Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Correction: Harper IS the worst thing that's ever happened to Canada

Dave Thomas: “Harper is probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to Canada.”

Dave Thomas
May 30, 2012

In a wide-ranging interview, SCTV alumnus Dave Thomas - who with Rick Moranis created the iconic Canadian characters Bob and Doug Mackenzie - says that Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is probably “the worst thing that’s ever happened to Canada.”
Thomas made the remarks on the longform interview podcast, “A Bit of a Chat with Ken Plume,” (available on iTunes).
The two and a half hour discussion ranges over Thomas’ entire life and career, including the time he spent growing up in segregated Durham, North Carolina in 1959, where his father, a philosophy professor, was working at Duke University; the family’s return to Canada, where Thomas had a career in advertising as one of Canada’s top copywriters and his move into comedy and in creating the now legendary series, SCTV.
When the discussion ranged into politics, Thomas criticizes both Obama’s inability to curb or regulate Wall Street’s excesses, as well as the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq.

At 1: 35: 30 into the interview, host Ken Plume says, “You can’t even say the grass is always greener, because Canada’s had a Conservative Government.”
Thomas responds, “Oh, yeah. Canada’s just such an absolute suck-up to America. This guy that’s in there right now, Harper, is probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to Canada.
And where Canada had a definition and an identity at one time, with people like Pierre Elliott Trudeau, now it’s just like you’ve got this bird-eyed freak running the country - that’s just - he was in Bush’s pocket, he’s in the pockets of big business. He is the most insidiously conservative - eroding the liberties of Canadians at such an incredible rate that it would make Americans go to their cellars and get their muskets and start shooting. It’s unbelievable.”
Listen to the clip here:
- 30 -

Sunday, May 27, 2012

And to think, this guy makes financing decisions (like killing income trusts) that affect millions of Canadians

NDP leader has remortgaged his home 11 times since early 1980s

A screen grab  Thomas Mulcair’s house at 109 Lynwood Drive, in Beaconsfield, Quebec, via Google Earth.
New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair and his wife have repeatedly refinanced their home west of Montreal, gradually increasing the debt on the property over a series of 11 mortgages, land records show.
Mulcair’s office will not explain why the couple have loaded more and more financing onto the West Island home they’ve lived in since the early 1980s, saying only that it’s a “private matter.”
It is unclear why Mulcair would need to refinance the modest two-garage home in Beaconsfield so many times, bumping the value of the mortgage from $58,000 to $300,000.
Before he became leader, Mulcair enjoyed a successful and well-paid career as a government lawyer and, later, a cabinet minister in the Quebec National Assembly. His wife, Catherine Pinhas, is a psychologist practicing in Montreal. Both their children are now adults with jobs — one is a police officer, the other an engineer.
Mulcair was hit with a judgment from a defamation case in 2005 after he accused former Parti Québécois minister Yves Duhaime of influence peddling. He was ordered to pay Duhaime $95,000, plus legal costs.
He left provincial politics in 2007 and ran for the NDP in a byelection later that year. Even then, he stood to collect on a pension from his years as an MNA. When he was elected that fall, he began earning an MP’s salary that was then set at $150,800.
But in January 2009, he and Pinhas financed the home for the 11th time. They took out a $300,000 mortgage with the Royal Bank of Canada and then paid off the previous $249,000 mortgage from three years earlier.
While there could be a simple explanation for the transactions, none is forthcoming from Mulcair’s office.
“Mr. Mulcair and his wife made these decisions for personal and family reasons,” said George Soule, Mulcair’s press secretary, in an email.
“They are part of their private life.”
If past opposition leaders are any example, Mulcair is likely to become the target of Conservative Party attack ads before the next election. As a New Democrat, his credibility as financial manager will likely figure into the critique.
The serial refinancing of a home does not necessarily indicate personal financial difficulties, however.
There are plenty of entirely legitimate reasons why someone would borrow against a home. He might want to draw on the accumulated equity to remodel, send a child to school, invest in the stock market, buy another home or cottage, or just get a better interest rate.
Other parties would have probably have looked into Mulcair’s property records as part of their due diligence, says former New Democrat strategist and media consultant Ian Capstick.
“Most certainly the Conservatives would know about this,” Capstick said. “Everything about your opponent that is in the public domain is fair game.”
But without more information, Capstick doubts that the mortgages would figure in an attack on the rookie party leader, as the personal finances of Canadian political figures are usually off-limits.
He notes, however, that politicians’ private lives were breached in two recent attacks — Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ divorce file, which a Liberal party staffer leaked in small chunks by Twitter; and late NDP leader Jack Layton’s 1996 visit to a massage parlour, which was publicized by the Conservative-friendly Sun News Network in the final days of the last election campaign.
Before moving to the Montreal area, Mulcair and Pinhas lived in Cap Rouge, outside of Quebec City, where he worked as a lawyer for the Quebec ministry of justice. Mulcair took a job with Alliance Quebec. His wife was listed in mortgage documents as an esthetician.
They paid $64,000 for the home in 1983, with a $56,000 mortgage from the Caisse Populaire du Lac St. Louis at 10.7 per cent interest — the going rate of the day.
Every few years, new financing with the Royal Bank of Canada was registered on the property with mostly increasing values as the amount owing rolled over.
The couple obtained loans in 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2009.
Nearly a year after the last transaction, Mulcair filed a report with the federal ethics commissioner, saying that he taken a line of credit with his wife from the Royal Bank.
Under the MP’s Code of Conduct, material changes in a member’s assets or liabilities must be reported to the ethics commissioner within 60 days.
The value of the line of credit is not specified.
Today, Mulcair earns $157,731 annually as an MP plus a $75,516 stipend as Leader of the Official Opposition. When in Ottawa, he lives for free at the official residence, Stornoway.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Yup. Flaherty's a moron alright

Back in 2006 and 2007 CAITI accurately predicted how Flaherty's moron-based income trust policy would simply serve to drive Canadian investment dollars out of the country, while leaving Canadian assets targets for foreign takeovers. Could Flaherty have been more wrong if he tried?

