Canadian housing starts relatively stable in July CMHC reports

OTTAWA — Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says total housing starts continued to be relatively stable in July.The federal agency estimates there were 17,993 actual starts in July which, extrapolated over 12 months, gives a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 192,853 starts.That was slightly down from June’s adjusted annual rate of 193,797 starts.The agency says the annual rate of urban starts decreased by 2.1% in July to 173,042 units, as both single and multiple urban starts declined.Single urban starts decreased by 5.5% to 58,731 units on an annual basis in July while the multiple urban starts segment essentially held steady at 114,311 units.July’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts rose in British Columbia and decreased in all other regions, including Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Quebec and the Prairies.Canadian Press read more

Albertabased fund manager AIMCo to get piece of US219million legal settlement from

EDMONTON — A U.S. insurance company has agreed to pay US$219 million to end a class action lawsuit for allegedly making false and misleading statements about a group that includes the Alberta Investment Management Corp.The agreement in principle from Genworth Financial requires approval from a U.S. district court in Virginia, where the insurance company has its head office.Edmonton-based AIMCo — which invests on behalf of 26 pension, endowment and government funds in Alberta — was one of the lead plaintiffs in the suit, along with the California-based Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association.AIMco and other investors recover more than US$200M in class action against MF GlobalTransAlta Renewables gets $200M investment from Alberta fund manager AIMCoThe plaintiffs argued that Genworth’s executives and financial statements had failed to properly disclose information before the company announced in November 2014 that it would need to shore up its long-term care insurance business.The announcement of the $531-million accounting charge was followed by a substantial drop in the value of Genworth stock held by AIMCo and other investors.The Virginia-based insurance company continues to say the claims against it are without merit but has agreed to make the payment to avoid the cost and risk of continuing the battle in court. read more

Only one in three Canadians satisfied with what theyre paying for Internet

TORONTO — Affordability is among the top Internet service concerns for Canadians, especially those living in rural areas, a new report has found.One out of three Canadians is satisfied with the cost of their home Internet, according to a report commissioned by Canada’s broadcast regulator.Two out of three Canadians believe that telecommunications prices should be comparable in urban and rural settings. People in rural locations tend to pay more for Internet and were more likely to have cut back on Internet use over the past 12 months.Canadians’ telecom complaints declined 16% in second half of 2015, watchdog saysBig Three telecom companies say they’re winning the customer service battle. But are they?CRTC bundles telecom and TV complaints together with new watchdogOverall, one out of five Canadians limited their web use over the past year, the report found. Most often this was due to Internet service or equipment costs, or capacity constraints.It’s crucial for Canadians to have access to basic telecommunications services, said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman and CEO of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).The CRTC will hold public hearings on the issue in Gatineau, Que., from April 11-29 as part of its ongoing consultation on basic telecom services, launched by the federal agency last April.OpenMedia, an advocacy group, said the survey results are unfortunate but not surprising.Canadians pay some of the highest Internet rates in the world, said the group’s Josh Tabish in a statement.CRTC commissioned a report from EKOS Research Associates based on the answers of more than 30,000 Canadians to a questionnaire. The research group also questioned another 1,600 Canadians, who were a sample group representative of the country’s population.The Canadian Press read more

US salmon spill should spur pursuit of Canadas landbased prowess experts

VANCOUVER — Critics of open-net fish farms say the escape of 305,000 Atlantic salmon in Washington state should spur Canada to support a transition to land-based aquaculture.Steve Summerfelt of the Conservation Fund Freshwater Institute in Shepherdstown, W. Va., says compared with the United States, Europe and China, Canada has the most companies using closed-containment pens to harvest salmon.He says four of the world’s 13 land-based facilities are in Canada, while China has the largest production capacity, followed by Denmark.Summerfelt says while the technology to grow fish on land-based farms has steadily improved, relatively high capital and operating costs have been a challenge to the widespread implementation of that model.Bob Chamberlin, chairman of the First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, says the Washington state spill earlier this week near B.C. waters requires government and industry to back more sustainable ways to farm salmon, which is in such high demand around the world.He says waste being pumped into the ocean from open-net salmon farms is harming the environment and those costs aren’t absorbed by companies producing salmon in more profitable but less sustainable ways that threaten wild species. read more

