BP mulls sale of stakes in Canadian oil sands assets -sources

BP Plc is
considering the sale of its stakes in three Canadian oil sands
projects, people familiar with the matter told Reuters this
week, as part of the British oil company’s strategy of
retreating from noncore businesses.

BP’s 50 percent stake in the Sunrise project near Fort
McMurray in Alberta, where Husky Energy Inc owns the
rest and is the operator, is the most valuable of the three
assets.

It also owns a 50 percent stake in Pike, operated by Devon
Energy Corp, which is still awaiting a final investment
decision, and is majority-owner of the Terre de Grace oil sands
pilot project.

A BP spokesman declined to comment. Sources declined to be
named as the information is confidential.

The three projects are located in northeastern Alberta.

BP has discussed with advisers the possibility of selling
the stakes, though no final decision has been made, the people
added.

If the sale proceeds, BP would deploy capital in more
attractive regions, such as the Permian basin in the United
States, where the rate of return tends to be higher, one of the
people said.

(Reporting by John Tilak in Toronto and Nia Williams in
Calgary; Additional reporting by Ron Bousso in London, Ethan Lou
in Calgary, Alberta; and David French in New York; Editing by
Denny Thomas and Matthew Lewis)

PRESS DIGEST- British Business – April 21

The following are the top stories on
the business pages of British newspapers. Reuters has not
verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

The Times

– Managing director of the International Monetary Fund
Christine Lagarde has called on countries to pull together in
the fight against a damaging retreat into protectionism amid
mounting evidence that a global trade war is already under way.
bit.ly/2oWbAOU

– A U.S. crackdown on steel imports is looming after
President Donald Trump ordered an investigation into unfair
export practices, setting up a potential showdown with China. bit.ly/2oW8wlT

The Guardian

– A consortium led by Macquarie Group Ltd agreed to
buy the Green Investment Bank, which was established in 2012 by
the coalition government to fund green infrastructure projects.
The decision to sell Green Investment Bank for 2.3 billion
pounds ($2.94 billion) has been attacked by critics including
the Liberal Democrats and Greenpeace as “politically dubious”
and a “disaster”. bit.ly/2oW3G85

– President of World Bank Jim Kim told Theresa May that
cutting the United Kingdom’s aid budget could lead to an
increase in conflict, terrorism and migration and would damage
Britain’s international reputation. bit.ly/2oW4RUQ

The Telegraph

– British engineering firm WS Atkins Plc has agreed
to a 2.1 billion pound ($2.7 billion) takeover by Canadian rival
SNC-Lavalin. Atkins’ board last night agreed to a cash takeover
at 20.80 pounds a share and the deal would see the company’s
chief executive step aside. bit.ly/2oW161O

– Sky Plc suffered a marked slowdown in its core UK
pay-TV business, sparking renewed claims that increasingly
cautious consumers are rejecting expensive packages in favour of
cheaper entertainment options such as Netflix. Its takeover by
Twenty-First Century Fox Inc was likely to be delayed
by the General Election. bit.ly/2oW7J4b

Sky News

– Marks and Spencer Group Plc has confirmed plans to
close six stores in a move that will affect almost 400
employees. bit.ly/2oW4ZUx

– Debenhams Plc will consider closing up to 10 of
its 176 stores under a review announced by its new chief
executive, Sergio Bucher. bit.ly/2oVVRzp

The Independent

– Amazon.com Inc has been accused of setting
workers against each other to ensure they turn up for work even
when they are sick and should be at home. The company gives its
workers in Germany a monthly bonus of 6 percent to 10 percent of
their salary, only if their co-workers have good enough
attendance records. ind.pn/2oW5w8Z

– GMB union has accused the UK government of “gross
betrayal” after drinks company Diageo Plc announced
plans to cut more than 100 jobs across its Scottish operations
because of concerns over Brexit. ind.pn/2oVWSaq

($1 = 0.7813 pounds)
(Compiled by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa
Shumaker)

Canada’s WestJet Plans Ultra-Low-Cost Unit to Fight Upstarts (1)

(Bloomberg) — Canadian discounter WestJet Airlines Ltd. is arming itself for more fare wars by planning to start an ultra-low-cost carrier to fend off domestic upstarts.

Service is expected to begin late this year with a fleet of 10 Boeing Co. 737-800s in “high density” configuration, Calgary-based WestJet said in a statement Thursday. The venture will aim to offer “no frills, lower-cost travel options,” Canada’s No. 2 carrier said.

