Crosscountry: Canada at a glance – May 2017

2016 was a dismal year for the IPO market in Canada, while an international team has discovered the oldest known microfossils on earth in northern Quebec.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR

Good times with the grizzlies

Are grizzly bears as vicious and unpredictable as they are made out to be? Not at all, says Charlie Russell, a naturalist who spent 13 years living among the grizzlies, reports the Calgary Herald.

With only a rickety plane at his disposal, Russell lived in total isolation among 400 bears in a cabin near Kambalnoye Lake, in Russia. During that time, he came to truly understand their psychology.

Russell let the bears get used to him slowly: if he met one on a trail, he would step aside to let it pass. But by the end, he was not only raising cubs of his own that he rescued from zoos, but he was hiking with the bears and even helping them fish by teaching them hand signals.

“There are a lot of bad feelings towards bears, especially females because they’re very protective of their cubs,” he said. “But if they trust you, they’re wonderful. I even had one leave her cubs with me to babysit — that would never happen in any other situation.”

FINANCE

IPO bust

Last year was a dismal one for initial public offerings in Canada, according to a PwC survey of the IPO market. In fact, it was the worst in the survey’s nearly 20-year history.

The $400-million Aritzia Inc. issue in October was one of only three IPOs listed on the TSX in 2016, and one of only eight on all exchanges in Canada. The total for all IPOs was $466 million.

Among the reasons for the lack of IPOs, the survey cites the hangover from the European debt crisis, the Brexit shock and the US presidential campaign.

EARTH SCIENCES

One for the ages

An international team led by University College London scientists has unearthed microfossils at least 3.77 billion years old in northern Quebec. “Through laser imaging we were able to identify the microfossils as the oldest known microfossils on Earth,” says Matthew Dodd of UCL Earth Sciences in a video on Nature. Some scientists think they could actually be up to 4.29 billion years old — which would put them within a few hundred million years of Earth’s formation, 4.55 billion years ago.

The fossils, which are mostly composed of silica and hematite (iron rust), were found near the shoreline in the Nastapoka Islands in Hudson Bay. Dodd says the most exciting thing about the discovery is that life managed to get a grip so early in Earth’s evolution. And if it happened so quickly here, he wonders, could it have done the same on other planets?

TRADE

Overcoming protectionism

A cargo ship travelling

The era of unbridled globalization is over, according to Les Affaires. Since the crisis, more and more protectionist legislation has been introduced and free trade agreements have become increasingly rare.

In the US alone, 636 discriminatory commercial measures have been put in place since 2008, according to the Center for Economic Policy Research. And almost twice that many were introduced in the G20 countries between 2009 and 2016, according to figures from the OECD.

The newspaper offers several suggestions on how to protect Canada’s exporters. One idea is to reduce the combined federal and provincial corporate tax rate, which currently stands at 27% for companies that make a profit of at least $500,000.