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Foreign affairs minister says Biden win is 'good news' for Canada – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says the election of Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is “good news” for Canada, expressing optimism about the future of the Canada-U.S. relationship after four years with outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump at the helm.

“I’m really hopeful, as I think all Canadians are feeling today… think about climate change, think about the COVID response, think about the economic recovery plan,” Champagne said in an interview on CTV’s Question Period.

The foreign affairs minister said the change of leadership in the United States will mean “new opportunities and possibilities” for Canada. 

“Those are the words that came up in the president-elect’s speech yesterday,” Champagne said, referencing Biden’s acceptance speech in Delaware on Saturday night in which he called on Americans to set aside their differences.  

“Whether it’s about climate change, whether it’s about the big challenge we have like COVID, rebuilding the economy, I am very hopeful because when you look at the challenges that the world is facing we’re certainly going to be renewing our engagement,” the foreign affairs minister said. 

“This is the most important relationship I would say for Canada… Whether it’s on the international stage, whether it’s in our bilateral relationship, this is good news and we’ll be able to work very well with the administration,” Champagne said, predicting the pair will bring “more stability and predictability” to the relationship. 

The election was called for Biden and Harris on Saturday, when the Democrats secured 290 electoral college votes by picking up the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona, with still outstanding calls in Georgia, North Carolina, and Alaska. 

On Saturday, political leaders in Canada were quick to offer their congratulations to the pair, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying he is “really looking forward” to working together.

While Trump has yet to concede, and outstanding recounts and legal challenges are set to proceed, Champagne said that Canada is hoping for a “smooth transition,” but plans are in place for all scenarios over the next two months. 

The Biden team has already got to work on a transition, with a top focus on a new COVID-19 task force of scientists and doctors who will help him address the still-surging pandemic as soon as he’s inaugurated in January. 

“I will spare no effort, none, or any commitment to turn around this pandemic,” Biden said.

Until January, Trump remains president and will be in charge of addressing the ongoing health crisis in that country. As of Sunday there are more than 50,000 Americans currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and since election day, record numbers of new daily cases have been reported. 

Asked what he thinks Biden will do differently than Trump on the COVID-19 response, Champagne said “he talked about science.” 

“The more that we can do together in terms of supply chain coordinating, making sure that we have a mutual understanding of the border, I think all these things are positive… You can look also at vaccines,” said Champagne. 

The Trump administration has challenged the Trudeau Liberals at times over the last four years, with personal and policy conflicts erupting periodically between the leaders of the two countries, including over the renegotiation of NAFTA.

It’s largely expected that Trudeau and the Liberals will have an easier go at cross-border collaboration under a more ideologically-aligned Biden-led administration. 

Looking at Biden’s platform, there are a series of parallels to promises Trudeau has made, however one of the biggest points of difference is on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. The multi-billion dollar project would transfer more than 800,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska, but Biden vowed early on that he would scrap the pipeline, despite Canada’s backing and Alberta already investing billions into the project.

Asked what Canada is going to do to fight the pipeline project from being killed, Champagne said that the federal government will “make our case.”

“We’ll remind our American partners that Canada is the best energy supplier, reliable to the United States… You have to look at the North American space and see who is the most reliable, stable, predictable energy supplier,” Champagne said, adding that Canada’s climate goals will also play a role. 

With files from CTV News’ Graham Slaughter 

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Latest worldwide spread of the coronavirus

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Russia has tightened curbs in major cities as authorities blame the new Delta variant for spiking cases and deaths, while neighbouring Ukraine has registered its first two cases of the more infectious virus type.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news

EUROPE

* The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said the more contagious Delta variant, first identified in India, will represent 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the European Union by the end of August.

* Spain has vaccinated half of its 47 million population with at least one dose and nearly 32%, or over 15 million people, have been fully inoculated.

* The share of infections caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus has doubled in Germany in a week and is likely to gain more traction over other variants.

* Greece will end the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors and ease other remaining restrictions.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Japan is suspending approval for companies to inoculate staff amid concerns that an increase in such applications will hamper smooth delivery of vaccines.

* Alcohol, high-fives and talking loudly will be banned for the reduced numbers of Olympic ticket holders allowed into venues.

* Australia’s largest city of Sydney reintroduced “soft touch” curbs to contain a widening outbreak of the Delta variant.

AMERICAS

* A Brazilian Senate committee has formally approved a request to call representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify in an ongoing probe into the government’s handling of the pandemic.

* Canada will further relax border restrictions in the weeks to come as long as the science supports such a move, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

* Federal authorities have seized at U.S. airports unauthorised versions of remdesivir destined for distribution in Mexico, the Wall Street Journal reported. [nL2N2O51U0]

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* South Africa’s health regulator said it had received documentation for China’s Sinopharm vaccine and will evaluate the data to assess the efficacy of the shot.

* Israel empowered health officials to quarantine anyone deemed to have been exposed to the especially infectious Delta variant.

