TPP trade deal 'doomed'

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney says the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is doomed to fail because of hostility in the U.S. Congress and widespread antipathy to trade initiatives in general.

Mulroney made the prediction Wednesday when he was asked about Hillary Clinton's opposition to the 12-nation accord, which the Democratic presidential nominee says benefits drug companies and does not address currency manipulation.

"The TPP is not going to fly anyway," Mulroney said after taking part in a ceremony to formally announce plans for the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at his alma mater, St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.

"It has nothing to do with Canada. It appears to be on pretty shaky ground in the American Congress."

Mulroney said the deal won't survive mainly because of "hostility" among U.S. lawmakers.

"That's why I've been urging the government of Canada to negotiate bilateral agreements with China, India and so on," he said. "Canada's fine, but we have to get out there and hustle and do some more of these bilateral trade agreements."

In the late 1980s, Mulroney wagered his political career on the bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the United States, which evolved into the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico.

The 77-year-old former politician was quick to extol the virtues of NAFTA, saying it raised living standards in Mexico and reversed the exodus of Mexicans to the United States.

Toyota recals 5.8M vehicles

Toyota is recalling about 5.8 million vehicles in Japan, Europe, China and other countries to replace potentially deadly Takata air bag inflators.

The company says it knows of one person injured in a crash involving one of the vehicles, but a spokesman didn't know where the crash happened. Toyota says it hasn't determined if the injury was caused by a ruptured inflator.

The vehicles have inflators that can rupture and spew shrapnel. U.S. vehicles with the same inflators are already under recall.

Toyota says the recall brings to 23.1 million the total number of vehicles it has recalled worldwide to fix inflators.

Authorities say as many as 16 deaths worldwide have been linked to Takata. Seventeen automakers are recalling about 69 million inflators in the U.S. and 100 million worldwide.

The latest recall covers four models with faulty driver air bag inflators: The Hilux pickup, and the Corolla, Etios and Yaris cars.

Models with defective passenger inflators include the Corolla, Corolla RunX, Corolla Axio, Corolla Fielder, Corolla EX, Belta, Ipsum/Picnic, Auris/Blade, Alphard/Vellfire, Vios, Noah/Voxy, Corolla Rumion, Etios, Probox/Succeed, Gaia, Brevis, Mark 2 and the Vitz/Yaris.

Takata has hired the advisory firm Lazard to engineer a restructuring of its finances, likely with the help of some of its biggest customers. An air bag analyst has estimated the cost of making and distributing replacement inflators could cost more than $20 billion.

Honda, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler are among the biggest customers for Takata inflators. Many automakers have said they will stop using Takata air bag inflators in models under development, and they will be billing Takata for the recall costs.

Analysts expect Takata to go through a bankruptcy restructuring to shed some recall costs, with investors taking control of the company and changing its management.

Oil outlook downgraded

The National Energy Board has downgraded its long-term outlook for oil prices and Canadian production in the face of lower global industry costs and stricter environmental regulations.

In an update released Wednesday, the regulator projects inflation-adjusted oil prices rising to US$68 a barrel by 2020 and US$90 by 2040, $12 and $17 a barrel lower, respectively, than in its January report.

"A lot of it is the ability of oil production to be sustained at lower prices," said Shelley Milutinovic, chief economist at the NEB.

"There's an expectation that somewhere between 40 and 60 dollars a barrel, you can get a lot of oil production around the world," she said.

The lower prices are expected to translate to lower long-term production for Canada, where costs are comparatively high.

The NEB projects oil production to increase from four million barrels a day in 2015 to 5.7 million barrels a day by 2040, which is 391,000 barrels a day less than what it estimated in its January report.

The lower oil prices would only have a modest effect on increased oilsands production in the near-term, as projects are already under construction, but recently cancelled and deferred projects start to hit production numbers by 2019.

Increasing prices in the longer-term would bring a return to steam-extraction oilsands growth, while mining-based oilsands production remains flat from 2020 onward as the high cost of the large-scale projects make them less economic.

Rapidly changing climate policy is also creating increased uncertainty for oil and gas, but so far it's playing out more in changing projections in the electricity sector.

The NEB sees non-hydro renewable energy making up 12 per cent of electricity generation by 2040, up from eight per cent in the January report, while coal drops from seven to one per cent of generation, as Alberta's and Ontario's climate plans take full force.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also committed to imposing a national carbon price on provinces that don't initiate their own programs, but Milutinovic said the policy was announced too late to be incorporated into the report.

"Things are changing very very quickly, particularly with respect to climate policy," said Milutinovic. "It's a very fast-moving target."

CMHC raises risk rating

There is growing evidence of risk in the country's real estate markets as home prices have climbed faster than income and population growth, a report by Canada's federal housing agency says.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. increased its risk rating for the national housing market on Wednesday to strong, from a moderate rating that it gave in July.

