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EDMONTON — Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley has kicked off her second day of campaigning with a promise to get more value out of the province’s oil and gas products.

She announced the plan at an Edmonton-based fabrication and engineering company.

It aims to unlock $75 billion in investment, create 70,000 jobs and significantly increase the amount of petroleum processed in-province by 2030.

Notley says that will be achieved — if the NDP are re-elected — by doubling incentives for petrochemical and upgrading projects over the next decade to $7 billion.

She says the expanded incentives will be made available on a more flexible, rolling basis.

Notley says it’s time to act like resource owners once again in Alberta, just like under former Progressive Conservative premier Peter Lougheed in the 1970s and 80s.

“We didn’t get where we are today in Alberta by sitting back and waiting for things to happen,” she said Wednesday.

“The world is changing quickly and Albertans expect their government to look forward, not back. Our plan is to make and ship more of the upgraded products the world needs. This will mean finally getting off the boom and bust roller-coaster after decades of talk.”

Notley is to make stops in Red Deer and Lethbridge later today.

Election day is April 16.

The Canadian Press

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TORONTO — Cannabis industry players welcomed the change in the Federal Budget to tax edibles, extracts, oils and concentrates based on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol rather than weight, as it could ease pricing for some products and potentially boost product availability.

However, licensed producers and a patient advocacy group say they are disappointed that medical cannabis will continue to be taxed, despite a campaign calling on Ottawa to exempt patients.

The Liberal government yesterday laid out its 2019 budget which proposed that cannabis edibles, extracts, topicals and oils — which will be legalized in the coming months — be subject to excise duties based on the total quantity of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in the final product, rather than by weight of the cannabis used.

Organigram’s chief executive officer Greg Engel says prices for some products depending on potency could relax, as consumers will now be paying for what is in the final product, not how it was produced.

The Cannabis Council of Canada’s executive director says this change would also make it more financially viable for licensed producers to use low-grade, low-THC cannabis in their inventory that is not suitable for sale to produce edibles and other products once legalized.

Allan Rewak added that under the old regime, licensed producers were disincentivized from utilizing this low-grade unfinished inventory, such as trim and shake, as it would require large volumes to yield enough THC and would be taxed accordingly.

Patient advocacy group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana says it appreciates the government’s move to reduce taxation on certain products, but basing taxation on THC content stigmatizes those who rely on the cannabinoid to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and is “disappointed” that taxes remain on medical cannabis overall.





The Canadian Press

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TORONTO — Rogers Media will sell its seven consumer print and digital publications, including Maclean’s and Chatelaine, to St. Joseph Communications — a privately owned printing and publishing company with a collection of local and national magazines.

St. Joseph will offer jobs to all current employees of Rogers Media Publishing, as part of the deal announced Wednesday..

“We are pleased to add these renowned titles to our portfolio of award-winning media brands and to welcome their dedicated staff into the St. Joseph family,” Tony Gagliano, St. Joseph’s executive chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The deal includes both the French and English editions of Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and Hello! Canada, as well as the digital publications Flare and Canadian Business, which no longer have print editions.

They will join Toronto Life, Weddingbells, Mariage Quebec, Fashion Magazine and more specialized titles such as Quill & Quire and local titles in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto.

The transaction comes after months of unconfirmed reports that Rogers Media, an arm of Rogers Communications Inc., had been negotiating to sell its remaining consumer publications.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed Wednesday. The deal is expected to close next month.

Rogers Media’s exit from magazine publishing comes as parent Rogers Communications — one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies — repositions its media business, which includes the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, the Sportsnet specialty TV channel as well as radio and local TV stations.

“It was a difficult decision, but one we believe is right as we accelerate our strategic vision and reposition our media business for the future,” Rick Brace, president of Rogers Media, said in a statement.

“We are extremely proud of these iconic magazine brands and all the employees who have delivered high-quality content for decades and helped shape Canadian culture and conversation.”

A spokeswoman for Rogers Media said it has about 2,650 full-time employees overall, including 125 full-time employees in publishing.


Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B)

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

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TORONTO — The chief executive of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. says he never cited the protection of 9,000 Canadian jobs as a reason it should be granted a remediation agreement to avoid a criminal trial on allegations the company paid millions of dollars in bribes to obtain government business in Libya.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Neil Bruce said Wednesday if the engineering firm is convicted and barred from bidding on federal contracts here at home its workers would end up working for the Montreal-based company’s foreign rivals.

“There would be a reduction with us but these are talented folks. They’ll get a job,” Bruce said.

“This thing that somehow they’re going to be unemployed is not true because they are highly qualified, highly experienced people.”

