put various time limits on claiming the points and some allow them to be donated.Details are posted online in the terms and conditions of most programs while some require members to contact the operator.Of the major programs surveyed by The Canadian Press, Air Miles, Aeroplan, Esso, WestJet Airlines, Porter Airlines, Hudson’s Bay, the five largest banks and U.S.-based hotel chains Hilton, Marriott and Starwood permit the transfer of points or miles.PC Optimum, Metro&moi, Indigo Plum, Canadian Tire Triangle Rewards, and SAQ (Quebec liquor agency) Inspire do not.Although PC Optimum points are not transferable, the program has in specific cases worked with family members of deceased customers to access accounts and points, said Loblaw spokeswoman Catherine Thomas.She added that the new program allows many people in the family to earn and redeem points.Likewise, grocery rival Metro’s in-house reward program doesn’t transfer points, but they can be used by everyone with a card.Family members can still access points even if programs don’t allow them to be transferred if they use their loved-one’s card and know the password, experts say.It is common practice for tax law experts to discuss loyalty points and digital details such as usernames and passwords with clients to ease administration of the estate left for their executors, said Anisa Diwan, a Tax, Estates and Trusts associate at Borden Ladner Gervais.The Toronto-based law firm also recommends the use of power of attorneys to give access and control of reward miles and points, especially if the person loses their mental capacity before death.“General anecdotal evidence suggests however that many executors may not be dealing in a timely manner with the accumulated rewards points of a deceased person, if at all,” she said.Diwan said executors should contact each loyalty program promptly after death because some may cancel accounts due to inactivity.
Two months into the launch of her dance studio, Natalie Borch needed a loan.The 34-year-old first-time business owner had opened the doors to The Pink Studio in February after she and her brother invested $40,000 of their own cash and took out a $100,000 loan from the Business Development Bank of Canada.“We just needed a small amount of money to expand our services for new teachers and classes,” she said, from beginner Beyonce to Bollywood fusion.Finding no help from the main banks, she found Lendified Inc., a fintech startup that offers loans to small businesses based on artificial intelligence-powered screening assessments.After filling out a few online forms on cash flow and collateral, Borch received a $30,000 loan.Borch is one of the latest beneficiaries of an AI-driven overhaul in the financial sector as the big banks scramble to tap a vein that startups and credit unions have already started to mine.“I didn’t even go anywhere,” she said from the mirrored, hot pink walls of her studio on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue. “It was a life-saver.”Small-business loans have often been viewed as risky, with high interest rates due to a dearth of operating and credit history, collateral or consistent cash flow. Machine learning and big data can expand the pool of criteria that lenders can draw on, beyond the traditional factors such as payment history or current debt that produce a beacon score or bankruptcy risk rating.“In the past, underwriting has often relied on a fairly narrow set of data, in some cases just credit score,” said Andrew Graham, co-founder and chief executive of Borrowell.The four-year-old fintech, which offers unsecured loans and free credit scores, draws on millions of data points from thousands of debtors to assess credit risk. Factors from income and home ownership to interest in financial education feed into its algorithms.“The real promise of machine learning in loan underwriting is that it means more people who will be good borrowers will ultimately get loans,” Graham said.Large financial institutions have often shied away from small-business borrowers, said Arun Kumar, head of small-business banking at the Bank of Montreal. A $50,000 loan and a $5-million loan require a similar investment of time and labour, but the former might only yield $2,000 in interest — less than the cost of assessing the applicant.That prompted BMO to launch Business Xpress last month, an in-house lending platform that draws on oceans of data to assess a loan within minutes of the first click. Amounts range between $5,000 and $500,000.“It’s like moving from analogue to digital,” Kumar said.Other banks are also following suit. Toronto-Dominion Bank acquired Layer 6 AI in January and Scotiabank teamed up with Kabbage in 2016 to allow customers to apply for small business loans using the fintech startup’s platform.For credit unions, partnerships are a way leverage AI they could otherwise not afford.“It levels the playing field,” said Ed Michielsen, head of business banking at Prospera Credit Union in British Columbia. The 75-year-old financial institution partnered with fintech startup ASAPP Online Solutions Inc. to offer internet lending last April.ASAPP, like Lendified, licenses out its technology. Lendified does so for a monthly fee to credit unions including Vancity, on top of offering direct loans of up to $150,000.Lendified chief executive Troy Wright sees a deep well of untapped lending potential shimmering below the surface. Small and medium businesses applied for about $34 billion in debt financing in 2014, but received only $28 billion as 18 per cent of applications were denied, according to Statistics Canada.“The reality of it is that banks and financial institutions generally will not provide capital to a business that is under a year old,” said Wright, who ran Scotiabank’s retail distribution network for five years.In May, the Ontario government announced a pilot project with fintech startup Lending Loop, a peer-to-peer online platform for small-business loans, to provide $3 million in loans over the next two years. It also doled out a $1.75-million grant to encourage credit unions to buy into fintech software and increase loans to small businesses.However, a shortage of high-tech labour in Canada threatens to hamper progress in the field, as does the issue of bias, which can embed itself in any system, according to Graham.“If you have a data set that only includes male customers or only includes customers who fit a certain demographic, it may lead to a similar bias in the results that comes out of it,” Borrowell’s Graham said.“I think you have to be very careful and very deliberate about both what data you use and then how you set up the training.”Companies in this story: (TSX:BMO, TSX:TD, TSX:BNS)
BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Forest Service is taking comments and holding a public meeting on proposed exploration drilling for an open-pit molybdenum mine a Canadian company is considering in the Boise National Forest in central Idaho.The agency on Friday released an updated environmental assessment involving drilling planned by a subsidiary of Vancouver, British Columbia-based American CuMo Mining Corporation.The proposed plan would allow about 13 miles (21-kilometres) of new roads and the use of about 5 miles (8 kilometres) of existing unauthorized roads to reach up to 122 drill pads in the 2,885-acre (1,200-hectare) site.A federal judge in 2016 rejected a previous plan as lacking information about a plant called Sacajawea’s bitterroot. The Forest Service says the most recent plan fixes that problem.A public meeting is set for Jan. 9 in Boise.Keith Ridler, The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Winter tourism is growing in Alaska, a state known as a popular summer destination.Visitor volume grew 33 per cent for the fall and winter season over the past decade, the Anchorage Daily News reported .Winter business also has been up for the Alaska Railroad for the past few years, including a rise in visitors from Asia coming to see Alaska’s night sky. Ridership on winter passenger trains grew 33 per cent between the winter of 2015-2016 and the following year, according to railroad spokeswoman Meghan Clemons.The railroad has added more train service to accommodate the larger numbers.The railroad’s vice-president of marketing, Dale Wade, said visitors from Asia are one factor for the upswing. Seeing the aurora borealis is a popular goal for many of them.“Winter is suddenly very popular, and it’s growing steadily for the last three years,” said Wade. There wasn’t a “significant market for it” before that, he said.Winter passenger train service between Anchorage and Fairbanks typically operated only on weekends for years. Midweek winter runs between the two cities were added in 2014, with more added since then, Clemons said.The Chinese market has “exploded” over the past several fall and winter seasons, according to a report by the McDowell Group, an Anchorage research company.Alaska Skylar Travel focuses on bringing Chinese tourists to the state. The Anchorage company, whose roots are in Beijing, targets the Mandarin-speaking market.The business had about 350 clients in its first winter, according to operations manager Glen Hemingson. In its fourth winter last season, that number had grown to about 5,000 clients.“Increasingly we see visitors from more Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore,” Hemingson said.Wade, with the railroad, said Alaska as a visitor destination for the Asian market doesn’t seem to have been harmed by a recent tariff war that strained trade relations between the U.S. and China.“I think Alaska is a favoured location for Asian visitors, despite the conflicts that seem to be arising politically between U.S. and China relations,” he said. “We’re enjoying the sweet spot in between that.”The Associated Press
Vivian Krause is set to deliver a keynote address at this year’s rally. Krause is a controversial Vancouver-based blogger and researcher who has received both praise and condemnation for her research into environmental charities in Canada, particularly their source of funding. In addition to hosting her Fair Questions blog, Krause also writes for The Financial Post.In addition to Krause, Yu said that Peace River North MLA Dan Davies has confirmed his participation in this year’s rally, while others have also been invited, though no other names have yet been confirmed.The main rally is taking place at the parking lot of the old Visitor Information Centre near the corner of 100th St. and 96th Ave. at 11:00 a.m. FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Officials with local grassroots organization Fort St. John for LNG will be hosting a two-part rally in the Energetic City on Saturday to show the support for the development of a liquified natural gas export industry in B.C.FSJ for LNG founder Alan Yu says that the rally will start with a vehicle convoy in cooperation with the Peace Region Truck Enthusiasts. Vehicles will cue behind the LNG or BUST bus at 10:00 a.m. near the UFA cardlock before travelling into town along the Alaska Highway. The convoy will split up and then proceed to the main rally area at around 10:45.The main rally will take place at the corner of 100th St. and 96th Ave., in the parking lot of the old Visitor Information Centre. The rally is one day past marking the two-year anniversary of the group’s last rally which saw then-Premier Christy Clark make an appearance.
“I don’t think many were anticipating a heroic recovery despite the fact that the recession was quite deep. Oil production should grow despite some of the challenges in terms of pipelines. That’ll get us two per cent which is not heroic.”Burleton said Alberta’s economy is within a year of returning “home” _ a term used to characterize full recovery from a recession. However, it could be another two years before the job market fully recovers.“Employment is back to where it was pre-recession, but a lot of the jobs are self-employment, more of a freelance type,” he said.“Employers are kind of slow to bring back hiring and part of that does reflect the lacklustre investment outlook over the next couple of years.”The report also notes that government hiring, primarily in the health and education sectors, rose by nearly 10 per cent. Private sector jobs fell by five per cent during the recession.Burleton said the lack of investment in Alberta, particularly in the oil and gas sector, remains a concern. Late last month the Federal Court of Appeal quashed cabinet approval of the Trans Mountain expansion project.The forecast says there is reason for optimism, including the resiliency of global oil demand and limited supply outside of Alberta, and decreasing production costs. CALGARY, A.B. – TD Bank says Alberta’s battered economy is headed in the right direction, but warns there are still a number of hurdles that could hinder recovery.A report released Thursday by deputy chief economist Derek Burleton is predicting economic growth between two and 2 1/2 per cent for Alberta in the next year which follows an increase of nearly 4.9 per cent in 2017.“It was a nice bounce back last year, but growth is settling down this year and we’re of the mind that you’re gonna get a continued moderate growth run over the next couple of years as the economy kinds of settles down,” Burleton said in an interview. “I think that’s the Achilles heel for recovery so far. It is basically the missing element,” he said.“Investment is not going to be catching fire soon. We’re not anticipating a lot of growth over the next few years and clearly there are some hurdles there.”Burleton said Alberta could reassert itself as a leader in growth, but only if it deals with inadequate pipeline capacity, regulatory hurdles, and eliminating the government’s budget deficit.“We still are of the mind that the economy will reassert itself,” he said. “It may be a bit at odds given the timing of this report just after the Trans Mountain decision and some of the concerns around the oil and gas sector.”