Canada Presses Russia On Greenpeace Detentions

Canada July Retail-Sales Rebound Boosts Recovery Argument

The Order of Canada, on the other hand, is awarded on the advice of a council composed of the Chief Justice of Canada, the Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Clerk of the Queens Privy Council, and various other grandees who know little or nothing about medicine, economics, journalism, modern dance, broadcasting, or any of the other disparate fields from which Order of Canada recipients are plucked. Its a wonderful thing to be recognized for excellence by your peers. But the members of the Order of Canada advisory council dont purport to be a set of anyones peers. And their gauzy criterion for admission embodied in the orders motto, desiderantes meliorem patriam (they desire a better country) is so vague that it can be applied to anyone who is somewhat famous and well-respected in their field. Related Newest Order of Canada recipients include former Alberta premier Ralph Klein, ex-NHL coach Pat Quinn But the more basic, and important, objection to the existence of the Order of Canada is that democratic governments even through the offices of high-minded, independent bodies should not be in the business of ranking citizens by merit, of elevating Joe above Harry, or Harry above Joe. (The Order of Canada actually comes in three tiers, so you could even have Tom and Dick packed into a multi-layer status club sandwich in between Joe and Harry.) Indeed, the very instinct to establish such hierarchies is nothing but a reflex from feudal days, when the oldest and wealthiest families co-opted the status-conferring power of the state to establish their purported moral superiority vis-a-vis everyone else. This reflex is anachronistic. In a free country stripped of feudal superstition, citizens can judge for themselves the comparative worth of their fellow citizens. They dont need the state to do it for them. In 2013, our reward for great accomplishment comes not in the form of medals or pins or other baubles presented to us in velvet boxes; but rather in the words written about us in newspaper articles and on Wikipedia. Garth Drabinsky will be a crook regardless of whether he gets his Order of Canada back. And Glenn Gould was no less a brilliant pianist for the fact that he refused the honour. Indeed, I often have wondered why the Order of Canada is not already dead, since the case for its extinction is an issue that should unite both sides of the political spectrum. Surely, all those conservatives who are convinced that government intrudes too much into our lives can be brought around to a campaign that strips Ottawa of its entirely anachronistic power to make official appointments on the worth of this or that Canadian citizen.

Arctic oil platform somewhere off Russia north-eastern coast in the Pechora Sea.Greenpeace/AFP/File Ottawa (AFP) Canadian consular officials are pressing Russia for answers about the detention of two Canadians among 30 activists held for protesting oil drilling in the Arctic, officials said Thursday. “Consular services are being provided to the two Canadian citizens,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Beatrice Fenelon told AFP. Canadian officials are also “seeking further information about the detentions from local Russian authorities,” she added. Russian border guards took control of the Dutch-flagged Greenpeace protest ship Arctic Sunrise and locked up the activists on Tuesday after they attempted to scale state energy giant Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in protest over exploration in the Barents Sea. The border guards fired warning shots and detained two activists under armed guard, according to Greenpeace. After sliding down ropes from helicopters, the guards seized the vessel then towed the ship to the port of Murmansk, where the activists were held for questioning. On Thursday, a Russian court ordered several of the activists detained for two months for alleged piracy, including Paul Ruzycki from Canada, and was expected to rule on the others soon. The captain of the ship, US citizen Peter Willcox, was also given the same term. The veteran activist captained Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship when it was bombed by French agents in 1985. Greenpeace said another Canadian, Alexandre Paul, was also being detained pending a court appearance in the northern port city. The non-governmental group’s Canadian office said it has requested a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird but has not heard back. Baird has pointed to Greenpeace’s past “provocative actions on the high seas.” “Obviously, it needs to follow all the specific rules and regulations with respect to navigation,” he added.

That weakness in June even outside of the temporary disruptions was overstated, said Nathan Janzen, an economist at Royal Bank of Canada, by telephone from Toronto. The bounceback implies activity is on a stronger path than what was implied by the June data alone. Growth will expand 0.7 percent in July and an annualized 3.4 percent pace in the third quarter, Janzen predicts. Todays data is the last major release before Julys economic growth report on Sept. 30, and indicates GDP expanded 0.5 percent that month, Robert Kavcic , senior economist in Toronto at Bank of Montreal, said in a note to clients. Tipping Point The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 22 economists was for a 0.5 percent gain in retail sales. From a year earlier, sales were up 3.0 percent. Canadas economy has been relying on consumers to drive growth, as the nation waits for faster global demand to fuel exports and business investment. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said last week growing confidence about global demand has brought the economy to a tipping point. Sales in July were led by a 3.2 percent increase at gasoline stations. Clothing and accessory stores posted a 1.9 percent gain and home furnishing retailers boosted receipts by 1.6 percent. Sales rose in eight of 11 categories making up 52 percent of total receipts. Motor vehicle and parts sales fell for the first time in seven months, posting a 0.6 percent drop in July. Purchases excluding the motor vehicle and parts category rose 1.0 percent. Economists had forecast a 0.6 percent gain in ex-auto sales. The volume of sales, which excludes price changes and more closely reflects the industrys contribution to growth, rose 0.5 percent in July. Retailers in Ontario, the countrys largest province, led gains with a 1.5 percent increase in July, followed by Quebecs 1.3 percent rise.

CANADA STOCKS-TSX edges up despite BlackBerry, U.S. budget worry

budget worry Markets Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:05pm EDT * TSX rises 4.91 points, or 0.04 percent, to 12,841.62 * Six of the 10 main index sectors advance * BlackBerry falls 0.5 pct, third day of declines * Husky jumps on Statoil oil discovery By Leah Schnurr TORONTO, Sept 26 (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock index was little changed on Thursday with gains limited by a drop in BlackBerry’s shares and market wariness about the impasse in budget and debt negotiations in the United States. BlackBerry fell for a third day in a row as markets continued to mull over a $4.7 billion bid to take the smartphone maker private. Doubts about the viability of the bid have emerged in recent days, and the stock gave up 0.5 percent to C$8.22 on Thursday. Investors also focused their attention on the latest political wrangling in the United States, which faces two separate and looming deadlines: to keep the government running beyond the end of the month, and to raise the debt ceiling to prevent a debt default. Some encouraging data south of the border helped offset the budget concerns as fewer Americans filed new jobless claims. While the day’s economic data offered a mixed view of the recovery, analysts still believe the economy is managing to strengthen. “It’s this constant struggle between policy uncertainties – be it monetary or fiscal – and the underlying fundamentals, which continue to point to slow but sustained improvement,” said Craig Fehr, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri. “The markets are bouncing back and forth between that and finding some comfort in the fact that while Washington tends to be a very short-term distraction, the fundamentals, which are going to be a longer-term guide, are still pointing in the right direction.” The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 4.91 points, or 0.04 percent, at 12,841.62. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were higher. Sentiment for Canadian equities has been recovering after a sluggish first half of 2013. The TSX has gained more than 8 percent since hitting its low point for the year in June. The index’s energy sector broadly rose 0.5 percent.