These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012.
What you might or might not learn at Oxford
In the wake of Mark Carney’s ascension to the Bank of England, The Telegraph is taking a silly, if fun, swipe at Canadians over what it deems is our image problem.
The idea behind the article is that the Bank of Canada governor is un-Canadian because he studied at Harvard and Oxford, wears “snappy suits” and his hair slicked back, but that he’s proud of being a “maple syrup-drinking, poutine-loving, moose-spotting, beer-swilling ice hockey fan” from the country “affectionately known as ‘America’s attic.’”
It cites a recent Ipsos-Reid survey indicating that almost three-quarters of us display our flag, and that 20 per cent of us would be willing to sport a maple leaf tattoo.
The writer does the piece well – I enjoyed it, presumably because I’m a Canadian with an image problem – but I have to take issue with the suggestion that “we’d struggle to name a single” Canadian who is actually among the “many of our best-loved music, television and sports stars.”
The Telegraph (it's a British paper, by the way) then names Michael J. Fox, Margaret Atwood, Jim Carrey, Williams Shatner, Matthew Perry, Ellen Page, Ryan Gosling, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Alanis Morisette and, inevitably, Céline Dion.
Along with Neil Young, Nelly Furtado, Shania Twain, Pamela Anderson, Greg Rusedski and David Suzuki. The photo is, of course, one of Justin Bieber, one of a “long list of people whom you’d never guess come from Canada.”
By the way, we invented the electric wheelchair, pacemakers, Trivial Pursuit (which I knew), and peanut butter (which I didn’t).
For the record, I love the fact that my daughter Molly sports a maple leaf tattoo. And, by the way, I didn’t know we drink maple syrup.
But, in the spirit of teaching everyone about Canada, and hopefully taken in the same spirit of fun, here are 15 things you might or might not learn at Oxford:
1. Over the past five years, Britain’s pound has plunged 23 per cent, while the Canadian dollar has lost just 0.9 per cent.
2. No one has threatened to take away our triple-A credit rating.
3. Our government doesn’t have to own our banks. (Okay, we’ve only got six of them, but whatever.)
4. We have towns with really cool names, like Dildo and Come By Chance. (And Quebec's Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!)
5. “Knocked up” is way more fun here than “knocked up” there. (So are pasties, but that’s a sexist comment and I don’t want to get in trouble with my wife.)
6. Our central bank deputy governor isn’t named Mr. Bean.
7. We don’t try to tell other countries they can’t club their baby seals.
8. We can get to Florida, and Niagara Falls, faster than you can.
9. We call our air force the Royal Canadian Air Force. (I don't like it, but we do.)
10. We don’t have a royal family whose phones can be hacked so everyone knows they talk about kinky stuff. (Okay, they're our royal family, too.)
11. It’s loonie, not looney.
12. Oil sands sounds so much nicer than tar sands.
13. Some people actually still like the rock band Rush.
14. We have a National Hockey League. They don’t do much, but we have one.
15. Oh, yeah, our central bank governor was born here.
Inmet rebuffs First Quantum
Inmet Mining Corp. says it’s being stalked by First Quantum Minerals Ltd., and has rejected a cash-and-stock takeover bid worth some $5-billion.
The unsolicited offer, which Inmet said today is “highly conditional,” is worth $70 a share, with the cash component at a maximum $2.5-billion and the other half in stock.
“After reviewing the proposal with its financial and legal advisers, Inmet’s board of directors has today notified First Quantum that it has declined to pursue the proposal as it is not in the best interests of Inmet shareholders,” the miner said in a statement.
The Nov. 25 proposal wasn’t the first approach, Inmet said, as it rejected a $62.650-a-share bid late last month.
Nokia sues RIM
Nokia Corp. says Research In Motion Ltd. is in breach of a patent licensing agreement between the two companies and has filed suits in U.S., British and Canadian courts that could halt sales of BlackBerrys at a crucial time for the Canadian smartphone maker, The Globe and Mail's Iain Marlow reports.
In a statement, Nokia said the two companies have had a contract since 2003, but that RIM sought arbitration in 2011 to extend the use of a licensing agreement that related to wireless local access network technology (WLAN), more commonly referred to as WiFi.
A Swedish arbitrator ruled this month against RIM and found that “RIM was in breach of contract and not entitled to manufacture or sell WLAN products without first agreeing royalties with Nokia.” The court cases were launched “with the aim of ending RIM’s breach of contract,” Nokia said.
EPA suspends BP
The Environmental Protection Agency dealt a blow to BP PLC today, temporarily banning the energy giant from new U.S. federal contracts.
That doesn’t affect existing agreements, the EPA said as it unveiled the measure, the result of the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“EPA is taking this action due to BP’s lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company's conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response, as reflected by the filing of a criminal information,” the EPA said.
“On Nov. 15, 2012, BP agreed to plead guilty to 11 counts of misconduct or neglect of ship officers, one count of obstruction of Congress, one misdemeanor count of a violation of the Clean Water Act, and one misdemeanor count of a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, all arising from its conduct leading to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.”
Costco unveils hefty dividend
America's big box store is giving its shareholders a big dividend.
Costco Wholesale Corp. today unveiled a special dividend of $7 a share, in addition to its regular quarterly 27.5-cent payout.
The company also reported sales in November climbed to $8.15-billion (U.S.) from $7.51-billion in the same period last year.
Canadian Tire shakes up ranks
Canadian Tire Corp. is shaking up its senior ranks in a bid to slash costs and streamline operations as it prepares for the arrival of U.S. discount rival Target Corp. next year, The Globe and Mail's Marina Strauss reports.
Among the changes at the retailer, which also today reported an agreement to acquire a hockey chain, are the departures of three senior executives, including Mike Arnett, executive vice-president of corporate development and a longtime Canadian Tire employee, according to sources.
Canadian Tire has been racing to overhaul operations and focus on core, growing categories, such as sporting goods and kitchen products. But it has struggled to make gains in its most important segment – tires and auto parts – in a highly competitive market
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