China Wants Total Access To Canada, May Seek To Import Its Own Workers

China’s government is seeking full access to Canada’s economy in free trade talks, a move that could result in Chinese state-owned companies bringing their own employees to work on projects in Canada.

China’s ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, told the Globe and Mail his government wants to avoid discussions of human rights issues, fearing it could become a “bargaining chip” in negotiations.

Additionally, China would see any attempt to block takeovers of Canadian companies on national security grounds as protectionism, Lu said.

“Investment is investment. We should not take too much political considerations into the investment,” he said. “Just like the negotiations of the (Canada-U.S.) FTA, we should not let political factors into this process. Otherwise, it would be very difficult.”

Canadian and Chinese officials held exploratory talks on a free trade deal earlier this year. Lu told the Globe another meeting will take place in April.

justin trudedau li keqiang
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stand in the Hall of Honour as they take part in a signing ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, September 22, 2016. (Photo: The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand)

Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, told the CBC that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “is very clear that we want to pursue stronger ties with China. We think that in the medium term this will lead to more Canadian jobs.”

Many trade experts point out that the vast majority of China’s largest corporations are state-run enterprises whose executives are often hand-picked by government.

They also note that China’s notion of “full access” to an economy could be very broad. As the foreign policy blog OpenCanada notes, China’s 2015 free trade deal with Australia includes a provision that allows Chinese companies to bring their own employees into the country to work on projects, so long as those projects are worth more than AUD$150 million.

Charles Burton, an associate political science professor at Brock University, says bringing their own workers abroad is “normal practice” for Chinese companies.

“It’s not as if [the Chinese] would be asking something of Canada that they don’t expect from other countries,” he said.

john mccallum
Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, says a trade deal with China is a priority for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Photo: The Canadian Press)

Though China has been among the most vocal countries in resisting the protectionism of the Trump administration, critics say the country is itself a bastion of protectionism. They note China allows almost no foreign investment in banking and telecommunications.

Many argue the country has not lived up to the commitments it made to open up its economy when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

China’s interest in Canada lies primarily in energy, and in the possibility of exploiting Canada’s oilsands, experts say. The country will push for a reversal of Harper government-era policies that restricted the ability of Chinese state-owned businesses to invest in Canadian energy.

canada china trade poll

Opinion polls suggest Canadians are split on the issue of free trade with China.

One poll carried out for the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada last August found 46 per cent support for a deal with China, and the same percentage opposed. However, that was a stronger showing than a poll six months earlier, which showed only 36-per-cent support for a China trade deal at that time.

Canadians were much more likely to support free trade deals with more developed economies, such as the European Union, Japan and Australia.

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UConn women’s notebook: UCLA’s Jordin Canada provides archetype for UConn’s Crystal Dangerfield

BRIDGEPORT >> Since Crystal Dangerfield arrived on campus, the highly-touted freshman guard has been pushed to raise her level of play up a few notches and prodded to increase her work rate.

Just in case Dangerfield had any questions of what type of player her coaches and teammates want her to be, Exhibit A was on the court in Saturday’s Sweet 16 game in the form of UCLA mercurial junior point guard Jordin Canada.

Canada, like Dangerfield, came into college with plenty of experience as well as more than her share of gold medals during her time playing on various USA Basketball teams. Canada has learned how to use her speed to aid not just her game but that of her teammates while becoming a more refined offensive player. More than anything, the 5-foot-6 Canada plays with a physicality that enables her to hold her own and even get the upper hand on taller opponents.

“She is tough, she is physical,” UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey said of Canada. “They post her up. I am hoping Crystal Dangerfield can be like that. There are a lot of players we’ve faced that she can benefit from but at her size, she plays a lot bigger, she has a big heart. She plays on both sides of the ball, defensively she creates a lot of havoc and on the offensive end she does whatever she wants, she controls the tempo for them. I am hoping down the road that Crystal is able to do that for us.”


