Chair of LCBO to step down at end of August: Ontario government

TORONTO — Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government says the chair of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will step down at the end of the month after less than a year in the job.


In a news release issued Friday evening, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli says Ed Clark will resign his post at the Crown corporation on Aug. 30.


Clark took on the job in January under the previous Liberal government, earning a symbolic salary of $1 per year.


The corporation, in charge of the sale of alcoholic beverages across the province, had also been tasked under the previous government with the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana once it becomes legalized in October.


But those plans were plunged into uncertainty amid published reports that the province would allow private sector sales of the recreational drug.


Premier Doug Ford has not confirmed or denied the reports, saying only that an announcement would come later.


Clark, a former TD Bank CEO, had served as former premier Kathleen Wynne’s business adviser starting in 2015 and also worked on the province’s bid to land the new Amazon headquarters.


“Mr. Clark has demonstrated true leadership and a dedication to public service. Our government has appreciated the advice and support he has provided over the last few weeks on a number of files,” Fedeli said in the written statement.

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Tesla CEO Musk taunts short sellers amid legal scrutiny

WASHINGTON — Tesla CEO Elon Musk used Twitter late Friday to taunt investors who have bet against his company, even though his previous Twitter comments have spurred a government investigation and shareholder lawsuits.


The tweets are aimed at “shorts,” or investors who borrowed shares of Tesla and immediately sold them with the hope that Tesla’s share price would fall. That would allow the shorts to buy back the stock at a lower price, return the shares to the lender, and pocket the difference.


Shorting a stock can temporarily lower its price, making short investors a frequent target of CEO wrath.


The Twitter comments could potentially affect Musk’s legal situation. On Tuesday he tweeted that he had secured funding to buy all Tesla shares and take the company private. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Musk’s disclosure of the potential deal, according to reports earlier this week.


Musk’s attitude toward short sellers could be relevant, securities law experts have said. Musk’s tweet about taking Tesla private sent the stock soaring 11 per cent Tuesday and cost short sellers roughly $1 billion, according to some estimates.


If his motive for the tweet “was frustration with short sellers, then that could be a case of market manipulation,” John Coffee Jr., a Columbia University law professor and corporate-governance expert, said earlier this week.


Late Friday Musk mocked short investors in a series of tweets, suggesting his antipathy toward them hasn’t dimmed.


“Short shorts coming soon to Tesla merch,” Musk tweeted. “What are your fav short shorts?”


James Cox, a professor of securities law at Duke University, downplayed the significance of the Friday tweets, noting that Musk’s antipathy toward short sellers is well-known.


“It’s hard for me to think that these blasts are going to get him in trouble,” Cox said.


On Friday, two lawsuits were filed accusing Musk of seeking to harm short sellers by artificially running up the price of the company’s shares through his Tuesday tweets. One tweet on Tuesday said that funding to take Tesla private was “secure.” If there is evidence that the financing wasn’t fully locked down, Musk’s claim would expose him to allegations of fraud, Coffee said.


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AP Business Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report from San Francisco.


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This story has been corrected to say Musk is Tesla CEO, not Tesla founder and CEO.

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Jury awards $289M to man who blames Roundup for cancer

SAN FRANCISCO — A jury’s $289 million award to a former school groundskeeper who said Monsanto’s Roundup left him dying of cancer will bolster thousands of pending cases and open the door for countless people who blame their suffering on the weed killer, the man’s lawyers said.


“I’m glad to be here to be able to help in a cause that’s way bigger than me,” Dewayne Johnson said at a news conference Friday after the verdict was announced.


Johnson, 46, alleges that heavy contact with the herbicide caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The state Superior Court jury agreed that Roundup contributed to Johnson’s cancer and Monsanto should have provided a label warning of the potential health hazard.


Johnson thanked jurors “from the bottom of my heart” for their work, along with his lawyers and his family.


His was the first case filed by a cancer patient against the agribusiness giant to reach trial. It was expedited because court filings indicated that Johnson was dying. His victory may set the precedent for many others.


“A unanimous jury in San Francisco has told Monsanto: ‘Enough. You did something wrong and now you have to pay,”‘ said Brent Wisner, Johnson’s lead trial lawyer. “There’s 4,000 other cases filed around the United States and there are countless thousand other people out there who are suffering from cancer because Monsanto didn’t give them a choice … We now have a way forward.”


Monsanto has denied a link between the active ingredient in Roundup — glyphosate — and cancer, saying hundreds of studies have established that glyphosate is safe.


Monsanto spokesman Scott Partridge said the company will appeal. Partridge said scientific studies and two government agencies have concluded that Roundup does not cause cancer.


“We are sympathetic to Mr. Johnson and his family,” Partridge said. “We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective, and safe tool for farmers and others.”


Johnson used Roundup and a similar product, Ranger Pro, as a pest control manager at a San Francisco Bay Area school district, his lawyers said. He sprayed large quantities from a 50-gallon tank attached to a truck, and during gusty winds, the product would cover his face, said Brent Wisner, one of his attorneys.


Once, when a hose broke, the weed killer soaked his entire body.


Johnson read the label and even contacted the company after developing a rash but was never warned it could cause cancer, Wisner said. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014.


“The simple fact is he is going to die. It’s just a matter of time,” Wisner told the jury in his opening statement last month.


But George Lombardi, an attorney for Monsanto, said non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma takes years to develop, so Johnson’s cancer must have started well before he began working at the school district.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Roundup’s active ingredient is safe for people when used in accordance with label directions.


However, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015. California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer.


Johnson’s attorneys sought and won $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million of the $373 million they wanted in punitive damages.

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