Founded in 1996 to cater to leisure travelers, WestJet has been moving away from its original no-frills model — patterned after U.S.-based Southwest Airlines Co. — by adding premium economy seats, rolling out a short-haul unit and starting overseas flights to European destinations such as London. Its fleet, meanwhile, has expanded from single-aisle 737s to include turboprops and double-aisle jets.

“This makes a lot of sense,” said AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray. “This ULCC lets them use existing aircraft, fly to routes they already know, densify their network, plus it spreads their overhead costs better. It’s a lower-risk proposition than going to a wide-body strategy.”

Canada Jetlines Ltd. and Enerjet Ltd. have announced plans to begin operating ultra-low-cost carriers to challenge WestJet and larger rival Air Canada. Jim Scott, chief executive officer of Canada Jetlines, dismissed WestJet’s plan as “nothing more than an ‘airline within an airline’ that will not increase competition and it remains to be seen whether it will be able to achieve the full benefits of a ULCC.”

Complicates Plans

WestJet’s new carrier “significantly complicates the plans of other participants,” Murray wrote in a note Thursday. The new service will also protect WestJet from “market erosion in the highly sensitive fare category of travelers.”

The decision to move ahead with the new unit came after years of studying the market, Bob Cummings, WestJet’s executive vice president, said in a telephone interview.

“The new entrants are a factor, but only one of five or six,” Cummings said. “We think the timing is right. Were the new entrants a tipping point? No.”

Cummings declined to provide details on fares, routes or seating configurations, saying they will be announced later “for competitive reasons.”

Not Available

Canada is the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations that doesn’t have access to an ultra-low-cost carrier, Murray wrote. While the country probably would support an ultra-low-cost market of about 50 aircraft and 10 million passengers a year, “significant stimulation” through lower prices is “required to be effective in the space.”

With its Encore short-haul unit and widebody jets to Europe, WestJet “already has a lot of initiatives underway and we question whether there are enough human resources to also launch an all-new ULCC,” Cameron Doerksen, a National Bank Financial analyst, said in a note.

WestJet is continuing to weigh whether to add widebody jets to its own fleet on a permanent basis, Cummings said. The carrier now flies some leased Boeing 767 aircraft that are more than 20 years old.

“We’re evaluating widebodies as a line of business,” Cummings said. “That includes being able to come to terms with a manufacturer on an order, but we’re not there yet. Widebody certainly isn’t on the shelf.”

(Updates with Canada Jetlines comment in fifth paragraph.)

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

BRIEF-Production Plus Energy to form JV with Schlumberger in Canada and US

Production Plus Energy Services :

* Entered into an agreement with Schlumberger to create
joint ventures in Canada and US

* Will contribute its HEAL system business to JV entities in
exchange for cash consideration and future contingent payments

* At closing of transaction, production Plus will hold a
50.1% interest in JV entities and Schlumberger will hold 49.9%

* Board of directors of Production Plus has unanimously
approved transaction

* Consideration received for 49.9% interest in HEAL system
business will provide co opportunity to effect a special
dividend
Source text for Eikon:
Further company coverage:

CANADA STOCKS-Oil prices support TSX futures; inflation data awaited

(Corrects to remove reference to inflation data expectations in
headline and fourth paragraph as the data is due on Friday, not
Thursday)

Canada’s main stock index was set to
open higher on Thursday as oil prices rose after leading Gulf
oil producers signalled a likely extension of OPEC-led supply
cuts beyond the middle of the year.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signalled that an effort by the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other
producers, including Russia, to cut oil output was likely to be
extended beyond June.

June futures on the S&P TSX index were up 0.38
percent at 7:15 a.m. ET.

Canada’s main stock index fell on Wednesday as sliding oil
prices weighed on energy stocks, while solid earnings boosted
Rogers Communications Inc and BlackBerry Ltd
gained on a deal to get its cyber security tools in front of
more potential customers.

Dow Jones Industrial Average e-mini futures were up
0.17 percent at 7:15 a.m. ET, while S&P 500 e-mini futures
were up 0.25 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures
were up 0.3 percent.

(Morning News Call newsletter here
; The Day Ahead newsletter here)

TOP STORIES

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, reported a
higher-than-expected quarterly profit as it earned more from
shipments of commodities such as grain and coal, and the company
expressed optimism that demand was improving.

Lending activity to small Canadian businesses dipped in
February, though borrowing by medium-sized firms rose for the
fourth month in a row on strength in the construction sector and
oil-related provinces, data showed on Thursday.

