Archive | August, 2018

Donald Trump: ‘Canada must wait’ on trade deal, but Mexican one is coming nicely

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

Canada would have to wait on a trade deal due to “tariffs and trade barriers” but the U.S. is making progress with Mexico, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday night.

“Deal with Mexico is coming along nicely. Autoworkers and farmers must be taken care of or there will be no deal. New President of Mexico has been an absolute gentleman,” tweet.

Trump appeared to be referring to efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada in his tweet from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

He added that any deal with Mexico must take care of American autoworkers and farmers, but he praised the new Mexican president, calling him “an absolute gentleman.”

“Canada must wait. Their Tariffs and Trade Barriers are far too high. Will tax cars if we can’t make a deal!” the president continued, likely referencing the trade spat between Canada and the U.S. that resulted in new tariffs being placed on American imports to the Great White North in July.

Trump went on to warn that he would tax Canadian auto exports if Washington and Ottawa could not arrive at a deal.

The Trump administration angered the Canadian government after its decision to place tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel exports earlier this year, despite protests from both within the GOP and among Democrats.

In response, Canadian officials announced “dollar for dollar” retaliatory tariffs, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called them at the time, to the tune of over C$16 billion in U.S. imports.

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Trudeau on Saudi dispute apology, says Canada will speak out ‘wherever we see the need’

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

It appears no apology is in the works from Canada after Saudi Arabia launched an escalating diplomatic dispute over a tweet.

At a press conference in Montreal on Wednesday afternoon, reporters asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau whether he was willing to apologize to Saudi Arabia after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland last week criticized the kingdom’s arrest and detention of women’s rights activists, including one with family ties to Canada.

 “We will continue to stand up for Canadian values and universal values and human rights,” said Trudeau.

“We have respect for their importance in the world and recognize they have made progress on a number of important issues but we will continue to speak firmly and strongly on human rights around the world wherever we see the need.”

The dispute started on Sunday evening when Saudi Arabia announced it was ejecting the Canadian ambassador, recalling its own and freezing all new business with Canada because of what it deemed “interference” in its internal affairs.

The tweet in question, posted on Aug. 2 by Freeland, criticized the arrest of Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist who is the sister of imprisoned dissident blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife is a Canadian citizen and lives in Quebec.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has ordered both its students studying in Canada and citizens seeking medical treatment to go elsewhere within the month.

It also blacklisted Canadian wheat and barley imports and ordered the asset managers for its central bank and state pension funds to dump Canadian assets “no matter the cost.”

None of Canada’s allies has spoken out publicly in defence out of what experts describe as fear of being cut out from doing business deals in the lucrative Saudi economy.

When asked whether he was frustrated with the lack of support from countries like the U.S. and the U.K., Trudeau said it was up to individual countries.

“I am never going to impose on another country what their response or reaction should be,” he said.

“I respect the rights of other countries to speak for themselves.”


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Saudi Arabia-Canada spat: Here’s everything to know about the feud

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

It started with a tweet over human rights and now the feud between Saudi Arabia and Canada has escalated into one of the biggest diplomatic rifts in years between the two nations.

Saudi Arabia has kicked out the Canadian ambassador, plans to pull out thousands of students and medical patients from Canada and is suspending Saudi state airline flights to Toronto.

And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not backing down.

“It’s very harsh diplomatic measures,” said Aurel Braun, a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Toronto. “This is an all-out confrontation short of a military conflict because it’s breaking a link in the diplomatic embassy.”

As the feud continues to balloon, here’s everything you need to know about it.

How did it start?

The diplomatic dispute began last week after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted concerns about the news that several social activists had been arrested in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist who is the sister of imprisoned dissident blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife is a Canadian citizen and lives in Quebec.

Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.

On Aug. 2, Freeland called for the release of the prisoners, and a day later, her department tweeted further criticism and called for the “immediate release” of Badawi.

Saudi Arabia has consistently been flagged as one of the worst violators of human rights by groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

How did Saudi Arabia react?

The ultraconservative kingdom did not take the tweet lightly.

In a series of angry tweets on Sunday, the Saudi foreign ministry criticized Canada’s “negative and surprising attitude” and called the country’s position “an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of #SaudiArabia.”

 “Canada has made a mistake and needs to fix it,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Wednesday. “The ball is in Canada’s court.”

