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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Senate scandal plays role in outcome of Canadian byelections

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 1/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Senate expenses scandal is viewed as a major factor in the Liberals emerging as the overall victor in recent federal by-elections and taking a lead in opinion polls.
   Notable in the mid-term elections to fill vacancies in the House of Commons was the increased share of the votes for the Liberals.
   They were expected to win those districts in Toronto and Montreal while the ruling Conservatives won, as expected, in Manitoba’s Brandon-Souris and Provencher but with diminished support.
   “Canadians grow weary of the deceit, the mistrust and the cover-ups of the Conservatives,” a jubilant Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said.
   He was referring to the suspension of three Conservative senators appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper for making inappropriate expense claims amounting to about $278,000.
   Public opinion polls also show growing Liberal support at the expense of the Conservatives and the socialist New Democratic Party (NDP).
   The latest polling averages give the Liberals 35.7-percent support, the Conservatives 28.9 percent and the NDP, 23 percent.

 (For more Canadian news of the week, click "Read more)

   Retailers in Canada are fighting back against the U.S. Black Friday sales that draw hundreds of thousands of Canadians over the border.
   Cadillac Fairview opened its 21 malls across Canada as early as 6 a.m. Friday with great deals, said marketing director Wendy Greenwood.
   Amazon.ca and Sears Canada were offering up to 70 percent discounts on their merchandise.
   “Canadian retailers are rising to the challenge of the lure of cross-border shopping . . . and the significant gap between Canadian and U.S. retail prices and the more generous duty-free limits," said Doug Porter, chief economist, BMO Capital Markets.


   News in brief:
   - Sears Canada is laying off another 800 employees in its repair, parts and service departments and the Toronto head office. The company, with 111 stores, had a net loss of $48.8 million in the last quarter. It announced earlier it is closing the Toronto Eaton Center store as well as Sherway Gardens, Toronto; Markville, Toronto-Markham; Masonville Place, London, Ontario; and Richmond Center, British Columbia.
   - Canada will appeal a ruling by the World Trade Organization in favor of aspects of Europe’s ban on imported seal products. The ruling said it undermines fair trade but can be justified on “public moral concerns” for animal welfare. Anti-sealing advocates called it a landmark victory in upholding the European Union embargo.
   - The Ontario government is making carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in all houses. The effort was spearheaded by relatives of a Woodstock, Ontario family poisoned in 2008. Police officer Laurie Hawkins, her husband Richard, their 14-year-old daughter Cassandra and 12-year-old son Jordan died after a blocked chimney allowed carbon monoxide to seep into their house.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has dropped to 94.39 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0593 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,489 points and the TSX Venture index 931 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Nov. 27) 8, 9, 15, 23, 40 and 48; bonus 19. (Nov. 23) 3, 5, 13, 16, 44 and 48; bonus 2. Lotto Max: (Nov. 22) 2, 24, 35, 38, 39, 41 and 48; bonus 20.


   Regional briefs:
   - The British Columbia government is again making attempts to correct some historic wrongs committed in the late 1800s against Chinese nationals. Community forums are planned to discuss the wording of an apology and legacy efforts over the head tax imposed to discourage Chinese immigration.
   - A meteorite is believed to have crashed to earth in a bright flash of blue light between Ottawa and Montreal. Police in Ontario and Quebec received numerous reports of the light and what sounded like a sonic boom. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada said it appears that it was a “meteor event.”
   - A self-proclaimed satanic preacher is offering Rob Ford tours to the spots made famous by Toronto’s crack cocaine smoking mayor. Morgan Wilkes said his “RoFo Bus Tour” travels to the locations shown in police surveillance videos including a house where an incriminating video with the mayor and drug dealers was shot. The one-hour tours cost $20 and include a performance by an “intoxicated” Ford look-alike.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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