Hurting Canada’s reputation – Castanet.net

The Canadian Press – Nov 25, 2016 / 5:57 am | Story: 181916

Photo: The Canadian Press

Canada’s pipeline gridlock is harming its global reputation as an attractive place to invest in oil and gas projects, says a leading industry group.
Tim McMillan,…

AP Explains: 5 Trump business ties that pose conflicts

NEW YORK, N.Y. – After Ivanka Trump appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” wearing a $10,800 bracelet from her jewelry line, someone at her company sent photos from the interview to fashion writers to drum up free publicity. A firestorm of criticism erupted over the impropriety of profiting off the presidency, and the company apologized.

If only the bracelet brouhaha was the end of it.

Experts on government ethics are warning President-elect Donald Trump that he’ll never shake suspicions of a clash between his private interests and the public good if he doesn’t sell off his vast holdings, which include roughly 500 companies in more than a dozen countries. They say just the appearance of conflicts is likely to tie up the new administration in investigations, lawsuits and squabbles, stoked perhaps by angry Oval Office tweets.

“People are itching to sue Donald Trump and stick him under oath,” said Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush.

In an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday, Trump insisted that the “law’s totally on my side,” and ethics experts agree that federal conflicts of interest rules largely exempt the president from running his businesses the way he pleases while in office. His company, The Trump Organization, had no comment on the conflicts issue, other than a statement reiterating its plans to transfer control of the company to three of the president-elect’s adult children.

Painter doesn’t think that goes far enough. In a letter to Trump last week, he joined watchdog groups and ethics lawyers from both Democratic and Republican administrations in predicting “rampant, inescapable” conflicts that will engulf the new administration if the president-elect does not liquidate his business holdings.

A look at five areas where conflicts may arise:

NEW HOTEL

For use of the government-owned Old Post Office for his new Washington hotel, Trump agreed on annual rent to the government in a contract that was signed more than three years ago.

So what possibly could be the problem now?

Plenty, according to Steven Schooner, a professor of government procurement law at George Washington University who has studied contract. In addition to base rent, the president-elect agreed to additional annual payments based on various financial measures of how well the hotel is doing. Schooner says such payments typically require drawn out negotiations each year.

“How can anyone expect a government employee to negotiate with the Trump family at arm’s length and treat the Trump family like any other contractor?” Schooner asks.

Schooner thinks Trump should terminate the contract because, even if the Trump family acts honourably, the appearance a conflict will spread doubt throughout the contracting system. Federal rules prohibit government employees and elected officials from striking contracting deals with the government for just this reason, though the president is exempted.

“The U.S. government pays over $400 billion in contracts a year,” Schooner says. “Why should other contractors have to follow the rule if the President of the United States doesn’t have to?”

As president, Trump will have the authority to appoint a new head to the General Services Administration, the federal agency that signed the lease with Trump and will negotiate the rent each year.

Business at the hotel could get a lift if foreign dignitaries decide to stay at the new hotel to curry favour with the new president.

In addition to the Washington hotel, Trump Organization leases land from some local governments, including for a golf course in New York City and one in Florida.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Trump’s extensive operations abroad raise the possibility that his foreign policy could be shaped by his business interests, and vice versa. Trump has struck real estate deals in South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Uruguay, Panama, India and Turkey, among other countries.

In June, Turkish media reported that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for Trump’s name to be removed from the Trump Towers in Istanbul because of what Erdogan characterized as anti-Muslim comments by the candidate. A NATO member, Turkey is a key ally in fighting the Islamic State group in Syria.

In India, the newspaper Economic Times reported that Trump held a meeting in New York a week after his election with business partners who put up the Trump Towers Pune in the western part of the country. The president-elect also has a Trump-branded residential tower in nearly Mumbai with another company.

Kenneth Gross, head of political law at the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, says Trump’s business ties will raise suspicions that he is getting special deals abroad because he is president, and that this runs the risk of violating the Emolument Clause. That is a section of the U.S. Constitution that forbids public officials from receiving gifts from foreign governments and foreign-controlled companies without the consent of Congress.

“He can’t avoid conflicts,” said Gross, “unless he sells his assets.”