In a steady string of retaliatory measures, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry expelled Canada’s ambassador and suspended all business and trade between the two countries.

The nation is also ending thousands of Saudi scholarship programs in Canada, arranging for all Saudi patients in Canadian hospitals to be transferred out of the country, blacklisted Canadian wheat and barley and ordered the asset managers of their central bank and pension funds to dump Canadian assets “no matter the cost.”

Why the quick, harsh reaction?

Saudi Arabia has always been hypersensitive to criticism of human rights, according to Braun. For example, in 2015 Sweden criticized the kingdom’s human rights record, and as a result, Saudi Arabia took harsh diplomatic measures and expelled Sweden’s ambassador.

But Braun said the kingdom’s reaction to Canada seems to be more severe.

 “Maybe the ruling family wants to make an example of Canada and send a message internationally, that Saudi Armada will extract a high cost for those who interfere in domestic affairs,” he said.

The nation also has a young new crown prince in power, Mohammed bin Salman, who is taking steps forward to modernize the country.

“By contrast to the old regime, the country believes it is modernizing, such as allowing women to drive, although this may seem minute to us,” Braun explained. “They see themselves as trying to engage in reform, but they are not being rewarded for it, instead Canada is shaming them. So it’s not only anger, it’s a lack of recognition.”

On Monday, a Saudi youth organization shared and then deleted an image on Twitter that appeared to show an Air Canada plane heading toward the CN Tower in Toronto, evoking images of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.

 “As the Arabic saying goes: ‘He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him,’” read a message superimposed over the image from the Twitter account @infographic_KSA. It also accused Canada of “sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong.”

Oil will not be impacted

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister assured Canada that the kingdom’s diplomatic dispute with Ottawa won’t affect oil sales. Around 10 per cent of Canada’s oil imports come from Saudi Arabia. Bilateral trade between the two nations is around $3 billion a year.

Was this a wise move for Canada?

Canada has had a long history of standing up for human rights internationally.

“For Canadian leaders to criticize the human rights in other countries is not surprising,” Braun said. But he added it may have been the public platform that Canada used in order to shame Saudi Arabia that left the kingdom so angry.

 “Was this a wise decision to public shame rather than quiet diplomacy? So far it did not have the desired results,” he said. “We have not seen the release of these people.”

What are Canada’s allies saying?

None of Canada’s allies has spoken out publicly in defence out of what experts describe as fear of being cut out from doing business deals in the lucrative Saudi economy.

What are the next steps?

Braun believes that in order for the two nations to mend ties, Canada will have to pull off some intricate diplomatic choreography and find a “face-saving message.”

But Trudeau and Freeland made it clear that Canada will not apologize for standing up for women’s rights.

 “We will continue to stand up for Canadian values and universal values and human rights,” Trudeau said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights,” he said.

With both sides sticking to their position, it’s unknown how the next steps forward will unfold. However, Braun said it’s unlikely Saudi Arabia will reverse all its retaliatory steps without getting something back.

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500,000 Dollarama toys recalled after dangerous chemicals found

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

Health Canada is recalling thousands of toys sold at Dollarama that contain higher levels of phthalates than allowed.

The recall applies to 516,125 “Skip Ball” toys sold at the stores across Canada between January 2012 and July 2018.

The toys are made of a pink ankle loop, which is attached to a plastic cord and ball. It has the product number 14-1401338, which can be found on the toy’s packaging.

So far, Health Canada has not received any complaints or reported injuries related to the products, which were manufactured in China.

But the health agency says it is concerned about the high levels of phthalates, six chemicals (DEHP, DINP, DBP, BBP, DNOP and DIDP) that are found in plastic products.

Use of the chemicals was restricted in Canada in December 2010 for children’s toys and other baby products such as bibs and teethers.

“These regulations will help ensure that children’s toys and child care articles imported, sold or advertised in Canada do not present a risk of phthalate exposure to young children,” Health Canada’s website explains.

The website adds exposure to the chemicals maybe cause reproductive and development abnormalities in young children when toys are sucked or chewed for “extended periods.”

Health Canada is urging consumers with these toys at home to keep them away from children, throw them out or return them to the store where they were purchased.

Those with questions can contact Dollarama directly at 1-888-755-1006, extension 1000.

