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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Vehicle research center planned in Ottawa with Blackberry engineers

   Canada column for Sunday, April 2/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Four-hundred BlackBerry engineers from Canada and the United States are being hired by the Ford Motor Co. for a connected-vehicle research center in Ottawa.
   It’s part of a $500-million investment that will include increasing sustainability and fuel economy research at Ford plants in Windsor and Oakville, Ontario.
   There will be additional facilities in Waterloo, Ontario, BlackBerry’s hometown; Cary, North Carolina; and Sunrise, Florida.
   This will be Ford’s first center focused on connectivity research and advanced technology in Canada.
   The federal and Ontario governments are giving grants of $100 million to Ford for the projects, part of a $1.2-billion technology partnership.
   It will include research and development on features such as infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles.


   The Canadian government will spend $1.8 billion in infrastructure money to develop a regional GO Transit express rail project throughout Greater Toronto to Hamilton as well as 312 transit improvements across Ontario.
   Plans include electrifying trains on the busiest routes and starting all-day, two-way service with frequencies of no more than 15 minutes.
   There will also be additional tracks and parking capacity, and 12 new stations and renovations at others.
   Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the initiative is the “single largest transit project in which the federal government has ever invested and will help improve the lives of millions of Ontarians.”


   News in brief:
   - The TD Bank has hired an unnamed company to review its business practises after highly critical reports by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. pointed out aggressive marketing pressure on customers by employees. The report suggested some workers broke the law to meet sales targets and keep their jobs. Outside firms often are able to provide helpful resources and perspectives, said chief executive officer Bharat Masrani.
   - Betty Kennedy, legendary Canadian journalist and television personality, has died at age 81. Born in Ottawa and a one-time senator, Kennedy had an interview program for 27 years on Toronto’s CFRB radio and was a panelist on CBC-TV’s current affairs quiz show Front Page Challenge.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar has advanced to 75.15 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.33 Canadian, before 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.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,581 points while the TSX Venture index is 812 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.08 a liter or $4.10 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (March 29) 3, 12, 16, 17, 22 and 30; bonus 48. (March 25) 5, 9, 14, 24, 30 and 35; bonus 21. Lotto Max: (March 24) 16, 19, 21, 32, 37, 39 and 45; bonus 26.


   Regional briefs:
   - Conviction on corruption-related offenses resulted in a one-year jail term for former Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum, 54. He told Judge Louise Provost he would emerge from jail as a better person. His arrest was the result of deals between 2007 and 2010 for a student residence and an aquatic centre in which developers were solicited for kickbacks.
   - BooBoo, the tabby cat who went missing from Watsonville, Calif. four years ago, has been found alive and well in Ontario. How the brown female cat came to Canada remains a mystery and a big reunion is planned with her long-lost family. “We gave up looking for her,” owner Ashley Aleman said after learning the cat’s identity was discovered by the Guelph Humane Society through a microchip.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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