Small businesses can get rate break from Chase on Amex transactions

A global payment company will give members of Canada’s largest small- and medium-business association lower rates on American Express transactions.Chase Merchant Services will charge a new lower rate to Canadian Federation of Independent Business members that process less than $500,000 in Amex transactions.CFIB says the deal aims to make it easier for small businesses to accept Chase payment cards.CFIB president Dan Kelly says the partnership means many of the federation’s members could see significant savings thanks to the offer, with some members potentially seeing fees reduced by almost 50 per cent.“This new deal is a big step forward for small business and recognizes their importance to the Canadian economy,” Kelly said. “Many of our members could see significant savings with the new offer. This will benefit CFIB members by lowering the cost of offering Amex as a payment option, while ultimately providing value to consumers with greater access and payment choice.”Retailers pay fees each time consumers use a credit card. The fees differ based on type of credit card, business and other considerations.As well, Amex transactions delivered through Chase will be processed quickly, give merchants next-day payment in most cases, and administration time will be cut by having one statement only, covering both Amex and Chase transactions.The retail industry has been advocating for lower fees, arguing that Canadian businesses pay some of the highest fees worldwide.CFIB’s 110,000 members collectively process more than $12 billion in electronic payments through Chase every year.More information on the agreement can be found here. — with files from Financial Post staff read more

Tim Hortons franchisees threaten to sue parent Restaurant Brands over cash register

TORONTO — An association representing 70 per cent of Tim Hortons franchisees is threatening its parent company with legal action after a computer virus caused intermittent cash register outages.A letter obtained by the Canadian Press from a lawyer representing the Great White North Franchise Association to Tim Hortons parent company Restaurant Brands Inc. said if RBI refuses to meet with franchisees by Friday to discuss “deficient IT practices” and “future IT protocols” they will take the matter to court.The two-page letter, sent Monday, said the recent virus, which Tim Hortons has yet to entirely resolve, has caused “partial and complete store closures, franchisees paying employees not to work and lost sales and product spoilages.”Here’s why Ontario’s Tim Hortons customers are too hyped up over the wage situationRestaurant Brands jumps as company downplays impact of Tims’ franchisee fightKathleen Wynne to Tim Hortons franchisees: Stop using employees as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fightThe letter asked for compensation for the losses and answers to a lengthy list of questions about how the outage happened, what steps might have been taken to avoid it, what will be done to ward off future attacks and whether sales data were compromised.In a statement to the Canadian Press, Tim Hortons said Tuesday that it was working with an external vendor to address a virus causing intermittent cash register outages.It stressed no consumer data or credit card information had been compromised and said the issue has “almost entirely been resolved.” It claimed “a very small number of restaurants” are still being impacted.GWNFA’s letter called the incident “a failure” and noted that it comes “on the heels of the public relations debacle” from January when two Cobourg, Ont. franchises owned by Ron Joyce Jr. and Jeri Horton-Joyce, the children of the company’s billionaire co-founders, moved to offset the province’s minimum wage hike by cutting paid breaks and forcing workers to cover a bigger share of their benefits.The wage hike forced companies to pay workers at least $14 an hour, up from the previous minimum wage of $11.60 an hour. The rate will jump again to $15 in 2019.Days after the hike came into effect, hundreds rallied outside Tim Hortons locations chanting “hold the sugar, hold the cream, Tim Hortons don’t be mean” to protest Joyce Jr. and Horton Joyce’s actions, while others vowed to boycott the brand.The outcry from the incident coupled with the recent hack “is causing tremendous downward pressure on the value the Tim Hortons brand,” GWNFA’s letter said.In mid-February the company recorded a fifth consecutive quarter of sluggish sales, and comparable sales at Tim Hortons restaurants around the world slipped 0.1 per cent for the 2017 financial year. read more