Dangerfield played 17 minutes in the 86-71 win over UCLA and often times she was matched us on Canada, who is listed at 5-foot-6 just one inch taller than Dangerfield’s listed height.

“She aggressive,” Dangerfield said. “She loves the ball in her hands and when she gets in the open court, she is unstoppable.”

So what does Dangerfield think she can learn from Canada, who had 20 points and 11 assists against the Huskies?

“Being a real floor leader because she controls so much for their team and defensively she pushes you hard,” Dangerfield said.

After the game, UConn coach Geno Auriemma took a few extra seconds to chat with Canada.

“I’m assuming he thought I was a senior because he said, ‘congrats on a great career, good luck on the next level,” Canada said with a laugh.

Pac-12 Power

It has been a tournament to remember for the Pac-12 with no team making more of its opportunities than Oregon, a No. 10 seed ready to face UConn for a chance to go to the Final Four.

“I think the Pac-12 prepared us well for this tournament,” Oregon sophomore forward Oti Gildon said after Oregon’s 77-63 win over heavily-favored Maryland. “Maryland was definitely a really good team, but we’ve played Stanford and UCLA and teams like that. I think we were prepared for them when we came into this game.”

UCLA coach Cori Close, who will be welcoming UConn and fellow No. 1 seed Baylor to campus in the first couple weeks of the 2017-18 season, has a good sense about how dangerous this Oregon team can be since the Ducks and Bruins split games during the regular season.

“In March, you have to have great guard play. Oregon has great guard play,” Close said. “They’re going to have to read the screen and roll really well, handle all those switches. There’s not a mismatch. A lot of times when people switch as much as they do, there’s a mismatch you can exploit. I think that’s going to be harder.”

Stanford is also still alive so there’s a chance that UConn sophomore Katie Lou Samuelson could face her older sister Karlie in the tournament, but both teams would need to reach the national championship game.

“We haven’t spoken about playing each other,” Katie Lou Samuelson said. “I don’t think we would think about it until that point when we got there, but we both have tough roads.”

Tough ending

The sophomore season for former Capital Prep star Kiah Gillespie came to end when Maryland lost to Oregon. The Meriden native didn’t get a chance to make a contribution as she was not among the 11 Terrapins to get into the game.

It marked the third time in her sophomore season that she wasn’t summoned off the bench. She also did not see any action against No. 1 UConn in December or in the Big Ten semifinals against Michigan State.

Gillespie, who went from averaging 10.9 minutes per game as a freshman to 9 a contest as a sophomore, has tried to take a positive approach even though she has played more than 10 minutes just once in Maryland’s final 14 games of the season.

“Just be ready when my number is called,” Gillespie said. “A lot of people come to college thinking they are entitled to things and that is not the case. You have to work for everything. If you are outworking people, that says a lot about you.

“It is definitely a demanding type of business and if you are producing results, there is always somebody better than you, so I think it is definitely a lesson and it is something that is letting me grow. It is very difficult especially coming from somewhere where I used to play a lot but I think it is a blessing. I think it is going to help me become a better person in the end.”

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Canada government's ambitious export goals facing big challenges

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian government wants to boost exports by 30 percent over the next eight years, but experts and analysts say the goal is highly ambitious given a series of major challenges facing exporters.

These include low levels of capital investment by Canadian firms, a sluggish export sector and uncertainty over what economic policies U.S. President Donald Trump will introduce.

In a budget unveiled on Wednesday, Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau promised investments in targeted areas such as advanced manufacturing, clean technology, agri-food and digital industries.

This should help grow the value of goods and services exports by a total of 30 per cent by 2025, he said. Such a return would require a compound annual growth of 3.0 percent, higher than seen in recent years.

“I think it is a stretch … it is a pretty ambitious goal,” said Dennis Darby, president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters group, who nonetheless welcomed Morneau’s promise of targeted investments.

Canada already sends around 75 percent of all its goods exports to the United States and manufacturers are watching closely to see whether Trump cuts taxes and imposes a border tariff, both of which would hit Canadian firms.

