Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reverse takeover of Bank of Canada by Goldman Sachs

Don’t kid yourself. Mark Carney’s policy of killing income trusts (while in the Department of Finance) was taken directly from the play book of Goldman Sachs and the wishes of Goldman’s clientele.

Bank of Canada taps Goldman Sachs for Carney advisor

Hodgson to be senior representative for financial markets at the BoC’s Toronto office

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

By James Langton

The CEO of Goldman Sachs Canada, Timothy Hodgson, has been appointed a special advisor to Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, the central bank announced Tuesday.

Hodgson will serve for an 18-month term, beginning September 1, with a particular focus on developing and implementing reforms to enhance the resilience of repo and over-the-counter derivatives markets, and increasing the capital adequacy of financial institutions.

He will become senior representative for financial markets in the BoC’s Toronto office, leading a team that is responsible for maintaining the central ank’s relationship with the financial community, and contributing to its analysis of financial markets, institutions, products and regulations. He will also serve as a member of the BoC’s Monetary Policy Review and Financial System Review committees.

“Tim Hodgson is one of Canada's top investment bankers. He is widely recognized for his exceptional transaction skills and understanding of how markets work. These skills will be invaluable as the Bank works with its partners to design and implement vital reforms,” said Carney, who also worked at Goldman before entering public life.

Born in Winnipeg, Hodgson received his MBA from Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in 1988 and a B.Com. (Hons) from the University of Manitoba in 1983. Prior to his appointment as CEO of Goldman Sachs Canada in 2005, he held a range of senior positions with Goldman Sachs in its telecom, media and technology group in both New York and California, and in the investment banking services group, covering clients in Canada. Before joining Goldman Sachs in 1990, he worked at Salomon Brothers Inc, Price Waterhouse & Company, and Merrill Lynch Canada Inc.

Clement's road to re-election paved with asphalt

Courtesy of Liberal MP Mark Holland, here's a picture of some frivolous and wasteful spending by Tony Clement that is being incurred by Canadian taxpayers across the land in the name of the G8.

Problem is, this picture was taken June 27, 2010, some time after the G8 "leaders" had long since vacated the area known as Muskoka and miles from where any of them were staying or would be traveling.

This photo is of a portion of $745,000 allocated to Orrville, Rosseau and Humphrey for "downtown improvements" and is situated 70 km from where the G8 gathering took place.

Doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that Tony Clement is using the traveling G8 circus as his personal means to get re-elected after sprinkling money indiscriminately all over his riding?

As for "downtown improvements", I think that money would be better and more justifiably allocated to the businesses that occupy downtown Toronto whose businesses were interrupted and in some cases were vandalised during the events of the G20 traveling circus. One such example is a friend of mine who owns a womens clothing store on Queen Street in Toronto, just east of Steve's Music Store, that was the site of a stand off with police. Her stainless steel store front was vandalised with deep gouges from the screwdriver of a passing protester. She also had to shut down her business for the entire day on Saturday in June, which is one of the most productive times for her business.

Where is the compensation for the losses sustained by her and hundreds of other Torontonians? If the G20 in Pittsburgh is any guide, she won't be able to collect on her insurance, since the insurance companies will argue these losses were the act of political anarchy, which is not covered by insurance, as opposed to the act of vandalism, which is normally covered by insurance.

Meanwhile, we have the insurance company CEOs themselves attempting to justify the enormous cost of the G20 in Toronto, with self serving comments like this:

“It’s not an expense. It’s an investment,” Manulife Financial Corp. CEO Don Guloien told the Toronto Globe and Mail. (June 25, 2010).

The problem with that concept of Don Guloien's, is that the people making the "investment", aren't the people extracting the benefits. Just ask Tony Clement, he can tell you all about the concept of drunkenly spending "other people's money" for personal gain.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

News Flash: Canadian media was already Fox News North, spouting Harper's lies about income trusts

The examples are legion. Lawrence Martin himself. The Globe and Mail. The entire CTVGlobeMedia empire. National Post. The Toronto Star. etc, etc.

Most disheartening was the there was also CBC falling in lock step on Harper's lies about tax leakage and all the other patent BS about income trusts, even when armed with irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

The only thing worse than Harper, is the gawd awful Canadian media.
Harper tightens his grip on media message control

National Report by Lawrence Martin
June 22, 2010 10:00 a.m.

Anyone who has worked with Stephen Harper will tell you his top priority is message control. Control the message and you control outcomes.

That’s why, upon becoming prime minister in 2006, he put in place the most all-encompassing vetting system Ottawa had ever seen. Nothing could go out, not even the most minor of communications, without approval from head office.

