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Marc-André Blanchard will oversee investments outside Canada, where the pension fund has 66 per cent, or about $225 billion, of its $340 billion in assets. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Blanchard, who spent the past four years as Canada’s UN ambassador, was replaced earlier this month by Bob Rae. Blanchard is taking over a growth area for the pension fund. The Caisse increased its international investments last year, with the U.S., India, Brazil and Colombia all areas of focus. The fund posted a 9.2 per cent annualized return over 10 years in its annual report for 2019, published in June. Prior to taking the UN role, Blanchard was the past CEO of McCarthy Tétrault. He’ll report directly to the Caisse’s new CEO, Charles Emond, who has held the job for six months.

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The federal government released its first progress report as part of an attempt to get Rogers, Bell and Telus to cut prices by 25 per cent over two years. Subsequent reports will be released quarterly. (The Logic)

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Talking point: There’s still a fair amount of time for the Big Three to meet the government’s target. So far, though, prices largely haven’t dropped at all. In every province other than Quebec, there was no reduction in the prices for any phone plans between January and June. Telus communications manager Richard Gilhooley called on the government to include his firm’s subsidiary Public Mobile in its tracking, which he said exceeded the government’s 25 per cent target with its 2 GB, 4 GB and 8 GB plans. Asked if his firm planned to meet the government’s timeline for price reductions, he said, “We are committed to developing plans that meet the needs of Canadians and will continue to refine our offerings as those needs evolve.” Government pressure is butting up against falling revenues; last week, Rogers posted a net income drop of 53 per cent for the second quarter in the midst of the pandemic. The Competition Bureau is also ramping up its call for the Big Three to face more competition from smaller firms. – Zane 

This piece has been updated with comment from Telus.

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“C.D.” claimed he suffered anxiety, nightmares and panic attacks after his name appeared on a list of alleged aggressors that circulated on Facebook pages “Dis son nom” (say his name) and “Victims voices,” as well as on Facebook-owned Instagram. The man, who said he has a common Quebec name and that there was no indication he was the target of the allegations, nonetheless said his friends and wife asked him about it. Though the list was eventually removed from the sites, it was still readily accessible. “Social media, notably those owned by Facebook, are not appropriate forums for [sexual misconduct] victims to obtain justice, given the inability to verify and validate the veracity of the anonymous allegations,” reads the class-action request, which was filed in the Superior Court of Quebec. (La Presse)

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Talking point: Similar allegations have hit Quebec’s cultural and political milieux over the last several weeks—with some of the alleged perpetrators also pushing back. Notably, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet said he hasn’t ruled out legal action against a Facebook group that published allegations that he attempted to exchange cocaine for sex in the bathroom of a Montreal bar in 1999.

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The public utility will suspend a four-year plan to buy up assets beyond Canada and the United States. And lower demand for power as a result of COVID-19 and a warmer winter means the company will likely miss its target net profit of $2.9 million—including $130 million less in revenue from Quebec customers alone, according to CEO Sophie Brochu. (The Globe and Mail)

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Talking point: Announced in 2016, Hydro-Québec’s plan to invest outside the U.S. and Canada was meant as a $100-million buttress against anticipated lower domestic demand for its bounty. But the utility found itself in bidding against deeper-pocketed investors abroad, and only made one major M&A investment in the last four years, a $661-million marker in Quebec-based Innergex Renewable Energy earlier this year.

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They will join international stakeholders in creating the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), an initiative aimed at the development of AI “based on shared values such as human rights, diversity, inclusion, innovation, and economic growth for all.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: The International Centre of Expertise in Montréal for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (ICEMAI) will be one of GPAI’s two international centres of expertise, and will include input from Mila research institute scientific director Yoshua Bengio. ICEMAI will hold its first plenary in Montreal next December.

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Investissement Québec (IQ), the provincial government’s investment arm, and the Fonds de Solidarité FTQ, the venture capital fund of the province’s largest union federation, have each pledged $75 million over five years to support the province’s sizeable biotech and life-sciences sectors. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Quebec biotech has been thriving as of late, particularly in the development of so-called “precision medicine,” which targets subgroups of people and therefore allows doctors to better predict treatment and prevention strategies. In November 2019, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Fonds and IQ, along with BDC Capital, invested in Toronto-based Amplitude Ventures’ $200-million fund, aiming to support precision-medicine development. The Fonds has also backed Repare Therapeutics, which is about to go public on the Nasdaq.

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A report from the Coalition Sortons la Caisse du carbon and the David Suzuki Foundation says the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s “very significant” selloff of shares in high-emissions sectors between 2018 and 2019 has resulted in an overall decrease in the value of its fossil-fuel portfolio. Should it continue shedding its oil and gas interests at that rate, the public pension manager, which oversees more than $340 billion, will have divested itself of all fossil-fuel investments in five years, according to the report. (The Logic)

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Talking point: There was a “spectacular” 42.5 per cent reduction in the value of the Caisse’s oilsands portfolio, due in large part to the manager’s selloff of its interests in the sector, the report reads. It is indicative of the Caisse’s accelerated exit from oil and gas investment; its previous administration had pledged only to reduce its fossil-fuel investments by 25 per cent by 2025.

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Quebec’s media-telecom monolith saw its 2019 revenues rise by 2.7 per cent to $4.29 billion, and its fourth-quarter revenues increase by 4.5 per cent to $1.14 billion. The gains translated into a 78 per cent jump in its quarterly dividend to 20 cents per share. Revenues from its mobile division were up about $66 million to nearly $601 million, while equipment sales were up more than 15 per cent to nearly $270 million, compared to 2018. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Despite its formidable numbers, Quebecor’s balance sheet nonetheless reflects the diminishing returns from the company’s core businesses. Both cable television and advertising revenues were down a respective 2.2 and 3.6 per cent, while subscription revenues were relatively flat.

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Éric Martel, who has been at the helm of the province’s public utility since 2015, replaces Alain Bellemare, who arrived at Bombardier that same year. (La Presse)

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Talking point: Over the last five years, Martel instituted an overhaul of Hydro-Québec, bringing sunshine to its opaque bureaucracy, boosting net export sales by over 15 per cent and increasing customer satisfaction levels. Prior to Hydro-Québec, Martel oversaw Bombardier’s business aircraft—the very division on which the suddenly-smaller company will focus in its rebuild effort. Bellemare’s attempts to salvage the storied Quebec company saw the selloff of several of its most iconic properties, including its turboprop, rail and regional-jet divisions. Despite this, Bombardier remains saddled with US$9.3 billion in long-term debt, and paid a whopping US$732 million in interest in 2018.