TRUMP LENDER

One of Trump’s biggest lenders is Deutsche Bank, a German giant in settlement negotiations with the Department of Justice on its role in the mortgage blowup that triggered the 2008 financial crisis. The hit to Deutsche could be substantial, with the government reportedly demanding $14 billion.

Will a Justice Department under Trump go easy on the bank? It’s not clear anyone will know. Trump will nominate the head of that agency, too.

One possible response is for Trump to makes sure the Deutsche case is handled by career civil servants at Justice, and any appointee like the Attorney General is recused. A career civil servant doesn’t have to worry about being fired if he goes against Trump’s wishes, but may still worry about displeasing his bosses connected to the president.

More than 300 positions at Justice are currently held by presidential appointees.

TAX AUDIT

The odds that the IRS will rule against Trump may be no different than before he was elected, but it’s difficult to know for sure.

Trump has cited a long running audit by the Internal Revenue Service in refusing to release his tax returns. If he is under scrutiny, it’s not surprising. In his Oct. 9 debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump confirmed he used a $916 million loss in 1995 to avoid paying federal taxes for years.

The president nominates the commissioner of the IRS who, assuming the Senate approves, serves for five years.

Trump will also get to make appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, which rules on labour disputes. In July, the board ruled against Trump in a case involving workers trying to unionize at the Trump Hotel Las Vegas. The Trump Organization lists six other hotels in the U.S. on its website.

FLURRY OF LAWSUITS

Trump said Friday that he agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits alleging fraud at his Trump University so he could focus on his preparing for his presidency. But this could also bring problems, as Trump himself has acknowledged previously.

“When you start settling cases, you know what happens?” the president-elect said earlier this year. “Everybody sues you because you get known as a settler.”

Painter, the ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, predicts the political divide in Washington is going to make things worse.

“The plaintiff’s lawyers are going to get in there because they can get a good settlement, and Trump’s political enemies are going to egg it on,” says Painter. “You put that all together and you’re going to have a lot of potential for litigation.”

Painter says Trump should sell his ownership stakes to minimize the danger the new president gets distracted by lawsuits. He adds, though, that this is just partial fix. The famously litigious Trump already is facing numerous lawsuits.

Asked to sum up his view on Trump’s situation, Painter replies, “A mess, a mess.”

___

Bernard Condon can be reached at http://twitter.com/BernardFCondon.

Canada wants 18 Super Hornets as a stopgap measure – STLtoday.com

The government of Canada will negotiate to buy 18 new F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters from Boeing, a move that would keep the fighter’s production line in St. Louis operating into the early 2020s.

These aircraft will fill a “capability gap” until Canada can replace its current CF-18 fighter fleet, Canadian officials said at a press conference held Tuesday in Ottawa. 

Canada also will launch a “wide-open and transparent” competition to replace Canada’s aging CF-18 fleet, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said.

The announcement marks a win by Boeing over Lockheed Martin, its archrival in the fighter business.

The previous Conservative government of Canada had planned to buy 65 Lockheed F-35s, the newest fighter in the American arsenal. 

But the cost of the procurement, initially pegged at 9 billion Canadian dollars with a total project cost of CA$16 billion, kept rising as the Canadian dollar lost ground against the U.S. dollar and government estimates were revised. During last year’s national election contest, the Liberal Party of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau labeled the F-35 as too expensive.

Canada wants to replace its fleet of 77 CF-18s, an earlier version of the Hornet built in the 1980s. That fleet is no longer capable of fulfilling Canada’s duty to NATO and to North American air defense at the same time, Canadian defense officials say.

The new F/A-18s will fill the gap while Canada launches a competition for a new aircraft, an effort which may take five years. The F/A-18 has advantages in “interoperability” with the U.S. Air Force in the defense of North America, Canadian officials said.

Canada will negotiate with Boeing over price, with the intention of having some of the work done in Canada, Canadian officials said.

The Pentagon is paying about $70 million each for F/A-18 Super Hornets. At that price, the Canadian purchase would be worth $1.26 billion.

The Pentagon plans to spend nearly $400 billion to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. Canada will continue to play a role in developing the F-35, Canadian officials said.