UK deputy envoy notes Lankas property laws complex

The Deputy British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Laura Davies, notes that Sri Lanka’s property laws are complex and difficult to navigate, especially for foreigners.She said this in a blog posting after a visit to Galle where she spent time with a few of the 5,000 long term British residents in Sri Lanka. “But Sri Lanka’s property laws are complex and difficult to navigate, especially for foreigners. We can’t offer legal advice, but we can – and did on Friday – set up opportunities for British nationals to speak to legal experts. If you are a British national thinking of buying property in Sri Lanka, please make sure you take independent legal advice and engage a lawyer to act on your behalf. A list of local lawyers can be found on the High Commission website,” she said. Particularly on the South Coast, many are involved in tourism, running small hotels and guest villas that keep Sri Lanka’s tourism figures booming and spread its economic dividends deep into the community. While in the Galle, Davies also visited a small project the High Commission has supported for some years, the Manacare Hopes and Dreams village.Run by British long term resident Joy Butler, the Manacare centre spreads not just economic benefits, but also social and medical support into a poor community. Set up in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami, the project has provided employment for a devastated village, and stability and security for traumatised individuals. “Its backbone is very small scale manufacturing, mostly of handmade soap and table linen. Brilliantly, the products are mostly destined for the hotel industry, a demonstration of the trickle down benefits of tourism.The centre also provides physiotherapy and hydrotherapy for the severely disabled, including many who suffer from cerebral palsy, as well as child care which lets women get back into employment, and activities to give young people a positive social focus. It increasingly offers residential basic job skills training too, to disadvantaged women from across the island,” Davies said.She said that her visit reminded her of the great breadth of the UK – Sri Lanka relationship, fuelled by the richness of the people to people links. read more

Australia offers to support reconciliation efforts

The Australian Government today offered to support Sri Lanka as it makes progress on national reconciliation.Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop congratulated Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on his re-election, following the peaceful and orderly parliamentary elections on 17 August 2015. “We look forward to working with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s government to further develop our strong bilateral relationship and to address shared regional and global challenges,” she said. Bishop noted that Australia has a close and long-standing bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka and that both countries are working closely with Sri Lanka to grow trade and investment and increase cooperation on security and transnational crime, particularly countering people smuggling. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Mahinda accuses Chandrika of insulting the SLFP

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed “much regret” over comments made by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to the foreign media and accused her of insulting the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).Rajapaksa said that Mrs Kumaratunga is a former leader of the SLFP and a current member of the Central Committee and co-Patron of our party and whatever she tells the foreign media while on overseas trips, reflects on the SLFP and the country. He also noted that almost all the SLFP stalwarts Mrs Kumaratunga refers to were MPs and ministers in her government as well. I took over the party that she left behind.“So her statement to The Hindu amounts to an admission that she too presided over a party full of murderers and rogues. The irony is that though no charge of wrongdoing has been proven against the SLFP members Mrs Kumaratunga hurls accusations at, she herself has been found guilty of an irregular land deal by the Supreme Court. There are many serious allegations of similar nature against Mrs Kumaratunga. There were times she had to reverse certain actions due to public outrage. Whether such a person has the moral standing to go around the world, accusing prominent members of the SLFP of being corrupt is a matter for the people to decide,” Rajapaksa added. “No Indian would ever see a former leader (or a Central Committee member or Patron) of the Congress Party or The BJP expressing joy at the defeat of his or her own political party in that manner. While that alone would be cause for much shame and embarrassment for all members of the SLFP and the UPFA, some of the things that she said about our party are positively insulting. She had told The Hindu that she had difficulties in looking around for an SLFP front ranker to contest against me because “it was difficult to find anyone in the SLFP who wasn’t known to be corrupt or a murderer”. When the co-Patron and a sitting Central Committee member of the SLFP tells the foreign media that members of her own party are virtually all rogues or murderers, that reflects very badly on our party,” Rajapaksa said. Rajapaksa urged Kumaratunga not to allow her personal hatred for him to blind her to the fact that she is a former leader of the party and co-Patron and sitting Central Committee of the SLFP and that she owes it to the SLFP members not to go around the world insulting and running down her own party. (Colombo Gazette) The former President, now a member of parliament, said that throughout an interview with The Hindu, Mrs Kumaratunga expressed her elation and glee at being able to defeat the SLFP led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government of which he was the president and she dwelt garrulously on her own role in the conspiracy. Rajapaksa also denied allegation that his government monitored phone calls adding that if they did then the same equipment would now be available to the present government.He also noted that when he took over from Mrs Kumaratunga in 2005, there was a separate state in the country in all but name.“Terrorists were ruling about a third of the country. For more than a decade, the country had seen very little development. During my tenure, I am proud to say that I concentrated on solving the country’s problems. I saw to it that terrorism was eliminated and that the country was developed. I did not spend my time persecuting my political opponents or go around the world maligning my own party and bringing disgrace upon my country. All members of the SLFP should be mindful that Mrs Kumaratunga’s statements about our party only goes to strengthen our opponents at our expense. We should be working to strengthen our party not to weaken it further,” he said. read more