ANALYST RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd: RBC raises target
price to C$226 from C$224

Rogers Communications Inc: Barclays raises target
price to C$63 from C$57

Surge Energy Inc: BMO raises price target to C$3.25
from C$3.00; rating “outperform”

COMMODITIES AT 7:15 a.m. ET

Gold futures: $1279.3; -0.16 percent

US crude: $50.89; +0.89 percent

Brent crude: $53.43; +0.94 percent

LME 3-month copper: $5647; +1.64 percent

U.S. ECONOMIC DATA DUE ON THURSDAY

08:30 Initial jobless claims: Expected 242,000; Prior
234,000

08:30 Jobless claims 4-week average: Prior 247,250

08:30 Continued jobless claims: Expected 2.020 mln; Prior
2.028 mln

08:30 Philly Fed Business Index for Apr: Expected 25.0;
Prior 32.8

08:30 Philly Fed 6M Index for Apr: Prior 59.50

08:30 Philly Fed Capex Index for Apr: Prior 34.50

08:30 Philly Fed Employment for Apr: Prior 17.50

08:30 Philly Fed Prices Paid for Apr: Prior 40.70

08:30 Philly Fed New Orders for Apr: Prior 38.60

10:00 Leading index change mm for Mar: Expected 0.2 pct;
Prior 0.6 pct

FOR CANADIAN MARKETS NEWS, CLICK ON CODES:

TSX market report

Canadian dollar and bonds report

Reuters global stocks poll for Canada

Canadian markets directory
($1= C$1.35)
(Reporting by Nikhil Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju
Samuel)

Financial Post wins three SABEW Best in Business Awards

The Financial Post won three awards at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Canada’s Best in Business competition at a ceremony held Wednesday evening in Toronto.

Reporter Claire Brownell won in the short features category for her story “The end of meat,” which profiled the nascent movement of food companies developing meat-like products grown from cells in a lab.

Western business columnist Claudia Cattaneo won the award for best beat reporting for her frequent and in-depth coverage of the energy sector, which in 2016 included a feature interview with the reclusive Arthur Irving, who runs the multi-billion dollar Irving Group of companies alongside his brother J.K.

Soo Locks, which allow thousands of ships to pass between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes (and the US and Canada) every year.

“These awards are evidence of the great range of creative, enterprising work that distinguishes the Financial Post from the competition, with innovative feature writing, exclusive interviews, stellar beat work and captivating multimedia packages,” National Post editor-in-chief Anne Marie Owens said.

Category: Canada Business

Canada is North America’s up-and-coming startup center

This is a mistake.

Canada, with nine percent of the world’s forests, is a land of plenty. As well as an enviable array of natural resources, Canada also boasts incredible support for entrepreneurs, both homegrown and international. Many household names, such as Slack, Hootsuite and Shopify — which may be mistakenly considered as U.S. products — hail from north of the border. This proves Canada is capable of delivering on startup success.

And it’s no surprise that startups excel in the country. Sure, there is less access to VC funding and the persuasive call of Canada’s southern neighbor, but the Canadian government is working hard to build and keep successful startup ecosystems. There is a huge selection of government aid available to small businesses, some of which includes grants that don’t have to be paid back.

Alongside substantial government backing is Canada’s array of world-class universities. The University of Waterloo — increasingly known as Canada’s answer to MIT — sees incredible numbers go to Silicon Valley every year, while others all over the country produce thousands of talented grads.

While eventually losing out to Colombia, Canada was shortlisted as country of the year by The Economist in 2016. The United States’ northern neighbor boasts world-class universities and resources to develop talent and, currently, the Canadian dollar is 0.75 cents to the American dollar. This means a highly educated workforce is available for less capital for entrepreneurs all over the world who are ready and willing to make the leap to Canada.

Canada has a proud history of technological innovation. Communications company Nortel pushed expansion in the 1970s, bringing talented telecom engineers. In 1983, after a wave of deregulation, Nortel gave way to Bell Canada Enterprise (BCE), which signaled an era of telecom preeminence.

If that weren’t enough, a year later, in 1984, Research in Motion (RIM), which today is better known as BlackBerry, was founded. While the sun may have set on BlackBerry, the impact of their phones — and the eponymous messaging service — has left a lasting impact on cellular phone technology.

Fast-forward to the nineties and the Canadian government expanded its Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program to allow for assistance to companies performing research and development. The legacy of this decision is clearly illustrated by Canada’s fervent support of startups in recent times.

