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Harris the X-factor for Eskimos in CFL East final in Hamilton
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QB set to lead team at Tim Hortons Field against Ticats, who are 9-0 at home
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By DAN RALPH
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 – Page B17

It's hard to forget the last time Trevor Harris faced the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Harris had a CFL playoff-record six touchdown passes in last year's East Division final. Of course, that was while he was a member of the Ottawa Redblacks, which secured a 46-27 victory before dropping a 27-16 decision to the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup.

On Sunday, Harris will lead Edmonton into Tim Hortons Field for the East final against a Hamilton squad that posted a CFL-best 15-3 regular-season record. Included were two victories against Edmonton that Harris missed due to injury.

Edmonton is attempting to become the first crossover team to reach the Grey Cup.

But to do so, the Eskimos will have to do what no other CFL team has done this season: Win at Tim Hortons Field.

The Ticats are a perfect 9-0 there, including a 42-12 decision over Edmonton on Oct.

4. Quarterback Dane Evans threw for 277 yards and two TDs, but it was Hamilton's defence that stood tall with three interceptions and five sacks.

Both Edmonton and Hamilton were very good this year getting to the quarterback.

The Eskimos finished tied with Saskatchewan for the league lead (56), with Hamilton third (54). Harris stole the show in Edmonton's 37-29 East Division semi-final win over Montreal on Sunday. He completed his first 22 passes - one short of the CFL record held by Hamilton's Jeremiah Masoli - and finished 36-of-39 passing for 421 yards and a TD as the Eskimos had the ball for over 36 minutes.

Montreal converted a Harris interception into a 10-yard TD run from quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., that pulled Montreal to with 34-29 in the fourth. But Josh Johnson's second pick of the game in the fourth set up Sean Whyte's 36-yard field goal to make it 37-29 before his third cemented the Edmonton win.

Hamilton's offence could give Edmonton all it can handle as the unit led the CFL in offensive points scored (28.2 a game), touchdowns (57), net offence (395.8 yards a game), average yards a play (6.84) and passing yards (313.3). The Ticats were also fourth in rushing (100.4 yards a game), impressive considering the abundance of running backs the team used due to injury.

Quarterback Dane Evans was 9-2 replacing Masoli (season-ending knee injury), passing for 3,754 yards and 21 TDs. Brandon Banks (CFL's leading receiver with club-record 112 catches, 1,550 yards, 13 TDs) and Bralon Addison (95 catches, 1,236 yards, seven TDs) anchor Hamilton's receiving corps. But someone worth watching could be veteran Luke Tasker (36 catches, 406 yards), who missed much of the season with injuries but has since returned to the starting lineup. Hamilton's offence line allowed 37 sacks this season (fourth over all) but if there's a concern, the Ticats did throw 24 interceptions - second-most in the CFL.

Harris has no shortage of weapons at his disposal. There's receivers Greg Ellingson (86 catches, 1,170 yards, five TDs) and Ricky Collins (78 catches, 1,103 yards, three TDs) and dual-threat C.J. Gable (1,003 rushing yards, 53 catches for 417 yards). Edmonton's offensive line allowed a CFL-low 25 sacks.

But playing at home would appear to be the equalizer for a Hamilton team that won its final six regular-season games. And in the space of a week Edmonton will have had to travel to Montreal, back to Alberta and then return to Ontario.

Pick: Hamilton WEST DIVISION FINAL Winnipeg Blue Bombers versus Saskatchewan Roughriders At Regina, Winnipeg starter Zach Collaros returns to where he began the 2019 season.

Collaros opened under centre for the Riders before suffering a head injury just three plays into their season-opening road loss to Hamilton.

Cody Fajardo took over and promptly led the Riders to a 13-5 record and top spot in the West for the first time since 2009. Saskatchewan dealt Collaros to Toronto on July 31 before the Argos dispatched him to Winnipeg on Oct. 9.

Collaros is 2-0 as Winnipeg's starter, combining with backup Chris Streveler to lead the Bombers past the defending champion Calgary Stampeders 35-14 on Sunday. Collaros was 11-of-21 passing for 193 yards and a TD while Streveler, despite an injured ankle, ran 13 times for a game-high 82 yards and a touchdown.

Winnipeg's rushing prowess isn't anything new. The Bombers averaged a CFLbest 147.9 yards a game as Andrew Harris was the league's top runner (1,380 yards) for a third straight year.

Streveler certainly did his part, rushing for 726 yards and 12 TDs. Trouble was, he threw more interceptions (14) than TDs (eight), the majority coming after replacing incumbent Matt Nichols (season-ending shoulder injury).

Collaros's passing numbers aren't eyepopping (414 yards, three TDs, one interception). But he's completed 33-of-49 attempts (67.3 per cent) and gives Winnipeg an experienced player who's capable of making the crucial downfield completion.

Saskatchewan won the season series 2-1 and Fajadro finished the season as the CFL's passing leader (4,302 yards). However, the West Division's outstanding player nominee missed the Riders' regular-season finale, a 23-13 home win over Edmonton that cemented top spot in the division, with an oblique injury. Fajardo is expected to start Sunday and is coming off a 429-yard, two TD passing performance in his last season, a 27-24 victory over Edmonton on Oct. 26.

Against Winnipeg, Fajardo was 59-of-91 passing (64.8 per cent) for 796 yards with two TDs and three interceptions. But a healthy Fajardo also contributes to Saskatchewan's ground attack with 611 rushing yards (5.7-yard average) and 10 TDs on the ground. Saskatchewan was 8-1 at home while Winnipeg was 3-6 on the road.

Pick: Saskatchewan Last week: 1-1 Overall: 59-24.

Associated Graphic

Edmonton QB Trevor Harris makes the throw against Saskatchewan on Oct. 26. Harris had a CFL playoff-record six touchdown passes in last year's East Division final against Hamilton. Of course, that was while he was a member of the Ottawa Redblacks,who went on to lose to the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup.

JASON FRANSON/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Calgary will ride Mitchell's arm in West semi
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Alouettes have imaginative playcaller, but Eskimos have huge arsenal at their disposal in East semi-final
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By DAN RALPH
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 – Page B14

Zach Collaros and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a tough row to hoe.

Collaros is expected to start for the Bombers (11-7) when they visit the Calgary Stampeders (12-6) in the West Division semifinal Sunday. He took first-team reps Wednesday.

The winner will face the Saskatchewan Roughriders (13-5) in the West final Nov. 17.

Winnipeg is chasing its first Grey Cup title since 1990. But the 2005 Edmonton Eskimos are the most recent team to win a CFL title after finishing third in the West Division standings.

Now, the Bombers do have some things going for them.

Winnipeg won the season series 2-1 and Collaros has won his past three starts versus Calgary.

The 31-year-old Ohio native was 22-of-28 passing for 221 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his Bombers debut, a come-from-behind 29-28 home win over the Stampeders on Oct.

25.

However, Winnipeg was a dismal 3-6 on the road this season and lost 37-33 in its only regularseason visit to McMahon Stadium on Oct. 19. Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell - who has an 11-3 regular-season mark against the Bombers - is 5-0 at home during the playoffs since becoming the Stampeders starter in 2014.

But after finishing atop the West Division the previous three seasons, Calgary faces a longer road to a fourth straight Grey Cup appearance and second consecutive title win.

The offence will ride Mitchell's strong right arm considering Calgary averaged a CFL-worst 73.4 yards rushing per game this season. The Stampeders ran for just 44.7 yards in the three contests versus Winnipeg, whose defence surrendered a league-low 64.2 yards rushing per contest.

However, Calgary will counter with the CFL's No. 2-ranked aerial attack (312.3 yards a game).

Mitchell has two 1,000-yard receivers at his disposal in Reggie Begelton (100 catches, 1,492 yards, 11 TDs) and Eric Rogers (85 catches, 1,080 yards, 10 TDs).

As solid as Winnipeg's defence was against the run, it was ranked sixth against the pass (303.4 yards a game). But the Bombers finished second over all in interceptions (24, two behind league-leading Calgary) with Winston Rose (CFL-high nine interceptions) leading the way.

Winnipeg's biggest advantage, though, is its rushing attack. The Bombers averaged a CFL-high 147.9 yards a game, anchored by Canadian Andrew Harris (league-best 1,380 yards).

It marked the third straight CFL rushing title for Harris, who registered the achievement despite missing two regular-season games after a positive drug test.

Calgary's defence allowed 96.3 rushing yards but led the CFL in forced turnovers (47) and interceptions.

Calgary was 7-2 at home this season and 8-2 within the West Division. Winnipeg struggled away from IG Field but was 7-3 against conference competition.

Pick: Calgary.

EAST DIVISION SEMI-FINAL Edmonton Eskimos at Montreal Alouettes The Alouettes (10-8) play host to their first playoff contest since 2014 after finishing second in the East Division behind Hamilton (15-3).

The two teams split their season series 1-1 but haven't met since Montreal's 20-10 home victory July 20. The Alouettes ran away with that game, outrushing Edmonton by a 132-49 margin while forcing three turnovers (two interceptions, downs).

Vernon Adams Jr. was 15-of-22 passing for 191 yards and a TD and was on the receiving end of Eugene Lewis's 21-yard scoring strike. Adams also ran seven times for 44 yards.

The Ticats will play host to the winner in the East final Nov. 17.

Adams was a key figure in Montreal's resurgence under first-year head coach Khari Jones, who's also the club's offensive co-ordinator and quarterback coach. Adams threw for 3,942 yards and 24 TDs while running for 394 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Montreal's offensive line will have to deal with an Edmonton front that finished tied with Saskatchewan for most sacks (56).

But Adams has the ability to run upfield or use his legs to extend plays.

And there's the matter of Jones, a former CFL quarterback who's an imaginative playcaller with a deep bag of tricks.

Trevor Harris starts for Edmonton (8-10), which finished the regular season with two straight losses. Harris has played just once since suffering a shoulder injury Sept. 7.

But Harris had an Edmonton debut to remember June 14, completing 32-of-41 passes for 447 yards and three TDs in a season-opening 32-25 home win over Montreal. Running back C.J.

Gable ran for 154 yards on 20 carries while Ricky Collins had nine catches for 175 yards.

Last year, Harris threw for 367 yards and a CFL-record six TD passes in leading the Ottawa Redblacks past Hamilton 46-27 in the East Division final.

Harris finished second in CFL passing (4,027 yards) and was intercepted just six times in 478 pass attempts. Edmonton's offensive line surrendered a CFLlow 25 sacks.

Harris has plenty of weapons at his disposal. Collins (78 catches, 1,103, eight TDs) and Greg Ellingson (86 catches, 1,170 yards, five TDs) anchor the receiving corps while Gable is coming off a second straight 1,000-yard rushing campaign.

Montreal was 6-3 at home and 5-5 versus West Division competition. Edmonton was 3-6 away from Commonwealth Stadium but 5-3 against Eastern rivals.

Two factors hard to overlook are a) Harris's playoff experience and b) Edmonton's offensive line facing a Montreal defensive front that had a CFL-low 27 sacks.

Pick: Edmonton.

Last week: 3-1 Over all: 58-23.

Associated Graphic

Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, seen passing against the Lions in Vancouver on Saturday, is 5-0 at home during the playoffs since becoming the Stampeders starter in 2014.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Nurse knows how much every game counts
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Basketball star didn't think twice about flying 26 hours to help Canada during second round of Tokyo 2020 qualifying
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By LORI EWING
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Page B17

Every game is important in Canada's quest for an Olympic women's basketball medal in Tokyo.

That's why Canadian star and globetrotter Kia Nurse was nonchalant about flying 26 hours to Edmonton for her team's second round of Olympic qualifying this week. Or about dropping everything once again for the third and final qualifying round in February (location TBD).

"You get on an airplane. That's what they're made for," Nurse laughed.

"Going to the Olympics, every single game that we play, no matter who we're playing against and when we're playing, if we don't get through this [qualifying round], then we don't get a chance at the Olympics right?" the 23-year-old said from Edmonton on Tuesday. "So, it's coming in every single day and making sure and understanding that every single game that we play has its own importance, not only in our development as a team moving forward, but to get ourselves to the Olympics and to the podium."

Canada tips off the tournament ranked an all-time high fourth in the world, and will field one of its strongest teams in history this week. The Canadians play Cuba on Thursday, Puerto Rico on Friday and the Dominican Republic on Saturday, three countries they clobbered in the FIBA AmeriCup in September - without Nurse and Natalie Achonwa, who were wrapping up their WNBA seasons.

Nurse, who was a WNBA allstar in her second season with the New York Liberty, took a brief break to rehabilitate an elbow injury before flying to Canberra, the team she helped to an Australian league title last season.

Nurse was named WNBL player of the week on Tuesday after leading the Capitals to a pair of wins on Thursday and Saturday in Melbourne. She then flew to Edmonton by Sydney and Vancouver.

Bridget Carleton similarly flew halfway around the world to suit up for Canada. The 21-year-old from Chatham, Ont., is playing for the WNBL's Townsville Fire and, like Nurse, had only been down under for about a month before jetting back to North America.

"Jetlag brain is alive and well here in Edmonton," Carleton tweeted on Monday.

A large chunk of WNBA players spend their winters playing abroad. Because they're paid peanuts compared with their NBA counterparts, it's a financial necessity for most.

Carleton had a roller-coaster rookie season in the WNBA. The former Iowa State Cyclones star was drafted 21st by Connecticut then waived in early-July. She signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Lynx in late-August.

So the 6-foot-1 guard is appreciating the Aussie experience.

"Australia has been a great place to develop as a basketball player, it's a good spot for me to be in, I have a good coach who's willing to work with me on things I want to focus on, obviously I'm growing as a person, first time being really far away from my family and what I'm comfortable with in North America," Carleton said. "So yeah, in terms of just developing as a player and person for sure, I think I will be better because of the overseas experience for the national team and hopefully the WNBA." Arriving in Edmonton in waves late last week from posts around the globe, the Canadian women will have had three days to practise before tipping off the tournament.

"What's special about this group is we're all committed to this program, coming back from all over the world to play for Canada ... we all love to be a part of that," Carleton said. "We come from everywhere and then we get to reunite, it's always fun to get on the court with these girls."

Picked from a Canada Basketball pool of the country's top women, the majority have played together at various tournaments for years. So when they are reunited, they can slip almost seamlessly back into the Canadian team chemistry they've developed.

"We get a good understanding of playing with each other as we continue to do that year after year," Nurse said. "So when we come back and get back into the swing of things, it's always really easy and really fun to be back playing with great players."

Canada must finish top two to earn a spot in one of the four global qualifying tournaments in February. The top three in each of those four tournaments earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.

The Canadian women were ousted in the quarter-finals of both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

The Canadian men missed a chance at qualifying for Tokyo at the World Cup in China in August. They'll play in a last-chance qualifying tournament in June.

Associated Graphic

Kia Nurse, right, is keen to be back with Team Canada for Olympic qualifying: 'When we come back and get back into the swing of things,' she says, 'it's always really easy and really fun to be back playing with great players.'

FRANK GUNN/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Stampeders miss chance to repeat as Grey Cup champs on home turf
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By DONNA SPENCER
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019 – Page B13

CALGARY -- The Calgary Stampeders' season was short by their own standards.

After playing in five of the past seven Grey Cup games and winning two of them, their exit in the CFL's West Division semi-final Sunday at the hands of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers felt sudden.

Calgary fell short of a club-record eighth straight appearance in the division final.

So any satisfaction that could be drawn from a dozen wins to finish second in the division was overshadowed by the knowledge the team won't be in a position to achieve a rare feat - repeating as Grey Cup champions on their home turf in Calgary on Nov. 24.

"A good year, but not a successful year," head coach Dave Dickenson said Monday. "We're disappointed.

"Feels very abrupt, but it's the reality of sports. Really no excuses. We didn't play a good enough game and we got beat."

Calgary was a victim of its 2018 success, losing big name players on both sides of the ball to CFL free agency and the NFL.

Unlike previous seasons, the Stampeders didn't have the same depth to withstand the loss of players to injury.

Half of Calgary's 12 wins were by five points or less.

"We were really scratching, clawing and fighting for the last six to eight weeks to the point where everything was just so difficult," Dickenson said.

"I do think we ran out of gas.

You could see in their faces they wanted to keep playing, they want to keep going, but everybody, it's been a tough year on us."

An offence that relied heavily on passing was minus star receiver and playoff performer Eric Rogers (high ankle sprain) in a 35-14 loss to the Bombers.

Calgary's offence couldn't match, nor could the defence defend against Winnipeg's rushers, who exploited the absence of Stampeder defensive end and sack leader Cordarro Law (separated shoulder).

How much credit the Bomber defence deserves for halftime adjustments that held Calgary to zero points in the second half, and how much blame quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell should assume for not overcoming that is a matter of debate.

"I think you should take criticism when it comes to performances like that," Mitchell said. "It was literally the worst game of my entire career, statistics-wise.

"Playoffs is where I've always stepped up and become a different player. With success comes failure. It's going to happen.

Hopefully throughout a long career it doesn't happen very often."

Calgary managed to go 4-3 through July and August when Mitchell, the CFL's Most Outstanding Player in 2018, was sidelined with an injured pectoral muscle and Nick Arbuckle was under centre.

But the Stampeders arrived at the Labour Day game in the unusual position of looking up at three teams above them in the division standings.

Defensive back Brandon Smith, who will retire after 12 seasons and three Grey Cup wins with the Stampeders, is of the opinion that Calgary overachieved in 2019.

"We scratched, clawed and fought for every point we gained this year," he said. "The standard we set here is Western Final, Grey Cup calibre teams. It's tough losing in the semis like we did.

"This is kind of an overachieving team because a lot of people didn't think we'd be where we were. We came away with 12 wins, which is huge for a young team like we had.

A silver lining for Calgary is Rogers's injury isn't the knee that had him considering retirement last off-season.

The owner of eight career playoff touchdowns on just 16 catches expects to recover from his ankle sprain in time to get quality prep in for 2020.

Receiver Kamar Jorden played his first game Sunday since a catastrophic knee injury midway through the 2018 season. He says he, too, will be ready to go for 2020.

Cornerback Tre Roberson, the team's interception leader, has another year remaining on his contract.

But Arbuckle will likely pursue a starting job somewhere. Receiver Reggie Begelton, who totalled 1,440 receiving yards and scored 10 touchdowns, may be NFL-bound.

Dickenson said Monday linebacker Dexter McCoil will be released to pursue NFL opportunities.

The coach and several Stampeders said they'll participate in Grey Cup week festivities, but might not be at the game to watch an opposing team run out of their dressing room onto McMahon Stadium turf.

"I'm not going to hide my head for the Grey Cup week," Dickenson said. "I'm not going to be out having tons of fun, but I'm going to be part of the community.

"I'm going to celebrate what I believe is a great sport in the CFL and the Grey Cup. I think our people here in Calgary should as well. We're not in the game. It's disappointing. It sucks. That's pro sports."


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Kane, Lehner lead fast-starting Blackhawks
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By MATTY CARLSON
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Monday, November 11, 2019 – Page B13

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane had two goals and an assist, Robin Lehner made 53 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks struck early and then held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Sunday night.

Jonathan Toews, rookie Kirby Dach and Brandon Saad also scored. Alex DeBrincat had three assists and Dylan Strome added two.

William Nylander scored twice for the Maple Leafs, and John Tavares and Andreas Johnsson added power-play goals in the third as Toronto stormed back with 26 shots in the final period. Auston Matthews had four assists for Toronto, which entered on fivegame point streak (3-0-2) and lost in regulation for the first time in two weeks.

Toronto backup Michael Hutchinson stopped 29 shots and remained winless at 0-4-1.

The Maple Leafs took - and the Blackhawks allowed - a seasonhigh 57 shots.

Kane, Chicago's 30-year-old offensive whiz, has four goals in three games and 11 points in his past six.

The Maple Leafs played without star forward Mitch Marner after he suffered a right ankle injury in the second period on Saturday night in a 3-2 home loss in Philadelphia. Marner underwent an MRI exam and will be out of the lineup for a minimum of four weeks. The 22-year-old has four goals and 14 assists through 18 games. He led the Maple Leafs last season with career highs in points (94) and assists (68) and had a career-best 26 goals.

Toronto's troubles in this one were in its own zone, however.

The Blackhawks jumped ahead 3-0 lead on its first six shots and led 4-1 after the first period.

Kane opened the scoring 5:18 in when his centring pass to Dylan Strome deflected in off the stick of Toronto defenceman Cody Ceci.

Dach made it 2-0 at 12:00 when he plowed toward the net and buried a fat rebound from the lower edge of the right circle.

Kane connected again just 10 seconds later for a 3-0 lead. Kane misfired from the left circle, but controlled the puck, cut across the slot and fooled Hutchinson with a backhander.

DEVILS 2, CANUCKS 1

VANCOUVER New Jersey scored goals 22 seconds apart in the first period then used some key stops by goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood to defeat Vancouver. Wayne Simmonds, on the power play, and Jesper Bratt scored for the Devils (5-7-4). Blackwood made 30 saves. Brock Boeser, on a power play, scored for the Canucks (96-3), who are winless in their past four games (0-3-1).

JETS 3, STARS 2 (OT)

WINNIPEG Mark Scheifele scored 21 seconds into overtime as the Winnipeg Jets ended the Dallas Stars' winning streak at four games with a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Scheifele got his seventh goal of the season when he went in on a two-on-one with Kyle Connor, but kept the puck himself and beat Anton Khudobin with a low shot. Patrik Laine snapped a 10game scoring drought with a power-play goal and Andrew Copp also scored at even strength for the Jets (10-7-1). Connor Hellebuyck made 26 saves for Winnipeg, which has points in its past five games (4-0-1).

CLARK SCORES HAT TRICK, CANADA BEATS U.S. TO SWEEP WOMEN'S HOCKEY SERIES

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, PA. Emily Clark capped a hat trick with a short-handed goal late in the third period, and Canada beat the United States 5-3 on Sunday to sweep the two-game series between women's hockey rivals.

Melodie Daoust and Natalie Spooner also scored for Canada, which won the opener 4-1 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on Friday night. Kendall Coyne Schofield, Dani Cameranesi and Kelly Pannek scored third-period goals for the U.S., pulling the Americans within one before Clark sealed it. Canadian goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer made 31 saves. Kaitlin Burt stopped 23 shots for the United States.


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Foles will start at QB for Jaguars over Minshew after bye week
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By MARK LONG
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
  
  

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – Page B14

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. -- Jaguars coach Doug Marrone believes quarterback Nick Foles gives the team "a better chance of winning right now."

Marrone announced Tuesday he will start Foles over rookie sensation Gardner Minshew "going forward."

He made the decision during the team's bye week, saying Foles is ready to return from a broken left collarbone and will start next week at Indianapolis.

"For me, it was looking back at all the work we put in," Marrone said.

"I just go back to the experience and what he's going to be able to do.

"I think that's going to give us the ability, a better chance of winning right now."

Marrone told both players before a team meeting.

Players were not available to the media afterward.

Marrone said Minshew took the news like "a competitor."

"When I say someone's a competitor and they hear something like that, I think everyone can figure that out," Marrone said.

Foles was injured while throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark on the second series of the team's season opener.

Minshew replaced him and went 4-4 as the starter, throwing for 2,285 yards, with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for 235 yards but has lost seven of an NFL-leading 11 fumbles.

"What he's done, he's done a great job," Marrone said.

"I feel a whole different about him now than I did prior to him playing, in a very positive way.

We took some things and had some discussions on things that we're going to work on going forward, which will give him the ability to be a player in this league for a long time. I really believe that."

Minshew was a sixth-round draft pick from Washington State and became a fan favourite by giving the Jaguars a chance in nearly every game.

His 1970s look - he rocks a groovy headband, an unkempt mustache, jean shorts and throwback T-shirts - is as much a part of his engaging persona as stories that range from pregame stretching while wearing only a jock strap to trying to break his hand during college in hopes of earning an extra year of eligibility.

But most everyone expected the Jaguars to go back to Foles, a former Super Bowl MVP who signed a four-year, US$88-million contract to leave Philadelphia in March.

Minshew looked more like a rookie than a savvy vet in three of Jacksonville's past four games.

He was jittery in the pocket and mostly inept in the red zone.

He led the Jags to a mere field goal in a 26-3 drubbing by Houston in London on Sunday. He threw for 309 yards, most of them in garbage time.

The other numbers were more telling: 27 of 47. Two interceptions. Two lost fumbles. A number of off-target throws. Passer rating of 59.6, his second-lowest of the season.

Marrone said he tried to ignore Minshew's performance across the pond while making his choice.

"I tried to take that out and put it as a body of work, and that's what I did," Marrone said.

"I think that's important. I think emotions can run sometimes differently, so I looked at the body of work."

Jacksonville waived another former Super Bowl MVP, former Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith, to make room for Foles on the 53-man roster.

Foles, who led the Eagles to four playoff victories over the past two seasons, returned to practice two weeks ago and was officially activated from injured reserve Tuesday.

"We've progressively brought him back into drills and brought him into some high-speed, closequarter rushing, where guys were coming at him, blitzes where people were coming free," Marrone said.

"We felt like we did the best job to make sure that he was in position to be ready once he was healthy."


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AROUND THE NFL
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Monday, November 4, 2019 – Page B11

406: Passing yards for Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford on 26 completions of 41 attempts and three touchdown in the Lions' loss to the Raiders.

160: Rushing yards for Houston running back Carlos Hyde on 19 carries in the Texans' win over the Jaguars.

180: Receiving yards for Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans on 12 receptions and one touchdown in the Buccaneers' loss to the Seahawks.

Dolphins win: The Miami Dolphins avoided what would have been the second 0-8 start in franchise history, joining 2007.

The win leaves Cincinnati (0-8) on the bye week as the NFL's lone winless team this season and, for now, the frontrunners to win the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. It was the Dolphins' first win since the "Miami Miracle" over New England last season.

What's in a name: For the first time in the Super Bowl era, three quarterbacks with the same surname have gone 3-0 after starting in the same week: the Bills' Josh Allen, the Panthers' Kyle Allen and the Broncos' Brandon Allen all won Sunday. They are not related.

Peterson's strong start: Washington running back Adrian Peterson had 101 of his 108 yards rushing in the first half, topping 100 yards for the second time this season and 56th of his career.

The kids these days: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is the youngest player in NFL history to reach 200 career receptions. SmithSchuster reached the milestone with a 12-yard reception on Pittsburgh's first snap against Indianapolis. He finished with three catches and 16 years. The 22-year-old Smith-Schuster reached this 200th reception in his 38th career game. In a victory over Miami last Monday, SmithSchuster became the first player to collect 12 100-yard receiving games before his 23rd birthday.

OBJ a shoe-in for trouble: Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. seems to attract controversy.

On Sunday, his cleats were under scrutiny. The CBS broadcast mentioned Beckham and fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry needed to change their footwear, or be at risk of not being allowed to play in the second half. Beckham was wearing white cleats with red and blue paint resembling the face of the character in the Joker movie; Landry had gold cleats with orange laces.

Fitzpatrick strikes again: The Steelers paid a hefty price in September, when they traded a 2020 first-round pick to Miami for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. In six games, he's done a little of everything. His interception was his fourth of the season and third in the span of six days. His 96yard sprint to the end zone tied the game when it appeared the Colts were ready to go up by double digits.


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CANADA DROPS TO 1-1 AFTER LOSS TO SOUTH KOREA AT PREMIER 12 OLYMPIC QUALIFIER
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Friday, November 8, 2019 – Page B16

SEOUL -- SEOUL The Canadian men's baseball team dropped to 1-1 at the Premier 12 Olympic qualifier with a 3-1 loss against host South Korea on Thursday.

Canada, ranked 10th in the world, is now tied for second in Group C with No. 5 Cuba. The third-ranked Koreans lead at 2-0.

Canada plays its final first-round game on Friday (Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET) against No. 7 Australia (0-2).

The top two teams advance to the Super Round in Tokyo.

Korea starting pitcher Kwanghyun Kim allowed just one hit in six innings while striking out seven.

Canada cut Korea's lead to 2-1 in the eighth on an RBI double by Wes Darvill before the hosts added an insurance run in the ninth.

"We faced a very good [pitching] staff over there with Korea, they threw the ball extremely well," Canada manager Ernie Whitt said. "I'm proud of our guys, they hung in there to the end.

"But give credit to Korea, they pitched [well] and played good defence."

Canadian starter Rob Zastryzny scattered three hits over 51/3 innings while striking out six.

Chris Leroux replaced him with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth.

"He ran out of gas," Whitt said of his starter. "He probably threw 10 more pitches than we wanted him to and his pitch count was up so I had to remove him from the game."

Leroux got the first batter he faced to pop out before loading the bases on a walk.

Jaehwan Kim then lined a single to right to give Korea a 2-0 lead.

Canada will send right-hander Brock Dykxhoorn to the mound to face Australia.

The Australians have won their past four international meetings against Canada.

Canada will need to finish as the top team from the Americas region - which also includes the United States, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Cuba - to secure an Olympic berth.

Another qualifier, featuring just teams from the Americas, will be played in March for a second spot in the sixteam Olympic tournament in Tokyo next summer.

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AUSTRALIA BEATS CANADA, OUSTING IT AT PREMIER 12 BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
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Saturday, November 9, 2019 – Page S2

SEOUL -- SEOUL Logan Wade broke a tie with a two-run triple in the bottom of the eighth and Australia beat Canada's men's baseball team 3-1 on Friday to eliminate the Canadians from the Premier 12 Olympic qualifying tournament.

Canada's hope of earning a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is put on hold until March, when the Americas Olympic Qualifier will take place in Arizona with one spot up for grabs.

"We're very disappointed in the loss," said Canadian manager Ernie Whitt. "Our pitching was outstanding all tournament but you have to score runs to win games and we failed to do that."

Closer Scott Mathieson of Aldergrove, B.C., entered the game in the eighth with two out and runners on first and second before Wade hit ball into the gap in right-centre.

"My only regret is that we walked the leadoff hitter and it seems any time you give up a free pass in these tournament it comes back to haunt you," Whitt said. "We got beat with our best pitchers today but again, you have to score runs to win games."

Starter Brock Dykxhoorn of Goderich, Ont., allowed just a run in the first inning and held Australia to two hits and walk while striking out seven over six innings of work.

Canada, ranked No. 10 in the world, finished round robin with a 1-2 record. The Canadians opened with a win against Cuba before losing to South Korea.

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Japan's NFA becomes 11th international organization to form partnership with CFL
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Tuesday, November 5, 2019 – Page B12

TORONTO -- Japan became the 11th country to become partners with the CFL and its 2.0 initiative Monday.

The league had reached similar agreements with football organizations in Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Sweden and Great Britain.

"We are proud to join our friends in the CFL in a partnership designed to strengthen our game here in Japan, Canada and, ultimately, around the world," Riichiro Fukahori, commissioner of Japan's National Football Association (NFA), said in a statement.

According to the CFL, there are currently 442 teams throughout Japan registered with the country's national association.

That includes 206 college teams and 111 high-school squads.

The country's top tier is the X-League, which consists of 53 teams. Its players are amateurs and belong to either club teams, which are supported by sponsors, or company squads that are owned and operated by a business whose employees are also players.

"We welcome Japan, one of the great sporting nations in the world and a country that has been playing gridiron football for decades," CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said. "We have agreed to work together to grow the great game of gridiron football in our two countries.

"And with this partnership comes an opportunity to work with others around the world who share our vision and goals."


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On fiscal stabilization, Alberta has a legitimate gripe
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By DAVID PARKINSON
  
  

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 – Page B2

W ouldn't it be nice, as the Alberta government struggles with a deficit and an impaired oil sector while bristling at being ineligible for federal equalization funds, if the country had a transfer program to help the country's relatively wealthy provinces in times of economic and fiscal shock?

Something that might make equalization less inequitable for a net contributor to the federal system that finds itself in need?

The country does have such a transfer program. Maybe you've never heard of it.

Probably because it doesn't work.

It's called the Fiscal Stabilization Program, and it has been around for more than 50 years, although rarely used. The general idea is this: If a province gets hit by an economic shock that deals a big blow to its finances, it can apply to Ottawa for funds to top up provincial revenues and soften the blow.

The formula for this is a bit complicated (would we expect anything else from a Canadian federal-provincial program?), but basically, if your non-resource revenues fall more than 5 per cent, you are eligible for federal help.

Only it's not much help. Tragicomically little help, in fact.

It wasn't always supposed to be that way. But in 1987 - a time, notably, that the federal government was dealing with some pretty monstrous deficit problems of its own - Ottawa put a cap on payments under the program at $60 a person.

You can guess how $60 a person works in the case of a major shock, such as the one Alberta suffered with the oil collapse of 2014-15. In the 2015-16 budget year, Alberta saw its total government revenues plunge $7-billion. In return, it received $250-million in fiscal stabilization. Drop, meet bucket.

There are a few obvious issues with fiscal stabilization that need addressing. One is the treatment of resource revenues, which, unlike non-resource revenues, need to plunge 50 per cent or more in a single year before they would be taken into account under the program. Another is the program's focus only on revenue declines over a single year; as Alberta's now-fouryear slump reminds us, serious economic shocks take considerably longer to run their course, yet the program offers no continuing support, unless your tanking economy tanks further.

(Unfortunately for Alberta, its economy has. The severe downturn in prices for Alberta crude prompted a second-round slump last year, prompting the province to apply for another $250-million payment.)

But the big, glaring flaw, one that effectively renders the program next to useless, is the $60-a-person cap. It fights a forest fire with a watering can. It stabilizes nothing.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has begun publicly lobbying Ottawa to remove the cap. That alone, if applied to the two claims under the program that Alberta has made since 2016, would mean an additional $1.7-billion into provincial coffers. It doesn't make up for the revenues Alberta has lost, obviously - but it's a meaningful amount that could help smooth the way as the province wrestles its costs under control.

Mr. Kenney has been referring to the Fiscal Stabilization Program as an "equalization rebate." It's not. Alberta does not directly pay into the equalization fund that gets distributed to provinces with weaker revenue bases - that's paid out of Ottawa's general tax revenue. And any province is eligible for fiscal stabilization, not just the "have" provinces, such as Alberta, that don't receive equalization payments.

Still, it's not hard to envision a betterbuilt Fiscal Stabilization Program as a potential support for the country's strongest provinces that, in times of economic and fiscal strain, don't have the safety net of equalization.

In a paper from the University of Calgary School of Public Policy earlier this year, economist Bev Dahlby said the Fiscal Stabilization Program could function as a risk-sharing mechanism between the country and its "rich but risky" regions - economic powerhouses whose downside of their potency is a tendency toward volatility. While Alberta is the obvious case in point, it's notable that many of the provinces with large resource-revenue streams - leaving them more susceptible to fiscal volatility - are also those that do not, typically, receive payments under Ottawa's equalization program.

Dr. Dahlby suggests that fiscal stabilization could be redesigned to provide a form of "insurance" to protect these resourcedependent provinces that the country leans on as net contributors to the federal system. At the same time, that fiscal insurance would provide a greater benefit from the Canadian federation for its richer members.

A repaired Fiscal Stabilization Program could act as, essentially, an equalization equalizer. And a big part of the fix is easy.

Remove the nonsensical cap.


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TSB calls for measures to reduce small commercial plane accidents
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Friday, November 8, 2019 – Page B2

Canada's aviation safety investigator is urging the government and the small-aircraft sector to take steps to reduce the number of crashes and deaths in the air-taxi industry, pointing to unsafe practices that have made travelling in small passenger planes a riskier way to fly.

The Transportation Safety Board on Thursday issued new recommendations to address the poor safety record of small commercial passenger planes and helicopters, including that Transport Canada pass regulations that address "gaps" in the laws that govern the sector. These gaps include: a lack of training to fly in mountains or coastal regions; special credentials for those holding key positions; psychological trauma training for air ambulance pilots; and rest requirements for aircraft mechanics.

The TSB also said plane operators should be required to track and report to Transport Canada the number of hours flown, takeoffs and landings in order to properly gauge any changes in crash or fatality rates.

Although overall aviation safety has improved in the past several years, "the air-taxi sector continues to have more accidents and more fatalities than all other sectors of commercial aviation combined," said Kathy Fox, chairwoman of the TSB, as she presented the results of a five-year study on the safety record of the sector that includes all aircraft, excluding jets, that carry fewer than 10 passengers.

This includes air ambulances, float planes that carry hunters, fishers and commuters, and other small planes that bring people and supplies to remote communities or mining camps.

"Although these vital air links have helped build Canada and sustain its population, airtaxi operations are at higher risk than other sectors of the commercial aviation industry," Ms. Fox said at a news conference in Gatineau on Thursday.

Ms. Fox said this is partly because the airtaxi industry operates in unique and tough environments. The aircraft often fly without schedules into uncontrolled airspace without navigation aids or proper weather information.

"Flights tend to be shorter, resulting in more takeoffs and landings," Ms. Fox said.

