Canada column for Sunday, Aug. 30/15
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Conservative leader Stephen Harper, seeking to be returned as the prime minister in the Oct. 19 federal election, had beefed up his security detail.
Along with the Mounties who are assigned for his personal protection, the Conservatives are also using former members of the Canadian military to act as security during campaign stops.
Security expert Chris Mathers, a former undercover Mountie, said the private security officers are likely there to deal with “uninvited guests” and to keep the peace at events.
Conservative spokesman Kory Teneycke said “we don’t talk about it” when asked about the additional security contingent.
“The whole point about having security at these things to is try to avoid somebody else who has their own agenda ... destabilizing the agenda that you have,” said Alex Marland, a political science professor at Memorial University.
This happened on Thursday when a man was escorted out of the room when he tried to join journalists asking Harper a question in suburban Toronto.
The Mounties are providing security for New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau but they have not hired additional security.
A Forum Research poll shows the socialist New Democrats with the backing of 40 percent of Canadians – a margin that could give leader Thomas Mulcair a majority government in the October election.
The poll conducted for the Toronto Star projects the New Democrats with enough support to elect 174 members while Liberals have moved up to second place with 30 percent support and the Conservatives have slipped to 23 percent.
The drop for the previous Conservative government could be anger over testimony at the fraud trial of suspended Sen. Mike Duffy, a Harper appointee, the stock market weakness and talk of a faltering economy, said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.
News in brief:
- Canada’s big banks are weathering the storm of lower energy prices and interest rates to beat performance expectations. Positive earning reports have come from the Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, TD Bank, CIBC and the National Bank in the past week. Also at play are two interest rate cuts from the Bank of Canada that put pressure on the commercial banks’ interest margins.
- Debt-monitoring agency TransUnion says Canadians appear to be getting better at handling their personal debt. It said there is a smaller percentage of debt payments that are overdue by 90 days or more even as the average balance owing continues to rise. The overall delinquency rate of 2.58 percent on non-mortgage consumer debts was down from 2.78 percent. The average consumer debt rose to $21,028 in the three months ended June 30.
Facts and figures:
The Canadian dollar remains lower at 75.61 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.3224 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is 0.50 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Markets are higher with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,793 points and the TSX Venture index 550 points.
The average price of gas is lower at a national average of $1.077 a liter or $4.09 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Aug. 26) 5, 7, 24, 45, 46 and 49; bonus 44. (Aug. 22) 14, 22, 31, 37, 43 and 49; bonus 15. Lotto Max: (Aug. 21) 3, 13, 15, 22, 33, 41 and 49; bonus 11.
- Christine Elliot, deputy leader of the Ontario Conservatives, has resigned from the provincial legislature three months after losing her second bid to be the party’s leader. She said in a brief statement the decision to quit was “not easy.” The widow of former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty lost the leadership bid to Patrick Brown who called her a “tireless advocate for her constituents and Ontario.”
- Anger over the upstart UberX ride-hailing service in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver has now spread to Montreal and Quebec City where there were demonstrations by hundreds of taxi drivers. “We will not accept UberX – that’s the message,” Wilson Jean Paul, spokesman for taxi owners, said in Montreal. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has said he’s open to legalizing the taxi-service alternative while Montreal’s Mayor Denis Coderre is strongly against it.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com