Morocco Among Rare Safest Countries for US Travelers US State Department

Rabat – The US Department of State issued on Wednesday, January 10 a Travel Advisories system to alert its citizens of the world’s most (and least) dangerous countries. The department ranked Morocco in category 1: the safest for US travelers.The state department advised its citizens, willing or wishing to visit Morocco to “exercise normal precautions” in the North African country. The executive department advises the US travelers to be extra cautious in Algeria or avoiding it because of high terrorist threats.The department advised its citizens to ten war zones: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. These ten zones are ranked level four; “Do Not Travel.” The US department ranked North Korea in level four: “Do Not Travel,” with restriction that US law interdicts US travelers to use their passports in the country.Only three other MENA countries are in the same category as Morocco: the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. Tunisia, Russia and Turkey are ranked in category 3: “Reconsidering the Trave.” Category 2, which advised the US travelers to be extra cautious, includes France, Spain, UK, Italy, Germany due to terrorist attacks occurred in these regions in recent years.Five states in the US neighbor, Mexico have the sternest “do not travel” under the US department system. The Mexican states ranked in level four are Tamaulipas on the US border, Michoacán, Colima, Sinaloa, Guerrero. The number of Morocco’s foreign visitors in Morocco increases every year. In July 2017, Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism and Air Transport said that the number of American tourists has increased by 27 percent during the first six months of 2017. The increase of foreign visitors in the North African country was underpinned by the surge of German tourists in the visit to Morocco, which marked the increase of 12 percent, according to the ministry. The visits of Dutch arrivals increased by 8 percent and Spanish by 7 percent. read more

MarrakechAgadir Highway Under the Snow

Rabat – February’s cold weather is bearing down on Marrakech-Agadir highway. Snow and bone-chilling temperatures have swept over the road, covering it in scenic white.The southern regions have been experiencing snow, caused by  a mass of air coming from Northern Europe,  in the past few days. Despite its appeal, the fall of rare heavy snow in the the Southern region has caused the roads to close, particularly in Ouarzazate, “where travelers were forced to wait for the roads to be cleaned before being able to access the city or leave it,” the director of Ouarzazate Tourism Council told Morocco World News. read more

Protesters in France Unwilling to Hang Up Their Yellow Vests

By Carolina McCabeRabat – In response to continuous protests led by the “Yellow Vests,” French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced the planned fuel tax increase will be delayed for a six-month period. The tax increase was previously set to begin January of 2019.During the six-month delay, the government plans to discuss and assess alternative measures to assist the poor and middle-class, who rely heavily on their vehicles for daily activities. However, the suspension of fuel taxes has still not garnered the approval of the protesters. Protesters were disappointed in the government for merely postponing the fuel taxes instead of reversing the measure altogether . Read Also: French PM Meets Yellow Vest Protesters, Officials After Weekend of Chaos“The protesters feel they have been ridiculed by Macron. So they’re saying: we’re not going to take our yellow vests off, we’re going to leave them on because in six months we’re going to be coming back again,” said FRANCE 24 French Affairs Editor Philip Turle.Over the past three weeks, French protests have been responsible for over 4.5 million dollars in damage and lost tourism revenue. On the third weekend of protests, protesters turned violent with riot police being dispatched after businesses and vehicles were damaged. Protesters are using the opportunity to demand greater changes than simply cancelling the tax, citing the economic struggles they have endured for years. They also seek an increase in the minimum wage and pensions.“The French people want a complete political transformation. They want to change the way things have been for the last 30 years. We’re sick and tired of taxes being raised and the quality of public services going down,” said Benjamin Cauchy, one of the Yellow Vests. “We are not going to drop our guard,” he added, calling for another weekend of protests.“Our demands are much bigger than this moratorium,’’ said Mr. Cauchy. ‘‘We want a better distribution of wealth, salary increases. It’s about the whole baguette, not just the crumbs.”The suspension of the fuel tax will result in a loss of about $2.3 billion, and will have to be offset by corresponding spending cuts, a government source said.I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 4 décembre 2018“If the events of recent days have shown us one thing, it’s that the French want neither an increase in taxes or new taxes. If the tax-take falls then spending must fall because we don’t want to pass our debts on to our children. And those debts are already sizeable,” Prime Minister Phillipe said.President Trump took the opportunity to respond to the fuel-tax delay on Tuesday with a tweet. Harm to the pursuit of combating climate changeThe purpose of the fuel tax was to encourage French motorists to use electric vehicles in order to reduce the country’s environmental impact. However, environmentalists are concerned the protests and general anger towards the fuel-tax may inhibit the greater pursuit of a greener society.While French protesters reject the fuel tax, the greater French population understands the detrimental impact of human activity on the climate. According to a study by the European Social Survey from 2017, about 94% of French citizens believe climate change is at least partly caused by human activity, with 73.7% believing the impacts will be bad. “It is not by turning our backs on ecology that we will emerge from the political crisis we are experiencing,” said French political party Les Verts in a statement. “Ecology must not become the atoning victim of this government’s bad choices.” read more

