FT: Canada’s muddled Covid response leaves it struggling against third wave

(Photo by Marco Verch / Flickr)

As the US has seemed to get a grip on its Covid-19 crisis, Canadians have been angered by a chaotic government response that has allowed a third wave to take hold and led to a delayed vaccine rollout.

It is a contrast driven home by the fact that Canada’s case count, when adjusted for population, now exceeds that of the US for the first time since the pandemic began.

“It’s such a reversal of how we felt as Canadians for the last four years of Donald Trump,” said David Coletto, chief executive of Abacus Data, a polling firm. “It’s a bizarro world for us to now look down south and say: ‘What do you mean they’re doing better than us?’”

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FT: Canada unveils federal budget to end ‘Covid recession’

Hildenbrand / MSC, CC BY 3.0 DE via Wikimedia Commons

Canada’s finance minister Chrystia Freeland delivered the Liberal government’s first budget since 2019, vowing to “punch our way out of the Covid recession” with C$101bn (US$81bn) in spending over three years.

“This budget is about finishing the fight against Covid,” she said during her budget speech, which she delivered to a nearly empty parliament with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seated nearby. “Our country cannot prosper if we leave hundreds of thousands behind.”

In drafting the budget, Freeland said the government drew motivation from mistakes some countries made in the wake of the 2008-09 recession, which showed “the cost of allowing economic hardship to fester”.

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FT: Canadians seethe over lockdown-defying politicians

Image by kristinekelly from Pixabay

In his Christmas Eve video message, Rod Phillips, finance minister of Canada’s largest province, sat next to a crackling fireplace and commiserated with the people of Ontario that they could not “be in person with as many family and friends as we’d like to”.

In reality Mr Phillips was on vacation at a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St Barts. Despite rushing back after his trip was exposed, he resigned on New Year’s Eve. The daily tally of politicians and government officials who have flouted stay-at-home recommendations to travel abroad over the holidays has sparked outrage in a country that places a premium on following rules and has a low tolerance for hypocrisy in public life.

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FT: Trudeau’s grand, green spending ambitions come at a cost

Justin Trudeau – Prime Minister of Canada, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, as cases and the death toll mounted in Canada, Justin Trudeau and his finance minister, Bill Morneau, sought to assure nervous businesses and households the government had the tools to tackle the crisis.

Now, after racking up a projected C$343bn deficit to stabilise the economy, the acrimonious exit of Mr Morneau from cabinet has spawned a new level of uncertainty at a critical juncture in Canada’s recovery — one that has pitted Mr Trudeau’s ambitious plans for a post-pandemic stimulus barrage against the spectre of unending deficits.

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FT: Chrystia Freeland appointed Canada’s finance minister

Hildenbrand / MSC, CC BY 3.0 DE via Wikimedia Commons

Justin Trudeau has named deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s new finance minister, putting her in charge of steering the country through its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Freeland, a former journalist with the Financial Times who won praise for her handling of trade talks with Washington as foreign affairs minister during the Liberal government’s first term, is the first woman to serve as federal finance minister. Bill Morneau abruptly resigned from the post a day earlier.

In the cabinet shuffle to appoint Ms Freeland, she will keep her current job as deputy prime minister while giving up her role as minister for intergovernmental affairs to Dominic LeBlanc.

In her new job Ms Freeland would oversee the rebuilding of Canada’s economy after the Covid-19 crisis blew a hole in the country’s finances and sent the economy into free fall.

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FT: Can Canada’s property market repeat the success of 2008?

(Source: IDuke / Wikimedia)

For millions of Canadians, home has become a refuge in the battle to slow the spread of Covid-19. But the country is also pinning its hopes on residential property being the lifeline it was in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when a debt-fuelled housing boom became a driving force of the Canadian economy.

Canadian policymakers no doubt hope previous examples of the market’s resilience play out once more.

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FT: Shopify’s swift ascent stirs talk of Canadian ‘curse’

(Source: Klinkow – pixabay.com)

When shares of Shopify surged this week, the Canadian ecommerce giant briefly catapulted past Royal Bank of Canada to become the country’s most valuable company.

So it might seem odd that talk among investors immediately turned to whether the company had just had a hex put on it.

“Can Shopify beat the curse?” asked one money manager on Twitter, while another noted the company had joined the ranks of “cursed securities”.

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FT: Bank of Canada names Tiff Macklem as its next chief

Tiff Macklem (Source: Bank of Canada)

With Canada’s economy facing its deepest recession since the second world war, the government has turned to a Bank of Canada veteran who helped steer the country through the 2008 financial crisis to navigate the pandemic as its new central bank chief.

On Friday Bill Morneau, Canada’s finance minister, announced Tiff Macklem, the former senior deputy governor, will replace Stephen Poloz, the Bank of Canada’s current boss, when his seven-year term ends on June 2.

Mr Macklem, 59, is a veteran of the bank who began his career there in 1984. As the number two to former governor Mark Carney, he played a key role in the bank’s response to the global financial crisis.

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FT: Canada closes borders in attempt to arrest spread of coronavirus

Canada joined a growing number of countries on Monday in closing its borders to most foreigners in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

While the federal government stopped short of restricting citizens of the US from entering the country, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, said that measure had not been ruled out, as preliminary provincial data indicate that a growing number of cases in Canada can be traced to the US.

“At this point we are closing our borders to all non-Canadian and non-permanent residents of Canada,” he said.

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FT: Bombardier bets all on private jets riding out storm

Cabin of a Bombardier Global 7500 at Paris Air Show 2019 (Matti Blume / Wikimedia)

Bombardier’s move to shrink itself from one of the world’s largest manufacturers of planes and trains to solely a maker of private business jets struck analysts as bold when it was announced a little over a month ago.

As panic over coronavirus threatens to flatten the aviation industry and tip the global economy into a deep funk, that decision to bet Bombardier’s entire future on a sector known for its intense turbulence looks increasingly precarious.

“[Bombardier] is in an unenviable position right now of being in an industry that’s very susceptible to a downturn,” said aviation analyst Brian Foley of New Jersey-based Brian Foley Associates. “Companies get nervous when they’re buying a private aircraft and if previous history is any indication, this could be a period of rough sledding for the industry.”

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