The likely Canadian order is the second piece of recent good news for Boeing’s St. Louis-based fighter business, which also produces the F-15 Strike Eagle and the E/A-18 Growler. The White House in September approved the $7 billion sale of F/A-18s to Kuwait and F-15s to Qatar.

Those orders were enough to keep the F/A-18 line operating into 2020 and the F-15 line into the next decade.

Boeing employs nearly 15,000 people in St. Louis.

The potential Canadian order drew praise from the St. Louis area’s congressional delegation.

“I am optimistic that this potential deal between Boeing and Canada will continue to increase jobs and boost the St. Louis economy,” said Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin. She said she is working to win approval in Congress for more Super Hornets that the Navy says it needs.

The House passed a defense bill appropriating up to 16 more Super Hornets for the Navy in June, but unrelated differences over funding overseas wars in the Senate have held up congressional negotiators. The current budget for would pay for two more in 2017.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said that Canada’s interest “is even more evidence of the vital role Missouri’s workforce plays in national defense — both at home and for our strategic allies around the world.

“The Super Hornets are an incredibly valuable asset, and Canada’s investment in American-made fighter jets would mean great news for our state’s economy and for the security of the U.S. and our allies.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., agreed, saying that “an opportunity for an increase in Super Hornet production is great news for the hardworking skilled workers of St. Louis.”

Chuck Raasch of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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‘Underestimated’ Trump could change the rules on trade: Don Pittis – CBC.ca

Except for the people who gave up years of their lives negotiating it, there will be few tears in Canada or the United States for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

But after what seems like the final collapse of a seven-year process to co-ordinate trade rules between Canada, the U.S., Japan and a group of nine other nations around the Pacific, what path will world trade take next?

In a very Trumpian innovation, the president-elect announced his new policy by video. And he declared that one of his first acts as president will be to KO the TPP.

‘Potential disaster’

“I’m going to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for this country,” Donald Trump said, speaking his lines straight into the camera.

“Instead we will negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores.”

Even those who were disappointed were not surprised at the demise of the TPP. But it may just be a first step.

“It’s a very perplexing time,” says Robert Wolfe, whose new book, Redesigning Canadian Trade Policies for New Global Realities, may already be in need of a few extra chapters.

APEC-SUMMIT/

U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were key supporters of the TPP, but now Japan will be negotiating with a tough-talking Trump administration. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

 ”With any new president you don’t actually know what they’re going to do until they start doing it,” says Wolfe,

The jobs of treasury secretary, U.S. trade representative and commerce secretary are still vacant, but with a prospective defence job filled by someone with the nickname “Mad Dog” and a leading environment post filled by someone who reportedly doesn’t believe in science, future U.S. trade policy may be more uncertain than usual.

‘We just don’t know’

“You can both say, ‘It’s not that bad’ or ‘Be very, very afraid,’ and we just don’t know,” says Wolfe.

Wolfe says there are some things Canada would like to have in TPP, but the loss of the deal will be “a catastrophe” for the U.S. The reason, he says, is that by cancelling the deal the U.S. will lose credibility in Asia.

Others have said that by dumping TPP, Trump has handed more trade power to China.

In what seems to be an ever-changing presidential policy landscape, Wolfe wonders if Trump will cancel the TPP only to “put lipstick on it” and bring it back in another form.

If he’s right, watch out for the forthcoming Trump Pacific Partnership.

USA-TRUMP/

Trump says he is seriously considering retired marine general James (Mad Dog) Mattis for the job of defence secretary, but trade ministers remain unnamed. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Trade lawyer Katie Sykes says it’s as if the world of trade has turned upside down in a few months.

“We seem to be in a time when what was pretty well-established received wisdom about trade is in flux right now. The Trump victory is the biggest manifestation,” says Sykes, a professor at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C.

She says a 10-year trend to move beyond the World Trade Organization structure toward even closer integration of trade rules — what are called “mega-regional” deals such as TPP, CETA and TTIP — has simply gone off the rails. CETA, Canada’s deal with Europe, remains the only survivor.

But while much of the world has turned against trade, she says that Canada is one country unlikely to turn protectionist. Instead, it will become a global cheerleader for trade.

“It’s so important to our economy,” she says.  

