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Cashing in on royal mania

If British marketers are to be believed, nothing is a better royal wedding tribute than a limited-edition bucket of fried chicken chased with a bottle or two of Royal Wedding pale ale.

Estimates are that consumers will spend between 40 million pounds to 70 million pounds ($54 million to $94 million) on royal wedding-related merchandise, including commemorative mugs, plates, coins and posters.

If you're tucking in to watch the wedding from home but want to feel "part of" it you can enjoy a bowl of "Wedding Rings" cereal, featuring Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the box and sold online for only 35 pounds ($47). It promises to be "royally good."

There's also "Harry" and "Meghan" Marmite, if you can choke that down.

Britain's Heck food company has created special pork sausages including the ingredients of "sweet ginger" for Harry — a nod to his famous red hair — and "American mustard" for Meghan. At 3 pounds ($4) a package, they're available at Sainsbury's grocery stores around Britain.

KFC's Royal Wedding-themed buckets, complete with the company logo in gold, were allegedly inspired by Harry's confession that he proposed to Markle while preparing a roast chicken. The reverse side reads: "We declare a regal day of celebration, jubilation, and fried chicken." They're available in limited quantities only at KFC Windsor on Saturday, the royal wedding day.

After enjoying the chicken, you might want to try the Windsor and Eaton Brewery's "Harry & Meghan's Windsor Knot" pale ale, which boasts barley grown locally on the Royal Farms in Windsor and retails for 2.25 pounds ($3) a bottle. The company says "marrying" together a combination of British and American hops and champagne yeast "creates a new pale ale that is young, fresh and full of character."

For those with a sporting bent, royal fans can shop online for a Meghan or Harry one-piece lycra women's swimsuit offered by the gift store Bags of Love. For 28 pounds ($37.70), the suits are available in sizes from XS to 4XL and promise to be "soft, stretchy and supportive." They also display enormous faces of either the bride or groom across your torso.

For those already in the mood, the Crown Jewels Heritage Condoms company (yes, it's real) is offering a box of Royal Wedding souvenir condoms for 10 pounds ($13.50). When opened, the consumer is treated to a pop-up picture of Harry and Meghan and the slogan "your prince will come" as an arrangement of "God Save the Queen" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays in the background. A certificate of authenticity makes the packet complete.



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Ordered to end protest

Fish farming company Marine Harvest says the B.C. Supreme Court has ordered two Indigenous protesters, who have occupied the company's houses and dock at Swanson Island for months, to leave by Saturday evening pending an upcoming hearing.

Marine Harvest says the court also ordered them not to board or interfere with any of Marine Harvest's salmon farms operating in the area.

It says the order is pending a June 25 hearing of an application by Marine Harvest for a broader injunction order.

Court documents filed by Ernest Alfred and Karissa Glendale, who are named as defendants, say they and many others from the 'Namgis First Nation and surrounding First Nations are opposed to open-net fish farms in ocean waters in their traditional territories.

They say they are legitimately concerned about the impacts the farms have on local fish and sea life.

They say that as local Indigenous people in an area subject to ongoing Aboriginal title litigation, they have the right and responsibility to peacefully witness and observe fish farms and that an injunction sought by the company limiting them from within 20 metres of its fish farms is "overboard."

Marine Harvest was previously granted an injunction against protesters who were occupying its Midsummer Island salmon farm in December 2017.

Court records say the conditions of adjournment in the current case would be "similar" to those ordered in December 2017.

It says if persons re-occupy any of the sites in the undertaking, the company may reset an application in relation to that activity on 48 hours' notice.

In a statement, Marine Harvest spokesman Jeremy Dunn says the occupiers are interfering with the company's "legitimate activities."

“Meaningful dialogue with First Nations in the Broughton Archipelago, where we have been operating salmon farms for 30 years, remains a priority for Marine Harvest. Unfortunately, our efforts to date have not been successful, but we remain hopeful," Dunn said in a statement.



Inflation, it's costing more

The country's annual inflation rate cooled slightly last month — but at 2.2 per cent, it stayed hot enough to hover above the two per cent midpoint of the Bank of Canada's ideal range,

Statistics Canada's inflation reading for April came in a little lower than the March number of 2.3 per cent — which had brought the rate to its highest mark since 2014 — and matched the 2.2 per cent figure for February.

In B.C., inflation was pegged at 2.7 per cent, up from 2.6 per cent the previous month.

And in Vancouver, it stayed constant at 3.2 per cent.

The upward pressure on inflation last month was led by higher costs for gasoline, air transportation and restaurants, while the biggest downward forces came from cheaper prices for digital equipment, travel tours and natural gas.