“Companies are cautious in making additional investments, they’re cautious in expanding, and that will certainly slow things down,” Darby said. Firms are also hampered by a lack of people to fill skilled trades jobs.

Canada’s exports of goods and services grew by a total of 11 percent from 2008 to 2016, a period that includes the global recession.  

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Rest in peace, CSB: A eulogy for the Canada Savings Bond

The Canada Savings Bond, a ubiquitous savings vehicle that grew from humble postwar origins into a household name by the 1980s, died this week after a lengthy decline.

She was 71 years old.

The official cause of death was no longer being “a cost effective source of funds.”

The news — announced in Wednesday’s federal budget — though somewhat grim, came as something of a relief to market watchers who spent decades watching CSB’s rise and fall.

1968 canada savings bonds

By the 1960s, Canada Savings Bonds had really come into their own and were one of the most popular investment vehicles in the country. (Government of Canada)

Born in 1946 out of a previous program aimed at raising funds to support Canada’s war effort, the upstart CSB took Canada by storm and soon became one of the most popular savings vehicles for an entire generation of baby boomers, who grew up watching her memorable — and often spectacular — performances.

After her grand debut, CSB quickly found fame as a payroll deduction, with more than 16,000 employers providing an easy and secure way for their employees to participate in the program.

She was popular from the start, but the heights she reached in mid-life were truly meteoric.

“I have a very clear memory of selling Canada Savings Bonds in 1981 with a 19.5 per cent interest rate,” said David Baskin of Baskin Wealth Management in Toronto, a money manager who knew CSB well.

“Can you imagine that? It’s almost impossible to believe.” 

From 1981: CSBs pay out 19%1:43

Against the backdrop of sudden runaway inflation in the 1980s, CSB was a star among investment vehicles. Even removing the wild inflationary days of the early 1980s from the equation, CSB offered risk-free returns in the high single digits for decades.

She cranked out small, steady returns of between two and four per cent a year for her first decade or so. By the time she reached adolescence, CSB was firmly in her heyday.

But she had even greater ambitions. For an entire generation of Canadians, their first exposure to the world of investing was a CSB that paid high single digits, and sometimes far more.

1947 Canada Savings Bonds

A poster for the bonds during happier times, in 1947, when they were barely a year old. (Government of Canada)

“Back in those days,” Baskin recalled, “nobody had mutual funds,” and investing “was unknown to the great part of the public.”

CSB changed all that. Simply by loaning money to the government, she enabled everyday Canadians to save for their financial futures — for the first time ever, really.

“They were a staple of a lot of people’s financial planning for decades,” Baskin said.

From precocious ingenue to fast-rising young adult, CSB continued to gain popularity through the 1970s, and by 1976, held almost half of all the government’s total marketable outstanding debt.

She peaked with a box office draw of $55 billion in 1987. With a yield of nine per cent, it’s not hard to see why everyone wanted a piece of her.

Despite a flashy ad campaign singing her praises, a swift and sudden decline soon followed. Before Ottawa pulled the plug on Wednesday, there was only about $5.5 billion worth of CSBs left. 

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In the end, it wasn’t just one ailment that felled CSB. In the face of online brokerages, she simply couldn’t compete with shiny new starlets such as high-interest savings accounts and exchange-traded funds investors can buy and sell on their smartphone.

And she’d lost a lot of her former glory.

“The interest rate that the government is paying is now so tiny that nobody sees the point anymore,” Baskin said of CSB’s most-recent offering, which paid out a meagre 0.7 per cent return for 2016.

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CSB’s condition had worsened so significantly in recent years that she cost more to operate than she was worth. Consultancy KPMG reported recently that it costs Ottawa $58 million to offer CSBs every year — a figure that doesn’t include interest payments.

With recent performances like that, it’s not hard to see why Baskin and others are somewhat relieved to see her laid to rest. But not to worry — all outstanding CSBs will still be honoured in full, so those still hiding in safety deposit boxes are worth holding on to.