“How is it going to affect us if there is a general global move toward more protectionism and more isolationism? Anyone who’s studied trade history in the 1930s finds that a chilling prospect,” says Sykes.

Public consultation missing

Part of the problem with TPP and the other mega-regional trade deals was the way they were negotiated, according to Barry Appleton, the managing partner at trade law firm Appleton & Associates. 

“Having sophisticated long negotiations that last for seven years and not having public consultations is not a very good way to conduct public policy,” says Appleton. “And it’s not surprising when the deal finally comes out people don’t like it.”

For the political elite, Trump may have come across as unpolished. Others talked down his skills as a businessman. But Appleton says Trump really does understand the art of the business deal. And trade is one of the areas where that is going to pay off.

Three Amigos 20160629

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands in June, but now Trump has threatened to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

“One should never underestimate Donald Trump,” says Appleton, a dual national who has offices in Toronto and Washington.

He says with Trump in the White House the rules of trade have changed. Trump will want to get something concrete for everything he gives up.

And he says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s strategy, which he describes as showing Canada’s hand on NAFTA, is something Trump will take advantage of.

“Tremendous mistake,” he says. “Tremendous mistake.”

“What the government needs is a real good fresh entrepreneurial approach to deal with Mr. Trump,” says Appleton. 

“The thoughtful, academic, scholarly way, which was very appropriate under the Obama administration, is unlikely to be the way that things proceed in the Trump administration.”

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

More analysis by Don Pittis

Gift Guide: Cool tech toys for the kid in your life

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Looking for a cool tech gift for a special kid in your life?

There’s no shortage of fun and fairly educational items these days. New toys for the holidays include little robot friends full of personality and magnetic blocks that snap together to teach the basics of computer programing.

Here are some toys designed to keep kids entertained without sacrificing on education:

___

HANDS-ON TECH

Tablet screens and apps haven’t gone away, but they’re just not enough on their own. With these toys, kids can create and build with their hands, not just a tablet.

— Osmo. As kids arrange magnetic blocks or puzzle pieces, their creations show up on the iPad thanks to a mirror attached to the tablet’s camera. By arranging blocks, for instance, kids put together lines of code to guide an on-screen monster. Another game teaches entrepreneurial and math skills by letting kids run their own pizza shop. The base set costs $30. You then buy add-ons, such as coding for $50 and the pizza business for $40. It works only with iPads for now.

— Makey Makey. You connect one end to a computer’s USB port and the other to any material that conducts electricity, such as coins or even a banana. Kids can then turn bananas into keyboards and pencil drawings into controls for video games. The basic set costs $25, though for $50, you get additional clips and connector wires.

— Meccano sets. This is for the tween or young teen who is handy with a wrench and has a lot of time. Even the trio of smaller Micronoids sets ($40) require a decent amount of time and significant motor skills. The larger models, such as the $140 Meccanoid 2.0, can take the better part of a day to construct. Once assembled, these robots can be programed to dance, play games and interact with each other.

— Illumicraft. Don’t let the girly colours or rainbow stickers turn you off. The $20 kit combines science and crafting to introduce basic circuitry. Projects include light-up diaries, jewelry organizers, smartphone speakers and picture frames.

— Code This Drone. Software company Tynker and drone maker Parrot have joined forces to create this kit, which includes a drone and a one-year subscription to Tynker’s education service. The kit costs $100 to $150 depending on the drone selected. It teaches the basics of coding through games played with an app-controlled mini drone. Kids can program their own flight plan of flips and turns, or build their own game to send an on-app through an obstacle course, as the real drone mirrors the movements.

___

CODING FOR PRESCHOOLERS?

Parents with dreams of future high-tech careers are eager for their children to learn computer programming. And some toy makers say it’s never too early to introduce coding concepts, even if a child is still in diapers.

— Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar. Kids as young as 3 can “write” code by snapping together a $50 toy caterpillar. Each section signifies a command, such as “go straight” or “play sounds.” Hit the execute button to send the toy crawling in the chosen order. Older kids can program Code-a-Pillar to reach targets placed across a room, or send it through an obstacle course of their own creation. While the kids aren’t learning a coding language, the toy does try to teach cause and effect, as well as problem solving.

