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Premier vows lumber fight
Wayne Moore - Apr 24 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

Premier Christy Clark stepped away from the campaign trail Monday night to talk about a U.S. decision to begin charging duty on Canadian softwood lumber exports.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would begin assessing duty of approximately 20 per cent on softwood exports from Canada into the United States.

Clark, in a statement released after the news was announced, said her message to wood producers, forest workers and their families is simple, “we will fight for you. And, we will not give up.”

The premier said the province will press its case and implement an action plan on softwood lumber, including:

  • Fight the unfounded claims of the U.S. lumber production lobby and the unwarranted and unfair duties placed on Canadian lumber products
  • Use this preliminary period for B.C. and Canada to reinforce our efforts to reach a fair deal with the United States
  • Work with U.S. home builders and lumber retailers to demonstrate that Canadian softwood lumber is a critical component of continued U.S. economic growth
  • Continue to work with the federal government to ensure B.C. forest workers are supported in the event of job impacts
  • Accelerate our proven actions to diversify our markets and products to further reduce our reliance on the United States.

“The forest industry built this province, and it has a strong future ahead.”

“We will only accept a new agreement that works for B.C. We will fight, and we will win – as we have before.”

In the union’s pocket?
The Canadian Press - Apr 24 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

British Columbia Liberal Leader Christy Clark says the funds her party receives from an international lumber company are different than the donations B.C. New Democrats accept from the union that represents provincial forestry workers.

Clark made the comments while campaigning at a Delta company that relies on B.C. wood products.

When questioned about the donations, Clark says her party accept funds from Weyerhaeuser, but she is not compromised because she does not defend American demands for tariffs on Canadian softwood.

But, Clark says New Democrat Leader John Horgan supports the United Steelworkers Union and has allowed the union to pay the salaries of the New Democrats’ senior campaign director and deputy director.

She says Horgan has been “cozying up” to the same union that has supported U.S. President Donald Trump and even made a senior Steelworkers leader an honorary member of the NDP.

Clark said she would never defend American interests that “want to kill Canadian jobs.”

Aiming for zero waste
Okanagan Edge Staff - Apr 24 - BC Biz

A green initiative from London Drugs kept more than a million pounds of waste from landfills in 2016.

Several years ago, in 2008, the Canadian retailer began tracking its waste disposal rates in all its stores through its “What’s the green deal?” initiative.

In 2016 the chain notched another record year for waste diversion, with its 79 stores reaching a waste diversion rate of 92.8 per cent. That’s a total of 567,000 kilograms of waste diverted from Canadian landfills.

In B.C., the numbers were even a sliver higher, with the province’s chains reaching an average of 93 per cent waste reduction.

The goal, London Drugs says, it to eventually produce no waste at all.

London Drugs Representative Maury McCausland says reducing waste is one of the ways the company aims to give back to the communities it serves.

“Making recycling accessible to our customers, and the responsibility taken among our staff to recycle and divert waste, have been the keys to our success,” he says.

Part of the company’s “What’s the green deal?” initiative is also strategic partnerships with the communities they operate in. For example, as part of its partnership with Quest Food Exchange, the company donated more than 204,000 kilograms of food in 2016, preventing it from becoming organic waste, and supporting food banks in the communities it serves.

London Drugs also allows customers to drop off a variety of hard-to-recycle items at any of its stores to be recycled.

Those include electronics, styrofoam, batteries, ink cartridges, light bulbs and more.

“Our customers are our greatest ally in the war on waste. We are proud to work together with our customers to reduce waste.” says McCausland.

For more information on the “What’s the Green Deal?” initiative, visit the London Drugs website.

Softwood greed, says Clark
The Canadian Press - Apr 21 - BC Biz

Photo: Twitter

British Columbia Liberal Leader Christy Clark says the United States lumber industry is “driven by greed,” and she is the candidate who can lead the province to a softwood agreement with American producers.

Campaigning in Williams Lake at a log home manufacturing business, Clark told a gathering she has been leading the fight for a softwood agreement for the last two years and does not intend to stop.