Bruce’s comments come as a political storm in Ottawa continues over allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his senior staff and others improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to end a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

Trudeau and his staff have said their only concern was for SNC-Lavalin’s 9,000 jobs, which might be at risk if the company were convicted and then barred from bidding on federal contracts for up to 10 years

The affair has so far cost Trudeau two cabinet ministers, his principal secretary and the country’s top public servant, although he continues to insist no one did anything wrong.

Bruce said about 75 per cent of the company’s rivals have concluded deferred prosecution agreements in their host countries and are free to work in Canada.

Meanwhile, Bruce said he still doesn’t know why the director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould were not open to granting a remediation agreement.

He said SNC-Lavalin employees feel bruised and battered by the last six weeks since a report surfaced that government officials pressured the former attorney general to grant the company a deferred prosecution agreement.

“And I think fundamentally that’s unfair on our employees who had nothing to do with what went on seven to 20 years ago.”

While he’s not surprised that politicians would make hay out of this issue during an election year, Bruce said he’s concerned that policy-makers haven’t been as willing as other countries to defend home-grown companies and their workers.

He said there’s no plans to move the company’s headquarters from Montreal, adding competitors are envious of its shareholder base that is 82 per cent Canadian and led by the Caisse de depot which has helped fund its acquisition of British engineering firm Atkins.

“We see ourselves as Team Canada. We are a global champion, one of few. There’s not many and we’re proud to be Canadian.”


Companies in this story: (TSX:SNC)

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — American whiskey producers are suffering a worsening hangover from the Trump administration’s trade disputes.

Overall exports of bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey fell 11 per cent during the second half of 2018 compared to the prior-year period, as the impact of tariffs started to be felt, the Distilled Spirits Council said in a report Thursday. The drop off was even larger in the European Union, the industry’s biggest export market.

Last month, the council said total American whiskey exports declined by 8.2 per cent between July and November of 2018, but that report did not include December numbers.

“With the full-year data in hand, it is clear that the retaliatory tariffs are having a significant and growing impact on American whiskey exports,” council President and CEO Chris Swonger said in a release. “The damage to American whiskey exports is now accelerating, and this is collateral damage from ongoing global trade disputes.”

American whiskey makers have been caught in the middle since mid-2018, when the EU targeted American whiskey and other U.S. products in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on European steel and aluminum.

Whiskey makers in the U.S. also face retaliatory tariffs in Canada, Mexico, China and Turkey as part of other trade disputes.

Those duties amount to a tax, which producers can either absorb in reduced profits, or pass along to customers through higher prices — and risk losing market share in highly competitive markets.

In the EU, American whiskey exports declined 13.4 per cent in the second half of 2018 when tariffs slammed the brakes on shipments, the council said. It was a much steeper drop than the 8.7 per cent export decline the council had reported for July through November of last year.

The EU still accounted for nearly 60 per cent of total American whiskey exports in 2018. The United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and France are among top export destinations for American spirits. And the end-of-the-year holiday season is traditionally the spirits industry’s strongest sales season.

Large and small American distillers alike are sharing the pain.

Scott Harris, co-founder and general manager of Catoctin Creek Distillery in Virginia, said Thursday that just 1 per cent of its overall 2018 revenues came from Europe, compared with about 11 per cent the prior year. Before the trade disputes erupted, he had hoped the European business would grow to one-fourth of total 2018 revenues.

“Essentially, it just turned off, went off a cliff,” he said of his distillery’s business in Europe.

It’s created a dilemma for Harris — whether to resupply his rye whiskey stocks in Europe to maintain a presence there in hopes the trade conflict ends soon.

“Are we going to take it on the chin and just eat the cost of the tariffs ourselves by lowering our price into Europe just to stay relevant in the market?” he said. “Or are we going to not sell over there?”

He hasn’t decided yet. His distillery’s domestic sales rose 30 per cent last year, but as his sales evaporate in Europe, he sees a “lost opportunity” after working for years to develop markets there.

American whiskey exports to the EU surged by 33 per cent in the first half of 2018, partly due to stockpiling of whiskey supplies by some large American distillers ahead of the tariffs. Smaller distillers, however, didn’t have the luxury of stockpiling. And with those supplies disappearing while trade disputes continue, large distillers are being hit, too.

Spirits industry giant Brown-Forman Corp., best known for its Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey brand, said recently that if the tariffs stay in place, the annualized cost to the Louisville, Kentucky-based company would be about $125 million. The company said it is taking actions to try to mitigate about half of the tariff impact expected in its current fiscal year.

Despite the dramatic slowdown in the second half of 2018, American whiskey exports still managed a 5.1 per cent overall gain in exports last year, to a record $1.18 billion. That was due to a 28 per cent surge in total whiskey exports in the first six months of the year, the council said. But last year’s increase was down sharply from the annual growth rate of 16 per cent in 2017, it said.

Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press

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