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Bombardier delays jet

Bombardier said it will delay the debut of a new business jet it had touted as an example of its forward-thinking as it announced plans Thursday to cut costs amid a drop in profits.

After his first full quarter at the helm, CEO Alain Bellemare said he has a stronger grasp of what the company needs to do to turn around and it is looking to reduce the cost of making its planes and trains.

"After five months on the job, I have a better understanding of our challenges and opportunities," said Bellemare, who took over in February, on a conference call with investors.

"We are taking specific action, including the launch of our Bombardier transformation plan, a disciplined approach to cash management and the strengthening of our leadership team to reshape the company and ensure our long-term success."

The company said the debut of its new Global 7000 business jet will be delayed until 2018, two years after its original schedule of 2016.

Bellemare said a review of the project was nearly complete and that the first test-flight plane is currently being assembled in Toronto.

Bombardier reported a second-quarter profit of US$125 million, down from $155 million a year ago, as a stronger U.S. dollar hurt revenue.

Chief financial officer Pierre Alary said falling demand for its business jets from China and Russia helped drag down its profits, but the company expects demand to rebound in the second half of the year.

In May, the company said it would cut about 1,750 employees in Montreal, Toronto and Ireland, citing the same weak demand for its business jets.

Bombardier is looking for new options for its rail business as it prepares an initial public offering for a minority stake in the division.

Bellemare said the company is open to an alternative but it is not considering selling the entire rail unit.

Net orders for its business airplanes fell to eight during the second quarter from 30 a year earlier, the company said, while orders for its commercial aircraft fell to three from 18 last year.

The plane and train maker, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said its profit amounted to six cents per share for the quarter ended June 30. That compared with a profit of eight cents per share a year ago.

Revenue totalled $4.6 billion for the quarter, compared with $4.9 billion in the same quarter last year. However, excluding the impact of foreign exchange, revenue was up two per cent.

On an adjusted basis, Bombardier said it earned $145 million or six cents per share, down from $192 million or 10 cents per share a year ago.

Bombardier has been under pressure in recent months as it has struggled to develop its new C Series commercial aircraft.

The company said Thursday that C Series flight testing is progressing rapidly, with more than 2,000 hours completed and performance exceeding targets.

The aircraft is on track to enter into service in the first half of 2016, Bombardier said.

The Canadian Press

Cenovus to cut jobs

Cenovus Energy Inc. says it's looking to cut between 300 to 400 jobs in the second half of this year, and is chopping its quarterly dividend by 40 per cent.

The energy company says it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 16 cents per share, down from its earlier rate of 26.62 cents.

Cenovus also ended the three per cent discount shareholders received if they participated in the company's dividend reinvestment plan.

The company has been slashing costs as it deals with the drop in oil pries. Cenovus said it expects to reduce expenses by about $280 million this year compared with its earlier target of $200 million.

The cuts come as Cenovus reported a second-quarter profit of $126 million or 15 cents per share, down from $615 million or 81 cents per share a year ago.

Revenue, net of royalties, fell to $3.73 billion, down from $5.42 billion.

The Canadian Press

Death doesn't come cheap

As if losing a loved one wasn't hard enough.

The final tab for the funeral can come as yet another shock, especially if the death is unexpected.

Often, there's too little time — not to mention emotional energy — to negotiate, research or shop around.

"I think often what throws families is being bombarded with so many decisions to make. You're grieving. You're very upset," said Sara Marsden, who, along with her husband, runs DFS Memorials Network.

DFS Memorials aims to connect the recently bereaved with family-run, low-cost funeral and cremation providers in the U.S. and Canada. The guidance is free, while businesses pay to become members and advertise on the site.

Marsden, who could be described as a funeral consultant of sorts, also offers advice over the phone and makes inquiries on behalf of people too overwhelmed to make arrangements.

Many mourners will pay more than they need to out of guilt, as though opting for the cheaper casket somehow means they loved grandpa less, she said.

During a meeting at the funeral home, it's also tough to say no to add-ons like memorial books and DVD tributes.

"I think it's always really good advice, if possible, to take somebody along to any kind of meeting with a funeral home who's maybe not as emotionally tied to the situation," she said.