Since the turn of the new millennium, Canada has been determined to churn out initiative after initiative to support new business. The opening of the MaRS Discovery District in 2005 — a 1.5-million-square-foot complex located in Toronto’s downtown — provided entrepreneurs with skills via its venture program, and included a network of 1,000 high-potential-growth startups that collectively generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue from 2008-2015. Just two years later, Maple Leaf Angels set up shop in the city center, with a focus on investing in early-stage companies.

Universities across the country have worked to provide space and support for startups to grow, too. In 2010, Ryerson University founded the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), a combined incubator/accelerator program that has assisted more than 130 companies.

In later years, a wave of funding opportunities and globally recognized accelerator programs took root across Canada. The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) deployed $180 million in early-stage startups between 2011 and 2014, while BDC Capital launched its IT Venture Fund II, a fund worth $150 million. 2014 saw U.S. heavyweight The Founder Institute, founded by Adeo Ressi and Jonathan Greechen, open its first Canadian branch. In March 2016, 500 Startups announced its $30 million Canada fund.

With such a strong foundation of startup initiatives and technology success, it’s no wonder that Canada is in such a strong position now.

Despite a population of just 2.8 million, Toronto has been named the most diverse city in the world. About half of its residents were born outside of Canada, and the city is home to 230 nationalities. As Canada’s largest city, it’s quite naturally the country’s commercial, industrial and financial center. It stands to reason that this would make Toronto stand out as the country’s biggest tech hub, too.

As an example, Toronto-born FreshBooks, an accounting platform for small businesses, has more than 10 million users, and a 43,000-square-foot office in the city, which houses 245 employees. Self-publishing company Wattpad, which lets writers share their work on the platform, has 45 million users worldwide. In November, the company signed a deal with Universal Cable Productions — the creator of Suits — with the idea to sift through the stories online to turn the popular ones into TV shows. On-demand platform AskforTask has more than 150,000 taskers, and has doubled its business each year since launching in 2012.

The aforementioned MaRS Discovery District is a tower of strength in the city’s startup community, too. The four-story brick building takes up almost one city block, and is one of the world’s largest innovation hubs, offering funding, mentorship and facilities to the city’s creators. Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone incubator is also a resource for early-stage companies worldwide, as are a range of University of Toronto incubators and accelerators. BetaKit, a news publication led by Douglas Soltys that documents Canadian startup news, is also based in the city.

As Canada’s financial hub, Toronto is home to much of the country’s investment. OMERS Ventures has had arguably one of the biggest impacts on the Canadian startup scene. The VC firm backs startups directly, including Spotify, of which the firm owns six percent. Canada also boasts the Venture Capital Action Plan (VCAP) to encourage more Canadian private investors. For every $2 in funding, the government gives another $1 to early-stage companies.

Yet despite this, Toronto is yet to birth a homegrown unicorn. While there are up to 4,100 active startups in the city, none are valued at over a billion dollars, and aren’t necessarily household names outside the tech scene.

Just 60 miles west of Toronto, however, is Waterloo, a small city of 134,000 residents, which holds much of Canada’s tech talent. Like San Francisco and the Bay Area, Toronto and Waterloo form a corridor of startup innovation between them. Yet, while Toronto is yet to see any businesses hit that magical unicorn status, Waterloo has.

Waterloo is the home of telecoms giant BlackBerry, as well as newer companies that include video optimization platform Vidyard — which last year raised $35 million in Series C funding — and Bridgit, a communication app for construction teams that won Google Demo Day: Women’s Edition in 2015. Similarly, Shopify, considered one of the country’s most successful startups, has an office in Waterloo (as well as offices in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and San Francisco).

Waterloo boasts the MIT of Canada — the University of Waterloo — which sends talent to startup ecosystems. In fact, every year, recruiters from Apple, Google and Facebook, among others, flock to this Canadian tech hub to onboard new employees; graduates of the University of Waterloo are the second-most-frequently hired in Silicon Valley after students from University of California, Berkeley. The university’s students are famously inventive, too. In 2009, Kik Interactive was founded by a group of students who wished to create new technologies for use on mobile smartphones; it has gone on to become an incredible success.

The Toronto and Waterloo corridor is sometimes billed — unsurprisingly — as the Silicon Valley of the North. Waterloo mayor John Tory has said that the Toronto-Waterloo corridor has all the elements for huge success, much of which comes from the quality of universities in the area. The University of Waterloo ranks 24th in the world for computer science and information systems, and the University of Toronto — one of Canada’s most prestigious schools — ranks 16th.

While many tech giants already have a presence in these cities, there are efforts underway to make Toronto-Waterloo rise to the top of the world’s tech scene. Following the release of the City of Toronto’s Startup Eco-system Strategy in 2015, the city launched StartUp HERE Toronto, a website built and managed by startup influencers to feature startup news and events and put a spotlight on entrepreneurs in the Toronto-Waterloo corridor.

