Engineering firm SNC-Lavalin hires former Siemens exec

“Troubled engineering giant SNC-Lavalin has hired a former Siemens executive to guide the company on ethics and matters of corporate governance. Andreas Pohlmann will begin his duties as chief compliance officer on March 1, SNC-Lavalin said Friday,” a Canadian Press article, republished by CBC news online, wrote late last week. The article continued, “Former SNC CEO Pierre Duhaime and another former top executive, Riadh Ben Aissa, are facing fraud charges stemming from a contract involving the building of the multibillion-dollar McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. Pohlmann has more than two decades of experience in compliance, governance, public and governmental affairs, and as corporate counsel in the United States and abroad. He was the chief compliance officer at Siemens AG and oversaw the creation and implementation of its compliance and corporate governance system. ‘We are extremely pleased to have someone of Andreas’ calibre join our team as we work towards developing the best standards possible at SNC-Lavalin,’ said president and CEO Robert Card.” Read the full article here.

Alberta Premier lobbies for $7b Keystone pipeline

“Alberta Premier Alison Redford is in Washington this weekend to champion the Keystone XL pipeline project, with a decision looming by the White House on whether to allow the $7-billion project to move forward. Redford and Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen are in Washington to observe the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. Several key governors are lobbying for the Keystone project to proceed, as it will generate construction jobs in their states,” CTV News wrote in an online article yesterday. The article continued, “Redford says she wants to get to the bottom of the dialogue around the pipeline decision in the United States following recent comment by both U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry about taking strong action against global warming. The message they want to deliver this weekend is that Alberta has already taken action to reduce carbon emissions from energy projects, she told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday. ‘It’s one of the reasons we spend so much time in Washington, to be able to be here to talk about what we’ve already done in Alberta.’ Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

G7 aims to ‘bolster economies, not drive down currencies’

“Finance officials from the Group of 7 pledged today not to engage in a currency war, responding to mounting pressure amid volatility in the currency markets and fears of deliberate devaluation,” Michael Babad of The Globe and Mail wrote today.

Babad continued, “The G7 finance minister and central bank chiefs said their actions on the monetary and fiscal policy fronts will be aimed at bolstering their economies, not driving down the value of their currencies. Aggressive easing measures by central banks can and have moved exchange rates, which can help economies by lowering their export prices and, thus, helping their manufacturers. What the G7 is saying is that this is a by-product, rather than a goal, on the long, hard road back to a sustained economic recovery. The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing, for example, an asset-buying program, is negative for the U.S. dollar, but is aimed at juicing the economy, not driving down the greenback. ‘We, the G7 ministers and governors, reaffirm our longstanding commitment to market determined exchange rates and to consult close in regard to actions in foreign exchange markets,’ the group said in statements posted on individual central bank websites.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Consequences of re-branding the ‘Golden Years’

 “I had a good time turning 60. So did all my friends. Everyone had a party. My husband’s party had a cowboy theme. We all wore jeans (his favourite mode of dress) and chowed down on gourmet chili. A friend of ours (an actual cowboy) recited a poem he’d written, an ode to life and friendship. No riding into the sunset for us. We intended to ride on forever!” Margaret Wente wrote in a Globe and Mail article posted Sunday online. Wente continued, “We went to so many 60th birthday parties that I got bored with them. I should have been more appreciative. Now that my friends are turning 65, the celebrations are few and far between. At 60, you can still pretend you’re in the middle of your life. At 65, you are officially a Senior Citizen. You can joke about it all you like, but that’s a fact. My husband turned 65 in January. ‘Would you like to have a party?’ I asked him in December. ‘Or should we blow it all on a trip to New York?’ He said he’d think about it. Eventually, I realized what he wanted was for me to shut up about it. Marketers with condos, magazines and financial services to sell have made strenuous efforts to rebrand the seventh decade of life as a sort of second blush of youth, only with silver hair and more money. The trouble is that no matter how positive your attitude, the indignities start piling up. The other day, my husband went to the drugstore. ‘You should have been here yesterday,’ the sales clerk told him. ‘It was Seniors Day. Ten per cent off.’

Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Curious allegations made against Standard & Poor’s

“Oh, the poor suckers at Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., fooled about the stench of their own garbage by those sneaky credit raters at Standard & Poor’s,” Jonathan Weil began in a article posted on Wednesday.

Weil continued, “The U.S. Justice Department made some peculiar allegations in its lawsuit this week against S&P and its parent, McGraw-Hill Cos. According to the government, Citigroup was defrauded by S&P credit ratings on subprime mortgage bonds that Citigroup itself created and sold. Bank of America, too, allegedly was defrauded by S&P in the same way. If this doesn’t make sense, that’s the point. The notion is far-fetched. No wonder S&P wouldn’t agree to a settlement and told the government to see it in court. Here’s the gist. Near the end of its 119-page complaint, the Justice Department listed about two-dozen collateralized-debt obligations issued in 2007 as examples where S&P allegedly defrauded banks and credit unions. It was important that the Justice Department be able to identify such lenders as investors, because it’s suing S&P under a 1989 statute that covers frauds against federally insured financial institutions.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Stephen Harper ‘would seek a constitutional amendment’

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper would seek a constitutional amendment to give the House of Commons primacy over any future elected Senate, says Mr. Harper’s point-person on reform in the Senate,” Kathryn Blaze Carlson wrote for a National Post online article yesterday. Blaze Carlson continued, “Senator Bert Brown, who was elected in Alberta before Mr. Harper appointed him in 2007, said the Prime Minister would consider asking Parliament and the provinces for a constitutionally entrenched mechanism that would prevent gridlock or even a Senate-sparked government shutdown. The mechanism would only be necessary if Mr. Harper gets his way and nudges Canada toward a mostly or entirely elected Senate. ‘I think he’s [open to a single amendment] because that’s what we’ve discussed right from the time I was appointed Senator,’ Mr. Brown said Tuesday, five days after the Harper government asked the Supreme Court of Canada to define what is required to reform or abolish the red chamber. The Conservative’s latest bill on Senate reform proposes nine-year term limits and prescribes a process in which provinces and territories could elect senators who would then be considered for appointment. Should the Supreme Court decide the government can pass those aspects of reform without an amendment — which requires the approval of the Senate, the House and seven provinces representing 50% of the population — Mr. Harper hopes provinces will increasingly follow Alberta’s lead, Mr. Brown said.” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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