There are options to prepay or at least preplan for a funeral, so that relatives aren't on the hook for thousands in funeral expenses when the time comes. But for many, talking frankly about death is still seen as a "taboo," said Marsden.

Diann Rowat, with Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services, said the toughest cases are when there's a sudden death and the family has no idea what the departed would have wanted.

Alternatives, which has locations across Western Canada, works differently than traditional funeral homes.

In order to make the process less intimidating, funeral directors go to clients' homes, where caskets or urns are picked from a catalogue. Alternatives doesn't have its own chapels, but instead organizes services in venues like churches and community halls. Rowat and her team often work with local florists and caterers familiar to the family.

"If you give a family good choices, they'll make good decisions and at the end of the day that family will return to you the next time they have a death," said Rowat, who was a nurse before getting into the funeral business.

Cremation is a more economical option than a burial — four figures versus five figures, generally speaking.

At Alternatives, customers aren't obliged to buy an urn if they opt for cremation.

"I've placed ashes in everything from antique cigar boxes to fishing tackle boxes to cowboy boots to grandma's cookie jar," said Rowat.

The cost of burials can range widely. Plots can run into the thousands, and some cemeteries require caskets be placed in cement liners rather than directly into the earth, further adding to the pricetag. The caskets themselves can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands. And then there are the grave markers.

Rowat said it's important to follow your instincts and not give in to pressure during a vulnerable time.

"If you enter into a facility and you are not comfortable, you don't have to stay. You have every right to be able to say, 'You know what? We as a family need to go home and talk about this a little bit more.'"

The Canadian Press


Pacific trade deal blasted

About 400 protesters blew conch shells on a Hawaii beach to demonstrate against a trade agreement being negotiated by ministers from 12 Pacific Rim nations.

The demonstrators blew into their shells in unison on Wednesday on the sand in front of the Westin Maui resort on Kaanapali Beach, where ministers were meeting this week to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

Protest organizers say the trade agreement would benefit a few major corporations while sacrificing protections for public health, the environment, local jobs and indigenous rights.

"It's pilau, pilau, pilau," said veteran Hawaii activist Walter Ritte, using the Hawaiian word for rotten.

A former agriculture minister from Japan, Masahiko Yamada, shared how he had been fighting the agreement back home for the past five years. He led the crowd in chants of "Stop TPP" and "gambaro" or "Let's do it" in Japanese.

The agreement would lower tariffs and other trade barriers while setting labour and environmental standards for its participants. The Obama administration said the pact would boost U.S. economic growth and help keep high-quality jobs in the country by increasing exports.

The protesters blew conch shells because to Native Hawaiians have used the shell's sound to let people know something important was to occur, said event organizer Trinette Furtado.

"Today is a call to attention, to join together against this attempt to put profits over people," Furtado said in a statement.

Organizers believe they set a new world record for the number of people blowing conch shells at one time. They documented the event to submit to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Marti Townsend, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, said the state has some of the strongest environmental laws in the world, but they would be "gutted" if the agreement is adopted.

"We are calling on elected leaders around the world, all 12 countries, to recognize that the public interest in this situation is higher than the corporate interest," Townsend said.

The 12 nations negotiating the pact are: the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The Canadian Press

Suncor trims spending

Suncor Energy is trimming its spending plans for this year by a further $400 million, while at the same time boosting its production targets and dividend.

The moves come as U.S. benchmark crude prices continue to languish below US$50 a barrel, dashing hopes in the oilpatch of a quick recovery. A year ago, crude was worth more than twice as much.

The Calgary-based oilsands giant said late Wednesday its capital spending this year will be between $5.8 billion and $6.4 billion, as it re-evaluates "non-essential" projects as part of overall cost-cutting initiatives.

It's the second time in 2015 that Suncor has slashed its budget. In January it announced it would reduce its budget by $1 billion to between $6.2 billion and $6.8 billion.

As of April, 1,200 jobs have been cut at Suncor.

Meanwhile, Suncor hiked its production outlook by 10,000 barrels a day to a range of between 550,000 barrels and 595,000 barrels a day.

