North American stocks pare gains amid China hiatus ECB stimulus moves

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market rose for a second consecutive session Thursday, but was well off highs of the day despite positive economic news at home and abroad.At midafternoon, the S&P/TSX composite was up 28.20 points at 13,573.45 on top of a 63-point gain on Wednesday as Statistics Canada reported that growth in exports helped shrink the country’s trade deficit in July, indicating the economy is on track for growth in the second half of the year.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average also retreated from a big triple-digit advance that came after the European Central Bank said it stands ready to give the eurozone a bigger dose of stimulus should inflation across the 19-country bloc fail to pick up.The Dow, which soared 293 points on Wednesday, was ahead 24.79 points at 16,376.17 at midafternoon, while the broader S&P 500 gained 3.15 points to 1,952.01. The Nasdaq gave back 11.32 points to 4,738.66.The Canadian dollar rose 0.37 of a U.S. cent to 75.72 cents US amid mixed commodity prices.The benchmark October crude oil contract edged three cents lower to US$46.22 a barrel, while October natural gas gained seven cents to US$2.71 per thousand cubic feet and December copper was up four cents at US$2.37 a pound. December gold retreated $10.50 to US$1,123.10 an ounce.Earlier in the day, European markets soared after ECB president Mario Draghi commented on the bank’s stimulus plans at a news conference. Germany’s DAX closed up 2.7 per cent, France’s CAC-40 up 2.2 per cent and Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.8 per cent.Along with lower interest rates, the ECB is already pumping 60 billion euros a month into the economy through purchases of government and corporate bonds. The program is slated to run at least through September 2016. U.S. traders remain cautious while they await the results of the next policy rate meeting of the Federal Reserve Board, which begins Sept. 17.Chances of a September interest rate hike have diminished amid reports of an economic slowdown in China and recent volatility on global equity markets. However, Fed officials have refused to completely rule out a hike in rates that have been at historic lows since the Great Recession, citing continuing strength in the U.S. economy.One factor that will weigh on the Fed decision will be the U.S. jobs report out Friday. Consensus estimates call for American employers to have created 220,000 jobs last month, with unemployment rate dropping to 5.2 per cent. read more

NAFTA legal challenges by the numbers

OTTAWA — NAFTA Chapter 11 Challenges By the Numbers:84: Total number of foreign investor dispute claims filed under NAFTA since 199439: Total number of investor disputes against Canada under NAFTA24: Total number of investor disputes against Mexico under NAFTA21: Total number of investor disputes against the United States under NAFTA8: Number of cases Canada has lost5: Number of cases Mexico has lost0: Number of cases the U.S. has lost$215 million: Amount Canada has paid in compensation for lost cases$266 million: Amount Mexico has paid in compensation for lost cases27: Number of challenges dismissed22: Number of challenges that are inactive7: Number of challenges that were withdrawn12: Number of challenges that are ongoing read more

Overreaching extensively Notley wants Trans Mountain delays dealt with

CALGARY — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she wants the National Energy Board to move quickly to remove roadblocks on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.The City of Burnaby, B.C., hasn’t issued necessary permits to allow Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. (TSX:KML) to expand its pipeline from the Edmonton area to a tank farm and port in Burnaby.Trans Mountain wants the board to clear the way for work to begin and Notley shares that view.“We are going to push very hard to have that matter heard very quickly, because we think they are overreaching extensively. We should not be allowing projects that are of such national significance to be held up by municipalities using laws for purposes for which they were not intended,” Notley said at an event in Calgary on Friday.“The position of the municipality in that case is not very strong. Delay is not helpful and playing around with authorities in order to create delays is not the way to go.”Kinder Morgan has said that Burnaby’s “failure to act in a timely manner raises serious issues of jurisdiction” related to the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion.The company also wants the board to set up a way to make an “expedited determination” about similar complaints in the future.Also on Friday, the Saskatchewan government said it has applied for intervener status in the energy board hearings on Trans Mountain.Justice Minister Don Morgan said the interprovincial pipeline has already been approved and shouldn’t be held up by a municipality. He said Burnaby is deliberately slowing down an important project for an industry that is just starting to recover from sluggish oil prices.“Saskatchewan has consistently taken the position that once an interprovincial pipeline has been approved by the federal government, provinces and municipalities should not be able to interfere,” Morgan said in a statement.“Our government will continue to advocate for an expansion of pipeline capacity across Canada.”Notley welcomed Saskatchewan’s decision.“The more people that can be engaged in it (the hearing), the better. As I’ve said, we’re not particularly interested in pursuing a delay in that matter.”Kinder Morgan already has energy board and federal approvals to twin the pipeline, more than tripling its capacity, but CEO Steve Kean said recently delays in permits and regulatory approvals mean the project could be almost nine months behind schedule.Notley said she doesn’t see a need for any further intervention by the federal Liberal government.“You have to respect the role of the NEB to a certain degree, so if you push too hard and you undermine the process such that it then becomes subject to challenge, that’s not helpful either,” she said.“We know the federal government has made the decision that the project is to go ahead. That’s what we needed to have happen. I think they are also working fairly hard on the issues that remain of concern to people in B.C.”Notley said she will continue her arguments on the importance of Trans Mountain when she visits British Columbia later this month.The Canadian Press read more