But to control the message, you have to have influence in the media. So how’s this for a coup? Harper now has one of his former directors of communications, Kory Teynecke, as de facto boss of Sun Media coverage. The same Teynecke is also leading the bid from the same organization to create a new conservative television network.

On the newspaper side, Teynecke has already overhauled Sun Media’s Ottawa bureau. Several good reporters have been moved out. The replacements are good reporters as well. But anyone who doesn’t think they will be under pressure to provide a lot of Conservative spin is deluding themselves. The changes were made for a purpose, and the purpose was hardly to have the new hires rushing out to hold the government’s feet to the fire.

On the TV side, the new network needs regulatory approval to get up and running. The CRTC will be under tremendous pressure to provide it. As has been demonstrated, Harper does not take kindly to tribunals or commissions that go against his wishes. Those who sit on them can be replaced or have their decisions overturned. Chances of the PM standly idly by and watching this network proposal get shelved are next to nil.

The new network won’t be as biased as Fox News in the United States, its promoters claim. But in attacking the work of the CBC’s Don Newman, they showed their true colours. If they had one-half the experience, the depth and the erudition of Newman, they should consider themselves lucky.

Having one of his former promoters running Sun Media is just one of two great media turns for the prime minister. The other was the recent auction of the Canwest newspapers. Just when it looked like the conservative flagship, The National Post, and the chain’s other big-city newspapers were about to be taken over by liberally inclined buyers, Canwest’s Paul Godfrey came to the rescue with an 11th-hour bid that will keep the papers in the conservative stable.

The prime minister stood on the verge of losing the media balance of power in the country. Not only has he maintained it, he has now increased it.

Lawrence Martin is a journalist and author of 10 books who writes about national affairs from Ottawa.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BP gets OK to dump mercury into Lake Michigan

BP gets OK to dump mercury into Lake Michigan

By Bobby Carmichael, USA TODAY
Posted 7/30/2007

A BP (BP) refinery in Indiana will be allowed to continue to dump mercury into Lake Michigan under a permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The permit exempts the BP plant at Whiting, Ind., 3 miles southeast of Chicago, from a 1995 federal regulation limiting mercury discharges into the Great Lakes to 1.3 ounces per year.

The BP plant reported releasing 3 pounds of mercury through surface water discharges each year from 2002 to 2005, according to the Toxics Release Inventory, a database on pollution emissions kept by the Environmental Protection Agency that is based on information reported by companies.

The permit was issued July 21 in connection with the plant's $3.8 billion expansion, but only late last week began to generate public controversy. It gives the company until at least 2012 to meet the federal standard.

The action was denounced by environmental groups and members of Congress.

"With one permit, this company and this state are undoing years of work to keep pollution out of our Great Lakes," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., co-sponsor of a resolution overwhelmingly approved by the House last week that condemned BP's plans.

Studies have shown that mercury, a neurotoxin, is absorbed by fish and can be harmful if eaten in significant quantities, particularly by pregnant women and children. Each of the eight Great Lakes states warns residents to avoid certain kinds of fish or limit consumption.

The permit comes as the states, working with the federal government, are trying to implement the $20 billion Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, an umbrella plan to restore the health of the lakes signed in late 2005.

Indiana officials said the amount of mercury released by BP was minor.

"The permitted levels will not affect drinking water, recreation or aquatic life," Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Thomas Easterly told the Chicago Tribune.

BP said it doubted that any municipal sewage treatment plant or industrial plant could meet the stringent federal standards.

"BP will work with (Indiana regulators) to minimize mercury in its discharge, including implementation of source controls," the company said, according to the Tribune.

Part of the concern is that the Great Lakes have only one outlet — the St. Lawrence River.

"Lake Michigan is like a giant bathtub with a really, really slow drain and a dripping faucet, so the toxics build up over time," said Emily Green, director of the Great Lakes program for the Sierra Club.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gee, we could have had a G8!

My neighbour here in Muskoka was in Huntsville the other day and told me that they have clear cut a 30’ wide swath through the forest that surrounds Deerhurst (the site of the G8 black fly summit) in order to erect a 10’ high perimeter security fence. All for the sake of one lousy day, which is what the G8 has been reduced to, now that Harper agreed to having the event morph into a G20, at the additional cost of some $1billion ++.

