It’s an interesting exercise.Quick, name your top five favourite female directors.“It would be interesting to see how many people can actually think of five,” said award-winning filmmaker Sandi Somers. “If you narrow it down to Canada, what are the names you would come up with? If you narrow it even further down to Alberta, what names do you come up with?” Taouba Khelifa on the set of her film Enough. She is one of the filmmakers involved in the Herland Video Production Mentorship for Women program. Courtesy, Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers. The issue is nothing new. There has always been a significant imbalance when it comes to women working in film and television. According to Women in View, a national not-for-profit organization looking to strengthen gender diversity in Canadian media, female directors make up only 17 per cent of those working on scripted projects in Canada. The numbers don’t get any better when looking at a broader breakdown of women in key jobs on film and television productions. Only 22 per cent of writers and 12 per cent of cinematographers are women.“The gender imbalance really has to shift,” says Somers, who has made 75 short films of various genres and will be directing her first feature in the spring. “There’s no reason for it to exist. It’s old-school and now we’re demanding there be a new school.” Advertisement Facebook Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Login/Register With: Twitter
The Canada Council for the Arts announced today the winners of the 2017 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.The awards carry a $25,000 cash prize and recognize outstanding career achievement. They are funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, and include categories for artistic achievement in visual and media arts, fine craft and outstanding contribution. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Crafts.The awards ceremony and a presentation of the medallions by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada will take place at Rideau Hall on March 1 at 6 pm. Canada Council for the Arts Facebook Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment The 2017 winners are:Michèle Cournoyer, animation filmmaker, MontrealMike Hoolboom, filmmaker, TorontoShelagh Keeley, visual artist, TorontoGlenn Lewis, visual artist, VancouverLandon Mackenzie, painter, VancouverPhilip Monk, curator, writer, Toronto (Outstanding Contribution Award)Shelley Niro, multimedia artist, Brantford, Six Nations Of The Grand RiverPamela Ritchie, jewellery artist, Halifax (Saidye Bronfman Award)Watch original short films on each of the winners, commissioned by the Canada Council in partnership with the Independent Media Arts Alliance and directed by award-winning Canadian filmmakers, available online now and on Air Canada‘s in-flight entertainment system, spring 2017.Quotes“These men and women have made tremendous contributions to the arts and society over their rich careers. Celebrating their exceptional work in 2017, as the Council turns 60, reinforces the importance of investing in artistic creation today to grow the impact of the arts in the future.”– Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts“Our finest artists challenge us to ask questions and to look deeper into our surroundings, to think more critically and to better appreciate beauty. I’m delighted to recognize this outstanding group of Canadian artists in this, Canada’s 150th anniversary year.”– His Excellency the Right Honourable David JohnstonAbout the Saidye Bronfman AwardAbout the Outstanding Contribution AwardAbout the Canada Council for the ArtsWebsite:ggavma.canadacouncil.ca saidyebronfmanaward.ca artbank.caTwitter: @canadacouncil.ca #GGartsFacebook: facebook.com/canadacouncil.ca Advertisement Advertisement Login/Register With: Twitter
Advertisement .For viewers looking for a refresher course in shark slaying, Space has lined up previous SHARKNADO film SHARKNADO: THE 4th AWAKENS (Thursday, July 27 at 9 p.m. ET), before the global apocalypse, along with two all-new shark-tastic films 5- HEADED SHARK ATTACK (Thursday, August 3 at 9 p.m. ET) and EMPIRE OF THE SHARKS (Saturday, August 5 at 8 p.m. ET) Twitter Advertisement Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Facebook Batten down the hatches and stock up on yummy edible provisions, ‘cause the annual summer Sharknado is being tracked to land on Space, Sunday August 6 at 8 p.m. ET.SHARKNADO 5: GLOBAL SWARMING, sees the return of chainsaw-wielding shark hunter Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering, BEVERLY HILLS 90210), his