Finance ministers don't even mention tax cuts

The provincial ministers of finance met all day in Ottawa in preparation for a meeting this hour with federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale. The provincial ministers say they'll tell Goodale that economic growth should be the top priority for Goodale's upcoming federal budget.
Many economists have argued that the best way to stimulate economic growth would be to lighten corporate and personal income taxes.
And yet, when asked, the provincial finance ministers admitted that tax cuts did not at all come up in their discussions.
“The question of broadly based tax cuts was not discussed,” said Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara.

Federal bank regulator probes CIBC fax fiasco

You remember the CIBC fax fiasco? That was the one where one of Canada’s biggest banks sent hundreds of faxes containing confidential customer data to a West Virginia scrapyard operator over a three-year period even though the West Virginian begged the bank to stop.

Today, the Globe’s Sinclair Stewart notes that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) is investigating the incident. OSFI is the federal regulator in charge of banks. Sinclair reports that OSFI is mostly concerned with the bank’s reputational risk. He also reports that the federal Ministry of Finance will wait for OSFI’s report and a separate report from Canada’s Privacy Commissioner about the issue.

In the meantime, the lawsuit between the West Virginian, Wade Peer, and the bank continues. Mr. Peer finally sued the bank in a court in Maryland. He claims the deluge of faxes forced him to shut down a new business venture he had going and he wants the bank to pay. But the bank, rather than negotiate a settlement with Mr. Peer, seems intent on litigating this as far as it can.

Last week, Mr. Peer’s lawyer was in Toronto and deposed several bank officials. Sources say that the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation, which was nearing completion, has now been extended to consider some of the information that came to light in that deposition.


National Capital Region Elite Blog Mafia

I moved to Ottawa yesterday (Sunday), too late to attend the annual general meeting of National Capital Region Elite Blog Mafia. I think I’m supposed to be busy today making lots of phone calls to politicians, checking out what’s sure to be fireworks at the Gomery Inquiry, or even sitting in the Parliamentary Press Gallery for the opening of the session in which MPs are to vote on same-sex marriage legislation. But I may put all of that off to do whatever paperwork it takes to get my membership card in the NCREB.


Conservatives call for tax cuts; increased military spending

I start reporting on Canadian federal politics Monday. The reporters in the Parliamentary bureau at CTV National News have to cover all aspects of politics and the government but each has some specific beat responsibilities. Mine include the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) and the Supreme Court. For that reason, you’re likely to see more items here about those two institutions than others. You shouldn’t mistake the frequency of posts for an endorsement of either.
I hope the writings here will reflect what I think the core mission of any reporter on any beat ought to be and that is to bear witness.
So, with that preamble, let’s get to it.

Monte Solberg
, (left) the CPC Finance Critic, has published an open letter to Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, setting out his party’s goals for the annual budget process and reminding Minister Goodale about some of the commitments the Liberal government agreed to in order to have the Speech from the Throne adopted.

. . . the Conservative Party of Canada believes that the time is now for a major assault on the key elements I have outlined in this letter—first, significant tax cuts for working Canadians; second, measures that will enhance business incentives to innovate and invest in Canada; and, finally a boost to the spending that you have promised to help bring Canada’s military to a more effective level. And, just as we argued during the last election campaign, we are confident that our finances can afford it.

The Conservatives are worried that the Liberals will increase program spending.
Mr. Solberg references a recent report by Don Drummond, the chief economist of TD Bank.
In that report, Mr. Drummond argues that “the tax burden on individuals must … be reduced.” In Mr. Drummond’s analysis, “we found that Canadian households indeed have cause for concern – their economic well being has not advanced for many years. This adds urgency to the need to bolster Canada’s lackluster productivity growth and serves as notice to Canadian governments to lighten the tax burden.”
Mr. Drummond’s is an influential voice in policy circles in Ottawa. That’s because, first, all chief economists at Canada’s big banks, including Mr. Drummond, are routinely consulted by top Bank of Canada and Ministry of Finance officials. Second, Mr. Drummond had a long career as a Finance Ministry official, rising to Assistant Deputy Minister in charge of the federal budget planning process.

The Master of Your Domain – even with the windows open

A few years ago, a Nanaimo, B.C. man decided to masturbate in his living room with the curtains open. Some neighbours observed his act and called police. He was arrested and charged with performing an indecent act in public. He was convicted and spent four months in jail. But while all that was going on, his lawyers successfully got the case in front of the Supreme Court of Canada and yesterday, the Court overturned his conviction. In Canada, your living room is not a public place — even if you're doing something rude to yourself….
The Globe and Mail's Kirk Makin has more in today's paper:

The accused, Daryl Milland Clark, was reported to police after a neighbouring couple furtively observed him through binoculars for 10 to 15 minutes, then called police.
“This is an important case from the perspective of defining a public place,” Mr. Clark's lawyer, Gil McKinnon, said in an interview.
“People can be comforted to know that a law-abiding citizen who does some kind of act in privacy — without knowledge he is being observed by someone outside — is not at risk of being prosecuted,” Mr. McKinnon said. . . . [Read the rest of the story]

A test from BlogJet

This post has two purposes. First, it’s a test to see how posts with BlogJet get rendered once BlogWare publishes them. (If you’re confused at this point, move right along. You’re not missing much by skipping the rest.)