Between 2000 and 2018, commercial aircraft with fewer than 10 passengers had 789 crashes that caused 240 deaths, which represents 55 per cent of all commercial air accidents and 62 per cent of the fatalities, the TSB said.

During the same period, airlines had 93 accidents and 15 fatalities. Aircraft conducting aerial work - carrying external loads for construction or site surveillance - accounted for 466 accidents and 98 deaths.

Privately owned aircraft flown for recreation are involved in the most fatalities, accounting for 29 of 36 deaths in 2018 alone.

Pilots involved in 167 of the air-taxi crashes studies by the TSB had an average of 5,000 hours of flight time, signaling that a lack of experience was not a cause of the incidents, the TSB said.

Ms. Fox said there are two reasons so many people die in small commercial-plane crashes: the acceptance of unsafe practices, and inadequate management of operational hazards.

For example, the pilots - often without enough rest - fly with too much weight on board, with minimal reserve fuel in bad weather in decades-old planes that lack proper navigation aids.

"I'm not talking about flagrant rule violations. I'm talking about a gradual drift that occurs over time that occurs with every successful, though not necessarily safe, flight," said the TSB's Glen Whitney, who led the investigation. The danger of these safety lapses are compounded by bad management practices - poor pilot pairings, sending a different pilot when the first refuses to fly, or having no weight scales available.

The TSB is Canada's investigator of accidents in the air, rail, marine and pipeline industries.

It investigates crashes, collisions and other industry occurrences, and issues reports and recommendations to highlight safety and regulatory shortcomings. Federal ministers must respond to the recommendations within 90 days but are not required to take any action, nor are any industry participants.

Alexandre Desjardins, a Transport Canada spokesman, said department officials are reviewing the TSB's report and recommendations, and will respond by the 90-day deadline.

"Transport Canada shares the Board's commitment to advancing the safety of Canada's air transportation system and we will continue to work with them, and our industry partners, to address all identified safety risks," Mr.

Desjardins said."

The TSB has previously issued 22 recommendations that affect safety practices and standards in the air-taxi sector, including the use of shoulder harnesses in seaplanes and ensuring adequate de-icing equipment is where it is needed. All 22, Ms. Fox said, are "outstanding" and unresolved.


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Starbucks licence holder sells South African outlets for cheap
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Brand's failure to thrive in country's stagnating economy results in meagre $465,000 sale to shareholder group
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Monday, November 4, 2019 – Page B2

JOHANNESBURG -- At the opening of the first Starbucks Corp. café in sub-Saharan Africa three years ago, the company's then-chairman, Howard Schultz, hailed the "growing middle class" of Africa and predicted the continent would become a "significant market" for the coffee chain.

His local licence holder, Taste Holdings Ltd., quickly spent more than US$5-million to set up a dozen Starbucks outlets in Johannesburg and other South African cities, and Mr. Schultz talked of opening 150 to 200 more. Customers queued up in long lines for the novelty of trying the iconic U.S. brand.

But today, the dream has turned sour. The long queues are gone. The expansion has slowed to a crawl as the economy slumps. And now Taste Holdings is abandoning the chain, unloading its 13 Starbucks cafés to a shareholder group for a bargainbasement price of just US$465,000. On average, the sale price is about US$36,000 an outlet, less than a 10th of the cost of opening them.

Starbucks says that it still expects the new owners to continue with the long-term expansion plan, which had been suspended last year. But the cut-price sale is a sign of the complex challenges of the African market, even at a time when investors have been intrigued by the rising consumer class in most African countries.

Foreign investors, including Starbucks, often choose South Africa as their entry point for the African market, since it is the most industrialized and stable large economy on the continent, with relatively good infrastructure, a reliable legal system and a significant middle class. South Africa's fast-food sector has attracted a range of U.S. companies: McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Domino's Pizza and most recently Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts.

Many South Africans, fascinated by the sight of the famous American coffee giant, crowded into long queues to place their orders at the first Starbucks outlet in Johannesburg in 2016. But after the novelty wore off, Starbucks has been hampered by a weak economy, a slump in consumer spending, fierce local competition and a perception that its products are high-priced by local standards.

Another South African company, Grand Parade Investments, announced last February that it was shutting down its loss-making Dunkin' Donuts and BaskinRobbins outlets after a failed three-year experiment with the two U.S. food brands. It opted to focus on expanding its Burger King outlets instead.

After five years of stagnant economic growth and frequent electricity shortages, South African consumers have been tightening their belts. Unemployment remains high and the government has been plagued by corruption, mismanagement and soaring debts. Economic growth is forecast at just 0.5 per cent this year.

Moody's, the only major credit-rating agency that still rates South Africa as investment grade, announced on Friday that it is revising its outlook from "stable" to "negative," leaving the country on the brink of junk status.

Taste Holdings, announcing the sale of its Starbucks business on Friday, said it could not afford the heavy cost of expanding the coffee chain.

It estimated that it would need to raise at least US$45-million in capital to attain a positive cash flow at its two food operations: Starbucks and Domino's Pizza. It would need to expand to 150 to 200 Starbucks cafés, while tripling the 81 restaurants in its Domino's chain, and this could take several more years, it said.

"After careful consideration, following months of operational reviews and canvassing potential partners and capital providers on this long-term objective, it has become evident that the capital investment required for this expansion strategy cannot be secured, given the current structure of the business and existing market conditions," the company said, announcing its decision to exit the food business entirely.

The new owners of the Starbucks outlets are a consortium that includes Adrian Maizey, a non-executive director of Taste Holdings.

Starbucks, in a statement quoted by Reuters, said the sale would provide the necessary capital to help achieve its goal of having up to 200 outlets in South Africa.

The company has been relatively slow to enter the African market, after focusing on Asia and Europe for most of its international expansion.

Associated Graphic

Hundreds of people line up for the official opening of South Africa's first Starbucks store in Johannesburg on April 21, 2016. Today, the novelty has worn off amid a weak economy and slump in consumer spending.

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES


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Organigram expects sales to slump on pot oversupply, product returns
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Company's shares slide 20% after it warns about quarterly decline amid mixed results from rivals
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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Page B2

Organigram Holdings Inc. sent a shock through the cannabis sector on Monday evening when the company revealed a dramatic revenue miss due to industry oversupply and product returns - two problems that are top of mind for cannabis companies and investors during a critical week of earnings.

Organigram now expects its quarterly sales to decline 34 per cent compared with the previous quarter. The announcement sent the company's share price down 20 per cent on Tuesday.

Producers are now growing more cannabis than is being sold in legal retail stores, and wholesale price compression and product returns are starting to show up in financial statements.

New Brunswick-based Organigram doesn't report its fourth-quarter financial results until Nov. 25, but it is expecting to announce $16.4-million in sales, down from $24.8-million in the preceding quarter. The company said it shipped $20-million worth of product, but expects $3.7million to be returned unsold.

"While we have largely anticipated little to no top-line growth for upcoming Canadian LP [licensed producer] results, the magnitude of the sequential decline is unexpected," wrote Eight Capital analyst Graeme Kreindler in a note on Tuesday.

Organigram blamed its poor quarter on the low number of retail stores in Ontario - only 24 legal stores are open - as well as the increase in supply across the industry. In the lead up to the wave of earnings this week, analysts have been warning that the vaults of provincial wholesalers are filling up with product that retailers don't want and wholesalers are making fewer new purchase orders.

Michael Gorenstein, chief executive of Cronos Group Inc., highlighted the challenges facing the Canadian market on an analyst call on Tuesday morning, after Cronos reported $12.7-million in quarterly sales, up from $10.2-million in the preceding quarter but short of consensus expectations.

"The number of retail stores as well as warehousing and logistics needs are in the process of catching up to meet the demand of consumers. As a result, we're still not able to fully reach the long-term total addressable market represented by this population," Mr. Gorenstein said.

Although Cronos doubled the number of kilograms of cannabis it sold in the quarter, a large portion of those sales were low-priced bulk sales to other producers. Mr. Gorenstein acknowledged that Cronos was "opportunistically" unloading cannabis on the wholesale market, owing to expectations that prices were about to drop sharply.

Tilray Inc., which reported after markets closed on Tuesday, showed relatively strong sales growth, with revenue increasing to US$48.2-million from US$42million the previous quarter.

However, the company reported a net loss of US$35.7-million and an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) loss of US$23.5-million, both worse than analysts had expected.

Cannabis companies are hoping that derivative products, such as cannabis-infused edibles and vaporizers, will help drive sales and widen profit margins when they enter the market later this year. But concerns are emerging that these "Cannabis 2.0" products may take longer than expected to show up on store shelves.

On Tuesday, MediPharm Labs Corp., a cannabis-extraction company based in Barrie, Ont., reported strong revenue growth as well as a $5.4-million profit, something rare in the cannabis industry. Still, the company's stock dropped 12.5 per cent.

In a Tuesday morning analyst call, MediPharm's CEO Pat McCutcheon said that derivative product sales might not have a significant impact on the company's revenue until the second half of 2020.

"Various retail distribution models used by different provinces have resulted in backlogged orders ... [and] we expect the cadence will likely not measure up to initial expectations in the near term," Mr. McCutcheon said.

All eyes are now on Canopy Growth Corp. and Aurora Cannabis Inc., Canada's two largest cannabis growers, which both report earnings on Thursday.

ORGANIGRAM (OGI) CLOSE: $3.57, DOWN 89¢ CRONOS GROUP (CRON) CLOSE: $10.40, DOWN 29¢ TILRAY (TLRY) CLOSE: US$21.57, DOWN 35 US CENTS MEDIPHARM LABS (LABS) CLOSE: $4.42, DOWN 63¢

Associated Graphic

Organigram, whose plants are seen growing in a facility in Moncton on Oct. 12, says it expects to announce $16.4-million in sales in the fourth quarter, down from $24.8-million in the preceding quarter.

JOHN MORRIS/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


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Fund spun out of BDC looks to boost institutional investment in biotech
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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – Page B2

A new Canadian-focused biotech venture fund spun out of Business Development Bank of Canada has raised more than $100-million as it aims to woo reluctant domestic investors to an asset class that has enjoyed one of its strongest years in Canada.

Amplitude Venture Capital, led by former BDC fund managers Jean-François Pariseau and Dion Madsen, said it has secured financing from a handful of Quebec institutions that have been Canada's most active funders of domestic biotech venture capital. They are Teralys Capital, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, FTQ Solidarity Fund and the Quebec government's investing arm, Investissement Québec.

Now, the pair hopes to reach their $200-million target by convincing other investors in Canada and abroad that there are more opportunities like the string of investment successes they've had at BDC. "We want to expand and amplify what we are doing," said Mr. Madsen, who joined BDC in 2013 to co-manage its first dedicated closed-end life sciences fund.

Amplitude's official launch follows a windfall from one of the pair's first investments, through BDC earlier this decade, in Montreal-based Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc. Mr.

Pariseau was Clementia's first funder, which helped founder Clarissa Desjardins secure a licence from Roche Pharmaceuticals to redevelop a failed emphysema drug as a treatment for a rare, debilitating tissue disorder. The company went public in 2017 on the Nasdaq and was sold this year to Paris-based Ipsen Pharma for US$1-billion. BDC's stake, an investment of less than $20-million, netted the bank a profit of more than $110-million at the time of Clementia's IPO.

That amounts to the biggest return by any BDC investment ever. Combined with its investments in other Canadian biotech developers that went public in the United States - Zymeworks Inc., Milestone Pharmaceuticals Inc.

and Profound Medical Corp. - the BDC health-care fund became "one of the highest performing funds in Canada [of any type], full stop," said Jérôme Nycz, executive vice-president of A BDC Capital.

"Amplitude has great poten- p tial to be successful," Teralys s partner Cédric Bisson said. d "They've done it before, they k know what they're doing, they know how to guide companies d and to finance them properly to h success." c But other than Amplitude's t initial backers, Canadian institutions, including pension funds p and insurance companies, have C been absent from the early-stage P biotech sector in Canada, raising T questions about how much more the new fund can raise at home. "I think institutional investors here still don't have the confidence yet to invest locally," Clementia's Ms. Desjardins said. "I think they should look at the track record of these individuals and at the maturity of the various companies we now have, because now we have a bunch of foreigners coming to invest."

Mr. Dion said he and Mr. Pariseau "feel pretty confident" they can reach at least $150-million from Canadian backers.

But they also plan to target foreign investors, who have increasingly invested in Canada alongside the country's handful of domestic biotech funds.

Canada's domestic biotech sector used to consist primarily of small, underfunded early-stage drug developers, many of which struggled or sold out earlier.

But the industry has changed. Pharma giants that once might have funded early-stage research and development in-house, instead use the money to help selected startups through the lengthy process of getting drugs approved and to market. This way, Big Pharma offloads some of the development costs, while at the same time sharing its risk with venture capital funds.

Nowadays it's more typical for early-stage Canadian drug developers with promising science to raise $100-million or more in funding rounds to advance their discoveries and then to list on the Nasdaq.

The Amplitude spinout is part of a shift by the federal Crown corporation in how it finances Canada's technology sector. Under the arrangement, Amplitude will continue to manage BDC's existing biotech venture portfolio.

BDC struck a similar deal last year when two BDC venture capitalists left to run their own information technology fund, Framework Venture Partners. BDC is focusing on investing in areas that have had difficulty attracting funding, including women-led startups and clean-technology companies.


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Democrats seek Trudeau's help to ensure Mexico enforces USMCA
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Thursday, November 7, 2019 – Page B1

The Democratic chair of a powerful U.S.congressional committee met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday to seek Canada's help in ensuring Mexico enforces stricter labour standards in the renegotiated NAFTA deal.

The White House and the Democraticcontrolled House of Representatives are still in negotiations over possible changes to the deal as the Trump administration tries to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement before the end of 2019, despite an impeachment inquiry and the looming U.S. presidential primary season.

Richard Neal, chairman of the House ways and means committee, said he's not seeking to reopen the trade deal, but is looking for guarantees that tougher labour standards will be followed.

The Democrats won control of the House in 2018 and their caucus, which has long been concerned about job losses to Mexico, is now crucial to passing the USMCA.

"I think what we're going to prioritize here is clearly the issue of labour enforcement, and we think that on USMCA, we're very close, but we need some guarantees as it relates not just to Canada, but also their help as it relates to Mexico," Mr. Neal told Global News as he arrived on Parliament Hill for the meeting.

"We think that we want a series of guarantees," Mr. Neal said.

"They're pretty basic, and we've reached accord on many of these issues but we've also decided on the ways and means committee with the working group that nothing is settled until everything is settled."

He later met with other officials including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Employment Minister Patty Hajdu.

Canada has begun assisting Mexico in efforts to enforce tougher labour standards. In August, Ms. Hajdu visited Mexico to help set up working groups. The Mexican embassy in Canada said in a statement on Wednesday that the two countries have had several meetings on "best practices on collective bargaining, union registration, protection of independent unions and independent and impartial procedures in labour lawsuits."

Ms. Freeland's office later described the Neal meeting as "an occasion to discuss the ratification process for the new NAFTA and the shared commitment between Canada and the United States to support the implementation of important labour reforms in Mexico."

Mexico has already bristled at the idea of foreign monitoring of its labour practices. Several weeks ago, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed wage increases and funding for the implementation of labour reforms, part of a campaign to persuade U.S. Democratic lawmakers to ratify USMCA.

Dispute resolution in USMCA has been a focus of negotiations between Democrats and the Republicans. Jesus Seade Kuri, Mexico's chief trade negotiator for North America, told reporters this week that he expects these talks might lead to the addition of a measure to prevent USMCA member countries from blocking the formation of panels to resolve disputes.

Last week, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, signalled that Democrats are still committed to passing USMCA, despite impeachment proceedings that now dominate Washington.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trudeau, prior to his meeting with Mr. Neal, said he's pleased that the revised deal is moving forward.

"It is a pleasure to see the positive momentum that seems to be happening on this renewal of this very important trade deal."

The Democratic-controlled House must vote on the USMCA as part of the process of ratification of the new trade deal in the U.S. Mexico has already ratified the agreement, while Canada has not, saying it will move in tandem with the U.S.

A Canadian official said conversations did not discuss in specific terms what is being negotiated between the Democrats and Republicans on USMCA. The Globe and Mail is keeping the official's name confidential because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the content of the Neal talks in Ottawa Canadian trade lawyer Mark Warner said he thinks USMCA could be in jeopardy if it doesn't pass Congress by end of December. Presidential primaries begin in February. "Once you start getting into presidential primary season, particularly on the Democratic side, with candidates who have to campaign but also vote, you get into the silly political season."


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Canadian crude discount grows amid Keystone spill, shutdown
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By TIM SHUFELT
  
  

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019 – Page B1

The discount on Canadian crude widened to its highest level in nearly a year after a major oil spill forced the shutdown of the Keystone pipeline, a key conduit for energy exports to U.S. markets.

Pipeline operator TC Energy Corp. has not given a timeline for a return to service of Keystone, which ruptured and leaked an estimated 1.5 million litres of crude oil in North Dakota last week.

The outage helped drag Alberta crude prices down to about US$34 a barrel as of Monday, compared with US$56.54 for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for oil.

The last time the gap between the two was that wide was last December, at the tail end of a crash in Canadian oil prices caused by a shortage of pipeline capacity.

"Canadian crude differentials can temporarily blow out again, until either rail responds or Keystone returns," Michael Tran, a commodity strategist at RBC Dominion Securities, wrote in a report. "The next week to 10 days will be a white-knuckle ride."

The Keystone pipeline, which originates in Hardisty, Alta., is one of the primary ways of moving heavy oil-sands crude destined for American refineries. TC Energy is also proposing to build the US$8-billion Keystone XL pipeline linking Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

Shipments on the existing line account for up to 18 per cent of Canada's oil exports to the U.S.

Additional rail capacity may be able to handle close to half of the lost pipeline capacity.

But there are no easy alternatives to transporting the 590,000 barrels a day that Keystone can accommodate. And each day that Keystone is out of service will commit additional stranded Canadian crude barrels to inventories.

Most pipeline ruptures are repaired and service resumed within a week or two. If that's the case this time around, the sector can probably manage the additional stockpiles.

But there is little room for error, Mr. Tran said.

Much longer than that and excess supply could overtake storage capacity, which in the past has put extreme downward pressure on prices for Alberta oil.

Last year, Western Canadian Select, or WCS, sank to as low as US$13.46 a barrel as excess supplies piled up.

The cause of the North Dakota leak and the duration of the outage, let alone the environmental toll, are not yet known.

And this is not Keystone's first major spill. In 2017, a rupture leaked 6,600 barrels in rural South Dakota.

"At some point, the regulators are going to get really annoyed, and they may want to take action," said Samir Kayande, a director at RS Energy Group.

If Keystone is offline for a sustained period for whatever reason, the capacity to move oil by rail will be put to the test, Mr.

Kayande added.

"The other option could be deeper curtailment, because there is now precedent for the government managing production and we know that works."

In 2018, mandatory production cuts were put in place in Alberta to help ease the pipeline bottleneck.

That move is widely credited with helping balance out the Canadian oil market and reduce the pricing differential to normal levels.

Last week, the Alberta government announced plans to ease those production restrictions. A measure set to take effect in December would allow producers to exceed their quotas if they can move those barrels by rail.

A prolonged Keystone outage could force a reconsideration of the curtailment guidelines, Mr.

Kayande said.

The spill is the latest setback for a sector under extraordinary pressure, as it contends with weak global pricing over growth concerns, environmental scrutiny related to climate change, the exodus of investment capital and the lack of takeaway capacity amid a factious national pipeline debate.

"This outage underscores the structural issue plaguing the Canadian oil industry, whose fortunes are consistently one pipeline leak away from a materially wider WCS differential," Mr. Tran said.


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Alberta to remove production caps for newly drilled conventional wells
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By EMMA GRANEY
  
  

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Saturday, November 9, 2019 – Page B2

Alberta will allow operators to drill new conventional wells unrestricted by production limits as the government tiptoes toward easing oil curtailment.

Existing producing wells will remain under curtailment, but Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Friday the change would help drive investment and job creation in the oil patch, and economic growth in the province.

The move, effective immediately, targets Alberta's drilling industry, which has seen the province's rig count drop by 33 per cent year-over-year. Government officials expect the bulk of new wells to crop up in the foothills, east central and southeast regions of Alberta.

New wells drilled under the policy change won't come online until late 2020 or early 2021, by which time the government expects additional transport capacity thanks to pipeline optimization programs and additional crude-by-rail contracts.

"We're watching the differential. We wouldn't be doing this if we weren't confident" the differential can handle it, Ms. Savage said at a news conference in Edmonton, adding drilling jobs could essentially start right away under Friday's change.

The drilling sector had been facing its worst winter season in 25 years, said Bob Geddes, president and chief operating officer for Ensign Energy Services Inc.

He said he believes the announcement will help "to save this winter," which is typically the busiest period for Canadian drilling companies.

Mr. Geddes - who heads one of Canada's largest energy-sector service firms - said Friday he had worked with the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, the industry group, and the Alberta government over the past month to push for the policy change.

Ms. Savage didn't know how many wells would be drilled under the eased curtailment policy, but said producers believe they could bring on hundreds of new wells if curtailment is relaxed.

"We'll hold them to their word to bring that activity on and create those wells, because we need them," she said.

Alberta producers have been under curtailment since January, when the former NDP government imposed production limits to drain the glut of oil in storage and help ease a crippling price differential on Canadian crude.

In August, the United Conservative Party government announced curtailment would be extended through 2020, citing swirling uncertainty around when expanded pipelines might come online.

Ms. Savage confessed she's the "the last person in the world" who wants to see Alberta's oil patch hamstrung by curtailment and said her government is doing all it can to prepare an "orderly exit" from production limits.

Those first tentative steps include Friday's change for new wells and the special production allowances announced last month, which will allow producers to increase their output as long as the extra oil is moved by rail.

"Companies are in the process of finalizing their budgets and their investment plans," Ms. Savage said. "What we don't want is the curtailment policy to impact those decisions. We want that investment and those dollars to stay in Alberta to create jobs here."

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., one of Canada's largest producers, has started drilling in Saskatchewan to increase output, saying it makes economic sense to tap wells untouched by curtailment.

This past September, Alberta produced approximately 480,000 barrels a day of conventional oil, of which 90,000 b/d came from curtailed operators. Eligibility for unrestricted drilling under the new rule will be tracked by the date the main drill bit enters the ground.

With a report from Kelly Cryderman.


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Aramco offering flags risks, gives few details on IPO size
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Prospectus doesn't divulge how much of the company would be floated in total or commitments from anchor investors
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By MAHER CHMAYTELLI
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Monday, November 11, 2019 – Page B2

DUBAI -- Saudi state oil giant Aramco will sell 0.5 per cent of its shares to individual retail investors and the government will have a lockup period of a year on further share sales after the initial public offering (IPO), its prospectus said on Saturday.

The more-than-600-page prospectus did not include details of how much of the company would be floated in total or of any commitments from anchor investors.

Sources have said the company could sell 1 per cent to 2 per cent on the Saudi stock market in what could be the world's largest listing.

Offering for the shares will begin on Nov. 17, the prospectus said.

Aramco fired the starting gun on the IPO on Nov. 3 after a series of false starts. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to raise billions of dollars to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil by investing in non-energy industries.

Among the risks highlighted in the prospectus were the potential for terrorist attacks and the potential for encountering antitrust legislation, as well as the right of the Saudi government to decide maximum crude output and direct Aramco to undertake projects outside its core business.

Aramco may also change its dividend policy without prior notice to its minority shareholders, it said.

Aramco's oil facilities were targeted on Sept. 14 in unprecedented attacks that temporarily shut down 5.7 million barrels a day (b/ d) of output - more than 5 per cent of global oil supply.

The prospectus said the government will have a "statutory lock-up period" for disposing of any shares after the listing for six months, and a contractual lockup period for 12 months.

Aramco cannot list additional shares for a period of six months after trading starts, and will also be restricted from issuing additional shares for 12 months.

The offering for institutional investors will begin on Nov. 17 and end on Dec. 4, while retail investors will be able to bid for the shares from Nov. 17 to Nov. 28, the prospectus said.

Aramco has been in talks with Gulf and Asian sovereign wealth funds and wealthy Saudi individuals to secure top investors of the IPO, but no anchor investor has yet to formally agree to a deal.

Bankers have told the Saudi government that investors will likely value the company at about US$1.5-trillion, below the US$2-trillion valuation touted by Prince Mohammed when he first floated the idea of an IPO nearly four years ago.

Initial hopes for a 5-per-cent IPO on domestic and international stock exchanges were dashed last year when the process was halted amid debate over where to list Aramco overseas.

Aramco said the timetable was delayed because it began a process to acquire a 70-per-cent stake in petrochemicals maker Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

The prospectus said Goldman Sachs was named as stabilizing agent for the deal.

Analysts from banks working on the Riyadh stock market have projected a wide valuation range between US$1.2-trillion and US$2.3-trillion.

At the top valuation of US$2tillion, Aramco could potentially raise US$40-billion, topping the record-breaking US$25-billion raised by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2014.

Associated Graphic

Aramco's oil production and storage operation in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, was one of several facilities targeted in attacks on Sept. 14. Aramco's IPO prospectus says future attacks are possible.

MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS


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Browns hold off Bills to end four-game slump
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Monday, November 11, 2019 – Page B15

CLEVELAND -- Baker Mayfield threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins with 1:44 left as the Cleveland Browns snapped a four-game losing streak - and took some pressure off first-year coach Freddie Kitchens - with a 19-16 win on Sunday over the Buffalo Bills.

The Browns (3-6) rallied for a win that kept their season from completely collapsing. Cleveland survived more problems in the red zone, but sealed the muchneeded win when Buffalo kicker Stephen Hauschka's 53-yard field-goal attempt was short with 22 seconds left. Earlier, Hauschka missed a 34-yarder. Quarterback Josh Allen had two touchdown runs for the Bills (6-3), who were off to their best start since 1993. Mayfield finally delivered a clutch drive after Allen's one-yard sneak put the Bills ahead 16-12. On second-andgoal, he threaded his TD pass to an open Higgins, who had been suspiciously missing from Cleveland's game plan this season after being one of Mayfield's favourite targets last season. It was Higgins's only catch. Mayfield had his second straight solid game, completing 26 of 38 passes for 238 yards and two TDs. He didn't throw an interception for the second week in a row.

However, Cleveland struggled again to complete drives as the Bills stopped them on 12 plays inside the three-yard line, holding Cleveland to three points. Browns running back Kareem Hunt made his debut for Cleveland and picked up 74 combined yards. The 24-year-old was eligible after completing an eight-game NFL suspension for two violent acts, including shoving and kicking a woman while he played for Kansas City.

TITANS 35, CHIEFS 32 NASHVILLE Ryan Tannehill threw a 23-yard touchdown to Adam Humphries with 23 seconds left, and Tennessee Titans blocked a last-second field goal attempt to beat Kansas City and spoil the return of NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Titans (5-5) only had a chance to take the lead after a bad snap by the Chiefs on Harrison Butker's fifth field goal attempt of the day.

The snap caught holder Dustin Colquitt by surprise, and he threw the ball away in desperation for an intentional grounding call, setting the Titans up at their own 39.

Tannehill scrambled for 18, hit Anthony Firsker for 20 yards and then found Humphries who ran in for the TD. Tannehill also ran for the two-point conversion for a 35-32 lead. The Chiefs (6-4) had a final chance with Mahomes. He drove them down, setting up Butker for another field goal try from 52 yards. Joshua Kalu blocked the kick with his left hand, and the Titans poured onto the field to celebrate.

FALCONS 26, SAINTS 9 NEW ORLEANS Matt Ryan passed for two touchdowns and Atlanta ended its sixgame slide with a victory over the Saints that stopped New Orleans's six-game winning streak. Atlanta's defence stunningly dominated New Orleans' normally stout offensive line. Coming in with an NFL low seven sacks all season, the Falcons sacked Drew Brees six times, with Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley Jr., Adrian Clayborn and De'Vondre Campbell all getting involved. Jarrett finished with a team-high 21/2 sacks. It was the second time this season the Saints were held without a touchdown at home, but the first time with Brees under centre.

New Orleans also failed to score a TD in a 12-10 victory over Dallas in Week 4 with Teddy Bridgewater filling in at quarterback. Ryan, returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him in the game before the Falcons' Week 9 bye, was 20 of 35 for 182 yards.

RAVENS 49, BENGALS 13 CINCINNATI Lamar Jackson threw for three touchdowns in a near-perfect passing performance and added a sensational 47-yard scoring run, Marcus Peters got his third pick-six of the season - this one off rookie Ryan Finley - and Baltimore won its fifth in a row, routing winless Cincinnati. The Ravens (7-2) followed their eye-opening victory over the previously unbeaten Patriots by quickly pulling away from the NFL's last winless team.

It was the Lamar Jackson show from the start - a 49-yard completion on his first throw. His only incompletion in the first half was on a spike. Jackson finished 15 of 17 - a club-record completion percentage - for 223 yards and a perfect passer rating of 158.3, his second of the season. Jackson threw five TD passes and had a perfect rating during a 59-10 opening win over the Dolphins. The AFC North leaders have won five in a row for the first time since 2013.

BEARS 20, LIONS 13 CHICAGO Mitchell Trubisky tied a season high with three touchdown passes, and Chicago withstood a late charge by Detroit with Jeff Driskel filling in for injured quarterback Matthew Stafford, beating the Lions to snap a four-game losing streak. Detroit ruled out the 31-year-old Stafford hours before kickoff because of hip and back injuries, ending his streak of 136 consecutive starts. It was the first time he missed a regular-season game since 2010. Chicago improved to 4-5. Detroit (3-5-1) lost for the fifth time in six games.

BUCCANEERS 30, CARDINALS 27 TAMPA Jameis Winston threw for 358 yards and one touchdown, helping Tampa Bay rally to snap a four-game losing streak with a victory over Arizona. Matt Gay kicked three field goals and Peyton Barber scored on a one-yard run to finish a 92-yard, game-winning drive by Winston.

Barber's TD with less than two minutes left was set up by a booth review that determined Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson committed pass interference against Mike Evans in the end zone, giving Tampa Bay a first down at the Arizona one.

JETS 34, GIANTS 27 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Le'Veon Bell scored a go-ahead one-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter after a 33-yard pass interference penalty on DeAndre Baker, and the Jets rallied and then held on to beat the Giants for Big Apple bragging rights. Sam Darnold threw a touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder and ran for another score, and Jamal Adams scored on a 25-yard fumble return on a strip-sack as the Jets (2-7) bounced back from an embarrassing 28-16 loss last week at previously winless Miami. Daniel Jones threw a career-high four touchdown passes, but couldn't prevent the Giants (2-8) from losing their sixth straight game. It's their first six-game skid since 2014.

DOLPHINS 16, COLTS 12 INDIANAPOLIS Ryan Fitzpatrick scored on an 11-yard run in the first half and the Miami defence made a late stop to preserve a victory over Indianapolis. The Dolphins (2-7) have won two straight after a miserable start and earned their first win at Lucas Oil Stadium since 2013. Indianapolis (5-4) has lost back-to-back regular-season games for the first time since October 2018. With starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett out because of an injured left knee, the Colts offence sputtered. Indy gained just 300 total yards and Brian Hoyer was picked off three times, with Miami scoring 13 points off those turnovers.

STEELERS 17, RAMS 12 PITTSBURGH The Steelers defence spoiled Aaron Donald's homecoming and derailed the Los Angeles Rams' momentum in the process. The Steelers forced four turnovers - including a 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick - in an ugly victory that pushed their winning streak to four games and dealt the Rams' chances of chasing down Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West a serious blow.

Associated Graphic

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs looks to pass against the Tennessee Titans in the second quarter at Nissan Stadium on Sunday in Nashville.

BRETT CARLSEN/GETTY IMAGES


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How the Wolfpack landed Williams, the biggest fish in the sea
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By RACHEL BRADY
  
  

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Saturday, November 9, 2019 – Page S3

TORONTO -- A ll Blacks superstar Sonny Bill Williams sat in a Tokyo restaurant in late October on a quiet night during the Rugby World Cup, launching questions across the table at Toronto Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott.

There was a fascinating multimillion-dollar deal taking shape.

Toronto's transatlantic rugby league club was on the brink of signing the world famous New Zealand player - a man who could help kick off its first season in England's top-tier Super League in February with a resounding bang. Those talking about the deal were already equating its magnitude to David Beckham joining Major League Soccer's L.A. Galaxy.

That two-man dinner meeting included zero talk about money.

The Wolfpack had been having conversations on and off with Williams's agent for two years, and now the deal was actually nearing a reality. The towering Kiwi requested Toronto's coach fly over to meet him in Japan so he could learn everything there was to know about the Wolfpack from the man who leads its players every day.

Williams's New Zealand team had lost a semi-final heartbreaker to England in the World Cup the night before in Yokohama, with McDermott in the crowd.

The 34-year-old Auckland native was mulling his next career move, and this would be an adventure - switching back from rugby union to rugby league, and taking his talents to the Northern Hemisphere.

Williams queried Toronto's veteran English coach on everything from the Wolfpack's defensive and offensive strategies, to their training regimens, philosophies and weekly schedules.

"He was very gracious and humble and apologized for machine-gunning me with questions," McDermott recalled with a laugh. "He wanted to make sure he could blend in with the Wolfpack as fast as possible. Never once did I get any sense that he had his collars up sayin,g 'Hey I'm a big deal here.' " The New Zealander, who measures 6 foot 3 and 238 pounds, has starred at the highest levels in both codes of rugby, professionally and internationally. He earned two rugby-league championships in Australia's National Rugby League. He won World Cups with the All Blacks in 2015 and 2011, along with the bronze medal he was about to earn in Japan. The athletic Williams even boxed professionally seven times, winning all of his heavyweight bouts. He's a devout Muslim, and his profile extends way beyond the sport, as evidenced by his 1.7 million followers across his Twitter and Instagram feeds.

The Wolfpack is an ambitious club born just three years ago. It made its debut in the bottom tier of English rugby league, winning promotion to the second-tier Betfred Championship in Year 1, before winning promotion to the Super League just last month. A talent with a monster brand such as Williams could help the Wolfpack muscle up for Super League competition, and stimulate its brand along with the sport within Toronto's cluttered sports market. Even around the world.

McDermott had just one question for Williams during that dinner.

"I said 'I've got to ask you this Sonny - and I don't intend to offend you - but are you coming for the sexy headlines, the big money and profile that come with this deal, or are you coming to go through those tough moments on the field with your teammates?' " McDermott recalled.

"His answer was outstanding, and I won't tell you exactly what he said, but I'll summarize. He's all about earning the right to play, the respect of his family and of our players. He knows to do that he has to work harder than anyone else."

McDermott, reached in England hours after the Wolfpack officially announced Williams's two-year deal, shared his recollections of that dinner in a phone interview on Thursday. The signing made news worldwide. The Wolfpack won't confirm the terms, but it is reported to be worth some $9-million Canadian in total, with some outlets calling it the richest deal in Super League history. It's a lot of money for a club that is also footing the bill for opposing teams' travel to Canada and is not - at least for its first Super League season - getting a share of broadcasting revenue.

Super League allows for each team to have two franchise players with all but a small chunk of their salaries counted outside the salary cap.

The Wolfpack will introduce Williams in England next week, at a news conference slated for Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal FC. He will meet his new Wolfpack teammates as the English players start training camp in Manchester. For immigration reasons, most international players do their preseason training outside of Britain, so Williams will train in Australia and report to England in January before Super League matches begin in February.

The Wolfpack has even been approached about a reality series on Netflix, which could begin filming this season.

Williams is a fit and fierce ball carrier with a talent for dishing the ball off to teammates as multiple muscled tacklers hang off him. He began his career in rugby league, but has frequently moved between codes and played the past five seasons in rugby union. McDermott says rugby league is more aerobic and Williams could have 80-90 involvements a game for the Wolfpack, compared with his 20-30 each match in rugby union.

The outspoken coach has witnessed various efforts by Super League to grow its popularity, but he thinks examples of big investments - such as this from Wolfpack majority owner David Argyle - will move the needle more.

"It's going to prove to some other clubs that these big, big deals can be done if you have an owner who is innovative, resourceful and has [the determination] to go out and do it," McDermott said.

With the Wolfpack's first 10 matches scheduled abroad, because of the Canadian winter, Williams isn't likely to set foot in Toronto until the home opener at Lamport Stadium on April 18.

But news of his arrival is already among the biggest topics buzzing throughout Super League.

"It's the biggest news Super League has had in 20 years," said Wolfpack director of rugby Brian Noble. "We moved heaven and earth to get the biggest name in rugby and we've done it. It's really a major signing, and it's a reflection of how well we want to perform in the Super League and what we want to do for the game of rugby league in the Northern hemisphere. He's built like a mountain, and people are going to love watching him."

Bob Hunter, Wolfpack chairman and CEO, was at Super League team meetings in England this week and said the signing was a hot topic.

