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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Freedom '58' for most Canadians

   Canada column for Sunday, July 27/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians are working towards being mortgage-free by age 58, a national survey has found.
   The poll conducted for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce by Angus Reid put the age one year later than in a similar survey a year ago.
   Across the country, there are some variations as homeowners in British Columbia – with the highest real estate prices in Canada – expecting to pay off their mortgages at age 66.
   Neighboring Albertans said they should be mortgage-free at 55 while it is 56 in Quebec, 57 in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and 58 years in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
   Helping become debt free were 55 percent saying they are taking advantage of low interest rates to pay down their mortgages quicker.
   The bank said small efforts can add up to big savings such as making payments more often, increasing the amount paid and lump-sum payments.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Suspended senator faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery

   Canada column for Sunday, July 20/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Suspended Senator Mike Duffy is facing 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in connection with the so-called “expenses scandal.”
   The former television news broadcaster was appointed to Canada’s upper chamber by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009.
   His arrest involves claims for housing expenses, travel costs not associated with the Senate business and fraudulent contracts, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said.
   The investigation concerns more than $200,000 in expenses claimed by Duffy, 68, he added.
   Duffy was suspended from the Senate last November along with Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin over expense claims.
   Former Senator Mac Harb resigned last August after paying back $231,000 for ineligible housing and travel expenses.
   Police earlier proceeded with fraud and breach-of-trust charges against Brazeau and Harb while they continue to investigate Wallin’s expenses.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Maritime provinces cleaning up after remnants of Hurricane Arthur

   Canada column for Sunday, July 13/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Power is gradually being restored across Canada’s Maritime provinces after a hit last weekend by the remnants of Hurricane Arthur.
   The storm cut electricity to more than 250,000 residences and businesses, with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia receiving the most damage.
   There are more than 1,000 power workers repairing blown-down lines and cutting away broken trees and limbs brought down by the storm.
   In New Brunswick, the hardest-hit areas were around Fredericton and in the southwestern part of the province, with thousands of felled trees and downed power poles.
   About 80 percent of the service has been restored with work continuing over the weekend, said Meghan Gerrish of New Brunswick Power.
   The provincial government opened 33 reception centers assist those without electricity as the Emergency Measure's office said Arthur was so powerful it pulled down trees that would have withstood a typical storm.
   Bob Hanf, president of Nova Scotia Power, said damage was as severe as that done by Hurricane Juan in 2003.