Showing posts from 2015

Ottawa couple thrilled by Canadian government's Xmas present

When Bhavna Bajaj filed her paperwork for permanent residency in Canada in 2011, she was pregnant, but failed to report that on her application. As a result she had to spend three years trying to have her son join her and her husband in Canada.
Bajajfound out she was pregnant while she and her husband Aman Sood were filing papers to emigrate to Canada under the skilled worker program. Bajaj is a lab technician.Their sonDaksh was born in June of 2011. The couple in fact made two errors. The couple were told by an immigration consultant that they could sponsor their son after they had settled down in their jobs in Canada. They were granted residency in 2013 but when they arrived in Canada they were told they had broken the law by not revealing that they had a child in India. The couple was required to update their family status to immigration authorities and anyone not included in the update was not eligible for sponsorship. The couple said they had to sign a declaration never to sponso…

Manitoba Zamboni driver is charged with impaired driving

A Manitoba driver of an ice-resurfacer or Zamboni has been charged with impaired driving and also resisting arrest after he crashed into the boards that line the ice rink in Ste Anne Manitoba near Winnipeg.
Zamboniis actually the name of the founder of one of the main companies that make the ice resurfacers and the term is now used generally to refer to the machines. The machine in the photo is not a Zamboni make. During intermissions in a hockey game the Zamboni resurfaces the ice by driving around the rink. During the second intermission of the game. Martin Kintscher, manager of one of the teams in the contest, said:"On his first lap he struck the gate where the Zamboni drives onto the ice, and broke the boards and also broke pieces off the actual Zamboni. One piece got stuck under the Zamboni, which left a ridge on the ice with every lap." Kintscher cancelled the game because of the damage to the rink and the ice even though the driver of the Zamboni insisted the ice was i…

Norwegian student spends six months alone in Canadian NWT wilderness

Kristoffer Glestad, a 26-year-old mechanical engineering student from Norway realized his childhood dream of living alone in the remote wilderness of Canada's Northwest Territories.

He and two friends originally intended to go together for an entire year so they could observe all the seasons. They picked a remote lake about an hour's flying time from the community of Norman Wells, population around 800, a good sized town for the North West Territories. Norman Wells was very active during the second World War when it supplied oil for the military and there was the long Canol Pipeline and road of the same name. The pipeline and road shut down after the war.
The North West Territories used to be much larger, larger in area than India, but in 1999 eastern portions became the territory of Nunavut. Population density is a mere 0.04 people per square kilometer or 0.10 per square mile. In other words there is only one person for every ten square miles.
The lake Glestad chose to stay …

First Nations groups may buy northern Manitoba railway

At present the Hudson Bay Railway(HBR) is owned by Denver-based OmniTRAX, which also owns the port of Churchill. The HBR was formed in July of 1997 by OmniTRAX to purchase Canadian National Railway lines to Churchill and also to Flin Flon and Lynn Lake.
A group of First Nations communities in the areas through which the rail line passes have sent aletter of intenttoOmniTRAX.Omnitrax confirmed it received the letter of intent to purchase the Port of Churchill and Hudson Bay line. There will now be a 45-day period of due diligence before the sale can be completed. Both the federal and provincial governments would be asked to support the groups. Churchill, Manitoba, on Hudson's Bay is Canada's only deep-water northern port. The port ships mostly grain from the prairies. There is an arctic studies center near the town. Tourists interested in viewing polar bears often visit the town. Canada's VIA passenger train service runs a train from Winnipeg to Churchill. The route is far f…

Canadian loonie dives to lowest level since 2004

- During 2015 the Canadian dollar — the Loonie — has lost 17 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar. Yesterday it closed below 72 cents U.S., the lowest value since the spring of 2004.
At the present exchange rateit will cost$1.40 Canadian to buy one U.S. dollar. With service fees it will cost about $1.43. Economist at the Bank of Montreal,Doug Porter, said:  "The only bigger annual decline was in the extreme conditions of 2008, when the Canadian dollar fell 18.6 per cent — a threshold I thought would never even be approached again."We still have well over a week to go in 2015, so we could get closer to that level. The decline in the loonie is in part the result of the steep slide in oil prices. Futures on Thursday were down 57 cents to $34.95 a barrel, the lowest price in seven years. Another factor is the recent raising of key interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve. In contrast, the Bank of Canada is keeping our interest rate at a lower level and may even lower th…