Many Super League clubs project spikes in ticket sales when Williams and the Wolfpack visit, and are also projecting a jump in the number of British fans who will fly to Toronto for a game.

Hunter said one team reportedly has 1,500 fans committed for an extended weekend trip to Canada.

"The combination of playing in the Super League, and having Sonny Bill Williams changes our sponsorship opportunities dramatically, and the interest in tickets," Hunter said.

Associated Graphic

New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams, clashing with Welsh players during the Rugby World Cup on Nov. 1, has had huge success in the sport. Now, he's signed with the Wolfpack.

CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES


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Leafs are set to welcome Hyman back, but lose Marner to sprained ankle
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Toronto swaps one winger for another while coach remains mum on lineup ahead of Wednesday's road game against the Islanders
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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Page B16

N TORONTO -- As the Maple Leafs sluggishly went about the early part of the NHL schedule, head coach Mike Babcock would often point to the new faces in the lineup and the new systems being implemented as reasons for his team's uninspiring start.

Toronto's head coach also went out of his way to mention the absence of Zach Hyman - the gritty forward tasked with retrieving the puck and making space for star linemates John Tavares and Mitch Marner.

The good news is the Leafs are set to welcome Hyman back from a serious knee injury. The bad news is they're also dealing with the realization that Marner will be out at least four weeks, and quite possibly longer, with a high ankle sprain.

"It would be nice to come back and play with him again and to reunite on that front," Hyman said of Marner on Tuesday before adding with a smile: "He'll be back soon and I guess I'll be up to game speed by then." Marner hobbled off in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers after stepping on an opponent's stick at the start of the second period. He made it to the bench and tried to take part in a power-play shift a few minutes later before heading to the locker room.

The 22-year-old, who said he felt "a snap" in his right ankle, tested the joint again during a television timeout, but was pulled out of the action by the Leafs' medical team. He was in a walking boot Tuesday and hopes to have it off by Friday.

"You're always [disappointed]," said Marner, who will go on long-term injury reserve. "But looking back at the video, seeing the photos, it could have been a lot worse. At that time I was ready to look back and see my ankle twisted the wrong way."

High ankle sprains can be tricky, with the timeline for a return often hard to predict. Marner, whose move to LTIR does help the Leafs' salary cap crunch, missed Sunday's 5-4 loss in Chicago against the Blackhawks and will sit out at least the next 12 games before being re-evaluated.

Marner, Tavares and Hyman combined for 223 points in 201819, and were on the ice for 53 of Toronto's 166 goals at 5 on 5, according to the website naturalstattrick.com. Marner is currently second in scoring on the Leafs with 18 points, seven back of Auston Matthews, but just 10 have come at even strength.

Toronto, which sits 9-6-4 heading into Wednesday's road game against the New York Islanders, went 3-2-2 with Tavares out of the lineup from Oct. 19 to Nov. 2 with a broken finger.

"It's unfortunate," Tavares said of Marner's absence. "We want him back as soon as possible, but the circumstances are what they are. That's why you need depth, and we certainly have that.

"It's a great opportunity for many guys."

Kasperi Kapanen should get the first crack alongside Tavares and Hyman, while winger Nic Petan was recalled from the American Hockey League and looks set to slot in on the fourth line.

Babcock, however, wasn't promising anything after Tuesday's practice.

"We've got to figure it out as a coaching staff, and them as players, and figure out who plays with who to help the group be the best it can be," he said. "We'll take a look and try and get the group to be set up the best way it can to have success."

Babcock added it's tough to know what Hyman, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in last spring's playoff loss to the Boston Bruins, will bring in his first game since April.

"He just works ... like a dog," the coach said. "Can he get on the fore-check and get us the puck back like he always does? I don't know the answer for that. How can [he] be on that right-hand faceoff circle on the penalty kill? I don't know that either."

Tavares said the juggling of linemates can be a challenge, especially when replacing a unique talent such as Marner.

"Guys play different ways, have different tendencies," said Toronto's captain, who's ready for another rough reception against his former team on Long Island. "It's trying to just have a feel for that and be predictable for one another, but be unpredictable for the opponent."

What's easy to predict, however, is the effort level Hyman's set to infuse in his return to the lineup.

"I've learned just to do what I do best and no worry about other things," Hyman said. "Hopefully I'll just pick up where I left off."

NOTES Leafs backup goalie Michael Hutchinson cleared waivers Tuesday and will report to the AHL Marlies after falling to 0-4-1 on the season in Sunday's loss to Chicago. Tavares said the players in front of Hutchinson didn't do him any favours. "We have to own that," he said. "We just did not play very well." Toronto recalled Kasimir Kaskisuo to serve as the No. 2 netminder behind Frederik Andersen. The Leafs play host to Boston on Friday before visiting Pittsburgh on Saturday. Kaskisuo, 26, could make his first NHL appearance against the Penguins.

Associated Graphic

The Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman, seen fending off then-Bruin Marcus Johansson in Boston in April, is set to rejoin the team after a serious knee injury.

MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES


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Women's hockey group shares rendition of Stompin' Tom Connors classic in campaign for pro league
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By DONNA SPENCER
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Friday, November 8, 2019 – Page B17

W omen striving for the professional hockey league of their dreams want to stay visible during a gap in their Dream Gap Tour.

The Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association tugs on hockey heart strings with Thursday's release of a music video rendition of the Stompin' Tom Connors ballad The Hockey Song.

PWHPA president and Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford says the roughly 200 North American and international players in the union want to keep their drive for a sustainable league on the hockey world's radar.

"We want to find ways to keep the conversation going with a content piece like this," Hefford said.

The collapse of the Canadian Women's Hockey League this year after 12 seasons, and the players' refusal to join the U.S.based NWHL because they don't believe it's financially sustainable, gave rise to the PWHPA. Members of the U.S. and Canadian national teams are its public face.

After Dream Gap Tour showcase tournaments in Toronto, Hudson, N.H., and Chicago, and exhibition games in Boston and San Jose, Calif., in September and October, there's a lull in the PWHPA's schedule.

Hefford, from Kingston, said more Dream Gap Tour stops will be announced in the coming days, including Canadian dates.

In the meantime, the music video produced by Budweiser Canada for a socialmedia campaign is a teaser for that announcement.

"This is a big moment for us to be able to release a message like this," Hefford said. "We want that to live in its own space, but very shortly after we'll be announcing some future events."

The video's release also coincides with the Canadian and U.S. national teams squaring off in exhibition games Friday and Sunday at the Pittsburgh Penguins' training facility, as well as Hockey Hall of Fame induction festivities starting next Friday in Toronto.

The content features comedian Gerry Dee, Hockey Night in Canada hosts Ron MacLean, Don Cherry and Tara Slone, broadcaster Bob Cole and former NHL player Georges Laraque among those lending their voices to The Hockey Song, which starts out rollicking but takes a sombre turn.

Canadian players Natalie Spooner, Sarah Nurse, Renata Fast and Shannon Szabados dully recite the lyrics as the lights go out in a hockey arena and a statement is conveyed that "the good old hockey game is only that, when it's good to everyone."

"It's not like this has been an easy year for the majority of our group," Hefford said.

"It's been very difficult, but when you go to bed at night and you know you are living something you believe in and you're passionate about and you know you're going to make things better for someone else, that's a pretty good way to end a day."

In its few months of existence, the PWHPA has gathered economic clout with domestic and international brands such as Budweiser, Adidas, Bauer, Tim Hortons and as well as the support of the NHL Players' Association and Unifor Canada.

"For us, it's more than sponsors that want to put their logos somewhere," Hefford said. "It's who wants to be really engaged and be a part of the solution?" Dunkin' Donuts, interestingly, sponsors both the PWHPA and the NWHL, now in its fifth season.

Budweiser has produced content for the U.S. women's soccer team with similar messages about the value of female sports.

"We saw this opportunity to, beyond just our partnership with the Dream Gap Tour, to drive more awareness for the issue, to help support the women's game in Canada," said Todd Allen, vice-president of marketing for Labatt Breweries of Canada.

"We thought what better way than using the iconic hockey song of Stompin' Tom Connors, but delivered in a unique way leveraging iconic Canadian media personalities and hockey players to tell a story of what happened to the Canadian Women's Hockey League folding in 2019, to help shine a spotlight on what the PWHPA is trying to achieve and to bring more awareness to women's hockey in Canada."

Associated Graphic

Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association president Jayna Hefford, seen in Toronto Oct. 23, says things haven't been easy for the majority of her group. 'It's been very difficult, but when you go to bed at night and ... you know you're going to make things better for someone else, that's a pretty good way to end a day.'

FRANK GUNN/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Niners look to stay undefeated vs. Hawks
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By TERESA M. WALKER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
  
  

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 – Page B13

The San Francisco 49ers are the NFL's last undefeated team, while Russell Wilson is making a very strong case for MVP consideration in Seattle. Something in the NFC West is about to give.

The 49ers (8-0) have home-field advantage Monday night and have had 10 days to prepare for Seattle (7-2) in the first of two divisional showdowns between the teams this season. The Seahawks get to wrap up the season playing host to San Francisco on Dec. 29. They've already lost twice at home, making a road win now even more crucial in the NFC West.

The Niners will counter with Jimmy Garoppolo and a very stingy defence. They're favoured by six at home despite having lost nine of the past 10 in this series.

Upset special: Seahawks 31, 49ers 30.

NO. 19 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (MINUS 1) AT NO. 16 OAKLAND The Chargers not only have won four straight in this series, they have found something since coach Anthony Lynn fired offensive co-ordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

Pick: Chargers, 24-21 NO. 6 KANSAS CITY (MINUS 3 1 / 2) AT NO. 20 TENNESSEE NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes is expected back. Tennessee has a habit of playing to the level of its competition, but that won't be enough.

Pick: Chiefs, 33-30 NO. 11 BUFFALO (PLUS 2 1 / 2) AT NO. 26 CLEVELAND The Bills play very stingy defence and get what they need from their second-year quarterback. Cleveland has so many pieces, but the Browns can't get enough from their second-year quarterback no matter what cleats his receivers are wearing.

Upset special: Bills, 21-17 NO. 22 ARIZONA (PLUS 4 1 / 2) AT NO. 25 TAMPA BAY QB Kyler Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury have the Cardinals far more competitive than expected, but Jameis Winston looks like he's meshing with co-ordinator Byron Leftwich.

Pick: Buccaneers, 30-24 NO. 27 NEW YORK GIANTS (MINUS 2 1 / 2) AT NO. 31 NEW YORK JETS The black cat should be safely tucked away , and the Giants are being treated as the true home team as the favourite.

Pick: Giants, 28-24 NO. 28 ATLANTA (PLUS 13) AT NO. 2 NEW ORLEANS Falcons visiting makes Saints the easy choice, even with both coming off byes.

Pick: Saints, 34-20 NO. 4 BALTIMORE (MINUS 10) AT CINCINNATI The NFL's last winless team is starting rookie Ryan Finley, which is why Baltimore would have been the knockout pool pick.

Instead, this consolation prize.

Best bet: Ravens, 30-14 NO. 14 CAROLINA (PLUS 5) AT NO. 7 GREEN BAY How long will the Packers' L.A. hangover last? Aaron Rodgers is back home facing Kyle Allen.

Pick: Packers: 30-21 NO. 18 DETROIT (PLUS 2 1 / 2) AT NO. 23 CHICAGO The Lions have a much shorter trip than last week to the West Coast. The Bears have bigger issues on offence.

Pick: Lions, 20-18 NO. 29 MIAMI (PLUS 10 1 / 2) AT NO. 13 INDIANAPOLIS Getting one win this season was surprising enough out of the Dolphins.

Pick: Colts, 28-20 NO. 12 LOS ANGELES RAMS (MINUS 3 1 / 2) AT NO. 17 PITTSBURGH Pick:The Rams are off a bye and looking for a third consecutive win. The Steelers have won three straight and are at home.

Pick: Rams, 26-21 NO. 8 MINNESOTA (PLUS 3) AT NO. 10 DALLAS Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook taking on Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys are at home.

Pick: Cowboys, 30-24 2019 RECORD Last Week: 7-6 against spread, 9-5 straight up.

Season Totals: 73-60-1 against spread, 8548-1 straight up.

Best Bet: 7-2 against spread, 7-2 straight up.

Upset special: 5-4 against spread, 5-4 straight up.

Associated Graphic

Jimmy Garoppolo is set to start against Seattle Monday.

CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES


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Andreescu's coach hopeful that knee injury won't affect off-season training
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By GREGORY STRONG
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019 – Page B13

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu was already planning to take some time off after her recent appearance at the season-ending WTA Finals. A left-knee injury suffered in her second match at the tournament ended up forcing her hand.

Andreescu's coach, Sylvain Bruneau, is hopeful the injury will not delay their off-season training plans ahead of the 2020 campaign.

"We're seeing a few doctors now, and it looks like she's going to need some time off and she's going to need rehab," Bruneau said on Monday. "But it seems like it will hopefully be under control and it's not going to be something that's going to be too serious. So hopefully that's the case."

Andreescu opened the tournament in Shenzhen, China, with a loss to Simona Halep before injuring the knee early in her match against Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday. The 19-year-old from Mississauga was hurt when she stretched to return a serve.

She had the leg taped and went on to lose the first set before retiring from the match.

Andreescu told Bruneau during an on-court coaching session that she "heard a crack" and was unable to bend her knee.

Andreescu later said results from an MRI persuaded her to withdraw from the eight-player tournament on Thursday. She didn't provide specifics on what the exam discovered and Bruneau declined to go into further detail when reached in Montreal.

The injury was a tough way to end what has been a remarkable season for Andreescu, who won titles at Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup and the U.S. Open.

"It was enough that she had to stop and not play in the final match," Bruneau said. "She's going to take a couple weeks now of rest and rehab. It was a bit of a downer because she was superexcited to be at the tournament.

"She really wanted to be in the top four and do even better. It was kind of a cold shower, that knee injury." Andreescu is ranked fifth in the world and is fourth on the money list with earnings of more than US$6.5-million. However, injuries were a common theme throughout the year, with a shoulder issue scuttling four months of the season.

Bruneau said they have mapped out a plan for the offseason and the leadup to the Australian Open in January, but it will depend on how her knee rehab goes.

"Hopefully this injury is not going to delay things too much," he said. "We were going to take a rest anyway. She was going to enjoy two weeks off so timing-wise - it's not like there's a big tournament coming up - so timing-wise, I guess it's fine."

Andreescu's stunning ascension kicked off last January at the ASB Classic in Auckland, where she upset former world No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams. She reached the final before falling to Julia Goerges.

Andreescu won the Oracle Challenger Series tournament later that month at Newport Beach, and her first career Premier Mandatory title came in March at the BNP Paribas Open.

She beat Serena Williams in the Rogers Cup final at Toronto when the American veteran retired from the match because of injury. They met again a month later in the U.S.

Open final, with Andreescu winning in straight sets.

Andreescu closes the season with a 48-7 won-loss record.


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Sterling dropped from Euro 2020 qualifier with Montenegro after training ground 'disturbance'
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By SIMON EVANS
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Tuesday, November 12, 2019 – Page B12

England winger Raheem Sterling has been dropped from the squad to face Montenegro in their Euro 2020 qualifier at Wembley after a "disturbance" at the national team's training camp on Monday, the Football Association said.

"The FA can confirm Raheem Sterling will not be considered for Thursday's EURO 2020 qualifier against Montenegro as a result of a disturbance in a private team area at St. George's Park today," the FA said in a statement.

The Daily Mail reported that Manchester City winger Sterling had clashed with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez after the England team got together at their Burtonon-Trent training centre on Monday - less than 24 hours after City lost 3-1 at Liverpool.

The newspaper reported that "Sterling attempted to grab Gomez by the neck following his arrival in the players' canteen." The pair squared up in the latter stages of Sunday's Premier League clash after Gomez came on as a substitute.

The FA statement, which said Sterling will remain with the squad, did not address the specifics of the dispute or confirm if Gomez was the other party, but England boss Gareth Southgate linked the incident to Sunday's top-of-the-table clash.

"We have taken the decision to not consider Raheem for the match against Montenegro on Thursday," Southgate said.

"One of the great challenges and strengths for us is that we've been able to separate club rivalries from the national team. Unfortunately the emotions of yesterday's game were still raw," he added in the FA statement.

"My feeling is that the right thing for the team is the action we have taken. Now that the decision has been made with the agreement of the entire squad, it's important that we support the players and focus on Thursday night," he added.

Sterling has become a key player for England in the past year after being criticized for his displays at the 2018 World Cup.

Last season he was named Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers' Association after scoring 25 goals in all competitions, as City won a domestic treble of the Premier League title and the two Cup competitions. For England, Sterling has scored 12 goals in 55 games but has been a regular under Southgate and scored twice in the recent 6-0 win away to Bulgaria.

Associated Graphic

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling and Liverpool's Joe Gomez face off during their matchup on Sunday. A newspaper report says that Sterling clashed with Gomez at England's Burton-on-Trent training centre on Monday.

CARL RECINE/ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS


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Digital Colony adds to Canadian telecom deals with purchase of Beanfield
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By CHRISTINE DOBBY
  
  

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Page B1

A U.S. investment firm that has been quietly amassing a trove of Canadian fibre and data-centre assets has acquired Toronto-based Beanfield Technologies Inc., a privately owned fibre-optic internet provider, with an investment of more than $130-million.

Colony Capital Inc., a real estate investment firm based in Los Angeles, branched into digital infrastructure over the past year, acquiring Digital Bridge Holdings LLC, with which it raised a US$4-billion fund, Digital Colony Partners. The fund has a mandate to invest in communications assets such as wireless towers, data centres, fibre lines and cellular technology that will be used in next-generation 5G networks.

In its early days, Florida-based Digital Colony has been on a Canadian shopping spree. It closed the deal to buy Beanfield last month, and Colony Capital disclosed it in a quarterly financial filing on Friday.

The transaction came just five months after Digital Colony paid $720-million to buy Cogeco Peer 1, the former enterprise-connectivity division of cable company Cogeco Communications Inc. Beanfield has been building fibre-optic infrastructure in Toronto since the 1990s and now has a total of about 350 kilometres of fibre lines in that city and Montreal, providing more than 700 commercial and residential buildings with telecom services.

In a joint deal with European fund EQT announced in May, Digital Colony also said it will acquire Zayo Group Holdings Inc., a U.S. company that bought Allstream Inc. in 2016 from what was then Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. Digital Colony and EQT plan to take Zayo private in a transaction valued at US$8.4-billion (not including the assumption of $5.9-billion in debt) and hope to close the deal in the first quarter of 2020.

"This is an extremely exciting time for digital infrastructure as technology drives unprecedented changes across the industry and creates attractive opportunities," Steven Sonnenstein, managing director of Digital Colony, said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail on Tuesday. "As data traffic and storage needs continue to grow, Europe and the Americas are at an inflection point for digital infrastructure. New technologies will only accelerate the demand and costs to deploy."

Mr. Sonnenstein would not comment specifically on other potential Canadian deals, but said, "We remain bullish on the Canadian digital infrastructure market and will continue to seek opportunities to invest in telecommunications infrastructure in the region in a strategic and effective manner."

After inquiries from The Globe, Digital Colony issued a news release on the Beanfield acquisition on Tuesday afternoon.

It did not disclose the financial terms, but the earnings report Colony Capital published last week stated that Digital Colony invested US$100-million in Beanfield (or about $132-million Canadian).

Cogeco Peer 1 (which Digital Colony renamed Aptum Technologies in August) has 3,200 kilometres of fibre in Toronto and Montreal, plus 14 data centres in the United States and Canada.

When Zayo acquired Allstream (the former AT&T Canada), it had about 20,000 km of long-haul fibre connecting major Canadian centres and 10 U.S. network access points, plus about 9,000 km of fibre connecting individual customers in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary.

Beanfield hired Bank Street Group, a Connecticut-based investment firm that advises companies in the communications and technology sector, and has been looking for a buyer since at least the beginning of 2019.

Dan Armstrong, who cofounded Beanfield with Chris Amendola, will remain with the company as chief executive.

In its early days, Beanfield offered fibre-based telecom services to businesses, but over the past decade or so has expanded into the residential market, offering apartment dwellers in new condo developments high-speed internet service. Digital Colony said on Tuesday that Beanfield will continue serving residential clients.

"It will continue to be business as usual at Beanfield," Mr. Sonnenstein said. "We believe the company has a great management team in place." He added that Aptum and Beanfield will operate independently.

Colony Capital is a giant in real estate investing, and made Canadian headlines in 2006, when it jointly paid $3.3-billion for the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts chain through a consortium of investors that included the Saudi billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal.

Thomas Barrack Jr., who was chairman of U.S. President Donald Trump's inaugural committee, founded Colony in 1991. He is currently the CEO, but Colony has announced he plans to step down from that role in 2020, although he will remain executive chairman.

With a report from James Bradshaw.

Associated Graphic

Dan Armstrong, seen at Beanfield's Toronto offices in 2016, will remain CEO of the the fibre-optic internet provider in the wake of the company's acquisition by Digital Colony Partners.

FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


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Hootsuite founder to step down
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Move comes after social media management company fails to find a buyer, lays off employees
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By JOSH O'KANE, SEAN SILCOFF, TARA DESCHAMPS
  
  

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – Page B1

Hootsuite Media Inc.'s founding chief executive officer, Ryan Holmes, will step down in the wake of concerns raised by the company's board about his leadership after a failed attempt to sell the social media management company.

Mr. Holmes will leave the post when a successor is found but will become the company's executive chairman, he wrote in a note to shareholders on Tuesday. He started Hootsuite in 2008, and it quickly became a leading platform for managing social media accounts for corporate clients.

Research firm CB Insights pegged the company's valuation at US$1-billion earlier this decade. The Globe and Mail reported in January that Hootsuite had been seeking a buyer but struggled to find offers higher than US$700-million. The company laid off about a 10th of its approximately 1,000 employees this year.

The Vancouver-based company did not make Mr. Holmes available for an interview. Two sources familiar with the situation, who were granted confidentiality because they were not authorized to discuss the decision, said after the failed auction, the board began months of tense talks about whether Mr. Holmes was still the right leader for the company.

They received feedback that prospective buyers were concerned about Hootsuite's metrics, particularly its revenue growth and low profitability.

Sources said there was concern that much of Hootsuite's revenue growth came from price increases, and the company lost some of its big accounts. Meanwhile, dynamics in the industry have become tougher, particularly with Twitter extracting significant payments from social media management firms, including Hootsuite. The board was particularly concerned about customer and employee churn, especially after many senior executives left the business.

"At Hootsuite, we routinely look at our entire leadership team - which includes me - to determine the best path for our future stages of growth and continued success," Mr. Holmes wrote in an e-mailed statement to The Globe.

"I am fortunate that I have an excellent board that I can have positive and candid conversations with to this end. It was through personal reflection and these candid conversations with my trusted board that I decided it was time to start looking ahead at new leadership."

In his shareholder letter, Mr.

Holmes said he hoped to spend more time with his young daughter: "It feels like it is the right point to take some time and reassess priorities."

In the letter, Mr. Holmes said the company had surpassed US$200-million in annual recurring revenue. This, he wrote, "tells me we've built something at a breakneck speed that is highly valuable." He added that the company made changes to its sales and marketing teams this year that prompted 20-per-cent-higher contract values and better retention rates.

In the third quarter of this year, the company renewed more than 650 enterprise customers, he wrote, including long-standing clients Melia Hotels, Purdue University and the Vancouver Canucks. And over the past three quarters, the company signed more than 1,100 enterprise customers.

Hootsuite is a platform that, among other things, allows companies to write and schedule posts from multiple social media accounts.

Many senior leaders left the company around the time of the attempted sale. These included senior vice-president of sales Bob Elliott; sales vice-presidents Chris Saniga and Phil Edgell; Mik Lernout, vice-president of product, and André Viljoen, vice-president of technology.

Asked about these leaders leaving in an interview this fall, Mr. Holmes said "the tech industry as a whole has one of the highest churns of employees. ... Sometimes the company outgrows people and sometimes the people outgrow the company."

The layoffs, he said, were "not about [employee] performance.

It was about needing to make shifts." Those shifts, he continued, were "some tough decisions we needed to make in terms of where we wanted to invest in the business and some areas that we needed to deinvest in." He declined to name which areas those were.

Mr. Holmes's rating on the company review website Glassdoor has fallen to 54 per cent from nearly 80 per cent in the past several years, which he called a "lagging indicator" of his success. "We did a reorganization recently, and some people had hard feelings on that, and I think that shows up here," he said.

An initial public offering or sale could still be possible, said one source, who also said the company was profitable.

Associated Graphic

In a shareholder letter, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes said he wanted to spend time with his daughter: 'It feels like it is the right point to take some time and reassess priorities.'

CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Thursday, November 07, 2019
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Bankers to see disappointing bonuses after slow year for deals
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By ANDREW WILLIS
  
  

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Monday, November 11, 2019 – Page B1

Canada's bank-owned investment dealers will cut bonus cheques to employees in the next few weeks.

It's going to be a disappointing experience at most brokerage houses and a wake-up call for Bank of Nova Scotia, where strong credit relationships failed to translate into more lucrative assignments in stock sales and merger advice in the recently concluded fiscal year.

Performance-based pay will take a hit at bank-owned dealers, which ended their fiscal year on Oct. 31, because of falling revenues from equity underwriting and corporate bond sales, two of any investment bank's most lucrative lines of business.

"Even if relative performance remains unchanged or even improves at some banks, slower earnings overall give the dealers the opportunity to cut performance pay," said Ian Russell, chief executive of the Investment Industry Association of Canada.

"There may be some exceptions for the few strong performers. On the other hand, some investment banking teams may be hit hard."

The value of stock sales by Canadian investment banks dropped 15 per cent to $27.8-billion in the 12 months ended Oct. 31, according to data compiled by Refinitiv.

The new year is off to an inauspicious start, with the cancellation of a much-anticipated IPO from waste disposal company GFL Environmental Inc. that could have raised as much as $2.4-billion. Equity underwriting is a significant source of revenue for dealers, which typically charge companies a 4-per-cent fee to sell stock.

Morgan Stanley sold the most stock for Canadian clients, raising $4.9-billion in just five transactions, including financings for Shopify Inc. and Tim Hortons parent Restaurant Brands International Inc.

Canaccord Genuity Group Inc.

was the busiest shop, leading 53 equity offerings that raised $1.3billion.

Corporate debt underwriting declined by 6 per cent to $57-billion, with RBC Dominion Securities topping The Street's league tables by selling $16-billion of bonds in 88 transactions.

One bright spot for bankers was merger and acquisition activity, where the value of transactions rose 17 per cent to $114-billion. TD Securities was the No. 1 deal maker, in part owing to a strong presence in energy-related M&A, advising on 24 transactions worth $40.1-billion. Private equity activity was also robust and revenue from these capital-hungry clients helps offset the dealer's declining profits from public markets.

"The financing trend had been down for the past couple of years," Mr. Russell said. Domestic investment banking revenue declined by 19 per cent to $1.98-billion through the first eight months of this year, according to IIAC's data. Mr. Russell said: "The dealers have been focused on paring back operating expenses in investment banking for some time, particularly as the nearterm outlook for the business is poor with continued slow economic growth, depressed capital spending and no signs of imminent change in spending in the energy sector."

Equity underwriting and M&A activity was dominated last year by five of the six Canadian bankowned dealers and a handful of independent and foreign firms.

Scotiabank was an outlier, as the one Canadian bank that finished well down the ranks in equity sales and M&A work. Scotiabank has long-established lending relationships across Corporate Canada and ranked fifth in both corporate loans, with roles in 144 issues, and in corporate bond underwriting, with 45 transactions. Credit market transactions typically come with lower profit margins than equity and M&A assignments, and banks attempt to cross-sell their services to maximize the fees they earn from corporate clients.

Scotiabank's debt-based relationships did not translate into more lucrative work on stock sales and takeovers last year. The bank was the No. 9 player in equity underwriting, raising $733-million in 15 deals. The firm ranked seventh in equity underwriting in the previous year. In M&A advisory work, Scotiabank ranked 16th, with a role in 18 transactions. The previous year, the bank ranked fourth in M&A. Scotiabank declined to comment on the results.

Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter is a former investment banker with close ties to corporate clients; he used to run the equity capital markets group that oversees stock sales. Mr. Porter put new executives in charge of Scotiabank's capital markets group this year, appointing Jake Lawrence and James Neate as co-CEOs. The pair spent the year rebuilding their teams, in part by recruiting senior bankers in a number of divisions from rival dealers. Scotiabank's former head of investment banking, Dieter Jentsch, had a background in corporate lending and retired last December.


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CPPIB bets on renewable power with purchase of Pattern Energy
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Pension fund to pay $2.63-billion in deal that takes U.S. wind company private
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By DAVID MILSTEAD
  
  

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019 – Page B1

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is acquiring Canada's biggest producer of wind power for US$2.63-billion, in a major bet on the continued growth of low-carbon electricity.

The deal for San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group Inc. is worth US$6.1-billion, including debt. CPPIB intends to team up with a U.S. investment firm to combine Pattern with a second, privately held energy partnership that is run by Pattern's executives.

CPPIB, the $400-billion pension fund that invests to pay the benefits owed to working Canadians in the Canada Pension Plan, created a standalone group to hold power and renewables assets in 2017. It has invested more than $2.1-billion in renewable energy projects since, but the fund believes a lack of interest by investors in certain publicly traded energy stocks has created opportunity for large institutions.

Pattern Energy, which is listed on both the Nasdaq and the Toronto Stock Exchange, is an example.

Its shares peaked on the Nasdaq at US$34.51 in June, 2014, not long after their public debut, but haven't traded above US$30 since early 2015.

That performance stands in contrast to some other companies in the sector, including Brookfield Renewable Partners LP, a Toronto-based renewable-energy investment partnership which has doubled in price over the same period.

CPPIB's offer of US$26.75 a share is a 15per-cent premium to the price the stock was trading at in August, before the company acknowledged it was talking to suitors. But it's below Friday's close of US$27.80 a share.

Bruce Hogg, a CPPIB managing director who heads its Power and Renewables group, said: "We view it as one of the best management teams in the renewables business, with a significant asset base in primarily North America, but also Japan, and an ability to develop further projects in those markets."

Pattern Energy owns six projects in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba. The company produces more wind energy than any other company in Canada, said spokesman Matt Dallas, citing data from the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

On Monday, Pattern Energy shares closed at US$27.11 on the Nasdaq.

Pattern Energy said it chose the CPPIB offer after it "reviewed multiple bids as part of a thorough process that involved multiple parties."

In August, Bloomberg News reported the companies interested in Pattern Energy included Brookfield Asset Management Inc., which could have merged Pattern Energy with TerraForm Power Inc., a renewables company it has a majority interest in. Brookfield spokeswoman Claire Holland declined to comment on the transaction Monday.

Analysts at RBC Dominion Securities said Monday that their target price of US$28 was based on a buyer of Pattern Energy achieving cost savings and said "we would not rule out a higher competing bid."

"I can't comment on what others do," Mr. Hogg said of CPPIB. "We think what we're offering delivers fair value for shareholders and delivers certainty of proceeds, so we think it's an attractive offer."

Jeremy Rosenfield of Industrial Alliance Securities wrote that he believes CPPIB is "unlikely to be topped," as its offer is already higher, on a multiple of profits, than the average of five recent transactions for wind assets. "The offer would also provide immediate liquidity and value certainty for [Pattern Energy] shareholders, with minimal expected regulatory risk, and minimal expected regulatory lag."

CPPIB has allowed Pattern Energy until Dec. 8 to shop itself to other potential buyers, according to a securities filing detailing the transaction. Pattern Energy would owe CPPIB a break fee of between US$52-million and US$79million, depending on what happens next. CPPIB would owe Pattern Energy a break fee of US$204-million if it walks away.

The deal continues a series of renewable-energy investments by CPPIB. In May, 2018, CPPIB acquired 49 per cent of Enbridge Inc.'s interest in 14 Canadian, two U.S. and two German renewable power assets and two German offshore wind projects for $1.75-billion.

In June, 2018, CPPIB completed the purchase of four wind and two solar generation projects in Ontario from NextEra Energy Partners LP for US$582.3-million plus the assumption of US$689-million in debt and renamed the company Cordelio Power.

Associated Graphic

Pattern Energy windmills in Haldimand County, Ont., generate enough energy to power 50,000 homes as part of its Grand Renewable Wind operation, one of six projects the company owns in Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba.

TARA WALTON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


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Quebec software titan Louis Têtu marks second $1-billion valuation
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Enterpreneur reaches milestone with latest firm Coveo, which sells AI-powered search tools
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By SEAN SILCOFF
  
  

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – Page B2

Quebec City entrepreneur Louis Têtu has become one of the few Canadians to create two different billion-dollar technology companies after his latest firm, Coveo Solutions Inc., raised $227-million in an equity financing led by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.

The financing values the 550employee software company - which generates $100-million in annual revenue selling artificialintelligence-powered cloud search tools known as "insight engines" to corporate customers ranging from Cenovus Energy Inc. and American Express Co. to Salesforce.com Inc. - at more than $1.3-billion.

Past investors Evergreen Coast Capital of Silicon Valley, Quebec's FTQ Solidarity Fund and the Quebec government's Investissement Québec investing arm also participated in the financing. Mr. Têtu invested in Coveo in 2005, then became chief executive after his former company, Taleo Corp., was purchased by Oracle Corp. in 2012 for US$1.9-billion.

Mr. Têtu said Coveo, which still has money left over from its previous financing in early 2018, plans to use the cash for acquisitions, particularly if the economy sours. "Right now the play for us and one of the reasons we're raising money is we think the climate might get very favourable to people sitting on a pile of cash, from an acquisition perspective," he said. "This rally will end. I think the odds are that within 24 to 36 months, there will be a downturn."

The deal is the second time OMERS has led a large, late-stage financing of a Canadian software firm since the pension giant launched a growth equity unit last year. OMERS invested $90million in Coveo, slightly less than it deployed in a $158-million financing of Toronto restaurant software firm TouchBistro Inc. in September.

"Coveo is an exceptional opportunity," said Mark Shulgan, managing director and head of growth equity with OMERS, who added the pension fund "moved very quickly" to invest after meeting Coveo management in September. "We knew right away this was something we wanted to do" thanks to Coveo's accomplished management team, the quality of its products and the fact it competes in the surging data and analytics space, he said.

Coveo is a leader of an emerging category of enterprise software that builds on the limited capacity of past search tools used internally by corporations by offering enhanced AI-driven capabilities. "It's way more than search," Forrester Research Inc.

analyst Mike Gualtieri said.

The tools offered by Coveo and rivals such as Attivio, Sinequa and Lucidworks can extract more relevant, personalized and immediate data than past internal search engines, resulting in business operating improvements.

For example, business intelligence software provider Tableau Software saves US$18-million a year using Coveo by increasing client self-service on its website, which reduces the volume of calls to customer service representatives and increases customer satisfaction. Computer company Dell Technologies Inc. uses Coveo to provide better recommendations to customers on its e-commerce site.

Canadian recreational vehicle maker BRP Inc. uses Coveo for its dealer self-service portals. "It's like Google for me - I see no gaps," said Krystel Perreault, BRP's customer insights lead, who said visits by dealers to the portal increased by 45 per cent over two years as they were able to find answers to their questions online rather than calling in to the company. "It's a better user experience for the dealer - userfriendly, intuitive and easy to browse," she said.

Mr. Têtu said revenue has been increasing by more than 50 per cent a year and that the company has been able to expand revenues at existing clients every year while losing relatively few customers. "It's a strong company," said Mr. Shulgan of OMERS. "It's not very often we see the type of metrics Coveo is able to demonstrate."

The Coveo financing is the latest in a string of nine-figure, latestage financings of emerging Canadian companies led by domestic funders, including iNovia Capital and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.

"The headline here is that Canadian funds are now extremely competitive with the best and brightest in Silicon Valley," Mr. Têtu said. "For us Canadians, that is great news, that we can keep the wealth creation in this country as opposed to exporting it."

Associated Graphic

Coveo CEO Louis Têtu, seen in Quebec City, says the company plans to use the $227-million it recently raised in equity financing for acquisitions, especially if the economy sours.

RENAUD PHILIPPE/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


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Quebec floats $30-million into fledgling blimp maker
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By NICOLAS VAN PRAET
  
  

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 – Page B1

MONTREAL -- Quebec thinks there's money in blimps.

The province is spending $30-million to back fledgling French blimpmaker Flying Whales, gambling that the deal will give it a toehold in an industry finally poised for commercial acceptance.

Premier François Legault's government said Wednesday that it would make a 20-million ($29-million) equity investment in Suresnes, Francebased Flying Whales, joining an investor group that includes French public investment bank BPI and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, or AVIC, the country's principal manufacturer of warplanes and transport aircraft. France's national forest agency and the Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine are also shareholders.