bionic wife April (Tara Reid, American Pie), and Nova Clarke (Cassie Scerbo, MAKE IT OR BREAK IT). Together they’re in a race around the world to save the Shepards’ son Little Gil (Billy Barratt, MR SELFRIDGE) from a traveling ‘nado, and prevent the shark-infested ecological disaster from destroying the Earth. No global landmark is safe, as the Seven Wonders of the World meets Sharknado in the fifth installment of this viral television event.It’s hard to predict the outcome of SHARKNADO 5, but by tracking past Sharknado trends we foresee a fin-tastic, high-octane thriller with a whirlwind of celebrity guests including:Profession skateboarder Tony Hawk as a masterful weapons operative strategistOlivia Newton-John (Grease) and daughter Chloe Lattanzi as Orion and Electra, two brilliant scientists who help defend AustraliaComedian Margaret Cho as a fussy bride whose honeymoon is interrupted by sharksComedian Gilbert Gottfried as storm chaser Ron McDonaldMusician Clay Aiken as Llewelyn, a cutting-edge technology geniusTODAY hosts Al Roker, Kathie Lee Gifford, and Hoda Kotb as themselvesOlympic diving medalists Greg Louganis as Zico, a high-end art thief, and Tom Daley as himselfChris Kattan (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE) as the Prime Minister of EnglandMusician Charo as the Queen of EnglandModel Fabio as the Pope, and more. Advertisement
Advertisement MONTRÉAL – Starting on Friday, the Place des Festivals will be haunted by La Trouble-Fête, part of the official programming for the 375th anniversary of Montréal. A host of free activities will be taking place to celebrate Halloween in a festive atmosphere that is enough to awaken the dead.Wednesday, October 25, starting at 11:30 a.m. – Come check out the zombie bus!In preparation for the official start of La Trouble-Fête this Friday, the zombie bus that roamed our city streets last week will be back tomorrow! It will be at Place Jacques-Cartier from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the Place-des-Arts square (in front of Complexe Desjardins) from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Passers-by will have the chance to have their picture taken with the zombies and hear Catherine Éthier’s chilling stories of Montréal, to get everyone in the mood for a spooky, eerie weekend… Login/Register With: La Trouble-Fête (CNW Group/Société des célébrations du 375e anniversaire de Montréal) Advertisement Twitter Facebook LA TROUBLE-FÊTE IN THREE CHILLING EVENTSFriday, October 27, 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. – The Rise of the DeadWith Yann Perreau, the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal and many others!On Friday evening, some 40 skeletons, demons and their fiery associates will be on hand for the Rise of the Dead. And once stirred from their slumber, Montrealers will just have to kick up their heels, come what may!Starting at 6:30 p.m.: the Trouble-Fête’s Rise of the Dead – pyrotechnic artists, fire breathers, candle lighters, marionettes, visual artists, spooky tales and stories of Montréal in a carnival atmosphere. Face painters on site9 p.m.: Gothic choir and funeral march – Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal with string and piano quartet9:30 p.m.: Electro performance by Yann Perreau, who will put on a devilishly spirited show on the big stage.10:00 p.m.: DJ Stéphane CockeSaturday, October 28, 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. – Zombie WalkThe largest zombie walk in Canada, with over 10,000 zombies roused from their graves by the Trouble-Fête taking over the streets of Montréal!1 p.m.: Site opens and activities: Face painting, competitions, surprise guests.4 p.m.: The fun starts on the Walk siteZombie mariachis, dismembered human marionettes, zombie military marching band and devilish floats5 p.m.: Start of the Zombie Walk.6:30 p.m.: Devilish choreography with 100 zombies, orchestrated by Gardy Fury.Musical programming at nightSunday, October 29, 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. – The Great Wizardry Fest: family activityAn event not to be missed by kids who dream of becoming apprentice witches and warlocks!The Place des Arts’ Esplanade and the Place des Festivals will be transformed into the Order of Junior Sorcerers and Sorceresses of Montréal’s sorcery village.With their Order passport, kids can collect stamps from workshops they take part in: magic wand making, a carrousel, makeup, magic spells and an enchanted forest!Starting at 3 p.m.: Young sorcerers and sorceresses parade to the Place des Festivals to put the Trouble-Fête back to sleep4 p.m.: The