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In The News for March 22 : A spring renewal for Canada's housing market

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 22 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
The downtown Vancouver skyline and port are seen at sunset along with houses lining a hillside in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, July 11, 2022. Realtors are expecting Canadians to move off the housing market's sidelines this spring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 22 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Realtors are expecting Canadians to move off the housing market's sidelines this spring.

They expect potential buyers to start hunting for a home because the Bank of Canada has eased up on interest rate hikes. 

The quick succession of increases eroded buying power as borrowing costs rose and sent prices falling, discouraging sellers from listing their homes.

With Canadian Real Estate Association data showing average prices have dropped 19 per cent from their February peak of $816,578 to $662,437 last month and BMO Capital Markets' chief economist predicting they will bottom out after falling 20 to 25 per cent, realtors see many edging toward a purchase once more.

"We got a flood of buyers in January, in February and we still are getting more and more and we started seeing multiple offers return and bully offers return," said Michelle Gilbert, a Toronto broker with Sage Real Estate Ltd.

"We've started getting calls where buyers are just like 'I think I'll just adjust what I want, but I don't want to miss my opportunity."

Over in Vancouver, Coldwell Banker Prestige Realty agent Tirajeh Mazaheri has also seen a resurgence in buyers.

Weeks after the Bank of Canada signalled further interest rate hikes were unlikely, she said properties started selling quickly and with multiple offers. But she doesn’t see the market returning to the frenzied pace of 2021, largely because of the lack of properties available.

February’s new listings totalled 51,366, down 26 per cent from a year ago, the Canadian Real Estate Association recently revealed. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, they hit 57,535, down nearly eight per cent from January.


Also this ...

A high-tech industry coalition in the United States is urging President Joe Biden to take a hard line against Canada's approach to digital services. 

The group says the proposed digital services tax unfairly targets U.S. companies and is offside with international efforts to establish a global standard. 

In a letter to Biden, they also complain about two controversial federal bills: the Online Streaming Act, known as Bill C-11, and the Online News Act, or Bill C-18.

They warn C-11, which is meant to protect Canadian content providers, could backfire and ultimately increase costs to consumers. And they fear the Online News Act, which would compensate Canadian news organizations and broadcasters, could violate the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. 

Biden is meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later this week as part of his first visit to Canada since taking over the White House in 2021. 

The letter is signed by 10 different associations in the digital services space, including the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Information Technology Industry Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

First and foremost in their sights is Canada's "discriminatory and retroactive" digital services tax, which the group estimates would collect US$4 billion over five years, primarily from U.S. companies. 

The tax, designed to ensure tech giants pay their fair share of taxes in countries where they earn revenue without a physical presence, would only take effect next year if a new multilateral tax framework doesn't take shape by then.

Canada has endorsed that so-called "inclusive framework," established under the auspices of the G20 and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 


And this too ...

The Transportation Board of Canada is to release a report today on its investigation into the sinking of a scallop dragger off Nova Scotia more than two years ago.

The Chief William Saulis capsized off Delaps Cove, about 50 kilometres north of Digby, N.S., on Dec. 15, 2020, with the loss of its six-man crew.

The bodies of Eugene (Geno) Michael Francis, Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes and captain Charles Roberts were never recovered.

The body of crew member Michael Drake was swept up on the rocky shoreline.

The safety board report is expected to examine why there was no stability assessment required for the 17-metre vessel, whose operators had added a steel A-frame for trawling and made other structural changes.

Transport Canada has said a stability assessment wasn’t required when it conducted an inspection in April 2017 — three months before regulations requiring assessments for vessels with major modifications came into effect.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

CHEYENNE, Wyo. _ A judge will hear arguments Wednesday over whether abortions will be allowed in Wyoming while a sweeping new ban gets challenged in her court.

The ban took effect Sunday, making abortion illegal in Wyoming despite earlier rulings by Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens that blocked an earlier ban hours after it took effect last summer.

Owens will now consider whether to block the new ban, too, while a lawsuit proceeds. 

She's not expected to immediately weigh in, though, on a different new Wyoming abortion law: a first-in-the-nation ban on abortion pills. Abortion-rights supporters are also seeking to stop that law, signed by Republican Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday, but it is not set to take effect until July 1.

So far, Owens has sympathized somewhat with the two nonprofits, two doctors and two other women who have sued to block Wyoming's broader abortions bans.