Other notable leaders in the region include Sanjay Singhal, partner at 500 Startups; David Crow, advisor at Venture for Canada; Mike McDerment, CEO at FreshBooks; David Ossip, CEO at Ceridian; Matt Golden, founder at Golden Venture Partners; Marcus Daniels, CEO at HIGHLINE vc; Mark Organ, CEO at Influitive; and Salim Teja, executive vice president of Ventures at MaRS Discovery District.

Vancouver

Vancouver is found in British Columbia (BC), amongst the Rocky Mountains on Canada’s west coast. With a population that just exceeds 600,000, the city’s easygoing vibe makes it one of the most attractive places in Canada. In fact, Vancouver is rated the fifth city for quality of life in the world by Mercer, the only North American city to make the list.

Vancouver residents aren’t shy about being in the greenest, and arguably most beautiful, city in Canada. They’re also getting pretty good at representing their rising tech scene. The entire province of BC now boasts more than 100,000 people working in the tech sector. Employment in the industry rose 2.9 percent in 2016, compared to the national tech sector’s growth at 1.1 percent. Tech in BC employs more people than the mining, oil, gas and forestry industries — combined.

Boasting mountains and ocean just like Silicon Valley, Vancouver also has seen some of the biggest Canadian acquisitions. Vancouver’s PlentyofFish, the popular dating website, was purchased by Match Group in 2015 for US$575 million, for example. Even more, Vancouver is home to OMER Ventures-backed Hootsuite — which is valued at US$1 billion — as well as everyone’s favorite, Slack. Although Slack the company is technically based in San Francisco, CEO Stewart Butterfield also works out of Vancouver, or Vancity as it’s often called.

In the hopes of fostering more unicorns like Slack and PlentyofFish and fastening BC’s startup scene on the world map, the provincial government set up a $100 million fund for early-stage funding in December 2015. Since then, there have been about 14,000 new tech jobs in the province. Also located in Vancouver is the BC Tech Association. Founded in 1993, BC Tech provides growth, talent and advocacy programs to tech companies in the province.

Canada provides affordable development talent, and thousands of people graduate each year from some of the best universities in the world.

Being on the west coast, and therefore the same coast as startup hubs in San Francisco, has its advantages. Startups in the city attract a lot of outside attention, including from Silicon Valley stalwarts. In February of this year, Vancouver-based TIO Networks, which offers online and mobile solutions for bill payments, and processed more than US$7 billion in fiscal 2016, was acquired by PayPal for $304 million. Similarly, Kickstarter opened its first office outside of the United States in the same month, after acquiring Vancouver-based startup Huzza.

Traction Conference, hosted by Launch Academy and Boast Capital, is one of a number of popular conferences in the city, and, according to BetaKit’s Jessica Galang, puts an emphasis on helping startups learn actionable ways to accelerate their businesses. Cube Business Media, led by Mark Stephenson and Dave Tyldesley, is another organization hosting events throughout the city.

Like Toronto and Waterloo, Vancouver boasts world-class universities, such as the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. SFU Innovates is a program from the latter, which seeks to build and support innovation and entrepreneurship across the university. It has so far contributed $1.3 billion to BC’s economy. Similarly, UBC’s Startup Weekend event inspires would-be founders to get set up within 54 hours in a do-or-die race to success.

Said investor Ali Saheli of 7 Gate Ventures over the phone, “Vancouver allows founders to remove all of the noise that you would get from the Valley and to focus on building products. In the past couple of years the number of early-stage startups has significantly grown thanks to government grants and communities such as Launch Academy and The Next Big Thing.”

Additional notable leaders in the city include investors Boris Wertz and Markus Frind, and entrepreneurs Stephen Ufford of Trulioo, Ali Davar of Qudos and Ray Walia of Launch Academy. Additional startups and events are well-documented by Alex Chuang of Launch Academy on TechCrunch here.

Montreal

One of North America’s most European cities, Montreal, Quebec, is also the second-largest primarily French-speaking city in the world, just after Paris. The city has an undeniable allure — with tons of public art displays, miles of bike lanes and world-class festivals, such as Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, as well as Startupfest.

Although Montreal may host a less mature ecosystem when compared to other cities, it boasts world-class universities, including McGill University and Université de Montréal, and a host of government programs. Additionally, Montreal is home to almost 50 percent of all Startup Weekends in Canada, training close to 1,000 entrepreneurs a year.

