Obama supports assault rifle ban re-enactment, spokesman says

“Democratic lawmakers pressed for restoring a ban on assault weapons, enacted in 1994 and allowed to expire in 2004, as the White House reiterated President Barack Obama’s support for such a prohibition. ‘There is only one use for high-capacity magazines and that is to kill a lot of people quickly,’ House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters today as lawmakers grappled with last week’s massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at a Connecticut elementary school,” Phil Mattingly and Jonathan D. Salant wrote today in a Bloomberg online article. Mattingly and Salant continued, “Congressional proposals for tightening access to firearms may be bolstered by policy options from the Justice Department. Obama has vowed to ‘use whatever power this office holds’ to prevent another mass shooting. Senior Justice Department officials spent much of 2011 drafting recommendations to reduce gun violence. Those options, which have been presented to the agency’s leadership though not the White House, included enhancements to the national background-check database, harsher sentences for people who serve as ‘straw’ buyers of weapons, and increased funding for states that improve their background check submissions, according to two people briefed on the activities. Obama met yesterday with Vice President Joe Biden, senior aides and Cabinet members including Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss ways to respond to the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, according to a White House official with knowledge of the session. ‘The president’s position on the assault weapons ban has not changed,’ Obama spokesman Jay Carney told reporters yesterday. ‘He still supports its re-enactment.’ The latest attack has the potential to shift the national debate in favor of gun control, said Richard Primus, a law professor at the University of Michigan. Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Liberal party lost Mark Carney to England

“Mark Carney was cast as the perfect alternative to Justin Trudeau by a tight network of Liberals who pulled out all the stops last summer to attract the Bank of Canada governor into the Liberal leadership race.

Mr. Carney was responsive to the efforts, and his actions over the summer – taking phone calls, asking questions about the race, staying over at a senior Liberal MP’s house during a week-long family holiday in Nova Scotia – fueled speculation about his candidacy,” Daniel Leblanc, Steven Chase and Jane Taber wrote in a The Globe and Mail article last week. The trio continued, “By September, Liberal officials were trying to put together a team of organizers and supporters, and mapping out Mr. Carney’s road to victory at next year’s Liberal convention. Now, as Canadians digest the fact their central banker has been lured to London to become Governor of the Bank of England, The Globe and Mail has pieced together details of an alternative courtship of Mr. Carney by the Liberals. Dozens of interviews over the past few weeks provide clearer evidence of the effort to convince the man who’s been called the ‘outstanding central banker of his generation’ that he had a shot at winning the Prime Minister’s Office. Speaking to The Globe this week, Mr. Carney refused to go into details about the conversations, or explain why he didn’t immediately shut down the campaign as a non-partisan public servant working under a Conservative government.” Read the full article here.

I was raised with those values…

I had the opportunity to hear and meet Justin Trudeau this month as he made his way to Midland, Ontario.  His oratory skills are very pleasing to the ear as he spoke passionately about his vision of Canada and the future for Canadians.  Embracing diversity whether you’re a tenth generation, first generation – like me – or a new Canadian, this he says makes Canada a great nation and I tend to agree. Finding reasons to connect and inspire a great nation and a great people, as opposed to divisiveness, alienation and the practice of Rovian (a term to indicate Karl Rove, American political consultant and policy advisor) style politics, is no easy task.  The rallying cry of, “let us find reasons to vote for a government rather than reasons why we want to throw a government out of office” is a noble and worthwhile pursuit. He’s young, he’s handsome, he’s relaxed and yes he bears the name Trudeau, a pedigree that looms large in Canadian and international politics as his father Pierre solidified himself in the history books as our country’s fifteenth Prime Minister.  I admit I am a fan.  And when you listen you begin to realize, as he speaks without any prepared notes, that he has a genuine passion and concern for Canada and its citizens.  You also realize that he is his own man, a man very capable to lead and inspire.