Second, it’s a request for advice. My mobile computing machine for the last little while has been a Mac. Now, my main mobile computing machine is a PC, running Windows 2000. I’m using BlogJet to post this. On the Mac I was using Ecto (Ecto for Windows is out but just doesn’t seem to work at all with my Blogware blog.).  I loved Ecto on the Mac (and still use it to post from my Mac desktop machines) but would love to find something with similar functionality on the PC.

So far, BlogJet seems close.

Anyone have any suggestions about similar tools that work with Blogware and Win2000? Love to hear your thoughts.


Most respected CEOs in Canada

Manulife CEO Dominic D'Alessandro (left) is the most respected chief executive officer by his peers, says a new poll by Ipsos-Reid, and that's probably about right. D'Alessandro engineered the takeover of John Hancock Financial Services and has steadily and without much flash and dash made his business into a monster. The Manulife takeover of the Massachusetts-based John Hancock (which also had a CEO named D'Alessandro, oddly enough) was the largest cross-border business combination in Canadian history.
And, for what it's worth, the few times I've met him he's seemed to me to be about the most polite, respectful and, almost shy, CEO you could imagine.
But the most interesting tid-bit about the Ipsos-Reid poll was the fact that Paul Tellier tied for second, as the most respected CEO. Tellier, of course, was fired/quit/retired/resigned from Bombardier and replaced by the family that controls the firm.
Laurent Beaudoin, who married the daughter of Bombardier founder Joseph-Armand Bombardier, and who had been CEO prior to Tellier, took over the top job again in the wake of Tellier's departure.
It's not clear what Beaudoin's peers think of his capabilities, compared to Tellier's, as a CEO but shareholders sure passed their judgement. When Tellier got ousted, Bomber stock to an all-time intra-day low of $1.87.
Here's the quote from the Ipsos-Reid release:

Dominic D’Alessandro’s successful merger of Manulife Financial and John Hancock Insurance this past year has swelled the ranks of Canada’s business leaders who most admire and respect the CEO. He emerges this year with 10% of CEOs personally writing his name in the slot for the CEO they most admire and respect.
Following behind Mr. D’Alessandro are:
• Paul Tellier former CEO of Bombardier (4%),
• Clive Beddoe CEO of WestJet Airlines Ltd. (4%),
• Remi Marcoux CEO of Transcontinental Inc. (3%), and
• Ed Clark CEO of TD Bank Financial Group (3%).
All other CEOs mentioned received 2% of the vote or less.

A new job – and a blog transformation

I have a new job, which I'll be starting in a week. An edited version of a note I circulated to some sources earlier this week announcing this change is copied below. The new job likely means some changes here at the blog, too. It will take a few days to re-tool before those changes show up and, as always, I'm keen to get your feedback about this blog ought to contain. Here's that note:

Hello —
Effective MONDAY JANUARY 31, I will join CTV's Ottawa bureau as a Parliamentary Reporter.
I will be ending, after a long run, my coverage of technology and business issues.
Because my new job will require all of my time, I will have to close my assignment as a Contributing Writer to the Globe and Mail's Report on Business.
Effective MON JAN 31, I encourage you to visit where my new cell phone number and other contact information posted.
As always, love to hear what you're up to and I hope to touch base with you soon.

The fight for DRAM patents: Mosaid wins against Samsung; sues Hynix

[From today's Globe and Mail] Mosaid Technologies Inc., fresh from a patent fight victory with one of the titans in its industry, is taking on another giant, and investors must decide again whether to wager their money on a potentially lucrative — but always uncertain — legal settlement.
For many current and potential Mosaid shareholders, it is not so much a question of market share, rising sales or new technology in the pipeline, but rather how successful Mosaid's lawyers are in capturing a royalty stream from the world's largest makers of dynamic random access memory, or DRAM . . . [Read the full story]

IAB sets new online ad standards for Canadian new media

The Internet Advertising Bureau of Canada announced the adoption today of new standards for online ads. Taking its cue from the American industry's move to standardize ad sizes, the IAB put out what it calls the Canadian Universal Ad Package or CUAP.
The push to standardize on some ad sizes for online media will reduce costs for advertisers and eliminate inefficiencies associated with buying and creating online media, the IAB seays.
Online ads still make up an awfully tiny percentage of overall media advertising. The IAB said that in 2004, the Canadian online publishing industry posted revenue of $295-million. To put that in perspective, Bell Globemedia, which owns CTV and The Globe and Mail,put up $302-million in revenue (most of which was derived from the sale of advertising) in just the fiscal third quarter, which ended Sept. 30.
Future phases of the CUAP package (due later in 2005) will include rich media and video-streaming standards as well as online ad measurement guidelines.