Scotiabank Q1 net income slips 4 to 225B amid significant market volatility

The Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:BNS) TORONTO — The Bank of Nova Scotia hiked its dividend as it reported its first-quarter profit slipped to $2.25 billion from $2.34 billion a year earlier.Canada’s third-largest bank raised its quarterly payment to common shareholders by two cents to 87 cents per share.The Toronto-based lender’s earnings for the three-month period ended Jan. 31 amounted to $1.71 per diluted share, compared with $1.86 a year ago.On an adjusted basis, the bank reported first-quarter net income of $1.75 per diluted share, down from $1.87 per diluted share a year ago.That was below the adjusted earnings of $1.82 per share expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.Scotiabank chief executive Brian Porter said while “significant market volatility” impacted some of the lender’s business, it was a “solid start” to the year with strong earnings in international banking and wealth management.“While significant market volatility impacted some of our business lines, we still experienced strong growth,” Porter said in a statement.“In addition, credit quality remains strong and in line with recent quarters.” read more

Algerian Interim President Calls for Inclusive Dialogue Protests Continue

Rabat – Protests in Algeria have entered their 16 week as Algerian demonstrators are refusing any solutions except radical change after the resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.On Thursday, Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah urged civil society and political parties to engage in an “inclusive dialogue” to overcome the crisis that the country has been facing since February 22.In a televised statement, Bensalah said that dialogue would help fix a new date for elections as soon as possible” after the cancelation of the planned election on July 4. On Sunday, June 2, the Algerian Constitutional Council announced that a presidential election would not be able to take place on July 4 due to a lack of valid candidates.Protesters have been rallying against the interim president since February 22, calling for a radical change, such as aa boycott of the election, as well as calling on all elites from the Bouteflika era to leave.Today marks the 16 weeks of continuous protests, with the interim president deploying security troops into the peaceful demonstrations.The police have been using tear gas and water cannons to disperse protests. Last Friday, May 3, police also arrested several protesters. The arrests have not prevented Algerian protesters for taking to the street for the 16th weeks of the protests. Photos shared by Algerian news outlets TSA show protesters rallying as they are holding several banners, including one demanding “new faces in the government.”A video also shows porters wearing Algerian flags and distributing pastries among protesters, as this week marked Eid Al Fitr celebrations across the world. read more

The Latest Your Uber has arrived on Wall Street

NEW YORK — The Latest on ride-hailing giant Uber’s initial public stock offering (all times local):9:30 a.m.With a ring of the opening bell Uber is looking to pick up passengers as a newly public company. Investors waited to bet on a service with huge potential, but a long way from turning a profit.Shares in the ride-hailing giant were sold in an initial public offering for $45 each, raising $8.1 billion, but it will take several hours for new investors to show whether they’re interested. Officials expect trading to start around 11:30 a.m. Friday.CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and other company officials stood on a balcony above the New York Stock Exchange as the bell rang to signal the start of the day’s trading. Khosrowshahi posed for selfies and after the bell while controversial co-founder Travis Kalanick and other Uber officials and employees stood on the trading floor.The IPO came in at the lower end of Uber’s targeted price range of $44 to $50 per share. The caution may have been driven by escalating doubts about the ability of ride-hailing services to make money since Uber’s main rival, Lyft, went public six weeks ago.Even at the tamped-down price, Uber now has a market value of $82 billion — five times more than Lyft’s.The Associated Press read more