“Local government provides the best programs in North America with millions of dollars in grants, loans, innovation tax credits, and even government backed incubators without any cost to the entrepreneurs,” said Montreal Founder Institute Director Sergio Ramos over the phone. “As any emerging ecosystem, Montreal has many challenges. Among them, Montreal counts very few seed-stage investors and no pre-seed ones. Many times, seed investors tend to function closer to Series A investors with non-friendly term sheets and low valuations.”

The Founder Institute team in Montreal. Photo by Charles Laberge, Collaboration Speciale, La Presse,
3 September 2015.

Startupfest is a three-day festival that takes place in a relaxed “Tent Village.” It features keynote speakers, how-to sessions and $200,000 investment opportunities from festival angel investors. Even more, the festival features a panel of infamously tough Grandmothers, to whom entrepreneurs pitch their startups.

While the city is considered the cultural capital of Canada, Montreal is also an artificial intelligence stronghold. Just in January, Microsoft announced it would double its investment to AI research and development in the city. Over a five-year period, the tech giant will gift $6 million to the Université de Montréal, and $1 million to McGill University.

A week before this announcement, Microsoft acquired natural language processing and AI startup Maluuba, which was founded by Waterloo graduates Kaheer Suleman and Sam Pasupalak in 2011. In February 2016, it also bought Groove, a Montreal music app that uses machine learning to come up with personalized playlists.

In terms of resources for entrepreneurs in Montreal, FounderFuel is an accelerator funded by Real Ventures, a Canadian VC firm. Entrepreneurs Anonymous is a peer-to-peer support group, which takes place at a different Montreal bar each month.

Notable leaders in Montreal’s ecosystem include John Stokes, general partner at Real Ventures; Sergio Escobar, managing director at the Founder Institute Montreal; LP Maurice, co-founder and CEO at Busbud; Chris Arsenault, partner at iNovia Capital; Mike Cegelski and Francois Gilbert of Anges Québec; Alan MacIntosh, partner at Real Ventures; Daniel Robichaud, CEO at PasswordBox; and Helge Seetzen of TandemLaunch.

Ottawa and others

The three most popular cities in Canada do not exclusively dominate the startup ecosystem. There are flickers — and sometimes flares — of startup activity that certainly have the potential to grow larger in the coming years.

Canada’s capital, Ottawa, sits on the border with Quebec, and is just about two hours from the city of Montreal. Parliament Hill is the city’s main attraction — and depending on the season, visitors and residents alike skate on the Rideau Canal, which winds for five miles throughout the city.

Ottawa is home to Canadian unicorn Shopify, and has been on a kick to make itself the best city in Canada to start a business. Ottawa-based SaaS accelerator L-SPARK, which is directed by Leo Lax, supports talent in the city and also hosts SAAS North, a conference that helps Canadian companies network and promotes Ottawa as the country’s capital of SAAS.

“In Ottawa there is a wealth of experienced C-level executives from the telecommunications industry, and as that industry has slowed down it has created an enormous talent pool for startups,” said Leo Lax over the phone. “We can shortcut the challenges of building a SAAS company through the experience of the people here.” Further support in Ottawa includes Invest Ottawa, a group that delivers economic development programs to give entrepreneurs a head start in Canada’s capital.

The SAAS North team in Ottawa. Photo by Velour Productions.

Other notable leaders in Ottawa’s ecosystem include Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify; Allan Wille, CEO at Klipfolio, Terry Matthews, Chairman of Wesley Clover International; Jamie Petten, co-founder of SAAS North; Craig Fitzpatrick, CEO of PageCloud; Adrian Salamunovic and Nazim Ahmed of Canvas Pop; and investor Aydin Mirzaee.

Another city to consider is Edmonton, which is also beginning to carve out a place on the map in the country’s startup scene. The city’s hubs include incubator TEC Edmonton — a joint University of Alberta and City of Edmonton initiative ranked the world’s 16th best business incubator Business Link, as well as Startup Edmonton. For the past two years Startup Edmonton has hosted Edmonton Startup Week, which features more than 20 community events for entrepreneurs across the city.

Lastly, Labrador and Newfoundland, which are the most eastern point of North America, are beginning to develop grassroots startup communities. This includes StartupNL, a community of entrepreneurs led by Will Gough, Jason Janes and Roger Power that hosts events and programs. In 2014, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador unveiled a $15 million fund to invest in local entrepreneurs and startups, and in 2016, three St. John’s, Newfoundland startups announced funding of more than $2 million, including game developer Clockwork Fox Studios, marketing collaboration platform HeyOrca and software provider Sentinel Alert.

