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Monday, September 19, 2011

New Democrats pull together as Canada's Parliament resumes

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 18/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   When Canada’s Parliament resumes on Monday, it will be without a familiar face as the New Democrats attempt to pull together after the death of their leader.
   Politician Olivia Chow, widow of the socialist party’s leader Jack Layton who died last month of cancer at age 61, emotionally urged members to stay united.
   “We have a lot of work to do to carry on his torch,” Chow told the party caucus.
   “I’m so glad there are over 100 of us to take on that work because we know that we are united and strong in the values of the New Democratic Party of Canada that Jack embodied throughout his life,” she added.
   Layton had his greatest election victory last May when he led the party to number two in the standings, electing 102 members, and making the New Democrats the official opposition in the House of Commons.
   The party’s challenge is to be effective without being divided or distracted by the process of selecting a new leader next March.
   Interim leader Nycole Turmel said Layton’s legacy is his political team that “can’t wait to get back to Parliament and take on (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper.”


   Canada’s housing market remains stable in spite of economic concerns.
   The Canadian Real Estate Association said the average price paid for houses in August rose 7.7 percent from last year to $349,916.
   Among major urban centers, Toronto and Ottawa had a monthly increase in activity while Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver saw slightly fewer sales.
   “The housing market in Canada remained on a firm footing in August when compared to volatile financial markets,” said Gary Morse, association president.
   This reflects homebuyers showing they “remain confident about the stability of the Canadian housing market and recognize that the continuation of low interest rates represents an excellent opportunity to buy their first home or trade up,” he said.


   News in brief:
   - Investors bailed out of Canada-based Research In Motion on Friday as it dropped $3 billion in stock value. The BlackBerry maker reported lower device sales, weaker profits and revenues. Shares in the Waterloo, Ontario consumer technology company fell nearly 20 percent to $23.41 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
   - A former Mountie says he still believes the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off Nova Scotia on Sept. 2, 1998 killing all 229 passengers and crew was caused by a bomb. Tom Juby now alleges publicly that the Transportation Safety Board didn’t investigate the possibility even after high levels of magnesium were discovered in the cockpit area. The board concluded the plane was brought down by a fire likely caused by sparking electrical wires.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at $1.0218 U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns 97.87 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is unchanged at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Research In Motion’s loss in stock value along with economic concerns dropped the Toronto Stock Exchange by 151 points on Friday to 12,273. The TSX Venture Exchange was off at 1,762 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 12, 26, 28, 31, 33 and 45; bonus 27. (Sept. 10) 17, 18, 25, 31, 42 and 49; bonus 28. Lotto Max: (Sept. 9) 6, 8, 15, 20, 30, 32 and 42; bonus 17.


   Regional briefs:
   - Convicted child sex offender Randall Hopley is undergoing a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation after police arrested him for abducting a youngster from his Sparwood, British Columbia home. They said, miraculously, Kienan Hebert, 3, was returned to his home unharmed four days later. Hopley, 46, was later captured near an empty Bible camp by Crowsnest Lake in Alberta after a week-long search.
   - A Fraser Institute study finds that Montreal is losing corporate executives at an increasing rate with head offices are moving out, most of them to Toronto. This is due to centralization, globalization and a series of acquisitions, the study said. In 1990, Montreal was headquarters to 96 of Canada’s 500 largest companies but that number has now dropped to 81.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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