Creature finally goes back to sleep: show by Les Petites Tounes.About the Society for the Celebration of Montréal’s 375th AnniversaryThe Society for the Celebration of Montréal’s 375th Anniversary is a non-profit organization whose mission is to organize celebrations and socioeconomic contributions to mark Montréal’s 375th anniversary in 2017. With a focus on promoting Montréal expertise, it acts as a catalyst for local forces in carrying out its mandate: to mobilize the community, implement a funding strategy, rigorously manage public funds, develop quality programming and ensure the visibility of the celebrations.The Society benefits from the support of the Ville de Montréal, the Quebec government, the Canadian government and private funding from 12 Great Montréalers. For more information, see http://www.375mtl.com.Get all the latest news in real time on our Twitter feed: @375Mtl.Follow us on Facebook.To learn more about the contribution of the Quebec government to Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, click here. Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment
Advertisement Advertisement Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott are looking for more GTA homes to renovate in their new series Forever Home. HGTV CANADA GTA residents with homes that need renovating are in luck: two TV series are seeking properties to fix up.Property Brothers: Forever Home has been airing since June 3 on HGTV Canada (and since May 29 in the U.S.) and has proved so popular that another 12 episodes have been ordered. That means property owners in Woodbridge, North York, Etobicoke and Mississauga have a chance to have their houses transformed by stars Drew and Jonathan Scott. Facebook Twitter Advertisement The idea is that the work benefit “deserving families” who need a major renovation, whether it’s someone going through hard times or someone who gives back to their community.The “feel-good renovation series” will be hosted by ET Canada’s Cheryl Hickey and will debut in spring 2020.Go to HomeRenoHelp.com to nominate someone.By Debra Yeo ~ Toronto Star If that sounds like you, go to propertybrothers.com to apply.Meanwhile, the new HGTV Canada series tentatively titled Big Home Overhaul is seeking residents in the GTA, Hamilton and surrounding areas who deserve a major makeover by the network’s star contractors and designers. Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment The production team is looking for homeowners who are “outgoing, energetic, opinionated and fun”; have a need for expert help; a minimum renovation and design budget of $100,000; and up to seven days available for filming, staggered over five to seven weeks.
APTN National NewsIt’s a long way from Parliament Hill to Frobisher Bay.The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about Senate reform and Friday was the deadline for provinces and territories to submit motions in support or against.APTN’s Kent Driscoll set out to see what do people in Nunavut think of the Senate.
APTN National NewsAs details emerge around the massive tailings pond breach in British Columbia it’s been learned the mining company was warned at least twice in the last five years about the pond in question.Mining engineer and a director of Sierra Club Canada Gabriela Rappell joined APTN National News from Ottawa and said the spill could have “huge impacts” on the environment for many years to come, including the local salmon stock.Rappell also believes the BC government needs to take “ strong action” to ensure the company is on the hook for the spill.
Kenneth Jackson APTN National NewsThere have been 54 Indigenous women murdered in jurisdictions patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police since 1964 according to new statistics to be released by the force Wednesday.Of those, eight remained unsolved and another eight Indigenous women are listed as missing dating back to 1957 up to the end of 2014.The OPP began looking at new and historical cases in 2010 and found 125 Indigenous men have been murdered between 1978 to 2014 with one remaining unsolved.There are 40 open cases of missing Indigenous men since 1956.Download (PDF, Unknown)There are 52 jurisdictions not policed by the OPP in Ontario.The OPP are releasing the data Wednesday, but the force previously provided APTN with statistics in May 2014 and said they began looking at cases to determine if serial killers were targeting Indigenous women, which they, at the time, ruled out.That story can be read by clicking here.APTN will update this story when the OPP officially release the data at 10:30 a.m. local time.