"There are always risks with any project, but I think this one can be pivotal for Quebec," Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon told reporters.

Mr. Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec government sees the Flying Whales partnership as a way to bolster the aerospace industry, one of the province's economic pillars, at a time that Bombardier Inc. is pulling back from its commercial aviation activities. French giant Airbus SE took over Bombardier's former C Series jet factory in Mirabel, Que., and Japan's Mitsubishi Aircraft announced plans in September for an engineering centre in Boisbriand as Quebec looks to new players to reinforce its status as a global aerospace hub.

But investing in an airship company is no sure bet. Flying Whales has no flying prototype built and no paying customers to speak of.

The company and its competitors also face the lingering skepticism that comes from years of repeated failures by defunct manufacturers such as Cargolifter AG - skepticism that was evident Wednesday as reporters put both the company and the government on the defensive.

"We're still in the midst of development," said Flying Whales managing director Sébastien Bougon. The first airship should be ready in 2022, he said.

"Quebec should invest in projects like this," Mr. Fitzgibbon said. "You've got to control them.

You can't have one a week, but we've concluded that this one [makes sense]. ... At this point, we have enough comfort that there is a potential market."

With the investment, Quebec wins the right to play host to a planned airship manufacturing facility supplying North America, as well as the creation of a Flying Whales local subsidiary that will undertake research and development as of next year, the government said. If all works out as planned, 400 new jobs will be created, Mr. Fitzgibbon said.

Some 82 years after the Hindenburg disaster, Flying Whales is counting on advances in technology and awareness of the need for more environmentally friendly transportation to finally prove that the blimp's revival is nigh.

The company is developing a 154-metre-long, low-emissions airship that will be capable of carrying as much as 60 tonnes of cargo, such as lumber, to and from remote spots such as treecutting operations and mines.

The rigid-structure ship, which has a cruise speed of 100 kilometres an hour and gains lift with pockets of helium, is being marketed as unique because it can hover and doesn't require any ground infrastructure for mooring.

It's not alone, however, in the race to bring a cargo blimp to market. U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin Corp. and several other smaller players are also working on designs and trying to develop business models. Flying Whales has said that the forestry industry alone could justify its investment, but is also eyeing railways and energy companies as potential customers.

The French airship maker's decision to let AVIC in the door as an investor has also raised concerns. The plane maker has been linked in several media reports to China's industrial espionage effort and alleged theft of U.S. companies' intellectual property.

Mr. Bougon played down the worries, saying AVIC is involved only as a shareholder and is not involved in any operations. All the intellectual property being developed in Quebec would be protected because it is controlled by the local subsidiary, which sells to the parent company, he said.


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Hydro One abandons plans to expand beyond Ontario
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Utility says it won't 'actively pursue' outside companies, as profit in third-quarter jumps over 2018 result
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By JEFF GRAY
  
  

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Saturday, November 9, 2019 – Page B2

TORONTO -- Ontario's partly privatized power-transmission utility, Hydro One Ltd., has unveiled a new strategy that abandons plans to buy up other utilities across North America and pledges instead to focus on the company's own backyard.

Hydro One's new chief executive, Mark Poweska, outlined an Ontario-focused direction this week, saying the company will not "actively pursue" acquiring companies outside Ontario for the next five years and that its previous efforts had "distracted" Hydro One. "It's time for Hydro One to focus in on the things that matter," he told investment analysts on a conference call. "It's time for us to build on our strengths and seize opportunities right here in Ontario."

Hydro One, which is 49-percent owned by the Ontario government, also said this week that its net income for the third quarter of 2019 was $241-million, up from $194-million in the same quarter in 2018, working out to 40 cents in earnings per share.

The company says the boost comes from increased distribution rates, but also from $11-million in lower "corporate support costs." In an e-mail, a company spokesman credited those savings to "productivity initiatives."

The company says a small portion of the savings came from a reduction in executive pay.

Those salary changes were prompted by Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

In last year's election campaign, Mr. Ford labelled then-Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt the "$6-million man," and called for a new CEO with a reduced salary.

The push resulted in Mr.

Schmidt's departure last summer - with $9-million in incentives and stock options upon his retirement - along with the entire Hydro One board. The company was later forced to adopt the Premier's demands on executive pay, capping CEO wages at $1.5million and also reining in cheques for other senior brass.

Other executive departures came after.

Hydro One was partly privatized by the previous provincial Liberal government, with a strategy to grow by acquiring other energy companies. But in January, U.S. regulators rejected Hydro One's $6.7-billion bid to acquire Avista Corp., based in Spokane, Wash., citing Mr. Ford's political interference in the Ontario utility. The aborted deal cost Hydro One $185-million in break fees and commissions.

While Hydro One's stock price has since recovered its value and stabilized at a level well above its price tag at its 2015 initial public offering, financial analysts who follow the company says its shares trade at a discount owing to political risk.

Sydney Stonier, a spokeswoman for Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford, said the government had confidence in Hydro One's new CEO.

"We're confident that Hydro One's new leadership and direction will move Hydro One forward in a way that will help Ontario reduce system costs and bring trust back to our electricity system," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ford has still failed to deliver on his promise to lower the province's hydro rates.

In its fall economic statement this week, Ontario said it remained committed to cutting bills, and listed its moves to cancel green-energy contracts, slash Hydro One's executive pay and centralize power-conservation efforts. The government said it will spend at least $4-billion this year subsidizing power bills, continuing the previous government's policy.

Energy consultant Tom Adams says Hydro One's new Fordfriendly, stay-at-home strategy makes more sense than trying to grow bigger through international acquisitions, given the company's ownership structure.

"Hydro One is trying to get to be boring again," Mr. Adams said.

"... Utilities are supposed to be boring."

Associated Graphic

In a conference call this week, Hydro One CEO Mark Poweska says that it's time for the utility to 'seize opportunities right here in Ontario.'

TIM FRASER/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


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Homes are getting more affordable, but it isn't likely to last
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Rising incomes, decline in mortgage rates ease the burden of ownership, report says
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By MATT LUNDY
  
  

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019 – Page B1

Canadian home affordability has steadily improved this year thanks in large part to a decline in mortgage rates and rising incomes, but conditions remain "difficult" in Toronto and Vancouver, National Bank Financial says.

A typical household would need to spend 43 per cent of its pretax income to meet the monthly mortgage payment of a median-priced home, down from nearly 50 per cent in the final quarter of 2018, according to the bank's affordability index. (The calculation assumes a 25-year amortization period and five-year term, and takes 10 major metropolitan areas into account.)

Over all, home affordability has improved for three consecutive quarters, and is now in line with historical averages, National Bank said. However, further improvements look uncertain - and affordability remains stretched in some major markets.

"Surging population growth in Canada's largest metro areas, coupled with levelling mortgage rates, should limit the scope for further improvement in home affordability," economists Matthieu Arseneau and Kyle Dahms said in the report.

Modest strides in affordability have coincided with a pullback in Canada's real estate market. After a variety of new regulations aimed at curbing risky borrowing, home-buying activity hit a rough patch, particularly in frothy markets such as Toronto and Vancouver.

In tandem, mortgage rates fell this year - in some cases, by a percentage point from recent highs. Lower rates have been the biggest contributor to improving affordability, National Bank said.

"Indeed, the free-fall in financing costs over the last nine months was the most substantial since 2012."

That said, the mortgage qualifying rate has hardly budged, said Robert McLister, founder of mortgage comparison site RateSpy.com. The mortgage qualifying rate - which is the most common five-year fixed posted rate at Canada's Big Six banks - is used in stress tests. Home buyers must prove they can afford mortgage payments with a 5.19-percent interest rate, despite some discount rates being half that much.

"What we're seeing now is the Big Six banks hold mortgage qualifying rates high mainly out of their own self-interest," Mr.

McLister said. "If you saw that stress test rate go from 5.19 per cent down to where it should be based on the current levels of bond yields, then you'd see a significant impact on home sales and demand."

Even with affordability improvements, "the situation remains difficult" in the Toronto and Vancouver areas, Mr. Arseneau and Mr. Dahms noted.

In Toronto, a typical monthly mortgage payment ($3,805) would eat up 56 per cent of median household income. In Vancouver, the mortgage payment ($4,491) is equal to 69 per cent of typical household income. Both markets have improved from last year, although affordability remains worse than the long-term average.

Down payments are a particular hurdle. If the typical Toronto household saved 10 per cent of its pretax income, it would take 89 months to save up for the minimum down payment for today's median home price, according to National Bank's calculations. (The median price accounts for all home types, such as detached houses and condos.)

In Vancouver, it would take 311 months. That's because, with the median home price just over $1million, a minimum 20-per-cent down payment is needed. Timelines are even lengthier for detached homes.

At the same time, both markets are gaining momentum, with sales bouncing from depressed levels. In Greater Toronto, the average sale price in October jumped 5.5 per cent from a year earlier to slightly more than $850,000. Although benchmark prices are well below record highs in Metro Vancouver, they remain the steepest in Canada.

Associated Graphic

In Toronto, a typical monthly mortgage payment would eat up 56 per cent of median household income.

AARON VINCENT ELKAIM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


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Canadian Tire to cut costs as retail revenues go flat
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By SUSAN KRASHINSKY ROBERTSON
  
  

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Friday, November 8, 2019 – Page B1

Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. is cutting costs with the goal of reaching more than $200-million in annualized savings by 2022.

The retailer will seek to trim expenses across its portfolio of stores, which include Canadian Tire, SportChek, Mark's and now Party City after the closing of that acquisition on Oct. 1.

Canadian Tire Corp. is hoping to eliminate duplicate operations by consolidating distribution centres to make them more efficient. It will also get rid of old infrastructure by updating its warehouse management system.

"We're going to push very hard," chief executive Stephen Wetmore said on a conference call Thursday morning to discuss his company's third-quarter results.

The company announced the plan as it reported a profit of $227.7-million or $3.20 a share, compared with $231.3-million or $3.15 in the same period last year.

Revenue from its retail segment fell by 0.4 per cent, while overall revenue was up slightly to $3.64billion in the three months ending Sept. 28. The company also announced on Thursday that it would raise its quarterly dividend, the eleventh time it has done so in 10 years.

"This is intended to be a transformative effort for CTC, which upon completion should see the company in its entirety run far more efficiently," Bank of Nova Scotia retail analyst Patricia Baker wrote in a research note. "The build of CTC into a one-company organization over the past several years has unearthed an opportunity to seriously eliminate duplicated efforts."

The 97-year-old retailer is working to compete with the growth of e-commerce giants such as Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. SportChek has led the way on e-commerce growth, executives said on the call.

Mark's also lends itself well to e-commerce sales, and online shopping varies for Canadian Tire depending on the product category. The company expects e-commerce growth to continue, but is looking at building scale in order to find opportunities to manage the cost of order fulfillment and shipping.

"Distribution in Canada is expensive," Allan MacDonald, executive vice-president of retail, said on the call. "It's a scale play."

Comparable sales at Canadian Tire stores, which represent the company's biggest store network, rose 2.4 per cent in the quarter.

This measure counts sales at stores open more than a year, removing the effect of store openings and closings on the financial numbers; it also excludes the company's petroleum business and Helly Hansen brand. Comparable sales were up 4.6 per cent at SportChek and 1.2 per cent at Mark's.

With the Party City acquisition now complete, Canadian Tire stores are planning to roll out broader offerings in party supplies, and the company expects a meaningful presence in its stores by this time next year, Canadian Tire Retail president Greg Hicks said on Thursday.

Mr. MacDonald also mentioned that the company is seeing more customers shopping across its different store banners, which he attributed to growing traction of the Triangle loyalty program launched last year.

CANADIAN TIRE (CTC.A) CLOSE: $150.71, UP $6.55


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Bills keep up solid start with win over Washington
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Monday, November 4, 2019 – Page B11

Rookie Devin Singletary had 95 yards rushing, including a two-yard touchdown, and the Buffalo Bills are off to their best start since 1993 after a 24-9 win over Washington. Josh Allen had a touchdown pass and scored on a one-yard plunge for the Bills, who improved to 6-2 - a record built on victories over some of the NFL's worst teams. The Bills' wins have come against teams that entered this weekend with a combined record of 7-31. And their latest came against a team that's already fired its coach and was down to its third quarterback, with rookie first-round pick Dwayne Haskins making his first career start. Washington (1-8) matched its worst start since 1998. Singletary took advantage of his most playing time this season, appearing to displace Frank Gore as Buffalo's featured running back. With three catches for 45 yards, Singletary had a team-leading 140 yards from scrimmage.

Allen went 14 of 20 for 160 yards, including a six-yard touchdown pass to Cole Beasley. Haskins finished 15 of 22 for 144 yards passing and no turnovers while starting in place of Case Keenum, who is in the NFL's concussion protocol.

STEELERS 26, COLTS 24 PITTSBURGH Adam Vinatieri missed a goahead 43-yard field goal with 1 minutes 14 seconds remaining, helping the Pittsburgh Steelers escape with a victory. Vinatieri, whose 55-yard kick last week against Denver gave the Colts their third straight victory, pulled his attempt left of the uprights as the Colts (5-3) fell out of first place in the AFC South. Mason Rudolph threw for 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Pittsburgh, and Minkah Fitzpatrick returned an interception 96 yards for a score as the Steelers (4-4) won their third consecutive game.

TEXANS 26, JAGUARS 3 LONDON Deshaun Watson's most impressive throw went backward - a flip under pressure to running back Carlos Hyde, whose seven-yard gain set up Houston's first TD in a 26-3 runaway over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hyde finished with 19 carries for 160 yards for the Texans (6-3), including a 58-yard run that looked headed for a touchdown until Jags safety Jarrod Wilson stripped the ball at the two.

Watson, meanwhile, finished 22 for 28 for 201 yards and a pair of one-yard touchdown throws, along with 37 yards running. He did it all with his left eye still swollen and red, a week after getting kicked in the face just before throwing the winning touchdown pass against the Raiders.

PANTHERS 30, TITANS 20 CHARLOTTE Christian McCaffrey had 166 yards from scrimmage and scored three touchdowns, and Carolina bounced back from an embarrassing defeat with a victory over Tennessee. Kyle Allen, who threw three interceptions in last week's 51-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, threw TD passes of seven yards to McCaffrey and 12 yards to Curtis Samuel to improve to 5-1 this season as Carolina's starting QB. Carolina's defence forced three turnovers and sacked Ryan Tannehill four times one week after allowing the 49ers to run for 232 yards and four touchdowns.

DOLPHINS 26, JETS 18 MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes, two of them to rookie Preston Williams, and Miami got its first win of the season by beating former coach Adam Gase and New York. Fitzpatrick completed 24 of 36 passes for 288 yards and led the Dolphins to their highest point total of the season.

It was also Miami's fourth straight win over the Jets - the first three of those coming with Gase being the coach on the winning side. Not this time. The Jets went 11 plays on the first drive of the game for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead, and their highlights were few and far between the rest of the day. The Jets (1-7) fell below Miami (1-7) in the AFC East standings based on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

EAGLES 22, BEARS 14 PHILADELPHIA Carson Wentz threw for 239 yards and one touchdown, Jordan Howard ran for 82 yards and a score and Philadelphia held on for a victory over Chicago. The Bears had just nine yards in the first half and trailed 19-0 before David Montgomery had a pair of one-yard TD runs to make it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter. But Philadelphia put it away with 16-play, 69-yard drive capped by Jake Elliott's 38-yard field goal. Wentz completed all four of his third-down passes on the drive for first downs. The Eagles (5-4) have won two in a row after a pair of lopsided losses. The Bears (3-5) have lost four straight.

RAIDERS 31, LIONS 24 OAKLAND Derek Carr threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to rookie Hunter Renfrow with 2:04 remaining and Karl Joseph broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone with three seconds left to give the Raiders a win over the Lions in their first game back in Oakland in seven weeks.

After surviving an odyssey that forced them to travel about 32,000 kilometres for four road games and a neutral site game in London, the Raiders (4-4) came back home for the first time since losing to Kansas City on Sept. 15. They put on quite a show for the fans, who are hoping the Raiders can put together a successful season before their planned move to Las Vegas next year. Carr's clutch pass to Renfrow gave Oakland the win to start the crucial three-game homestand.

SEAHAWKS 40, BUCCANEERS 34 (OT) SEATTLE Russell Wilson hit Jacob Hollister on a 10-yard touchdown on the opening possession of overtime, and Seattle rallied for a win over Tampa Bay. Wilson continued his brilliant season, tying his career high with five touchdown passes as Seattle (7-2) overcame Jason Myers's missed 40-yard field-goal attempt on the final play of regulation and never gave Tampa Bay a chance in the extra session. Wilson was 5 of 8 for 70 yards in overtime, capping the winning drive by hitting the reserve tight end across the middle for his second touchdown of the game. Wilson finished 29 of 43 for 378 yards. It was his third career game with five TD passes and capped Seattle's wild second half after trailing 21-7 midway through the second quarter.

CHARGERS 26, PACKERS 11 CARSON, CALIF. Melvin Gordon scored two touchdowns, Michael Badgley kicked four field goals and Los Angeles dominated Green Bay. Los Angeles (4-5) snapped a three-game home losing streak in what was easily its best game of the year. The offence moved the ball consistently in Shane Steichen's first game as co-ordinator, and the defence kept Aaron Rodgers and the Packers out of the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter. The Chargers rushed for a season-high 159 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

Philip Rivers completed 21 of 28 passes for 294 yards and Mike Williams had his first 100-yard receiving day in his three-year career with three receptions for 111 yards.

Hunter Henry had 84 yards on seven catches. Rodgers was 23 of 35 for 161 yards as the Packers (7-2) had their four-game winning streak snapped.

BRONCOS 24, BROWNS 19 DENVER Fourth-year quarterback Brandon Allen sparked Denver's stagnant offence, throwing for two touchdowns in his first career NFL start and leading Denver past stumbling Cleveland. In his first start in 1,402 days, Allen threw a 21-yard pass to Courtland Sutton and a 75-yarder to rookie tight end Noah Fant, and Phillip Lindsay ran nine times for 92 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos (3-6) didn't truncate the playbook with Joe Flacco (neck) on injured reserve, and Allen threw for 193 yards on 12-of-20 passing.

Denver's defence stifled quarterback Baker Mayfield all afternoon as the Browns fell to 2-6.

Associated Graphic

The Houston Texans' Carlos Hyde charges ahead against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

KIRBY LEE/USA TODAY SPORTS


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Where have all the female golf pros gone?
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Canadians Henderson and Sharp will continue to star on the LPGA Tour in 2020, but the supporting cast around them is disappearing
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By JEFF BROOKE
  
  

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Saturday, November 9, 2019 – Page S3

TORONTO -- C anada will have just two women playing regularly on the LPGA Tour in 2020, down from five this year, as many of the country's other top pros have stalled or regressed, fallen victim to injury or, in one case, quit the game altogether in a pique of despair.

The smaller contingent for 2020 is not a good sign for Canadian women's golf at the highest level but people in the game are hoping it is more of an aberration than a trend that should be of concern.

"It looks overwhelming but it's just one of those things," said Brittany Marchand, whose sophomore slump this year on the LPGA Tour relegated her to the second-tier Symetra Tour for 2020. "I don't know what the reason really was for everyone to kind of go off the rails at the same time."

Superstar Brooke Henderson and resurgent veteran Alena Sharp have easily kept their fulltime playing cards for 2020. Henderson, 22, has won twice this season and posted 10 other top-10 results, while 38-year-old Sharp sat in a respectable 54th place on the tour's money list heading into this week's Toto Japan Classic, the penultimate event of the 2019 season.

That is Sharp's highest finish since the peak season of her 15year LPGA career, in 2016, when she ended the season in the 41st spot.

With the two of them playing so well and garnering so much attention, especially nine-time LPGA winner Henderson, the casual fan may not notice the struggles on Canada's second rung of talent.

Marchand, Anne-Catherine Tanguay and Jaclyn Lee are among those coming off disappointing seasons.

All LPGA regulars in 2019 and in the prime years of their 20s, they finished outside the top 100 on the money list and lost their full-time cards.

"I think this year was ... a little bit of an outlier," Marchand continued. "I feel like every year with Canadian golf, with women's golf, we've been slowly improving. We've [been] getting more people on tour. There's just been a lot of aspects that just kind of happened all in the same year."

Marchand made two cuts in 17 starts as her efforts to improve her swing and distance backfired.

She had to return to the LPGA's qualifying school last month but didn't advance far enough in the three-stage marathon to win back her card.

Meanwhile, Tanguay and Lee were set back by injuries.

Tanguay, who played regularly on the LPGA Tour in 2016 and 2018 as well, announced recently she's taking next year off to recover from back and other ailments, tend to personal matters and "re-evaluate my priorities."

Tanguay's sabbatical also brings an end to her dream of representing Canada at the 2020 Olympics in Japan. Henderson and Sharp, Canada's two highestranked players, now are locks for the two spots available. They also wore the Maple Leaf at the 2016 Games in Rio.

Lee has a shorter (and more certain) recovery target. She shut down her rookie season in the summer with a wrist injury, but has resumed practising lightly and is expected to play in 2020.

As with Marchand, she's destined next year for the Symetra Tour, although she will be able to make five LPGA starts on a medical exemption.

"There are things you can control and things you can't. From our perspective, to lose any player, never mind a bunch of them in one season, is not ideal," said Tristan Mullally, head coach of the Canadian women's national amateur team and the "young pro squad," which comprises a handful of nascent professionals who show the most potential to reach or stay at golf's highest levels.

He pointed out most of the players who've had setbacks grew up together as amateurs and moved into the pro ranks at roughly the same time. "When there's a natural fall-off, it tends to also happen together."

To boost the things it can control, Golf Canada is hiring two assistant coaches for the amateur and young pro squads to fortify player development and better support team members during the playing season, Mullally said.

Statistics provided by the LPGA Tour show there's been an average of about eight Canadians a year with tour "membership" this century, with a high of 13 in 2000 and a low of five in 2015.

While not all members get to play full-time on the tour because of their status (all tours have a pecking order of priority to get into events), the numbers still clearly show a weaker representation.

The ebb in the women's game coincides with a surge on the men's side. Nine Canadians teed it up on the PGA Tour in the 2019 season, believed to be a record for the country, and eight have status for 2020.

Marchand, Tanguay and Lee were among the six women on the young pro squad this year.

As the three dropped off the LPGA Tour, no replacements stepped forward.

Former LPGA player Rebecca Lee-Bentham made a return to competitive golf after a hiatus of more than two years but she didn't win her card at Q school.

She's Symetra bound.

Former amateur star Maddie Szeryk, a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen who plays under the Canadian flag, launched her pro career this year and was the country's top performer on the Symetra Tour, reeling off four top-10 finishes and placing 19th on the money list.

Her success earned her a spot in the third stage of Q school, which wrapped up last Saturday in Florida, but she failed to secure one of the 45 LPGA cards for 2020 that were available. She'll have to return to the Symetra next year.

Maude-Aimée LeBlanc was Canada's other Symetra standout in 2019, finishing the season at 30th on the money list. But the veteran, at 30, has decided to pack it in rather than chase the LPGA Tour, where she played for much of this decade before losing her full-time playing privileges in 2018.

"Over time, I realized it wasn't my dream and it didn't make me happy even after good performances," LeBlanc wrote on her Facebook page in announcing her retirement. "I didn't like the person I was on the golf course and I've always wanted to do something more rewarding than hitting a little white ball."

LeBlanc's cri de coeur might symbolize the gloomy mood in some parts of Canadian women's golf these days, but hope always springs eternal heading into an off-season, with a fresh new year ahead.

The upside of players dropping down is that the feeder Symetra Tour will be well stocked next year with pros who've tasted the LPGA (including Marchand, Lee and Lee-Bentham) as well as promising up-and-comers such as Szeryk and rookie pro Selena Costabile. Their goal will be to place in the top 10 on the money list and earn a promotion to the LPGA Tour for 2021.

"It's still right there," Szeryk said of Canada's standing among golf countries. "There's still a lot of Canadians on tour, quite a few on Symetra. So you never know how many will make it to LPGA [after] next year. I think we'll encourage each other."

Associated Graphic

Brooke Henderson hits a shot during the final round of the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA tournament last Sunday. The 22-year-old has won twice this season and posted 10 other top-10 results. However, the number of her fellow Canadians on the LPGA Tour will shrink next year.

PAUL LAKATOS/IMG/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES


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Osborne-Paradis ready for a comeback after gruesome injury
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By LORI EWING
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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – Page B14

TORONTO -- Between the titanium plates and the 13 screws assembled in a mishmash array of angles, his X-ray looks like a pile of pickup sticks.

It's almost a year ago to the day that Manuel Osborne-Paradis crashed at Lake Louise, Alta., in his first training run for his opening race of the World Cup ski season.

Emotions were already frayed that week in the sport's tight-knit community. Canadian teammate Broderick Thompson had suffered a season-ending knee injury days earlier at nearby Nakiska. It was the oneyear anniversary of the death of French skier David Poisson on the same Alberta hill.

"So it was kind of a tough time ... the thoughts were there," Osborne-Paradis said.

Physically, the 35-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C., was feeling great. His equipment was responding well. But halfway down his run, Osborne-Paradis made a "silly mistake, a lackadaisical turn where I wasn't over the outside ski like I should have been."

He hit some soft snow, and went sailing head over heels into the safety nets, shattering his tibia and fibula so thoroughly there was concern he might lose his leg.

Certainly few people thought he'd ever ski again.

"I hadn't even stopped falling and I was thinking, 'Uh-oh, this is broken,' " Osborne-Paradis said.

He hadn't talked publicly much about that horrible day. His future had been so uncertain. But he is mounting a return, hoping to cap his career at the 2022 Beijing Olympics in what would be a remarkable comeback story.

Recounting that day, the skier said medical personnel were quick to reach the mangled 11-time World Cup medalist. One of them popped a fentanyl lollipop in his mouth for the pain. They rolled him on his side - his leg too crushed to transport him on his back - and airlifted him off the mountain to a Calgary hospital.

Canadian veteran Erik Guay was at the top of the hill readying for his run, and heard his teammate's screams over the coaches' radios. Guay announced his retirement later that week.

"We were all under a lot of pressure at that time, and it would be tough when you have teammates falling every week and hurting themselves," Osborne-Paradis said. "As real as it is in our sport that injuries are bound to happen, and it's more of a when not if, when they start happening every week, it's too close to reality."

Sitting in a posh hotel Tuesday in downtown Toronto where Alpine Canada was celebrating its 100th anniversary the next day, Osborne-Paradis scrolled through his phone. There were photos from his hospital bed with his wife, Lana. There were photos of the deep gash in his leg that had to be reopened several times to relieve compartment syndrome. And there's the X-ray of his shattered tibia and fibula. (Google "gruesome broken leg X-rays" and the Canadian skier's would be among the worst).

His tibial fracture as a 5 out of 6 on the Schatzker scale of severity. A 6 usually occurs in a fatality, Osborne-Paradis said - such as when the engine block of a car is driven up through the leg.

He had two major surgeries and seven minor ones over 12 days. His bones are patched together by plates, 13 screws and bone cement. Doctors couldn't save the tibia, replacing it with a cadaver's hip bone.

His case has become well known among Calgary's medical community.

"I was walking around the golf course the other day and this woman was walking her dog, and said 'Are you Manny? I'm a doctor in Calgary, I've heard about your leg, and oh my God, it was nasty,' " he said.

It wasn't a stretch that Osborne-Paradis was told he'd never ski again.

"Yeah, with that attitude you're never going to ski again," he said. "But the only reason I've stood on the podium or won races is because you're defying odds. If you just looked at the odds, nobody would ever join sports, and so I feel like this is just another bump in the road.

"My team and my sponsors and myself, we all had a goal of making it to the next Olympics, and at this point, there's just no counting that out. There's a process in place to get back. It's possible. I was skiing at a high level, and if I can get back to 95 per cent or 100 per cent, there's no doubt in my mind and my team's mind that I can stand on the podium again."

There have certainly been setbacks in his recovery. He pushed it too hard in the gym during his rehabilitation, breaking all but four of the screws. Doctors opted against another surgery, so there those screws remain. It knocked him back in his recovery more than two months.

He still hasn't been cleared to ski, but predicts he'll be back on the snow sometime this winter. He plans to race again next season.

He knows there'll be fear when he's crouched in the start hut for that first run when he returns. But fear is a big part of any ski racer's career.

"You're always prepared to be injured with skiing," Osborne-Paradis said. "You learn to conquer those demons and every race there's something that scares you. That's what the training is for ... it's normalizing the extremes that we do."

Along with his rehab, the world championship bronze medalist is completing a sport management program at Harvard.

His daughter, Sloane, turns 3 later this month, and Lana, a personal trainer who has a women's health online group - http://www.blastfitness.ca - is pregnant with their second child.

If his comeback is derailed, OsborneParadis said he'll leave the sport fulfilled, all of his childhood dreams reached.

"I'm not out there to prove that I need to be better, I think that I've achieved this high level of skiing and this amazing career that I've been humbled to experience that's just through sheer hard work, determination and mental tenacity, and this is just another battle to deal with."

Associated Graphic

After suffering a severe leg injury last year, skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis, seen in Toronto on Tuesday, is hoping to cap his career at the 2022 Olympics. While he hasn't been cleared to ski, he predicts he'll be back on the snow this winter.

NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Texans-Ravens may be first of many Watson-Jackson duels
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QBs are set to face off in match of division leaders in Baltimore on Sunday
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By SCHUYLER DIXON
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
  
  

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 – Page B16

This is the first of what could be many meetings between two dynamic young AFC quarterbacks when Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans visit Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

It might not even be the only one this season.

Watson was the 12th overall pick of the 2017 draft after leading Clemson to a national championship, Jackson the disappointed final choice of the first round a year later out of Louisville.

It took the Texans one game to commit to Watson as the starter when he was a rookie. The Ravens needed a little longer last year to decide Jackson was more than just the heir apparent to Joe Flacco, the 11-year starter who was benched in Week 11.

Watson and Jackson go into their meeting at the helm of division leaders, the Texans (6-3) in front in the AFC South and the Ravens (7-2) atop the AFC North.

If the playoffs started this week, Houston would be a wildcard win away from another trip to Baltimore. The Ravens, who opened as 51/2-point favourites, are going to hang on to that firstround bye at least another week.

Pick: Baltimore, 31-30.

Knockout pool: The AP prognostication crew has been knocked out thanks to New Orleans' loss to Atlanta. If we were still in the game, our pick would be Carolina.

NO. 13 PITTSBURGH (PLUS 3) AT NO. 23 CLEVELAND The Steelers have forced 26 turnovers, second to New England.

The Browns are tied for fifth with the most turnovers. Look for the Pittsburgh defence to continue the team's recovery from a 1-4 start.

Upset special: Pittsburgh, 17-13 NO. 26 DENVER (PLUS 10 1 / 2) AT NO. 7 MINNESOTA The Vikings are coming off perhaps their best win of the season at the Cowboys. But Broncos coach Vic Fangio gave the Minnesota offence fits twice last season as Chicago's defensive co-ordinator. This game may be closer than people think.

Pick: Minnesota, 16-9 NO. 27 ATLANTA (PLUS 6) AT NO. 15 CAROLINA Knowing Cam Newton is now out for at least the rest of the regular season with a foot injury, Kyle Allen threw for a careerhigh 307 yards in the snow in a loss at Green Bay. Two straight division wins is a tall task after the Falcons' shocker over the Saints.

Pick: Carolina, 27-17 NO. 11 BUFFALO (MINUS 6) AT NO. 28 MIAMI Ryan Fitzpatrick is doing his best to keep the Dolphins competitive (two straight wins), and he gets to face one of his seven former teams. He played more games for the Bills than any team. Look for a bounce-back from Buffalo in its playoff pursuit.

Best bet: Buffalo, 28-7 NO. 21 JACKSONVILLE (PLUS 3 1 / 2) AT INDIANAPOLIS Nick Foles will be the starter now that rookie Gardner Minshew has come back to earth a bit. This game has implications in the jumbled AFC wild-card race. If Jacoby Brissett returns from a knee injury, that should be enough for the Colts in a low-scoring game.

Pick: Indianapolis, 14-12 NO. 6 NEW ORLEANS (MINUS 3 1 / 2) AT NO. 25 TAMPA BAY Expect a bounce-back from Drew Brees and the Saints after the loss to the Falcons. A Tampa Bay defence that struggles to defend the pass could be the perfect antidote.

Pick: New Orleans, 31-13 NO. 29 N.Y. JETS (PLUS 1) AT 31 WASHINGTON Will the Jets defence give up four touchdown passes to a rookie quarterback for the second week in a row? Probably not, since Washington didn't go with Dwayne Haskins as early as the Giants turned to Daniel Jones.

Which team will be thinking more about the draft? Let's go with the Jets on that.

Pick: Washington, 21-20 NO. 32 CINCINNATI (PLUS 10) AT NO. 16 OAKLAND The Raiders' last-place schedule delivers again with the winless Bengals. Expect the Raiders to take advantage again to continue an unexpected surge to playoff contention.

Pick: Oakland, 28-14 NO. 2 NEW ENGLAND (MINUS 3 1 / 2) AT NO. 12 PHILADELPHIA The first meeting of these teams since the Eagles won the 2018 Super Bowl is also the Patriots' return from their open week after their first loss, to Baltimore. Both teams had two weeks to prepare, just like the last time they played.

Pick: New England, 23-16 NO. 10 DALLAS (OFF) AT NO. 22 DETROIT Ezekiel Elliott faces one of the NFL's worst run defences a week after getting bottled up by the Vikings. The Cowboys need to bounce back against another NFC North opponent, otherwise the outlook gets pretty dim for a team that started the season with high expectations. The Lions might be without Matthew Stafford again.

Pick: Dallas, 30-18 NO. 24 ARIZONA (PLUS 13 1 / 2) AT SAN FRANCISCO This line must be based more on the first three quarters of the first meeting just two weeks ago. That was before Kyler Murray brought the Cardinals back in a 28-25 loss, keyed by an 88-yard touchdown pass. The 49ers should bounce back from their first loss, but not enough to satisfy the oddsmakers.

Pick: San Francisco, 23-19 NO. 19 CHICAGO (PLUS 8 1 / 2) AT NO. 14 L.A. RAMS The Bears beat the Rams when Sean McVay's team was healthy last year in Chicago. So it stands to reason that Chicago can do it again with L.A. lacking rhythm and fighting injuries offensively.

Upset special: Chicago, 20-17 NO. 9 KANSAS CITY (MINUS 4) VS. NO. 20 LA CHARGERS AT MEXICO CITY It's the second game back for Patrick Mahomes coming off his knee injury, and the Chiefs are suddenly threatened by Oakland in the AFC West. This could be the last chance for the Chargers to stay in the division race, but that desperation won't be enough.

Pick: Kansas City, 28-23 2019 RECORD Last Week: 5-8 against spread, 4-9 straight up.

Season Totals: 78-68-1 against spread, 89-57-1 straight up.

Best Bet: 8-2 against spread, 8-2 straight up.

Upset special: 6-4 against spread, 6-4 straight up.

Associated Graphic

Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans jumps over Ronnie Harrison of the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Nov. 3. Watson was the 12th overall pick of the 2017 draft.

JACK THOMAS/GETTY IMAGES


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TFC seeks second scorer after MLS Cup loss
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Team president says coming transfer window is an opportunity to find a player that will complement Altidore
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By NEIL DAVIDSON
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019 – Page B12

SEATTLE -- Toronto FC returned home to a snowstorm Monday, another unwelcome dose of reality after a painful 3-1 MLS Cup final defeat in Seattle.

The playing season is over. The planning begins.

Team president Bill Manning offered up one major target in a question-and-answer session with season ticket-holders on Oct. 19, the eve of Toronto's opening playoff win over D.C. United.

After reeling off the club's depth in midfield, Manning said there was more roster work to be done.

"We still do miss that second goal scorer. And that's something we're going to address in this winter [transfer] window," he said.

"That's why I say we're not complete yet. I do think we still need one more window to further strengthen the team."

Citing the "cruel" penalty shootout loss to the Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship final in September, Manning then returned to the issue of finding another scoring option to complement striker Jozy Altidore.

"That's one of the things we're finding, is when the big guy [Altidore] doesn't score, we're in trouble, right," he said.

"We had that combination with Sebastian [Giovinco] and Jozy in the past, so that is something we're going to look at this off-season."

Altidore started the second leg of the Canadian Championship at BMO Field, a 1-0 win that led to a penalty shootout that did not go Toronto's way.

With Altidore sidelined by injury during the first three games of the playoffs, TFC survived by pushing Alejandro Pozuelo farther up front. The Spanish playmaker roved around the field, pulling defenders out of their comfort zone while creating space for others.

Pozuelo enjoys playing the position because of the freedom it affords him, as opposed to being stationed on the wing.

