Daily Archives: October 8, 2019

OTTAWA — The vast majority of Canadians pay taxes each year, but a new survey suggests they are prepared to cheat at the margins if they think they can get away with it.The survey for H&R Block Canada found 55% of respondents saying that when dealing with a contractor, they would opt to pay cash to avoid sales taxes.And they are not feeling overly guilty about it either. Only 30% said they thought the avoidance wrong. Among young Canadians aged 18-34, only 17% said it was wrong to avoid paying the sales tax.The findings don’t seem to be related specifically to sales taxes, which range from a low of five% in Alberta to a high of 15.5% in Prince Edward Island.[np-related]A majority of Canadians believe they shouldn’t have to declare bartered transactions, nor do they feel workers in the service industry like waiters and bartenders should need to declare tips as income.“I think it boils down to people feeling they pay enough tax, that they shouldn’t have to pay anymore,” said Cleo Hamel, a senior tax analyst with H&R Block.Another factor may have to do with the recent introduction of the HST combining federal and provincial sales taxes in Ontario and Quebec, which increased the number of services subject to higher combined tax rates.But she said Canadians should be wary of cheating the tax man. If caught, they are liable not just for the tax, but also penalties that can double the amount owing. The government also has the option of prosecuting tax cheats.“If you don’t report and the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) tracks you down, you only end up hurting yourself,” she said. “Not only do you have to pay the tax plus the penalty, you now are a compliance issue with the CRA, so you are putting yourself in a position where you are under scrutiny.”Last year, Statistics Canada estimated the underground economy amounted to about $36 billion in 2008, with personal spending on unreported goods and services comprising about $24 billion of the total.The agency said underground activities were most prevalent in the construction industry, retail trade and accommodation and food services.The good news is that as a percentage of the economy, the agency said evidence suggests underground activities declined from 2.7% of gross domestic product in 1992 to 2.2% in 2008.While tracking the underground economy is difficult, the agency report stated that “identifying and addressing sectors of the economy where the (it) has become widespread, such as construction, home renovation, and hospitality, continues to be a priority for the CRA.”The online survey of adult 1,500 Canadians was conducted by Leger Marketing over three days between July 30 and Aug. 1.The Canadian Press read more

TORONTO — Canada’s biggest newspaper by circulation The Toronto Star is preparing to launch a paywall for its website sometime next year, the newspaper’s publisher said Monday.It’s the latest major Canadian newspaper to ask readers to pay for full access to online content with a digital subscription model.“This move will provide a new source of revenue for the Star that will help support our ability to provide readers of both our print and online editions with the best and most comprehensive package of news and information in Canada,” publisher John Cruickshank said in a note to readers.[np-related]Earlier this year, National Post owner Postmedia began unrolling its own paywall structure at dailies across the country.The Globe and Mail followed with a similar model last week.Newspapers have been looking for new ways to drive revenues as more readers gravitate towards their Internet websites. The shift is eroding print advertising revenues in favour of less lucrative online ad sales.The Toronto Star is owned by Torstar Corp., partial owner of Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. and publisher of the Hamilton Spectator and other daily and community papers throughout Ontario. Torstar reports its third-quarter earnings results on Wednesday.Its announcement came as both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times pulled down their paywalls temporarily so that readers would have unlimited access to their coverage of Hurricane Sandy.Torstar’s B shares were down four cents to $8.66 near midday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. read more

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Monday with energy and gold prices getting a lift in the wake of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 19.18 points to 14,228.66 as traders generally avoided risky assets.The Canadian dollar fell as investors sought the safe-haven status of the U.S. dollar after Russia took effective control of the Crimean peninsula without firing a shot, calling it a necessary protection for the country’s citizens living there. There are worries that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of eastern Ukraine.The loonie lost 0.09 of a cent to 90.21 cents US.U.S. indexes were sharply lower as traders weighed the potential economic consequences of Russia’s move just ahead of the fifth anniversary of the current bull market and the Dow Jones industrials dropped 106.25 points to 16,215.46, the Nasdaq gave back 29.55 points to 4,278.56 and the S&P 500 index fell 9.05 points to 1,850.4On the economic front, U.S. consumer spending rose 0.4 per cent in January following a tiny 0.1 per cent gain in December. Income grew 0.3 per cent in January following no increase at all in December.Investors also looked ahead to the release later in the morning of the Institute for Supply Management’s latest gauge on the manufacturing sector.The gold sector led TSX advancers, up almost three per cent while traders seeking safety pushed April bullion up $26.10 to US$1,347.70 an ounce.The energy sector rose 0.55 per cent as oil prices spiked almost $2 a barrel as Russia’s military advance into Ukraine raised fears of economic sanctions against a country that is one of the world’s major energy producers. The April contract in New York jumped $1.61 to US$104.20 a barrel.The base metals component led decliners, down 1.5 per cent as May copper lost two cents to US$3.16 a pound. Prices for the metal were also pressured by Chinese data as both the official and HSBC versions of the country’s monthly manufacturing survey showed the sector was weaker last month than in January.On the earnings front, Magna International’s (TSX:MG) quarterly net earnings rose 31 per cent from a year ago to US$458 million or $2.03 a share as sales jumped 14 per cent to US$9.17 billion. The company also raised its quarterly dividend by 19 per cent to 38 cents per share and Magna shares gained $2.78 to $101.35.Pengrowth Energy Corp. (TSX:PGF) had an $91.1 million net loss or 17 cents per share during the fourth quarter. Analysts had expected a net loss of three cents a share and its stock added two cents to $7.48.European markets were sharply lower as London’s FTSE 100 index lost 1.66 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX fell 2.95 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 gave back two per cent.Russia’s RTS stock index plunged 10.5 per cent and the ruble, already down nearly 10 per cent this year, fell below 50 to the euro for the first time. read more