APTN National NewsThe RCMP has closed the road the leads to the Muskrat Falls construction site due to “public safety concerns” over an ongoing takeover of the Nalcor offices at the dam according to a release sent out Monday.Police are also warning travelers to expect delays on Hwy. 500, the Trans Labrador highway that runs between Happy Valley Goose Bay and Labrador City to the west.See Related Stories Here: Muskrat FallsInuit and Innu opposed to the planned flooding for the massive Muskrat Falls dam have occupied the offices at the construction site for three days despite a court injunction ordering them to keep their distance.Police so far have not taken action against the people inside the office.In an earlier release from Nalcor, the province’s Crown corporation and lead on the Muskrat Falls project, President Stan Marshall signaled that the occupation is going too far and action will be taken soon.“This morning approximately half of the protestors in the accommodations area began to proceed towards the active construction area. These actions pose a major risk to the safety of everyone at site,” said Marshall in the statement. “This a large-scale construction site with heavy equipment and many hazards which could cause serious injury to persons without proper training and lacking appropriate personal protection apparel. We are extremely concerned with the presence of the outside groups on our site as it puts them and members of our team and contractors at risk.“We are asking the protestors to proceed to the identified safety zone outside the main entrance where they can continue their demonstration in the vicinity without compromising their safety and the safety of others on the work site.”People there who call themselves protectors of the land say the flooding will make hunting and fishing impossible downstream towards Happy Valley Goose Bay, the Innu community of Sheshatsiu and Northwest river.According to Nalcor’s own studies, the flooding, when mixed with vegetation create methylmercury, a email@example.com
Brittany HobsonAPTN NewsA week ago severe fires forced Theresa Eischen and dozens of Little Grand Rapids First Nation members into a school gymnasium for protection while the community waited to be airlifted to Winnipeg.A community-wide evacuation forced 820 members to leave the area located 280 km northeast of Winnipeg.After spending the past week calling a Winnipeg hotel home Eischen is now concerned about the community she left behind.“We’re thinking about home,” said Eischen. “We’re hoping we still have a community to go back to.”As of Wednesday three homes are reported destroyed, according to provincial authorities.Fires continue to burn throughout the area. Fire crews have completed setting up sprinklers to protect homes in Little Grand Rapids.Recent footage taken from the community shows most of the billowing smoke is gone but the damage remains.Collin Meekis, a community health representative in Little Grand Rapids, was part of a crew who went back to the community last weekend.He documented some of the damage both by air and by car on the ground.“It didn’t look too bad from the air. It was still green at least where we live on the north side but on the south side it’s black where the houses burnt down,” said Meekis.Chief and council plan to send another crew up there this week to begin the rebuilding effort.Clinton Keeper, a band councillor, told APTN News they plan to send mechanics, plumbers and volunteers to assist with the clean up.Keeper says it could be another month before members can return home due to damaged power lines. An environmental officer will also be in the community this week to monitor water samples for any damage caused by the ash.While evacuees wait to go home they are left with thoughts of pets left behind and spoiled food.“We’re concerned about all the meat that we have in our freezers,” said Eischen. “I made six trips for my parents to stock up our freezers for the whole year.”Red Cross is working with the community to replace some of the spoiled food.But Keeper says for now the main concern is keeping community members safe from some of the challenges they may face in the city.“One thing that we need to look at too is all the elements that are available in the city,” said Keeper. “I’m talking about drugs and stuff like that. They’re easy to access and we don’t want our young people to experiment on stuff like that. The sooner we get them out of the city the better it will be.”Meekis says some evacuees have already had to face those realities.“Some say that they find used needles and stuff. They have little ones that dig outside,” he said.“Either way it’s dangerous still even though we’re in Winnipeg.”For now, it appears the community has banded together.“It’s about keeping people safe. People who are not normally used to being in the city,” said Eischen.“We have to be vigilant and keep and eye on each other.”
TORONTO – Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (TSX:FFH) has paid nearly $11.8 million to increase its holding of Torstar Corp.’s non-voting shares to 40.6 per cent.The Toronto-based financial company now owns about 28.9 million class B shares of Torstar (TSX:TS.B), owner of the Toronto Star, the Metroland group of newspapers and other digital and print media businesses.Fairfax says it paid $1.25 each for the 9.4 million class B shares. The shares closed Thursday at $1.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, but Fairfax didn’t say when its shares were acquired through a private agreement.Fairfax says it acquired the class B shares for investment purposes but, in future, it may discuss transactions with management or the company’s board of directors.The company has gradually increased its stake over the recent years. Prior to the most recent transaction, it owned 27.3 per cent of the media company’s non-voting shares.Fairfax is a holding company that’s primarily invested in insurance businesses. However, it has also made major investments in other Canadian companies including BlackBerry Ltd., International Forest Products, and Cara Operations.