— Coji. As its name implies, this $60 mini robot teaches pre-readers to code with emojis. It also reacts when you tilt or shake it, and you can control it with your phone or tablet.

— Code & Go Robot Mouse Activity Set. With this $60 toy, kids build a maze with plastic squares and dividers, then program their mouse to make its way through to the cheese at the end.

___

ROBOTS WITH PERSONALITY

Kids want more than robots they can guide with a remote or smartphone. Kids want personality, a little friend to whom they can relate and who recognizes them.

— Cozmo. This $180, palm-sized robot is expressive, adorable and fun to play with. A team of animators designed more than 500 reactions for the robot to pick from when it sees someone it recognizes, wins or loses a game, or completes a task. The result is a very cute and human-like buddy — think Pixar’s Wall-E.

— CHiP. This $200 robot doggie cuddles, plays fetch and follows you around your house. When he’s close to running out of juice, he even heads over to his charging pad and parks himself. This little guy is very loud when he zips around the room, so apartment-dwellers with hardwood floors might want to invest in a rug.

___

ADDITIONAL REALITIES

“Pokemon Go” isn’t the only way kids can play with augmented reality, the blending of the real and virtual worlds. And there are toys that make virtual reality affordable.

— Airhogs Connect. With this $150 system, kids use an app to fly an included drone over a sensor pad that, combined with a phone or tablet’s camera, places the drone into the game on the screen. As the physical drone moves, so does the one in the game. Kids fly the drone through hoops and shoot down alien invaders. Play is limited by the drone’s estimated 10-minute flying time.

— VR Real Feel Virtual Reality Car Racing Gaming System. This $30 car racing game includes a wireless steering wheel and a virtual-reality headset you stick your phone into. It’s not the fanciest VR technology, but it’s a lot of fun for what you pay. The system is set to ship on Dec. 12.

___

Follow Bree Fowler at https://twitter.com/APBreeFowler . Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/bree-fowler .

___

Online:

AP’s look at how tech toys are going back to the basics:

http://apne.ws/2ghszag

Get ready to build! Hand-on toys that teach are hot

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Toys that teach aren’t a new thing, but a growing number are calling for kids to build with blocks, circuits or everyday items before reaching for a tablet screen.

Play is how kids learn about the world around them, whether it’s a toddler throwing a ball or teens playing video games. It’s about seeing how things work and what happens when they do something. And over the years, toys have gotten more high tech to keep screen-obsessed children engaged with such play.

But there’s growing worry among parents and educators that toys are moving too far in that direction. Educational toys that have a math and science bent — marketed under the umbrella of STEM — are now trying to get back to the basics: less screen time, more hands-on activities.

“When kids use their hands, your outcomes are much higher,” said Pramod Sharma, CEO of one such toy company, Osmo. “It’s very different than if they’re just staring at a screen watching TV.”

With Osmo, kids learn everything from spelling to coding not by touching a screen, but by snapping together magnetic blocks. A screen is still part of it; an image is beamed onto an iPad through its camera. But the idea is to have kids learn first with their hands, then see their creation move to the screen.

LEARN BY BUILDING

Educators agree that whether you’re talking about a toddler playing with blocks, or a teen building a computer from scratch, the act of putting something together helps educational concepts sink in.

“The way the world comes to us is actually through tactile activities, so tactile toys where we build stuff are incredible helpful,” said Karen Sobel-Lojeski, who studies the effects of technology on children’s brain development at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York.

Bloxels attempts to bridge the physical and the digital. Kids build their own video games by putting plastic blocks in a special tray, instead of writing out code. Using a phone or tablet’s camera, an app transforms the shapes created with the blocks into digital characters and scenery.

Makey Makey, a startup founded by a pair of MIT students, asks kids to come up with their own electronic creations by combining software, circuits and everyday items like bananas and doughnuts.

GOOD, BUT POPULAR?

Sobel-Lojeski said toys are most educational when kids can learn how things work by building. But Juli Lennett, a toy industry analyst at NPD, said such toys are rarely on kids’ wish lists.

On the other hand, tech toys that have subtle educational value, but aren’t specifically marketed as such, can be strong sellers. Lennett cites Fisher-Price’s Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar, which introduces basic coding concepts by letting preschoolers assemble segments that each tells the caterpillar to do something different, such as “turn left” or “play sound.”