"We now see strong evidence of problematic conditions overall nationally," CMHC's chief economist Bob Dugan said in a news release.

"This is fuelled by overvaluation — meaning house prices remain higher than the level of personal disposable income, population growth and other fundamentals would support. This overvaluation coupled with evidence of overbuilding in some centres means that growth in house prices will slow and housing starts are expected to moderate in 2017 and 2018."

The agency also said it now sees moderate evidence of price acceleration. That occurs when home prices go up at a faster pace and is a possible sign of speculation.

Back in July, evidence of price acceleration was weak, the agency said.

CMHC is also predicting that home sales and the pace of new housing starts will decline next year before stabilizing in 2018.

CMHC CEO Evan Siddall said earlier this month that the housing agency would raise its risk rating to strong for the first time ever.

CMHC said there is strong evidence of problematic conditions in Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Toronto and Hamilton.

Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Quebec City show moderate evidence of such conditions, the agency said.

The housing market assessment is intended to be an early warning system to alert Canadians about problematic conditions developing in the country's real estate markets. It covers 15 regional markets and the national housing market as a whole.

CIBC to compensate clients

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX:CM) has reached an agreement with the Ontario Securities Commission to compensate customers for collecting excess fees for certain mutual funds and investment services over 14 years.

Details of the compensation plan and the amount of money improperly collected was not disclosed and requires approval by the provincial regulator.

A hearing on a proposed settlement is scheduled for Friday.

According to an OSC statement, short-comings in systems and controls at CIBC World Markets Inc., CIBC Investor Services Inc. and CIBC Securities Inc. resulted in some customers being overcharged from as early as Jan. 1, 2002 until as recently as Jan. 31, 2016.

The OSC says its staff have found no evidence of dishonest conduct by CIBC, which self-reported the problem.

It also says CIBC is taking corrective action to prevent a re-occurrence and has a plan to compensate clients and former clients.

412,000 SUVs recalled

Ford is recalling nearly 412,000 older SUVs worldwide, including about 69,500 in Canada, to fix fuel leaks that could cause fires.

The recall covers certain 2010 to 2012 Ford Escapes and 2010 to 2011 Mercury Mariners with 3-litre flex-fuel V6 engines.

Ford says a fuel supply part can develop a crack and leak gasoline that could catch fire. A company statement says it's not aware of any accidents, fires or injuries caused by the problem.

Most of the recalled SUVs are in North America, including 329,000 in the United States and nearly 7,500 in Mexico .

Dealers will replace the fuel delivery module flange assembly at no cost to owners. Ford says customers will be notified by the week of Dec. 12.

Ford says owners who smell gasoline or suspect problems should contact their dealer.

In addition to the SUV recall, Ford announced the recall of about 8,000 Ford Shelby GT350/R Mustang vehicles to replace the engine oil cooler tube assembly. Of those, 957 are in Canada.

It's also recalling 800 2017 Ford Super Duty 6.7-liter diesel Chassis Cab vehicles to replace a protective shield that can be dislodged by road debris or water spray. Only 12 of those are in Canada.

TV violence paying off

It's hard to miss the message from the season premiere of "The Walking Dead": blood pays off.

The gory episode of the popular AMC drama was seen by just over 17 million viewers on Sunday night, the Nielsen company said. That left it short of the 2014 season premiere of 17.3 million for most-watched episode of the series ever, but AMC believes that when additional digital and delayed viewing is added in, this season's opener will be the all-time champ.

When last season's opener drew 14.6 million people, there were whispers that "The Walking Dead" was fading in appeal. But a good, old-fashioned cliffhanger — who did Negan kill? — paid off handsomely in interest.

Among the 18-to-49-year-old audience that advertisers love, "The Walking Dead" reached 10.7 million people. Prior to Sunday night, the season's most-watched scripted show among that youthful demographic was the 6.5 million who saw the season premiere of "The Big Bang Theory."

Even for a zombie apocalypse program not known for its gentility, Sunday's episode stood out for blood 'n' guts. Avert your eyes, those who haven't seen it and don't want their anticipation spoiled: Negan bludgeons Abraham and Glenn with a spiked baseball bat.

Come to think of it, you might want to avert your eyes anyway.

The episode "was one of the most graphically violent shows we've seen on television, comparable to the most violent of programs found on premium cable networks," said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council.

AMC's postgame show, "Talking Dead," had its biggest-ever audience among people wanting to dissect the opener.

$15B settlement approved

A federal judge in San Francisco has approved a nearly $15 billion court settlement of most claims against Volkswagen for its emissions-cheating scandal.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer signed the order Tuesday approving the largest auto-scandal settlement in the nation's history.

Volkswagen admitted last year that about 475,000 VWs and Audis with 2-litre four-cylinder diesel engines were programmed to cheat on emissions tests. Under the settlement, owners of the affected cars have until Sept. 1, 2018, to decide whether to have the car fixed or repurchased. Volkswagen could start buying back the cars as early as next month if the owner submits a claim.