Canadian pastor sentenced to life with hard labour by North Korean Supreme Court

The North Korean Supreme Court has sentenced Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim to life in prison with hard labour. The state prosecutors had actually sought the death penalty.
The Courtdescribed Lim's activities as crimes against the state. These included harming the dignity of the supreme leadership, attempting to use religion to destroy the North Korean system, and disseminating negative propaganda about North Korea to Koreans overseas. The charges also included helping U.S. and South Korean authorities to lure and abduct North Korean citizens, and helping them to assist defectors. Perhaps some of these charges are correct. Some of the charges would never merit punishment in many countries. If harming the dignity of the leadership of the U.S., President Barack Obama, were a crime punishable by imprisonment, even the U.S. military-industrial-prison complex would be hard pressed to keep up to the demand for more prisons. North Korea joins a select group such as Egypt, the Gulf monarch…

Quebec public sector unions hold one day strike to protest slow negotiations

Last Wednesday, tens of thousands of Quebec public sector workers participated in a one-day strike. The streets of downtown Montreal were clogged with demonstrators.
The walkout was heldto protest against lagging contracts with the Quebec provincial government. The streets of downtown Montreal were clogged with demonstrators Wednesday afternoon, as Quebec public sector workers staged another one-day walkout to protest against lagging contract talks with the provincial government. The strikers included teachers, white-collar workers and caretakers. Jacques Letourneau, president of the CSN claimed that the strike was the largest since 1972 with more than 400,000 taking part. The strike was province-wide even in the northern Quebec Inuit territory of Nunavik where teachers were picketing outside in minus 15 C weather. The Confederation des Syndicats Nationaux(CSN) or Confederation of National Trade Unions is the second largest union in Quebec. Its structure is quite decentralized. While …

De Beers Group diamond mine to suspend operations at Snake Laker N.W.T.

The huge global diamond producers De Beers Group is shutting down its Snap Lake diamond mine in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Over 400 jobs will be lost as a result.
De Beers was founded back in the 19th century by Cecil Rhodes in southern Africa, but now operates in some 28 countries. It still operates in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa but also has mines in Canada. Its headquarters now are in Luxemburg and it still controls about 35 percent of global rough diamond production. However, it has long lost any monopoly power in the industry and the ability to set prices as it had earlier. In the 1980s it still controlled 90 percent of rough diamond production. Kim Truter, the CEO of De Beers Canada, said the company would be evaluating market conditions over the next year to see if the underground mine is financially viable. He said: "The men and women at Snap Lake have put enormous effort into this challenging ore body over many years, but even the gains made this year are…

Some in Alberta oil patch support NDP provincial government climate plan

In a secret deal with four top companies operating in the oil-sands, together with four environmental organizations, the Alberta NDP government climate change plan includes a hard cap on emissions from oil-sands production.
The new plan represents a breakthrough in that corporations, environmentalists, and the government came to an agreement instead of criticizing each other. However, the plan will no doubt cause divisions within the oil patch, NDP supporters, and environmentalists not part of the deal. When Alberta premier,Rachel Notley, announced the deal:  Four oilsands leaders — Murray Edwards, the billionaire oil investor and chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.; Steve Williams, president and CEO of Suncor Energy Inc.; Lorraine Mitchelmore, president of Shell Canada; Brian Ferguson, president and CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc. — stood behind Notley Nov. 22 as she announced an aggressive climate change plan for Alberta. In addition to imposing a $3-billion a year economy-wide ca…