Trusts begin to make a comeback

Globe and Mail
CALGARY — Nearly six years after Ottawa introduced tax rules that effectively ended the rise of income trusts, a new breed of entrepreneurs is returning to the model, stuffing foreign assets into trusts that generate fat dividends and avoid Canadian corporate taxes.
The trend started in late 2010, when Eagle Energy Trust went public as the first new energy trust to appear following the 2006 rule change. A second, Parallel Energy Trust, followed last year. Now a third, called Argent Energy Trust, has filed a prospectus and is looking to raise $325-million to go public in coming months.
But it’s not just the energy sector. New trusts are being formed to snap up real estate, wind farms and natural gas distribution networks in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Murray Lee, who leads PricewaterhouseCoopers’ cross-border tax practice in Calgary, says he knows of an energy trust and three other non-energy trusts that “have a realistic shot at filing their prospectuses by some time in the third quarter.”
The driving motivation for many of these ventures is falling prices for many assets as a result of the recent economic turmoil – think houses in the southern U.S., or infrastructure in Spain.
“Really, I see this whole thing as a beautiful example of international capital markets integration,” said Bob McCue, who leads Bennett Jones LLP’s tax dispute resolution practice. He has, with Mr. Lee, been among the leaders in establishing the new trust model.
They hope the tax advantages of the trust structure plus the allure of big dividends will create a revival of a market segment tossed on the rocks in 2006, when new tax rules were introduced. Those rules, however, only applied to trust income generated in Canada. Invest in U.S. or overseas assets, and the old rules still apply – as they do to real estate income trusts. In both cases, trusts that distribute their earnings can avoid being taxed in Canada.
That’s why REITs, especially those grabbing U.S. properties, have also seen strong interest. And those building the new trusts say they are unlikely to attract Canadian government interest because they aren’t depriving this country of revenue.
“The basic concept here is that Canada is better off having income that can be taxed in Canada in the hands of shareholders or unitholders,” said Stephen Pincus, chair of the REITs and Income Securities Practice at Goodmans. “And if you have a U.S. portfolio of assets, they would not otherwise produce Canadian tax revenue.”
Canadian investments in U.S. assets aren’t new. The past decade has seen the emergence of TSX-traded companies that deal in U.S. school buses (Student Transportation Inc.), electricity (Atlantic Power Corp.) and hospitals (Medical Facilities Corp.). Canadian markets, which are accustomed to IPOs as small as $100-million, can be a far more favourable place to raise money than the U.S., where IPOs often don’t get off the ground unless they are $1-billion or larger.
But the idea is clearly gaining steam. Mr. Pincus has a client who is in the process of registering a prospectus for a new REIT with U.S. and Canadian assets. Argent is taking a second stab at going public – its first attempt failed, as did that of another would-be energy trust, North American Oil Trust, when markets stumbled last summer,
The experience of the newest crop of trusts has been mixed. Eagle has outperformed other energy companies, and both it and Parallel have successfully raised money in recent weeks. But Parallel units are down below $6.50 from their IPO at $10. Dundee International REIT, another new player that went public last August, is down at a time when other Canadian REITS, like Boardwalk and H&R, are substantially up.
Troubles with new entrants have raised skepticism about the model. Indeed, there are several reasons why the new trusts are different than their predecessors. For one, they introduce currency risk to investors, since they trade in foreign assets. They also may not be tax-free, since they can be subject to tax in the jurisdiction where they operate.
Energy players, such as Argent, face the added obstacle of attempting to raise money to investors currently fleeing oil and gas names. As one investor put it: “Can you imagine trying to sell an energy deal in this market?”
But Brian Prokop, Argent’s chief executive officer, expressed confidence the company will find a big audience among investors who are six years older than they were when the previous trusts went bust – and who may have an even more acute appetite for yield.
“If they were popular back then, they should be more popular now,” he said.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Twitter aids and abets those engaged in fraudulent impersonation

Some pathetic individual thought it would be a good idea to appropriate my name and my image and commence posting comments under that false guise on Twitter. Twitter's sign up procedures are so lax that such an act is easily committed.

Upon learning about this clear cut case of fraudulent impersonation, I informed Twitter of the facts and instructed then to terminate this fraudulent account and to inform me of who was behind this sorry act.  I then had to go through hurdles to validate that I was the real Brent Fullard as opposed to the imposter posting under that name and under my image under Twitter.

Twitter then informed  me of the following:

Thank you for providing this information. We have removed the reported profile from circulation due to violation of the Twitter Rules ( regarding impersonation. Your faxed ID has been shredded.
Twitter Trust and Safety

I again asked Twitter to inform me of who was behind this sorry act. Twitter's response was:

Per our Privacy Policy, Twitter does not release user information except as required by valid legal process.
Twitter Trust and Safety

To which I responded:

Impersonation of this sort is a  criminal offense in Canada. By not releasing the name of the individual who engaged in this fraudulent impersonation, as I have requested, you are aiding and abetting a crime. Is that what Twitter's Privacy Policy is designed to achieve, the aiding and abetting of those engaged in criminal impersonation?