SNC-Lavalin awarded contract for Quebec diamond mine in James Bay region MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin has signed a contract with Stornoway Diamonds Inc. to provide project, engineering and construction management services for a diamond mine located in Quebec’s James Bay region.The value of the contract was not announced, however the company said the work included will cover roughly $425 million of the planned capital spending at the project.The Montreal engineering and construction company says it will manage the building of the mineral processing plant, a liquid natural gas power plant and other on-site utilities, including service buildings, water treatment facilities and infrastructure. Work is expected to be finished by December 2016.The roughly $1-billion project is Quebec’s first diamond mine and is being developed by Stornoway Diamond Corp. in a remote area 350 kilometres north of Chibougamau in Northern Quebec. Anticipated average diamond production of 1.6 million carats per year.Stornoway, based in Longueuil, Que., has said commercial production is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2017.The Quebec government has said the 30 months it will take to build facilities will create about 600 jobs, while mining activities will create 475 direct and 600 indirect jobs.Once mining gets underway, the mine is expected to make Quebec the sixth-largest producer of diamonds in the world.Stornoway secured $946 million in funding for the Renard mine with Investissement Quebec and the Caisse de depot et placement, Quebec’s largest pension fund manager, both participating in the financing. The province has a 29% investment in the project, which Economic Development Minister Jacques Daoust has said will translate into $1 billion in taxes and interest for the province. read more

TORONTO — Hydro One says a mild winter and storm-related costs weakened its financial results in the electric utility’s first full quarter as a publicly traded company.Revenue dropped by seven per cent or $122 million to $1.67 billion in the three months ended March 31, compared with $1.81 billion a year earlier.Net income fell nine per cent to $208 million, or 35 cents per share. Adjusted earnings also equalled 35 cents per share, which compared with 38 cents per share a year earlier.[realated_links /]The company (TSX:H) began trading its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange in November after the Ontario government sold about 15 per cent of its equity in the province’s primary electrical grid operator.Its 2015 fourth quarter was also affected by the unusually warm winter — which depressed demand for electricity.The first quarter of 2016 also included costs to recover from an ice storm in March and lost revenue due to the sale of Hydro One Brampton in late 2015. read more

“Government will take a stand. As of now I have told my colleague Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka to engage the US. If you have moved forward (on human rights issue), you should bring that to the knowledge of the US to arrive at a consensual draft which is acceptable to everybody,” Mr. Khurshid told reporters outside Parliament. Meanwhile the Press Trust of India also reported that amid sustained pressure by political parties from Tamil Nadu, the Indian Government has agreed to have a discussion on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue in the Lok Sabha tomorrow.“The issue is planned to be discussed tomorrow. It will be discussed tomorrow,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told the House. The assurance came when AIADMK leader M Thambidurai raised the matter during Zero Hour. “It is a humanitarian issue. It is not an issue on which anybody should stand on ceremony or ego. If it is possible, speak to them directly and find a suitable and acceptable draft,” he said. India has told the Sri Lankan government to work with US and reach a consensus on the draft resolution to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council.The Press Trust of India quoted India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid as saying that he has asked his Sri Lankan counterpart G.L. Peiris to work with the US and report progress if any made on the issue to arrive at a draft which is “acceptable to everybody”. read more

Salley said that he will also raise in Court some of the actions of Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary the Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara thero. He said that among the points he expects to raise in court are the statements made by the monks on Muslims wearing the traditional head dress, customs they follow when consuming food and the halal issue. Muslim Tamil National Alliance (MTNA) leader Azath Salley has decided to file legal action against the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).Salley said that he will go to court against the Budhist organization for making defamatory statements against the Quran. He said that he will submit evidence in court to substantiate his claims against the Bodu Bala Sena. (Colombo Gazette)Report by Indika Sri Aravinda read more