Maldives islands tensed

He said that the Male international airport and the State broadcaster were also under the control of the police and army. Maldives was tensed on Tuesday amidst opposition moves to remove President Mohamed Nasheed from power.A spokesman for the Maldives opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) told The Hub that the Maldives Vice President Dr. Mohommad Wahid was now running the country following overnight violence, “About 800 Police officers gathered at the Republic Square. Several of them are calling for the resignation of President Nasheed. Two Police Officers are issuing commands to these officers separately,” Jamal said.The country’s Supreme Court was to rule on Tuesday on the legitimacy of Nasheed’s Presidency as pressure mounted for him to step downThe protests began after the President ordered the arrest of a top criminal court judge over allegations of corruption. (Report by Easwaran Rutnam) Maldives is a top tourist destination in the world made up of several islands. The protests began after the President ordered the arrest of a top criminal court judge over allegations of corruption. Violence broke out on Monday night as the army and police were deployed to break up protestors gathered at Republic Square.Jamal claimed that a majority of the policemen later supported the protest seeking the removal of Nasheed and this led to a confrontation between the army and police. DQP spokesman Mohamed Maleeh Jamal said that a majority of the police and army were also backing the removal of Nasheed from power. read more

One killed 12 injured

The police said that 6 women were among those injured in the accident. One person was killed and 12 others injured following an accident on the A9 highway in Omanthai last evening, the police media unit said today.The accident involved a bus, a van and a tipper truck. A passenger bus had collided with the van coming on the opposite direction while the tipper truck had then rammed into the van from behind.In all 13 people were injured and admitted to the Vavuniya hospital but the driver of the van later succumbed to his injuries. read more

US Canada slam Lanka at UNHRC

She also said that the government should set visit dates and provide access to UN special procedure mandate holders. The government has so far refused to agree to a visit by the UN special procedure mandate holders. Among those who sought to visit Sri Lanka is the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue. The government also said it was surprised by Canada’s claim of “ongoing violations of human rights and lack of reconciliation in Sri Lanka” when the government’s progress with regard to addressing human rights concerns and reconciliation is being amply demonstrated on the ground, acknowledged by many in the international community, and elaborated comprehensively and in detail at successive Council sessions by our delegation, including during the current Council session.“The significant progress achieved in the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC through the time bound National Plan of Action is well documented in the public domain in a transparent and easily accessible manner, including via its latest Progress Report released in April 2013.  The many facets of reconciliation including resettlement of IDPs, demining, rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants including child soldiers, resolution of land issues, infrastructure development, housing, implementation of the language policy, as well accountability issues are being addressed in a comprehensive manner taking into consideration the aspirations of the affected communities,” the government said.“We also reiterate that as a founding member of the Commonwealth, Sri Lanka is firmly committed to its values and principles. Sri Lanka’s longstanding engagement and commitment to the Commonwealth is known and demonstrated by the undertaking to host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November this year, for which preparations are underway. The reference to the Commonwealth by Canada in this forum is rather puzzling, considering its membership not being universal,” the government said. Canada also raised serious concerns over the situation in Sri Lanka during the 23rd session of the UNHRC last week.The government meanwhile on Friday formally responded to the concerns raised by the US government as well as Canada on Sri Lanka. “In response to the US, we wish to note that every effort is being made by the government to investigate incidents relating to alleged attacks on the media and to prosecute perpetrators of such crimes in instances where they are identified and sufficient evidence is available. Further, our continued and constructive engagement with special procedures is itself evidence of our serious commitment to engagement with the Council and its mechanisms,” the government told the UNHRC at its ongoing 23rd session. The United States brought to the notice of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last week, what it says is a continuation of violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society, and journalists in Sri Lanka.In a statement at the general debate on human rights situations requiring council attention, the US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Eileen Donahoe said that there have been no credible investigations or prosecutions for attacks on journalists and media outlets. read more