The report also says the average of the Bank of Canada's three measures of core inflation, which omit more-volatile numbers like pump prices, crept slightly above the two per cent mark last month for the first time since February 2012.

The central bank closely monitors inflation ahead of its interest-rate decisions and it can use rate hikes as a tool to help prevent inflation from climbing too high.

But the recent readings just above the central bank's ideal inflation bull's-eye are unlikely to have a major impact on upcoming rate decisions because governor Stephen Poloz has predicted inflation will remain above two per cent for all of 2018.

In a separate report, Statistics Canada released its latest figures for retail trade, which showed an increase for a third straight month as sales rose 0.6 per cent in March.



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Tommy Gun's backs down

A national chain of men's barber shops is backing down in its dispute with an independent operator in Nova Scotia.

Tommy Gun's Original Barbershop says it "sincerely apologizes" for a cease-and-desist letter sent to Thong Luong, the owner of Tommy's Barber Shop in north-end Dartmouth.

Luong says he received the letter alleging trademark infringement earlier this month, but that he had no intention of complying.

He says he received offers from three lawyers to take his case pro bono, and a Nova Scotia cabinet minister also spoke out on his behalf.

Service Nova Scotia Minister Geoff MacLellan told reporters he didn't see how the name of a small barber shop could confuse customers or depreciate the national chain's brand.

Tommy Gun's backed down Thursday evening through a statement posted on Twitter, wishing Luong "every success in the future."

"Now that we have all of the relevant information, we do not intend to pursue this matter any further," the chain's statement read.

"Mr. Luong is well within his legal rights to use his name for his barbershop."

Luong, a father of three who immigrated to Canada from Vietnam as a teenager in 1984, said earlier Thursday that he was "proud" of his shop.

"Every time my kids go shopping with me, and they see someone call me 'Hi Tommy' they're so proud and they said 'Dad, everybody like you. I never see a person who don't like you.'"

MacLellan said there are no issues as far as the province is concerned — Tommy's Barber Shop is registered with Nova Scotia's Registry of Joint Stocks and is "completely compliant."

"What Tommy Gun's offers in terms of the consistency of the layout, the products, the services, it's very different than what you would see at an independent barber," said MacLellan.

After finishing high school, Luong said he worked 90 hours a week, washing dishes and fixing jewelry until he opened his own barbershop in 2003, six years before Tommy Gun's Original Barbershop registered its trademark.



Cryptocurrency warning

B.C.'s securities regulator has joined its Ontario counterpart in issuing a warning about investing in cryptocurrencies amid worries the lightly regulated market is ripe for possible financial scams.

The British Columbia Securities Commission says it has noticed an increase in the number of cryptocurrency offerings involving an initial coin or token offering, in which companies try to raise capital by issuing newly invented coins or tokens.

It says B.C. residents should exercise extreme caution when deciding whether or not to invest in an ICO or ITO as some companies follow through on their business plan or idea and other do not.

It adds that coins or tokens issued for speculative trading in the secondary market are an inherently risky for investors and urges people who have received unsolicited offers to participate in an ICO or ITO to contact the BCSC.

Ontario securities regulators, as well as the Bank of Canada, have also warned Canadians about the risks of investing it the fledgling market.

The Ontario Securities Commission said last month that it is gathering information on several cryptocurrency trading platforms after it received a number of complaints.



CN Rail fined $1.1M

Canadian National Railway has been fined more than $1 million for violating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Environment and Climate Change Canada says the Montreal-based railway pleaded guilty on Monday to importing a fuel that does not meet the requirements of renewable fuels regulations.

CN Rail was fined $25,000 and was ordered by the court to pay $1.1 million to promote the protection of the environment.

An investigation found that between July 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2012, CN imported more than 224 million litres of diesel fuel.

However, it didn't meet the requirement that at least two per cent of the company's imported volumes be renewable fuel, unless renewable fuel compliance units were acquired. The threshold is five per cent for gasoline.



What to do if you're audited

Many Canadians are watching their mailboxes and inboxes for a personal income tax refund, now that the filing deadline has passed. But instead of a welcome influx of cash, some receive a dreaded notice that their file is under review or audit.

When the Canada Revenue Agency starts looking your way, it can be anxiety-inducing, but it doesn't need to be, tax experts say. The best thing to do is respond and co-operate, said Jason Safar, a partner in the tax services practice of PwC.

"The worst thing you can do is play the ostrich, put your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is going on," he said.