It worked for three games, but not in the final. Pozuelo cut a frustrated figure in Seattle, often dropping back deeper in a bid to get the ball. And he started taking on one, two, three defenders with success - until another stopped him.

Coach Greg Vanney pointed to his team trying to do too much after going behind 1-0 in the 57th minute.

"Too much spinning around in midfield on the ball and not enough ball circulation."

Altidore came on as a substitute Sunday, scoring a consolation goal in stoppage time.

Pozuelo is a special player, but playing him consistently up front is like asking Gordon Ramsay to cook and wait tables. It's too much.

TFC did not have the guns needed in waiting. Patrick Mullins proved to be a hard-nosed reserve forward, but not the alternative sniper needed.

With 57 goals during the regular season, Toronto ranked fifth in the league at 1.68 goals a game.

It had an impressive 16 players score in the league, but Pozuelo (12), Altidore (11), Nick DeLeon (6) and Jonathan Osorio (five) accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the offence.

Scoring by committee is asking a lot when it comes to big games. Witness Sunday.

"By and large, they executed many of their chances and that was the difference," Vanney said of Seattle.

Despite having just 35 per cent of the possession, Seattle managed six shots on target, one more than Toronto.

"It's soccer. You work with what you have and, unfortunately, Jozy got injured just before the playoffs," Vanney said.

"But I thought the rest of the group really stepped up. We looked at different ways to gameplan to try to be dangerous over the course of this playoffs. ... It just meant we evolved. We became something different."

General manager Ali Curtis has more on his to-do list as he looks to put his own stamp on a roster he inherited in January - "with the house on fire" in Vanney's words - given a spate of sudden roster changes.

With Pozuelo and Altidore locked up as designated players, the focus switches to captain Michael Bradley, who currently is the third DP on an expiring contract.

One option is use targeted allocation money (TAM) to re-sign Bradley, opening up a DP spot for a forward - preferably young, but not so young to be a project.

Teams can use TAM to convert a designated player to a non-DP.

The maximum current salary for a TAM player is US$1.5-million - a significant drop from Bradley's US$6.5-million this season (second highest in the league).

The 32-year-old Bradley has always been committed to Toronto, both the team and city. And having already earned US$39million here, he may well be willing to do what's needed to keep the train rolling.

There are other numbers to address.

Toronto spent more than US$2-million this season on five centre backs: Omar Gonzalez (US$1,193,935, although he arrived mid-season), Chris Mavinga (US$663,333), Laurent Ciman (US$435,624), Drew Moor (US$375,000) and Eriq Zavaleta (US$296,962).

And once again, the team finds itself paying its backup goalkeeper more than the starter, with former No. 1 Alex Bono earning US$382,000 to Quentin Westberg's US$115,254.

Fullback Richie Laryea has earned a raise from the league minimum of US$56,250.

Vanney probably merits a raise, too, given the roller-coaster year that started with the departure of GM Tim Bezbatchenko, Giovinco, Victor Vazquez and Gregory van der Wiel. Replacements took time.

"Our group has battled," he said.

"It's been a season, in some ways, that's felt like two or three seasons all in one."

Associated Graphic

Toronto FC players Chris Mavinga, left, and Tsubasa Endoh react to their loss to the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup final on Sunday. With 57 goals during the regular season, Toronto ranked fifth in the league at 1.68 goals a game.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/ THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Struggling Redblacks part ways with Campbell
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By LISA WALLACE
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Tuesday, November 5, 2019 – Page B13

OTTAWA -- Head coach Rick Campbell has parted ways with the Ottawa Redblacks amid the fallout of a dismal season, and what appears to be a deteriorating relationship with general manager Marcel Desjardins.

The Redblacks announced Monday morning that Campbell had decided to leave with CFL club with one year remaining on his contract.

Ottawa finished last in the CFL standings this season, with an overall 3-15 record after losing numerous players to free agency.

The team also dealt with a number of injuries, while other players didn't live up to the potential expected from management.

"My best way to phrase it is I didn't think the status quo was best for the Redblacks going forward, and decisions were made from there," Campbell said of his departure.

"I really didn't like it when people left here with a bad taste in their mouth," he added. "The list was getting a little long and ... I'll leave it at that."

Desjardins said he was caught off guard by Campbell's decision.

"[Campbell] did not think that our relationship was good enough for him to want to continue in this arrangement," Desjardins said Monday. "That's his opinion. The relationship has been the same since Day 1, but obviously the stress of this season must have played a factor in that.

"At the end of the day, I take complete responsibility for everything, but I also know that all of the success we've had in the past is a group effort, so as much as I am the person to answer for this at the end of the day, there are a lot of things that happened." Campbell denied that a personality conflict with Desjardins factored into his decision.

"I do not dislike Marcel," Campbell said. "It's not about that. Sometimes relationships have to jive and to be able to communicate well, and sometimes when you don't have that, it makes things tougher. I have to put it on me, too, because I have to be a better communicator."

Campbell, who was hired by the Redblacks on Dec. 6, 2013, leaves his first head coaching position with a 44-62-2. The only coach in club history led the Redblacks to the Grey Cup game in three of the past four seasons, winning the title in 2016.

Players had often expressed how much they liked playing for Campbell, and news of his departure came as a shock.

"I'm very, very surprised," said veteran receiver Brad Sinopoli, who recently signed a two-year contract extension. "I loved playing for Rick. Days like this are a tough part of the business. This was not what I wanted to wake up to."

The decision didn't come easily to Campbell, who embraced being part of the Redblacks community.

"I know it feels like the right thing," Campbell said. "I wanted to be really sure because it's been a long year with a lot of losing that I wasn't being rash or overly emotional making a poor decision. It wasn't like a power play or anything like that. It was just making sure I'm completely in and everybody pulling in the same direction and making it a fun, great place to work, and for me that was slipping, but that's on me."

The 48-year-old choked back tears as he spoke of the players and the special moments he enjoyed as head coach, most notably the Grey Cup parade in 2016.

"I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not sorry, I'm sad."

Campbell will be paid the final year of his contract, but will also be free to pursue other opportunities.

Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group chief executive officer Mark Goudie says Campbell informed the team of his intentions Saturday, and Goudie asked his coach to take 24 hours to contemplate his decision, At no time did Campbell give Goudie the ultimatum that it was him or the GM.

"If you know Rick, he's not that dude," Goudie said. "We had a conversation that was more about Rick, and at the end of the day what he could and couldn't do."

Desjardins said the priority is to hire a new head coach before Christmas. He said he will be looking for someone with CFL experience, but not necessarily head coaching experience.

The remainder of the Redblacks coaching staff is under contract until December, but have been told future jobs will be contingent on the new head coach.

With Desjardins in the final year of his contract, it may be more difficult to attract a new head coach, who may feel job security could be threatened.

"I understand it's a little bit unorthodox, but that's just the road we're going to go right now," Goudie said. "I think as the blueprint starts emerging for next year, we'll figure out what that looks like. We have a stable organization so I can participate in the process from giving somebody comfort in what our organization is all about."

In addition to a new head coach, the Redblacks will look to add an offensive co-ordinator to its staff as they chose not to replace Jaime Elizondo after he left the team in April to pursue other opportunities.

Desjardins said the team will also look to bring in another quarterback and would likely be more active in the coming freeagent market.

A quarterback will not be signed until a new head coach is in place, as Desjardins wants the coach to have input on the signing.

Associated Graphic

Former Redblacks coach Rick Campbell, seen on the sidelines during a game with the BC Lions last month, was hired in 2013 and led the team to several Grey Cup games before quitting.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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NHL players pay tribute to Cherry, but stop short of defending his diatribe
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By MARTY KLINKENBERG
  
  

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Page B15

TORONTO -- Like many pro hockey players, Tyson Barrie grew up watching Don Cherry ruminate, sometimes on matters he should have left alone, on Hockey Night in Canada. As he sat at his dressing stall on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs defenceman mulled the long-time broadcaster's dismissal by Rogers Sportsnet.

"It is unfortunate to see him go out like this," Barrie said. "Don is a legend, and has been such a big part of hockey.

"In the age we are in, when you say something [publicly], it is out there for the world to see, and that generates a lot of opinions."

On Saturday night, the combative cohost of Coach's Corner singled out Toronto-area immigrants for not wearing poppies during a tribute to war veterans.

"You people that come here, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that," the 85-year-old Cherry said while jabbing one finger at the camera.

"These guys pay for the way of life you enjoy. [They] paid the biggest price."

The furor triggered by his comments led Cherry to be fired on Remembrance Day. There is a terrible irony in that, because he has always fiercely supported the military. His eyes often teared up when he talked about his love for soldiers on the air.

Cherry has since described his words as not being racial or bigoted but patriotic and respectful.

His employer, Sportsnet, the NHL and the CBC, for whom he worked across four decades, disagreed.

When asked to apologize by Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley, as his partner on the program Ron MacLean had on Sunday, the pugnacious former National Hockey League coach refused.

That caused him to be dropped from a broadcast he first joined for the 1980 Stanley Cup playoffs.

On the day after, reverberations were felt around the league.

In Montreal, Max Domi expressed admiration for Cherry, who has always operated with controversy in his wake. Over the years, among other things, he sideswiped francophones and blasted European players, called Liberals pinkos and made fun of climate-change believers.

"I love Don Cherry," said Domi, who has known him all of his life.

His dad, Tie, was a bare-knuckles brawler, the hardscrabble type of tough guy Cherry held in the highest esteem. "What he's done for this sport is remarkable. I will always look up to him."

As of Tuesday, nearly 200,000 people had signed a handful of different petitions being circulated that demand Cherry be reinstated. Fans called him a symbol of the working class, and railed at Sportsnet for caving to the politically correct. Others lauded the network for making a decision they say was long overdue. The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council was so overloaded with complaints about his diatribe that it exceeded the organization's capacity to keep track of them.

In a series of television interviews on Tuesday night, Cherry said he would not apologize for what he said, but would choose different words.

On a busy practice day for the Maple Leafs, Cherry's departure garnered as much attention as Mitch Marner's injured ankle, Zach Hyman's imminent return and the arrival of rookie goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo.

Hyman, who underwent knee surgery during the off-season, will rejoin the team when it plays the Islanders in New York on Wednesday night. Kaskisuo was called up from the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies after Michael Hutchinson, the backup to Frederik Andersen, was waived on Monday.

Hyman, 27, recalled how excited he was the first time Cherry ever mentioned his name on television.

"It was awesome," Hyman said at the team's practice rink in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke. "He has been around hockey forever, but you can't say stuff today like he did. You've got to be accepting of everyone.

"'Hockey Is For Everyone' is one of our slogans in the NHL, and it's really true. For him to say that sort of stuff is unacceptable."

John Tavares, the Maple Leafs captain, grew up in Toronto and recalls seeing Cherry stand behind the glass when he played in minor hockey tournaments.

"I think it is disappointing on many fronts, the comments, but certainly the way his tenure ended," Tavares said. "There was so many good things that he did through his commitment to the game. I think everybody would wish something like this never happened."

Jason Spezza, who at 36 is the oldest member of the team, finds it sad.

"I'm not one to weigh into it too much, but what makes Canada great is the equality we have and how diverse our culture is," Spezza said. "You don't like anything that is discriminatory and offends anyone, but Don is an icon. You don't like to see things end that way."

Head coach Mike Babcock said he understands why people were offended.

"I know when you are in a situation like I am you have to be mindful of how great the game is and what it is all about," he said. "I am sure it must be tough on him and his family, but having said that, certain things are right."

Back at his dressing stall, Barrie said he believes Cherry's comments may have been misunderstood.

"He is 85 years old," Barrie said.

"I don't think he meant it the way it has been taken. At the end of the day, though, we all are responsible for our actions."

Associated Graphic

Hockey commentator Don Cherry was dropped by Sportsnet on Monday after he refused to apologize for his comments about immigrants and poppies.

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS


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Leafs get last laugh in tight match against Golden Knights
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Tavares scores overtime winner in a 2-1 victory for Toronto that was both exhilarating and frustrating
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By MARTY KLINKENBERG
  
  

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Friday, November 8, 2019 – Page B17

TORONTO -- Winter's first blush arrived in Toronto on Thursday. Residents woke up to fresh snow. Coats came out of the closet.

Scarves, too. Real hockey weather. Finally.

Perhaps the nip in the air would prompt a spring in the step of the Maple Leafs. Not so much.

As games go, the skirmish at Scotiabank Arena was entertaining and tightly played. With the exception of one pummelling, Toronto has elevated its play against better opponents. But it still struggles to beat them. They won 2-1 in overtime on a goal by John Tavares in a victory that was both exhilarating and frustrating.

The Vegas Golden Knights are nettlesome to everyone. They are fast and relentless. They dig for pucks and rarely lose battles. With them, there is no room for a breather.

They are not an easy mark, but they were also not at their strongest last night.

They came to town bearing a gift. They left Marc-André Fleury, their spectacular goalie, on the bench. It is only the third time he has sat one out this season.

His backup, Malcolm Subban, started instead. He had yet to win a game this year. He is P.K.'s younger brother, and this is their hometown. It was the first time he had played an NHL game in Toronto.

Undoubtedly, he was inspired, but he should have been beatable. It should have been relatively easy. Instead, Malcolm, who entered the night with a 4.32 goalsagainst average, put on a show. He had 37 saves.

Max Pacioretty flipped a puck past Frederik Andersen to break a goalless tie with 15:52 left in the third period. Auston Matthews tied it with a wrist shot four minutes later. He scored on a power play, which has turned into an inexplicable struggle for a team that brims with so much talent.

Matthews's 13th goal of the season came on Toronto's sixth man-advantage of the evening. It was so lousy on the first five chances that boos swelled within the partisan faithful.

The power-play woes are moving into epic territory. The Maple Leafs entered the game 9 for 52. After going 0 for 3 in Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, they were 2 for their last 26. They had scored only twice with one more man on the ice in nine games.

"Any way you look at it, they haven't been good enough," head coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday after practice.

After they flubbed their first two opportunities, their exasperated radio playby-play man Joe Bowen, told listeners: "That is nothing new."

The goalies, Subban especially, were the story of the night. Both were marvellous. Neither deserved to lose. Andersen finished with 37 saves, including three in the last five seconds of regulation. But he has been playing so well that is not a surprise. That Subban had 35 is.

He was up to the task right from the start. He was tested early when Nicolas Hague, the Golden Knights' 6-foot-6 defeceman, was flagged for interference 27 seconds into the game.

With the Maple Leafs on the power play, Subban gloved shots by Auston Matthews and Alexander Kerfoot in rapid succession, and deflected another by Tyson Barrie. A Paul Stastny hooking penalty gave Toronto another man advantage with 6:12 left before intermission. Subban continued to do what he had until that point, stopping two more shots by Matthews and batting away a wrist shot by Mitch Marner.

The Leafs peppered him with 13 shots in the first 20 minutes without success.

This is third season with Vegas after being claimed off waivers from the Boston Bruins. He likely turned in the best performance of his career in his family's back yard.

With the win, Babcock became the eighth coach in NHL history with 700 victories. He is 700-413-163 with 19 ties in 17 seasons for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs.

We seem to be getting some traction, the guys seem to be getting to know each other better and there seems to be more juice in our room," he said Wednesday. "All of that is positive."

"What's not?

"We are still trying to figure out our group," he said.

"We are still a work in progress to say the least.

"The biggest thing is we have to play harder for longer every night."

They did it long enough to beat the Golden Knights. They are 9-5-3 heading into a game against Philadelphia on Saturday in Toronto. They need a lopsided win.

Associated Graphic

Dmytro Timashov of the Toronto Maple Leafs draws a penalty on Shea Theodore of the Vegas Golden Knights at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.

CLAUS ANDERSEN/GETTY IMAGES


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Siakam goes on tear as Raps rout Pistons
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Cameroonian star earns rest in fourth quarter after putting up 30 points in first three
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By RACHEL BRADY
  
  

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Thursday, October 31, 2019 – Page B12

TORONTO -- Dwane Casey's Detroit Pistons beat the Raptors in all three of their meetings last season. The former Raptors coach did not leave Toronto with any such satisfaction on Wednesday night - not with Pascal Siakam playing like an all-star.

The Raps clobbered Casey's Pistons 125-113, led by 30 points from Siakam. It was the Cameroonian star's third time over the 30-point threshold in a Toronto season just five games old.

He was able to pull it off this time and rest the entire fourth quarter.

Kyle Lowry added 20, Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell had 19 as the reigning NBA champs improved to 4-1. Fred VanVleet had a 13-point, 11-assist double-double, while OG Anunoby had a 13point night with eight boards.

Back inside Toronto's Scotiabank Arena, where he had become the coach with the most wins in Raptors history during his seven seasons in charge, Casey wanted to set some things straight.

"I'll say this out front, I'm so proud of the team from last year, how they came out and won the championship. Seeing the banner up there is beautiful for the team, for the organization, for the country," Casey said after his Pistons held morning shootaround, glancing up at the rafters where the Raps new championship banner hangs.

Casey built the Raps into a perennial playoff team between 2011 and 2018, shaped its winning culture and had a hand in developing then-young but nowthriving Raptors such as Siakam - who started 38 games for him in his rookie year. That list also includes VanVleet, Anunoby and Powell. Casey took the Raps to a franchise-record 59 victories in the 2017-18 campaign, and was chosen the NBA's coach of the year. But he was fired after his Raps were once again ousted in the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He insisted during this visit that he is not bitter.

"It irks me when I read the narrative that Dwane is salty," added the 62-year-old coach, holding court with the Toronto media he got to known well during his time in Canada. "I'm happy for everybody who's here, I'm happy for the organization. Masai and I talked this summer, Larry Tanenbaum and I, we text back and forth with each other after it was over with, George Cope. So there's no animosity in my heart whatsoever, I can sleep at night.

"There's no saltiness, no pepper, no hot sauce."

Casey said he texted Lowry right after the Raps finished off the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 - and the all-star point guard texted him right back. He said he congratulated Siakam and VanVleet in person when he saw them around at NBA summer workouts. As for the man who fired him - Raptors president Masai Ujiri - Casey said "we're good."

The former Raps coach got a standing ovation from the Toronto fans following a video tribute in the first quarter - one of the many the Raps are doing this season to recognize key figures in the franchise's 25 years.

Casey led last year's Pistons to a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference, and their first playoff appearance since the 2015-16 season. He's eager to prove he can strengthen the Pistons as he did for the Raptors.

"That's exactly why I've got a long-term contract, to do exactly what we were doing here," Casey said. "We're not there yet. Lots of work to do."

Casey's Pistons, 2-3, were without two of their starters on Wednesday - Reggie Jackson (lower back) and superstar Blake Griffin (hamstring).

Siakam was impressive throughout, but his 19-point third quarter was all-star-like.

Toronto's rising superstar from Cameroon exploded for a huge third quarter, scoring on everything from three-pointers to short jumpers and remarkably athletic driving layups, making 7-foot-1 Piston Thon Maker look a little lost.

With the game well in hand, the Raps were able to get some minutes for little-used Chris Boucher, Matt Thomas and Terence Davis in the fourth. Toronto coach Nick Nurse continues to experiment with ways to get work for the youngsters on his bench.

There was no postgame handshake for the two coaches, but Nurse and Casey waved at one another from their respective ends of the floor this time before leaving the floor.

The Raps' next game is Saturday in Milwaukee against the Bucks.

Associated Graphic

Raptors forward OG Anunoby scores over Detroit Pistons centre Andre Drummond and guard Tony Snell in Toronto on Wednesday. Anunoby had a 13-point night with eight boards.

FRANK GUNN/ THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Bombers barrage Stamps to reach West final
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By DONNA SPENCER
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Monday, November 11, 2019 – Page B13

CALGARY -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers advanced to the CFL's West Division final with a 35-14 win over the Calgary Stampeders in Sunday's semi-final.

The Blue Bombers travel to Regina to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders in next Sunday's West final.

The victor there represents the West in the Grey Cup in Calgary on Nov. 24.

Nic Demski, Darvin Adams and Chris Streveler scored touchdowns, and Justin Medlock kicked four field goals for Winnipeg.

Reggie Begelton scored two touchdowns for the host Stampeders, who won last year's Grey Cup, but will not defend their title on home turf this year.

Winnipeg hasn't won the CFL's championship trophy since 1990.

The Blue Bombers (11-7) finished third in the West Division behind the Roughriders (13-5) and Stampeders (12-6).

The Esks take on the Hamilton TigerCats in next Sunday's East final.

Bombers starting quarterback Zach Collaros completed 11 of 21 pass attempts for 193 yards and one touchdown pass.

A Roughrider to start the season, Collaros was traded twice and arrived in Winnipeg on Oct. 9 through the Toronto Argonauts.

Streveler had taken over as Winnipeg's starter when Matt Nichols went down with a shoulder injury in August.

An ankle injury sidelined Streveler in the regular-season finale, but he returned Sunday to lead the Bombers in rushing yards with 82 yards.

Stampeder quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was without his favourite target - injured receiver Eric Rogers - and struggled completing just 12 of 28 pass attempts for 116 yards. Mitchell was intercepted three times.

Winnipeg faced Calgary in a third straight game Sunday. The Bombers had a bye week after splitting 1-1 with the Stampeders to cap their regular season.

Trailing 14-8 at halftime, the Bombers scored 27 unanswered points in the second half in front of an announced 24,278 at a chilly McMahon Stadium.

Morning snowfall halted and gave way to partly cloudy skies at kickoff with a temperature of minus-14.

Mitchell was intercepted on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter by Nick Taylor and Mercy Maston, respectively.

Calgary turned the ball over on downs with just more than three minutes remaining in the game.

Streveler scored a 24-yard rushing touchdown at 8:35. Medlock's 42-yard field goal at 7:23 hit the right upright, but made it through for the three points.

Collaros and Adams combined on a 71yard touchdown catch and run at 3:18. Medlock booted a 42-yard field goal at 2:29.

Demski's 33-yard rushing touchdown at 10:35 of the third capped a seven-play, 82yard drive. Winnipeg led for the first time in the game - 15-14 - on Medlock's convert.

Jerome Lorenzo's 53-yard punt return had Calgary starting in Winnipeg territory late in the first half. Mitchell and Begelton's combined on a 19-yard catch and run for a 14-5 lead.

But the Bombers trailed by a touchdown at the half after Medlock's 52-yard field goal.

Under pressure in the end zone early in the second quarter, Mitchell was called for intentional grounding when he threw the ball away.

Calgary conceding the two-point safety preceded Medlock's 34-yard field goal for the Bombers to trail 7-5.

Winnipeg's 47-yard pass interference penalty gave the Stampeders the ball at the four-yard line on Calgary's opening drive of the game.

MCMASTER STUNS WESTERN TO WIN YATES CUP AS OUA CHAMPIONS

Matt Krason scored two touchdowns as the McMaster Marauders upset Western 29-15 in London on Saturday to win the Yates Cup and hand the Mustangs their first loss since the 2018 Vanier Cup championship.

Western, the top-seeded team that had gone 8-0 through the Ontario University Athletics regular season, led 10-0 after one quarter before McMaster stormed back.

Saturday's win was McMaster's eighth at the Yates Cup, but the first since 2014.

McMaster will play the Calgary Dinos in the Mitchell Bowl next week, with a chance to move on to the national championship.

The Dinos advanced with a 29-4 win over the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Hardy Cup in Calgary.

Out east, Dale Wright had three rushing touchdowns to lead the Acadia Axemen over the Bishop's Gaiters 31-1 in the Loney Bowl in Wolfville, N.S. Acadia will face the Montreal Carabins in next week's Uteck Bowl.

Associated Graphic

Winnipeg Blue Bomber Janarion Grant evades tackles by Calgary Stampeders during the CFL's West Division semi-final on Sunday. The Bombers won the game 35-14, and will head to Regina to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

JEFF MCINTOSH/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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NHLers bond over fantasy football fandom
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By JOSHUA CLIPPERTON
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Thursday, November 7, 2019 – Page B12

TORONTO -- Morgan Rielly says the trade offers usually start flying as soon as the Maple Leafs board their bus or plane.

The proposals, however, have nothing to do with hockey.

Instead, the Toronto defenceman and his teammates will throw out potential swaps in their fantasy football league to see if there are any takers.

"It's almost automatic to talk trade to the guy in the seat in front of you," said Rielly, whose eyes lit up when a recent conversation turned to fantasy sports.

"Then they'll turn around and be like, 'Are you joking?' There's a lot of banter."

For the uninitiated, fantasy sports involves competitors drafting players from professional leagues - in this case, the NFL - to go up against friends, coworkers or even strangers.

And in the case of many NHLers, their teammates.

Leagues usually range anywhere from eight to 12 teams, with everyone paying an entry fee and the winner taking the majority of the pot at season's end.

"It's cool to make trades and try to fleece guys a little bit," said Rielly, the Leafs' most recent fantasy football champion. "It definitely gets competitive. In a weird way, it brings guys together."

Fantasy football is big across NHL locker rooms as players jockey for year-end bragging rights. It's also a way to bond and unplug from the pressures of their day jobs.

"A lot of fun," Ottawa Senators defenceman Thomas Chabot said. "We're always so focused on hockey that when the football games are on, it's nice to sit all together and watch a couple of games and chirp each other."

Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba described his team's fantasy league as "crazy" during the early months of the NHL schedule.

"That's all we talk about," he said. "Last year I remember guys taking each other out for dinner and trying to work trades. It's hilarious. Then football season is over and there's this week of, like, sombreness.

"Nobody knows how to talk to each other if it's not about football. It's a transition period."

Calgary forward Sam Bennett said the Flames had issues with trade offers involving bribes similar to the ones Dumba mentioned, but put a stop to the practice.

"You're not allowed to trade money or dinner," said Bennett, who was victorious two years ago. "There's lot of chirping about the teams and the picks."

"It gets really intense," Chabot added. "It gets a little greasy with trades at the end of the [fantasy] year when you're not going to make playoffs."

The Vancouver Canucks' success on the ice this season hasn't translated to captain Bo Horvat's fantasy roster.

"It's my first year," he said.

"You can tell, because I suck. My team's the worst." While fantasy sports get NHLers' competitive juices flowing, it can also help with the integration of new players.

The Leafs underwent a roster overhaul this summer that included the addition of forwards Alexander Kerfoot and Nick Shore, as well as defencemen Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci.

All four are now members of the team's fantasy football setup.

"It's hard to be a sports fan and not be in a fantasy league," Kerfoot said. "I'm in two leagues - one with the guys here and one with some of my friends back home.

"It's fun to hang out with the guys on Sundays. We talk about it in the locker room all day long.

It makes guys feel comfortable," Rielly added. "Especially guys that might be new to a team and has played fantasy before, he's right in the mix."

But the blueliner does have one criticism of Toronto's league - that star forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner share a team.

"They're such losers," Rielly said with a smile. "You shouldn't be able to do that."

Associated Graphic

Morgan Rielly, seen clashing with the Kings' Alex Iafallo in Toronto on Tuesday, says 'it's cool to make trades and try to fleece guys' in the players' fantasy football league.

JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI/USA TODAY SPORTS


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Saskatchewan's consumer debt crisis: As trade war stings, more homeowners fall behind on payments
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By MATT LUNDY
  
  

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Monday, November 4, 2019 – Page B1

ECONOMICS REPORTER Saskatchewan households are showing signs of mounting financial distress as the province suffers from a prolonged bout of economic weakness, compounded by a global trade war that's taken direct aim at key exports.

People in Saskatchewan are falling behind on debt payments - both for mortgages and other loans - to a greater degree than the rest of the country.

Home foreclosures have roughly doubled over the past five years, and since the 2014 oil crash, consumer insolvencies have surged at a faster clip than in Alberta.

"When you compare the situation in Saskatchewan to other provinces, it really does stand out," said Robert Hogue, senior economist at Royal Bank of Canada.

"Clearly [the numbers] paint a fairly tough financial picture for many people in Saskatchewan."

Household debt troubles have been a national issue, but much of the focus has been on Ontario's suburbs or B.C.'s Lower Mainland, thanks in large part to staggering home prices.

But over five years, Saskatchewan has absorbed no shortage of economic hits - including drought, mine closures and subpar commodity prices - forcing some households into a more precarious position.

Since 2014, the percentage of residential mortgages that are delinquent has roughly tripled to 0.86 per cent, according to the Canadian Bankers Association. These are mortgages in arrears, or with payments late by three months or more, and is sourced from Canada's largest lenders.

The rate is near a 27-year high, and is easily the highest in the country.

Put another way, Saskatchewan has more delinquent mortgages than B.C. - but only one-fifth of B.C.'s total mortgages. In some cases, the outcome is grim.

The number of mortgage foreclosure notices and home-sale cancellations has nearly doubled over the past five fiscal years, to just over 1,400 in 2018-19, according to the Provincial Mediation Board.

Back when oil prices were lofty, "people got very comfortable [thinking] we're always going to make this amount of money," said Pamela Meger, a Reginabased licensed insolvency trustee with MNP Ltd.

For many, that's no longer the case, and the adjustment has been rough.

"When people panic, they look to higher-interest loans to try to avoid defaulting on the mortgage, and then that's when this little cycle of debt starts," Ms.

Meger said.

That's apparent in the numbers. The delinquency rate on non-mortgage debt - which includes credit cards and installment loans - was 6.8 per cent in the second quarter, according to credit-reporting agency TransUnion Canada. That is the highest outside of Atlantic Canada.

In dollar terms, the average non-mortgage debt owed for every borrower in Saskatchewan was $31,100, fourth in the country behind Alberta, B.C. and Ontario. But people in Saskatchewan appear to be struggling more with that debt load: The non-mortgage delinquency rate jumped 5.8 per cent from a year ago, compared with 0.7 per cent for Canada as a whole.

"I think there's a bit of a concern if you're a lender in Saskatchewan ... that it seems like [consumers are] having trouble pulling out" of their delinquencies, said Matthew Fabian, director of financial services research and consulting at TransUnion Canada.

On top of this, more and more are filing for insolvency. As of August, there were about 3,400 consumer insolvencies over the previous 12 months, federal data show. That's close to double the sum from five years earlier. (Insolvencies are comprise both bankruptcies and proposals, which are offers to pay back a portion of owed money, extend payment timelines, or both.)

Higher insolvency filings and foreclosures are "almost normal for me right now, which is very sad," Ms. Meger of MNP said. "I've been doing this for 17 years now, and this is probably the busiest I've ever seen it through all of the ups and downs of the economy."

Much like Alberta, Saskatchewan was sent reeling by the oil shock and the industry's investments remain subdued. But its economy has also taken a particularly hard hit from global trade tensions.

This year, China halted purchase of some Canadian agricultural products, notably canola seed. All told, the bans affect 6 per cent of Saskatchewan's exports, an outsized impact relative to other provinces, RBC data show. Canola exports have plummeted, stockpiles have surged and prices are languishing, delivering pain to local farmers.

"You go into rural Saskatchewan, it's pretty much the main topic of conversation," Mr.

Hogue of the province's trade woes said.

That's partly why RBC slashed Saskatchewan's growth forecast by nearly half, projecting the economy will grow by a tepid 0.6 per cent in 2019, tied with Alberta for worst in the country. One major drag is retail sales. RBC projects they will decline by a deeper 0.7 per cent this year.

If there's a glint of strength, it's the labour market. Hiring has been solid of late, and the unemployment rate (at 5.3 per cent) is actually a touch lower than the national average.

Broadly speaking, economists expect Saskatchewan's growth to pick up in 2020, with RBC calling for a 1.9-per-cent gain, putting it middle-of-the-pack among the provinces. Plus, if hiring strengthens, household balance sheets should improve, Mr. Hogue said.

And there's always the hope trade restrictions will be lifted.

"If that were to occur, then it would further improve the outlook for the province," he said.


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Second Cup seeks second life after emerging from crisis
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Canadian coffee chain, which exchanged debt for equity to repair its balance sheet, to change corporate name and seek acquisitions
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By SUSAN KRASHINSKY ROBERTSON
  
  

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Friday, November 8, 2019 – Page B1

MISSISSAUGA -- The Second Cup Ltd. is getting a corporate makeover.

The Canadian coffee chain will announce Friday that it is changing its parent company's name to Aegis Brands Inc. as it seeks a fresh start and hopes to make acquisitions to bolster its café business.

Second Cup was in crisis just a few years ago, with some franchisees criticizing management and declaring bankruptcy, a chief executive who characterized the business as "a ship that had lost its way" and a subsequent management shakeup as the chairman acknowledged the company had "not achieved its plans" for recovery.

In his first interview since becoming CEO in May, Steven Pelton enjoyed the luxury of talking about something else, largely owing to a deal that predates him. In August, 2017, the Serruya family of Yogen Fruz fame erased $8-million in Second Cup debt in exchange for a 29-per-cent equity stake in the company.

"The health of Second Cup is good," Mr.

Pelton said during a discussion at the company's offices in Mississauga. "It's got its own niche in the market. Of course, we want to be bigger and we always want to be better."

After the retirement of interim CEO Garry MacDonald, Mr. Pelton was brought on to lead an "ambitious new phase of growth," chairman Michael Bregman said at the time.

But the chain is tiny compared with competitors, with just 252 stores, down from almost 400 at its peak in the 1990s. Its stock trades at about $1.40 a share.

With barely a trickle of cash flow from operations and a market capitalization of less than $30-million, Second Cup is hardly in a position to make any big splashes on the acquisition front.

Although it was a pioneer in Canada's café industry, it has been eclipsed by food-service giants such as McDonald's and Tim Hortons, which combined have more than 20 times the number of locations. Mr. Pelton said the brand's strength is in "specialty coffee," but even in the niche of upscale brews and cozy cafés, it has less than a fifth of the footprint.

"Second Cup is still having some challenges with franchisees, and they just haven't evolved that brand," said Robert Carter, an industry adviser with consultancy Straton Hunter. Canadians consume roughly four billion cups of coffee a year, he said, up from three billion five years ago, and most of that growth is in specialty beverages such as espresso-based and iced drinks.

Second Cup is not attracting young people, who are the biggest consumers in that niche.

"They continue to flounder in a segment that is growing over all."

The company has been closing underperforming locations, which has contributed to continuing declines in systemwide sales.

Revenue in the most recent quarter was $6.5-million, with a net loss of $616,000, down from a net profit of $133,000 in the same period last year. The company had $13.8-million in cash and cash equivalents as of June 29. (It reports third-quarter earnings Friday.)

"We're not concerned with raising the money for the initial acquisitions," Mr. Pelton said. "If we ever have to take on debt, it's going to be at a very responsible rate, a very low multiple of our earnings. We're going to grow as we can. We're not going to get ambitious and get ourselves in trouble. ... We have cash in the bank, so the financing is down the road.

But yes, we have had the conversations."

He said the company will be looking for small businesses in the food-service and beverage sectors that have "grown to the end of their ability or geographic range." Mr. Pelton was formerly the CEO of casual restaurant chain the Landing Group, in which Recipe Unlimited Corp.

(then Cara Operations) acquired a 55-per-cent interest in late 2014, before buying the rest of the company the following June.

"Operators that have two to 20 units - that's where the growth in the market is," Mr. Carter said.

"Small to medium restaurant chains are driving growth. I hear more and more operators saying they are going to create an incubator style to bring in small emerging brands and create a platform for them to grow. ... The [price] of these smaller-unit-size restaurant chains is going to increase. Consolidation is growing dramatically in both the Canadian and U.S. markets."

The company's name change will take effect after the company's next annual general meeting, in May. Aegis Brands will own the Second Cup cafés and intends to add more to its portfolio. Mr.

Pelton will be CEO of Aegis and will remain president of Second Cup.

Second Cup has already looked at other business opportunities beyond coffee. Last year, it announced a joint venture with National Access Cannabis Corp. to open cannabis dispensaries and is in the process of converting two cafés in Alberta to this model.

Associated Graphic

Although it was a pioneer in Canada's café industry, The Second Cup has been fighting a losing war against food-service giants such as McDonald's and Tim Hortons.

FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Second Cup's recently installed CEO Steve Pelton, seen at his Mississauga office on Wednesday, says 'the health of Second Cup is good.'

GLENN LOWSON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


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McKinsey & Co. under investigation for work advising bankrupt companies, reports say
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By ROBERT FIFE, STEVEN CHASE
  
  

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Page B1

OTTAWA -- A global consulting company formerly headed by Canada's new ambassador to China is reportedly under criminal investigation into allegations that it concealed conflicts of interest while advising bankrupt companies.

The investigation by U.S. federal prosecutors and a separate one by the U.S. Trustee Program, a unit of the Justice Department that oversees the administration of bankruptcy cases, cover the period when Canada's Beijing envoy, Dominic Barton, was the global managing partner of McKinsey & Co. There is no indication that Mr. Barton himself is under investigation.