Police raid brothel in Mount Lavinia 13 arrested

Among those arrested was the manager and 12 women employed at the brothel.The women are aged between 27 and 50 years, the police added. (Colombo Gazette) The police raided a brothel in Mount Lavinia and arrested 13 people, the police media unit said today.The police said that the raid was conducted after information was received that a brothel was operating under the guise of an ayurvedic spa in the Mount Lavinia area.

Gunmen open fire on vehicle of SAITM CEO

The gunmen fled the scene after the shooting incident. (Colombo Gazette) Gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on the vehicle of SAITM CEO Dr. Sameera Senaratne in Malabe late this evening.Senaratne escaped unhurt but the car was damaged in the shooting incident. Dr. Sameera Senaratne said that when he was returning home he saw a motorcycle block his path near the Malabe SAITM campus.Senaratne said that when he slowed down the men on the motorcycle got close to his vehicle and opened fire.

Police Narcotics Bureau inspector arrested over Welikada deaths

An Inspector of the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) has been arrested over the deaths of several inmates during the 2012 Welikada prison riots. Inspector Neomal Rangajeewa was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) over the incident. The Government had appointed a committee to investigate the riot and a report was compiled on the incident.In January last year the Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka (HRCSL) recorded a statement from a journalist over the riot. The riot in 2012 left 27 inmates dead and several injured. The riot broke out during a search for illegal arms. The statement was recorded from journalist Kasun Pussewela after he had filed a petition at the HRCSL.Pussewela had sought an investigation into the incident saying there was ample evidence to prosecute some people who were responsible for killing prisoners who took part in the riot.The HRCSL obtained written evidence from Pussewela as well as video and photographic evidence. (Colombo Gazette) read more

US urges Maldives and Sri Lanka to collaborate to defeat terrorism

Teplitz made this remark during a speech at the Iftar hosted by the embassy on Sunday evening. The United States has urged Maldives and Sri Lanka to collaborate to defeat terrorism.The Ambassador of the United States to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Alaina Teplitz encouraged the Maldives to cooperate with all nations to prevent terrorist acts from taking place and stressed that there is ever more a need for collaboration between Maldives and Sri Lanka, than there ever was, RaajjeMV reported. “This is the moment for all nations to be reminded of the need to work together. This is something we want to encourage. It can be part of our cooperative and global efforts to get ahead of terrorism,” Teplitz said. She went on to state that there must be common values among every one no matter which ethnicity, religion or nationality they belong to and these values are important now more than ever following the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka. read more

Air Vice Marshall Sumangala Dias appointed new Air Force Commander

Air Vice Marshall Sumangala Dias has been appointed as the new Air Force Commander.He received his appointment letter from President Maithripala Sirisena today. Meanwhile, former Air Force Commander, Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy was promoted to the four star rank of Air Chief Marshal.

