It’s good to give, and to receive: treat holiday charity like an investment by Peter Henderson, The Canadian Press Posted Nov 26, 2015 8:00 am MDT Last Updated Nov 26, 2015 at 8:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – More than nine in 10 Canadians follow the example of reformed miser Ebenezer Scrooge and give to charity every year, but experts advise taking a page from his tightwad ways and treat those charitable donations like an investment.Philanthropy professionals and charity watchdogs say that as the holiday season approaches and the airwaves fill with messages of altruism, you should still analyze your chosen charities the same way you would research the purchase of mutual funds or property.Financial adviser Kate Bahen, managing director of watchdog group Charity Intelligence Canada, says key things to look for include whether the charity’s financial statements are audited and up-to-date, if the charity has an independent oversight board, and if it spends more on programs than administration and fundraising.“People need to look at that giving as an investment,” she says. “If they could bring that business brain to the giving table, I think that’s where we would see such huge change in Canada for the good.”Bahen says charities will often play on the heartstrings by telling one story of one client in need, but big businesses don’t ever limit their quarterly reports to talking about just one customer.While Tiny Tim’s blessing brought a smile to Scrooge’s face, he would surely also be pleased by the charity tax credits offered by the federal government that can reduce your total income and therefore, your tax bill.The Canada Revenue Agency gives a tax credit of 15 per cent on the first $200 you donate, rising to 29 per cent for amounts over $200. If you haven’t donated before, you can claim an additional 25 per cent tax credit for any donations made before the end of 2017, up to $1,000. The provinces have their own tax credits.The CRA posts a searchable list of the more than 85,000 registered charities in Canada online and provides a detailed breakdown of their finances. Third-party organizations such as Charity Intelligence Canada also provides guidance on giving and ratings on individual charities.Lawyer Mark Blumberg says people are happiest when their tax savings reflect their values.“It would be nice if people would have a sense of how they want to give, so that at the end of the year when you look at all the receipts you have it is a fair reflection of what you want to support,” he says.He says Canadians shouldn’t just rely on the grades given out by third parties to make their decisions.The best way to get to know if a charity is worthy of your support is to volunteer, he adds.Financial planner Cynthia Kett says it’s best to form long-term relationships with charities that share your values, instead of doling out many smaller gifts throughout the year.“We often have a tendency to make donations on the fly, and I think it’s useful to be strategic in your giving,” she said.When it comes to taxes, Kett says it’s important to understand the nuances of the charitable giving tax credit.Because the first $200 has a lower credit, married couples can save a little money by combining their donations on one return and having the higher-income spouse claim the credit.Kett says Canadians should report their charitable donations every year, but can hold off on claiming for up to five years in order to maximize their returns. You can also use your spouse’s unclaimed charitable donations towards your returns.Sandra Miniutti, chief financial officer of American watchdog group Charity Navigator, says that over the last decade, more and more charities have begun to measure the impact of their work and publicize the results.She says those looking to give should make sure their chosen charity is monitoring the outcome of its work.“If you’re not measuring and tracking your impact, how do you know you’re doing good and not harm?”Follow @Henderburn on Twitter.
‘Deadpool, and ‘Star Wars’ help Cineplex set attendance record in first quarter by The Canadian Press Posted May 3, 2016 7:04 am MDT Last Updated May 3, 2016 at 7:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – Canada’s largest chain of movie theatres says it set a record for attendance in the first quarter thanks in part to the continued interest in the “Star Wars” saga and a strong February opening for “Deadpool.”Cineplex Inc. (TSX:CGX) says it hosted 20.6 million patrons during the first three months of this year, a 17.4 per cent increase over the first quarter of 2015.Revenue from all Cineplex business lines totalled $379.9 million, up 30.8 per cent from $289.8 million a year earlier.Box office sales accounted for $192.6 million of the total revenue, with smaller contributions coming from food, amusement games and other types of leisure activities.Cineplex reaped an average of $9.36 per patron from the box office and $5.44 per patron from concession sales, up about five per cent in both cases.Net income more than doubled to $21.5 million or 34 cents per share from $10.5 million or 17 cents per share and the dividend to Cineplex shareholders will increase by 3.8 per cent to $1.62 per share on an annualized basis.“Deadpool” opened in February and was the top film in the first quarter for Cineplex, followed by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which opened in the fourth quarter of 2015.
