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These are stories Report on Business is following Monday, May 12, 2014.

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Credit rating agencies don't, of course, grade Canadian Tire money. But one of the world's biggest gives it what one could consider to be a triple-A.

In a report on Target Corp., Moody's Investors Service explains how Canadian Tire Corp. is one of the country's "most powerful retailers."

I was particularly intrigued by what it has to say about the retailer's money, since I, like many Canadians, grew up with it, and bought a lot of stuff with it.

Here's what Moody's says today in its report:

"One of Canada's most powerful retailers, Canadian Tire, is a concept that is completely foreign to U.S. retail, and its market position and 'hold' over the Canadian consumer is often both misunderstood and underestimated. The company sells products ranging from spark plugs and tires to sporting goods and apparel, with food offered in some of its locations. Its proprietary 'currency,' Canadian Tire money, which is a by-product of its loyalty program, has been accepted across Canada by multiple retailers and could almost be described as a 'sub-fiat' currency."

UN reports bolsters opposition
The United Nations has bolstered the case of First Nations' groups that oppose the proposed oil-sands pipeline projects across British Columbia, with a new report urging Ottawa not to approve resource projects over the objections of aboriginal communities.

In a report released today, the UN's special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, James Anaya, said aboriginal Canadians have expressed concerns over a number of proposed resource projects that they fear will pollute their traditional lands, including Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan's TransMountain expansion.

"As a general rule, resource extraction should not occur on lands subject to aboriginal claims without adequate consultations with, and the free, prior and informed consent of, the indigenous peoples concerned," he wrote, The Globe and Mail's Shawn McCarthy and Jeffrey Jones report.

"Further, Canada should endeavour to put in place a policy framework for implementing the duty to consult that allows for indigenous peoples' genuine input and involvement at the earliest stages of project development."

Allergan rebuffs Valeant
Allergan Inc.'s board has rejected the hostile $47-billion (U.S.) takeover bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., saying it significantly undervalues the company and that Valeant's business is not sustainable.

California Botox maker Allergan also said today it expects to see a boost in earnings per share of 20-to-25 per cent and to continue to produce double-digit revenue growth in 2015, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

The proposal "substantially undervalues Allergan, creates significant uncertainties for the stockholders of Allergan, and is not in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders," Allergan said.

Valeant unveiled its cash and share bid for Allergan in late April. It is backed by high-profile hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management LP has accumulated close to 10 per cent of Allergan shares.

Where we stand
Canadians are paying a lot less for a lot of things compared to consumers in other countries, but the cost of beer is just downright un-Canadian.

A new report from Deutsche Bank, which looks at world prices for everything from dating to buying an iPhone, puts Canada in the middle or bottom of the pack for many things, and ranks our costs high for others.

The report by Sanjeev Sanyal, Deutsche Bank's global strategist in Singapore, notes that price levels, as measured by the International Monetary Fund, put Canada at No. 6 of 19 countries.

Here are some of his findings:

1. Canada is a few spots from the bottom when it comes to the cost of a daily car rental.

2. Toronto ranks No. 20 of 28 cities for the cost of a five-star hotel room.

3. The cost of a two-litre bottle of Coke puts Canada just about in the middle out of 33 cities.

4. Of 19 cities, you can only find a pair of adidas Super Star 2 cheaper in a couple of other countries.

5. A pair of Levi's 501s costs less in Ottawa than in Toronto, of 32 cities measures, and both cities fall in the bottom half of the rankings.

6. Out of 20 countries, the cost of an iPhone is pretty cheap.

7. Toronto ranks high, No. 5, among the top cities of 31 studied, when it comes to public transit costs. Ottawa is only slightly behind.

8. You might find this surprising, but the cost of gas in Toronto and Ottawa is below the top 20 among 33 cities.

9. The cost of renting office space in central business districts is the lowest in Toronto and Ottawa, among 28 cities.

10. Both Toronto and Ottawa are just about halfway down the list for the cost of recruiting university grads, among 22 cities.

11. The cost of a monthly gym membership puts Toronto at No. 20 of 33 cities, and Ottawa at No. 27.

12. Toronto is fairly high up, however, and Ottawa a bit behind, when it comes to basic cab fares for an eight-kilometre ride, Toronto falling just outside the top 11 of 33 cities.

13. Sending roses to your loved one (or anyone else)? Canada ties for second place with Japan, Russia, Britain and the U.S., behind Australia, out of 18 countries.

14. For a country of beer drinkers, this one hurts: Toronto holds the No. 9 spot, out of 32 cities, for the cost of a brew at the local pub. Ottawa comes in at No. 16.

On the cheap
And, according to Deutsche Bank, I may need to redefine "cheap."

Its latest findings show that a "cheap date" in Toronto and Ottawa isn't all that cheap. And that's without the bouquet.

Indeed, it'll cost you more than in many other cities around the world.

The European bank's annual price check looks at the cost, in U.S. dollars, of a night out that factors in taxis, burgers and pop at McDonald's, a movie for two, and some beer.

According to weekend reports, the cheap date index used to include bringing roses, but no longer does.

(I enjoyed reading about the index in the Financial Times, which notes that the bank's researchers "probably aren't getting any, judging by the way they construct their index, which involves a date at McDonald's and doesn't even include flowers.")

Toronto ranks No. 12, at $91.18, just behind New York, at $93.20. London tops the list of 32 countries, at $121.41, followed by Wellington, Edinburgh, Berlin, Sydney, Paris, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Melbourne and Auckland to round out the top 10.

At the bottom is Mumbai, at $23.04.

According to reports, Canada's politicians and many of its civil servants are getting something of a break: Ottawa sits at No. 16, at $71.33.

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