Port Colborne man facing child pornography charges

A Port Colborne man has been arrested and charged with allegedly accessing and distributing child pornography.Niagara Regional Police began an investigation into the online sexual exploitation of children in February that led to a Port Colborne home. Officers seized and forensically examined a number of computer systems and storage media on Thursday. 40-year-old Jason Favaro is facing several charges, including two counts of possession of child pornography, one count of accessing child pornography and one count of distributing child pornography. Favaro is being held in custody pending a bail hearing scheduled for Friday in St. Catharines. read more

Technology beating romanticism at Tour de France

ALBI, France — With all the technology stacked against them, the six breakaway riders at the Tour de France had no hope of making it to the finish without being caught.Race directors were watching their every move on TV screens set up in their cars, and rival competitors riding behind were informed in instant time of the gap through earpieces. It was a day for a bunch sprint, and it could not be any different.At the Tour, long gone are the days when bold riders would launch long-range attacks and foil the sprinters at the finish line. The sport has changed so much in the space of 20 years that, on the many long and flat stages peppering the thee-week racing program, breakaways have nearly no chance of succeeding.“A stage victory in the style of Jacky Durand or Thierry Marie? It’s nearly impossible on Grands Tours, and even more at the Tour de France,” Arkea Samsic team manager Emmanuel Hubert told The Associated Press.Hubert, a former pro rider, mentioned Durand and Marie, two riders who epitomized the idea of panache. In the 1980s and ’90s, both were capable of launching long-range victorious rides that made them fan favourites.Such long-haul trips still take place nowadays, but they are almost never rewarded.Take the six who spent Monday at the front of the pack in the southwestern Aveyron region. If they had any hopes of reaching Albi ahead of the pack, they quickly found out their grand day out would not feature a happy ending.There were four climbs on the day’s program, but the flat finale gave sprinters a golden opportunity to get a stage win. Tony Gallopin, Michael Schär, Natnael Berhane, Anthony Turgis, Mads Würtz Schmidt and Odd Christian Eiking moved away from the pack soon after the start. With none of them a threat in the general classification, the peloton was happy to let them go.But once their lead reached three minutes, the fugitives were kept on a tight leash, with sprinters’ teams speeding up the pace at the front of the pack to make sure they would not open a gap too difficult to bridge later in the stage.A classic scenario then developed. Using all the data available to determine the right time to move, sprinters’ teams organized the chase about 50 kilometres from the finish to rein in the audacious group.“There is so much at stake for the sprinters’ team,” Cofidis manager Alain Deloeil told the AP. “For them it’s nearly a professional mistake if, on a flat stage, they don’t bring back the breakaway. They need to set up a sprint for their fast man.”These scenarios, which also affect racing in the mountains, are a real problem for organizers who need to maintain the excitement over a three-week period. At a closed-door meeting before the race started, Tour director Christian Prudhomme urged riders to be more audacious in their strategies after a somewhat boring start to the race last year.Deloeil and Prudhomme are nostalgic for an era when ear pieces and power meters were words still to be invented. They believe riders don’t use their instinct anymore, with their eyes glued to screens determining whether they should attack or chase down fugitives.Team Ineos, the former Team Sky, often relies on data from power meters — the small devices fitted to riders’ bikes measuring their power output — when tackling climbs. It’s a strategy that produced five Tour victories with three different riders since 2012.Prudhomme would like to see restrictions on power meters.“Riders should not have permanent access to their data,” Prudhomme told the AP. “In days gone by, Fausto Coppi used to attack Gino Bartali when he noticed the little blue vein coming out on his rival’s leg. It was a sign that Bartali was getting tired. And Bernard Hinault waited until Joop Zoetemelk’s leg moved aside, because it meant he was tired. And that was the moment Bernard chose to attack.”According to Prudhomme, banning power meters would add a refreshing dose of romanticism to a sport heavily relying on data.“If riders could not read their power meters, there would be more emotions,” he said. “But obviously the biggest teams don’t want that.”Stephane Rossetto, a Tour rookie who twice tried his luck over the past 10 days in long unsuccessful breakaways, said many competitors are too conservative in their approach.“That’s modern cycling, and we need to adapt,” the 32-year-old said. “Many riders are just looking at their power meter and don’t go beyond a certain limit. And with ear pieces, we get the gaps in real time. There is not much room for surprise. Me, I never look at my power meter.”Luke Rowe, a teammate of defending champion Geraint Thomas at Ineos, hit back at Prudhomme’s remarks.“He is living in the Stone Age with comments like that,” Rowe said. “I can tell you, from a guy who spends a lot of time riding on the front, you don’t ride on power. You ride on feel, you ride on who is in the break, how far ahead they are, on wind direction, terrain. You take all these factors into consideration to see how you are going to ride. You don’t stare at power meters.”Boosting Rowe’s case, it was the good positioning of Ineos riders at the front of the pack — and not technology — that allowed them to gain around 100 seconds on three dangerous rivals when crosswinds played havoc in the finale of Monday stage.___John Leicester contributed to this report.___More Tour de France coverage: Petrequin, The Associated Press read more