Communities need more sophisticated meteorological services says UN agency

Michel Jarraud, the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told a workshop yesterday in Cape Verde that there is “a vital need to better understand the linkage between environmental protection and sustainable development.”Mr. Jarraud noted that the global economy had become increasingly sensitive to the fluctuations of weather, climate and water phenomena. Climate change, the growing competition for water, ozone depletion and the impact of desertification all require countries to have access to the best available information.“There are also raised expectations and demands for newer and more sophisticated types of services by most sectors of the economy, all of which are highly relevant to your respective societies,” he said.The workshop, help on Sal Island on Cape Verde, runs until Friday and is aimed at helping Portuguese-speaking countries develop greater partnerships between government and civil society on environmental and climate issues. 4 March 2008Governments, businesses and the general public need more sophisticated information from their national weather services if they are to prepare adequately against natural disasters and better adapt to the threats posed by climate change, the head of the United Nations meteorological agency says. read more

Adverse effects of shrimp fishing need to be addressed warns UN report

17 February 2009A new United Nations report released today urged countries to increase efforts to halt the economic and environmental threats posed by shrimp fishing, a major source of income for many developing countries. Rampant overfishing, harmful trawling practices and poor management of fishing sites are causing significant damage to seabeds and endangering important fish stocks, warned the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report.Shrimps and prawns are among the most important internationally-traded fishery products, with a value of $10 billion, or 16 per cent of global industrial fishing exports, and shrimp fisheries generate substantial economic benefits, especially for many developing countries.The Global Study of Shrimp Fisheries reviews current problems and solutions of shrimp fishing in ten countries: Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.“For millions of poor vulnerable households, shrimp fishing is an important source of cash and employment,” said Jeremy Turner, Chief of the FAO Fishing Technology Service.“But shrimp fishing is also associated with overfishing, capture of juveniles of ecologically important and economically valuable species, coastal habitat degradation, illegal trawling, the destruction of seagrass beds and conflicts between artisanal and industrial fisheries,” added Mr. Turner.Trawling in tropical regions can result in large amounts of unwanted catch that is either discarded or kept on board, further threatening endangered species and already heavily exploited fish stocks. Bycatch often includes juveniles of important commercial fish species, such as cod, rockfish, red snapper, croaker, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and weakfish, as well as sea turtles.FAO estimates that shrimp trawl fisheries are the single greatest source of bycatch, accounting for over 27 per cent or 1.86 million tons of discarded fish.The report recommends that bycatch reduction efforts should focus on medium and large-scale shrimp fisheries, where significant cutbacks have already been achieved by applying modifications to fishing gear, catch quotas, discard bans and improvements in bycatch handling and marketing.Many of the problems caused by shrimp fishing can also be mitigated by promoting sustainable, fishing management schemes, reducing fishing capacity and addressing the issue of open access according to Mr. Turner.The report cites Australia’s prawn fisheries and some cold-water shrimp fisheries as some of the best managed in the world, based on fishers’ participation, managed bycatch, reduced discards and the use of property rights in management. The report also urges countries to make agencies more effective and to provide legislation protecting access to fisheries. read more

