These are stories Report on Business is following Friday, March 27, 2015.
Suddenly, I don't want to go to Indiana. And I'm sure now that some Hoosiers don't want me, either.
I'm not gay, bisexual or transgender, and obviously not a lesbian.
But I was born Jewish, I think I'm an atheist, and I'm sure I've sullied Christianity, at least among the proponents of Indiana's new "religious freedom" law, by marrying a Catholic.
Since Governor Mike Pence signed the act into law yesterday, businesses in Indiana will soon be able to turn people away if they happen to offend their religious beliefs. And critics warn this could affect gay and lesbian customers.
First, so nobody takes this the wrong way, I believe most Hoosiers are welcoming, inclusive and "friendly," as the Indiana Historical Bureau describes them.
There's ample evidence of this, as seen in the backlash from businesses and others, and a grass-roots campaign against this ridiculous measure.
But there are at least 40 Republicans in the Indiana Senate, and those who support them, who are scared to death of gays and lesbians and same-sex marriage. And maybe of me, too.
That, by the way, offends many businesses that have spoken out against the measure.
Conventions have already warned they could leave, and companies such as San Francisco's Salesforce.com have slammed the new act.
Salesforce chief executive officer Marc Benioff, for example, said on Twitter that "today we are canceling all programs that require our customers/employees to travel to Indiana to face discrimination."
Mr. Benioff urged other technology CEOs and industry leaders to pay attention and "to please take a stand."
What it means is that a business could reject you if, say, you wanted to hold a LGBT convention in Indianapolis.
Or, as the group Freedom Indiana put it, a business would have a 'license to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers under the guise of religious beliefs."
Or, as Democratic Senator Greg Taylor told the Indianapolis Star, a business owner would be allowed to "use the Bible to say we can discriminate against who we want to."
Indiana isn't the first state to go down this road, though former governor Jan Brewer of Arizona refused to sign off on such a law last year after a similar backlash.
Several other states have similar laws, as does the federal government.
And some observers say it simply protects a person's rights to follow religious beliefs.
But, according to the Indianapolis Star, some Americans have pushed for legislation after courts upheld same-sex marriage.
And some of the lobbyists who were front and centre in an unsuccessful drive to ban same-sex marriage were at the event when this bill was signed, according to the newspaper.
Unfortunately, too much of the commentary is about Indiana's economy and its ability to draw business, rather than human rights.
The digest to this bill suggests it's all about "religious freedom restoration," and would "prohibit a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest."
That means, by God, that a business person could say no if his or her religious beliefs are compromised.
It also prohibits "an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer." That was an add-on to give lawsuit-wary businesses some peace of mind.
Seriously, why all the fuss, said Gov. Pence.
"The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action," the possible presidential candidate said yesterday.
"This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it," he added after signing the act in what was described as a private ceremony.
And just to drive home the point, he stressed that he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because he supports "the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith."
He didn't mention Canadian Jewish atheists who married Catholics and just happen to be visiting.
- Major gaming convention could leave Indiana over religious freedom bill
- Read the Pence statement
- See the Freedom Indiana site
BlackBerry posts profit
BlackBerry Ltd. says the second phase its turnaround will focus on "sustainable profitability" after having spent the last year on "getting our financial house in order."
As The Globe and Mail's Shane Dingman reports, the smartphone maker today posted a rebound in fourth-quarter profit to $28-million (U.S.), or a nickel a share, from a loss a year earlier of $423-million or 80 cents.
Revenue tumbled to $660-million, hurt by currency fluctuations, from $976-million, while cash flow came in at $76-million.
Cash holdings climbed to almost $3.3-billion.
BlackBerry shares rose when North American markets opened.
"Our focus this past year was on getting our financial house in order while creating a multi-year growth strategy and investing in our product portfolio," said chief executive officer John Chen.
"We now have a very good handle on our margins, and our product roadmaps have been well received," he added in a statement.
"The second half of our turnaround focuses on stabilization of revenue with sustainable profitability and cash generation."
C Series pushed back
Bombardier Inc. says the delivery date of its C Series airliner will be pushed back to 2016 after warning last month such a delay was possible because it doesn't control the process.
The company remains on track to win certification for the plane by the end of this year, chief executive officer Alain Bellemare told reporters today after a special shareholder meeting in Montreal, The Globe and Mail's Nicolas van Praet reports.
That will then set things in motion for the plane's delivery afterward to its first customer, which remains unnamed.
Though Bombardier had been insisting last year that the new airplane would enter into service some time in the second half of 2015, executives with the company have backed away from that commitment more recently.
CNOOC takes hit
China's CNOOC Ltd. has written off hundreds of millions of dollars in overseas assets, marking another setback for the state-run energy giant as it copes with plunging oil prices, The Globe and Mail's Jeff Lewis writes.
The $842-million impairment is tied to properties in North America and the U.K. North Sea, the company said in an investor presentation today.
CNOOC bolstered its presence in both regions after it acquired struggling Nexen Inc. in a contentious 2012 takeover, ushering in new restrictions on state-run firms seeking a foothold in Alberta's oil sands.
CNOOC is seeking to slash expenses this year by as much as 35 per cent from the levels of a year ago.
Quebec plan raises questions
The Quebec government plans to order Internet providers in the province to block certain gambling websites, raising questions about government interference with the Web, The Globe and Mail's Christine Dobby reports.
In its budget yesterday, Quebec said it plans to introduce a legislative amendment to "introduce an illegal website filtering measure" in an effort to increase revenues at its own online gambling portal Espacejeux.
It said the website blocking measure is aimed at improving public health because "illegal websites do not apply the same responsible gaming rules as Espacejeux. They thus pose a risk to the population, especially young people."
However, the idea that ISPs could be required to block specific websites raises questions about government censorship of the Internet.
- Kevin Carmichael: The great central bank freak-out of 2015
- Eric Reguly: Why McDonald's is starved for customers
- Ian McGugan: Are investors being set up for a letdown?
- Richard Littlemore: Vancouver's high-tech makeover
- Alec Scott: Meet the guy who saved Lady Gaga from bankruptcy
Streetwise (for subscribers)
ROB Insight (for subscribers)
- U.S. fourth-quarter growth unrevised at 2.2%; corporate profits fall
- Dow Chemical to take control of Olin in $5-billion deal
- Oil prices fall as Middle East supply fears ease
- Takata sued in Canada over airbag-related vehicle recalls
- Ski-doo maker BRP posts profit on stronger dollar, new vehicles
- Switzerland's UBP to buy RBS's Coutts International
- Upset by Democratic senator, U.S. banks debate halting some campaign donations