* Bahrain will extend by three months a government support program for businesses hard hit by the pandemic.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* Rare cases of heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults are likely linked to vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots, a group of doctors advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

* Vaccines made by AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance remain broadly effective against Delta and Kappa variants. [nL3N2O43IN]

* The University of Oxford said it was testing anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Wall Street and global equity markets were broadly higher on Wednesday after reassurances from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that the central bank is not rushing to hike interest rates, while European stocks remained under pressure. [MKTS/GLOB]

* A period of high inflation in the United States may last longer than anticipated but should still ease over time as the economy settles back to normal, two U.S. Federal Reserve officials said.

* Euro zone business growth accelerated at its fastest pace in 15 years in June as the easing of lockdown measures unleashed pent-up demand and drove a boom in the dominant services sector but also led to soaring price pressures.

(Compiled by Ramakrishnan M. and Juliette Portala; Edited by Arun Koyyur)

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Canada’s M&A boom fuels hiring spree, higher pay

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Record-breaking dealmaking in Canada is encouraging investment banks to beef up staffing, but the increased demand for bankers is forcing some to pay up in unique ways to attract new hires.

Canadian mergers and acquisitions (M&A) year to date surged to a record $206.5 billion and IPOs hit an all-time high of $5.6 billion, according to Refinitiv, after the pandemic crushed dealmaking in the first three quarters of 2020.

HSBC, JPMorgan Chase & Co and National Bank of Canada are expanding their M&A teams.

“It continues to be an active market with lots of active discussions with clients going on as well, and so that has absolutely spurred on a need to fortify the ranks within the teams,” said Scott Lampard, head of global banking for HSBC Bank Canada.

HSBC plans to boost overall investment banking headcount by 20%-25%, mainly at the analyst level to support pitching and executing deals, Lampard said.

PENT-UP DEMAND

With the pace of transaction expected to continue at pace, banks are paying more to hire and retain existing teams, offering a range of new services, like sending in a consultant to create the ideal home office, recruiters say.

“We’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years and we’ve never seen a market like this,” said Bill Vlaad, CEO at recruitment firm Vlaad and Company. “Everybody is scrambling,”

“Many of the banks have increased base salaries quite dramatically, mostly in 2021,” he said, adding salaries had increased 20%-40% across M&A roles.

“Now if you want to attract, you have to put something else on the table.”

To poach talent, banks are adding signing bonuses, extra vacation days, healthcare increases, special programs for mental wellness and home office perks, all tailored to individual requests, Vlaad said.

TD Securities, Barclays, CIBC World Markets are the top M&A advisers year to date. All three declined to comment on hiring plans.

Of the top deals announced this year, Rogers Communications Inc’s C$20 billion ($16.2 billion) bid for Shaw Communications Inc and Canadian National’s bid $33.6 billion offer for Kansas City Southern are the two biggest.

Despite the pandemic, five of the top six Canadian banks paid an average of C$3.1 billion ($2.50 billion) in total bonuses last year, up from C$2.9 billion ($2.34 billion) in 2019, an analysis of filings by Reuters showed.

Headcount at National Bank Finance will be up by four or five people in M&A versus the same time last year, David Savard, head of M&A at the bank, told Reuters.

That put the team at 28 for the large-cap M&A team and 10 for the mid-market team, he said, adding both areas were “booming”.

“There seems to be some pent-up demand for entrepreneurial-led companies and private companies doing M&A coming out of COVID,” he said.

David Rawlings, CEO for JPMorgan Canada, agreed headcount would be likely higher in the near future.

“We think activity will continue to be strong and are currently looking to selectively hire with a particular focus on senior diverse candidates,” said Rawlings.

($1 = 1.2453 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Maiya Keidan; Editing by Denny Thomas and Lisa Shumaker)

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French court overturns ruling saying sale of cannabidiol is illegal

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France’s highest appeals court on Wednesday overturned a ruling that stores in the country can’t legally sell cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotic compound related to cannabis that is being researched for a variety of medical applications.

Based on the free trade of goods within the European Union, the Cour de cassation ruled that judges could not find the sale of CBD in France illegal if it had been legally produced in a member state of the bloc.

The Court of Justice of the EU ruled last year that no national law can prohibit the sale of CBD legally produced in a member state, the French court also said.

“Without considering whether the substances seized had not been legally produced in another member state of the European Union, the court failed to provide a basis for its decision,” it said, referring to a ruling of a lower appeals court.

The Cour de cassation did not rule whether selling CBD in France was legal or not, and ordered a lower court to rule again on a case involving the owner of a shop selling CBD.

“We are happy”, CBD shop owner Mathieu Bensa, who was not involved in the case, told Reuters after the ruling.

“We did not understand why France was the last country in the European Union that had not given access to the sale of hemp plants”, he said.

Derived mainly from the hemp plant, CBD is increasingly used as a relaxant.

Cannabis stocks have attracted growing interest on world stock markets, particularly on the Toronto stock exchange after Canada became one of the first major economies to legalise the recreational use of marijuana.

Cannabis use is outlawed in France but the country has one of Europe’s highest consumption rates.

(Reporting by Matthieu Protard, Benoit Van Overstraeten and Ardee Napolitano; Editing by Mark Potter)

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