A firefighter works to untangle a knot in a giant Canadian flag during the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony in Ottawa September 8, 2013. | Reuters

That remains voluntary for smaller vessels, which make up the majority of traffic through the Northwest Passage. Although Canada claims the route as territorial waters, it doesnt require vessels to get permission to enter the way Russia does in the much busier waters along its Arctic coast. So even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper declares Arctic sovereignty one of his top priorities, the Coast Guard can only estimate how many vessels are passing through. It knows even less about who is on board or what they are up to. Harper closed the only Coast Guard station in the western Arctic last year. Shifts of three Coast Guard staff in Iqaluit are left to monitor sea traffic, and field calls for weather and hazard information, across Canadas vast north. They keep watch over a dangerous wilderness from Greenland west to Alaska, from the northern tip of Ellesmere Island south to James Bay, and along the busy Mackenzie River. Some of their information comes from listening to radios, or monitoring GPS satellite locations. They also search the Internet for clues about vessels that havent declared their intentions. If you run into trouble in the Northwest Passage and radio Mayday, and the Coast Guard cant raise another ship nearby, youll likely have a long wait for help. Rescue operations in Canadas Arctic are run out of Trenton, 170 kilometres east of Toronto. The Coast Guard doesnt have the authority to tell boaters to stay out even if they look like theyd be in over their heads in Arctic waters. We just hope, and try to tell them to be prepared, says Sharp. Hopefully, they may have groups with them, or monitoring them, or have a good support team in that sense.

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The growth in household credit market debt rose to 1.6 percent in the April-June period from 0.5 percent in the previous quarter, Statistics Canada said. Spring Lending Part of the increase is due to a traditional rise in mortgage lending in the spring when more people look for houses, Royal Bank of Canada economist David Onyett-Jeffries wrote in a note to clients. Statistics Canada doesnt adjust the figures for seasonal swings. The annual pace of household credit growth slowed to 4.9 percent in the quarter, Onyett-Jeffries said, the slowest pace since the end of 2001. The housing boom that helped lead the worlds 11th largest economy out of the 2008 global financial crisis was fueled by some of the lowest mortgage rates in decades as the Bank of Canada cut its key rate to a record low 0.25 percent. Mortgage rates are now rising and that may curb demand according to Derek Burleton, deputy chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank. The rebound in housing has raised eyebrows, he said. There are some near term upside risks to housing and the debt ratio, but its reasonable to expect the ratio remains quite stable. Price Drop Higher mortgage rates along with growth in the supply of homes will trigger a 10 percent to 15 percent drop in home prices, Sun Life Global Investments Inc. Chief Investment officer Sadiq Adatia said yesterday at the Bloomberg Canadian fixed-income conference in New York. Im not panicking, said Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC World Markets in Toronto. The only time this ratio goes down is in a recession, as we saw in the U.S.

Canada builds up arctic maritime surveillance

The case, filed Thursday under the rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement, threatens to shed a negative light on a dispute resolution mechanism also being proposed by the U.S. as part of the Pacific trade deal. + reset Eli Lilly has been arguing with Canada for almost a year over the patents for its best-selling drugs Straterra, used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Zyprexa, used to treat schizophrenia. The pharmaceutical company says Canadian courts unfairly threw out these patents when challenged by generic drug manufacturers, using a legal doctrine that requires a company to provide an unreasonable amount of scientific data in order to secure the patent. Eli Lilly argues that the Canadian courts are creating too high of a standard for companies to prove the usefulness of their products when their patents are challenged by other firms seeking to produce their own versions of drugs. Usefulness is a common benchmark for establishing or maintaining a patent. The legal fight is moving to the next stage after the two sides failed to settle their differences during a 90-day consultation process, which ends Friday. Doug Norman, Eli Lillys chief patent counsel, told POLITICO in an interview this week that the court decisions are so misaligned with Canadas obligations under NAFTA, Ottawa should be held accountable for stopping any future judgments that threaten the companys presence in the Canadian market. The Parliament could have stepped in and fixed Canadas patent statutes, said Norman. To date they have looked the other way. But critics argue that the case is another example where trade agreements have enabled private companies to run roughshod over government decisions made in the public interest. Its an eye opener that a domestic court decision can be second-guessed by a foreign tribunal, said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizens Global Trade Watch, an advocacy group that traditionally opposes trade deals. She said the Eli Lillys use of NAFTAs dispute resolution mechanism is particularly invasive because it subjects Canadas entire patent system to the whims of a single company. Public interest groups are trying to battle a similar investor-state dispute mechanism being advocated by the Obama administration as part of the proposed 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Australia, which is also involved in the talks, has vehemently opposed an investor-state dispute mechanism and other countries remain skeptical about its inclusion.

Canada Household Debt Ratio Rises to Record in 2nd Qtr

At present Canada operates a single radar-imaging satellite, Radarsat-2, which provides maritime surveillance data, Defense News reported. “One satellite can give you a spotty picture of what’s going on,” Royal Canadian Air Force Col. Andre Dupuis, the Department of National Defense’s director of space requirements, said. “Three satellites will give us a complete picture every single day of every ship in our area of responsibility, all the way out to about 2,000 nautical miles.” A $691 million program involving domestic satellite construction, launch and maintenance is already in place. Improvements to ground stations are also planned but a specific allocation for the base installations wasn’t discussed. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. of Richmond, B.C. said it was invited to build, launch and initially operate the RCM. Canada’s Department of National Defense is also funding an Automatic Identification System package for installation on the Radarsat Constellation Mission. For navigational safety, the International Maritime Organization requires ships larger than 300 tons to carry an AIS beacon, which allows other ships or land-based receivers to track a vessel’s identity, speed and course. The Department of National Defense is funding the AIS sensor design and its integration into RCM, currently estimated at $55 million. Earlier this month, Magellan Aerospace Corp.