She says 140 forestry-dependent communities in the province are relying on her to use the courts and persuasion, to overcome what she calls the “selfish and greedy argument” from U.S. lumber barons to increase the price of softwood.

Leaders in several communities who have seen recent mill closures have said Clark hasn’t done enough to force lumber firms to mill the wood in the towns where it is cut.

Clark told her supporters she wants to see every tree used completely, but policies that required timber to be processed where it was cut harmed competitiveness and left B.C. companies vulnerable to criticism from U.S. producers.

A Liberal news release says the province has worked for more than a decade to reduce reliance on the U.S. lumber market by increasing exports to China and building trade links with India, Korea and Japan.

Higher spending, sluggish growth
Okanagan Edge Staff - Apr 20 - BC Biz

MonerisMetrics Quarterly Report –Q1 2017

More people are spending more money in Canada this year, but it appears growth in the country will continue its gradually slowing trend in 2017.

According to the recently released MonerisMetrics Quarterly Report, spending in Canada was up by 3.46 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared to 2016.

That jump, however, is smaller than the one from 2015 to 2016, which was itself smaller than the year before that.

All that leads Angela Brown, the president and CEO of Moneris, to predict a sluggish year for spending in Canada, as the slowing trend continues.

“As anticipated, spending rates are continuing to climb, but at a more modest level than in previous quarters,” Brown said. “Given global transitions in government that could impact the economy at home, it’s no surprise that Canadians are keeping an eye on how they’re spending. We don’t expect to see any drastic deviations from this trend over the next few quarters.”  

The report contains a nugget of good news for B.C., however, as the province posted stronger-than-average growth over the first quarter, compared to many of its fellow provinces.

At 4.26 per cent growth, B.C.’s numbers were only behind those of Quebec and New Brunswick (at 5.49 per cent and 4.59 per cent respectively).

Although it’s not rising as fast, spending is still up in Canada this quarter, and Moneris sees a couple of trends driving the growth.

The majority of transactions (64.8 per cent) over the period of the report were made with a credit card, and a significant chunk (35.2 per cent) were made on debit cards.

Spending on credit cards increased by 4.85 per cent over the first quarter of 2016, while spending on debit cards increased by a slightly smaller volume, at 0.98 per cent.

Canada’s low dollar also drove lots more foreign spenders to drop dollars in the country.

The amount pent on foreign cards in Canada grew by 6.06 per cent over the same period last year, as Canada remains a desirable destination for cross-border shopping and tourism.

Visitors from the U.S. were the top foreign spenders this quarter, spending 4.3 per cent more compared to the same quarter last year.

As with last quarter, spending on cards from China and Australia were the second and third highest contributors to foreign spending growth by volume with year-over-year increases of 8.51 per cent and 25.40 per cent respectively.

$30M Ponzi scheme
Trevor Nichols - Apr 19 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

A B.C. woman will pay $3 million to the B.C. Securities commission after admitting to ripping off investors to the tune of $30 million through a Ponzi scheme.

In a settlement agreement with the BSCS, Virginia Tan admitted she had fraudulently collected millions of dollars from investors who thought they were investing in a payday-loan business.

Tan, her husband Patrick Eng Tien Tan and their son Marcus Soon-Keen Tan are also named in several civil lawsuits involving almost 50 investors, who allege their money wasn’t invested as promised by Virginia.

In its ruling, released today, the BCSC says Tan collected money from investors, issued them promissory notes, but since 2011 had not been investing the money she received.

Instead, she made interest and principal payments to old investors with money raised from new investors. This kind of fraud is commonly known as “Ponzi scheme,” after the fraudster who made it famous in the 1920s.

The BCSC says Tan eventually couldn’t keep the scam going, and by 2015 has stopped paying her investors.

That’s when the lawsuits against her and her family began, and the BCSC began investigating. Tan is currently in bankruptcy as a result of one of those lawsuits.

As part of her settlement Tan agreed to pay $3 million to the BCSC. The BCSC says it will take steps to collect this sum after Tan has paid the amounts owing to investors.

Tan has been ordered to cease trading in, and is permanently prohibited from purchasing, any securities or exchange contracts, and she must resign any positions she holds as, and is permanently prohibited from becoming or acting as, a director or officer of any issuer or registrant.

