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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Toronto mayor's popularity soars; would defeat all challengers, poll says

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 12/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Celebrated Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s popularity has spiked in opinion polls after his tireless response to the ice-storm crisis.
   Forty-seven percent of Torontonians surveyed by Forum Research Inc. approve of Ford’s work as mayor, up from 42 percent in December.
   Even more telling is that 41 percent said they will vote to re-elect him as mayor in October, easily defeating all of the expected opponents for the job.
   The massive ice storm that left more than 300,000 customers without power, some for up to eight days over the holidays, saw Ford on the front lines daily.
   “People saw him taking charge and will remember it,” said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.
   Ford was stripped of most of his powers by city council after he admitted to buying and smoking crack cocaine.
   Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who was put in charge, had to apologize after it was reported that he left the city at the height of the crisis to spend Christmas in Florida with relatives.
   The city is asking for provincial and federal government disaster assistance as costs from the storm and cleanup are estimated at $106 million.


   Canada’s dollar is under pressure against a stronger U.S. currency that could result in a higher price to get away or shop in the U.S.
   Economists suggest the dollar could drop to 90 cents U.S. after being equal to the U.S. currency last year.
   The dollar dropped below 92 cents U.S. Friday after jobless numbers rose and the trade deficit worsened slightly.
   With it costing about $1.12 Canadian with bank fees for each U.S. greenback, there has been little or no effect on trips to the sunny south, said David McCaig, president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies.
   “It's cold enough in Canada that everyone wants to get away,” he added, noting: “Most Canadians feel they have the right to have a holiday and they're going to take it.”


   News in brief:
   - Police in Hallandale Beach, Florida say they are seeking two women in the slaying of David Pichosky and Rochelle Wise of Toronto in their condo a year ago. Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy said DNA samples have produced no matches in crime files and a reward of $57,000 is offered to solve the case. Robbery was believed to be the motive as Wise’s wedding band worth $16,000 was taken.
  - Living large is in vogue for Canadians as luxury home sales are rising, Sotheby's International Realty Canada said. There was a jump last year in sales of million-dollar homes in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Calgary had 722 houses and condos selling for more than $1 million, with seven at more than $4 million. There were 2,505 million-dollar sales in Vancouver and 5,449 in Toronto. Montreal had a drop but still had 359 properties selling at $1-million plus.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s economy surprising lost 45,900 jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate to 7.2 percent from 6.9 percent, Statistics Canada said Friday.
   This dropped the value of the Canadian dollar to a four-year low of 91.75 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returned $1.0899 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s trendsetting interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate remains at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 13,724 points and the TSX Venture index at 962 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Jan. 8) 1, 12, 17, 22, 29 and 44; bonus 35. (Jan. 4) 1, 15, 21, 22, 38 and 39; bonus 19. Lotto Max: (Jan. 3) 7, 16, 31, 35, 39, 44 and 48; bonus 42.


   Regional briefs:
   - Investigators have found a cracked wheel and broken rail at the site of a fiery freight train derailment in Wapske, New Brunswick. A fire burned for several days after 19 of the CN Rail cars carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas jumped the tracks. No one was injured but 150 people were forced to leave their homes.
   - Air travel was disrupted for several days – with 600 flights cancelled on Tuesday alone – as the wind chill dropped temperatures to -40F at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. It was too cold for ground workers to work outside and equipment was freezing, so the airport authority prevented North American flights from landing for more than eight hours.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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