CEO Steve Williams said Suncor's cash flow is strong enough to fund its capital requirements, while boosting its dividend by a penny to 29 cents a share and renewing is share buyback program.

Cash flow from operations was more than $2.1 billion during the quarter, down from $2.4 billion in the prior-year quarter.

Net earnings during the second quarter were $729 million, compared to $211 million a year earlier, when Suncor booked impairment charges.

Operating earnings, which strip out the effects of unusual items, were $906 million for the quarter, versus $1.14 billion during the same 2014 period.

The operating earnings amounted to 63 cents per share, compared to 77 cents.

Suncor also noted cost reductions in the oilsands. Cash operating costs decreased during the second quarter to $28 a barrel from $34.10 a year earlier.

It said its $13.5-billion Fort Hills oilsands project remains on track to start producing oil in late 2017.

The Canadian Press

Auto buyback not in Canada

A U.S. order requiring Fiat Chrysler to buy back thousands of Dodge Ram pickups and Chrysler SUVs does not apply to Canada, a discrepancy that highlights a weakness in consumer protection here, national advocacy groups say.

The US$105 million fine and buyback program for up to a third of 579,000 vehicles was imposed on Fiat Chrysler by the U.S. government on Monday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration punished the company after an investigation into nearly two dozen recalls found it botched its response by not doing enough to notify customers and get the affected vehicles off the road and repaired.

Ken Whitehurst, the executive director for Consumers Council of Canada, said Canadians often assume consumer protections are stronger here than in the more business-friendly U.S. in many areas, including vehicle safety, but the opposite is true.

"Transport Canada doesn't have the powers to act forcefully the way we see in the United States," he said.

"Canada depends quite a lot on companies for reciprocal action when it comes to recalls."

Whitehurst said in the past, Canadian companies have mostly played by the rules and maintained a culture of responsibility, but the multinational corporations that play an increasingly important role in the Canadian economy are indifferent.

Transport Canada, unlike its American counterpart, has limited authority to force automakers to address safety issues and impose punishments. It only received the power to compel companies to notify Canadians about safety problems with their vehicles in May.

Previously, Transport Canada could not notify Canadians of safety problems without the co-operation of automakers.

Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers' Association of Canada, said while the automotive safety laws were updated this year, the federal government needs to do far more to empower Canada's consumer protection and safety agencies.

"Successive governments have neglected consumers in this regard," he said. "As a nation, I think we're being left behind."

Transport Canada spokeswoman Linda Licari confirmed in an email that the department does not have the power to compel a buyback like the one in the U.S.

She said Transport Canada requires periodic updates from companies once a recall has been announced, but it does not have the power to set a deadline for fixing a safety issue.

She said a bill called the Safer Vehicles for Canadians Act would give the department the authority to add deadlines for recalls and fix many of the other gaps in its powers. But it was introduced in early June and was not passed before the legislative session ended.

On Wednesday, law firm Merchant Law Group filed a motion to authorize a class-action lawsuit in Montreal against Fiat Chrysler over its vehicle recalls.

The class-action seeks compensation for owners of the cars included in the recalls for which the company was punished by the U.S.

LouAnn Gosselin, a spokeswoman for Fiat Chrysler Canada, said the company had yet to be served with the lawsuit and therefore could not comment.

The Canadian Press

Trade deal in final stages

The Conservatives are anxiously hoping to sign off on a massive free-trade deal before kicking off an election campaign that's expected to start as early as Sunday.

The federal government is at the negotiating table in Hawaii, where Trans-Pacific Partnership talks are reportedly in their final stages for a deal that could have political implications during the election campaign.

With voting day set for Oct. 19, the governing Tories want to launch the campaign with the deal in hand — an agreement they could brandish as evidence of their economic stewardship.

The partnership, a pact between 12 countries including Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Japan, is poised to become the biggest trade deal in history once ratified. The government says the countries represent some 800 million people with a combined gross domestic product of roughly 40 per cent of the world's economy.

Just as a deal could be a boon to Conservative campaign fortunes, however, a delay could cause them headaches. If talks stretch past the start of the campaign, experts say they could prove politically delicate.