“They’re a relic of a bygone era,” Baskin said. And just as many fallen stars eventually end in a supernova “these things have a natural life cycle.”

In lieu of deposits, put your money, literally, anywhere else. 

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Canada joins 13 nations calling on Venezuela to release political prisoners and return to democracy

MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON — A group of 14 nations urged Venezuela on Thursday to hold elections and release “political prisoners,” in a joint statement that kept open the option of seeking to suspend the South American country from the Organization of American States.

The statement, which Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said was aimed at encouraging Venezuela to “re-establish democracy,” called for dialog and negotiation to resolve a crisis in the oil-exporting country, which is suffering severe food and fuel shortages.

Suspending Venezuela from the OAS was a last resort, the nations said, and something that should be avoided unless other diplomatic efforts have been exhausted.

“We reiterate that inclusive and effective dialog is the right path to achieve lasting solutions to the challenges faced by the Venezuelan people,” the statement said.

Venezuela has jailed around 100 government opponents it accuses of inciting violence and planning the overthrow of President Nicolas Maduro. Opposition activists and human rights groups say they are prisoners of conscience.

In October, Venezuela’s election board suspended the opposition drive for a recall referendum against Maduro despite the country’s crushing economic crisis, the government’s unpopularity and public opinion in favor of a plebiscite.

Venezuela has also delayed until 2017 elections due in December for state governorships.

The declaration by the 14 nations called for the separation of powers, the rule of law and the establishment of an electoral calendar for postponed elections.

The group that signed the declaration, which includes regional powerhouses the United States, Mexico, Canada and Brazil, also called on Venezuela to recognize the legitimacy of the country’s national assembly, which has been defanged by Maduro’s government since the opposition won a majority in 2015.

Delcy Rodriguez, Venezuela’s foreign minister, called Videgaray “servile” and a “traitor” for siding with Washington in a new push to isolate her country, which has been at loggerheads with the United States since the left-wing government of the late President Hugo Chavez.

“Foreign Minister @LVidegaray attacks Venezuela to please his imperial owners,” Rodriguez said on Twitter. “He is building walls with Latin America instead of defending the sovereign rights and interests of its people.”


The pressure by countries, including several former Venezuelan allies who have elected right-of-center governments in recent years, follows a call by the head of the OAS to expel Venezuela if it does not hold general elections quickly, a move that would require the support of two-thirds of the Washington-based body’s 34 General Assembly members.

Luis Almagro, secretary general of the OAS and a former foreign minister of Uruguay, calls Maduro’s government a dictatorship. He said earlier this month that, if Venezuela did not comply quickly, it should be suspended for violating rules that require members to adhere to democratic norms.

In the past the OAS suspended Cuba and Honduras for breaking with democracy but was criticized for not taking such action against right-wing dictatorships during the Cold War.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was concerned by the state of democracy in Venezuela.

“We urge the Venezuelan government to comply with the constitution … and hold elections as soon as possible,” Toner told a briefing for reporters.

“We’re not pushing for Venezuela’s expulsion from the OAS at this time. We do think that the OAS is the appropriate venue to deal with the situation in Venezuela,” he said.

However, a senior White House official said suspension from the regional body remained an option. Although numbers supporting Thursday’s declaration fell well short of the requirement to take strong action through the OAS, the official said the statement was a significant first step.

“If Venezuela continues down the path that it’s on, the notion that it’s going to belong to an organization committed to democratic principles doesn’t make much sense,” the official told Reuters, adding that the United Sates could also consider sanctions. “There are going to be ramifications,” the official said.

Mexico’s decision to openly take a stance on the situation in Venezuela is a shift from a usual preference by Latin America’s second-largest economy not to interfere in other countries’ affairs.

“We should not continue to be indifferent, we cannot continue to be indifferent,” Videgaray said earlier on Thursday, emphasizing that Mexico would respect Venezuela’s sovereignty and act according to international law and in agreement with the countries of the Americas.