UN and Chile launch sustainable tourism initiative for Easter Island

29 May 2009The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Chile today embarked on a new programme to develop sustainable tourism on Easter Island, which receives some 60,000 visitors every year. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Chile today embarked on a new programme to develop sustainable tourism on Easter Island, which receives some 60,000 visitors every year. “The project aims to develop tourism strategies that respect the outstanding universal value of the Rapa Nui National Park,” UNESCO said in a news release. The programme, financed by the Japanese Government, will promote training and involvement of the local communities on the island in sustainable ecotourism. “It is expected that the project will alleviate the growing pressure on the island’s fragile ecosystem resulting from tourism,” UNESCO said. Easter Island is located over 3,500 kilometres west of continental Chile. UNESCO inscribed Rapa Nui National Park, which contains giant Polynesian stone figures known as moai, on its World Heritage List in 1995. UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said the project will “reduce the negative impact of tourism […] by finding a balance between the needs for the preservation of the site and the development of the island community.” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who was present at the signing of the agreement in Paris, said the programme is a “remarkable initiative intended to give the local community a leading role in the enhancement and promotion of their own heritage.”“A society capable of preserving its heritage is capable of preserving its history and its identity,” the President stated. read more

Compliance accountability crucial to boost civilian protection in war – UN

The lack of compliance by parties to conflict “leads not only to the death and injury of hundreds of civilians in conflicts every week, but to the displacement of thousands more,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes told the Security Council.He underscored that the term “displaced” does not “do justice to the reality – that is thousands of innocent civilians being forced every single week to flee attacks and the destruction of their homes, their communities and livelihoods, and to fall into an existence marked by danger, suffering and psychological anguish.”Civilian deaths in places such as Somalia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are reminders of the need for parties to be far more cautious in efforts to spare non-combatants from the effects of hostilities, Mr. Holmes said at the start of the day-long open debate, which is expected to hear from dozens of speakers.In the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the eruption of fighting – marked by bombings and street battles – last month between Government forces and insurgents has killed hundreds and driven 160,000 others from their homes.Meanwhile in Afghanistan, civilian deaths and injuries continue to mount as the conflict in the South Asian nation intensifies, Mr. Holmes said. In May alone, 261 civilians lost their lives, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).For its part, the far east of the DRC has witnessed a wave of attacks, including “all too common acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence” by a rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which have forced nearly 400,000 people to flee their homes, he noted.The culture of impunity overshadowing many conflict situations must also be tackled, stressed Mr. Holmes, who also serves as UN Relief Coordinator.“It is to a large degree the absence of accountability and, worse still, the absence in many instances of even any expectation or fear of accountability, that allows violations to thrive,” he said.Combatants must be trained to understand the law, he said, with manuals and instructions laying out their obligations and disciplinary measures to ensure its observance.Further, national legislation must be adopted to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of human rights law, Mr. Holmes said, as he presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.The Security Council, for its part, must insist on countries’ cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and, “if necessary, enforcing it through targeted sanctions,” he said.For example, in the DRC, there must be accountability for the “seemingly endless and appalling stream of acts of sexual violence attributable to all parties,” including the national armed forces (FARDC), which must step up efforts to instill discipline and respect for the law into its troops.The 15-member Council, Mr. Holmes added, must also take action against individuals in conflict situations obstructing access to aid agencies or that perpetrate attacks against relief workers. 26 June 2009The top United Nations relief official today called for enhancing compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as countering impunity for perpetrators of abuses, to strengthen the protection of civilians caught up in armed conflict. read more

