At the end of December 2015, Resolute Forest Products Inc. filed a notice of arbitration under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) looking for damages of $70 million after it closed its Laurentide mill in Shawinigan, Quebec in October 2014. That closure, Resolute claims, was the result of rising operating costs and falling demand, but also of competition from the paper mill in Port Hawkesbury. That mill was idled for a year but purchased for $33 million and reopened in 2012 by new owner, Pacific West, backed by a promise of $124.5 million in assistance over the following 10 years from the Nova Scotia government. Under NAFTA rules, the federal government is responsible for the actions of provincial governments, and it has said that it will vigorously defend Nova Scotia’s actions in this case.
Waiting for a streetcar has recently taken on new meaning in Toronto. Late in October 2015, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) board voted to sue Bombardier of Montreal over the 204 new streetcars it ordered for $1 billion back in 2009. No amount was specified in the unanimous vote. About 60 cars were scheduled to be in operation by late 2015, but only 10 had been delivered by the end of October. Earlier in the fall, Bombardier had also reneged on its projection of 23 more cars by the end of 2015. The company cited a variety of issues affecting production of the cars in Thunder Bay, ON – including a strike, problems with parts manufactured in Mexico, changes in staff and the production line, and the complexities of the units. The TTC board indicated that it would ask the Bombardier CEO to appear before it to explain the non-delivery, and it directed TTC management to consult with other companies that could possibly take over production from Bombardier.
Being ninth isn’t always a cause for celebration, but it is when you used to be 10th. In 2015, Canada moved from #10 to #9 among 168 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), improving its score from 81 to 83 on a scale from highly corrupt (0) to very clean (100). In 2014, Luxembourg was #9, Canada #10, and Australia #11. In 2015, Canada was ahead of Germany (#10) and Luxembourg (#11), with Australia at #13. Denmark was #1 for the second year in a row in 2015, followed by Finland and Sweden. Despite several high-profile corruption investigations and cases underway in Canada last year (e.g., SNC-Lavalin, Senator Mike Duffy, Ontario Provincial Police Association, etc.), Canada was perceived as having taken meaningful steps to address corruption, such as the federal debarment regime. The CPI, now in its 21st year, is compiled from a dozen surveys that gather input from experts and business personnel.
Originally Published in The Legal Edge on February 17, 2016
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