The agency warns that selling or giving away products prohibited by Health Canada, such as these toys that exceed chemical limits, is prohibited.


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Canada can easily replace Saudi Arabian crude oil, economist says

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

CALGARY – Canada can easily replace the oil it imports from Saudi Arabia should relations with the Middle Eastern kingdom deteriorate to the point that trade in crude is halted, says an energy economist.

Eastern Canadian refineries import about 75,000 to 80,000 barrels per day of Saudi Arabian crude, said Judith Dwarkin, chief economist with RS Energy Group in Calgary.

That’s less than 10 per cent of total imports and amounts to a “drop in the bucket” compared with the United States, she said, which accounts for two-thirds of imports and could easily cover Saudi’s share thanks to growing domestic production.

It is also dwarfed by the 3.5 million barrels per day of Canadian oil that Canada exports mainly to the U.S.

Saudi Arabia declared a freeze on new trade with Canada and recalled thousands of students attending Canadian universities following a tweet last week from Global Affairs Canada that expressed concerns about the arrest of activists in the kingdom.

The Saudi foreign ministry has also ordered Canada’s ambassador, Dennis Horak, to leave the country.

According to the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, Canada exported $1.45 billion worth of products to Saudi Arabia in 2017, with about half in the category of vehicles and equipment at $760 million.

The federal office says Canada imported $2.6 billion worth of goods from Saudi Arabia, with $2.5 billion of that in mineral production.

A handful of Canadian companies operate in Saudi Arabia and could potentially be affected by the ongoing trade battle.

Precision Drilling Corp. of Calgary has about 900 employees working between Kuwait, where it has five active rigs, and Saudi Arabia, where three of its four rigs in the country are currently active, the company confirmed.

A spokesman refused further comment.

SNC-Lavalin says on its website it has had a 24-year relationship with Saudi Aramco, the national Saudi Arabian oil company, providing general engineering services for their oil and gas facilities.

Armoured tanks and personnel carriers have been Canada’s biggest recent export to the kingdom. A London, Ontario-based firm called General Dynamics Land Systems signed a $15-billion deal with Saudi Arabia in 2014 to export its light-armoured vehicles to the kingdom.


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Baby boomers are back in the housing market – and it will impact prices: Royal LePage

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

More than 1.4 million Canadians between the ages of 54 and 72 expect to buy a house in the next five years, according to a new survey by real estate powerhouse Royal LePage.

Boomers will be either downsizing to smaller properties in their hometowns or looking for greener — and cheaper — pastures away from big cities, the research shows.

Either way, this is “expected to have a meaningful impact on the housing market,” the report reads.

Canada’s housing market has already been through a boom, bust and echo, said Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper, quoting the 1990s bestselling book Boom, Bust and Echo by Canadian demographer David Foot.

The boom happened when boomers entered the market as first-time homeowners and then upgraded to larger homes a few years later. The bust had, in part, to do with the smaller number of gen-X homebuyers. The echo kicked in when millennials, the children of the boomers, started looking for a home of their own, Soper said.

Now we may be in another real estate market commotion caused by boomers, as Canadians in or approaching retirement look for homes better suited to life after work.

Less pressure on detached-home prices, more pressure on condo prices

In terms of home prices, “I think that there will be some relief from boomers leaving family-sized homes,” Soper said.

The main beneficiaries will likely be first-time homebuyers who are at the tail end of the millennial cohort and the much smaller generation Z. Downsizing boomers will also likely leave more space for older millennials who already own a house but are a looking to move to a bigger home as their families grow.

Still, with demand for housing expected to remain, the boomer migration to condos and small-town Canada won’t be the solution to housing affordability woes, Soper warned.

“It will bring some relief, but not enough for (home) prices to retract,” he said.

And when it comes to smaller homes and condos, downsizing boomers often become competition for young families and immigrants, helping to push prices up.

“The price appreciation curves for condos and detached homes in places like Toronto have flipped over the last couple of years,” Soper said, meaning that apartment units have been appreciating faster than single-family houses.

In particular, boomers could push up the prices of larger condos, Soper added.

This would add to price pressures generated by the stricter federal mortgage rules that came into effect this year. These rules also contributed to pushing more homebuyers toward less expensive properties like condos.

Smaller towns

But not all boomers are prepared to spend their golden years in an apartment.