Security Council debates legal options for pursuing pirates off Somali coast

25 August 2010Commending the efforts undertaken so far to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that more can be done, as the Security Council debated legal options to help bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice. Commending the efforts undertaken so far to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that more can be done, as the Security Council debated legal options to help bring the perpetrators of such crimes to justice. “Over the past three years, the international community has made concerted efforts to combat the problem, including by establishing a Contact Group and deploying significant naval assets to the region,” he told the Security Council as it met to discuss the issue. “Nonetheless, we can do more,” he added. “In particular, we need to implement the existing legal regime, so the fight against piracy in international waters is effective. In a report released last week, Mr. Ban identified seven options for furthering the aim of prosecuting and imprisoning persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, which has been a growing problem in recent years.In the past seven months there have been 139 piracy-related incidents off the coast of Somalia, he noted. Thirty ships have been hijacked, and 17 ships and 450 seafarers are being held for ransom.The first option presented in the report is to enhance ongoing efforts to assist regional States to prosecute and imprison those responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.The second would involve locating a Somali court, applying Somali law, in a third State in the region. The third and fourth options would involve assisting a regional State or States to establish special chambers, embedded in the State’s national court structure, to conduct piracy trials. Option five would require active engagement by the States of the region and the African Union to establish a regional tribunal to address the scourge of piracy.Option six would be an international tribunal – analogous to existing “hybrid” tribunals – with national participation by a State in the region.Option seven would be a full international tribunal, established by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter.Mr. Ban emphasized that achieving substantive results in combating piracy – whether through a new or existing judicial mechanism – will require political and financial commitment from Member States.“We will need both to establish the mechanism and ensure that it has the capacity and resources to prosecute a large number of suspects, while ensuring due process,” he stated. “Furthermore, in considering the establishment of such a mechanism, a host State will need to be identified.“This, in turn, will require adequate arrangements for transferring those convicted to third States for their imprisonment. This is particularly relevant given the large number of suspects apprehended at sea.” To further explore these issues, the Secretary-General announced that he intends to appoint a Special Adviser on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.UN Legal Counsel Patricia O’Brien noted a number of challenges associated with achieving and sustaining substantive results in the fight against piracy off the Somali coast. These include the large number of suspects, the fact that any judicial mechanism would be addressing a symptom of the situation in Somalia, not its causes, and the lack of any defined completion date for the mechanism’s work.“It is for these reasons that sufficient political and financial commitment by States would be necessary, not only to establish a new mechanism, but also to sustain it.” The Council welcomed the report containing the possible options, and deemed it vital to find long-term solutions to the problem of prosecuting suspected, and imprisoning convicted, pirates.“The Security Council strongly believes that persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, including those who incite or intentionally facilitate such acts, should be brought to justice,” the 15-member body said in a presidential statement adopted at today’s meeting. Speakers at the meeting also stressed that effectively tackling piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia will require a sustained response, not only at sea, but also on land where piracy originates. Therefore, it is vital to support efforts to achieve peace and stability in Somalia, which continues to be plagued by fighting between Government forces and rebel groups, and remains the scene of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world with 3.2 million people – more than 40 per cent of the population – in need of aid. read more

UN hands out shelter materials to Haitian quake survivors hit by storm

27 September 2010Residents of more than 160 of the numerous temporary settlements that sprang up in Haiti following January’s catastrophic earthquake have been hit by a deadly rainstorm that lashed the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Friday and are in urgent need of shelter material, the United Nations reported today. At least 1 million people are still living in tent camps or makeshift housing, eight months after the earthquake struck the country, killing around 200,000 people.Needs assessments in the camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) have identified 11,000 families requiring shelter assistance after the brief but intense storm. Humanitarian agencies have so far distributed more than 5,400 tarpaulins and nearly 4,670 tents to over 3,200 families, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).While sufficient stocks of shelter material are available to meet the needs created by the storm, they will need to be replenished quickly.Camp health facilities that were identified as having been damaged by the storm have since be repaired, according to OCHA.UN Police have conducted 191 joint patrols with the Haitian National Police in IDP camps and no incidents have been reported. Some 200 soldiers have provided escort security to aid workers distributing tarpaulins to camp residentsAccording to media reports, at least five people in Port-au-Prince died as a result of the storm, which was brief but sharp and brought heavy rains and high winds to the city, including the many camps for internally displaced persons who have been homeless since the quake.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced sadness on Saturday at the loss of life and damage caused by the storm and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.He stressed the need for donors to continue to support post-quake relief and recovery efforts across Haiti, with an estimated $450 million in additional funding still required. read more

