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Week In Review

Seals, asbestos and oil: One of these things is not (yet) like the others Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business followed this week.

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Seals, asbestos and oil. As a Sesame Street character might put it, one of these things is not like the other. Yet.

Let's start with seals. (Not the cute babies, the older ones.)

As The Globe and Mail's Gloria Galloway reports, Canada lost out this week at the World Trade Organization, which ruled that a 2010 EU ban on imports of seal pelts, meat and oil may not be in the spirit of free trade, but is okay on moral grounds.

"The EU Seal Regime is not inconsistent with Article 2.2 because it fulfils the objective of addressing the EU public moral concerns on seal welfare to a certain extent, and no alternative measure has been demonstrated to make an equivalent or greater contribution to the fulfilment of the objective as the EU Seal Regime," the WTO panel found.

Canada intends to appeal the decision.

"The WTO panel confirmed Canada's long-standing position that the EU ban is discriminatory and treats Canadian seal products unfairly," the ministers involved said in a statement.

"However, the panel also took the view that such a ban can be justified due to some of the public's concerns regarding seal harvesting," they added.

"Canada remains steadfast in its position that the seal harvest is a humane, sustainable and well-regulated activity."

The seal hunt still has some advocates - Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson aren't among them, of course - because someone's still buying this stuff.

Not so for the asbestos industry, which died amid international pressure because asbestos causes cancer and was banned by several developed countries. And in the face of staunch support by the government.

Which leaves oil, the elephant of the three, as thriving but under pressure on several fronts, particularly where the oil sands are concerned.

(It's not every region that can boast of being referred to by Neil Young as resembling Hiroshima.)

Canada is fighting a European Union proposal that would label oil sands crude dirty, and at the same time fighting for U.S. approval of TransCanada Corp.'s controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Just this week, The Globe and Mail's Shawn McCarthy reported on a memo, from the Canadian embassy energy counsellor in Washington to Ambassador Gary Doer, warning that Keystone was under a new threat because of America's own oil boom.

According to the memo from Paul Connors, penned last summer, the Canadian government shouldn't rely on the notion that Keystone won't boost greenhouse gas emissions. The boom in light oil in the U.S. could be used as a reason for rejecting the pipeline project given that such oil is less GHG-intensive, according to the analysis by Mr. Connors.

The week in Business Briefing

The week in Streetwise (for subscribers)

The week in Economy Lab

The week in ROB Insight (for subscribers)

The week's top news
Rogers Communications Inc. unveiled a $5.2-billion, 12-year deal for national broadcast and digital rights for NHL games, a move that will radically reshape the way Canadians watch hockey and one that shifts the balance of power in the media industry. Steve Ladurantaye analyzes the blockbuster deal.

BlackBerry Ltd.'s new chief shook up the smartphone maker's top ranks, replacing the chief operating officer and chief marketing officer, Sean Silcoff and Eric Atkins report. Also leaving is the chief financial officer.

Sears Canada Inc.'s so-far unsuccessful attempt to find a buyer underscores a fast-changing domestic retail landscape, Marina Strauss writes. The retailer also slashed jobs this week.

There are signs that rents in Toronto’s condo market are on the verge of decreasing, at a time when new landlords are already dealing with low returns, a new report says. Tara Perkins reports.

Saputo Inc.'s battle for control of an Australian dairy producers has escalated into a no-holds-barred fight that analysts warn is the stuff of "La La Land," Bertrand Marotte writes.

Required reading
What does corporate governance look like in Canada? As regulators and investors around the world target long-serving boards, seeking fresh blood, read Janet McFarland’s annual Board Games report.

British Columbia is looking to China to help kick-start its liquefied natural gas industry, Nathan VanderKlippe reports from the Jiangsu LNG terminal.

Canada's nuclear industry is looking to persuade Ontario that it's not dead yet. Our global energy report, Shawn McCarthy, looks ahead to Ontario's long-term energy plan.

Personal finance columnist Rob Carrick looks at house prices and incomes and finds that ...

Authorities in at least six countries have launched probes into possible manipulation of currency markets. Our New York correspondent Joanna Slater looks at the issue and what's at stake.

Follow on Twitter: @michaelbabad

 
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