The federal government in recent years has ramped up its efforts to crack down on tax evasion, particularly by big international companies and wealthy individuals using offshore tax havens. In the 2016 federal budget, Ottawa earmarked $444.4 million over five years to help the CRA track down tax cheats, with the aim of raking in an additional $2.6 billion in tax over that period.

There has been an increase in audit activity, in all facets, but less so for personal income taxes, said Safar. And the vast majority of Canadians will never face a personal tax audit, he added. However, more Canadians will face the less serious option called a review.

"For the 'lucky' 0.1 per cent that does, it's probably that there is something that is very unusual about their filings or history of filings that causes Canada Revenue Agency to want to take a closer look," Safar said.

A review, however, happens fairly often, said H&R Block senior tax professional Valorie Elgar. A CRA review is simply a request for additional information, rather than an audit, which involves deeper scrutiny of your tax file.

Your income tax file may be selected for review randomly, or for reasons such a discrepancy between the figures you cited and those of a third-party, such as your employer. An unusual change in your activities, such as an increase in medical expenses or child care costs, may also trigger a closer look from the tax collector.

Often, once the taxpayer submits the required information to clear up confusion, that's the end of the process.

"Send in the documentation that they request, and then that's usually it," she said. "But some people do get worried."

If you do not co-operate, the CRA will likely make adjustments based on the information they have. This could lead to unwanted outcomes, such as a large tax bill plus interest charges, she said.

There are several types of review, such as a pre-assessment review program that takes place before a notice of assessment is issued. A processing review happens after the notice of assessment is issued, usually between August and December.

Your information could also be reviewed in a matching program after the tax assessment is issued that compares the information in your tax return to a third party, such as a financial institution.

Just in case you ever find yourself in the CRA's crosshairs, it's important to preempt any headaches by keeping all relevant receipts used to file your tax return on hand for at least six years, said Elgar.

Some documents may need to be kept on file even longer, said Safar. For example, documents in connection with a property owned by the taxpayer will need to be kept until the property is sold, in order to quantify the capital gains.

If you do find yourself under audit or review by the CRA, it is important to read the letter carefully and make sure to understand what they are asking for, he added. After submitting the requested information, the CRA will commonly send the taxpayer a letter outlining their concerns and reassessment details, and the recipient has 30 days to respond before the new tax assessment is processed, said Safar.

If you disagree with their conclusions, let them know before that reassessment is processed, he added.

If the dispute is not resolved, there is still recourse. After the reassessment comes you have the option to file a notice of objection, which will go to an appeals officer who is different from the original auditor, said Safar.



Walmart offers free pickup

Walmart Canada is rolling out a free pickup service for general merchandise and apparel at all of its Canadian stores.

The company’s vice-president of omnichannel and online grocery Daryl Porter says the service will be available across the country by the end of the week.

It allows customers to save on delivery fees by grabbing their orders at the nearest store.

Porter said it will be handy for customers who avoid home delivery over concerns about unattended packages left on their doorstep, or for people who want to make sure a gift is not accidentally intercepted by the intended recipient.

The new service comes after the company started offering grocery pickup in select markets, and on the heels of a spending spree that included the acquisitions of Indian e-commerce company Flipkart, activewear retailer Moosejaw and apparel brand Bonobos.



Enbridge $11.4B stock offer

Enbridge Inc. announced a restructuring plan Thursday that would see it offer $11.4 billion in shares to co-investors in four affiliated businesses, in order to offset risks caused by the loss of a U.S. tax allowance for certain interstate pipelines.

If the series of transactions unfold as anticipated, investors in all the companies and limited partnerships would hold shares in Enbridge, one of North America's largest energy infrastructure companies.

The Calgary-based company holds pipelines in the United States that are losing tax advantages previously provided to so-called master limited partnerships, or MLPs. Enbridge has two MLPs, Enbridge Energy Partners, and Spectra Energy Partners.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decision to end the tax breaks in March came in response to a 2016 court ruling that found its long-standing tax policy could result in double recovery of costs for MLPs.

The company's move comes after Enbridge had already begun to simplify its organizational structure.

"Having all of our core assets under one roof will further surface the value of these highly strategic and irreplaceable systems, which should attract a premium valuation," chief executive Al Monaco told analysts Thursday.

He added that the moves would be good for credit ratings and funding arrangements because 100 per cent of the cash flow generated by the assets would be "kept in the family and not paid out in third-party distributions."

Earlier this month, the company announced more than $3 billion in asset sales in a pair of deals including a $1.75-billion agreement to sell a 49 per cent stake in a group of renewable power assets to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. In a separate deal, Enbridge said it will sell Midcoast Operating LP to an affiliate of private equity firm ArcLight Capital Partners LLC for about $1.44 billion.