  As I asked Justin to sign my copy of Towards A Just Society The Trudeau Years, a collection of essays edited by his father, a book that endeavors to explain the Liberal party view of national and international relations, including energy, environmental and constitutional policy during Pierre’s time in office which spanned two decades, I mentioned how I felt that the book is what Canada is all about.  Justin’s reply, “I was raised with those values”.  Re-reading the book I find it to be as relevant today as it was when I first read it, maybe even more so. We need leaders with the values outlined in that book, the values that will keep Canada on the path that leads towards a just society for all Canadians. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS    

Signs that Republicans are ready to bargain with Obama surface

  “A few dozen Republicans have joined a bipartisan call to break the impasse between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner over taxes for the highest-earning Americans. The Republicans signed a letter calling for exploration of ‘all options’ on taxes and entitlement programs, a signal that some rank-and-file members are ready to bargain. One of the petition leaders, Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho, says he could accept higher rates for married couples earning more than US$500,000 a year, in exchange for an overhaul of spending on entitlements such as Medicare. Separately, Representative Kay Granger of Texas is endorsing Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole’s call to extend all tax cuts for middle-class earners as ‘just the right thing to do,'” a Bloomberg News article published by the Financial Post last week read. The article continued, “What unifies these lawmakers is a recognition that Obama’s re-election has strengthened his hand in negotiations aimed at averting more than US$600-billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January. The letter’s approximately 80 signers are half-Republican, half-Democratic, according to Simpson spokeswoman Nikki Watts. ‘It’s pretty obvious Obama won the election, and he promised he was going to raise taxes on the wealthiest,’ Simpson said in an interview. ‘What Republicans said is “we’ve got to have entitlement reform”. While it may be an unpalatable trade for both sides, he said, ‘There’s enough sane people left to get it done.'” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

21,000 Ontario doctors vote to change services

“Ontario doctors have endorsed a new deal with the province that will see some services scaled back and others modernized in order to find savings.  The Ontario Medical Association says the agreement was accepted by 81 per cent of the nearly 21,000 doctors who voted by phone or online. The OMA says the deal, worth $11.1-billion a year, will trim spending by $400 million through a half a per cent payment cut for all doctors while ‘modernizing’ how services are delivered. But Health Minister Deb Matthews has said total payments to physicians will rise by $100 million as new doctors are brought on, an increase that will be offset by cost savings.  The changes to services include shortening the length of time of annual physicals and the number of tests done on healthy adult patients. The OMA says the agreement, effective from last Oct. 1 until March 31, 2014, will pump new money into house calls to seniors and high-need patients,” a Canadian Press article published by the National Post late last week read. The article continued, “It also says the deal announced Sunday will let patients speak to doctors more easily through ‘e-consultations.’ A tentative agreement was reached last month after the two sides returned to the bargaining table following a dispute this year over regulatory changes to cut Ontario Health Insurance Plan fees and premiums.  The deal shows doctors can work with the Liberal government as it moves to tame the deficit, said OMA President Dr. Doug Weir. Ontario’s doctors demonstrated tremendous leadership by being active partners in helping the province with its fiscal challenges,’ he said in a release. ‘If we are going to build on our successes in recent years to improve health care in Ontario, doctors and government need to continue to work in partnership.’ Matthews called the ratification an ‘important milestone’ for the province’s health care system.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Exchequer Chancellor wouldn’t let go of Canada’s Carney

“George Osborne clearly wouldn’t take ‘never’ for an answer. Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer was so bent on reforming the Bank of England, and so certain that Mark Carney was the right person for the job, that he stalked Canada’s chief central banker for months, from Mexico City to London,” Michael Babad wrote for The Globe and Mail late last week. Babad continued, “For his part, Mr. Carney didn’t just say ‘no.’ He said ‘never,’ in an interview with the BBC that put the kibosh on mounting speculation that he was headed for the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, as the 318-year-old Bank of England is known. Mr. Osborne wouldn’t let go, according to The Financial Times. In meetings from the G20 in Mexico to clandestine interviews in Britain, he wooed the reluctant central banker from his comfortable roost in Canada, where he, his British-born wife and daughters have been ensconced. As the story is told, it had all the makings of the secret dealings in, well, the run-up to a takeover.” Read Michael Babad’s full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Analysts put ‘sell’ rating on RIM stock

“Shares in Research In Motion are overpriced and the BlackBerry maker’s new operating system likely won’t return the company to profitability, says an analyst who has put a ‘sell’ rating on the stock,” The Canadian Press wrote, published by the Montreal Gazette online yesterday. The online article continued, “Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley has set RIM’s share price at US$10 — substantially lower than estimated share prices issued by other analysts in recent weeks. Shares in Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) were down 10 cents to $11.49 after the report by Cannacord Genuity was issued. While the BlackBerry 10 operating system is more competitive with Apple’s iPhone and Android smartphones, there will be limited consumer demand, analyst Michael Walkley said Monday. ‘Our checks do not indicate the consumer pull, carrier push, or developer excitement necessary for BlackBerry 10 to reverse the challenging trends faced by RIM in order to return the company to sustained profitability,’ Walkley wrote in a research note.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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