In particular, Canada is under pressure from other countries to lower the high tariffs that currently protect domestic producers of eggs, milk, cheese and poultry from foreign competition under a system known as supply management.

In an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg, Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted the government will defend the interests of every Canadian industry "as best we can."

Harper also said the negotiations were "well advanced" and that Canada "cannot be left out of this kind of trade arrangement."

If Trans-Pacific Partnership talks do spill into the campaign window, officially known as the writ period,thorny political issues would become that much more sensitive, said Ottawa trade consultant Adam Taylor.

"I don't think Canada will walk away from the TPP table to save its furniture and bacon on the election hustings," said Taylor, a former senior adviser to Trade Minister Ed Fast and now a director at a firm called Ensight.

"But I think the politics of it is much more in your face."

Once the campaign begins, the government will shift into caretaking mode. That would allow it to continue negotiations, but likely prevent it from binding a future government or signing a new international commitment, said a former high-ranking civil servant who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Robert Wolfe, a Queen's University professor and former government trade negotiator, said representatives from the other countries at the bargaining table are aware of Canada's election schedule.

"So, most of them are of the view that they'd better wrap stuff up this week because after that they may simply not be able to get a decision out of Canada," said Wolfe.

"During an election campaign, there is no way that a government is going to announce something that would be seen as politically harmful unless it absolutely has to."

The prospect Canada could make a concession by loosening supply management has whipped up concerns among Canada's dairy farmers, particularly in Ontario and Quebec. Earlier this week in Roberval, Que., about 300 protesters held a rally outside the riding office of Harper cabinet minister Denis Lebel.

With this kind of opposition, trade expert Laura Dawson said she thinks Harper might even prefer to see the deal signed after the election.

On top of that, she said while Canada would benefit from new market opportunities under the partnership, it offers no "real barn-burner issue" for the country.

"Because there are no really strong benefits emerging, because there are no other really contentious issues emerging — the TPP has become synonymous with supply management in Canada," said Dawson, president of Ottawa-based Dawson Strategic.

"And so (Harper) will have to sacrifice a certain percentage of his potential voting base if he comes out against supply management during the campaign."

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair urged Harper to protect supply management "in its entirety."

"We simply don't trust Mr. Harper to protect Canada's vital interests like supply management," said Mulcair, whose party holds dozens of seats in Quebec.

Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland called the deal essential for Canada, but echoed the call to protect supply management.

"Being inside will provide tremendous opportunities and open up some new markets," Freeland said. "Being outside would put us at a grave disadvantage compared to our competitors."

Observers, meanwhile, believe a deal could be very close.

"The fact that the chief negotiators called in the ministers tells me that certainly a critical mass of countries sees a landing zone," said Ailish Campbell, a vice-president of policy, international and fiscal issues for the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

The Canadian Press

Windows 10 is here

Microsoft debuted its new Windows 10 operating system Wednesday, in what the company hopes will be a pivotal moment in its bid regain its sway in a world where the PC is no longer king.

The first people to get the new software Wednesday included about 5 million "insiders," or tech enthusiasts who previously enrolled in an early preview program. Microsoft is counting on tens or even hundreds of millions more to download its latest release for free in coming months.

Others will get the software when they buy a new PC. While some new models equipped with Windows 10 are available in stores this week, more will hit the market this fall. Microsoft and major PC makers are planning a global ad campaign that will extend into the crucial holiday shopping season.

Although Windows 10 is coming to PCs and tablets first, it's also designed to run phones, game consoles and even holographic headsets. It has new features, a streamlined Web browser called Edge and a desktop version of Cortana, the online assistant that is Microsoft's answer to Google Now and Apple's Siri.

Still, the company insists Windows 10 will seem familiar to users of Windows 7, the older operating system still running on most PCs. Microsoft and PC makers want to erase the memory of the last big update, 2012's Windows 8, which alienated many with its jarring, unwieldy design.

Microsoft skipped the name Windows 9, as if to distance itself further from the last release. While many analysts believe Windows 8 made sagging PC sales even worse, it's far from certain if Windows 10 will spur the industry back to growth.