Under the series of deals announced Thursday, Enbridge is proposing separate all-share offers with the boards of Spectra Energy Partners, L.P., Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P., Enbridge Energy Management, L.L.C. and Enbridge Income Fund Holdings Inc., offering them company shares worth a total of roughly $11.4 billion based on current stock prices.

While Enbridge is the leading investor in each of the businesses, which are considered "sponsored vehicles," each has a board with a duty to get the best possible deal for other stakeholders.

Monaco said Enbridge believes that its proposal will benefit other investors as well by providing them with a direct equity stake in the main company, but acknowledged that it's possible not all of the transactions will be accepted.



Investors' eyes on Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will work the room at a business luncheon in Manhattan today on the merits of free trade and global economic co-operation, just as word starts to sink in that efforts to conclude NAFTA talks before the end of this week are likely to fail.

Trudeau will spend the second morning of his three-day U.S. tour — his 16th visit to the United States as prime minister — participating in what is billed as an "armchair discussion" on economics and international trade at the Economic Club of New York.

The trip is mainly focused on trade and drumming up investment for Canada, although Trudeau veered off that course Wednesday morning. During a speech at the New York University commencement at Yankee Stadium, the prime minister spoke at length on the merits of diversity and the risks of aggressive nationalism.

Looming over everything is the North American Free Trade Agreement and the expected failure of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to meet an artificial deadline today, set to try and seal a new deal before the Mexican federal elections this summer or U.S. congressional elections in the fall throw new curveballs at the process.

Coupled with ongoing struggles to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built, Canada's ability to compete on the world stage and confidence in its ability to attract investment are currently flagged as questionable.

In a series of meetings with a lengthy list of international investment executives and U.S. CEOs Wednesday, Trudeau time and again tried to counter those fears, pushing Canada as a great place to do business. Most of those he met with publicly agreed.

None more so than Adam Neumann, the Israeli-born American billionaire who founded WeWork, which provides shared workspaces that include physical and virtual office space, health plans, and shared social networks to entrepreneurs, including start-ups.

"Amazing leader," Neumann said, after spending about 20 minutes in a private meeting with Trudeau.

WeWork has five locations in Canada, with plans to expand to 11 by the end of this year and 45 by the end of 2020, Neumann said. He said his company is getting a lot of interest from Asian and Latin American companies who are interested in setting up shop in Canada using WeWork.

"I think it's a great story for Canada and a great story for us, and we're here today to strengthen that relationship," Neumann said.

PepsiCo. Chair and CEO Indra Nooyi was also quite enthusiastic about Canada as a place to do business, noting her company — the second-largest food and beverage corporation in the world — does $4 billion worth of business in Canada each year.

"We are in Canada, for Canada, with Canada and from Canada, and the reason is because the government of Canada is an excellent partner for business," she said.



Feds to fund shipping safety

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the federal government is investing in navigational mapping, ship monitoring and weather forecasting as part of the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan.

Garneau says the federal government will spend $110 million over five years for the Canadian Hydrographic Service to chart 23 high-priority commercial ports and near-shore areas to fill gaps in navigational data and charts.

He named seven additional coastal communities, including the T'Souke and Pacheedaht Nations on Vancouver Island, as partners to test new information systems for monitoring ship traffic — bringing the total to nine.

Nova Scotia-based Hercules SLR has been awarded an initial $180,000 contract to supply two emergency tow-kits to the Canadian Coast Guard.

Another $7.2 million over five years will fund the deployment of five smart buoys to improve weather forecasting on the East and West coasts.

Garneau says the plan will help protect the B.C. coast against any possible spills and will proceed regardless of whether the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is built.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Oceans Protection Plan at the same time that he announced federal approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in 2016.



Victoria top spot for luxury

Victoria has landed the top spot on Christie's global list of hottest luxury housing markets.

The real estate arm of the famed auction company says strong year-over-year sales growth and high domestic demand for housing catapulted the Vancouver Island community to lead a list of cities around the world on the annual list.

Trailing Victoria on last year's list are San Diego and Orange County, Calif., followed by Washington D.C. and Paris.

Christie's says the Victoria market earned such a high ranking because it is seeing an influx of buyers from the United States and China and sales rates that rival frenzied and neighbouring markets Toronto and Vancouver.

It says the average time it took to sell a luxury property in Victoria last year was only 32 days, down from 41 days in 2016, making it one of the most fast-paced markets in the world.

Christie's also listed Toronto in the ninth spot on its list of most luxurious global cities for prime property and Muskoka, Ont. in the second position for its rankings of the hottest secondary home markets.



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