Description: Critics and citizens alike have long decried the lofty election promises politicians make during election campaigns. But now the Liberal government of the tiny Canadian province of New Brunswick appears to be trying to change this dynamic by proposing a law requiring political parties to cost their election platforms. Violators would be punished by being forced to suspend their campaign advertising. Of course one thing users might note is that there is no audit provision in the proposed legislation.
Date: March 29, 2017
1) What do you think of the idea of forcing politicians to cost election promises? Will it work?
2) What might be some of the techniques an accountant could use to cost election promises?
3) What are some of the issues that might emerge if the information is not audited?
Description: While Saskatchewan, Alberta and the federal government in Ottawa have all delivered budgets with big planned deficits in recent weeks, last week the Province of Quebec issued a balanced budget. The budget also promised an income tax cut for Quebec citizens. Could this have anything to do with a coming election in 2018?
Date: March 28, 2017
1) Were you surprised to see that the Quebec government issued a balanced budget in this year of deficits?
2) What factors do you think contributed to the province’s fiscal good news?
3) If you were the Minister of Finance, would you have cut taxes now, knowing that Quebec still has a huge debt load?
Description: This week’s federal budget had a number of interesting measures, and one that seems to be very strategic is the announcement of close to $118 million in funding for 25 research chairs in an effort to recruit “top-tier international scholars.” Following the U.S. election and the earlier Brexit vote in Britain, the promise of more dollars for science research in Canada may be just one more factor that helps scientists in those countries decide on Canada as an attractive place to live and work. One aspect of the funding is that it is intended to allow universities to respond quickly to serious inquiries from overseas scientists.
Date: March 23, 2017
1) Did you follow the news around the federal budget or discuss it in any of your university classes?
2) Do you see the funding on these research chairs as a good strategic move?
3) As a student, were there any measures in the federal budget that impacted you?
Description: Critics may say that share buybacks take away from resources for future growth. But in his latest letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hatheway, Warren Buffet argues that buybacks can be a good move, as long as the price is right. One purpose of the buyback can be for management to signal concerns that the share price is undervalued.
Date: March 20, 2017; updated March 21, 2017
1) Where can you read about share buybacks in Wiley’s Kimmel, Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, Sixth Canadian Edition?
2) After reading through the article, what is your feeling on use of share buybacks?
3) Buffet says “both American corporations and private investors are today awash in funds looking to be sensibly deployed.” This seems to be an enviable situation for a business. But what are the dangers of too much cash?
Description: The Quidi Vidi Brewery is a good news/bad news story. After years of struggling, including a 1999 warning from their accountant about imminent bankruptcy, this Newfoundland craft brewery has seen a turnaround in more recent years, thanks in part to its Iceberg brand in its distinctive blue bottle. But the two founding investors are at odds with each other, and are fighting out the future of the company in court.
Date: March 24, 2017
1) Are you a fan of the craft brew industry?
2) What might have been some of the things the owners could have done to avoid this very public dispute?
3) What techniques might the auditors have used to discover those unrecorded sales from 2008?
Emma Walmsley is the first female CEO for giant pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKlein. A story from Bloomberg News this past week indicated that Ms. Walmsley would be earning less than her predecessor Andrew Witty. This compensation difference may add to the debate on pay equity, though observers point out that when he started, Mr. Witty was also paid less than the previous incumbent.
Date: March 14, 2017
1) As a commerce student, getting ready to enter the workforce, what is your perspective on the pay equity question?
2) Do you think accountants have a role to play in pay equity discussions?
3) What does accounting theory teach us about CEO compensation?
Description: Tim Horton’s franchise holders are upset with Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the famous cost-cutting owners of Tim Hortons and Burger King. The franchisees say cost cutting has gone too far, with stores now seeing inferior quality in such products as coffee pots, cup lids and trays. The Great White North Franchisee Association has been formed by a number of the franchisees in an effort to get RBI to respond to the quality concerns.
Date: March 14, 2017
1) Are you a Tim Horton’s regular on your way to class each morning? If so, have you noticed any of the quality issues?
2) If you were a managerial accountant at RBI assigned to cut costs, how would this action by the Great White North Franchisee Association impact your assignment?
3) Where can you read about Tim Horton’s in Wiley’s Kimmel, Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, Sixth Canadian Edition?
Description: TD Bank shares have taken a big drop following CBC reports on bank reps facing pressure to push products at customers. Just a few days before, banks were reporting higher than expected quarterly earnings. This bad publicity though may prompt some investors to take a look at TD bank shares.
Date: March 10, 2017; updated March 11
1) As a student, who do you bank with? What influences your choice?
2) Had you heard about this story? What is your response to it?
3) The CEO of TD Bank refers to “trust” in his response. We can’t put trust on the balance sheet, but what would it be worth to a bank?
Description: Unlike in the United States, Canadian securities regulators have blocked Canadian publicly traded companies from announcing important information first on social media. Canadian companies are required to report information first via the traditional press release. One concern regulators have is that an item could be posted to social media, and then taken down shortly after, thereby contrasting it with the traditional press release.
Date: March 9, 2017
1) As a commerce student, how do you get most of your business news?
2) Given your answer to question one, what do you think of the Canadian securities regulators’ decision?
3) Why do you think Canadians and Americans differ on their approach to social media?
Description: It’s not the type of news any company wants. This past week Swedish authorities arrested one Bombardier employee and briefly detained two others over allegations of bribery. The suspicions are that somehow Bombardier employees colluded with Azerbaijani officials in an effort to secure contracts in Azerbaijan.
Date: March 10, 2017
1) What kind of impact do you think this will have on Bombardier’s reputation?
2) As an accounting student, can you think of any controls that an organization might put in place to prevent or detect this type of incident?
3) Prime Minister Trudeau has said this incident will not impact the federal government’s assistance to Bombardier. What are your opinions on this position?