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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Conservatives retake the lead in public-opinion polls before the October election

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 20/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Brushing off criticism that the Conservative government hasn’t done enough to resettle Syrian refugees, the ruling party is back on top in public opinion polls for the Oct. 19 election.
   Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives regained the lead with 32 per-cent support in a Forum Research poll.
   The party lagged behind – dropping to as low as third place – in recent weeks but Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said the Conservatives likely got a boost with news that Canada has a $1.9-billion budget surplus this year.
   Second was the socialist New Democratic Party with 30 per cent followed by the Liberals at 28, Green, 6, and Bloc Quebecois, 4 percent.
   Forum pollsters asked Canadians if the Conservatives are doing enough to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis and offering resettlement assistance.
   Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they were while 36 percent believe more should be done.
   At a leaders’ debate in Calgary about the economy, Harper said “staying the course” with tax cuts and balanced budgets is the safe road to prosperity.
   Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau called for more spending as an “investment in the future” while the New Democrat’s Tom Mulcair said he would invest in social programs and raise corporate income taxes.


   Asian investors are expected to show more interest in Canada’s luxury home markets.
   Sotheby's International Realty Canada said turbulence on the Chinese stock market could send more buyers from mainland China to consider Canadian real estate this fall.
   It’s predicted that sales of houses costing more than $1 million will rise in Toronto and Vancouver, with gains expected to be highest in the $4-million-plus category.
   The company said Montreal’s luxury market should be balanced while Calgary will slow due to declining world oil prices.
   “Canada in general is seen as an oasis of political and economic stability,” said Elaine Hung, Sotheby vice president of marketing.


   News in brief:
   - A “family acquaintance” has been arrested in Alberta in the death and abduction of a two-year-old girl and the killing of her father. Mounties say Derek Saretzky, 22, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and Terry Blanchette, 27, of Blairmore. Police said they haven’t determined a motive.
   - A continued drop in gas and energy prices countered higher costs of most consumer goods and services to keep Canada’s inflation rate steady last month at 1.3 percent. Statistics Canada said consumers paid 3.6 percent more for food in August compared with a year ago, while restaurant meals were 2.8-percent higher.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar advanced Friday to 75.65 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returned $1.321 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Markets are higher with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,649 points and the TSX Venture index 550 points.
   The average price of gas is lower at a national average of $1.045 a liter or $3.97 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Sept. 16) 1, 2, 9, 12, 21 and 39; bonus 44. (Sept. 12) 9, 10, 26, 29, 38 and 42; bonus 33. Lotto Max: (Sept. 11) 21, 22, 27, 30, 39, 42 and 44; bonus 8.


   Regional briefs:
   - A former volunteer firefighter in Halifax has been arrested for the murder of a female off-duty police officer. Christopher Garnier, 27, is being held in custody in the death of Catherine Campbell, 36, a constable with the Truro police force. Investigators said the two met at a downtown bar and her body was found five days later in a wooded area near the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge.
   - Ontario’s 76,000 public elementary school teachers plan to begin rotating, one-day strikes next month to back contract demands with the provincial government. The members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario are calling for the government and school boards to resume bargaining. They are continuing to work-to-rule while high-school teachers have tentatively agreed to contract terms.


   Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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