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Next pope should be Canadian (We’ve already got Bank of England, Gap, Royal Mail …) Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.

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Let's have the next pope be Canadian
The betting site paddypower.com – for our purposes, let’s call it an options market - gives Canadian Marc Cardinal Ouellet the best odds, at this point, of being selected the next pope after the surprise resignation today of Benedict XVI.

Paddy Power gives the Canadian odds of 5 to 2. At the same time, a Wall Street Journal colleague quipped on Twitter about how we already have the Bank of England. All of which got me to thinking, well, why not? Canadians have been making their mark globally of late, so we may as well have the Holy See, too.

Consider:

Mark Carney was just poached from the Bank of Canada to take over as governor of the Bank of England, which isn’t quite as old as the Vatican, but you can still measure its history in centuries. (On Twitter today was this comment from a Bloomberg reporter: “Have to figure if Mark Carney had known the papacy was available he wouldn't have taken the BOE job so quick.”

Canada’s Moya Greene heads Britain’s Royal Mail.

Glenn Murphy is CEO of Gap Inc.

Stephen Elop runs Nokia Corp.

Dominic Barton is worldwide managing director of McKinsey & Co.

Italian-Canadian Sergio Marchionne heads up the Fiat group.

Former Dorval executive Normand Boivin is chief operating officer at Heathrow Airport.

Michael Rapino is chief of Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

Mitch Garber runs Caesars Entertainment.

Sue Gardner is executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

And, of course, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, in space since mid-December, who’ll take over as commander of the International Space Station in March.

And the list goes on ...

Telecom hearings begin
A coalition of consumer groups is asking Canada's telecom regulator to apply its new wireless code of conduct to all cellular contracts regardless of when those documents were signed, The Globe and Mail's Rita Trichur reports.

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the Consumers’ Association of Canada and the Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of British Columbia made that request on the first day of public hearings on the creation of new national standards that will govern the $19-billion wireless industry.

The applicability of the code to existing contracts is shaping up to be one of the most contentious issues of these hearings. Major carriers have long argued that applying the code retroactively would be largely unmanageable.

Australia probes tech prices
An Australian government committee is calling the giants of the technology world to a hearing into price discrepancies, similar to Canada’s own probe of the difference in consumer prices for U.S. goods.

Unlike in Canada, the Australian probe relates only to IT products, and it’s a simmering issue Down Under.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications said today it summonsed Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. to appear at a hearing in Canberra March 22.

“Australian consumers often pay much higher prices for hardware and software than people in other countries,” the committee said today in calling the companies to their hearing.

The committee has been probing the issue for months, and held its first public hearing last summer.

“Australians are often forced to pay more for IT hardware and software than consumers in overseas markets,” MP Nick Champion, who chairs the committee, said when the probe was launched last May.

It is investing everything from hardware and software, including music, e-books and games.

Consumer advocates complain that tech products, from music to games, costs markedly more in Australia than in the United States.

The consumer group Choice, which welcomed the move today, says, for example, that Australians pay, on average, 34 per cent more for software, 52 per cent more for iTunes music, 88 per cent more for Wii games, and 41 per cent more for hardware than in the United States.

Apple and Microsoft have submitted arguments to the committee already, saying there are many factors to consider, including the costs of shipping.

Last week in Canada, a Senate committee issued a lengthy report into the discrepancies between prices in Canada and the United States, and found a raft of reasons.

Currency wars in spotlight
Pressure is building on politicians to ease concerns over a global currency war.

G20 finance ministers and central bankers meet later this week in Moscow, and are expected to discuss the mounting concerns.

Other reports suggest the smaller G7, which includes Canada, is preparing a statement on currency manipulation.

This has been a growing concern, particularly of late, amid moves by Japan’s new government to deal with a soaring yen. France’s prime minister is also fretting over the strength of the euro, and, just last week, Venezuela devalued its currency.

This also promises to be an issue for finance ministers of the 17-member euro zone, who meet today in advance of the G20 summit, though they're also discussing a bailout of Cyprus.

“This week’s eurogroup finance ministers meeting is likely to focus on the recent rise in the value of the single currency after a difference of opinion between Germany and France last week in the wake of Japan’s aggressive stance in weakening the value of the yen,” said senior analyst Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

“His comment that currency values should reflect fundamentals is a sound one; however that is a tricky balancing act when talking about the euro given the widely diverging fundamentals between Germany and the rest of Europe.”

How Canada ranks
Canada ranks ninth in the world for wind energy installations, after a year which saw the industry grow by 19 per cent around the globe, The Globe and Mail's Richard Blackwell reports.

According to statistics released today by the Global Wind Energy Council, there were 44,700 megawatts of wind power capacity added around the world in 2012, putting the total at 282,500 MW. That is almost a tenfold increase over the past decade.

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