OPINION – Carbon math explained! Is Canada making a serious effort to meet its obligations?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

The other day I stumbled across an article in The Economist that represented the first comprehensive, and yet simple explanation of the relationship between carbon in the atmosphere, and global warming.

Scientists and green supporters have explained to us during the past decade or so that global temperature increases must be kept well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, if we wish to avoid the more egregious consequences of climate change. Accordingly, the 2015 Paris Agreement requires that signatories to the Agreement implement programmes to reduce national carbon emissions to levels that are thought to result in global temperatures to be kept in check, and to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”, compared to the 0.9°C temperature rise that has taken place since 1870.

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Opinion – Uproar over federal income tax proposals – have alternatives been considered?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

A good many of Canada’s small business community, notably farmers, incorporated professionals and small business owners are upset over one or more of the income tax changes proposed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau. Change upsets the status quo, and creates winners and losers, and the current proposals are no different. With the federal government being in chronic deficit, it should be no surprise that it is looking for new sources of revenues, and this time, rather than increasing taxes on the middle classes even more, it appears to have found a possible source of revenues that would be paid for by entrepreneurs and professionals, in other words, people of above-average incomes. The current government’s strategy of extracting higher levels of income taxes from upper income Canadians has both merits and significant potential long-term pitfalls neither of which will be discussed here.

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OPINION – NAFTA: Are we ready to deal with the onslaught of curveballs the U.S. will throw at us?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

At a July 25 news conference in Ottawa, CBC reporter David Cochrane asked the PM if he was prepared to accept a renegotiated NAFTA deal that did not contain a dispute resolution mechanism. Mr. Trudeau responded by stating that his government’s goal is to conclude a “renegotiated and improved NAFTA agreement that will grow our economies and help our citizens”, and one which will contain a fair dispute resolution mechanism. Some journalists quoted an unnamed “senior Canadian official” who reportedly said that the PM considers the current dispute resolution chapter (Chapter 19) in NAFTA to be a “red line”, and would walk away from the negotiations if the U.S. insisted on abolishing Chapter 19, as it has demanded. Chapter 19 provides for multinational tribunals to rule on disputes when a NAFTA member wishes to impose anti-dumping duties on exports from another NAFTA member. The provision has been a thorn in the side of the U.S. – of the 71 cases brought before the tribunals over the years, almost 60 per cent sought redress from duties imposed by the U.S.

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OPINION – Is Canada facing its Pearl Harbour?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

I came to Canada in 1967, a year of momentous importance to Canada which, at the time, celebrated its 100th Anniversary, and welcomed the world through Expo ’67. As a young immigrant from Holland, Canada seemed to be a dream come true. I found a well-paying job one day after arrival in Montreal, and the money I earned was sufficient to pay my rent, buy groceries, and enjoy wonderful evenings and weekends at Expo ’67. Life was good. Eager to learn about Canada, its system of government and its economy, things got even better as I learned that “Canada Inc” was well financed, with very low budget deficits, and negligible debt. Practically speaking, unemployment did not exist, and neither did inflation. In my first few years in Montreal, it was not uncommon for me to receive annual pay increases of 10 per cent or more which, because of stable income taxes and near-zero inflation, amounted to sizeable increases in spending power. Unfortunately, the good times did not last and by the early seventies it became evident that things were becoming more difficult.

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Federal Port Review, 2014-2015

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

Canadian Sailings has recently completed another annual study comparing financial and other performance data related to federally-operated Canadian Port Authorities from 2014 to 2015 (Data for 2016 will not be available until July or August). Port of Toronto was not included in the study because its financial statements include the operations of Toronto Island Airport, and are therefore not comparable to those of other ACPA ports.

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OPINION – Should we be worried about Trump’s intention to renegotiate NAFTA?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

The short answer is an unequivocal “yes”. NAFTA came into effect early in 1994, and was Canada’s second major trade deal – the first was the “Auto Pact” negotiated with the United States that came into effect in 1965. The Auto Pact was highly beneficial to Canada, resulting in the rebirth of an automotive manufacturing industry in Canada. However, it did not take long for Americans to realize that Canada appeared to have benefitted more from the Pact than the U.S. had, and complaints about it began to emerge in 1970. Similarly, U.S. complaints about its NAFTA deal with Canada surfaced not long after it came into effect.

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Opinion – What more evidence do we need? Green usually follows the money

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Canadian National Railways was one of three Canadian enterprises to appear on CDP’s Climate “A” list. For more than a decade CN has been the undisputed leader in North American rail efficiency, proving that when business owners streamline their operations to gain maximum productivity while maintaining safety, the environment gains. No, it’s not the reduction in the use of paper that drives measurable green achievements. In CN’s case, among other factors, it’s the utilization of well-maintained, highly efficient rolling stock, it’s the optimization of train lengths, locomotive pulling power, scheduling of crews, and the constant examination of processes and procedures to leave no stone unturned to identify additional opportunities for productivity improvements.

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OPINION – Are we ready to receive the new “refugees”?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

At some time after Prime Minister Diefenbaker ordered the destruction of all existing prototypes of Avro Arrow F-105 interceptors in 1959, the Canadian aerospace industry fell into a tailspin from which it never recovered. Thousands of Canadian aerospace engineers that had devoted their lives to the development of an aircraft whose performance was superior to anything else that existed anywhere at that time found themselves out of work, and without a purpose. The Diefenbaker government, bowing to American pressure, purchased Bomarc missiles to be operated by NORAD, as the new defence shield against possible Soviet attacks from the north, and felt it no longer needed a high-performance interceptor. However, it “covered its bets” two years later when it purchased squadrons of McDonnell F-101 interceptors.

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OPINION – Can we really afford delaying dealing with climate change?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

If you are like me, you may have reacted to the numerous discussions about climate change during the past two decades with degrees of skepticism and a relative lack of interest. After all, with a global population of 7.4 billion people, what can any one person do, particularly when there is very little evidence that big corporations and governments are truly interested in environmental stewardship. Or, what can a relatively small country like Canada, responsible for only 1.6 per cent of global GHG emissions, do to impact the other 98.4 per cent of emissions?

I decided to “check things out”, and share my findings with readers.

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Opinion – Does spending on infrastructure generate the greatest bang for the buck?

By Theo van de Kletersteeg

It is important to note that some of the world’s highly successful economies, such as Switzerland and Japan, have achieved their well-known success despite suffering from present-day low labour productivity growth. An explanation of this apparent contradiction lies in the fact that both countries were and are significant drivers of global innovation.

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