Canada column for Sunday, May 7/17
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
A massive storm stalled over central and eastern Canada has resulted in several days of persistent rainfall into this weekend and flooding.
Lake Ontario is at its highest level since 1993 – almost two feet above average – as measures are ready to remove the 700 residents of the Toronto islands, if necessary.
The three inches or so of rain have flooded Toronto beach parks and roads near the lake.
Environment Canada said the weather system is drenching much of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, with officials invoking states of emergency and contingency plans.
In Quebec, 132 communities have been flooded with about 700 people forced from their homes, with less severe conditions in Montreal.
In Atlantic Canada, Environment Canada was predicting up to four inches of rain for most of Nova Scotia and two inches in southwestern New Brunswick.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is “ready and willing” with whatever help is needed with the floods and cleanup.
There is also a risk of flooding in southern British Columbia with thunderstorms, heavy rain, wind gusts and large hail.
A Canadian man arrested for a burglary has been questioned by police in Belize in connection with the deaths of an Ontario woman and her U.S. boyfriend.
The bodies of Francesca Matus, 52, of Keswick, a property manager who has properties in Toronto and a house in Belize, and Drew DeVoursney, 36, a former Marine from Atlanta were found near her car in a sugarcane field.
The couple disappeared after leaving a Corozal bar on April 25, the day before Matus was to return to Canada.
Police ruled out robbery as the motive and said the unidentified Canadian man remains a “person of interest.”
News in brief:
- Canada’s jobless rate has fallen to 6.5 percent – the lowest in nearly nine years – but wages only grew by 0.7 percent in April, Statistics Canada said. Fewer young people searching for work helped push the unemployment rate lower as only 3,200 new jobs were created last month.
- A $500-million cost-cutting measure is planned by Empire Co. Ltd. to revive its Sobeys grocery chain since acquiring Safeway Canada four years ago. Chief executive Michael Medline said the plan is for a leaner organization by 2020 for the business that has1,500 stores including IGA, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods and Lawston’s Drug Stores.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar is lower at 72.97 cents U.S. as the U.S. dollar gained to $1.37 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 lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,568 points while the TSX Venture index is 776 points.
The average price for gas in Canada is down to $1.09 a liter or $4.14 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (May 3) 1, 5, 7, 16, 28 and 46; bonus 30. (April 29) 10, 23, 26, 40, 45 and 46; bonus 12. Lotto Max: (April 28) 10, 14, 22, 36, 38, 44 and 45; bonus 11.
- An Argentine climber has been rescued unharmed by helicopter after being stranded for four days on the Yukon’s Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain. Natalia Martinez, 37, was on a solo ascent of the mountain when two powerful earthquakes hit, causing avalanches and glacial ice to fall around her camp. She was stuck at the 12,800-foot level on the east ridge of Logan.
- Canada’s Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a New Brunswick court ruling overturning a ban on taking alcohol across provincial boundaries. The case is the result of Gerard Comeau of Tracadie being acquitted of exceeding the importation limits on beer and liquor. He returned home from Quebec with 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor. At issue is whether limiting the movement of such products between provinces violates the Constitution.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com