Here's a look at the launch and why it matters:


Q: What happens this week?

A: Microsoft planned to hold promotional events in several cities Wednesday, tied to a global ad campaign and a series of charitable donations. In addition to the 5 million insiders, anyone with the Home or Pro versions of Windows 7 or 8 — but not the Enterprise versions used by big companies — will be eligible to download Windows 10 for free, at any time over the next year.

It's not clear how many people will get it the first day; Microsoft says it will deliver downloads in waves, to ensure things go smoothly, but it hasn't said how long that will take. Details on how to upgrade are here: .

Retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and Wal-Mart should have some desktops and laptops with Windows 10 already installed. They'll also be able to update the software on new PCs that were shipped with the last version of Windows.


Q: Why is Microsoft giving Windows 10 for free?

A: The company wants to get the new software on as many devices as possible. Microsoft is betting that a large pool of users will help convince independent programmers that it's worth their time to build useful or entertaining apps for Windows 10 devices. Executives also believe that if people are exposed to the latest and best Windows, they're more likely to try other Microsoft products on PCs and mobile devices.

CEO Satya Nadella says he wants to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 in three years. Microsoft estimates there are 1.5 billion people who currently use some kind of Windows. Rather than charging them to upgrade, as Microsoft used to do, it's embracing the free download model pioneered by Apple and Google.


Q: How will Microsoft make money?

A: Microsoft will still collect licensing fees from PC makers that install Windows 10 on new machines. In recent years, most consumers have waited until they bought a new computer to get the latest Windows. Microsoft also makes money from selling Windows and other software to large businesses and organizations.

In addition, Microsoft is counting on Windows 10 to spur more use of other services. Microsoft makes money from selling advertising for its Bing search engine; it also collects fees from people who use premium versions of its Office software, OneDrive cloud storage and Skype.


Q: Why does this matter to consumers?

A: Microsoft says Windows 10 is designed for the way people use computers today — with a faster Web browser and features that make it easier to start tasks on a PC and then switch to a hand-held device. (Apple and Google tout similar features in their software.)

Windows 10 also lets users log in with their face, iris or thumbprint, instead of remembering passwords, though this works only with computers equipped with the right hardware.

Most PC users are still working with six-year-old Windows 7, thanks to Windows 8's unpopularity. But Microsoft plans to phase out maintenance and security support for Windows 7 over the next five years, and for Windows 8 by 2023, as it did with the older Windows XP. Still, there's no need to panic about upgrading right away.


Q: Why is it important to the tech industry?

A: The growth in mobile devices has caused PC sales to decline for more than three years, hurting manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard and companies like Microsoft and Intel, whose products are used with PCs.

Windows 10 won't make people give up their hand-held gadgets, but it's part of Nadella's strategy to reposition Microsoft for a world where people use multiple devices. At the same time, PC makers are hoping it helps boost interest in their products, since some Windows 10 features are designed to work best with the latest hardware advances.

Jeff Barney, who runs Toshiba's consumer PC business, said the new software is easier to use than Windows 8 and will complement Toshiba's newest machines. Barney said he isn't expecting a big rush to stores Wednesday, but "over time, I think we're going to see a positive trend in sales."

The Canadian Press

'Meth lab not included'

Two houses featured on the hit AMC TV series "Breaking Bad" are up for sale in Albuquerque, N.M.

A mother-daughter realty team said this week they are helping sell the home where the fictitious Jesse Pinkman made methamphetamine on the hit television show.

The house in Albuquerque's Country Club area is listed for $1.6 million.

Susan C. Feil and Alicia Feil Peterson of Coldwell Banker Legacy also listed another house that appeared in the series finale in Albuquerque's North Valley.

The sales team created a website to promote the houses, which includes the caveat "Meth lab not included."

"Breaking Bad" follows former high school teacher Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, producing methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul. It ended in 2013.

The Canadian Press

World economy recovering

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde says the world economy is recovering but fragile and "faces some downside risks."

In an online press conference Wednesday, Lagarde described the United States "a strong performer" and China "resilient" despite a recent drop in Chinese stock prices.

