Loblaws squares off with CRA in $400M tax fight


“Hold on. While the Trudeau government was giving Loblaws $12 million for freezers the company was sheltering $400 million in a Caribbean tax haven. Zero shame–Nathan Cullen, NDP, via Twitter”

Tax agency claims Barbadian subsidiary was little more than a fund to hold cash

A four-week-long Tax Court trial will weigh the government’s claim that Loblaws took steps to have a Barbados-based subsidiary appear to be a foreign bank in order to avoid paying tax. (CBC)

Loblaw Companies Ltd. and the Canada Revenue Agency faced off in Tax Court on Monday over allegations that the retailer’s Barbadian banking subsidiary had been misused for tax avoidance — a long-running dispute that could cost the retailer more than $400 million.

Department of Justice lawyer Elizabeth Chasson said Loblaw Financial Holdings took steps to have Barbados-based Glenhuron Bank Ltd. appear to be a foreign bank in order to avoid paying tax.

“The appellant has tried to make its treasury centre, whose business is to invest surplus cash until needed by its parents or its affiliates, appear to have the attributes necessary to meet the (Foreign Accrual Property ) Income exemption,” she said in her opening statements on Monday.

“It did so to keep hundreds of millions of dollars offshore from paying tax in Canada.” MORE


Canada bans deep-sea mining, oil and gas drilling in marine protected areas

The decision, which also prevents waste dumping and bottom trawling, helps inch Canada closer to its international commitment to protect 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020

Mackenzie River Delta

After two years of advocacy and 70,000 letters sent, conservation organizations across Canada are celebrating the federal government’s decision to prohibit all oil and gas activities in marine protected areas.

“The public played a really big role in this change,” said Stephanie Hewson, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law, in an interview with The Narwhal.

Marine protected areas — known as MPAs — are effectively national parks of the oceans, establishing strict guidelines about what kind of activities can occur in the ecologically sensitive regions. In 2010, Canada signed onto the Aichi Convention to protect biodiversity and the world’s ecosystems, committing to protect 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

The new rules will apply to all marine protected areas in Canada, including marine conservation and marine national wildlife areas, but the greatest effect will be felt in Marine Protected Areas managed under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans — most especially in the Laurentian Channel.

Proposed regulations published in June 2017 for the Laurentian Channel MPA — located between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland — allowed for extensive oil and gas exploration and production.

An access to information request filed by The Narwhal revealed that a close relationship between the oil industry and federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans may have contributed to that proposal.

But on Tuesday, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson announced that four industrial activities — oil and gas, mining, waste dumping and bottom trawling — would be banned in all new marine protected areas, starting with the Laurentian Channel.

This fulfilled recommendations made by a national advisory panel that filed its final report in September 2018.


Ottawa declares climate emergency

Declaring a climate emergency is an important way to inform citizens of the scope of the problem, to setting goals, and to determining actions. Tell Prince Edward County councillors that they need to act! To send an email to all Members of Council as a group, please email council@pecounty.on.ca.

City to spend $250K to speed up studies on renewable energy, emissions

Protesters rallied outside Ottawa City Hall on Apr. 24, 2019, urging city council to declare climate change an emergency. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Ottawa city council has declared climate change an emergency, joining other Canadian municipalities in making the declaration.

Council members who voted for the declaration, including the mayor, say it’s no empty gesture. Wednesday’s vote dedicates $250,000 from the city’s annual Hydro Ottawa dividend to speed up studies aimed at moving the city to renewable energy and meeting greenhouse gas emission targets.

It’s the young people who are inheriting the problems that we’re all responsible for creating.– Coun . Jenna Sudds

Coun. Shawn Menard, who tabled the motion and won support for it at committee last week, said he’s received petitions from schools and has even had children come to his door to air their concerns.

“It’s the young people in the city who are actually leading this effort,” Menard said Wednesday.

Coun. Shawn Menard told the rally that municipalities have control over half of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and can no longer rely on upper levels of government to fight climate change on their behalf. (Kate Porter/CBC)

That resonated with many other councillors including Kanata North’s Jenna Sudds.

“I think it’s important that we give thought to that because it’s the young people who are inheriting the problems that we’re all responsible for creating,” Sudds said.



Don’t think about the nuclear elephant


Take action! Sign the Petition asking Premier Ford to cut your electricity bill by 12% by doing a deal with Quebec.