“I’m not sure that kids are asking for it, or that their parents just want their kids to go to Harvard, but it’s definitely one of the top-selling toys this holiday,” Lennett said.

Tracy Achinger, a former automotive engineer in Shelby Township, Michigan, said her 8-year-old son got interested in coding after starting computer programing classes this year. So for Christmas, she’s buying him an Ozobot, a golf ball-sized robot that kids can program by drawing different colored lines or using a kid-friendly, block-based programing language.

TECH HAS ITS LIMITS

Achinger’s 3-year-old son will be getting an iPad this year. She said she isn’t against screen time, but believes parents need to keep an eye on what their kids are watching and playing. She said her older son has been playing creative games such as “Minecraft” for a few years.

“We try to keep it educational,” Achinger said. “I really think those kinds of games get their imaginations going as they create their own worlds.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its guidelines to shift the emphasis away from banning screen time and toward balancing high-quality content with non-screen activities.

That doesn’t mean every toy with a screen is educational. Barbie has her own smart home in the form of the voice-activated and Wi-Fi-connected Hello Dreamhouse. And new versions of Elmo, Furby and the Cabbage Patch Kids have apps, which Lennett said are often more about branding than learning.

Sobel-Lojeski said slapping an app on a previously low-tech toy can backfire. Instead of letting the child imagine how a particular toy would talk or behave, the app fills in those holes.

“It cuts the child off from play that is much more important for development,” she said.

Some of the drive for tech in toys comes from parents who believe that the younger their kids are exposed to technology, the more prepared they will be for a lucrative career someday.

But Sobel-Lojeski said Albert Einstein came up with breakthroughs without ever touching a computer, let alone tech toys at a young age.

“We can easily be tricked into thinking that all this stuff is going to make our kids more intelligent or better scientists and that’s just not true,” she said.

___

RESIST THE SCREEN

Companies that make computers for kids also see the value in a construction element.

Kano shows kids how to build their own computers in a kid-friendly storybook format.

Kano co-founder Alex Klein said he had to resist suggestions to just put Kano into app form and skip the computer construction all together. He said the act of building a computer was key because it “created a huge sense of energy and momentum for what followed on screen.”

But Klein said screens aren’t going away anytime soon.

“You can’t compete with screens with kids,” he said. “So, for us it’s not about trying to push against what this next generation thinks is good or likes. It’s about providing a new angle on it that’s more creative.”

___

Follow Bree Fowler at https://twitter.com/APBreeFowler . Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/bree-fowler .

Marijuana is becoming a billion-dollar business in Canada. Now all it has to do is become legal. – Washington Post

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By William Marsden November 22


Section grower Morgan Blenk sorts marijuana plants at Tweed Marijuana Inc. in Smiths Falls, Ontario, on March 19, 2014. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

MONTREAL — It’s been a wild ride for Canada’s marijuana companies, whose stocks enjoyed an exhilarating high in recent days before mellowing out.

Last week, marijuana stocks suddenly skyrocketed, leaving market analysts bewildered. The enormous upswing in stock prices was even more amazing given that the government is giving every indication it plans to go slow in its promise to legalize recreational marijuana use — a move that the government estimates would unleash a $5 billion to $7 billion Canadian industry.

Stock in the largest marijuana company, Canopy Growth Corp., leapfrogged last Wednesday to a high of $17.86, from $9.75 Canadian. The increase happened so fast that the Toronto Stock Exchange issued four stop-trading orders during the day after the stock rose more than 10 percent in five minutes. More than 24 million shares traded that day.

The trading drove the company’s market cap to more than $2 billion Canadian even though its most recent quarterly financials showed total revenue of only $8.5 million.

Canada’s other four publicly traded pot stocks also showed large increases, but nothing like front-runner Canopy.

While the increases may have gotten a boost from pot legalization votes in four U.S. states, Neal Gilmer, a marijuana stock analyst for Mackie Research Capital in Toronto, said nothing in the fundamentals accounts for the sudden upswing — which was followed days later by a drop back to more normal levels.