Mr. Barton served as CEO of the elite consulting giant for nine years and left the top job in July, 2018, but stayed on as global managing partner emeritus until Sept. 4 this year when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named him as Canada's new ambassador to China.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal cited unnamed U.S. prosecutors in New York and sources in the U.S. Justice Department, who said that McKinsey & Co. is the subject of a probe over whether it broke Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules. This includes, according to the New York Times, whether McKinsey "quietly steered valuable assets to itself or favoured its own clients over other creditors." U.S. Justice Department spokesperson Nichole Navas Oxman declined to comment on media reports about a criminal investigation into McKinsey and Co.

The office of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland declined to say whether she is concerned about this probe.

Court battles over bankruptcy cases have cost McKinsey & Co.

millions of dollars in penalties imposed by the U.S. bankruptcy watchdog including a US$15-million settlement in February over "disclosure deficiencies." Late last year, McKinsey & Co. paid another US$17.5-million in a bankruptcy case involving renewable energy company SunEdison and promised to improve its disclosure protocols.

One of these U.S. court battles could see the Canadian ambassador to China called to testify about his former firm's work on bankruptcy cases.

Jay Alix, the wealthy founder of restructuring giant AlixPartners, has spent the past three years pursuing McKinsey & Co., including Mr. Barton, in courts throughout the United States.

He blames Mr. Barton for failing to take corrective action on bankruptcy files while he was running the company, and his court actions have personally embroiled the former McKinsey head in continuing legal matters.

On Oct. 29, a bankruptcy judge in a Texas coal bankruptcy case gave Mr. Alix the right to demand documents from McKinsey and question its executives under oath.

David Jones, a Houston judge, had told the court in January he "going to need to hear" from Mr. Barton personally rather than through a written deposition. "You get the truth by swearing people in, and put them on the stand, and you subject them to cross examination, and we figure what the truth is," the judge said.

Daniel Lemisch, a lawyer for Mr. Alix, said he believes it's likely the court will subpoena Mr. Barton. The case goes to trial in February, 2020.

"Dominic Barton was the head of McKinsey at the time that the alleged improprieties took place in their disclosures," Mr. Lemisch said.

McKinsey's head office in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Mr. Barton would not be covered by diplomatic immunity in this in case because the investigation covers events in the United States, before he became ambassador to China.

Mr. Alix has provided the courts and media, including The Globe and Mail and New York Times, with transcripts of conversations he had with Mr. Barton over a 14-month period beginning in September, 2014. He alleges that Mr. Barton admitted to breaking bankruptcy laws, promised to get out of the bankruptcy business and later reneged and offered to steer consulting business to AlixPartners - a statement Mr.

Alix saw as an attempted bribe.

Mr. Barton told The New York Times in March that Mr.

Alix misconstrued what he actually meant.

"I was getting so fed up with his repetitive complaints that I said something like, 'Jay, there are plenty of opportunities in the transformation service sector - apart from bankruptcy companies - that AlixPartners should see,' " Mr.

Barton told the Times.

In January of this year, a federal judge in Virginia reopened a bankruptcy case involving coal producer Alpha Natural Resources after learning that McKinsey & Co. had not disclosed, as required by law, that it was among the company's secured creditors through MIO Partners, a US$25-billion investment fund for current and former McKinsey partners. The court heard that the head of McKinsey's bankruptcy practice was also a member of MIO's board.

The Wall Street Journal also reported Tuesday that prosecutors are examining McKinsey's investment unit, MIO Partners. MIO held undisclosed stakes in hedge funds in roughly half of the bankruptcy cases it worked on between 2002 until the end of 2016.


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Close offices, cut jobs, Barrick CEO says as he calls for consolidation
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By NIALL MCGEE
  
  

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 – Page B1

Barrick Gold Corp.'s chief executive officer says the gold-mining sector needs more merger activity to capitalize on the cost savings that come from closing head offices and cutting staff.

Mark Bristow helped kick-start a wave of deal making in the industry last year when his Africa-focused Randgold Resources Ltd. agreed to be sold to Barrick for US$6-billion. A few months later, Newmont Mining Corp. announced it would acquire Goldcorp Inc. for US$10-billion, creating the world's largest gold mining company. Barrick and Newmont also agreed this year to combine some operations in Nevada in order to reduce costs.

Now, he says, the time has come for more deals and more job cuts at gold companies.

Under Mr. Bristow, Randgold was known for employing a skeleton crew at its head office. Barrick, now the world's second-biggest gold miner, is following the same model. One of his first orders of business was to issue layoff notices to about 95 people at the Toronto head office, bringing the head count down to about 65, and consolidating the entire staff on just one floor.

"In this modern world, there's no logic to having big corporate offices. We've proved that's possible at Randgold, and very quickly in just nine months at Barrick," Mr. Bristow said after the release of the company's third-quarter results.

During a conference call with analysts, Mr. Bristow hinted that Barrick is itching to do another acquisition and said that West Africa is "a good place to start."

In a interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Bristow expressed his admiration for Canadian miner B2Gold Corp., saying he'd buy the company if the opportunity arose.

Vancouver-based B2Gold has been one of Canada's bestperforming gold stocks over the past five years, thanks to the rapid growth of its Fekola mine in Mali. Over the past three years, its shares have risen 22.5 per cent, versus an 8.9-per-cent decline for Barrick. B2Gold also has operating mines in Namibia and the Philippines.

Barrick, however, is unlikely to buy B2Gold at the moment, as Mr. Bristow deems it too expensive. He also pointed out that B2Gold's CEO, Clive Johnson, has indicated the company isn't likely to sell itself without a significant premium to the current share price. Randgold and Barrick did their merger as a "no-premium" deal.

In the near term, Barrick is perhaps more likely to be a seller rather than a buyer of assets. The company has committed to selling US$1.5-billion in non-core assets by the end of next year. One of the mines it hopes to unload soon is its 50-per-cent share in the Kalgoorlie mine in Australia, which it co-owns with Newmont.

Mr. Bristow said a sale of its share of Kalgoorlie could be announced by the end of this year, or early next year.

One asset that Barrick had previously mulled selling but now says it is planning to keep is its Hemlo mine in Northern Ontario, which has been in operation since the mid-1980s. Last week, Barrick announced layoffs at Hemlo as it transitions to using contract miners. On Wednesday, Mr. Bristow said 61 people would be laid off, but added that most were stepping up to take voluntary severance packages, with the average age of the work force being 57. A further 150 miners will lose their jobs next year at Hemlo, he said, when the open pit closes to make way for underground mining, something that should add about 10 years to the life of the mine.

After Barrick's third-quarter results were released, its stock rose 2.4 per cent to close at $22.31 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The miner reported adjusted earnings per share of 15 US cents, 4 US cents better than analysts expected.

Barrick said it expects to produce between 5.15 million and 5.6 million ounces of gold a year between 2020 and 2024 - in line with its forecast for 2019 production.

"The guidance was generally weaker than expected in 2020 and better in the remaining years," Scotia Capital Inc.

analyst Tanya Jakusconek wrote in a note to clients.

"At a high level, the plan appears to show more investment in the existing portfolio which will benefit the longerterm production profile."

The comments from Mr. Bristow about slashing headoffice expenses came one day after Newmont Goldcorp said it was on track to save US$100-million a year in general and administrative expenses, such as staff and corporate offices, as a result of its merger.

Associated Graphic

Barrick Gold Corp. helped kick off a wave of deal making in the gold-mining sector last year by buying Randgold Resources Ltd., whose former Kibali mine is seen above in 2014.

REUTERS


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Continuum pulls IPO, opts for richer, private bid
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After receiving offers for $1-billion worth of shares, the apartment REIT will sell to Starlight for $1.7-billion
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By TIM KILADZE
  
  

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Saturday, November 9, 2019 – Page B1

The latest Canadian rental apartment owner to try going public has scrapped its deal despite heavy investor demand, deciding instead to sell to a private buyer at a premium price.

Toronto-based Continuum Residential Real Estate Investment Trust filed the paperwork for an initial public offering in early October, and the deal was set to price this week. However, the company quietly ran a dual-track process for a potential sale while marketing the IPO and ultimately decided to sell to Canada's Starlight Investments.

Continuum hoped to raise around $300-million by selling a roughly 40-per-cent stake and pricing its shares between $15.50 and $16.50. After wrapping up its marketing roadshow, the company received orders for roughly $1-billion worth of shares.

While the demand gave Continuum the potential to price above its marketing range - the hallmark of a highly successful IPO - Starlight Investments offered a price too good to turn down: $20.10 a share, valuing the REIT at $1.7-billion, including debt.

Starlight "gave us an offer that was so superior that we had to say yes," Continuum chief executive Dan Argiros said.

The offer price translates to a 3.5-per-cent capitalization rate for Continuum's portfolio. Cap rates have an inverse relationship to total values - the lower the cap rate, the more expensive the portfolio. Rival publicly traded companies Canadian Apartment Properties REIT and Minto Apartment REIT trade at implied cap rates of 4 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively.

The rich purchase price is more proof that investors are clamouring for rental apartment properties. Historically, REITs were known for paying annual yields around 5 per cent, yet Continuum was set to pay roughly 2 per cent - and the purchase price translates to an even lower rate.

Despite the steep cost, Starlight still sees value. "Portfolios of this nature and composition are few and far between in the Canadian multiresidential sector," CEO Daniel Drimmer said in a statement. Multiresidential is the real estate sector's term for apartments.

Continuum owns 44 apartment buildings, the majority of which are in Toronto and neighbouring Mississauga. Canadian housing developers spent years focused on building single-family homes and condominiums, leading to a shortage of rental apartment buildings.

While more rental buildings are now being constructed, population growth is outstripping the new supply, and Continuum has a 99.7-per-cent occupancy rate across its portfolio.

Because of the tight supply, apartment-building owners have seen rents jump as high as 25 per cent when a tenant turns over.

Although the sale is a win for Continuum and its current private backers, which include CI Investments and 1832 Asset Management LP, Canada's public markets are losing out on another new listing.

Earlier this week, GFL Environmental Inc. scrapped its billiondollar IPO, but for a different reason - weak investor demand. It is a common theme: Public markets around the world have been losing companies to private firms that are flush with cash.

Continuum's CEO said the company was serious about an IPO, but once the deal's early paperwork was filed, he received unsolicited interest from multiple buyers in Canada and abroad.

The IPO's order books were closed Thursday afternoon and the deal was expected to price shortly after. "The Starlight offer came in last minute," Mr. Argiros said.

While he appreciates that an IPO would have been nice for Canadian public investors, it helped that the private buyer is a domestic organization.

"What's exciting is that another Canadian bought this portfolio," he said.

Canadian REITs have been the hottest sector on Bay Street of late, with a rush of financings raising more than $1-billion since the start of September.

REITs have benefited from falling interest rates, which sent bond yields tumbling - making the trusts' distributions that much more compelling. The S&P/TSX Capped REIT Index currently pays an average yield of 4.5 per cent.

Apartment REITs in particular have shined. Minto went public in 2018 in a $200-million deal, and the shares have jumped 57 per cent since, before distributions.

However, it is possible that the sector's heavy investor demand will start to wane.

The prospect of a trade war truce between the United States and China has sent long-term bond yields higher in recent weeks, with the 10-year Government of Canada bond yield jumping to 1.58 per cent from a low of 1.09 per cent in August.

While many of the banks in Continuum's underwriting syndicate did not advise on the sale to Starlight, Continuum said they will all still be paid as if the IPO had been successful. They were set to earn $16.5-million collectively on a $300-million offering.

With a report from Sean Silcoff


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Investors sue Ontario over risky syndicated mortgages
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Class-action lawsuit alleges negligence in allowing the products to be sold by Tier 1 companies
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By GREG MCARTHUR
  
  

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Monday, November 11, 2019 – Page B1

A group of investors has launched a classaction lawsuit against the Ontario government, alleging that the provincial regulator responsible for licensing mortgage brokers was negligent in allowing the sale of risky syndicated mortgage investment products marketed by the Tier 1 group of companies.

Two investors in products offered by Tier 1, which raised funds for proposed Ontario real estate developments that have since collapsed or been placed in receivership, are acting as the representative plaintiffs in the proposed class action.

Syndicated mortgages are provided by a group of investors, typically to finance early-stage costs for new development projects. Financing raised by Tier 1, which is under the control of a court-appointed trustee, was expected to fund a development group planning to build condominiums, multiunit homes for Alzheimer's patients and student residences.

The popularity of syndicated mortgages surged over the past decade as retail investors hunted for alternatives to low-rate, fixed-income products. But some syndicated mortgages pose risks that many don't understand, and position the investors behind other creditors if the developments fail.

The lawsuit alleges that the Financial Services Commission of Ontario - which was renamed the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario in June - and a number of its senior officials "carried out their duties on behalf of FSCO in a negligent manner."

A spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney-General said that the government had not yet been served with the statement of claim. "As this matter is subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment," Brian Gray said.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Ontario Superior Court in Brampton on Nov. 1, will be a test of Ontario's Crown Liability and Proceedings Act. The new law placed a higher burden on those seeking to sue the government, forcing them to persuade a judge at the outset that the claim has a reasonable chance of success before they are permitted to proceed with the litigation.

Mitchell Wine, one of the lawyers behind the proposed class action, acknowledged in a statement that his clients face obstacles. But he said that his firm, which has acted for many aggrieved investors in an earlier class-action case against Tier 1, as well as claims against Canada's most prolific distributor of syndicated mortgage investment products, Fortress Real Developments Inc., has amassed "sufficient evidence" to pursue the government for damages.

The "regulation was so poorly carried out that the Crown should be held liable for investor losses," Mr. Wine said. "It is difficult to succeed in litigation against the Crown, but we believe there is sufficient evidence against FSCO and its employees to justify the commencement of this action."

The claim states that in 2016, FSCO took action against Tier 1, obtaining a court order that placed a trustee, Grant Thornton Ltd., in control of many its assets.

Since then, Grant Thornton recovered $23.4-million of the $131million raised. However, the claim alleges that before that time, many warnings to FSCO about syndicated mortgages went unheeded, which allowed the products to continue to be sold by both Tier 1 and Fortress.

The claim alleges these warnings came from a wide range of concerned individuals: a government employee in Prince Edward Island, an official with the Canada Revenue Agency, as well as many mortgage brokers.

The claim also alleges Royal Bank of Canada conducted an investigation of Tier 1 in 2014, which prompted the bank to stop doing business with the company. An RBC banker, the claim alleges, brought its concerns to the attention of FSCO in a meeting. The claim does not include any supporting evidence for its assertions about RBC or the other whistleblowers.

The representative plaintiffs, Betty Wei, a 64-year-old humanresources staffer, and her husband, Lawrence Vanderklei, a 61year-old engineer, also allege the Tier 1 marketing information they received listed FSCO licence numbers. The couple "relied upon the fact that the mortgage industry was regulated by the province of Ontario," the lawsuit says.

Bhaktraj Singh, the Tier 1 official alleged in the claim to have "controlled" the company has, in the meantime, struck a settlement as part of a lawsuit initiated against him, documents show.

Mr. Singh was a shareholder in a number of the development companies that relied on Tier 1 mortgages, and which have been placed in receivership. On Nov. 1, the receiver, which launched a claim against Mr. Singh, disclosed in court filings that, after "lengthy investigations and due diligence," it agreed to settle with him for $2.1-million.

A previous report by the receiver stated Mr. Singh, and companies under his control, received $9.4-million in fees and other payments from the corporations. "The receiver is reasonably satisfied that the Singh defendants have disclosed all their assets," the Nov. 1 court filings state.


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Home Capital rebounds from financial crisis with big profits
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By DAVID BERMAN
  
  

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 – Page B1

Home Capital Group Inc.'s comeback went into high gear as a rebounding housing market and lower funding costs sent its earnings soaring just two years after the company plunged into financial crisis.

The mortgage lender's shares surged more than 14 per cent on Wednesday, their biggest rally in about a year, after quarterly financial results came in well above expectations, leaving analysts wondering whether the Toronto-based company will resume paying a dividend.

The company, which specializes in underwriting mortgages for self-employed business owners and new Canadians who lack a credit history, said profits on a pershare basis surged 63.4 per cent in the third quarter.

So far this year, the stock has rallied 136 per cent. The remarkable gains reflect that the market has become much more comfortable with the company after it flirted with insolvency in 2017, and briefly became a red flag for Canada's housing market among some short sellers.

"Today, we have all the elements in place for sustainable value creation," Yousry Bissada, Home Capital's chief executive, said in a call with analysts, pointing to upbeat economic conditions including low interest rates and strong employment figures.

The company's financial results showed growth in the most important part of its business: Single-family mortgage originations increased 16.8 per cent, year-overyear, reflecting a pick-up in sales in its core Greater Toronto Area market.

At the same time, credit quality was stable and quarterly profit easily surpassed analysts' expectations. Net income for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 was $39million, or 67 cents a share, up from $32.6-million, or 41 cents, in the same period last year.

Ignoring a one-time technology investment, adjusted earnings were 72 cents a share. That was well above the 58 cents that analysts had been expecting, on average.

Demand for non-prime mortgages remains strong, even after regulators recently tightened lending rules to cool overheated housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto.

But Home Capital is also benefiting from lower funding costs.

With bond yields well below their recent multiyear highs in 2018, the company can offer lower yields on its guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) offered at its Oaken Financial channel, boosting its margins on loans.

"We were paying more than 3.3 per cent for new money in December. And we're seeing it around 2.5 per cent now," Brad Kotush, Home Capital's chief financial officer, said in a call with analysts.

The shares closed in Toronto at $33.15, up $4.15 or 14.3 per cent - a near sixfold increase over the stock's low in 2017, just before the company was saved by the deep pockets and wily instincts of Warren Buffett, who bought a significant stake in the company and offered a financial lifeline.

Mr. Buffett sold most of his stake in Home Capital in December, 2018.

The missing element from Home Capital's return to form: a dividend. The company cut its quarterly payout from 26 cents a share to zero in 2017, and hasn't reinstated any payout since then.

Instead, Home Capital has been rewarding investors with aggressive share buybacks, which reduces the number of outstanding shares and raises earnings on a per-share basis.

Over the past 12 months, the company has bought back $394million worth of shares at a weighted average price of $17.19.

That's a 40-per-cent discount to book value per share in the third quarter, and suggests that the company is buying its shares at a bargain price. On Wednesday, it announced its intention to buy back another $150-million worth of shares in the first quarter of 2020.

But after Wednesday's rally, the stock is now trading above book value for the first time in about three years, which suggests that the stock isn't the bargain it once was. It also raises the question of whether the company will turn to dividends as an alternative way to return capital to shareholders.

"We continually review that with our board every quarter," Mr. Kotush responded when asked about the dividend by an analyst from RBC Dominion Securities.

Mr. Kotush added that the next update on its dividend policy would follow the company's fourth-quarter results, which are expected in February.

Despite the vague response from the CFO, some analysts expect that a dividend is coming: "While we are surprised that Home Capital did not reinstate its dividend, we continue to believe that it will do so in 2020," Andrew Hood, an analyst at M Partners, said in a note.

HOME CAPITAL GROUP (HCG) CLOSE: $33.15, UP $4.15


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Trade rep in China for WTO talks as pork, beef ban tops four months
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By STEVEN CHASE
  
  

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019 – Page B1

OTTAWA -- One of Canada's top trade officials is attending meetings in Shanghai this week as the hardship continues to mount for farmers caught in a diplomatic dispute between Beijing and Ottawa.

It's been more than four months since China barred Canadian pork and beef in what is widely seen as retaliation for Ottawa's arrest of a Chinese hightech executive after an extradition request by the United States.

Purchases of canola seed and soybeans also dried up even earlier this year and have not rebounded.

Steve Verheul, who was Canada's lead negotiator in the recent free-trade renegotiation with the United States and Mexico, is in Shanghai this week for continuing talks on reforming the World Trade Organization, the Department of Global Affairs said on Monday. The WTO-themed meeting is Tuesday.

The department was tightlipped on the rest of Mr. Verheul's schedule in China. He is the assistant deputy minister of trade policy and negotiations, he led Canada's trade negotiations with the European Union and has a deep background in agricultural trade.

Prior to joining Global Affairs, Mr.

Verheul was a top trade negotiator with the federal Department of Agriculture and Agri-food.

While Mr. Verheul is in China, newly appointed Canadian ambassador to China Dominic Barton is visiting Ottawa.

Canadian agricultural producers are planning their own trip to China in the coming days to try to address the stalled trade.

Canadian business leaders and politicians are also heading to China shortly to try to flag opportunities for expanding trade.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, and Ailish Campbell, Canada's Chief Trade Commissioner, are among speakers at a Nov. 11 forum in Shanghai.

Peter Clark, a trade consultant, said he can't see Mr. Verheul passing up this week's opportunity to press his Chinese counterparts on stalled farm trade between Canada and China. "If you have somebody with his firepower and his knowledge, if the issues came up, I am sure he could sit down and engage."

He said it's understandable Ottawa won't discuss whether Mr.

Verheul will also talk pork, beef, canola and soybeans with the Chinese. "If they raise expectations, and we get rejected, that doesn't do us any good," he said.

Brian Innes, vice-president of public affairs at the Canola Council of Canada, which represents 43,000 producers, said he hopes Mr. Verheul will speak up for Canadian canola during the Shanghai talks.

"We hope our government uses every opportunity to encourage China to support rules-based trade in canola - including [at] meetings aimed at strengthening the WTO hosted by China," Mr. Innes said.

"The troubles that our canola sector is facing is because of Chinese government action."

Sylvain Leclerc, a spokesman at Global Affairs, said: "At these meetings, Canadian officials engage with their interlocutors on a wide array of issues. Mr. Verheul will take the opportunities available to him to discuss key Canada-China trade issues, including pork, beef, canola seed and soybeans."

There has been a slight improvement in canola seed sales to China, Mr. Innes said. He said shipments to China however are still currently "less than onequarter" of normal sales.

"There is still a lot of uncertainty facing the canola industry," he said.

"The level is far below normal and two of our largest exporters remain blocked from the [Chinese] market."

Mr. Innes said seed prices have fallen 10 per cent, which is a significant change for farmers. Over a year, a 10-per-cent decline in prices means a loss of $1-billion in revenue, he said.

Canada's 7,000 pork producers are still struggling to deal with the shuttering of the Chinese market.

Relations between Beijing and Ottawa turned sour late last year at a time when Canadian farmers were already struggling with the turmoil in agricultural markets caused by the mid-2018 trade war between the United States and China. The China-U.S. trade war had already diverted U.S. pork into Canadian and European markets, and the Chinese ban on Canadian pork only worsened things for producers in Canada.

Pork producers sold more than $500-million of product to China in 2018 and had expected to record more than $1-billion in sales in 2019 before the June ban.

Associated Graphic

Pigs are seen at a farm in Quebec in June. Prior to China imposing a ban on Canadian pork in June, producers had expected to sell more than $1-billion worth of product to the country this year.

SEBASTIEN ST-JEAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES


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Open Text makes $800-million deal to boost software growth
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Canadian tech giant buys U.S. cloud company Carbonite to expand cybersecurity footprint
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By JOSH O'KANE
  
  

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019 – Page B1

Open Text Corp. plans to buy U.S. security software company Carbonite Inc.for US$800-million, boosting the services it can sell to larger companies while gaining a greater foothold among smaller businesses.

Open Text has beco me one of Canada's largest software companies with a market cap of $15.2-billion through frequent acquisitions, focusing largely on business-to-business software that can be offered through the cloud.

Its suite of services for enterprises includes customer-management software, process automation and cybersecurity.

The latter is Carbonite's focus. The company, named after the fictional impenetrable substance used to trap the character Han Solo in the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back, purports to make its clients' data similarly impenetrable with secure backups. By acquiring it, Open Text, based in Waterloo, Ont., gains access to Carbonite's 300,000 small and medium-sized business (SMB) clients and eight million professional users.

"It opens up the potential for Open Text to build a meaningful SMB revenue stream," Richard Tse of National Bank Financial said in a research note.

The deal will see Open Text buy Bostonbased Carbonite for US$23 a share, a 25-per-cent premium over Friday's closing price on the Nasdaq. But that price is more than 20 per cent lower than Carbonite was trading for last February before it purchased Colorado cybersecurity company Webroot Inc., a US$619-million deal that caused analysts to raise concerns about Carbonite's debt load.

Including the debt and other items, Open Text's offer values Carbonite at more than US$1.4-billion. It said it would make the purchase with cash and its line of credit and expects the deal to close in 90 days.

"We think that is a great route to market," Open Text chief executive officer Mark Barrenechea said in an interview. Buying Carbonite would also further bolster its security offerings for businesses' "endpoints" - connected devices ranging from mobile devices to connected sensors in industrial machines, he said.

Open Text announced the purchase before markets opened Monday. Its Toronto-listed shares closed up 2.4 per cent, at $56.27. Carbonite's Nasdaq-listed shares shot up 24.6 per cent and closed just below the takeover price of $22.96.

Analyst Gabriel Leung of Beacon Securities Ltd. said it is a good acquisition for Open Text, highlighting the recurring revenues it would bring.

Scotia Capital analyst Paul Steep, meanwhile, raised his target price for Open Text's Nasdaq-listed shares to US$46, from US$43. Carbonite could push Open Text's cloud-service gross margins higher, Mr. Steep said. And while this marks Open Text's largest cloud-focused acquisition to date, he believes more could come soon, seeing "a growing universe of potential acquisitions to help accelerate cloud growth."

Despite its continued growth by acquisition, some investors have become frustrated in recent months with Open Text's slower organic growth. When the company reported negligible organic revenue in the quarter ending in June of this year and said its fourth-quarter 2019 organic revenue would be in the low single digits, its shares fell 9 per cent.

Mr. Barrenechea said the Carbonite purchase fits into Open Text's "total growth strategy," which includes boosting revenues not just through acquisitions but organically. Within Open Text, he estimated Carbonite's potential organic revenue growth would be in the low single digits.

Open Text's largest acquisition came in 2016, when it bought Dell Technologies Inc.'s enterprise content division for US$1.62-billion. The company has since kept up its M&A strategy with smaller buys. In October, 2018, it announced it would buy the Atlanta-area datamanagement company Liaison Technologies Inc. for US$310-million. And in February, it revealed that it would spend US$75-million on the Colorado legal-tech company Catalyst Repository Systems Inc.

Open Text said in its most recent quarterly report that it had US$1-billion cash and a US$750million line of credit for acquisitions. Mr. Barrenechea said that despite the US$1.42-billion value of the Carbonite purchase, he would not rule out further near-term acquisitions.

OPEN TEXT (OTEX) CLOSE: $56.27, UP $1.30

Associated Graphic

Buses that were attacked near Fada N'gourma, Burkina Faso, are seen in this still from a Nov. 8 video. Montreal-based miner Semafo has lost about one-third of its market capitalization since an attack on its Boungou mine in the country on Nov. 6.

REUTERS


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GFL to scrap IPO plans after investors balk at price
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Waste-management firm sought share-range of $20 to $24 but debt concerned investors
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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – Page B1

GFL Environmental Inc. is pulling its initial public offering after institutional investors pressed the Canadian wastemanagement giant to price its shares below the deal's marketing range.

The IPO, which launched in mid-October, was expected to raise as much as US$2.4-billion, with GFL marketing as many as 100.7 million shares to potential buyers at US$20 to US$24 each.

However, institutional investors balked at this range over the past two weeks and pushed GFL to price its deal at US$18 a share, partly because of concerns about the company's debt load.

Instead, GFL says it will scrap the deal altogether and revisit an IPO in the future.

"The [existing] shareholders have determined that, at US$18, we don't believe that represents fair value for the company, so the shareholders have decided to inject more equity into the business to fund the future growth of the company and revisit the public markets at a later date," chief executive officer Patrick Dovigi said in a statement to The Globe and Mail. GFL's existing private equity backers include BC Partners and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

Cancelling the deal will be a major blow for Canada's capital markets.

Financing activity has been soft in 2019, and there are some fears that public investors are losing the ability to own stakes in large, quality companies because private buyers keep acquiring them at a rapid pace.

GFL's IPO would have added a fast-growing company to the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The deal was also set to be one of the largest in Canadian history. There are few comparable IPOs, but previous billion-dollar deals include Ottawa's sale of Canadian National Railway in 1995, which netted $2.2-billion, and Manulife Financial Corp.'s first public offering in 1999, which raised $2.5-billion.

GFL, which stands for Green for Life, was founded by Mr. Dovigi, who is known for his acquisitive mindset. The North American waste management industry has been highly fragmented, and GFL has sought to consolidate the market.

The company floated the idea of an IPO as far back as 2017, but its plans seemed to change after BC and Teachers bought the company in 2018 from its previous private equity backers. A few months later, GFL announced its largest acquisition to date, buying North Carolina-based Waste Industries for $3.65-billion, including debt. The purchase of Waste Industries last year made GFL the fourth-largest waste management company in North America.

The company's balance sheet is now loaded with debt - both from the 2018 deals, and from borrowing to help fund acquisitions over the years.

In April, the company issued US$500-million worth of unsecured notes, and the securities were rated Caa2 by Moody's Investors Service and CCC+ by Standard & Poor's - deep in junk rating territory.

GFL also had yet to demonstrate its profit potential. Over its past three fiscal years GFL lost a cumulative $737-million, and in the first six months of fiscal 2019, the company lost $161-million, according to a regulatory filing for its IPO.

Acknowledging the debt burden, GFL made it clear to investors that it planned to use some IPO proceeds to repay some debt.

The company's interest and other financing costs amounted to $251-million in the first half of fiscal 2019.

GFL also hoped it would benefit from selling into a hot market for waste companies. Major rivals Republic Services Inc., Waste Management Inc. and Waste Connections Inc. traded at an average of 33 times their earnings per share for the past 12 months when GFL launched its IPO, and anything over 15 to 20 times earnings is considered unusual.

Stock markets broadly have also been frothy, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index setting a record high in September. In the U.S., where GFL was set to be dual-listed, the S&P 500 closed at a record high on Monday.


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Leonard's 'load management' a hard sell in L.A.
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By CATHAL KELLY
  
  

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Saturday, November 9, 2019 – Page S2

TORONTO -- A fter his year-long sabbatical in foreign parts, America has noticed that Kawhi Leonard has changed. And America doesn't like it.

Leonard ditched Canada for his hometown, Los Angeles, over the summer. The separation was about as amicable as these things get.

There was no public cursing as he went out the door. No one in the Raptors organization is slagging him behind his back, but there is some ruefulness about the process. Though Leonard went through the proper motions, Toronto never had a shot. The organization didn't see that until it was already over.

No one wants to see Leonard fail, exactly. But it would be nice if it were proved he'd have been better off here.

On that score - and it is still very early days - things are looking good (i.e. bad).

Leonard returned to the United States newly minted as the NBA's ideal winner.

He'd taken a team from Canada, for God's sake, and turned it into a champion. He'd done it largely by himself.

What people hadn't taken into consideration was how he'd done it.

Leonard was a part-time employee during the 2018-19 regular season. He took a quarter of his games off, most with no explanation.

The Raptors created the term "load management" to excuse these vacation days. The NBA responded with a "Yeah, yeah, whatever. We told you only to use this number if it's an emergency."

Leonard's absence was permitted because no one in the NBA knows or cares what is happening up here. For years, the Raptors might as well have been playing on the moon.

They had next-to-no national TV commitments in the United States. No Christmas Day games. No prime-time tipoffs in the postseason. They were functionally invisible back at NBA HQ.

If Leonard wanted to spend the whole season poolside in Boca Raton, the only people who would notice were Raptors fans. And Raptors fans weren't bothered.

They wanted Leonard fit for the playoffs.

How he managed it was his business.

Even the media refused to pick up the story.

That situation has changed. Somewhere between his "fun guy" intro and his T-1000 routine in the playoffs, Leonard has become the most fascinating man in the league. He was always good, but is now recognized as basketball's most reliable closer. He's leap-frogged the Jameses, Currys and Durants in the U.S. imagination.

In an age of carefully curated public personalities, Leonard's lack of one seems revolutionary. He's become the Thomas Pynchon of pro sports. Completely inscrutable, but everyone wants to pretend they understand him.

Leonard presumed he could move to the U.S.'s second-biggest media market, take a wing-dinger of a contract, create an outrageous amount of tumult around the manner of his arrival (Batman with his hand-picked Robin, Paul George) and then just continue on as he had. Apparently not.

Acquiring Leonard turned the L.A. Clippers into must-see TV. The team will appear in two, and sometimes three, nationally televised games each week. The next one happens Monday, against the visiting Raptors. Leonard gets the main Christmas Day time slot - 8 p.m. ET against the Lakers.

In moving to L.A., Leonard took a squadron of camp aides with him. They oversee his physical well-being. He is more of a subcontractor of the Clippers than an employee. As such, he sets his own hours.

He has continued his Toronto practice of skipping a game when the team plays on consecutive nights. On Wednesday, he took a pass on a fairly big occasion - Clippers versus Bucks (i.e. Kawhi versus Giannis).

Everyone freaked out. The U.S. press piled in as though he'd missed work because he was hungover. It became a great big story.

Even the most pragmatic members of the broadcast media were outraged. No wonder. If the stars don't care about the regular season, then why should the fans?

That is not a good precedent for the TV business.

The Clippers tried the same load-management line the Raptors had sneaked by easily. It no longer works. The league fined the team US$50,000 for sitting a healthy star.

The money doesn't matter. Leonard makes nearly 10 times that amount per outing, whether he plays. But the signal it sends does. Load management is no longer kosher.

By that point, the Clippers had figured out an important life lesson - that it isn't what you tell people, it's how you tell them. "Load management" became "managing a knee injury." The two things are the same (if there's no injury load to manage, there'd be no need to manage it). But one sounds better. The NBA agreed.

It's working for now. It may not work for long.

You can see other teams and coaches losing their patience. The Clippers play a back-to-back next week - at Houston and New Orleans. The Houston game is nationally televised. It would be very like Leonard to skip that one, just to make a point. We'll see how that goes over.

After the New York Knicks' R.J. Barrett played 41 minutes the other night, his coach was asked to justify the expenditure of energy. He was not best pleased.

"We gotta get off this load-management crap," David Fizdale said. "The kid's 19 years old. Drop it."

Which guarantees no one will drop it.

You can see the NBA's double-bind here. The league is paid a lot of money by broadcasters. Broadcasters who expect to be broadcasting the biggest stars from the biggest teams on a nightly basis. Leonard is now the biggest in both regards. What if the rest of the talent starts getting notions?

Teams expect the rules will be enforced evenly. No one cared what Leonard did in Toronto. But now that everyone's attention has been focused on him, it looks as though he's getting special treatment.

Thus far, Leonard's said nothing and felt no need to do so. The man is a stump - immovable. The last time a team tried to force him to do something, he essentially quit. If the NBA gets on top of him here, things could get unpredictable in a hurry.

One thing we do know about Leonard is that he doesn't like fuss. He wants to be left alone to do his work. He had that freedom in Toronto. Now, in L.A., not so much.

You can never know what's going through Leonard's mind. But one does wonder if he's beginning to consider whether getting exactly what you want is all it's cracked up to be.

Associated Graphic

The Clippers' Kawhi Leonard reaches for the ball during a game against Portland on Thursday in

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


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Ujiri is the most indispensable Raptor, and MLSE should pony up to keep him
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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Page B15

TORONTO -- Masai Ujiri's name has become a kind of magic spell in the NBA.

Is your team terrible and terribly run? Have you stitched yourself up for years by trading away all your picks?

Are you lost and alone in the standings?

Then ... Masai Ujiri.

Certain owners think that if they say it loudly enough to the right people, Ujiri will appear in their midst and solve all their problems.

The latest has him (once again) taking a boatload of money from Knicks owner James Dolan and moving to New York.

Dolan has had a thing for the Toronto Raptors president ever since he called off the Kyle Lowry trade (helping Ujiri) and called on the Andrea Bargnani trade (really helping Ujiri).

Dolan thinks Ujiri tricked him. He didn't. Dolan tricked Dolan. Dolan chooses not to see it that way. Which is part of the reason his team is such a mess.

During this first bout of media footsie, Ujiri never got an actual offer. He had no interest in the job and told people that. Dolan didn't want to be embarrassed with a "No," so he called off his bird dogs.

This year, the Knicks are horrendous again. They have nothing good to tell their customers. So what do they tell them? Masai Ujiri.

The usual practice when these rumours kick up is to text Ujiri and get his pro forma denial.

"You going to the Knicks?" "I'm going to [the Raptors' farm team] 905," Ujiri replied on Monday night.

You could practically hear him sighing through the phone.

Ujiri is going to the New York Knicks like I am going to the Pyongyang Gazette. Because there are some people no one wants to work for, regardless of how good the pay is.

There is a world in which this would be flattering and fun. That the guy running your team is considered so brilliant that just saying his name aloud conjures up visions of a winner.

Except that these phoney flirtations can have irritating consequences.

The last big rumour of this sort landed at almost the very minute the Raptors won the NBA championship back in June. The speculative deal was unique - the Washington Wizards were apparently prepared to give Ujiri huge money, full control and an ownership stake in the team.