Should have stuck with the original plan at a fraction of the cost. To think, we could have had a G8......and we still would have been “world class”.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Alberta’s Finance Minister cites income trusts as Exhibit A in Flaherty’s incompetence

In yesterday’s Calgary Herald. Ted Morton writes:

“That [Flaherty] would be the same finance minister and same federal bureaucrats who decided without warning in 2006 to fully tax energy income trusts, wiping out an estimated $35 billion of market equity in mostly Alberta based energy companies.That experience is Exhibit A in the case against a single federal regulator."

Ted Morton: Messing with a very good thing Alberta's security regulator has served us well

By Ted Morton, For The Calgary Herald June 1, 2010

Re: "No more carrot," Letter, May 31, "Out of touch," Letter, May 29, "Alberta reveals parochial ways with challenge to watchdog," Deborah Yedlin, Opinion, May 27.

In their rush to support the federal government's scheme to take over securities regulation, commentators have so far failed to consider the one key question: exactly what is Ottawa trying to fix that hasn't already been addressed by, or couldn't be fixed within, the current passport system?

Proponents of the move continue to parrot the federal government's line that the current system is a patchwork of 13 regulators and 13 sets of rules and fees. These criticisms and others have been resolved through 10 years of harmonization efforts to create the passport system.

It is a system that works well both on a local and a national level. Internationally, Canada's passport system is recognized as among the best in the world, with the OECD and the World Bank Group rating it ahead of both the United States and the United Kingdom. And two years in a row the Milken Institute ranked Canada first as having the "best access to capital."

As good as the passport system is, Alberta is not opposed to improving it. This is not a mindless defence of the status quo, but rather a request to Ottawa to be specific about what needs fixing, and then work with provinces to do it. The federal government has yet to identify any needed improvement that could not be accommodated within the existing system.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has suggested that a single national regulator might have prevented the Earl Jones Ponzi fraud. Perhaps. But a single national regulator in the U.S. -- the Securities and Exchange Commission -- certainly didn't stop Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, which was many times larger in dollars and victims. Nor did the SEC prevent the meltdowns at Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers in 2008, not to mention Enron or WorldCom earlier in the same decade. Indeed, Flaherty's endorsement of the SEC model for Canada is hardly self-evident.

But for the strongest supporters of Flaherty's project -- the Ontario government and Bay Street -- this dubious track record doesn't really matter. For them, the appeal of a national regulator is that it will be located -- where else? -- in Toronto. The proposed federal legislation is vague about the location issue, talking instead about "regional offices"-- as if those would last longer than the current government.

But even this suggestion is too much for Ontario. Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has said more than once that if the head office is not in Toronto, then Ontario is not interested. Of course, this explains why Ontario is the only province that has refused to participate in the passport system.

The Toronto-centric vision of this project is not its only problem. Regulation of securities has been a matter of provincial jurisdiction for more than 100 years. In the 1990s, when the Jean Chretien Liberals pursued this same idea, they conceded from the start that they lacked the constitutional authority to proceed unilaterally. They understood that any change would require provincial co-operation and consent.

Canada's Constitution does not change with the change of governments. What has changed is a new finance minister, who evidently is more interested in listening to his own federal bureaucrats (who have long lusted for SECtype power) than his constitutional lawyers. That would be the same finance minister and same federal bureaucrats who decided without warning in 2006 to fully tax energy income trusts, wiping out an estimated $35 billion of market equity in mostly Albertabased energy companies.

That experience is Exhibit A in the case against a single federal regulator. Notwithstanding all the pious assurances that the proposed new regulator would respect regional differences and provincial interests, when political push comes to shove in Ottawa -- when money and votes are on the table -- Alberta tends to get marginalized. And it doesn't much matter which political party is in power. It's the electoral math.

Since 1968 the Liberals neither won nor needed any of Alberta's 28 seats to form a government, while Conservative governments (both the Mulroney and Harper varieties) can and do take them all for granted. To advance our economic interests, Alberta needs a constitutionally guaranteed seat at the table. That's what the Constitution gives us, and that's what Flaherty proposes to take away.

Alberta will not cede this power to Ottawa. This is not just about securities, but all financial services that have been regulated by the provinces under their Section 92 jurisdiction over "property and civil rights"-- including pensions, credit unions and insurance.

When it comes to diversification of the Alberta economy, financial services is one of the fastest growing sectors -- with the potential for much greater growth. The job-multiplying effect of having a provincial-based securities commission has been well documented by Quebec. As Canada and the rest of the world emerges from the recession, Alberta will lead the way. If we let the Alberta Securities Commission get scooped up and transferred to Toronto, we can also say goodbye to thousands of spinoff jobs in investment banking, law, accounting and financial analysts.

Why would Albertans want to do this, especially when it is not even necessary?

Ted Morton is Alberta 's minister of finance and enterprise
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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