Canada notes strength and depth of relationship with Sri Lanka

Addressing the members, the newly elected President Harith Jayasuriya, Director/Chief Marketing Officer, MAC Holdings (Pvt) Ltd thanked Chandev Abhayaratne, the outgoing President, for the immense contribution made towards the growth of Sri Lanka Canada Business Council during the last 2 years. Jayasuriya highlighted the Council’s main objectives as to promote Bilateral Trade, Investment, Technical & Economic Co-Operation, Tourism and Services between Sri Lanka and Canada. He further stressed the need for SLCBC to take leadership in promoting investment and trade initiatives between Sri Lanka and Canada.The AGM was followed by a networking reception for the local business community, stakeholders in the government and international organizations. The key note address of the evening was delivered by Ms. Jeevani Siriwardena, Director General of the Export Development Board (EDB) of Sri Lanka on the agreement between the EDB with Canada’s Trade Facilitation Office (TFO). TFO is a non-government organization in Canada working to source products from developing countries, such as Sri Lanka, and supporting small and medium scale enterprises. The presentation focussed on the nature of the agreement, opportunities such as market orientation programs and market visits, and how Sri Lankan companies can avail themselves of the benefits of the agreement. The High Commissioner of Canada, Shelley Whiting, speaking at the event stated that ‘the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council has been a longstanding partner of the High Commission in promoting Trade. I look forward to innovative initiatives that will showcase the Council’s activities in Sri Lanka and add value to its membership’. She further noted the strength and the depth of relationship between the two countries, the market potential in Sri Lanka and the country’s growth and the opportunities to further trade ties. Canada has noted the strength and the depth of its relationship with Sri Lanka.The High Commission of Canada, as Patron of the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council (SLCBC), hosted the 26th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the SLCBC. A key stakeholder in strengthening the existing bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Canada, the SLCBC operates under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and engages with the High Commission of Canada to further enhance trade ties between the two countries. The membership of the Sri Lanka Canada Business Council is comprised of approximately 60 companies across diverse sectors such as logistics and tourism, imports, exports, manufacturing and services amongst many others. The primary focus of the Council is to facilitate trade between Sri Lanka and Canada, encourage partnerships, exchange of information between the two countries and promote investments. The Business Council also engages with partner organizations in Canada to promote the socio-economic conditions in Sri Lanka.The event is supported by the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) of the Canadian High Commission in Sri Lanka. The TCS is the Canadian government’s network of Trade professionals that promotes Canadian goods and services, facilitates innovation and R&D, as well as builds networks between Sri Lanka and Canada. read more

Former Chilean President appointed new UN human rights chief

The UN chief paid special tribute to Zeid, who is stepping down after one term as the key UN voice on global human rights at the end of this month, saying that he wished “to express my deep gratitude to my good colleague and friend.” Highlighting her role as the first leader of UN Women, between 2010 and 2013, he said she gave “that new entity a dynamic and inspiring start”. He also pointed to her remarkable career as “the first woman to serve as the country’s President, but also as a survivor of brutality by the authorities targeting her and her family, many decades ago”. “Michelle Bachelet brings unique experience to the United Nations and to all of us, and is strongly committed to keeping human rights at the forefront of the work of the United Nations,” he concluded. “She has my full confidence and support, and I ask all Member States and our partners to extend to her their support”.Her predecessor in this position, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who took on the role in September 2014 and who Mr. Guterres described as having served with “leadership, passion, courage and skill” for the past four years, also warmly welcomed her appointment.“She has all the attributes – courage, perseverance, passion, and a deep commitment to human rights – to make her a successful High Commissioner,” he said on Friday in a statement, adding that the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) “looks forward to welcoming her and working under her leadership for the promotion and protection of all human rights, for everyone, everywhere”. Following the announcement, Ms. Bachelet said she was “deeply humbled and honored” to have been entrusted with “this important task.”As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, and at a time when “hatred and inequality are on the rise,” the Secretary-General said it was vital to have a “strong advocate for all human rights” and he “could not think of a better choice”. “She has lived under the darkness of dictatorship,” he continued. “As a physician, she knows the trials of people thirsting for health and yearning to enjoy other vital economic and social rights. And she knows the responsibilities of both national and global leadership”. Michelle Bachelet will be the seventh High Commissioner since the office was created in 1993. The High Commissioner, is the principle official who speaks out for human rights across the whole UN system, strengthening human rights mechanisms; enhancing equality; fighting discrimination in all its forms; strengthening accountability and the rule of law; widening the democratic space and protecting the most vulnerable from all forms of human rights abuse. After a vote on Friday by the United Nations General Assembly in New York, former two-time President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, hailed a “pioneer” by the UN Secretary-General, has officially been appointed as High Commissioner for Human Rights, effective from 1 September.Minutes after she was voted in, UN chief Antonio Guterres told reporters he was “delighted” by the news of her official appointment as Michelle Bachelet “has been as formidable a figure in her native Chile, as she has at the United Nations”. read more

Sri Lanka assures OIC member countries safety of Muslims

He also noted that some of the OIC member countries have provided the assistance of intelligence experts for the counter terror operations. Explaining the successful operations carried out by the security forces and intelligence services, he thanked the envoys for the intelligence expertise and cooperation provided by those countries. The envoys of OIC countries were unanimous in their condemnation of terrorism. However, they urged the President to ensure safety of the Muslim community in the face of some hate speeches of some senior politicians and a section of the clergy. The President assured them that as a Government every possible step has been taken to ensure the safety of all the citizens. President Maithripala Sirisena today met with the Ambassadors and High Commissioners of Muslim countries holding the membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss about the current security situation in the country, the President’s office said.The President thanked the envoys for the cooperation and assistance provided to Sri Lanka at this time of need and urged them to continue to provide economic assistance and lift the travel advisories issued to tourists. He said that current utterances of some interested parties was due to the prevailing political situation as an election is forthcoming.The envoys of Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, UAE, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Qatar, The Maldives, Iraq, Libya, Iran and Oman attended the discussion. Secretary to the President, Udaya R Seniviratne, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Ariyasinha and Additional Secretary Esala Weerakoon were also present. (Colombo Gazette) read more