TORONTO – With the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday approaching, North American stock indices were little changed Wednesday as commodities prices surged and the loonie gained ground.The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index edged down 3.07 points to 16,073.58, despite strong increases in the price of oil and gold.The January crude contract soared US$1.19 to US$58.02 per barrel, its highest level in about 2-1/2 years, and the December gold contract climbed US$10.50 to US$1,292.20 an ounce.There were several reasons that factored into oil’s sharp upward movement, including news that U.S. stockpiles rose less than expected at the end of last week as well as reports that OPEC might extend its cuts in production, said Macan Nia, senior investment strategist at Manulife Investments.Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter in the world, wants the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel to extend this year’s cut in oil production for another nine months. The 14 nation-members of OPEC, as well as other major oil producers including Russia, will meet in Vienna next week to discuss their goals.The closure of TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline due to a leak is also supporting higher oil prices. “That’s taking off-line nearly half a million barrels of oil, so that’s been one of the primary drivers,” noted Nia.Meanwhile, the key driver of gold prices came after the U.S. Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest meeting ended Nov. 1, which painted a more dovish sentiment around inflation, Nia added.While most officials were comfortable raising interest rates soon, a few Fed leaders wanted to wait until there is more evidence inflation is rising. Most experts expect the Fed to raise rates in December, which would be the third increase this year. The Fed says it’s aiming to raise rates three more times next year.“The minutes pointed to the continued befuddlement of the Fed in terms of what has been just the lack of inflation in the system, despite economic growth, despite employment growth, despite wage growth,” said Nia.“As a result you saw gold rally and the U.S. dollar sell-off versus its major peers, including the Canadian dollar.”In currency markets, the loonie was trading at 78.56 cents US, up 0.30 of a U.S. cent.South of the border, most major New York indices fell back at the closing of markets after they finished at all-time highs on Wednesday.The Dow Jones industrial average was down 64.65 points to 23,526.18 and the S&P 500 index lost 1.95 points to 2,597.08. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite index inched up 4.88 points to 6,867.36 to reach a new record high.“Whether you look at the U.S. or in Canada, markets have been flat,” Nia said. “In the U.S., it’s typically low trade volumes as we enter Thanksgiving so expect volumes to be on the lower end leading, really, into next.”Elsewhere in commodities, the January natural gas contract was down five cents at US$3.06 per mmBTU and the December copper contract was up one cent to US$3.14 a pound.U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and trading will end early on Friday.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.
TORONTO – Maple Leaf Foods Inc. says it’s acquiring Seattle-based Field Roast Grain Meat Co. for US$120 million in a bid to further strengthen its position in the alternative proteins market.CEO Michael McCain says the deal aligns with the Toronto-based packaged meats company’s vision to be a leader in sustainable protein.Field Roast has products marketed across North America that include fresh and frozen grain-based roasts and loaves, sausages and frankfurters, burgers, deli slices and appetizers, and Chao brand vegan cheese slices and entrees.The American company, which was founded in 1997, has sales of approximately US$38 million and employs approximately 200 people.Maple Leaf (TSX:MFI) says it expects to finance the purchase, plus related costs, through a combination of cash-on-hand and drawings under its existing credit facility.The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to customary regulatory review and transaction conditions.Earlier this year in February, Maple Leaf bought U.S. company Lightlife Foods, another maker of plant-based protein foods, for US$140 million plus related costs.