Ban appoints Karin Landgren of Sweden as new UN envoy for Burundi

31 December 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today named Karin Landgren of Sweden as his new envoy for Burundi, where she will head the scaled-down United Nations operation tasked with helping the Central African nation consolidate peace and development. Ms. Landgren will succeed Charles Petrie as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB). The new office has an initial 12-month mandate, beginning tomorrow, to support the Government in strengthening the independence, capacities and legal frameworks of key national institutions, in particular the judiciary and parliament; promoting dialogue between national actors; fighting impunity and protecting human rights.It is the latest in a series of UN operations in a country where hundreds of thousands of people perished in largely ethnic fighting between Hutus and Tutsis even before it gained independence from Belgium in 1962. It will replace the current UN Integrated Office in Burundi, known as BINUB.Ms. Landgren, who brings to her position many years of political and development experience with the UN as well as in academia, is currently the Secretary-General’s Representative and head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which is set to wrap up its mandate on 15 January.Addressing reporters in Kathmandu today, she stated that the UN will continue its long-standing support to the search for sustainable peace in Nepal after UNMIN’s departure. She reiterated the Secretary-General’s call, made in his latest report, for all parties in the country to end the prolonged political deadlock that has hampered progress in the peace process. read more

UN experts call on Morocco to implement gender equity policies

21 February 2012Independent United Nations human rights experts today called on Morocco to consolidate and advance the country’s achievements on women’s rights by tackling gaps in its legal framework which put women at a disadvantage, adding that domestic and migrant workers are at higher risk of having their rights violated. “Gender equality must remain central in the complex process of political and social transformation in Morocco,” said Kamala Chandrakirana and Emna Aouij, members of the UN working group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, at the end of their visit to the country.“Despite many competing priorities faced by the Government, the drafting of the law that will establish the authority for parity must start as soon as possible, involving all the relevant stakeholders.”During their eight-day visit, the independent experts gathered information on Morocco’s legal framework regarding the promotion of equality and elimination of sex-based discrimination, and identified remaining gaps in legal protection.The experts noted that despite progress achieved through the adoption and reform of several laws, discriminatory provisions remain concerning marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance.“Stakeholders have identified critical gaps in Morocco’s legal protection, particularly for women victims of domestic violence, for women and girls employed as domestic workers, and for women migrant workers,” said the group’s representatives, calling on authorities to accelerate deliberations on bills regarding these populations.The experts also called for the participation of women when carrying out reforms and for integration of an equal gender perspective into every aspect of the Government.“Poor and rural women need to be an integral part of the historic reforms the country is undergoing,” they said. “National programmes are crucial to integrate development and human rights and to secure participatory democracy at the local level, but have so far benefited women disproportionately less than men.” Ms. Chandrakirana and Ms. Aouij also urged the Government to use all means at its disposal, including education and the media, to combat stereotypes and negative portrayal of women.The experts visited Rabat, Casablanca, Fez and the province of Khémisset, where they met with Government officials, representatives of national institutions, civil society organizations and academic experts, as well as women community leaders.The group will present its final conclusions and recommendations from their visit in a report to the Human Rights Council in June. read more

Cominar REIT may buy 68 properties from GE Capital with proceed from

QUEBEC — Cominar Real Estate Investment Trust says it received $276-million in net proceeds from its public offering of equity units and may use the money towards the cost of buying 68 properties from GE Capital Real Estate.The GE Capital deal includes 14 office buildings and one vacant lot of land in Ottawa, 23 office properties and 23 industrial properties in Montreal and four office properties and three industrial properties in Quebec City.Cominar said Tuesday it plans to use the money to finance a portion of the $697-million purchase or it could use the proceeds to pay down outstanding debt.Cominar has grown to be the third-largest diversified real estate investment trust in Canada and the largest commercial property owner in Quebec.Cominar owns a real estate portfolio of 415 high-quality properties, consisting of 82 office, 158 retail and 175 industrial and mixed-use buildings that cover a total area of 30.7 million square feet in Quebec, Ontario, the Atlantic provinces and western Canada.The Canadian Press read more