Mexico’s change in tack may reflect an effort to have constructive relations with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly antagonized Mexico.

“It reinforces what has been a general comment throughout these past weeks and months about how important Mexico is to the United States, not only bilaterally but as a regional player,” said Andres Rozental, former deputy foreign minister for Mexico.

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I am Canadian, too: Inside Moosehead’s cross-country push

Cans of Moosehead Lager showcasing its original logo wait to be shipped from Saint John, N.B.

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As with any neighbour you’ve known for years, New Brunswick is on a first-name basis with its beer. Here, it’s just Moose – Moose Green for the lager, and Red for the original Moosehead beer, even though the ale no longer has a red label.

But that doesn’t mean they always drink the beer from Moosehead Breweries Ltd. At a pub in uptown Saint John, a lager order goes through without a hitch, but when asked for the ale the bartender hesitates. Instead, he pours a taste of a pale ale from a Fredericton craft brewer, Graystone, to compare with a taste of Moosehead’s ale.

“Moose Green, I love it. I drink it like it’s going out of style,” he says. But pointing to the two glasses, he insists, “You can just tell one is a domestic” – a bigger brewer – “and one’s not.”

This is Moosehead’s problem. For the growing number of people gravitating to craft beer in search of new flavours (or just a cooler-looking label that will confer a bit of hipster status), it’s too big to love. And outside of its home turf, the situation is even worse.

“‘You guys are owned by Molson, aren’t you?’ That’s a consistent piece of feedback,” says Trevor Grant, vice-president of sales and marketing at the independent, family-run brewery.

More than 1,200 kilometres away, on a craft-heavy pub menu in downtown Toronto, Moosehead lager is listed under “Macros and imports we don’t hate.” This kind of grudging respect is about as good as it gets for a big-ish brewer these days.

Moosehead is indeed a macro compared to the newest players on the beer scene. There has been a boom in licensed breweries in Canada – reaching 644 last year, a huge jump from 290 just seven years earlier – driven largely by operations producing less than 2,000 hectolitres (200,000 litres) per year, according to Beer Canada. (Moosehead contributed too, opening the Hop City craft brewery in Toronto in 2009.)

But while Moosehead is bigger than those upstarts, and is the fourth-largest brewer in Canada – behind Molson, Labatt and Sleeman – it is a distant fourth. The big two have more than 75 per cent market share of beer sales nationwide. Moosehead has 2 per cent to 3 per cent.

The company draws roughly $200-million in annual revenue – a number that has stayed relatively flat for at least eight years, though the makeup of the business has changed: it is selling more of its own beer and beers it distributes in Canada such as Boston Beer Co.’s Sam Adams. That has made up for losses in its contract brewing business – most notably when it lost the Guinness account a few years ago – and the steep decline in its U.S. sales amid the explosion of competition from both craft beer and imports there.

The Oland family has been managing these business challenges all while grappling with personal tragedy: the brutal murder in 2011 of Richard, brother of the chairman, Derek, and uncle of the current CEO. With the accused, Richard’s son Dennis, awaiting a second trial, they will not be able to put the ordeal behind them for some time, even as professional demands loom.

Andrew Oland, president of Moosehead Breweries, left, and father Derek Oland, check on the operations of the packaging line.

Moosehead needs to grow. To do that, the leaders believe they need to tell their story as an independently-owned operation as old as Confederation. Sure, it has emphasized its conveniently patriotic founding date – 1867 – on packaging and in ads for years, but without the money to wallpaper its brand across consumers’ field of vision, and lacking some consistency from one ad campaign to another, the message hasn’t really stuck.

Meanwhile, competitors with deeper pockets have been freely, and some might say dubiously, riding the wave of Canadian heritage. Molson Coors Brewing Co. – now a multinational – trades on the slogan “ I am Canadian“; and Sleeman, now owned by Tokyo-based Sapporo Breweries Ltd., has used its ads to romanticize its “