TORONTO – A proposed ban on the use of cannabis brand elements on T-shirts and other swag would make it more difficult to stamp out the black market after legalization and have “significant” unintended consequences, licensed producers said Monday.The Senate is set to make a final vote Thursday on an amended Bill C-45 before it goes back to the House of Commons for approval. The amendments include one that would prohibit the use of cannabis brand elements on promotional items that are not marijuana or marijuana accessories.The amendment is “unwarranted” and could have unintended consequences beyond swag, such as barring the use of company logos on retail signage and promotional flyers, said Allan Rewak, executive director of the industry association Cannabis Council of Canada, which represents 80 per cent of licensed producers.“It’s a messy amendment that will have significant implications far beyond than the idea of T-shirts and hats,” he said. “And the appropriate place for such restriction, if they’re warranted, would be in regulation.”Licensed producer Tantalus Labs’ managing director Dan Sutton added that non-cannabis accessories, such as caps with the producer’s branding, are a useful tool in differentiating their products from the illicit marijuana already being purchased.“Black market cannabis is likely to continue to be prevalent … we need all the weapons we can get,” he said.Bill C-45 in its current form already prohibits advertising of cannabis products in traditional radio or television ads. As well, Health Canada unveiled its guidelines for cannabis packaging in March, which requires packages to be a single, uniform colour without images or graphics other than the logo and a health warning. However, the bill does allow companies to distribute promotional products with their brand logo.Sen. Judith Seidman, who put forth the amendment, said we are already seeing a “proliferation” of products such as T-shirts and backpacks with marijuana company logos thanks to the allowance, which undoubtedly appeal to kids and youth.“My amendment fixes that loophole, closes what I could call the backdoor on marijuana marketing,” she said in an interview.Past experience with tobacco showed partial advertising restrictions were ineffective, so it was important to have a full ban in place, said Seidman.“We have a unique opportunity with a new product to do the right thing; we should learn from our past mistakes.”But in order to migrate consumers away from the black market over to the regulated market after pot for recreational use is legalized later this year, licensed producers need to do a certain amount of reasonable, restricted branding, said Cam Battley, chief corporate officer for Aurora Cannabis.People can easily purchase T-shirts and other swag with alcohol branding now, he noted.“Nobody in the legal cannabis sector wants cannabis to be used by underage youth any more than we want youth using alcohol or psychoactive prescription drugs,” Battley said. “The same cannot always be said for operators in the black market.”Seidman said it’s better to start with stricter restrictions and then possibly loosen them later if warranted, since it would be a challenge to add the restrictions later.“It’s pretty impossible to put the genie back in the bottle,” she said.A ban on branded promotional items or “brand stretching” in conjunction with hefty restrictions on packaging and advertising deals a “significant blow” said Patricia McQuillan, president and founder of Brand Matters agency in Toronto. The primary tool for branding is packaging, and after that it would be any promotional items or swag, she noted.“From a pure branding perspective, what’s left?… You can’t put it on the product, now you can’t put it on something non-product related… then how will you effectively brand at all?”
EDMONTON – Alberta’s finance minister says the province’s economic picture is brightening with a lower-than-expected deficit last year thanks in part to higher resource revenues.The government’s 2017-18 annual report shows Alberta ended the fiscal year with an $8-billion deficit. That’s $2.5 billion lower than what was expected in last year’s budget.The NDP government says it’s on track to return to balanced books by 2023-24.“While we’re happy to see our economy on the right track forward, we know the economic recovery has yet to reach every kitchen table in this province. And for us, an economic recovery that doesn’t reach every kitchen table is no recovery at all,” Joe Ceci said Thursday.“That’s why we’re going to continue to make sure the Trans Mountain pipeline gets built. It’s why we’re going to keep working to create jobs and diversify our economy. It’s why we’re going to keep defending funding for our classrooms and hospitals. And it’s why we’re going to continue to make life more affordable for Alberta families.”The report indicates the provincial economy has recovered about two-thirds of what was lost in a recession that began in 2014. It grew by 4.9 per cent last year and is expected to add 2.7 per cent this year.There was $43.4 billion in borrowing for government capital and operational spending at year end and net debt stood at $19.3 billion as of March 31 — about $1 billion lower than forecast.A rebound in the energy sector, driven by improved oil prices, spearheaded the recovery.Non-renewable resource revenue was $5 billion — up $1.9 billion from the previous year and $1.2 billion higher than the budget estimate.Conventional oil and gas drilling was up by 65 per cent. The manufacturing and forestry sectors also saw stronger performance.Despite the welcome boost, the province is trying to be less reliant on the energy sector, Ceci said.“Diversification is critical so that we don’t continue to ride the oil and gas energy roller-coaster, (so) that we see a more flat, predictable revenue source.”Personal and corporate income taxes came in lower than anticipated, by $402 million and $470 million respectively.United Conservative Party finance critic Drew Barnes said the discrepancy shows NDP tax increases are driving away jobs and investment.“If the NDP had focused on removing barriers to free-enterprise and the creation of mortgage-paying jobs instead of tax hikes to cover their rampant spending increases, they could have had higher tax revenues from a stronger economy,” he said.Even though the deficit is expected to be lower than budget predictions, it far exceeds what the NDP was projecting for last year in 2015, when it took office, Barnes added.“It’s not good enough to tell Albertans that the NDP deficit was only eight times what the NDP promised, not ten, just because the government happened to get lucky with resource and investment revenues last year.”— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary
BEIJING, China – As China’s leaders gather for their annual Yellow Sea retreat, the country’s political waters are looking choppy.Chinese President and ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is beset by economic, foreign policy and domestic political challenges just months after clearing his way to rule for as long as he wants as China’s most dominant leader since Mao Zedong.Mounting criticism of the Xi administration’s policies has exposed the risks he faces from amassing so much power: He’s made himself a natural target for blame.“Having concentrated power, Xi is responsible for all policy setbacks and policy failures,” said Joseph Cheng, a retired City University of Hong Kong professor and long-time observer of Chinese politics.Notably, Xi used to dominate state-run newspapers’ front pages and the state broadcaster CCTV’s news bulletins on a daily basis but has in recent weeks made fewer public appearances. “He can’t shift the blame, so he’s responding by taking a lower profile,” Cheng said.The challenges so far aren’t seen as a threat to Xi’s grip on power, but for many Chinese, the government’s credibility is on the line.Of greatest concern to many is the trade war with the U.S. that threatens higher tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese exports. Critics say they’ve yet to see a coherent strategy from Beijing that could guide negotiations with Washington and avoid a major blow to the economy. Beijing instead seems to be opting for defiance and retaliatory measures of its own.Both the stock market and the currency have weakened in response and the Communist Party itself conceded at a meeting last month that external factors were weighing heavily on economic growth.At the same time, a scandal over vaccines has reignited long-held fears over the integrity of the health care industry and the government’s ability to police the sprawling firms that dominate the economy.“Trust is the most important thing and a loss of public confidence in the government could be devastating,” said Zhang Ming, a retired professor of political science in Beijing.And last week, the authorities mobilized a massive security effort to squelch a planned protest in Beijing over the sudden collapse of hundreds of peer-to-peer borrowing schemes that underscore the government’s inability to reform the finance system to cater to small investors.Meanwhile, Xi’s signature project, the trillion-dollar “Belt and Road” initiative to build investment and infrastructure links with 65 nations, is running into headwinds over sticker shock among the countries involved. Some Chinese have also questioned the wisdom of sending vast sums abroad at a time when millions of Chinese remain mired in poverty.That in part plays into concerns over Xi’s abandonment of the highly pragmatic, low-key cautious approach to foreign relations advocated by Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s economic reforms that laid the groundwork for today’s relative prosperity.Leaders are likely to discuss at least some of these challenges during informal discussions at the Beidaihe resort in Hebei province as part of a tradition begun under Mao. Xi and others generally drop out of sight for two weeks or more during the summer session.Xi’s mildly bombastic brand of Chinese triumphalism “has not been popular with many in the party,” leading critics to speak out, said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.Some have even called for the sacking of one prominent proponent of the rising China theme, Tsinghua University economist Hu Angang, with 27 graduates of the elite institution signing a letter to that effect.Resentment lingers also over Xi’s moves to consolidate power, including pushing through the removal of presidential term limits in March and establishing a burgeoning cult of personality.That resentment was given voice in a lengthy jeremiad titled “Imminent Fears, Imminent Hopes” penned by Tsinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun, who warned that, “Yet again people throughout China … are feeling a sense of uncertainty, a mounting anxiety in relation both to the direction the country is taking as well as in regard to their personal security.”“These anxieties have generated something of a nationwide panic,” Xu continued before listing eight areas of concern including stricter controls over ideology, repression of the intelligentsia, excessive foreign aid and “The End of Reform and the Return of Totalitarianism.”Even more boldly, Xu called for a restoration of presidential term limits and a re-evaluation of the 1989 pro-democracy movement centred on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The peaceful protests were crushed by the military and remain a taboo topic to this day.Although Xu is reportedly out of the country and has not been officially sanctioned, another longtime critic, retired professor Sun Wenguang, found himself carted off by police in the middle of a radio interview with the Voice of America in which he railed against China’s lavish spending abroad.A sign of the Xi administration’s anxieties is a new campaign to promote patriotism among intellectuals — a recurring tactic when public debate is seen as needing a course correction.The notice of the new campaign, issued July 31, cites “the broad masses of intellectuals” and the “patriotic spirit of struggle,” while giving little in the way of specifics.Much of the discontent with Xi can be traced to his administration’s perceived ineffectiveness, said Zhang, the retired academic.“If you want to be emperor, you must have great achievements,” Zhang said. “He hasn’t had any, so it’s hard to convince the people.”