That last bit is the one that caused problems.

Though the report was refuted almost immediately, it had already caught hold of the NBA's imagination. Ujiri was so good, Washington owner Ted Leonsis was prepared to make him a partner. No amount of saying it wasn't so would stop people from talking about it.

It caused problems with Kawhi Leonard's camp just as Ujiri was about to begin negotiating with them. Was Ujiri coming or going? Was he getting a piece of the Wizards? Was that a thing now?

It caused problems with the NBA, which was alarmed to hear its franchises might be carved up like Christmas hams in order to lure talent. A move in that direction would render the salary cap meaningless, and encourage the worst instincts of very rich people with very poor impulse control.

Ujiri didn't want to go to Washington. He didn't get an offer from Washington. But because Washington planted a rumour, Ujiri had to deal with the fallout from it.

There is one way to put a pin in these stories. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment should make Ujiri the Raptors president for life.

It's not often done in modern sport, but there have been seminal figures at ambitious clubs who transcend board interviews and end-of-season appraisals.

Sir Alex Ferguson had that sort of job when he managed Manchester United. The Scottish manager agreed to a deal whereby he would always be the highest-paid employee of the club. If a player got a raise above that amount, Ferguson's salary automatically increased.

"It was simple. We just agreed that no player should be paid more money than me," Ferguson wrote in his autobiography. "We agreed in less time than it takes to read the previous sentence."

Ferguson was that extreme rarity - a non-player more important than the people who played. He was a winner. He just had that magic. He made the people around him winners, too.

When he retired from United, the team fell apart. He'd been holding it together by force of personality.

I would suggest that in Toronto, Ujiri has cast that same sort of spell. He is the most indispensable Raptor.

Ujiri is nearing the end of his second contract in Toronto, signed shortly after his initial burst of success.

In the normal run of things, this would involve a bit of haggling. There's no question MLSE wants to keep him, but there are targets to set and comparisons to make before paperwork can be shuffled.

I would suggest it not make them.

It is an easy thing for MLSE to make Ujiri the highest paid executive in the NBA. The Wizards were apparently willing to give him US$10-million a year. That's a decent starting point.

Ten million may sound like a lot to you, and it is. It's a ridiculous amount of money. But the Raptors are already paying US$10-million to Norman Powell.

And that is a lot more ridiculous.

Tell Ujiri that he has the job for as long as he wants it. No contract years or set amounts. No paper. Just a handshake on a forever job in which he is perpetually guaranteed to be the highest-paid executive in the NBA.

If New York blows someone's doors off with a US$15-million offer, the Toronto boss gets a dollar more.

Ujiri has proven he's worth it.

MLSE can afford it. The coaches, players and fans would be unanimously for it. And it puts to bed this carousel of 'Desperate Owner Invokes Ujiri's Name' bulletins.

All it will cost is money. And money is the one thing every NBA team has in abundance.

What every team is constantly searching for is magic. Imagine securing some of that commodity forever?

Associated Graphic

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri speaks to the media during a news conference in Toronto in June.

NATHAN DENETTE/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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How far is too far for Don Cherry?
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By SIMON HOUPT
  
  

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Monday, November 11, 2019 – Page B12

TORONTO -- On Sunday morning, as his network reeled from the latest ugly comments made by his marquee star Don Cherry, Bart Yabsley, the president of Sportsnet, scrambled onto Twitter to deliver his very best impersonation of the British actor Claude Rains.

In the classic Second World War drama Casablanca, of course, Rains plays Louis Renault, a Vichy police captain who, under pressure from his Nazi overlords, shuts down the nightclub belonging to Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart). "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!" Renault tells Rick. A café employee runs up and hands him a wad of cash.

"Your winnings, sir," the employee says. "Oh, thank you very much!" Renault replies.

On Saturday night, as part of his annual Remembrance Day tribute to Canada's veterans on Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry ranted angrily that, in Mississauga, where he lives, and downtown Toronto "nobody wears the poppy." Jabbing his index finger repeatedly toward the camera, he said: "You people love - they come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that.

These guys pay for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."

In his statement posted on Sunday to the Twitter account of Sportsnet PR, Yabsley seemed as stunned as Capt. Renault: "Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network. We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."

Is it possible that Yabsley, who was appointed Sportsnet president only last March, hadn't been read in on the Cherry file? Or that he'd always found something else to do on Saturday nights during the past 39 years, and somehow had just never caught Cherry on Coach's Corner?

Because how else could he be shocked! shocked! to find that Cherry might say something hateful? Cherry's offensiveness - and not just in his wardrobe choices - is the primary pillar of his brand.

In 1998, during CBC's coverage of the men's Olympic goldmedal hockey game in Nagano, Japan, Cherry referred to Quebec nationalists as "a bunch of whiners," and complained that the freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard, of GrandÎle, Que., who had said he regretted carrying the Canadian flag in the opening ceremonies because it had affected his performance in the moguls competition, was "a French guy, some skier nobody knows about." (Brassard had won the Olympic gold medal in the previous Winter Olympics.) Jim Byrd, who was then CBC's vice-president of English television, told the media that Cherry was a commentator, "hired to express his opinions, which are invariably strong ones and not necessarily those of the CBC."

Five years later, as the U.S.-led Iraq War broke out, Cherry castigated the Canadian government for refusing to send troops to the region. CBC executives reportedly gave him a mild warning to avoid talk of politics. For decades, he has railed against Europeans supposedly displacing Canadian hockey players in North American leagues: the sports equivalent of the xenophobic "white replacement" paranoia now sweeping across Europe and the United States.

Cherry's apologies have been rare and usually made only under extreme pressure - sometimes of the legal variety. On the opening night of the 2011-12 season, Cherry laced into three former NHL enforcers, calling them "pukes" and "hypocrites" for suggesting the league's fighting culture - of which Cherry is the greatest cheerleader - had caused the substance-abuse problems of fellow tough guys. It took more than a week, and the threat of a lawsuit from the three former players, before Cherry apologized.

On Sunday night, almost 24 hours after his "you people" comments, nobody had yet heard from Cherry. But his sidekick, Ron MacLean, who had sat in silence during Cherry's rant and then concluded the segment with an oddly robotic thumbs-up, offered an earnest apology that included references to Canada's Indigenous peoples.

Opening the broadcast of Rogers Hometown Hockey, of which he is the host, MacLean told viewers that Cherry's remarks "were hurtful, discriminatory [and] flat-out wrong."

"We know diversity is the strength of the country. We see it in the travels with our show, and with Hockey Night in Canada.

So - I owe you an apology, too," he said. "I sat there, did not catch it, did not respond. Kathryn Teneese of Ktunaxa First Nation once said, in any wrongdoing, the real key is recognition and acknowledgment. I wanted to let you know that first - and then you work on the relationship, so that it isn't divisive, so that something can be a unifying event. Idle No More was a great lesson to all of us. Last night was a really great lesson to Don and me. We were wrong, and I sincerely apologize, and I wanted to thank you for calling me and Don on that last night."

The air is thick these days with angst over what's known as cancel culture: the fear that someone might say one errant thing and be sentenced by social media to permanent exile.

But Cherry's comments about immigrants on Saturday night are just the latest and most nakedly xenophobic incident in a long career of bigotry.

For Rogers, which owns Sportsnet, the decision on what to do with him will likely come down to a matrix of ratings versus outrage: As long as the former stays above the latter, he's safe. And here in Canada, we don't have a history of boycotting advertisers, so Labatt, whose Budweiser brand is the name sponsor of Coach's Corner, may not say anything publicly. (Mind you, I tried getting hold of a Labatt spokesperson on Sunday and was met with radio silence, so the brewer is probably at least weighing its options.)

Still, you have to wonder: If these latest comments by Cherry aren't going to prompt his bosses to cut him loose, what would?

Associated Graphic

Over his career, Don Cherry has rarely apologized for his comments, and has usually only done so under extreme pressure.

DARREN CALABRESE/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Equestrian team could lose millions in funding if Olympic invite rescinded
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By ANDREW WILLIS
  
  

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 – Page B15

TORONTO -- Canada's equestrian team stands to lose millions of dollars in financing if a failed drug test from show jumper Nicole Walker costs her four-member squad its spot at this summer's Tokyo Olympics.

Canada's jumping team, past winners of five Olympic medals, qualified for the 2020 Games by finishing fourth at last summer's Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. The team is expected to lose that invitation if Panam Sports, organizer of the Lima Games, upholds the 26year-old Walker's positive test for a banned substance, cocaine. Pan Am rules state that a doping violation by any member of a group such as Canada's equestrians leads to a disqualification of the results obtained by the entire team.

The governing bodies for equestrian sports released the test result on Tuesday and said they were provisionally suspending Walker from all competitions. Walker is appealing the test results. The leader of Canada's jumping team in Lima, Mark Laskin, said Walker's positive test may have come from drinking coca tea, a legal and widely available pick-me-up beverage in Peru. In a news release on Tuesday, Walker said: "I was shocked and devastated to hear about these results. I do not use illicit drugs, ever."

Walker, 26, is the daughter of Belinda Stronach and her former husband, Don Walker, the chief executive of auto-parts maker Magna International Inc.

Stronach runs a global horse-racing business. Walker's grandfather, Frank Stronach, is a prominent racehorse owner and Magna's billionaire founder.

Missing out on a trip to the Tokyo Games would eliminate support for the jumping team from government-backed groups that support Olympic contenders, including Own The Podium, the organization that delivers federal government money to athletes, and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC).

Over the past three years, Own The Podium gave $985,000 to Canada's equestrian team to help it prepare for Tokyo. Decisions on financing are made annually, and meant to sustain the team over the four-year cycle of the Games.

In the past, Own The Podium varied the amount of money it put into the equestrian program, reflecting its expectations of the team's potential. The crew that competed in the London Games in 2008 received $4.3-million, while the equestrian team that went to Rio de Janeiro four years later got $1.2-million. Every four years, Own The Podium gives a total of approximately $120-million to all Summer Olympic contenders, and another $25-million to participants in the Winter Games.

"Own the Podium's Summer technical team, along with our partners, are currently in the midst of our annual reviews with all Summer Olympic and Paralympic sports," spokesperson Chris Dornan said in an e-mail.

"During these reviews we will evaluate the sports' high-performance programs and the status of their athletes with evidence of medal potential for Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024."

The COC supports riders by giving money to Equestrian Canada, the sport's national governing body. COC spokesperson Photi Sotiropoulos said on Wednesday that the group will take guidance from Own The Podium on future financing for the jumping team.

"Direct funding to Equestrian Canada is based on performance and potential podium success recommendations we receive from Own The Podium. At this time it is premature to be re-evaluating those funds," Sotiropoulos said in an e-mail.

He said: "We respect Equestrian Canada's and the athlete's rights to pursue any steps in defence of this matter and the outcome of any due process, and we will continue to monitor this case as it develops."

There were three other athletes on the Canadian Pan Am jumping team: Erynn Ballard from Ontario, Alberta-based Lisa Carlsen and Mario Deslauriers from Quebec.

Regulators at the international governing body of equestrian sports (known by its French acronym FEI) in Switzerland and Ottawa-based Equestrian Canada said on Tuesday that Walker turned in a positive result for Benzoylecgonine, a chemical that remains after the body metabolizes cocaine, in a test administered at the Pan Am Games on Aug. 7, after the final of the team-jumping competition.

Equestrian Canada said Tuesday in a news release that it is "firmly committed to clean sport.

We also believe in standing behind our athletes, and fully support Nicole during this challenging situation. Equestrian Canada will be working closely with Nicole and her legal team as appropriate next steps are determined."

Walker has already requested a hearing on her drug test before the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission and hired Torontobased lawyer Tim Danson, who previously represented rider Eric Lamaze, a three-time Olympic medalist. Lamaze was unable to participate in the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics after testing positive for cocaine.

"It is too premature to comment on the merits of Nikki's case at this time," Danson said in a news release. "What I am confident in saying at this early stage is that Nikki does not use substances prohibited by WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency]. She is incredibly careful and vigilant in this regard."

Positive drug tests from coca tea are a well-documented issue for athletes. In 2005, the Jockey Club in Britain commissioned a study of the beverage after several jockeys tested positive for cocaine and claimed it was a result of drinking coca tea. The British racing group found a single cup of coca tea can translate into a positive test for cocaine for 24 hours or more. In writing up the Jockey Club's study, the British Journal of Sport Medicine said: "Although the teabag packaging reports benefits such as increased energy and improved digestion, most people who sample the product report little subjective effect at all."

In the United States, a number of government employees, including police officers, blamed coca tea consumption during vacations in South America for subsequent positive drug tests at work. Some were fired, while others had the explanation accepted by employers and kept their jobs.

Associated Graphic

Nicole Walker, seen at an event in Calgary in June, has requested a hearing on her failed drug test before the Panam Sports Disciplinary Commission and has hired a lawyer.

JEFF MCINTOSH/THE CANADIAN PRESS


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Spezza knows his place on the Leafs - and he's honoured to have it
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By MARTY KLINKENBERG
  
  

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019 – Page B11

TORONTO -- Scoring goals is nothing new for Jason Spezza. He has more than 350 of them over his appreciable career. The one he netted on Saturday was so special, however, that he snatched the puck as a keepsake.

"It was a bit of a childhood dream to score a goal for the Maple Leafs," the 36-year-old says Monday. "It definitely meant more to me than a lot of others. I saved it and will throw it in my collection."

It is Spezza's 17th year in the National Hockey League, but his first in Toronto and the first where he has watched more than he has played. He knew his would be a supporting role when he joined the team last summer, but it has taken time for him to adjust. A month into the season, it is easy to see he is growing more comfortable.

No matter the circumstances, his face is always the brightest in the locker room. He is fast with advice to younger players - in this case, all of them - and quick with a smile. He punctuates conversation with laughter.

He carries with him the selfawareness and wisdom that comes with longevity in professional sports. Not everyone has it. Those that do are special.

"This is a different challenge for me, but nobody is bigger than the game," Spezza says as he sits in front of his dressing stall at the practice rink in Etobicoke. "I think I am fortunate to still be playing."

He could have signed as a free agent elsewhere, but chose Toronto. He grew up in the city's suburbs and cheered for the Maple Leafs. His uncle George, who played against former Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman in his youth, brought him to his first game at the team's old arena, Maple Leaf Gardens. He worshipped one-time Leaf stars Doug Gilmour and Félix Potvin.

He listened to and watched every game he could.

"Not every one of them was on [television] when I was a kid," Spezza said. Across from him in the locker room, Gilmour's stall is preserved for posterity.

He has earned almost US$90million playing hockey, but accepted a league minimum US$700,000 this season. It was more than about coming home again.

"If the team wasn't as good as it is, I wouldn't have pursued it," Spezza says. "I think this team is really good."

Toronto has won just seven of its first 15 games and is eighth in the Eastern Conference. It has mostly struggled against better opponents and fattened up on also-rans. The Los Angeles Kings (5-9) are next up at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday night.

Spezza played a significant role in the weekend's 4-3 victory at Philadelphia. He had an assist on the Maple Leafs' first goal, tied the game at 2-2 in the second period and scored during a 22-player shootout. It was easily his best performance thus far and came with John Tavares, who is expected to return on Tuesday, sidelined with a broken finger.

"I am proud to be here and am fighting to stay in the lineup," Spezza says. "It is nice to contribute, and I am hoping to build off of that. It is a different kind of challenge for me, but I think I can add a lot. I feel I am getting better each night."

He has 358 goals and is only 11 points shy of 1,000 over 1,154 games - in the regular season and playoffs combined - dating back to 2002.

His ascension to NHL stardom was determined from the time he began to play in the Ontario Hockey League as an underage 15-year-old. That was in 1998. His two youngest teammates on Toronto's roster, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, were oneyear-olds then.

Spezza was chosen second over all by Ottawa in the 2001 NHL entry draft and played for the Senators for 11 seasons. He has spent the past five years in Dallas, has been a captain and has been on teams that reached the postseason 10 times. It bothered him when he was benched for the season opener, but he has shrugged it off nicely.

He has yet to win a Stanley Cup and knows the clock is continuing to click away.

In 2007, the Senators lost to the Anaheim Ducks in a fivegame Stanley Cup final. Last year, the Stars were beaten by the St. Louis Blues in double overtime in Game 7 of the second round.

"After we lost and I saw St.

Louis win the Cup, I felt farther away from it than I ever have," Spezza says. "It really stung.

Then I signed with Toronto and now I have hope again.

"When you are young, you think you are going to get a shot at it in the playoffs every year. I am more desperate now."

The Leafs have lost in the first round in each of the past three years but more is expected now.

They have struggled, but are only 15 games into an 82-game season.

"Some teams click from the first day and some teams take longer," Spezza says. "There is no timeline. You know when you are a well-oiled machine. We have had tastes of it, but haven't done it consistently enough.

"We don't know yet what a good game feels like."

As he nears the end of his career, Spezza works hard to keep a spot on the team. On nights when he hasn't dressed, he has worked out beneath the arena until minutes before the game.

"It has become a necessity for me," he says. "It is a separating factor and keeps you around the league a lot longer. I'm trying to slow down the curve."

He knows his place on the Maple Leafs, and he is fine with it.


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Stampeders must clear an extra hurdle in push to defend their Grey Cup title
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By DAN RALPH
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Monday, November 4, 2019 – Page B10

The road to a fourth straight Grey Cup title will be a little longer than usual for Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders.

Calgary (12-6) plays host to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-7) in the West Division semi-final Sunday at McMahon Stadium. The Stampeders reached the previous three Grey Cup finals - winning last year - with a victory in the conference final after finishing first in the standings. But Calgary was second this year behind the Saskatchewan Roughriders (13-5), who clinched the top spot for the first time since 2009 with a 23-13 home win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday. Now, the Stampeders will have to win an extra playoff game to make a fourth consecutive Grey Cup appearance.

"We're a team that fights," Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson said. "We can't blow anybody out, we're not good enough, but I just feel like our team wins.

"Let's be honest here ... at the beginning of the year, I don't think anyone would suggest the Calgary Stampeders, with all the changes we had, would have 12 wins. I'm proud of that."

However, Winnipeg won the season series 2-1. The Bombers captured the past meeting 29-28 on Oct. 25 in dramatic fashion, outscoring the Stampeders 10-0 in the fourth quarter to erase a 28-19 deficit.

And Winnipeg did it with welltravelled veteran Zach Collaros under centre. Collaros began the season with Saskatchewan, but gave way to backup Cody Fajardo after suffering a concussion early in the Riders' season-opening loss in Hamilton.

Saskatchewan lost that game 23-17, but caught fire under Fajardo, who recently signed a contract extension with the Riders.

Last week, he was named their outstanding player award nominee.

In July, Saskatchewan dealt Collaros to Toronto, which sent the veteran to Winnipeg on Oct.

9. Collaros started the Bombers' regular-season finale with Chris Streveler (ankle) ailing.

Collaros's numbers weren't spectacular - 22-of-28 for 221 yards with two TDs and an interception - but the eight-year veteran showed glimpses of his 2015 form with Hamilton, when he was regarded as the favourite for the CFL's outstanding player award before suffering a seasonending knee surgery.

Winnipeg head coach Mike O'Shea hasn't formally announced his playoff starter, but the expectation is Collaros will get the nod.

Home field is definitely a big deal in this game, considering the Stampeders were 7-2 at McMahon, including a 37-33 home win over the Bombers on Oct. 19. Winnipeg was a stellar 8-1 at IG Field - and 2-0 there against the Stamps - but 3-6 on the road.

Mitchell has a career 11-3 regular-season record against Winnipeg, and the Stampeders boast a 68-34 mark against the Bombers at McMahon. He's also 5-1 as a playoff starter.

Winnipeg's strength is its CFLbest ground attack (147.9 yards a game), which was anchored by league rushing leader Andrew Harris (1,380 yards, 6.1-yard average, four TDs). Streveler certainly added to that (726 yards, 5.7-yard average, 12 TDs).

But in Collaros, the Bombers have a veteran quarterback who has not only won in the CFL - 35-32 career record as a starter - but can make the big throw downfield. The biggest concern with the 31-year-old American is his health, as since 2015, he's battled numerous injuries, including concussions.

Meanwhile in the East Division, both the Montreal Alouettes (10-8) and Edmonton (8-10) have known for some time they'd meet in the conference semi-final. They split their season series 1-1, each winning at home.

It was a resounding regular season for Montreal under interim first-year head coach Khari Jones. He assumed the head job just before the start of the 2019 campaign after Mike Sherman was fired and handled headcoaching and offensive co-ordinator duties.

Montreal will play host to its first home playoff game since 2014 and has a record 26-9 postseason mark in La Belle Province.

This will be the fourth time Edmonton has crossed over into the East Division playoffs, but the first since 2016.

The Eskimos have a 20-30 record as a road playoff team. They played Montreal once before in the postseason, with the Alouettes winning 36-26 in the 2008 East final.

West Division teams are 4-7 as the East crossover squad.

Edmonton opened the season with a 32-25 victory against Montreal on June 14. Starter Trevor Harris had a stellar Eskimos debut, completing 32-of-41 passes for 447 yards with three TDs, with Ricky Collins registering nine catches for 175 yards.

Running back C.J. Gable ran for 154 yards on 20 carries.

Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr.

has been instrumental in Montreal reaching the CFL playoffs after a four-year drought. The 26year-old native of Pasadena, Calif., opened the season as Antonio Pipkin's backup and was pressed into duty after Pipkin was injured.

Adams Jr. will be making his first playoff start Sunday.

On July 20, Adams Jr. threw for 191 yards and a TD while rushing for 44 yards on seven carries in leading Montreal to a 20-10 home victory over Edmonton.

That time around, Montreal's defence held Harris to 271 passing yards (29-of-43 attempts) and intercepted him twice. Gable ran for just 33 yards on eight carries.


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More than a goalie, Andersen is Leafs' rock
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A shaky team leaves the Dane under constant fire, but you won't hear him complaining
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By MARTY KLINKENBERG
  
  

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 – Page B12

TORONTO -- A s teammates watched anxiously on Saturday night, Frederik Andersen remained calm in the longest shootout in Toronto history. The Maple Leafs goalie stopped all but one point-blank shot in 11 rounds in a much-needed victory.

"I have had more success not thinking about what guys would do, so I tried to just stay in the moment," Andersen said Wednesday at the team's practice rink in suburban Etobicoke. "I am at my best when I keep things really simple.

"Less is more with me."

The 30-year-old Dane is 6-0-2 over his past eight games and Toronto seems to be righting itself after a shaky start to the season.

The team is 8-5-3 as it heads into Thursday night's meeting with the Vegas Golden Knights (9-5-2) at Scotiabank Arena.

"The better he plays, the more confidence he gives us," said Mike Babcock, the Maple Leafs coach. "He is a leader for us. The guys like him and play hard for him.

"It is nice when you make a mistake and it doesn't end up in the net."

A pleasant low talker, Andersen is like Muzak in the dressing room.

He has a calming influence, which is a great quality for someone who faces a constant barrage of shots. An NHL's goalie's job is to manage mayhem as it swirls around him, and at that he is splendid.

He has 61 saves in the past two games, both narrow victories. Toronto trailed in both, before Andersen locked things down.

When the Leafs fell behind the Flyers 3-2 on Saturday, Andersen told his teammates, "Enough is enough. We are going to win this one."

"His demeanour in the net calms everyone down," veteran defenceman Jake Muzzin said.

"That is who he is. He has a calming effect on the team."

Andersen played three seasons in Anaheim before he was traded to the Maple Leafs in June of 2016 for a first-round pick in that summer's draft and a second-round choice the next year. The deal was a steal. In two of his first three seasons in Toronto, he faced more shots and made more saves than any other goalie in the NHL.

He went 107-54-26 over that span and largely because of him the team reached the playoffs each year. It is the first time that has happened in three successive seasons since 2003-04. And with all respect to Auston Matthews and his 12 goals, Andersen has been the Maple Leafs' best player over all this season. The fellow fans call Freddie has been steady, if not spectacular, in all but two starts.

"We have so much trust in him," John Tavares said. "We know that if something happens, he will make a big save."

The captain looked rusty on Tuesday night when he returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a broken finger. History suggests that should not be much of a concern. There have been a few pleasant surprises on an already talent-laden roster - namely that of Alexander Kerfoot and Russian rookie Ilya Mikheyev. Tyson Barrie has started slowly but is showing signs of life.

The defenceman acquired from Colorado in the offseason drew some ahhs from fans on Tuesday as he skated rings around the Los Angeles Kings.

Andersen is under contract through the 2021 season at a very reasonable US$5-million a year.

He carries the expectations of a team and city on his broad shoulders. He appears to be built for it; at 6 foot 4 and nearly 240 pounds, he is the size of an NFL linebacker.

It is his mental makeup that allows him to flourish when things appear to be deteriorating around him. And he is the same off the ice as on.

He is surrounded by the media in the dressing room almost every day. He is accommodating and patient and never rattled by inquisitors. He talks up a blue streak, but afterward you look at your notebook and scratch your head while trying to find a quote.

He is not terribly colourful, but that is not a crime.

"He shows a little more emotion and fire on the golf course," Muzzin said. "That is something for you."

When asked about it, Andersen thinks for a bit.

"I just like being out there," Andersen says. "I like being active and to stay outside."

Da-dum.

He is the guy who settles everyone down in the middle of the maelstrom.

"You have to be who you are," Andersen says. "It works for me.

There are 23 guys in the room. Everybody can't be the same."

Associated Graphic

Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen makes a save against the Flyers on Saturday in Philadelphia. Andersen is 6-0-2 over his past eight games as Toronto corrects its course after a lacklustre start to the season.

ERIC HARTLINE/USA TODAY SPORTS


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Wolfpack lands big star in Williams
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Toronto signs star to two-year deal worth $9-million as it prepares to enter Super League
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By NEIL DAVIDSON
THE CANADIAN PRESS
  
  

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Friday, November 8, 2019 – Page B16

The Toronto Wolfpack proved doubters wrong by managing to establish a toehold for a littleknown sport in North America.

Now the transatlantic rugby league team is opening the vault in the hope that All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams will put it on the worldwide map as the Wolfpack prepare for their step up into England's top-tier Super League come February.

The Wolfpack confirmed Thursday that the 34-year-old Williams, a star in both of rugby's codes, has signed a two-year contract.

The deal is worth a total of $9million, with Williams getting an ownership stake, according to a source granted confidentiality because they were not in a position to publicly divulge the information.

"Having someone of his talent join the Wolfpack will greatly raise the profile of the club, and also help move the game forward globally," Bob Hunter, the Wolfpack chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"Sonny is a phenomenal athlete and we believe he is rugby's LeBron James and his addition to our league is comparable to when David Beckham joined L.A. Galaxy."

The Wolfpack may not be finished yet.

England's Daily Telegraph reports Toronto is also interested in Manu Tuilagi, a Mack Truck of a centre who currently plays for Leicester and England.

Williams has won championships in both rugby union and league and has real star power in the sport around the globe.

Williams has competed at three Rugby World Cups - winning two - and was part of the New Zealand rugby sevens team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, partly rupturing an Achilles tendon in the All Blacks' first match.

"Toronto Wolfpack is a club that represents Toronto which is a very multicultural city," Williams said in a club statement.

"The club has big ambitions and big goals.

"I want to be part of all this and do all I can to help reach those lofty goals.

"On the field I'd like to bring high-quality play and do all I can for the betterment of the team.

Off the field I'd like to use my experience to mentor the young players and be helpful where I am needed. Super League will be a new challenge and one I'm looking forward to. It will be a new experience and one I'm ready to embrace."

Williams, whose résumé also includes an unbeaten stint as a heavyweight pro boxer, is fresh off the All Blacks' third-place finish at the World Cup in Japan.

He has won two rugby-league championships in Australia's NRL.

At 6 foot 3 and some 238 pounds, Williams is a powerful runner who has an uncanny ability to offload the ball to a teammate even when getting gangtackled. He can also be a bruising defender.

"We have signed one of the highest-profile rugby players, if not sports stars in the world and he will enhance the world of rugby in Toronto and certainly push the brand of the Wolfpack onto another level," Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott said.

"The main point of excitement for our club is that we are signing a great rugby league player who has the hunger to be successful in Super League much as he was in the [Australia's] NRL and rugby union."

Like Major League Soccer, English rugby league has a salary cap with a partial exemption for marquee players.

In rugby league, the salary cap was £2-million ($3.38-million) in 2019.

Teams can have two marquee players with each of their salary cap hits restricted to £150,000.

Toronto's marquee players in 2019 were Australian forward Darcy Lussick and Samoan international back Ricky Leutele.

Williams made his All Blacks debut in November 2010 against England and has won 58 caps (including 16 off the bench).

His record in the famed black jersey is 52-5-1 with the only losses coming against South Africa (in 2011), Australia (2015 and '17), the British and Irish Lions (2017) and England (at the recent World Cup).

Ten of his 65 career points came at the World Cup against Canada. with a try in New Zealand's 79-15 win in 2011 and another in the 63-0 victory in Oita on Oct. 2 The Wolfpack started life in the third tier of English rugby league in 2017, winning promotion to the second-tier Betfred Championship in its first season. It won promotion to the Super League in October with a 24-6 win over Featherstone Rovers in the Million Pound Game.

Associated Graphic

New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams makes a break during a World Cup match against Wales at Tokyo Stadium on Nov. 1. Williams has won championships in both rugby union and league.

DAN MULLAN/GETTY IMAGES


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Nurse calls out Siakam for fouls: 'He hasn't been really smart'
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By RACHEL BRADY
  
  

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – Page B13

TORONTO -- T oronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse made it crystal clear on Tuesday that he is displeased with Pascal Siakam's recent pattern of getting into foul trouble, and he wants it to stop.

The Raptors star power forward, who just inked a four-year, US$130-million max contract extension, is leading the Raps in average points (26) and rebounds (8.5). Yet he has also been fouling too early and too often.

With Toronto's season just six games old, Siakam has already fouled out twice, and tallied at least five fouls four times.

"He hasn't been really smart, if you want me to be honest," Nurse told reporters after Tuesday's practice.

Siakam fouled out of Saturday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. It also happened in the season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans, and he had to miss the overtime period of a game his team eventually found a way to win without him (although it may have been overshadowed that night by his 34 points). His tendency to pick up two fouls early in the first quarter has forced Nurse to sit him down for a breather earlier than desired in a few cases, throwing off the team's player rotation.

"He just needs to knock it off," Nurse said. "I don't remember him being a foul-prone guy at all. For some reason, all of a sudden, he's picking up two early in games and most of them are silly."

"It's not like he's being put in difficult situations. A lot of them are 30 feet from the basket and he's just got his hands on him.

He's got to adjust."

Siakam owned up to it on Tuesday, and said he needs to be better.

"Obviously there's some fouls that I can avoid and not take because it's definitely important for me to be in the game," said the 25-year-old from Cameroon. "It's a part of growing and if you guys know me - I'm always about improving and evolving. And I'm excited about it. I'm excited about the opportunity to learn and by the end of the season I can look at these games and say they prepared me for something bigger."

Nurse said the coaching staff has been doing some extensive film study with Siakam on this trend, stressing that he needs to be very aware of what he's doing with his hands.

Siakam said he needs to improve his defensive readiness. He must move his feet more efficiently so he's not caught off guard when an offensive player nears him, then he will be less likely to put his hands on the guy he's guarding.

Siakam also acknowledged that he is not yet seasoned - like many veteran players are - in how to effectively talk to officials on the court.

"I'm learning, just knowing how to talk to the refs. Even if you want to say something find a good way to say it," Siakam said.

"Know their names, or little things I'm learning now that I didn't have to worry about before.

"Like I said, all part of the game and part of growing as a player. And I think it's important that I take that seriously."

To make up for the lost minutes he has sacrificed in some instances of foul trouble, Siakam has found ways to go on lategame scoring bursts at times this season. But that's not a sustainable way forward.

Studying game film, and gaining a better understanding of what the refs are and are not calling - then making adjustments - is a top priority right now. He must limit his fouls and be able to stay on the floor. His first chance to show his improvement in that area for the Raptors (4-2) will be Wednesday night against the visiting Sacramento Kings (2-5).

"It's something that's going on right now and I have to find a way to be better at it. It's on me," Siakam said.

"It doesn't matter what the ref does or what happens. It's gotta be on me to make sure that I adjust properly to what's being called out there and that I'm ready to help my team win, and that's by being on the floor and not fouling out."


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Chiefs clinch 11th-hour win over Vikings
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Kansas City comes out on top against Minnesota thanks to late-game field goals
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By DAVE SKRETTA
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
  
  

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Monday, November 4, 2019 – Page B11

KANSAS CITY -- Harrison Butker watched his 44yard field goal split the uprights, the clocks inside Arrowhead Stadium reading zero, and the Chiefs kicker turned and sprinted the other way in celebration.

The first person to join him?

Patrick Mahomes.

The reigning league MVP, who missed his second straight game while recovering from a dislocated kneecap, looked just fine as he joined Butker and the rest of his Kansas City teammates in a midfield mob after their heart-stopping 26-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

"I was sprinting down, maybe just from my soccer background growing up - that's what you do when you score," said Butker, who thought the winner may have been tipped. "When I was going I saw Patrick, and I wanted to embrace him and I'm like, 'Nah, he can't get hurt.' " Matt Moore started in Mahomes's place and threw for 275 yards and a touchdown, and he made the crucial plays when they mattered. He hit favourite target Tyreek Hill to convert a key third down and set up Butker's career best-tying 54-yard field goal to knot the game, then found Hill again a couple minutes later to make the winner a little more manageable.

"I thought, Matt, that was a gutsy performance by him," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, whose team snapped a three-game skid at Arrowhead Stadium. "He took a couple of licks there, and he got back up and finished. But just him calming the storm I thought was good."

Hill finished with six catches for 140 yards for the Chiefs (6-3), including a spectacular TD grab, while Damien Williams ran for 125 yards - most of it on a 91-yard touchdown run.

Kirk Cousins threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns for the Vikings (6-3), although he struggled to deal with the Chiefs' blitzes late in the game. Dalvin Cook was held to 71 yards rushing while top wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a single catch for four yards.

The Chiefs largely controlled the first half, building a 10-7 lead with the ball in the closing minutes. But they proceeded to go three-and-out, the Vikings marched downfield for a tying field goal, then got the ball back when Mecole Hardman fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half.

Suddenly, it was the Vikings who had taken control. They needed just five plays to punch it into the end zone, despite a holding penalty setting them back.

Amir Abdullah finished it with a 17-yard catch in which nobody was within 10 yards of him.

Hardman hurt the Chiefs again by failing to call a fair catch on a punt downed at their three. But that flub was rendered irrelevant when Williams took a handoff, found a gaping hole on the left side of the line and made the only safety in front of him miss on a 91yard touchdown run.

"We misfitted a little bit," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. "We had a pressure coming off the outside, we got a little wide and then we missed tackles."

Minnesota answered in the seesaw affair.

Leaning heavily on Cook, the league's leading rusher, the Vikings marched 75 yards without facing third down until the final play. That's when Cousins hit Kyle Rudolph from three yards out for the score, taking advantage of a Kansas City defence with just 10 players on the field.

After trading punts, the Chiefs put together another drive. Moore hit Hill to convert a key third down, and Butker matched his career long with a 54-yard field goal with 2 minutes 30 seconds to go.

It was a monumental kick - and he had another coming a couple minutes later.

Associated Graphic

Chiefs quarterback Matt Moore throws a pass against the Minnesota Vikings in Kansas City on Sunday. Moore threw for 275 yards and landed a touchdown in the game.

JAMIE SQUIRE/ GETTY IMAGES

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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Alberta exit from CPP could cost more than Kenney says, experts warn
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By PATRICK BRETHOUR, DAVID PARKINSON
  
  

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 – Page B1

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney contends that withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan would return billions of dollars a year to the province, but experts question how large the savings would be from going it alone.

They warn that exiting the national plan could be complicated and costly, and that having a separate provincial plan could discourage workers in other parts of Canada from coming to Alberta, threatening the labour mobility that has helped fuel the energy sector's growth.

Mr. Kenney is pushing the idea of an Alberta pension plan as part of his United Conservative Party government's strategy of seeking more autonomy in light of what it views as hostility from Ottawa and the rest of the country toward the energy industry. The Premier says that with its own pension plan, Alberta could dramatically slash premiums, returning billions to the province's workers and businesses while maintaining national-level benefits.

The core of what Mr. Kenney calls a "compelling case" for an independent Alberta pension plan is the fact that the province's work force is younger than those of other provinces, which means Albertans currently pay more into the CPP and draw fewer benefits compared with the national average. According to Statistics Canada, the median age of Alberta's population is 37.1 years, nearly four years below the national median. Its population aged 65 and older represents 13 per cent of the total population, compared with 18 per cent for the rest of the country.