A whopping 56 per cent of those surveyed consider their local housing market unaffordable, a percentage that grows to 63 per cent in Ontario and 78 per cent in British Columbia. However, the solution for many isn’t to stay put and downsize but to move away.

 “Our research does indicate that smaller cities and recreational areas will attract more investment than major cities,” Soper said in a statement.

Smaller towns with picturesque landscapes and recreational amenities will likely be the destination of choice, Soper said. He cited Collingwood, Ont., White Rock, B.C., Saskatoon and Mt. Tremblant, Que., as examples.

Not yet empty nesters

But boomers are likely to postpone their home purchases until the family nest is empty. The survey found that 44 per cent of respondents still have children living with them. Of those, almost 20 per cent don’t anticipate the kids will move out until after the age of 30, while nearly 10 per cent expect them to leave after the age of 35.

Perhaps partly in an effort to make that transition happen, 47 per cent of boomers say they are ready to help their children buy their first home, with 5 per cent willing to contribute 25 per cent or more of the home purchase price.

Baby boomers are the “most affluent generation in Canadian history” and they are willing to give back, Soper noted.

“This is a generation that deeply values home ownership and very much wants their children to have the same opportunity.”

Leger conducted an online poll of 1,000 Canadian baby boomers between the ages of 54-72 between July 12 and July 17, 2018. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3.0 per cent, or 19 times out of 20.


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Conservative MP Maxime Bernier criticizes Trudeau for promoting ‘ever more’ diversity

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

OTTAWA—Conservative MP Maxime Bernier is taking issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s oft-repeated message of diversity in Canada, calling it a form of “radical multiculturalism.”

In a series of tweets published late Sunday in both French and English, Bernier says he believes promoting too much diversity could have the effect of dividing Canada into ‘little tribes’ that cause division, erode Canada’s identity and destroy what makes it a great country.

 “Having people live among us who reject basic Western values such as freedom, equality, tolerance and openness doesn’t make us strong. People who refuse to integrate into our society and want to live apart in their ghetto don’t make our society strong,” Bernier tweeted.

“Trudeau’s extreme multiculturalism and cult of diversity will divide us into little tribes that have less and less in common, apart from their dependence on government in Ottawa. These tribes become political clienteles to be bought with taxpayers (money) and special privileges.”

Since the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau has championed diversity as a key feature of what makes Canada strong and has repeated that message in many of his public speeches and comments.

On Monday, Bernier posted two more tweets insisting that he’s not against diversity in Canada, but rather “pushing for ever more of it.”

Bernier, who narrowly lost the leadership of the Conservative party last year, has been a vocal critic not only of the Trudeau government but of his own party’s position on supply management and was stripped of his role as an opposition critic in June.

In his latest tweet, Bernier says, “Something infinitely diverse has no core identity and ceases to exist.”

The comments have drawn sharp criticism from several partisans, including Liberal MP Marc Miller, who called on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to clarify whether the party supports Bernier’s views.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel also took issue with Bernier’s comments. In her own series of tweets Sunday, she criticized both Trudeau for his government’s immigration policy and also “those who make claims that Canada is becoming a ghettoized state.”

“From a political perspective, it’s equally easy to say ‘diversity is our strength, #welcometocanada’ as it is to infer Canada’s pluralism has failed, if neither claim is backed up by data or policy,” Rempel wrote.

“I am so bone weary of watching both sides of this debate be watered down into politically correct, puerile, or flat-out wrong arguments just for political expediency’s sake. All of you who engage in this are cowards.”


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Home sales and prices rise in Toronto region for a second straight month

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

In a sign that the Toronto area real estate market is in recovery mode, year-over-year resale home prices and sales rose for a second consecutive month in July.

Selling prices climbed 4.8 per cent to $782,129 last month, up from $745,971 in the same period last year, for all types of homes in the region, according to the latest numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board released Friday.

The number of home sales also rose 18.6 per cent year over year in July, while new listings declined 1.8 per cent.

“It appears that some people who initially moved to the sidelines due to the psychological impact of the (Ontario) Fair Housing Plan and changes to mortgage lending guidelines have re-entered the market,” said Jason Mercer, the board’s director of market analysis.

July was the fifth consecutive month-to-month rise in Toronto region housing prices: up 3.1 per cent from June, according to the real estate industry’s Multiple Listing Service Home Price Index.