“There is no fundamental change in the outlook for the industry,” he said. “It’s obviously just a sign that there is a lot more interest. There’s more buying and selling that drove the prices up, no one particular event.”

The price increases come a few weeks before the Canadian government’s nine-member Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation is scheduled to deliver its report.

Comprised primarily of medical and legal experts who have in the past expressed their support for legalization, the task force has received about 30,000 submissions from groups and individuals and has visited U.S. states such as Colorado and Oregon to study their legislative experiences with marijuana.

The government has promised legislation to legalize marijuana next spring. In Canada, marijuana comes under federal jurisdiction, unlike in the United States, where regulation is shared by the states and federal government. Since 2000, Canadians have been allowed to possess and grow small amounts of pot for medical use. The government began licensing such companies as Canopy Growth in 2014 to grow mass amounts of marijuana to meet a growing demand from patients suffering from diseases that cause chronic pain, seizures and nerve problems.

“The task force will use what it has heard to advise the government on the design of the legislation and the regulatory framework that will include a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has promised.

Anne McLellan, the task force’s chairwoman and a former Liberal cabinet minister who now is an adviser to a law firm that has pot-related companies as clients, recently stated that she believes the government should tread lightly with legalization.

“One of the things we have learned, or we have heard . . . from states like Washington and Colorado . . . is take your time because it’s much harder to pull something back,” she told the Toronto Star.

She said that she was particularly concerned about packaging in Colorado that makes edible pot resemble candy.

The Canadian Medical Association also has recommended a “go-slow” approach. Although it has not taken a stand on legalization, it said in a recent report to the task force that recreational use of marijuana should be banned for people under 21.

It also recommends that levels of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in pot, should be restricted for people under 25 because their brains are still developing.

The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs has also recommended a minimum legal age limit but has left the designation to health professionals.

A joint submission to the task force by the Arthritis Society, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana and the Canadian AIDS Society recommended that regulations would ensure that supplies of medical marijuana held priority over recreational use.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Canopy had never made a profit.

Read more:

Justin Trudeau may have made the best case for legal pot ever

Canada has just approved prescription heroin

Marijuana is becoming a billion-dollar business in Canada. Now all it has to do is become legal. – Washington Post

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By William Marsden November 22


Section grower Morgan Blenk sorts marijuana plants at Tweed Marijuana Inc. in Smiths Falls, Ontario, on March 19, 2014. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

MONTREAL — It’s been a wild ride for Canada’s marijuana companies, whose stocks enjoyed an exhilarating high in recent days before mellowing out.

Last week, marijuana stocks suddenly skyrocketed, leaving market analysts bewildered. The enormous upswing in stock prices was even more amazing given that the government is giving every indication it plans to go slow in its promise to legalize recreational marijuana use — a move that the government estimates would unleash a $5 billion to $7 billion Canadian industry.

Stock in the largest marijuana company, Canopy Growth Corp., leapfrogged last Wednesday to a high of $17.86, from $9.75 Canadian. The increase happened so fast that the Toronto Stock Exchange issued four stop-trading orders during the day after the stock rose more than 10 percent in five minutes. More than 24 million shares traded that day.

The trading drove the company’s market cap to more than $2 billion Canadian even though its most recent quarterly financials showed total revenue of only $8.5 million.

Canada’s other four publicly traded pot stocks also showed large increases, but nothing like front-runner Canopy.

While the increases may have gotten a boost from pot legalization votes in four U.S. states, Neal Gilmer, a marijuana stock analyst for Mackie Research Capital in Toronto, said nothing in the fundamentals accounts for the sudden upswing — which was followed days later by a drop back to more normal levels.

“There is no fundamental change in the outlook for the industry,” he said. “It’s obviously just a sign that there is a lot more interest. There’s more buying and selling that drove the prices up, no one particular event.”

The price increases come a few weeks before the Canadian government’s nine-member Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation is scheduled to deliver its report.

Comprised primarily of medical and legal experts who have in the past expressed their support for legalization, the task force has received about 30,000 submissions from groups and individuals and has visited U.S. states such as Colorado and Oregon to study their legislative experiences with marijuana.

