July 17th, 2024

In the news today: PM heads to G7 and Canada-US central banks to diverge on policy?

By The Canadian Press on June 12, 2024.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during Question Period, in Ottawa, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed…

Trudeau heads to Italy for G7 leaders’ summit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is headed to Italy on Wednesday to attend the annual G7 leaders’ summit, which is taking place as two major geopolitical conflicts weigh on the international community.

The three-day summit kicks off on Thursday in Apulia, Italy, where leaders of the seven wealthy democratic nations are expected to discuss the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas wars, the energy transition, artificial intelligence, migration and collaboration with Africa.

Trudeau is also set to attend the Ukraine Peace Summit in Switzerland on Saturday and Sunday before flying back to Ottawa.

Leaders of G7 countries — Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan — meet annually to collaborate on shared goals.

Canada, U.S. interest rate policies set to diverge

With monetary policy at the Bank of Canada and U.S. Federal Reserve on track to diverge, experts say it could set the Canadian dollar up for volatility down the road.

If the Bank of Canada’s rate falls too far below the Fed’s, it could negatively affect the loonie, said Allan Small, senior investment adviser at IA Private Wealth. This would make imports from the U.S. – Canada’s biggest trading partner – more expensive and put upward pressure on inflation, though he added this isn’t something that happens overnight.

“If the Bank of Canada cuts a few times and the Fed stands pat, I don’t think that will be an issue,” he said.

But if the Bank of Canada keeps cutting and the Fed holds on past the first quarter of next year, “then we could start to see significant divergence.”

Coutts murder-conspiracy trial continues

A female undercover officer is set to continue her testimony at a trial for two men charged with conspiracy to commit murder during the border blockade at Coutts, Alta.

Anthony Olienick and Chris Carbert are on trial charged with conspiring to murder police officers at the blockade.

The blockade was held to protest COVID-19 rules and paralyzed traffic at the Canada-U.S. border in southern Alberta for two weeks in early 2022.

The woman has testified she and a number of colleagues were able to infiltrate the blockade for a week in February posing as supporters.

She says Olienick confided in her he had sold his home and vehicles to be part of what he called the “revolution.”

Quebec autonomy committee seen as political move

Quebec’s premier says he wants to find new powers to boost his province’s autonomy within Canada, but experts are keeping their expectations in check.

Quebec Premier François Legault last week announced the creation of a new committee to study the province’s rights and enhance its powers within the federation. The province is facing disappointing polls and a simmering conflict with the federal government over immigration.

The committee is tasked with examining federal intrusion into areas of provincial jurisdiction.

“The federal government has intensified a worrying trend toward centralization and encroachment,” Legault said Friday during a speech in the legislature with strong nationalist overtones.

“We must continue to strengthen Quebec’s autonomy, preserve its rights and obtain more powers in fundamental areas.”

National Bank-CWB deal shrinks sector further

Canada’s banking sector is going to get a little smaller.

National Bank of Canada said Tuesday it is acquiring Canadian Western Bank in an all-share deal that values CWB at about $5 billion.

It says that it will maintain branch locations as well as its Edmonton-based leadership and operations.

The deal will see Quebec-focused National Bank expand its geographic reach in Alberta and British Columbia, where CWB is concentrated.

And it comes just months after Royal Bank closed its $13.5-billion purchase of HSBC Canada in the country’s largest-ever domestic banking deal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2024

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