Tell Premier Ford to make a deal with Quebec

Doug Ford wants you to think about what the federal carbon tax is costing you — even though it will not actually cost 70% of Ontario’s families anything – and not about his failure to deliver on his promise to reduce electricity costs.

In its electricity plan released in March, the Ford government essentially admitted that it could not deliver on the Premier’s promise to reduce electricity costs by 12% while proceeding with high-cost, high-risk nuclear rebuild projects.

That’s why we are once again reminding the Premier that he can keep his promise by making a deal with Quebec to import low-cost water power. Today we’re starting to air radio ads on Barrie radio stations Rock 95 and 107.5 KoolFM calling on the Premier to save Ontarians money by making a deal with Quebec. Please click here to listen to our radio ads.

Instead of printing stickers, redesigning licence plates and generally trying to distract Ontarians from his failure to keep a major cost-saving promise, the Premier should sit down with Quebec Premier Legault and get a deal done. MORE

‘The Big Stall’ details how neoliberal think tanks blocked action on climate change

Neoliberalism is a philosophy that says growth and investor returns not hindered by government taxes and regulations will lead to economic prosperity. It results in the welfare of ordinary citizens and protection of the environment being ignored. It has been suggested that economic prosperity will trickle down to all eventually. On the contrary,experience has shown that neoliberalism results inevitably in a growing income gap in society.

The Bill Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks are Blocking Action on Climate Change in Canada By Donald Gutstein, James Lorimer & Company Ltd. 2018 $24.95

The world’s biggest oil companies knew for years that climate change was real, but they did all they could to derail government action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Donald Gutstein’s latest book, The Big Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks are Blocking Action on Climate Change in Canada is a deep dive into the strategies that Canadian oil companies and their friends have implemented to prevent political action to slow and reverse catastrophic climate change.

The author, a former communications professor and co-director of the media-monitoring project NewsWatch Canada at Simon Fraser University, follows the individuals and organizations that have shaped Canada’s energy and environmental policy over the last four decades.

Gutstein doesn’t neglect the politicians (he devotes a chapter to Alberta NDP leader and just-defeated Premier Rachel Notley), but he spends more time on the players who fly slightly under the public radar or whose impact is felt long after they’ve fallen from view. People like Maurice Strong, appointed the first head of Petro-Canada by Pierre Trudeau and the secretary-general of the UN Conference on the Human Environment, who said in his opening speech that “There is no fundamental conflict between development and the environment.”

That this position, articulated in 1972, could sum up current official Canadian climate change policy, wasn’t inevitable, argues Gutstein. Justin Trudeau’s “clean growth economy” — a mix of investing in ‘green’ technologies and “getting our oil to new markets,” — can be traced to the rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s. But we can’t only blame the ideological context Trudeau inherited. There has been a concerted campaign to stall and prevent significant action on climate change by fossil-fuel industry lobbyists and policy think-tanks. MORE


Scheer: No apologies for secret meetings with oil executives
Canadian Energy Pipeline Association to lobby B.C. government on endangered caribou plans

‘A Civil Rights Issue’: Groups Hope Courts Will Toss Out First-Past-the-Post


Under the first-past-the-post system, when an election results in  majority government dictatorial power is placed in the hands of one man, the prime minister aided by an unelected, hand-picked privy council, who then dictate to the party caucus how they should vote. Is this democracy? Hardly.

With Liberals reneging on electoral reform, advocates pursue charter challenge.

‘In order to see representation, or the impact of your ballot, right now there’s an unhealthy incentive to vote for somebody who’s not your first choice.’ Photo of electoral reform supporters by Ryan Hodnett, Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0.

Two groups wanting the courts to toss out Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system are hoping to file their case before next fall’s federal election.

“It’s an important issue that we think the courts ought to weigh in on, because it’s fundamentally a human rights and civil rights issue,” said Mark Coffin, the executive director of Springtide, a Nova Scotia organization that advocates for more responsive and resilient democratic institutions and leaders.

In provincial and federal elections, “the reality is that the majority of voters cast a vote for a candidate that doesn’t end up in the legislature or the House of Commons,” Coffin said.

He gave the example of Atlantic Canada, where after the last federal election every MP came from the Liberal party, even though many people voted for Conservative and NDP candidates. Or on the flipside, Alberta, where 29 out of 34 MPs are Conservatives, and supporters of other parties are poorly represented.

The result is “large groups of people who for the term of a majority government are just without what we would argue is effective representation, representation that they have an influence in choosing,” Coffin said. MORE