Six Canadian Banks earn almost $35 billion over last fiscal year

- In a year that has seen a weak economy, slumping development in the energy sector and consumers cautious and debt-ridden, five of the six main Canadian banks had fiscal year earnings better than last year with Scotibank being the single exception.
Three of the six banks also increased their dividends. Total earnings of the six for the fiscal year was almost $35 billion. The Royal Bank was the top earner with $10 billion in profit compared to $9 billion last year. One of the ways the banks increased their profits was by curbing expenses. This often involves trimming staff and running the operations with fewer workers. TD cut 1,594 jobs this year. Scotiabank dropped 1,140 staff since last July.but this did not increase the profits for this year which dropped to $7.21 billion from$7.30 billion last year. Royal Bank also cut 528 full time jobs but did it mostly by not replacing retirees rather than laying off existing staff. Some of the increase in profits has nothing to do with the Can…

Blackberry faces trouble in Pakistan over user privacy

The Canadian company BlackBerry Ltd., formerly known as Research in Motion, has decided to delay closing down operations in Pakistan until at least December 30, as it continues negotiations with the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority(PTA). + Add Image The Pakistan government is demanding access to users' private data. BlackBerry is in a difficult situation since one of its competitive strengths is its strong encryption assuring users of the privacy of their data. BlackBerry has been losing market share and money for some time now although losses have slowed considerably lately compared to 2013 and 2014. BlackBerry began as Research in Motion back in 1984. It still has 46 million subscribers. Originally, PTA had demanded in July that BlackBerry give access to BlackBerry Enterprise Services, which encrypts data or be shut down by Nov. 30. This time line has now been extended to December 30. However, CNET reports that BlackBerry will shut down operations in Pakistan at year's e…

Trans-Pacific Agreement text shows it is very damaging to some Canadian business areas

The Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) is a huge trade deal among 12 Pacific Rim countries that the former Harper Conservative government signed in October shortly before the recent election. + Add Image Although the Conservatives promised that they would release the text of the agreement before the election, they never did. The text of the agreement is now available here. It is interesting to browse through it. The agreement will allow individuals who have any connection to businesses from countries who are signatories to enter Canada on temporary permits for all sorts of purposes with no visas required. Experts say the agreement will result in a flood of foreign workers coming to Canada. While this may help companies operating in Canada, it could also result in misuse, as has happened even before this agreement. There will no longer be the requirement that there is no Canadian available for the job before a foreign worker can be hired. While some companies simply went through the motions…

Liberals keep promise to withdraw from ISIS bombing campaign

As promised during their election campaign Trudeau will withdraw its CF-18 fighter jets from the air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. + Add Image 1 of 3  Some Canadian planes will stay as part of the operation, including two Aurora surveillance aircraft, two transport planes, and a Polaris refuelling plane. Subsequent to the Paris attacks, there has been some pressure for the Liberals to reconsider their plans as some countries such as France are increasing their attacks. However, Liberal Defence Minister Harjit Saijan stood firm on the promise: "Myself and the government feel we need to focus on the training. If we do not get that piece right, is does not matter where one bomb drops." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised he will increase the number of group troops operating in Iraq to train more local forces. At present there are only 69 troops on the ground. The additional troops could train locals in medical aid and clearing improvised explosives,…

Postal Union wants postal banks re-introduced to help fund Canada Post

In the second quarter of this year, Canada Post actually made a profit, but in the last quarter it lost $13 million. Even so, this is a relatively small sum, as is the total loss for the year so far of $20 million.

Many countries have taken the opportunity to privatize postal services to help out their corporate friends. Among the prime functions of modern governments is to find new sources of profits for capital. First moves involved changing the laws that used to give national postal services monopolies over postal services. Private corporations were allowed into parcel delivery etc. services, that could bring a profit while often leaving uneconomical services such as regular mail delivery to isolated and rural areas to the national postal service. This forced national services such as Canada Post into an unfair competition in which its competitors were able to provide services in a growth area in high volume settings whereas Canada Post also had to provide first class mail service…