Conclusion

Canada’s ecosystem is still in its early stages. Companies tend to exit too early rather than focusing on growing something sustainable. It often feels like Canadians bow out where Americans — for whatever reason — might not. Similarly, sub-zero temperatures scare people to warmer areas, leading to a brain drain and serious demand for startup-orientated marketers. Many current marketing staff are not au fait with startup performance, due to their backgrounds in more traditional industries.

Canadian investors have historically looked at minerals and mining companies, which attract much of the capital. People tend to invest in other industries rather than startups because of their prior experience.

On the other hand, Canada provides affordable development talent, and thousands of people graduate each year from some of the best universities in the world. Founders are now beginning to enter the startup market again after their first exits, and there is a growing sense of community. In recent years there has been impressive growth in the number of people interested in startups. Government tax incentives reward companies for investing in research and development.

Then there is the Trump question. The new U.S. administration’s hard stance against immigrants can only play into Canada’s favor — with worldwide talent flocking to the Great White North, the opportunity is Canada’s to lose. Over the last five years, Canada has brought in more than 800,000 immigrants to fill holes in the jobs market. With an unfriendly U.S. approach to immigration, international talent could easily look to Canada instead of America as a land of hope and opportunity.

With 20 percent of Canada’s population already born elsewhere, the country now offers a startup visa to encourage international entrepreneurs to immigrate, with permanent residence status. This is crucial to Canada’s future success. By 2019, there will be 182,000 tech jobs up for grabs and nowhere near enough people to fill them. So while Canada’s tech scene is growing, there is yet more to come.

There are a lot of bright things to come for Canada’s startup scene.

Canada’s Trudeau defends dairy system after Trump criticism

By Leah Schnurr and David Ljunggren



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday brushed off an attack by U.S. President Donald Trump on Canada’s system of dairy protections, saying every nation defended its agricultural industries.



Trudeau told Bloomberg Television that the United States in fact ran a dairy surplus with Canada. Trump took aim at Canada’s dairy industry this week and said on Thursday “what they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace”.



Canada’s dairy sector is protected by high tariffs on imported products and controls on domestic production as a means of supporting prices that farmers receive.



Trudeau said the system “works very well” in Canada.



“Let’s not pretend we’re in a global free market when it comes to agriculture,” he said. “Every country protects, for good reason, its agricultural industries.”



Trump’s comments were the second time this week he has attacked Canada’s dairy industry and on Thursday he included the lumber, timber and energy sectors in a list of what he said were problematic areas of trade.



Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, asked for a reaction, rejected the suggestion of wrongdoing.



“Canada strongly believes in a rules-based system of trade, and therefore always abides by and upholds the rules that govern trade,” she said in an e-mailed statement.
  Continued…


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A Fair Solution To Supply Management Protects Canadian Farmers

Over the 20 years of my service as an elected official, never have I seen the policy of supply management become such a hot-button issue. Both foreign and domestic politicians seem to be chiming in on what they think is best for Canadians, without truly studying the effects of their proposals. Having spoken to numerous dairy farmers in Ontario and Quebec throughout the years, while also being an MP from Alberta, I understand both sides of the argument on supply management.

cow farmer
(Photo: Monty Rakusen via Getty Images)

While some politicians argue that supply management must be scrapped immediately, in order to “stand on principle for freedom,” others say that if we even touch supply management, Canadian farmers will become impoverished within a matter of days. Both positions are drastically oversimplified, overstated and simply far removed from reality. Instead of throwing mindless rhetoric around, we should propose actual policy solutions to the problems facing us today.


Ottawa must protect the interests of Canadians first, and this includes Canadian dairy farmers.

My policy proposal is simple — we must have a sensible solution to supply management that protects our Canadian farmers, while also keeping the consumer in mind. The viewpoint that by simply scrapping supply management will drastically reduce the price of dairy products is highly overstated. Such a policy would only marginally reduce prices, while systematically placing Canadian farmers into a position of economic hardship.

These farmers, the backbone of Canada’s agriculture industry, who have spent generations in the business of producing high-quality dairy, would be banished to economic ruins with the stroke of the pen from Ottawa. That is not the federal government’s duty. In fact, it is the very opposite. Ottawa must protect the interests of Canadians first, and this includes Canadian dairy farmers.

While some Canadian politicians talk about this scrapping of supply management, it is interesting to see that foreign leaders are taking interest at our domestic policy. U.S. President Donald Trump, for example, took aim at our policy, calling it “very unfair” and demanding that NAFTA be renegotiated. What is unfair is the fact the U.S. subsidizes its own dairy industry — providing their farmers with certain protections — while demanding that our government cease to protect Canadian farmers.