Most of the owners are expected to sell their cars back to VW after discovering they exceed U.S. emissions standards in real-world driving conditions. In addition to having their cars bought back, owners can each get cash payments of $5,100 to $10,000.

"The settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate," Breyer wrote in his order, posted Tuesday morning by the court.

VW will pay attorney fees and costs, including up to $324 million in fees and $8.5 million in out-of-pocket costs.

The settlement releases legal claims from most of the 2-litre VW owners, but it doesn't affect larger 3-litre six-cylinder diesels, which also cheated on tests. The settlement also doesn't end any claims against parts supplier Robert Bosch, which drew up the cheating software.

Judge Breyer gave preliminary approval to the settlement in July. The order says that 336,612 owners of 2-litre diesels have registered for the settlement and 3,298 have opted out.

VW must make payments available within 10 business days from Tuesday, according to the order.

Breyer wrote that the priority was to get the cars off the road as soon as possible, and the settlement accomplishes that. The polluting cars emitted as much as 40 times the allowable limit for nitrogen oxide, a gas that can cause human respiratory problems.

Shoppers applies for license

Shoppers Drug Mart says it has submitted an application to be a distributor of medical marijuana.

A spokeswoman says in an email that the drug store chain has applied to Health Canada to become a licensed medical marijuana producer — but only for the purpose of distributing the drug.

Tammy Smitham says Shoppers has "no intention" of producing cannabis. The application is an administrative requirement to be able to distribute the drug.

However, even if Shoppers' application is granted, the retailer won't be permitted to dispense the drug through its stores unless the government updates the regulations.

Under the current regime, patients are only permitted to buy medical marijuana directly from licensed producers, who send it by mail.

Smitham says Shoppers is hopeful that Ottawa will consider updating the rules to allow pharmacies to play a role in distributing medical marijuana.

"We believe that allowing medical marijuana to be dispensed through pharmacy would increase access, safety, quality and security for the thousands of Canadians who use the drug as part of their medication therapy," Smitham said in an email.

GM reports record earnings

General Motors reported a record third-quarter profit that doubled results in the same period a year ago, despite falling sales and market share in the U.S.

The Detroit automaker earned $2.77 billion, or $1.76 per share, compared with $1.36 billion, or 84 cents per share a year ago.

Sales in the U.S., GM's most lucrative market, fell nearly 4 per cent through September. But GM said its strategy to cut low-profit sales to rental car companies and focus on sales to individual buyers, a strong performance in China and cost cuts led to the record.

Excluding a 4-cent benefit from an unspecified ignition-switch recall recovery, GM earned $1.72 per share. That soundly beat Wall Street estimates of $1.46 per share. Revenue hit a record $42.8 billion.

Stock market reaction was underwhelming. Shares of GM rose just under 1 per cent to $32.98 in premarket trading Tuesday. They've ranged from $26.69 to $36.88 during the past year but recently have been below the company's $33 initial public offering price in 2010.

U.S. auto sales have started to slow after hitting a record 17.5 million last year, but GM seems to be unaffected.

The company said it expects the strong performance to continue through the fourth quarter, and it put a little more swagger on its full-year guidance. GM now expects pretax earnings to be at the high end of previous guidance of $5.50 to $6 per share.

BlackBerry's new phone

BlackBerry released on Tuesday its second smartphone designed and built externally, the latest development in the company's push away from manufacturing handsets as it focuses more on its security software.

The DTEK60, designed and manufactured by TCL Corp., is an Android-powered device that runs BlackBerry-developed software. Its launch comes three months after the release of its predecessor, the DTEK50, which was the result of BlackBerry's first such partnership with the Chinese firm.

"We want to provide choice to the market," said Alex Thurber, BlackBerry's senior vice-president for global device sales.

The newer phone, which sells for C$650, builds on the less-expensive DTEK50. It boasts a bigger screen, longer battery life and a camera with greater resolution. Like the DTEK50, it has no physical keyboard.

Thurber wouldn't disclose how many DTEK60s BlackBerry is aiming to sell, but said CEO John Chen has been very clear with him "as to how much I need to sell this."

As for the DTEK50, Thurber declined to release how many have been sold since its release in July.

"I'm very happy with how it's selling," he said.

Pitchman's ex sues Subway

The ex-wife of former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle is suing the restaurant chain for damages, saying the company received three reports indicating his sexual interest in children but failed to take proper action and continued promoting him as their spokesman.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Hamilton County Superior Court on behalf of Katie McLaughlin says Subway sent a public relations employee to ask Fogle about the allegations in two of the reports. The lawsuit says Subway has admitted the complaint in the third report was "not properly escalated or acted upon."

The lawsuit alleges Subway allowed Fogle to spend significant time in elementary schools promoting Subway after the allegations.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

A spokeswoman said Subway did not have an immediate response but would provide comment.

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