House Democrats press Facebook to scale back currency plan

WASHINGTON — Facebook is facing fresh criticism from Congress over its plan to create a digital currency , with House Democrats asking the company to scale down the project.Members of the House Financial Services Committee say they can’t trust Facebook. They cite the company’s market power and record of scandals, fines and privacy breaches.Here’s what Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas tells David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading the project: “I think you’re pretty low on the trust spectrum right now, and understandably,”Among their concerns is the risk that the new currency, to be called Libra, could be used for illicit activity.Marcus, trying reassure lawmakers, says Facebook “will take the time to get this right.”Democrats are threatening legislation to stop technology companies from getting into banking.Marcy Gordon, The Associated Press read more

Markets Right Now Tech health care lead early stock gains

NEW YORK — The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):9:35 a.m.Stocks are rising in early trading on Wall Street as technology and health care stocks post solid gains.Texas Instruments added 1.4% Tuesday. Johnson & Johnson rose 1.9% after a ruling against the company in an Oklahoma opiod case wound up being less than investors were expecting.Troubled pizza company Papa John’s rose 5% after naming a new CEO. J.M. Smucker sank 6.8% after turning in weak results.The S&P 500 rose 15 points, or 0.5%, to 2,893.The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 118, or 0.5%, to 26,022. The Nasdaq rose 43, or 0.6%, to 7,898.Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.51%.The Associated Press read more

ExFed official clarifies controversial comments on Trump

WASHINGTON — A former top Federal Reserve official is seeking to clarify inflammatory comments he made last week that suggested the Fed could take steps to undermine President Donald Trump’s re-election prospects.William Dudley, former president of the Fed’s New York regional bank, faced a barrage of criticism from economists across the political spectrum for a column published in Bloomberg Opinion Aug. 27. In it, he argued that the Fed shouldn’t “enable” Trump’s trade war by cutting interest rates.On Wednesday, he specifies in a second column that he does not think the Fed should attempt to influence the 2020 election. But he reiterates his criticism of Trump’s attacks on the Fed and says it should specify that Trump’s trade war is the “greatest risk” to the economy.Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press read more

Telus raises dividend as profit and revenue rise

VANCOUVER — Telus Corp. raised its dividend as it reported a first-quarter profit of $437 million, up from $412 million a year ago.The telecommunications company will now pay a quarterly dividend of 56.25 cents per share, up from 54.5 cents per share.Telus says its profit for the quarter amounted to 71 cents per share for the quarter ended March 31, up from 69 cents per share a year ago.Operating revenue totalled nearly $3.51 billion, up from nearly $3.38 billion in the first quarter of 2018, helped by higher wireless and wireline data services revenue growth.On an adjusted basis, Telus says it earned 75 cents per share for the quarter, up from 73 cents per share a year ago.Analysts on average had expected a profit of 75 cents per share and $3.51 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.Related Stories:Microsoft approves $40 bln share repurchase programRocky Mountain Dealerships Inc. Announces DividendCintas Corporation Announces Fiscal 2020 First Quarter Results read more