“Last year in Colombo, I met newly elected mayors from across the country, including the mayor of Jaffna from the Tamil north. Their plea was for help to build democratic structures and provide essential services in what is still very much a post-conflict situation. This can best be done at the community level, through local government and civil society,” he said. He says the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, working with the Commonwealth Secretariat and partners in Sri Lanka, is initiating a grass roots programme to do just that, and to assist in the healing of the deep wounds of decades of war. Just days after the Commonwealth Secretariat had backed holding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka,  the Commonwealth Local Government Forum said Sri Lanak needs to be supported in it’s post war journey.In a letter published in the London Financial Times, Carl Wright, Secretary General, Commonwealth Local Government Forum said that Sri Lanka and its democracy need active support as well as constructive criticism in the long journey out of civil war. “In this, we will draw on the experiences of Commonwealth countries that have undergone the same painful and often difficult transition to peace: there is much that the Commonwealth can do to encourage adherence to democratic principles and good practices,” he added.Wright says while it is right to highlight human rights problems it is wrong in saying that the Commonwealth will be discredited by engagement and that the solution is to boycott Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was questioned by the police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) today.Rajapaksa is being questioned on the controversial MIG aircraft deal. The Supreme Court had recently issued an order preventing the FCID from arresting Rajapaksa until a petition filed by him in court is heard. Rajapaksa had filed a petition in Court questioning the the role of the FCID.

Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Kolitha Gunatilleke has been appointed as the new Chief of Defence Staff, the Air Force media unit said.

The Madras High Court Bench has set aside an “illegal conviction and seven-year sentence” imposed by a trial court on three people, alleged to be LTTE sympathisers, on charges of conspiring to smuggle acetone, glycerine, formaldehyde and dicyanamide to Sri Lanka for making explosive substances and indulging in unlawful activities in 2008.Disposing of appeals filed by them, Justice S. Nagamuthu ordered retrial in the case since the ‘Q’ branch police and the lower court had made “grave mistakes” in the trial that led to their conviction on March 4 this year. He pointed out that there were inconsistencies between charges framed against the accused and the charges under which they had been convicted. The judge said that he could not set aside the illegal conviction and let the appellants go scot-free for the errors of the prosecution and the trial court. read more

Kodikara was seen on television pushing a police officer who had attempted to prevent him from getting into a lift at the Presidential commission on serious fraud at the BMICH last week. Kodikara however pushed the police officer resulting in his cap falling on the ground, and got into the lift. (Colombo Gazette) The WPC member was following former President Mahinda Rajapaksa inside the commission office when a police officer attempted to stop him. United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Western Provincial Council (WPC) member Upali Kodikara was released on bail today.He was arrested on Monday for obstructing police duty. He was produced before a Magistrate and remanded till today. read more

Rajapaksa is seen singing together with a few others to the backing of a live band. (Colombo Gazette) A video circulating on social media shows former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s singing skills at work.The video was reportedly recorded recently at a birthday party of a former military officer. <span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>

US Senator John McCain, who spoke widely on Sri Lanka, has died. He was 81 years old at the time of his death.Al-Jazeera reported that McCain, a US senator from Arizona for over three decades, had been battling glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, discovered by his doctors in July 2017. He had not been at the US Capitol in 2018. He also had surgery for an intestinal infection in April of this year. Meghan McCain, one of McCain’s daughters, tweeted a statement, saying: “My father is gone, and I miss him as only an adoring daughter can. But in this loss, and in this sorrow, I take comfort in this: John McCain, hero of the republic and to his little girl, wakes today to something more glorious than anything on this earth.”William Schneider, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera that McCain will be remembered as a “beloved figure, not primarily for his ideology or his partisanship … but because of his personal qualities”. “My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years,” Cindy McCain wrote on Twitter. “He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best.” “Senator John Sidney McCain III died at 4:28pm on August 25, 2018,” read a statement from his office. “With the senator when he passed were his wife Cindy and their family,” the statement added. read more

So far over 8000 kg of beedi leaves have been seized by the Navy this year. (Colombo Gazette) Beedi leaves packed in parcels were found by crew members of a Fast Attack Craft and a Coastal Patrol Vessel of the Sri Lanka Navy, floating in the sea.The leaves were found during a patrol carried out in the seas of Mannartoday (29th March). The beedi leaves which was 1456.1 kg in weight, was packed in 33 parcels. It is suspected that the consignment was smuggled from India. The beedi leaves were  handed over to the customs office in Jaffna for further investigations. read more