She is also permanently banned from becoming or acting as a registrant or promoter, acting in a management or consultative capacity in connection with activities in the securities market, and engaging in investor relations activities.

Photo: Contributed

Site C fuels jobs debate
The Canadian Press - Apr 18 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

Christy Clark used the Site C dam megaproject in northern British Columbia as a backdrop today to campaign on the Liberal party’s record on jobs and economic growth.

The Liberal leader says the multibillion-dollar BC Hydro project under construction near Fort St. John will mean clean energy and employment for the province.

NDP Leader John Horgan says he wants the project sent to the B.C. Utilities Commission for a review on whether it should proceed.

The dam is two years into construction and has been approved by the federal government, but Horgan did not directly answer a question as he campaigned in North Delta on whether a review by the utilities commission could realistically stop the project.

He says every project ever built before Site C underwent a review by the independent regulatory body, but this time Clark pushed ahead with the project and the public has a right to know whether there is a solid business case for it.

Horgan also announced an expanded apprenticeship and trades training program under a New Democrat government. By investing in tomorrow’s workforce, Horgan says they will fill the 96,000 jobs that would be created with school, hospital, highway and home construction.

“Apprenticeships are the best way to train the workforce of tomorrow,” he said in a statement.

Clark says Site C has been a job creator for the province.

“Site C means thousands of jobs and 100 years of clean, affordable, and reliable power — enough for 450,000 B.C. homes,” Clark said in a statement. “It means being ready to meet increasing demand as Canada’s leading economy continues to grow.”

Pushing health and jobs
The Canadian Press - Apr 18 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

The B.C. Green party is promising better health care in British Columbia, while New Democrat Leader John Horgan pledges to create almost 100,000 more jobs to start the second week of the election campaign.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver says his health-care platform aims to promote wellness, emphasize prevention and primary care, create a mental health strategy, develop quality end-of-life care and protect children.

The plan would include $100 million for an integrated primary-care system using teams of health-care professionals such as nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and midwives to enhance access to family doctors.

Weaver says shifting B.C.’s health-care focus from acute care to wellness and preventative care, along with his party’s other measures, will make health services more accessible and affordable.

Horgan announced an expanded apprenticeship and trades training program under a New Democrat government.

By investing in tomorrow’s workforce, Horgan says they’ll fill the 96,000 jobs they’ll create with school, hospital, highway and home construction.

Winery vs Superstore
Jon Manchester - Apr 18 - BC Biz

Photo: CTV

A Comox Valley winery is battling Real Canadian Superstore over use of the brand name Ziggy.

Family-operated 40 Knots Vineyard produces a Siegerrebe wine called “Ziggy,” named after its pet dog.

“Siegerrebe grape grows in our vineyard. It was planted in 2011 and 2012,,” owner Brenda Hetman-Craig said.

The owners sought to protect the brand with a trademark, but were blocked by Superstore parent company Loblaw Canada Ltd.

“We trademarked it back in I believe it was early 2015,” Hetman-Craig told CTV. “It was approved, and then it goes out for advertising and I believe it was sometime late in 2016 that Loblaws decided to oppose it.”

Loblaw has sold a Ziggy’s brand of foods since 1971, the company says.

But, the vineyard claims that’s never applied to wines.

“Our lawyer feels very confident that we have an excellent case,” Hetman-Craig said. “We have until May 30 to show that we have indeed manufactured the product, the first day we sold the product, the advertisements and what the sales were.”

– with files from CTV Vancouver Island

Newspaper jobs saved
Madison Erhardt - Apr 17 - BC Biz

Photo: CTV Vancouver

A union representing staff at two B.C. newspapers says it has reached a deal to save jobs after a number of employees were laid off.

Postmedia announced plans last month to layoff 54 employees at the Vancouver Sun and the Province in a bid to cut costs at the newspaper chain.

Union plans to fight back against the 54 jobs lost.

The union has issued a statement saying a tentative deal has been reached with the company that “includes saving a number of jobs.”

No details were provided, but the union says members will vote on the agreement on Wednesday.

-With files from CTV Vancouver 

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