Political observers suggest there were no clear winners or losers in the first televised leaders’ debate of the federal election campaign.
As expected, Stephen Harper last Sunday asked Governor General David Johnston to “dissolve” Parliament to begin an 11-week campaign up to the Oct. 19 election.
Technically, under the Parliamentary system, Harper is no longer the prime minister and is referred to as the leader of the Conservative party.
“Honestly, Mr. Harper, we cannot afford another four years of you,” socialist New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair said in attacking the Conservative economic record.
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He said that Harper denied in the 2008 election campaign that the country was in a recession and the party has “added $150 billion to Canada’s debt in the last 10 years.”
During the debate, Harper made the concession that Canada is now in a mild recession due to the slump in oil prices.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau tried to put aside Conservative advertising claims that he is “not ready” for the job of prime minister.
“What I learned from my father (the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau) is that to lead this country, you need to love this country,” he said.
Green party leader Elizabeth May highlighted her views on protecting the environment and national security.
Canada’s jobless rate remained stuck at 6.8 percent in July, where it has been for the past six months.
This was despite the economy adding about 6,600 jobs and reversing a similar decline from June.
Statistics Canada said there was a drop of 17,300 full-time jobs in July but a jump of 23,900 part-time jobs.
There were also 41,000 more people who became self-employed in July.
The largest increase in employment was in Quebec with 21,700 additional jobs while the number was flat or lower in most other provinces.
News in brief
▪ Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. is moving to cut $2 billion in costs by the end of next year and has slashed its dividend by 60 percent. In an effort to reduce spending due to the falling prices of gold, Barrick is also trying to sell some of its mines. Gold bullion has lost about 40 percent of its value since 2011 and analysts expect further losses if the U.S. Federal Reserve raises interest rates this fall.
▪ The mother of Canadian Broadcasting Corp. television personality Chris Hyndman, who was 49, believes her son fell to his death while sleepwalking on the terrace of his penthouse apartment in Toronto. Police have not confirmed the comments of Glenda Hyndman but said they do not suspect anything suspicious or criminal. He was discovered below the sixth-floor unit he shared with his fashion and design show partner and spouse Steven Sabados.
Facts and figures
The Canadian dollar is lower at 76.28 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.3108 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is 0.50 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Markets are lower with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 14,299 points and the TSX Venture index 578 points.
The average price of gas is lower at a national average of $1.15 a liter or $4.37 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
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▪ People must be more careful when camping and hiking in British Columbia forests as the number of wildfires continues to grow. Human-caused fires “continue to be a source of significant frustration,” said Forests Minister Steve Thomson. Thirteen of the 31 blazes last weekend were caused by people and the rest by lightning. There are 140 fires burning in the province out of 1,400 blazes started since April.
▪ Residents of Judique on Cape Breton’s west coast in Nova Scotia poured buckets of water over 16 beached pilot whales and waded in neck-deep water in an effort to save the mammals. Their efforts saved 10 of the whales that became stuck on the rocky shores of St. George’s Bay when the tide went out.
Jim Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org