The government has promised legislation to legalize marijuana next spring. In Canada, marijuana comes under federal jurisdiction, unlike in the United States, where regulation is shared by the states and federal government. Since 2000, Canadians have been allowed to possess and grow small amounts of pot for medical use. The government began licensing such companies as Canopy Growth in 2014 to grow mass amounts of marijuana to meet a growing demand from patients suffering from diseases that cause chronic pain, seizures and nerve problems.

“The task force will use what it has heard to advise the government on the design of the legislation and the regulatory framework that will include a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has promised.

Anne McLellan, the task force’s chairwoman and a former Liberal cabinet minister who now is an adviser to a law firm that has pot-related companies as clients, recently stated that she believes the government should tread lightly with legalization.

“One of the things we have learned, or we have heard . . . from states like Washington and Colorado . . . is take your time because it’s much harder to pull something back,” she told the Toronto Star.

She said that she was particularly concerned about packaging in Colorado that makes edible pot resemble candy.

The Canadian Medical Association also has recommended a “go-slow” approach. Although it has not taken a stand on legalization, it said in a recent report to the task force that recreational use of marijuana should be banned for people under 21.

It also recommends that levels of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in pot, should be restricted for people under 25 because their brains are still developing.

The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs has also recommended a minimum legal age limit but has left the designation to health professionals.

A joint submission to the task force by the Arthritis Society, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana and the Canadian AIDS Society recommended that regulations would ensure that supplies of medical marijuana held priority over recreational use.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Canopy had never made a profit.

Read more:

Justin Trudeau may have made the best case for legal pot ever

Canada has just approved prescription heroin

Officials: US OKs Airbus sale of over 100 planes to Iran

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has green-lighted the sale of more than 100 Airbus planes to Iran, officials said Tuesday. It is the latest U.S. license for commercial activity with the Islamic republic following last year’s nuclear deal.

Airbus in September received a license to sell 17 planes to Tehran. Two U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter said the European manufacturer got permission Monday to export 106 more. The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

Airbus needs Treasury Department approval because at least 10 per cent of the plane’s components are American-made. Hoping to replace its aging fleet of 1970s U.S. aircraft, Iran has agreed to purchase tens of billions of dollars’ worth of planes from Airbus and its American competitor, the Boeing Co.

But both deals rest on precarious ground. President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to re-negotiate President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement, the seven-nation deal that imposed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for the end of wide-ranging oil, trade and financial sanctions.

And last week, the Republican-led House moved decisively to bar the sale of commercial aircraft to Iran. The bill must now clear the Senate, where the measure will likely face stiff opposition from Democrats. Obama would veto the bill if it reaches his desk, according to the White House, but Trump could view things differently once he is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

In a letter to Obama on Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan and two other top Republican lawmakers urged the president “not to take any action that would weaken United States or multilateral sanctions or other restrictions against Iran in this post-election period.”

“We respectfully request that your administration take no further actions designed to bolster international investment in Iran,” said the letter, also signed by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, and Rep. Ed Royce, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman. A smooth transition, they said, means providing Trump the “opportunity to assess United States policy toward Iran” without new complications.

In response, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said any decisions related to Iran would reflect “actions that have been in the pipeline for quite some time.”

The Treasury Department echoed that sentiment, saying the United States already had committed to licensing the export of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran and the U.S. would fulfil that commitment. The licenses include strict requirements that planes be used exclusively for commercial passenger use and not resold or transferred.

The planes are intended for Iran Air, whose sanctions were removed in January, and not Mahan Air, a company backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and used for ferrying weapons and fighters to Syria’s military. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces are accused of widespread human rights atrocities in their 5 1/2-year civil war against rebels backed by the United States.

In January, Iran Air signed agreements to buy 118 planes from Airbus, estimated to be worth roughly $25 billion. Iranian officials also have spoken of 112 planes being bought. The two Treasury Department licenses would authorize a sale of 123 planes.

Airbus’ base model A320 lists at an average of about $100 million. The A330 costs more than double that amount.

Under Boeing’s deal, Iran Air will buy 80 aircraft with a total list price of $17.6 billion. Deliveries are supposed to begin in 2017 and run until 2025. Iran Air also will lease 29 new Boeing 737s, making the deal worth as much as $25 billion in total.

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Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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