Condominiums continued to outperform lowrise housing such as detached, semi-detached and town homes. Condo prices rose 8.9 per cent on average last month to $546,984. About three-quarters of the 2,002 condos sold last month were in the city of Toronto.

Of the 2,390 detached houses that sold in the region, three-quarters were outside the city. Regionwide, detached house prices rose only 0.5 per cent on average to $1 million, but the scarcity helped increase prices 3.6 per cent inside the city, while they remained flat in the surrounding 905 communities. A detached house in Toronto cost $1.35 million on average, compared to $907,347 in the surrounding regions.

The lift in resale home numbers so far this summer — June prices and sales both rose about 2 per cent above 2017 levels — appears to signal the stronger second half of this year that the real estate board and industry executives have been predicting.

The real estate industry’s MLS Home Price Index showed a slight 0.59 per cent decline in July, but the board’s release said, “The annual growth rate looks to be trending toward positive territory in the near future.”

Seasonally adjusted figures, nevertheless, also showed year-over-year growth of 3.1 per cent in prices and 6.6 per cent in the number of home transactions.

The MLS index shows that York Region continued to lag other parts of the Toronto area with a 9.06 per cent year-over-year drop in all types of housing, including condos. The city of Toronto saw a 3.85 per cent price gain, according to the same index.

The average indexed home price across the region this year to date is $788,822 compared to $856,677 in the first half of 2017 when the market peaked. The Ontario government introduced its housing plan April 20, 2017, to pour cold water on months of double-digit price gains.

That policy was followed by tighter lending restrictions that reduced the spending capacity of many consumers, and a series of interest rate hikes, although lending rates remain at historically low levels.

There have been 46,834 sales this year, 13,520 fewer than the same period last year. The number of new listings was also down to 98,456 — 16,655 fewer than the first seven months of 2017.

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Sanjay Dutt And Ranbir Kapoor Can’t Wait To Shoot Together For Shamshera

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

After bringing alive the life of Sanjay Dutt in Sanju, Ranbir Kapoor is all set to share screen space with Dutt in the upcoming period drama, Shamshera. The shoot of the film starts in November and the real and reel Sanju can’t wait to shoot together. While Ranbir plays a dacoit, Dutt has been signed as the antagonist.

Actress Vaani Kapoor has been zeroed in on to essay the love interest of Ranbir Kapoor in ‘Shamshera.’ The high-octane entertainer, produced by Yash Raj Films, promises “jaw-dropping action sequences” and Ranbir Kapoor in a never seen before avatar. Sanjay Dutt plays the merciless nemesis of Ranbir in the project.

The film is part of YRF’s three-movie deal with Karan Malhotra, who directed “Agneepath” and “Brothers”. “Karan is going to take me completely out of my comfort zone and I’m looking forward to this challenge,” Ranbir said of the high-octane adventure which is set in the heartland of India. Ranbir’s last two outings with YRF were “Bachna Ae Haseeno” and “Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year”.

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Mallika Sherawat Urges People To Follow Plant-Based Diet

Posted on 15 August 2018 by admin

Actress Mallika Sherawat says she believes in spreading the message of the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Mallika is also supporting a plant-based nutritional tour in medical schools across India. The first part started in Bhopal on July 26 and went on till August 7.

The second part of this programme will begin after six months where they will be reaching out to medical schools on a continuous basis as they had a great response reaching over 2500 medical students in 10 medical colleges. “I am supporting the tour because I’m a vegan and I believe in spreading the message of the health benefits of a plant-based diet,” Mallika said in a statement to IANS.

“I follow a plant-based diet to boost my energy and to be active during long working hours. I can say that I have never felt better in my life – both physically and emotionally,” she added.

She had also joined hands with the Barnard Medical Center and Physicians Committee – a US-based non-profit organisation, urging students from various medical schools across India to go vegan and follow a healthy plant-based diet. “I am supporting the physicians’ committee’s 11-city medical tour because this initiative is the first of its kind in India where a physician’s committee is visiting medical schools across India and teaching students the benefits of a plant-based diet.

“Change happens through education. This movement is aimed at ground level which I believe is the first step in changing the current mindsets about dietary habits in India,” she added. On the acting front, Mallika has got the rights to adapt “The Good Wife”, an American legal and political drama TV series, for Indian audiences.


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