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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cold snap alters plans for outdoor activities, New Year's Eve on Parliament Hill

   Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 31/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Cold enough for you?
   An unusual long-lasting cold snap has put much of Canada under a wave of frigid Arctic air.
   Environment Canada’s Alexandre Parent said the polar vortex is being felt across Ontario, the Prairies, Quebec and the Maritimes with overnight temperatures hitting -40 Celsius/Fahrenheit.
   It is so cold it’s causing havoc with New Year’s Eve festivities on Parliament Hill in Ottawa where the outdoor show is being shortened.
   It is the grand finale for Canada’s 150th anniversary year but with temperatures to be about -28 Celsius (-18F), it’s too much to take.
   While the show must go on, musical entertainment and DJs have been canceled but there will be still be fireworks and a laser show at midnight.
   Heritage Minister Melanie Joly said there is a concern for people being outside for a long time in the cold.
   Toronto is among other cities cutting back on New Year’s Eve outdoor parties where the temperature there is to be -14C (7F).


   Unwilling to accept suggestions of a murder/suicide, the family of slain billionaire Barry and Honey Sherman of Toronto has hired a lawyer and private investigator.
   Sherman’s generic drug company Apotex made them among the wealthiest people in Canada, worth about $4.7 billion.
   Lawyer Brian Greenspan said retired police detective Thomas Klatt will conduct an investigation separate from the ongoing Toronto police probe.
   The Shermans were found dead in their home on Dec. 15 and police said their deaths were “suspicious,” with no details given.


   News in brief:
   - A public “celebration of life” will be held Wednesday for Johnny Bower, the much-loved Toronto Maple Leafs’ Hall of Fame goaltender, who died of pneumonia at age 93. The team ambassador played 11 seasons with the Maple Leafs and led them to four Stanley Cup titles, including their last one in 1967.
   - Irv Weinstein, legendary Buffalo, N.Y. TV news anchor and cult favorite with millions of Canadians, has died at age 87. He introduced Canadians to the gritty U.S.-style “Eyewitness News” and retired in 1998 after 34 years at the ABC affiliate. He died in a California assisted living residence of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
   - Among the latest appointments to the honorary Order of Canada is William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on Star Trek. He joins Quebec film director Denis Villeneuve and singer-songwriter Jann Arden.

   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 79.52 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.257 in Canadian funds before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3.2 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 16,209 points while the TSX Venture index is 850 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada is up at $1.182 a liter or $4.49 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Dec. 27) 4, 7, 10, 14, 27 and 31; bonus 1. (Dec. 23) 8, 11, 22, 29, 39 and 40; bonus 30. Lotto Max: (Dec. 22) 13, 16, 19, 21, 24, 26 and 30; bonus 36.


   Regional briefs:
   - A Christmas Day wind storm in Nova Scotia snapped hydro poles, putting 158,000 customers in the dark. It took crews four days to restore all the electricity along the south shore. Snow moved into New Brunswick, dumping 18 inches in Bathurst and 15 inches in the Woodstock area.
   - An Orillia, Ontario woman has been offered free bus rides for life after quick action that avoided a catastrophe. Rebecca Powley jumped into action when an Ontario Northland bus driver passed out at the wheel on a busy highway. She pulled the driver’s foot off the gas pedal and managed to steer the bus with 45 passengers to the shoulder of Highway 401 in Toronto and stop it.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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