"Because we are by far the youngest population in the country, we make a net contribution of approximately $3-billion [annually] to the CPP, meaning we are paying higher premiums than we otherwise would," Mr. Kenney said in a speech on Saturday.

Alberta's younger population means a provincial plan would require lower contributions from workers and employers, said Fred Vettese, former chief actuary for pensions company Morneau Shepell.

"They do benefit from exiting the [Canada Pension] Plan," he said. "It actually makes some sense."

Fraser Institute economist Jason Clemens - co-author of a study earlier this year laying out the case for an Alberta pension plan - said in an interview that a worker and their employer could see their combined annual contributions fall by as much as $2,183. But in the rest of Canada (excluding Quebec, which has had its own pension plan for more than five decades), combined contributions could rise by as much $367 a year to make up for the loss of Alberta's relatively young contributor base. The Fraser Institute's calculations assume that obligations to pay existing pensions would offset any CPP assets Alberta would take when it departed.

Mr. Kenney has asserted that Alberta would exit the CPP with $40-billion. That represents the value of Albertans' share of assets inside the CPP as of a 2015 actuarial valuation, according to Harrison Fleming, Mr. Kenney's deputy press secretary. That leaves open the question of whether Alberta and Ottawa would split the financial obligation to pay the existing pensions and what share each would have. Mr. Fleming said that would be determined through negotiations.

The path to an Alberta pension plan may not be easy.

Experts say Alberta's share of the existing CPP could be calculated any number of ways, and would be subject to negotiations with Ottawa and the other provinces.

"All of that's left to be determined," said Wilfrid Laurier University professor Tammy Schirle, who says Alberta may be overestimating the benefits of setting up its own plan.

She said individuals' contributions are aligned with the payments they will receive. So, equating what retirees receive today with contributions from those currently in the work force is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

She added that the volatility of the energy sector would tend to reduce any projected savings in contributions.

Alex Laurin, director of research at the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto, agreed that contribution rates could be lower under an Alberta pension plan, but the rest of Canada would not likely face significant increases in CPP contributions.

Under the Canada Pension Plan Act, any province needs to give three years' notice before leaving, and prove that its pension plan would provide comparable benefits.

The process has never been tested; Quebec is the only province outside the CPP, but it opted out at the plan's inception in 1965.

Alberta would need to negotiate the terms of the exit, a process that would be fraught with uncertainties.

"There would be a number of details that would need to be sorted through, including the calculation and transfer of existing pension liabilities and the calculation and transfer of any pension assets relating to those liabilities," the federal Department of Finance said in a statement to The Globe and Mail. The department said any agreement would also need to ensure the portability of benefits to and from other parts of the country, to encourage labour mobility.

Experts expressed concern that a separate Alberta pension may complicate and potentially discourage the movement of workers - a key element of the province's boom years. Alberta would need to negotiate with Ottawa and with Quebec to ensure that an Alberta pension could move with a worker to other parts of the country, and vice versa.

Mr. Kenney said the Alberta Investment Management Corp., which manages $110billion in public sector pension funds, would be in charge of an Alberta pension plan's portfolio. But the province would still need to set up infrastructure to administer it.

When Ontario proposed launching its own plan in 2014, the province spent about $70-million just to develop it and set up an administrative structure. It abandoned the plan in 2016, after the federal government announced an expansion of the CPP.

Alex Mazer of retirement plan provider Common Wealth, who advised the Ontario government on its plan, said the cost would have been much higher had the government proceeded. He noted that Ontario set aside $400-million in credit for the project. He said Alberta would face "hundreds of millions of dollars" in additional costs to set up a plan.

Fifteen years ago, Alberta rejected a proposal to have its own pension plan. But the political climate has shifted to the province's disadvantage, according to the Premier's Office, making it necessary for the government to appoint a panel to conduct a new examination. Mr. Kenney has promised that any move to leave the CPP would have to be approved in a referendum.

On Tuesday, the Premier noted that a provincial pension plan and other proposals the panel will examine are powers that Quebec has "enjoyed for decades."

"I think Albertans deserve at least a good a deal as Quebec has," Mr. Kenney said. "We'll see what Albertans think about that."


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Semafo suspends operations at Burkina Faso mine after deadly attack
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By NICOLAS VAN PRAET, GEOFFREY YORK, NIALL MCGEE
  
  

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Friday, November 8, 2019 – Page B1

MONTREAL, JOHANNESBURG, TORONTO -- Montreal-based gold miner Semafo Inc.

has halted operations at its Boungou gold mine in eastern Burkina Faso as the fallout widens from one of the worst-ever terrorist attacks on employees of a Canadian company.

Semafo said on Thursday it was suspending work at its flagship mine in the West African country, a day after insurgents ambushed a convoy carrying its employees to the mine site.

Burkina Faso's President, Roch Marc Kaboré, said 38 people were killed, increasing the previous day's tally.

More than 60 others were injured, and dozens are still believed to be unaccounted for after the raid, which occurred on a road 40 kilometres from the mine site.

"This is the deadliest incident targeting the mining industry, or any private businesses, in the Sahel since the 2013 In Amenas hostage crisis," Vincent Rouget, an analyst at Control Risks Group, told Reuters.

Sahel is the name for a region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to Sudan that has a large concentration of mining operations.

Extremist groups, mostly Islamist insurgents, also proliferate in the area.

Even in a country gripped by escalating violence, the attack has provoked deep shock and anger.

The strike highlights the increasing security threat for citizens and companies in Burkina Faso, which has been plunged into crisis amid an escalating wave of violent attacks by militants in recent months.

It is also raising new security concerns at Canadian mines and other mining operations across West Africa.

In a televised speech to the country on Thursday, Mr. Kaboré declared three days of official mourning for Semafo workers killed in the ambush. The President called on the country to provide "defence volunteers" to help battle the terrorists.

"These despicable acts, from another age, are aimed at sowing psychosis in our people and destabilizing our democracy," Mr.

Kaboré said in his speech. The country's ruling party, the People's Movement for Progress, called on the government to declare a state of emergency.

Semafo said it is suspending operations at its Boungou gold mine out of respect for the victims and "to ensure the highest levels of operational safety." It employs about 1,200 people at the mine, according to its website. About 100 of those are expatriates, including Quebeckers.

"We are devastated by this unprecedented attack. Our sincerest sympathies go out to the families and colleagues of the victims," Semafo chief executive officer Benoit Desormeaux said in a statement.

"Our priority is their safety, security and well-being. Given the scale of the attack, it will take some time to properly deal with it and we will do our utmost to support all those affected."

Security experts and people familiar with the company said the move to suspend work amounted to an admission that Semafo can't operate the mine securely.

Employees travelling to the mine site in the future will question whether they are also in danger, and many supplies to Boungou also have to come in over the road where the attack occurred, they said.

"You never want to halt a project if you can," said Charles Dumbrille, chief risk officer at consultancy IN-D-TEL International Inc. "But your main priority is to protect your people and assets."

Semafo shares fell 5 per cent in Toronto trading after an 11per-cent decline on Wednesday.

Many other Canadian gold producers active in the country also declined, although a sell-off in bullion for the day was also a factor. Prices for Iamgold Corp. fell nearly 7 per cent, Teranga Gold Corp. fell 5 per cent and B2Gold Corp. fell 5 per cent.

Vancouver-based B2Gold Corp. employs 75 local people at two exploration projects in Burkina Faso, about 200 kilometres away from where the Semafo incident occurred.

"We haven't had any problems. None of the mines in that region have. That doesn't mean you don't prepare for any eventuality," said Clive Johnson, B2Gold's chief executive.

B2 also operates a large mine in neighbouring Mali, which employs 2,000 people.

"We will be discussing our security practices in Mali and Burkina Faso," Mr. Johnson said, adding the company feels its people are secure.

Toronto-based Iamgold operates the Essakane mine in northeastern Burkina Faso, some 300 kilometres away from where Wednesday's attack occurred, according to the company.

In a regulatory disclosure earlier this year, Iamgold noted that terrorist activity has increased worldwide.

Essakane is a "visible and valuable target to a terrorist organization due to the presence of a high number of expatriates," the company wrote in the document.

The five-bus convoy was under military escort, Semafo said, and was carrying company employees, contractors and suppliers. Local media reports, citing security sources, said the military vehicle leading the convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device.

After the explosion, gunmen opened fire, targeting not only the military escort but also people in the buses, the reports said.

There had been at least two previous attacks on the road where Wednesday's ambush occurred, including one last December in which four police officers and another person were killed.

After separate attacks in August, 2018, Semafo said it would take additional steps to ensure the security of its staff. It said all expatriate employees travelling between Burkina Faso's capital of Ouagadougou and Boungou mine would be transported by helicopter while a military force on the ground would protect its local employees on roads.

"It's disconcerting to see that the company sent hundreds of local workers on buses with an escort that seems fairly limited," said Louis Audet Gosselin, a specialist on Burkino Faso with Montreal's CÉGEP ÉdouardMontpetit.

"The optics are catastrophic."

Semafo, a mid-sized gold producer with a market capitalization of about $1.1-billion, operates two gold mines in Burkina Faso: Boungou and Mana.

The company did not make anyone available on Thursday to answer questions.


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Ontario renewed funding push for Ring of Fire roads as viability of venture questioned
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By NIALL MCGEE, JEFF GRAY
  
  

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Monday, November 4, 2019 – Page B1

The Ontario government appealed to Ottawa this summer to split a $1.6-billion construction bill for roads into the Ring of Fire region, despite mounting evidence the minerals project in the province's North isn't economically viable.

Documents reviewed by The Globe and Mail show that Greg Rickford, Ontario's Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, sent an e-mail in July to a number of federal ministers asking for Ottawa to kick in as much as $779-million to roughly match Ontario's contribution.

As part of his business case for investing in the Ring of Fire, Mr. Rickford referenced a number of often-cited huge financial projections about the project that have no supporting evidence.

Last month, a Globe investigation uncovered serious cracks in the investment case for any branch of the government to invest in the Ring of Fire, an area that contains an undeveloped nickel and chromite discovery in a giant swamp in Northern Ontario about 550 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.

"The combined gross value of known nickel and chromite deposits has been estimated at over $60-billion," wrote Mr.

Rickford in the e-mail that went to federal ministers responsible for infrastructure, environment and Indigenous services.

James Franklin, a well-known geologist who came up with the $60-billion estimate in 2013 in reference to the value of minerals in the ground at the site, has backed away from the figure. He told The Globe it was no more than an educated guess, didn't account for mineral extraction costs and should not be used by Ontario to pitch the project.

In a September interview, Mr.

Rickford said some of the estimates around the Ring of Fire's potential "have been too big for anybody to believe." But his recent correspondence with Ottawa also contains statements that appear to hype the project.

The Ring of Fire, he wrote, has the potential to be "one of the most significant mineral developments in Ontario in over a century," represents "an unparalleled opportunity" for Canada's mining sector, and is a project that could support mining in the region "for upward of 200 years."

When asked both about the $60-billion valuation and the pronouncements about the Ring's prospects, Sydney Stonier, a spokesperson for Mr. Rickford, wrote in an e-mail that "mining opportunities in the Ring of Fire region represent unprecedented opportunities of national significance."

Discovered in 2007 and 2008, the Ring of Fire contains mostly early-stage deposits of chromite - a mineral used in the production of stainless steel. The area also contains small amounts of nickel, platinum and palladium. While it was once the epicentre of a prospecting rush, the Ring's fortunes have faded in the past five years.

The investment case has become increasingly shaky in the face of multibillion-dollar cost hurdles, a worldwide supply glut in the chromite market and environmental concerns from First Nations in Ontario.

The engineering challenge alone to build access roads and bridges connecting the swampy, boggy region of Ontario to the provincial highway network, some 300 kilometres south, is considered immense.

In his e-mail to federal ministers, Mr. Rickford said the latest cost projections on roads are based on a "preliminary estimate," prepared by engineering consultants Hatch Ltd. and Morrison Hershfield. Their work builds on a previous early-stage study done by Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., formerly Cliffs Natural Resources, a senior mining company that gave up on the Ring about five years ago.

While Ontario has been a longterm champion of the Ring of Fire, the federal government has so far refused to kick in major funds.

After winning election in 2015, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government slashed its internal valuation on the project to as little as $31-billion, documents obtained by The Globe under a Freedom of Information request showed in 2016. The Trudeau government eventually scratched out that revised estimate, but the new figure was redacted in the documents.

Mr. Franklin, former chief scientist for the Geological Survey of Canada, recently told The Globe that the investment case around the Ring is unknown.

He was so annoyed that the Ontario government was endlessly recycling his back-of-the-envelope $60-billion figure that he contacted the government a few years ago and pleaded with it to stop using the calculation, "because we all know the unreliability of my number."

But politicians of all stripes have repeatedly noted the $60billion estimate to push the investment case for investing taxpayer money into infrastructure for the project. Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne used it in a letter in 2013 to then-prime minister Stephen Harper, asking the federal government to split the $2.25-billion cost of roads and industrial infrastructure. When she renewed her plea in 2016 to Mr. Trudeau's government, she repeated the figure once more.

U.S.-based Cleveland-Cliffs invested more than $500-million between 2009 and 2014 into the region and made a big push to build a giant chromite mine.

But facing escalating costs, crumbling commodity prices and environmental opposition from First Nations, Cliffs walked away.

When it exited in 2014, the company sold its assets to a tiny junior exploration company, Noront Resources Ltd., at a 95-percent discount. Five years on, Noront's own future appears bleak.

While it has four chromite projects in various stages of early development, it isn't in a position to move forward on any of them.

Even Noront's most promising asset, a small nickel project called Eagle's Nest, is at least five years away from being a mine. As of the end of June, Toronto-based Noront was holding $4.1-million in cash compared with US$47.8-million in debt.


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Government, not BoC, needs to step up when recession hits
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By DAVID PARKINSON
  
  

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 – Page B1

The last time Canada slipped into a recession, we leaned heavily on the Bank of Canada to lift us out of it. The next time, we shouldn't count on the central bank to carry the load. Current circumstances and the lessons of history suggest that government spending will have to lead the way.

Who says so? The Bank of Canada.

Last week, in their first public comments since the Oct. 21 federal election, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and his top deputy, Carolyn Wilkins, took a rare foray into the thorny issue of fiscal policy. Our central bankers generally steer clear of anything that hints at telling the government how it should spend its money.

But with a new government taking the reins at a time when the Canadian economy is slowing, foreign central banks are cutting and the risks of a global downturn are elevated, Mr. Poloz and Ms. Wilkins seized on the opportunity to send a message.

They implied - about as strongly as we can ever expect them to - that they'd like the government to keep its foot on the spending pedal to take some pressure off the central bank to cut interest rates to the bone like it did in the 2008-09 recession.

Because, frankly, the central bank doesn't have much room to manoeuvre - and some pretty unpalatable potential consequences if it tried. As much as it might chagrin fiscal conservatives, the federal government is in a much better position to spend our way through the next downturn and recovery, than the Bank of Canada is to cut our way there.

"Based on our [Group of 20] meetings in Washington [in midOctober], that's almost a global statement - there's a growing concern that monetary policy has done most of what it's able to do," Mr. Poloz said in a press conference last week.

Consider that in the 2008-09 recession, the Bank of Canada cut its key rate by more than 400 basis points in a little over a year.

With its rate currently at 1.75 per cent, anyone capable of doing simple arithmetic can see that the bank doesn't have anywhere near the same ammunition available to it.

What's more, at 1.75 per cent, the Bank of Canada's key rate is already below its so-called "neutral" level - which means it is already doing its part to stimulate economic growth. (The bank estimates that the current neutral level for its interest rate - where it neither stimulates growth nor constrains it - is in the range of 2.25 per cent to 3.25 per cent.)

Indeed, the Bank of Canada has been providing stimulus to the economy for more than a decade now, even since the financial crisis and recession hit in 2008. It did so even as Stephen Harper's Conservative government unwound its own crisis-period stimulus package and spent several years reducing its budget deficits - effectively working against the central bank's loose monetary policy. The bank maintained rates lower for longer to compensate.

The result was that much of the road to recovery got paved not with government debt, but with consumer debt. Ultralow interest rates encouraged consumer borrowing and put Canadian household debts at record highs - leaving consumers overexposed in the event of a downturn. The Bank of Canada has long considered this one of the biggest potential risks to Canada's economy.

"When you stimulate the economy from the monetary policy side, what you're doing is you're stimulating credit growth, and often household credit growth. Whereas when you're using government expenditures, it's on the government side," Ms.

Wilkins said. "There's a choice to be made about which pile of debt you want to increase. And that's dependent on where you are in the economy."

Where we are is with a relatively healthy government balance sheet - with a debt-to-GDP ratio considered modest and stable - but with household balance sheets that look decidedly green around the gills. Further rate cuts, from already very attractive borrowing levels, would likely have only limited effects on the economy - but would risk exacerbating the already worrisome consumer debt.

On the other hand, the loosening of the government purse strings under the Liberal government of the past four years allowed the Bank of Canada to stabilize interest rates and even lift them off their floor - even as the economy continued to expand to near full capacity.

"That support ... saved us around a hundred basis points of further monetary easing," Mr. Poloz said in a television interview with BNN Bloomberg last week.

"That's pretty significant, because you would've been doing that in the middle of a hot housing market, bidding wars and all those kinds of things."

Mr. Poloz figures that in terms of stimulative powers, every additional $5-billion of additional federal spending is equivalent to a 25-basis-point (one-quarter percentage point) interest-rate cut. If the Liberals follow through on their campaign platform, which calls for deficits of about $4-billion more than previously planned next year and $8-billion more the year after, the new government will help the central bank stave off at least some rate cuts that it has little room to make, and clearly would rather avoid.

Balanced-budget purists won't like it. But it's a pretty small price to pay for the better path to economic stability.


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Sabia's critics wanted him to fail. He did the opposite
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By KONRAD YAKABUSKI
  
  

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 – Page B1

Michael Sabia could hardly pick a better moment to step down as head of Caisse de dépot et placement du Québec, having guided the giant provincial pension-fund manager out of the mess it was in when he arrived nearly 11 years ago and leaving before the next recession plunges it back into the dumps.

Yet, this is not how he wanted his tenure to end. His departure a year before his current four-year term was to expire in early 2021 will mean Mr. Sabia will not be around to oversee the completion of the project he has relished most as the Caisse's chief executive: the $6.3-billion Réseau express métropolitain light-rail transit network that has come to symbolize Montreal's economic rebirth.

Quebec Premier François Legault, however, has never been a big fan of Mr. Sabia. If Mr. Sabia is leaving early, it is because the Premier has decided he should. Mr.

Legault favours a more interventionist Caisse, one that sees its role as a backer of Québécois entrepreneurs and a rampart against foreign takeovers.

"I think Michael would have liked to cut the ribbon on the REM," said former Caisse executive Michel Nadeau, now executive manager of the Montrealbased Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations.

"But I think Mr. Legault and [Quebec Finance Minister] Éric Girard decided to cut his mandate short because they have a candidate in mind and the candidate does not want to wait."

As leader of then-opposition Coalition Avenir Québec in 2016, Mr. Legault was highly critical of the sale of Quebec-based Rona Inc. to U.S.-based Lowe's Cos.

Inc., a transaction only made possible by the Caisse's decision to tender its 17-per-cent stake in the homegrown home-improvement chain.

"What we want [for Quebec] is an economy of owners, not an economy of branches," Mr. Legault said at the time. "Do you think the new shareholders, the new managers, who are Americans, are going to use Quebec lawyers and accountants?" As the Parti Québécois finance critic in 2009, Mr. Legault opposed Mr. Sabia's nomination, accusing then-premier Jean Charest of interfering in the selection process the Caisse's board had set up to select a permanent successor to Henri-Paul Rousseau, who had left under a cloud in 2008. As Premier, however, Mr.

Legault appears to be preparing to impose his own preference on the Caisse board.

That might not be a problem if the Premier's preferred candidate is Sophie Brochu, considered a star in Quebec business circles, who recently stepped down as CEO of the province's main natural-gas distributor Énergir Inc. Ms. Brochu was groomed to take the helm at Énergir's predecessor company, Gaz Métro Inc., by none other than Robert Tessier, who now chairs the Caisse's board. Ms.

Brochu, who would be the first woman to lead the Caisse, has been rumoured to have an inside track on the job.

Whoever succeeds Mr. Sabia, she or he will be expected by Mr.

Legault to take a more visible role in establishing the Caisse as a strategic tool of economic development in the province.

While the Caisse has been active under Mr. Sabia in promoting emerging technology companies in Quebec, and went out on a limb in backing a controversial cement factory on the Gaspé Peninsula favoured by politicians, it has not been seen as the champion of a homegrown business class that it once was.

Mr. Legault, who was an executive at Air Transat during the old-style Caisse's heydays in the early 1980s, is nostalgic for that era. At the end of 2018, only 14 per cent of the Caisse's $309-billion in assets under management were invested in private-sector businesses in Quebec.

The Caisse's recent moves with respect to SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., in which the pensionfund manager holds a 20-percent stake, has also left its political overlords questioning Mr. Sabia's strategy with regards to the troubled engineering giant.

While Caisse insiders insist Mr.

Sabia has not explicitly endorsed SNC-Lavalin's decision to stop bidding on lump-sum turnkey infrastructure projects, the pension-fund manager has appeared to back moves by SNC-Lavalin's management to reduce the company's risk profile. That could imply shrinking the company substantially.

Still, despite the less-than-ideal circumstances of his departure, Mr. Sabia can leave the Caisse with a sense of mission accomplished. He showed serious guts in taking the job in 2009, overcoming opposition led by nationalist politicians and commentators upset that an anglophone who had overseen a shift in BCE Inc.'s de facto head office operations to Toronto from Montreal had been chosen to take the reins at an institution created in the 1960s in part to enable francophone Quebeckers to wrest control of their economy from an English-speaking elite.

Mr. Sabia's detractors were gunning for him to fail. Not only did he disappoint them, he took the Caisse to new heights unimaginable in 2009. And he leaves the Caisse in arguably the best shape it has ever been in. That has to feel good.


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Brookfield turns focus to Canada, plans acquisitions in major cities
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By RACHELLE YOUNGLAI
  
  

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Monday, November 11, 2019 – Page B1

Brookfield Property Partners LP is putting renewed focus on its roots in Canada after spending years building a huge portfolio of foreign real estate holdings, saying it is now seeking investments in Canadian hotels, apartments, offices and large-scale development projects.

The Toronto-based company has appointed Ashley Lawrence to lead that effort, which will see Brookfield join a crowded field of deep-pocketed investors all chasing similar assets in the country's booming regions of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.

"My mandate was to grow and to expand, especially in sectors that we are not in," said Mr. Lawrence, a 43-year-old Canadian who returned to Toronto in June, 2018, to fill a new position as regional head of Canada after managing Brookfield's retail property division in New York for two years. "We have certain things we are looking for. Not every deal has them. In order to find them, you have to evaluate a lot of deals in the market," he said.

Brookfield has about US$194billion in assets under management around the world. Its Canadian assets total US$9-billion - 4.6 per cent of its portfolio - consisting mostly of two dozen offices in Ottawa, Calgary and Toronto.

They include First Canadian Place, a 72-storey tower in Toronto's financial district and the tallest office building in the country. Mr. Lawrence wants to add to that, and the company is currently constructing a third tower to its Bay-Adelaide office complex in downtown Toronto.

In comparison, Brookfield has US$137-billion in assets under management in the United States, US$31-billion in Europe and the Middle East, US$14-billion in the Asia-Pacific region and US$3-billion in Brazil, according to its most recent investor presentation. That includes a significant collection of malls and rental apartments throughout the U.S., part of the Canary Wharf business hub in London and a sizable office and residential development in Dubai.

"As we have grown globally, we have gone into a lot of sectors that we are not in in Canada," Mr. Lawrence said.

Brookfield had always planned to increase its Canadian footprint, according to the company, but did not find the right openings. Since he has taken the new job, Mr. Lawrence has doubled the size of the Canadian investment team to cover more ground and find exclusive deals. "In order to do that you have to spend a lot of time out in the market, talking to people, making relationships," he said. "It takes time and effort."

But as Brookfield seeks to move into other property types, especially in rental housing, it will be competing with pension funds, real estate investment trusts, as well as local and global developers for a piece of the action. A flurry of multiresidential development is taking place in Toronto and Vancouver and their nearby suburbs, owing to a housing shortage and soaring home prices. However, Mr. Lawrence believes Brookfield will make a big mark in the country's urban centres.

"It takes a long time to get these developments out. These are not coming in the next 24 months. This is 10 [to] 15-year horizons," he said. "We are relatively patient in terms of finding the right opportunity."

With corporate headquarters moving to downtown Toronto along with the growth of tech companies, the city's commercial property market has been on fire for nearly a decade.

That has driven up land prices and spurred interest in large patches of land such as Bombardier's airport property, which was sold to a Canadian pension fund in 2018 for just over $800-million.

Recently, Brookfield was a contender for East Harbour, 38 acres of mostly vacant land east of Toronto's financial core, according to a source, who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But it lost to Cadillac Fairview, which plans to build 10 million square feet of office space.

Mr. Lawrence would not comment directly on Brookfield's interest in East Harbour but said: "Any large parcel of land that comes up, we would be interested. We are a long-term believer in the city of Toronto and its growth."

Mr. Lawrence said there there isn't a specific amount of capital dedicated to Canadian acquisitions. But given Canada's smaller commercial property market, he said Brookfield is willing to do deals in the US$30-million to US$40-million range. On the flip side, Mr. Lawrence suggested there are no limits.

Brookfield Property can use its own capital, as well as financing from parent company Brookfield Asset Management's third global real estate fund, which raised US$15-billion earlier this year. "We like to put out larger amounts of capital," he said. "That being said, we do like building businesses where the initial amount of capital may not be as sizable. But over time, as you build out that business, as you add assets, they get to that scale that makes sense to us or strategically."


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Raptors president urges investment in sport to boost African economies
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By GEOFFREY YORK
  
  

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019 – Page B1

JOHANNESBURG -- Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has some blunt messages for African leaders: build more arenas, stop shuffling their agriculture ministers into the sports minister's job and fight harder against corruption.

If they take those steps, he says, Africa could experience a sports boom that would galvanize its economies. A new African basketball league, scheduled to begin in March with the NBA's support, is just the latest in a renaissance that he envisions as someday including new soccer leagues, too.

"Sports is the next big thing in Africa, and I think investors here need to pay close attention to sports," Mr. Ujiri told an African investment conference in Johannesburg in Monday.

"The talent is like gold and diamonds on the continent," said Mr. Ujiri, who grew up in Nigeria and returns to Africa every summer to train young basketball players.

"We need to invest in sports. This should be the biggest ecosystem, creating jobs and helping our youth."

Mr. Ujiri brought the NBA championship Larry O'Brien Trophy onto the stage at the Africa Investment Forum for hundreds of business leaders to admire - and urged them to invest in the new 12-team Basketball Africa League, whose teams are now being chosen in qualifying tournaments.

The league will be "spectacular," he said.

"With all the talent we have on this continent, we should have everything they have in the NBA and [English soccer's] Premiership," the Raptors president said.

He is aiming for 10 new basketball arenas to be built across Africa over the next year. A new 10,000-seat arena in Rwanda and a 15,000-seat arena in Senegal were both completed within the past year.

But for this expansion to work, African politicians must take sports seriously, he said.

"I challenge the presidents to build arenas, support sports and please: no cabinet reshuffles where you take the agriculture minister and put him in sports when he doesn't know anything about sports," Mr. Ujiri said, provoking laughter from the audience.

"If you bring in somebody who doesn't know anything about sports, it's hurting the youth of Africa. Bring in a sports expert to be the sports minister. Please, please, I'm begging all the presidents, please put experts in sports."

In an interview later, he also insisted that Africans need to stop "dancing around" the subject of official corruption.

"We have to call it out, exactly how it is, and the good people have to come to the front," he said.

"We have to face it fair and square. If not, those few people will continue to dominate us, and we don't want that."

In a 2016 documentary film about his Giants of Africa training camps for young basketball players, Mr. Ujiri is shown in a profanity-laced outburst about "ego and bribery" in Nigeria. He was angered by local officials who had locked the doors and refused to allow his young players into a gym that had already been rented for them.

"Change this country," he tells the young Nigerian players in the documentary. "You have to grow up and be better. Make a difference in this country. You have to be honest, and you have to do good to people."

It's a message that he believes he can bring to young Africans through his long-running Giants of Africa program, which ran training camps in six African countries last summer - including Somalia and South Sudan for the first time, in defiance of armed conflicts in both countries.

"In Giants of Africa, we teach them about honesty, we teach them about respect, about respect for women, about being on time," Mr. Ujiri told The Globe and Mail.

"Otherwise, they'll see all the little bad things that happen around them and they'll develop those stupid habits."

Over the past decade, the NBA has invested heavily in Africa, with a full-time headquarters in Johannesburg, a training academy in Senegal, an NBA Africa account on Twitter, and a new YouTube channel that highlights the performances of African players in the NBA. It has won strong support from former U.S. president Barack Obama, who will have a "big part" in the new African basketball league, Mr. Ujiri said.

All of this could be a major benefit for African economies as new arenas are built, he said. "Retail, restaurants, playgrounds - there are so many different things you can put around these spaces. It creates jobs and an atmosphere.

And huge branding opportunities."

He noted that Africa has the youngest population in the world, with a median age of barely 19. Its youthfulness can create a greater potential market for sports than other regions of the world might have, he said.

"I want to have Raptors fans here, I want to build a fan base here for our club, but for the future here you want to build a fan base for [African] club sides too. There is a young population and a love for sports."


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Dear Western Canada, the rest of the country knows economic pain
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By DAVID PARKINSON
  
  

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Saturday, November 9, 2019 – Page B1

B rad Wall thinks people in the rest of Canada are having a hard time understanding the anger building in the Prairies. He wants to explain it in terms that they can understand.

"Some of our fellow citizens seem surprised and even critical of Westerners who are expressing frustration," the former Saskatchewan premier said on Twitter. "Imagine if an industry key to central Canada lost 100,000 jobs with more under threat - and federal policies actually made it worse."

I guess Mr. Wall - along with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and other outspoken Prairie leaders - were too busy feeling indignant to notice.

It already happened.

In 2006, Ontario had more than one million manufacturing jobs. By the middle of 2009, it had about 750,000. Those jobs never came back; employment in the sector has hovered around that level ever since. One-quarter of the province's long-standing economic lifeblood looks to be permanently gone.

And, yes, one could argue that government policy consciously allowed it to leave. The North American free-trade agreement, and the country's embracing of global trade liberalization generally, opened the door to the migration of manufacturing jobs away from relatively high-cost Canada to lower-cost markets such as Mexico and China. The hardships of the Great Recession cemented that migration.

Whether you support the benefits of free trade, it has been an undeniable consequence.

This happened at a time when Alberta, because of sustained strong oil prices, escaped the recession with barely a scratch and flat-out boomed thereafter. Its economy grew by more than 30 per cent from 2009 to 2014, its employment by 13 per cent, its per capita provincial government-program spending by more than 20 per cent.

And that's not the only tale of a region's main industry being gutted - sometimes abetted, if not outright triggered, by government policy - while the country's Western oil and gas regions basked in prosperity.

In 1992, Ottawa imposed a moratorium on cod fishing off the Atlantic coast, citing the near-extinction of several species owing to overfishing. That ban, which continues to this day, effectively permanently shut down Newfoundland and Labrador's cod fishery, the mainstay of the provincial economy for nearly 500 years. Overnight, the moratorium wiped out more than 35,000 jobs - roughly 15 per cent of the province's labour force - most of them in hundreds of small fishing communities where there was essentially no other industry.

In the six years after the imposition of the cod moratorium, the Newfoundland and Labrador economy grew by a total of 2.8 per cent; it was in recession in two of those years. In the same period, Alberta's booming economy grew nearly 30 per cent; it added 200,000 jobs.

In 1995, British Columbia (that other part of Western Canada that Alberta and Saskatchewan seem to have forgotten about in all their alienation talk) had more than 100,000 people directly employed by its forest-products industry, the historic bedrock of the provincial economy.

Two decades later, employment had shrunk to half that. Towns all over the tree-rich province, from Port Alberni to Chetwynd, endured the devastation of mill closings. This long, painful downturn came during the same 20 years that employment in Alberta's oil-and-gas-extraction industry more than doubled, to 110,000.

Perhaps the people in all these other parts of Canada don't understand the hostility that some of the loudest voices coming from the Prairies are directing at the rest of the country - the angry accusations of ungratefulness, greed and betrayal. Maybe they are perplexed by the paranoia that has some Albertans accusing the federal government of actively seeking to destroy Canada's richest province and the Prime Minister of harbouring a hatred inherited from his father that has put "Ruin Alberta" at the top of his secret to-do list. Maybe they can't comprehend how so many people can talk openly about dismantling 152 years of common nationhood over a pipeline.

Those things you can try to explain. I'm really struggling with them, and I was raised in Alberta during Pierre Trudeau's despised National Energy Program.

But don't tell the rest of Canada that it doesn't understand the pain of seeing an industry that was its economic bedrock crumble beneath it. Don't try to explain to people in places such as Oshawa, Ont., where the auto assembly plant is closing, or Shawinigan, Que., where the paper mill was shuttered, or Bonavista, N.L., where the cod disappeared and took a quarter of the town with it, what it's like to have your livelihood threatened by the unstoppable march of change. They know.

You didn't invent hardship.

Your preaching is a slap in the face to all your fellow Canadians who suffered while you thrived.

It's that slap that they're really having trouble understanding.


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Goldcorp mines weigh on Newmont output as it cuts forecast
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By NIALL MCGEE
  
  

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019 – Page B1

A little more than six months after buying Goldcorp Inc., Newmont Goldcorp Corp. is struggling to make the acquisition work.

On Tuesday, Denver-based Newmont missed analyst estimates for the third quarter and cut its production forecast for the year, as the world's biggest gold company contends with operational problems at mines formerly owned by Vancouverbased Goldcorp.

During the quarter ended Sept. 30, Newmont dealt with the aftermath of a serious fire at its Musselwhite mine in Northern Ontario, and a blockade at its Penasquito mine in Mexico. Grades at Éléonore, a mine in Quebec, also disappointed in the quarter. Goldcorp's Penasquito gold-silver mine has been the site of multiple blockades this year. Most recently, trucking contractors blocked the site from mid-September to late October after a dispute with the company. The action during the third quarter led to a production shortfall at the mine of 11,000 ounces of gold and 1.7 million ounces of silver.

Newmont reported adjusted share earnings of 36 US cents for the third quarter, 3 US cents lower than analysts expected.

Cash flow per share was US$1.03 compared with US$1.19 that analysts expected. The miner also cut its production forecast for the year to 6.3 million ounces of gold versus 6.5 million ounces previously.

John Tumazos, independent analyst with Very Independent Research, said in an interview that despite early bumps with the acquisition, there are signs it could pay off over the longer term.

"The setbacks at Musselwhite and Penasquito are not permanent. They're just embarrassing," he said. "The cost savings appear to be permanent."

In a statement on Tuesday, Newmont ratcheted up the cost savings it expects to wring from buying Goldcorp to US$240million a year from a previous target of US$145-million.

The company expects to save US$100-million alone in general and administrative expenses, such as staff and head-office costs.

Newmont bought Goldcorp earlier in the year in an all-stock deal worth US$10-billion. At the time the agreement was announced in January, Goldcorp was trading near a historic low after years of mismanagement and a slew of technical problems at mines.

Even before the acquisition closed, new problems started to creep up at some of the Goldcorp mines. In April, a fire broke out at its Musselwhite mine. Nobody was hurt in the incident, but the mine's conveyor system was destroyed. Newmont said on Tuesday that it will take until October of next year before the mine is operational.

Shares in Newmont fell 3.5 per cent on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange to close at US$37.55 apiece.

Greg Barnes, analyst with TD Securities Inc., was somewhat mystified by the negative stock reaction. "[The earnings] looked ok to me and Q4 is looking very good," he wrote in an e-mail. "I think investors are still nervous about the guidance update coming in early December."

One mine that may not feature in Newmont's 2020 guidance is Red Lake, yet another legacy Goldcorp asset.

Newmont's chief executive, Tom Palmer, said in a conference call with analysts on Tuesday that a process to sell the mine is going well, and he indicated that a deal could be announced soon.

At one point, Red Lake mine, smack in the middle of the town of Red Lake, Ont., was the bedrock of Goldcorp's portfolio. The mine, which originally started production in 1948, was known for its extremely high grades. But in recent years as its reserves have been depleted, its expenses have climbed and it is now among the highest-cost properties in Newmont's portfolio.

NEWMONT GOLDCORP (NEM) CLOSE: US$37.55, DOWN US$1.31

Associated Graphic

Newmont Goldcorp's Penasquito gold-silver mine, seen in 2012, has been the site of multiple blockades this year, including a protest from mid-September to late October over a labour dispute between trucking contractors and the miner.

JEAN LUIS ARCE/REUTERS


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