LinkedIn adding new training features, news feeds and ‘bots’ by Brandon Bailey, The Associated Press Posted Sep 22, 2016 1:17 pm MDT Last Updated Sep 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner speaks during a product announcement at his company’s headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in San Francisco. LinkedIn wants to become more useful to workers by adding personalized news feeds, helpful messaging “bots” and recommendations for online training courses, as the professional networking service strives to be more than just a tool for job-hunting. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) SAN FRANCISCO – LinkedIn wants to become more useful to workers by adding personalized news feeds, helpful messaging “bots” and recommendations for online training courses, as the professional networking service strives to be more than just a tool for job-hunting.The new services will arrive just as LinkedIn itself gains a new boss — Microsoft — which is paying $26 billion to acquire the Silicon Valley company later this year.LinkedIn said the new features, which it showed off to reporters Thursday, were in the works before the Microsoft takeover was announced in June. But LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said his company hopes to incorporate some of Microsoft’s technology as it builds more things like conversational “chat bots,” or software that can carry on limited conversations, answer questions and perform tasks like making reservations.Chat bots are a hot new feature in the consumer tech world, where companies like Facebook, Apple and Google are already racing to offer useful services based on artificial intelligence. As a first step, LinkedIn says it will soon introduce a bot that could help someone schedule a meeting with another LinkedIn user, by comparing calendars and suggesting a convenient time and meeting place.The new bot will be part of an online messaging service that LinkedIn is gradually expanding to make it easier for users to communicate without opening a new screen or switching to email.LinkedIn is also adding more personalized features to its news feed, where members can see articles and announcements posted by their professional contacts. A new “Interest Feed” will offer a collection of articles, posts and opinion pieces on major news events or current issues.While many people already turn to Facebook, Twitter or individual news sites for similar updates, LinkedIn managers suggest their feeds will be more tailored to each user’s professional interests, by a combination of human editors and computer algorithms. Similarly, LinkedIn says it’s begun using the online training resources of its Lynda.com educational subsidiary to make personalized recommendations for online courses that augment each user’s current skills or career interests.The new features are the latest additions LinkedIn has made to its core service in recent years — for example, by inviting prominent people and ordinary members to write their own articles or essays for the site.LinkedIn Corp. makes most of its money from fees that job recruiters pay to use its database of more than 450 million members worldwide. But it wants to keep members engaged so they check in regularly and keep their profiles updated. Weiner and other executives say they want to make the site useful for more than just job-hunting.The idea is to “help members be more productive and successful in what they’re trying to do,” said LinkedIn vice-president Ryan Roslansky in an interview.LinkedIn has measured an increase in routine visits to its website and mobile apps over the last year, Roslansky said, even after the company cut back on the volume of email notifications that it sends to members. It did so, he acknowledged, after members complained they were getting too many emails.Microsoft Corp., meanwhile, wants to augment its own workplace software with LinkedIn’s stockpile of information about its members’ job histories and professional contacts. It may combine LinkedIn’s data, for example, with online programs that Microsoft sells to businesses for managing sales, hiring and other back-office functions.Weiner, who is expected to continue running LinkedIn as a semi-independent subsidiary of Microsoft, said the two companies are working on ways to integrate some services. But he said he wasn’t ready to disclose more details.
Sino-Forest defrauded investors and misled investigators, OSC rules by The Canadian Press Posted Jul 14, 2017 7:18 am MDT Last Updated Jul 14, 2017 at 12:20 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – Timber company Sino-Forest and several of its top executives defrauded investors, misled investigators and “engaged in deceitful or dishonest conduct,” the Ontario Securities Commission ruled in one of Canada’s largest corporate fraud cases.In a nearly 300-page decision released Friday, the regulator said the company and former CEO Allen Chan, as well as Albert Ip, Alfred Hung and George Ho defrauded investors by overstating the now defunct company’s timber assets and revenue.Allegations of fraud against Simon Yeung were dismissed, but the regulator concluded he misled staff during their investigation.The investigation into Sino-Forest was triggered in 2011 when short seller Carson Block of Muddy Waters Research published a scathing report accusing the company of exaggerating its assets and fabricating sales transactions in what amounted to “a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.”“We applaud the OSC for persisting through an undoubtedly complex investigation and hearing to see that justice is served,” Block wrote in an email Friday.“It’s important to remember that our report was initially quite controversial and met with a good deal of hostility — at a time when the freedom of speech is under threat, this outcome is a reminder of the value of critical voices and freedom of expression.”The former executives now face the possibility of being permanently banned from Canada’s capital markets, or fined up to $1 million for each failure to comply with Ontario securities law.A separate hearing on sanctions and costs has not been set.Chan’s lawyer, Emily Cole, said her client was disappointed and would be going over the decision. Stephen Wortley, a lawyer for Ip, Hung, Ho and Yeung, said he was also reviewing the decision and declined further comment.Sino-Forest, which was established in 1994, was once the most valuable forestry company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Although it was based in Ontario, the company conducted most of its business in China until it collapsed in 2012.The decision by the OSC follows the settlement of several lawsuits by investors in connection with the case.In 2015, several Canadian banks and other financial institutions that helped the company raise millions on the financial markets agreed to a $32.5-million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed by investors who lost money.David Horsley, former chief financial officer of Sino-Forest, also agreed to pay $6.3 million to the OSC and to settle class-action lawsuits in 2014, while Sino-Forest’s former auditor, Ernst & Young, agreed to a $117-million class-action settlement with investors in 2013.The case against Sino-Forest and its former executives was one of the most complicated cases in the Ontario Securities Commission’s history.“Today’s decision on the merits is an important milestone in a complex, multi-jurisdictional case that spanned close to 200 hearing days and involved over 2,000 exhibits,” the commission said in a statement.The hearing heard testimony from several witnesses from China over video conferencing and with the assistance of translators. There were more than 170 hearing days, 22 witnesses and over 22,000 pages of transcripts.Defence lawyers for the executives had argued that what the OSC called fraud were simply mistakes made by a fast-growing company. They also said that behaviours that may seem strange in a Canadian context were typical business customs in China.But the commission said Sino-Forest was listed on the TSX, was an Ontario reporting issuer, raised US$3 billion from investors, and was required to issue financial statements prepared in accordance with Canadian standards.“Ontario securities law is paramount and overrides any explanations for illegal conduct being excusable in the name of guanxi, however it is defined,” the commission said in its decision, using a Chinese term that refers to a network of influential relationships that help facilitate business dealings.— By Craig Wong in Ottawa