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Imagining what the NSA heard about the loonie, Biebs, Neil Young, GTAA

These are stories Report on Business followed this week.

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President Barack Obama pledged Friday to limit snooping on friendly foreign leaders, among other things, in the wake of the raging controversy over NSA spying activities. But that was Friday. Use your imagination and think about what he might have seen and heard in the couple of weeks before the promise.

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Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird's call to Prime Minister Stephen Harper after a news conference in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:

Mr. Baird: Remember a few months ago when you said we wouldn't take "no" for an answer on Keystone? Um, I think I just changed our policy. I said we want a decision even if it's not the right one. Thought I'd give you a head's up in case you want to get your people on the phone to reporters, telling them that's not what I meant.

Neil Young's concert song lyrics, adapted from Helpless (viewed through a telephoto lens):

There is a town in north Alberta-a
It looks just like Hiroshima
And in my mind
I still need a place to go
But even if Hell freezes over, it won't be there
Big birds flying across the sky
Until they hit the fumes and can't no longer fly

Dave Collyer of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (heard through a bug in his office after last week's foofaraw, while he still had the music in his head):

I wanna live with a bitumen girl
I could be happy the rest of my life
With a bitumen girl

Gary Doer, Canada's ambassador to Washington, in an e-mail to Prime Minister Harper:

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Tell them if they approve Keystone, we'll keep Justin Bieber in Canada. And we'll promise to limit our egg exports.

Air traffic controller at Toronto's Pearson airport, to Air Canada pilot:

I've got to pee, too, and you don't hear me whining.

Pope Francis to Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins (leaked by a Swiss Guard):

Pope: I'm cleaning up the Vatican Bank, and I'd like you to sit on the governing committee.

Cardinal Collins: I've really got a lot on my plate already ...

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Pope: If Mark Carney can go to the Bank of England, you can go to the Vatican Bank. We're bigger than they are. At least,  we were before QE.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a text to B.C. Premier Christy Clark:

OMG, stuck on the Lions Gate Bridge AGAIN. If you ever wanna be prime minister, you'll do something about the traffic. Bridges can kill your career, you know.

Phone call between Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:

Mr. Poloz: David Rosenberg says we're deliberately trying to drive down the loonie.

Mr. Flaherty: Ignore him. It's not like everyone thinks that. By the way, what's the next policy announcement?

Mr. Poloz: I was thinking of signalling we might cut, something like ... Weighing these considerations, the bank judges that the substantial monetary policy stimulus currently in place may have to increase.

A conference call between Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford:

Mr. Ford: I want a meeting on compensation for the ice storm.

Ms. Wynne: I'll meet with the deputy mayor, who took your powers, but not you.

Mr. Ford: Why not? I'm still the mayor.

Ms. Wynne: If you think I'm going to allow us to be seen together, you're on crack.

The week's top news

In case you missed it
Yes, this really happened: Devil with a blue dress: A bank chief in drag, brothel rules and a dubious skit

Quote of the week, from Kit Juckes. chief of foreign exchange at Société Générale: "Three days round Europe and the best question I was asked was the last one - how will countries and people whose debt levels have gone up so much in the last decade ever be able to cope with monetary policy 'normalization'? The short answer is that one day, we are going to see people who borrowed fail to repay the money.  I guess there is still an outside chance we can solve the problem with old-style inflation and debasement but really, there are already too many robots, too many 3D printers and too much labour-saving, labour-internationalizing technological improvement for me to be hopeful about the idea that the inflation will come in the form of wages rising faster than the cost of debt. Still, we can hope."

It's why he's the boss: Sign of an effective manager: Convincing your kidnapper to let you go

Required reading
Canadians have stepped up their purchases of old-style incandescent light bulbs as buyers stockpile them in the wake of the first phase of a ban on manufacturing the power-guzzling product, Richard Blackwell writes.

More older workers are putting off retirement, Jeff Gray reports, and employment lawyers say they're seeing an increasing number of age-discrimination cases as a result.

Canada's pork industry is bracing for the arrival of a virus that has killed more than 1 million young pigs in the U.S. and caused prices to spike higher last spring, Eric Atkins reports.

Developed countries are starting to turn the corner, creating outflows of capital from developing economies and reducing their allure for investors, Iain Marlow writes.

Indonesia's ban on raw mineral exports has the potential to rejuvenate a nickel industry that is suffering from a plunge in metal prices. Rachelle Younglai looks at the market.

The week in Business Briefing

The week in Streetwise (for subscribers)

The week in Economy Lab

The week in ROB Insight (for subscribers)

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More


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