She also expressed optimism for the 19 countries that use the euro. The IMF expects the eurozone economy to grow 1.5 per cent this year and 1.7 per cent in 2016; it expanded just 0.8 per cent in 2014.

"The euro area is beginning to turn the corner ... We have a more upbeat forecast than we have in a long time," she said.

Lagarde called again for Greece's creditors to reduce its debt burden. She said Greece needs to enact reforms that will make its economy more efficient and expressed confidence the IMF can work with Greece's left-wing government, which has criticized IMF policies.

"There are lots of things that you say (in politics)," she said. "What matters at the end of the day is what you do."

Lagarde noted that a drop in worldwide commodity prices is likely to hurt emerging market economies. And the global economy could face fallout if the Federal Reserve raises short-term U.S. interest rates, which it has kept near zero since late 2008. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said a rate increase is likely this year. Lagarde has urged the Fed to delay the rate hike until 2016, citing the fragility of the global economic recovery.

On Wednesday, Lagarde acknowledged the Fed and the IMF are "not always exactly on the same page" but said the two institutions have a good working relationship.

The IMF managing director said Japan's attempts to boost its economy through easy money policies, government spending and economic reforms — an effort called "Abenomics" after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — "is turning out to be positive, is beginning to deliver."

The IMF expects the Japanese economy to expand 0.8 per cent this year after shrinking 0.1 per cent in 2014.

Lagarde shrugged off a recent selloff in Chinese stocks, noting that China's shares are still 80 per cent higher than they were a year ago.

"The Chinese economy is resilient and strong enough to withstand" volatility in financial markets, she said. The IMF expects Chinese economy to grow 6.8 per cent this year, fast by global standards but the slowest for China since 1990.

The Canadian Press

$10M timeshare fraud

A Florida man could be sentenced to more than 500 years in prison for leading a $10-million timeshare scam in the U.S. and Canada.

Fabian Fleifel of Winter Springs, Fla., was convicted in Texas of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud.

A federal jury in Dallas on Monday also convicted Fleifel of 19 counts of mail fraud telemarketing and six counts of wire fraud telemarketing.

Investigators say the 45-year-old Fleifel hired telemarketers to call timeshare owners to solicit fees in a bogus promise of buyers.

Prosecutors say more than 5,000 people, including many over age 55, were victims.

Fleifel, who was convicted on all 26 counts in the 2012 indictment, remains in custody pending sentencing.

Eleven other people earlier pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

The Canadian Press

Motivated by pure greed

A judge who sentenced two men in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in Canadian history on Tuesday said they were motivated by pure greed with little thought to their thousands of victims.

Gary Sorenson, 71, and Milowe Brost, 61, were given 12 years in prison for an elaborate, multimillion-dollar fraud in which investors were promised unrealistic returns. The two received eight months of credit for time spent in custody.

Brost was also found guilty of money laundering and received a separate, but concurrent, sentence.

"The crimes committed by these two offenders are two of the biggest frauds in Canadian history," Queen's Bench Justice Robert Hall said in a Calgary courtroom.

"They were motivated in my mind by greed with no regard to the effect on the many, many investors they defrauded," he added.

"The loss of these large sums of money has had a devastating impact on the victims."

The court said more than 2,400 investors from around the world lost up to $200 million. Police have estimated the figure could be as high as $400 million. Many people lost their life savings.

Court received 600 victim impact statements before a sentencing hearing last month.

Hall said some of the victims were left homeless, contemplated suicide and "suffered shame, embarrassment and rejection by friends and family.

"Some now view the world through a lens of suspicion and mistrust."

Aggravating factors included the length and complexity of the fraud, the impact on the victims, the amount of money involved and what Hall called pure greed.

Hall did not order any restitution. He said victims could make claims in civil court.

Ponzi schemes involve taking funds from new investors and using them to pay old ones.

Carole Knopp, 69, of Enderby, B.C., lost about $130,000 and was in court for the sentencing.

"I was a little disappointed because I was hoping it would be at least 14 (years) and maybe more," she said.

"I don't feel so much anger. They look like hollow, empty people and they are sociopaths or psychopaths, obviously, to be able to not have any emotional response."