2013 wasnt a great year financially for most Canadians survey finds

TORONTO — Sun Life Financial says 2013 wasn’t a great year financially for most Canadians.An Ipsos Reid survey conducted in November for Sun Life found that, overall, 57% of Canadians felt they were not any better off financially than they were a year ago.Those feelings were even stronger among women and those aged 55 and older, with 61% of both groups saying their financial position had not improved year over year.On the flip side, 38% of those surveyed did say their finances had improved compared with a year ago.Albertans were most likely to say they felt better off, at 47%, followed by those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 45%, and Atlantic Canadians at 43%.Quebecers were least likely, with 63% saying their financial position was no better than a year ago.“It’s concerning that a majority of Canadians aren’t feeling better off financially than they were last year as we head into a holiday season where we tend to spend more and save less,” Sun Life president Kevin Dougherty said of the results.“Canadians can take steps toward feeling better by putting a financial plan in writing and perhaps consider it as a new year’s resolution.”As it is, the survey found only 36% of Canadians contribute to an RRSP, although that number rose to 50% among those who felt their financial situation had improved.The Ipsos Reid survey interviewed 1,239 Canadians online between Nov. 25 and Nov. 29. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population. read more

Bell Medias new streaming service Project Latte snaps up Seinfeld

TORONTO — Serenity now — “Seinfeld” is headed to Bell Media’s new streaming video service.The company said Friday that it had struck a deal with Sony Pictures Television for the Canadian exclusive subscription streaming rights for the classic sitcom.Bell Media made the announcement while revealing its comedy slate for its new streaming video service “Project Latte.”All nine seasons of the show about nothing will be available on “Project Latte,” along with every episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier,” “Cheers” and “Corner Gas.”The service will also feature current comedies including “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Goldbergs,” “The Millers” and “Spun Out,” as well as Comedy Central shows including “Inside Amy Schumer” and “The Sarah Silverman Program.”The deal marks the first time “Seinfeld” will be available on a North American streaming video on demand platform.“Project Latte” is set to launch later this year and is designed to be available to all TV providers. So far, the service will be offered to Telus Optik TV, Bell Fibe TV and Bell Aliant FibreOP TV subscribers via set-top box, as well as via the web, game consoles and smart TVs.Bell Media has previously announced the service will feature the entire off-air library of HBO programming including “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Sex and the City,” as well as the whole catalogue of Monty Python shows and movies.Shaw Media and Rogers Media launched their streaming video service, Shomi, earlier this month.The Canadian Press read more

Target Corp now shipping to Canada via new international website

TORONTO — Target Corp. is returning to Canada, but not with the splashy fanfare of its previous arrival.The U.S. discount chic retailer has quietly opened an international website that gives Canadian shoppers the option of ordering products that will ship over the border.But shopping at Target won’t come cheap because online orders face a list of extra charges, including duties and taxes as well as shipping fees.“It is part of a test and we will have more details to share in the near future,” said spokesman Jamie Bastian in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press.The international website is being operated by Borderfree, a company that specializes in helping retailers sell products around the world, and will charge local shoppers in Canadian dollars.How Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s wage hike to $10 could cost other retailers $4 billionTarget Corp’s hasty retreat still haunting Canadian REITs nine months laterSeveral things have changed in the Canadian retail industry since Target closed its stores here earlier in the year.A wave of high-end U.S. retailers are in the midst of opening department stores across the country while big chains like Walmart and Best Buy Canada have been expanding product selection on their websites.Other factors have made crossborder shopping less appealing, including the value of the loonie, which has dropped about 10 cents US to just over 76 cents US since the start of the year.Target Corp. announced in January that would close its 133 Canadian stores and leave the country after deciding it would take years to turn a profit.Lawyers for the company are still in Canadian courts ironing out some of the final details of the company’s windup. read more

Markets update at midmorning

On the markets at midmorning (ET):The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 17.48 points to 15,219.58, after 90 minutes of trading.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 17.70 points to 21,981.62. The S&P 500 index was down 8.35 points to 2,468.00 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 38.95 points to 6,323.99.The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.54 cents US, down from Tuesday’s average price of 79.91 cents US.The September crude contract was down 30 cents to US$48.86 per barrel and the September natural gas contract was unchanged at US$2.82 per mmBTU.The December gold contract was down $2.80 to US$1,276.60 an ounce and the September copper contract was down one cent to US$2.87 a pound. read more