In the context of international trade, it is clear that nations and their governments’ top priority is to look out for the interests of their citizens. And why shouldn’t they? It is, after all, the government’s job to do so. But while the U.S. protects its interests and its farmers, so too should Canada. We must not give in and fold our cards, but rather work collaboratively with our American partners to find consensus on this issue, along with many others.


Having a long-term strategy to increase dairy trade with the U.S., while still protecting Canadian farmers, is a win-win situation.

The Canadian government should be receptive to renegotiating NAFTA to include gradual changes to supply management, but this must be done in consultation with Canadian farmers. Having a long-term strategy to increase dairy trade with the U.S., while still protecting Canadian farmers and their livelihoods, is a win-win situation.

By doing this, we will strike a fair and balanced trade policy with the U.S., while simultaneously protecting Canadian farmers, all while gradually reducing consumer prices of dairy goods. A sensible supply management policy for a 21st-century Canada.

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MEC, Canadian Tire among Canadian brands urged to fully detail supply chains

Just days before the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, several big name clothing retailers – including four in Canada — are being urged to do a better job disclosing where their products are made.

The report, co-authored by nine labour rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the Canadian organization Maquila Solidarity Network, says many clothing and footwear brands are failing to fully identify the factories that produce their branded goods.

Such disclosures are a first step to identifying factories that are engaging in dangerous or unfair labour practices, they write in “Follow the Thread: The Need for Supply Chain Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry.”

The human rights groups asked 72 major clothing brands to agree to a Transparency Pledge and publish on their websites the full names and addresses of the factories making their branded products. Four of the companies they contacted were Canadian:

  • Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)
  • Hudson’s Bay Company
  • Loblaw, owner of Joe Fresh
  • Canadian Tire, owner of Mark’s and SportChek

Mountain Equipment Co-op fared best in the report, coming close to meeting the full transparency pledge standards. Hudson’s Bay discloses the names and addresses of some of the facilities producing their branded products, but not all and has no time line to do so, the report authors found.

Loblaw, whose Joe Fresh line was produced at the Rana Plaza, now discloses names of factories and countries of manufacturer, but not the addresses.

Canadian Tire, meanwhile, did not agree to publicly disclose any information on its supplier factories.

According to the report, 17 of the 72 companies they contacted agreed to publish all supplier factory information requested. Another five companies (including MEC) published some information though just short of the pledge standards, while 18 (including Loblaw) “are moving in the right direction,” the report authors say.

Ten did not respond at all to the coalition’s letter, while 15 (including Canadian Tire) did not commit to publish supplier factory information.

The United Steelworkers of Canada, which works to support garment workers in Bangladesh and improve their working conditions, is calling on Canadians to push for more transparency.

“The Canadian Tire family of brands, including Mark’s and Sport Chek, imports products from 67 factories in Bangladesh,” Ken Neumann, the Canadian director of the United Steelworkers said in a statement.

“However, they don’t publicly report which garment factories they use. That means human rights groups can’t independently verify if these factories are safe and how they are treating their workers.”

The USW campaign encourages Canadians to email and call the presidents and CEOs of Canadian Tire, Mark’s, and Sport Chek to ask for change.

“Keeping factories hidden from public scrutiny is unacceptable. It’s time to stop operating in the dark,” Neumann added.

Calls for transparnecy since Rana Plaza collapse

In 2013, the Rana Plaza collapse killed more than 1,100 garment workers. After the disaster, it became apparent that few at the factory were aware of which apparel companies were using the facility, with the information only trickling out after workers rummaged through the rubble to look for brand labels.

Since then, many leading clothing companies have begun publishing information about their supply chain, including Nike, adidas, Levi Strauss, and Patagonia.

The groups say consumers have the right to know details about where the products they buy are made, beyond a label that might read: “Made in China” or “Made in Bangladesh.”

Retailers, too, have a responsibility to take steps to prevent human rights risks throughout their supply chains, and to help advance ethical business practices, the coalition says.

They say retailers and clothing companies need to be willing to promote supply chain transparency, to allow workers and human rights advocates to alert retailers to abuses in their supplier factories.

Aruna Kashyap, senior counsel for the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, says a basic level of supply chain transparency in the garment industry should be the norm in the 21st century.

“Openness about a company’s supply chain is better for workers, better for human rights, and shows that companies care about preventing abuse in their supply chains,” she said in a statement.

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