Neither man addressed the court.

Crown prosecutor Brian Holtby had requested a 14-year sentence but was happy with the judge's decision.

"It was pure greed. There was really no legitimate business purpose behind this. Everything was a sham virtually from Day 1," said Holtby.

"To find their moral culpability was this high was satisfying. They were dishonest and they were greedy."

Both men are prohibited for the next 20 years from working or volunteering in any capacity that involves real property, money or valuable security of another person.

Lawyers for Brost said they may appeal.

Investors were promised a 34 per cent annual return on a "low-risk" investment of $99,000, which was supposed to grow to just over $1 million within eight years. They were told the business involved selling gold for refining.

One set of fraud and theft offences took place between 1999 and 2008. They involved companies named Syndicated Gold Depository SA, Base Metals Corp. LLC, Bahama Resource Alliance Ltd. and Merendon Mining Corp. Ltd.

More wrongdoing took place between 2004 and 2005 with a company called Strategic Metals Corp.

The Canadian Press

Uber insurance

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says drivers who work for ride-hailing service Uber should check to make sure their insurance policies cover their vehicles for commercial use.

Spokesman Steve Kee says some policies only provide coverage for personal use, which could lead to a rejected claim if the driver is using their vehicle to generate income.

Kee recommends Uber drivers — and those working for other ride-hailing services — call their insurance providers to determine whether they are adequately covered.

The Alberta government warned on Monday that Albertans who use services like Uber may not have insurance coverage or accident benefits under provincial law.

Alberta's office of the Superintendent of Insurance suggested that passengers using Uber should ask the driver to provide proof of insurance coverage.

Kee says in the case of taxis, passengers can rest assured that the driver has insurance because the industry is strictly regulated.

"The shared economy is really a new industry, and for insurance companies there are risks, there are exposures," said Kee.

"There may be some gaps, and I think a quick call to your insurance company can answer some questions."

The Canadian Press

12 years for Ponzi scheme

A judge has sentenced two men to 12 years in prison for one of the largest Ponzi schemes in Canadian history.

Gary Sorenson, 71, and Milowe Brost, 61, were found guilty of fraud and theft in February for an elaborate, multimillion-dollar scheme in which investors were promised unrealistic returns.

Brost was also found guilty of money laundering for which he received a separate, but concurrent, sentence.

More than 2,400 investors from around the world lost between $100 million and $400 million. Many people lost their life savings. The court received 600 victim impact statements prior to a sentencing hearing earlier this year.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Hall also put a heavy restriction on the men and any financial dealings.

"Each of the offenders is prohibited from seeking, obtaining or continuing any employment or becoming a volunteer in any capacity that involves having authority over the real property, money or valuable security of another person for a period of 20 years," Hall read in Calgary court Tuesday.

Ponzi schemes involve taking funds from new investors and using them to pay old ones.

The Crown was asking the judge to sentence both men to 14 years in prison — the maximum sentence allowed.

Lawyers for the two fraudsters were asking for something in the eight- to 10-year range and pointed out the two were likely to die in jail.

One set of fraud and theft offences took place between 1999 and 2008. They involved companies named Syndicated Gold Depository SA, Base Metals Corp. LLC, Bahama Resource Alliance Ltd. and Merendon Mining Corp. Ltd.

More wrongdoing took place between 2004 and 2005 with a company called Strategic Metals Corp.

Investors were promised a 34 per cent annual return on an investment of $99,000, which was supposed to grow to just over $1 million within eight years. They were told that the business involved selling gold for refining and that it was "low risk.''

The Canadian Press

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Chasing ducks

Photo: Thinkstock.comWhen businessmen tell me that being low priced is the only way to stay in business, I am skeptical. Price is the simplest way for a consumer to compare and is overused as the basi...

Taking care of business

Photo: Thinkstock.comRetirement as a goal has changed a lot over the years. There was a time, it was the only goal. You’d punch the clock and count the years until you could stop punching that t...

Income from home equity

Photo: Thinkstock.comWhen retirement funds run low, seniors often ask if tapping into the equity in their home is the right way to retain financial independence. To see if this option might be a good ...



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