Paris monuments and shopping meccas are locked down and tens of thousands of police are taking position around the country, fearing worsening violence in a new round of anti-government protests.President Emmanuel Macron’s government has warned that Saturday’s “yellow vest” protests in Paris will be hijacked by “radicalized and rebellious” crowds and become the most dangerous yet after three weeks of demonstrations.Authorities are deploying barricade-busting armoured vehicles and 8,000 police in the capital alone, part of 89,000 security forces fanned out around France.The Eiffel Tower and Louvre are shut along with hundreds of stores and businesses, fearing damage after rioting last Saturday that saw 130 people injured and the worst urban unrest in Paris in decades.The protesters are angry at Macron and high taxes, among other problems.The Associated Press
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hailed another year of Russian economic growth after a previous period of stagnation.Putin said at an annual news conference summing up the results of the year that Russia’s gross domestic product is set to grow by 1.8 per cent this year, while industrial output has grown faster at 3 per cent.The Russian president noted Thursday that the nation’s hard currency reserves have increased from $432 billion at the start of the year to $464 billion now.The positive statistics follow a difficult period in recent years when Russia’s economy has suffered a combined blow of low oil prices and Western sanctions.Russia’s economy registered 1.5-per cent growth last year following the two-year stagnation.Putin pledged that the government will create incentives to speed up growth.Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Friday:Activision Blizzard Inc., down $4.81 to $46.54The video game publisher announced that its eight-year partnership with game developer Bungie was ending.General Motors Co., up $2.45 to $37.18The automaker predicted strong results for this year and said it doesn’t foresee any more job cuts through 2020.Iridium Communications Inc., up $1.40 to $21.16A SpaceX rocket carrying 10 satellites for the communications company blasted off successfully in California.Marriott International Inc., down 63 cents to $109.42A group of law firms has filed the largest lawsuit yet against the company related to the hotel chain’s huge data breach.Vail Resorts Inc., down $27.30 to $187.33The ski resort company lowered one of its full-year forecasts as fewer guests came in early December.ConocoPhillips, down $1.55 to $66.39Energy companies fell as the price of crude oil turned lower after a nine-day winning streak.Embraer S.A., up 58 cents to $23.23The Brazilian government said it won’t block a deal between the aircraft maker and Boeing Co.PVH Corp., up $6.83 to $105.77The parent company of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger raised its revenue forecasts for the fourth quarter and for 2018.The Associated Press
CALGARY, A.B. – Vermilion Energy Inc. says it’s now the operator of the Corrib natural gas project in Ireland on behalf of partners that include a subsidiary of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Norway’s Equinor.The CPPIB’s Nephin Energy Holdings Ltd. is expected to hold a 43.5 percent interest in the Corrib project after a series of transactions, with Equinor (formerly known as Statoil) owning 36.5 percent and Vermilion holding 20 percent.The project had formerly been operated by a subsidiary of Shell Overseas Holdings Ltd., which sold its 45 percent stake in Corrib to CPPIB, the Canada Pension Plan’s Toronto-based fund manager. Vermilion says it will increase its stake in Corrib from 18.5 percent after acquiring an additional 1.5 percent working interest from CPPIB when its deal with Shell is finalized.Calgary-based Vermilion has producing properties in North America, Europe and Australia.