QuickNews, Thursday, Oct. 29.
HOUSE AFFORDABILITY ERODES | Sharp rise in Canadian prices amid sales boom. Despite sluggish economy, average Canadian house price rises to $328,762 in 3Q. Vancouver priciest, at average $603,165. Toronto rises to $324,873. Only Calgary down, by 2% - first decline since 2005 in Desjardins Affordability Index.
LEST WE FORGET | Lt. Justin Garrett Boyes, 26, killed by IED near Kandahar city. Brings to 132 the number of Canadian troops killed since our Afghan mission began in 2002. U.S. thinking hard about new strategy to protect Afghan's biggest cities and cede countryside to Taliban. But that strategy failed for Soviet occupiers.
MALAISE | Sluggish August GDP growth expected to continue when September GDP revealed. Canadian growth of just 0.3% expected for month. Today U.S. expected to announce 3Q GDP growth of about 3%.
PENSION REFORM | As expected, Ontario to follow Ottawa's lead in pension reform. Flaherty's proposed reforms affect only federally regulated employers. Provinces and territories must follow suit for more Canadians to benefit.
VOLTE FACE | Harper to visit China in December, India in November. Harper established hostile relations with Beijing even before taking office, criticizing Grits for placing trade ahead of human-rights concerns. Said he'd never sell out those concerns "for the almighty dollar." Now that Canada needs rapidly growing China as stronger trading partner, human rights agenda quietly shelved. (Photo: Chinese President Hu Jintao and Stephen Harper meet in Hokkaido in July 2008.)
CHINA BLASTED | Mark Carney slams China for manipulating currency. Bank of Canada governor raises volume on longstanding N.A. complaint that Beijing artifically suppresses value of yuan to benefit its exporters. Carney says resulting $2 trillion (U.S.) Chinese accumulation of greenbacks made possible easy-money era of earlier this decade that helped trigger record U.S. housing boom that in turn caused global financial meltdown and recession.
CHINA PREFERRED BIDDER | Ford gives China's Chery the nod as inside bidder for Volvo.
PREVIEW | Sunday NYT Magazine profile of Barack and Michelle Obama. When Obama first asked his wife of only three years for her permission to run for elected office, Michelle's response was: "I married you because you’re cute and you’re smart. But this is the dumbest thing you could have ever asked me to do.”
U.S. HEALTHCARE DRAMA | House bill to include "public option," as Senate bill will. But Pelosi, in appeal to conservatives, would require new government insurer to negotiate costs with private-sector providers rather than set the rates itself, in contrast, say, to OHIP schedule of reimbursements. Senate's twist is that states can opt out of public option. Seems only "option" U.S. legislators won't experiment with to gain passage is the only one that really makes sense: cost-efficient, genuinely universal single-payer system that the rest of industrialized world has had for decades. Congres divided on public option, but not Main Street, where support for new government insurer to keep private ones honest remains strong.
NAIL-BITER | Iran to announce today if it will accept tentative deal to have Russia store its uranium. Many Iranian officials getting cold feet, say no assurance Russians will return the uranium. U.S. acting oddly with this coup in sight, harshly dictating deadline for Tehran. And Clinton in Pakistan when Tehran would seem more logical place for secretary of state's diplomatic skills at this moment.
HYDRO-HYDRA | Hydro-Quebec will today announce deal to buy N.B. Power for close to $10 billion. Already N.A.'s biggest hydro-electric utility, Hydro-Quebec also keen to buy or ally with N.S. and P.E.I. power utilities to dominate Eastern Canadian production. Maritime utilities have U.S. contracts that will add to Hydro-Quebec's.
HALLOWE'EN HAUL | Trick Or Treat Index identifies most promising neighbourhoods. For Seattle and Los Angeles, Website zillow.com has factored in home values, population density, walkability and local crime rates. “Based on those variables, this Index represents neighbourhoods that will provide the most candy, with the least walking, and minimum safety risks,” says site's Whitney Tyler.
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "He thinks by infection, catching an opinion like a cold." -John Ruskin.
Courtesy The New Yorker, Oct. 26 edition.