In July, Owens found that their concerns that the law would harm women and doctors and violate the state constitution could have merit. State lawmakers then wrote their new law to try to override those objections.

Owens in her July decision found that a 2012 state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to make one's own health care decisions could allow abortion.

The new sweeping ban asserts that abortion is not health care and the amendment therefore doesn't apply to abortion.

Wyoming has only one abortion provider, a women's health clinic in Jackson that only provides medication abortions but has been forced to stop after the state's broad ban took effect this week.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

KYIV, Ukraine _ Ukraine faced more Russian drone attacks Wednesday that killed at least three people shortly after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida left Kyiv.

Kishida was back in Poland Wednesday morning, according to Japan's Kyodo News, and is expected to return to Japan Thursday.

Kishida's surprise visit to the Ukrainian capital stole some of the attention from Chinese leader Xi Jinping's trip to Moscow where he promoted Beijing's peace proposal for Ukraine, which Western nations have already dismissed. Xi left Moscow early Wednesday.

Early Wednesday, Ukraine faced a new series of Russian drone attacks, which killed at least three people and damaged some infrastructure across the country.

The rival visits by Xi and Kishida, about 800 kilometres apart, highlighted how countries are lining up behind Moscow or Kyiv during the nearly 13-month-old war. Kishida, who will chair the Group of Seven summit in May, became the group's last member to visit Ukraine and meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after paying tribute to those killed in Bucha, a town that became a symbol of Russian atrocities against civilians.

Xi's visit gave a strong political boost to Russian President Vladimir Putin just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader on charges of alleged involvement in abductions of thousands of children from Ukraine.

In a joint statement, Russia and China emphasized the need to "respect legitimate security concerns of all countries'' to settle the conflict, echoing Moscow's argument that it sent in troops to prevent the U.S. and its NATO allies from turning the country into an anti-Russian bulwark.

Kishida called Russia's invasion a "disgrace that undermines the foundations of the international legal order'' and pledged to "continue to support Ukraine until peace is back on the beautiful Ukrainian lands.''


On this day in 1894 ...

The Montreal Amateur Athletic Association won the first Stanley Cup championship game. The Triple-A's beat the visiting Ottawa Capitals 3-1 to take the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association tournament in five games. The trophy was donated a year earlier by Gov. Gen. Lord Stanley of Preston to the Canadian amateur hockey champions. He said his sons had enjoyed playing hockey on the rink at their Rideau Hall home. The Stanley Cup is the oldest pro sports competition in North America.


In entertainment ...

TORONTO _ Mr. Worldwide is coming to Calgary.

Organizers of the Calgary Stampede say they've booked rapper and pop performer Pitbull to perform at the first day of the annual rodeo and exhibition on July 7.

The Miami hitmaker is known for his country-fused dance-pop collaboration "Timber'' with Kesha and various other radio favourites, including "Fireball'' and "Give Me Everything,'' featuring Ne-Yo.

Tickets for Pitbull's concert go on sale Friday and include admission to the Stampede on the same day.

The Calgary Stampede's full concert schedule has yet to be announced, but organizers have already confirmed country duo Alabama will play July 8.

Lord Huron, Donovan Woods and Begonia are among the performers set for July 9.


Did you see this?

EDMONTON _ For the beloved and well-known elephant named Lucy, the Edmonton Valley Zoo says it will continue to be her home for the rest of her life based on medical assessments.

The medical information released by the zoo on Tuesday showed the 47-year-old Asian elephant should not be moved, despite demands from animal rights groups over the past several years that she be transferred to a sanctuary in a warmer climate.

The zoo has been working closely with the animal advocacy group Free the Wild, which co-operated in the assessment, since October.

Gary Dewar, the zoo's director, said the medical report stated that Lucy has "severe breathing issues'' and three of four experts believe moving the lone elephant from the zoo could be life-threatening.

Two visiting veterinarians said Lucy breathes solely from her mouth _ an unusual phenomenon for elephants, the zoo said.

Dewar added that the veterinarians couldn't diagnose the root cause of the animal's breathing issues.

For visitors of the zoo, it's considered lucky to catch sight of Lucy. In semi-retirement since 2020, the elephant is no longer on public display but continues to engage with her team of caretakers.

In a large dome filled with sand, Lucy flapped her ears and made grunting sounds as she threw sand over her back, a sign of joy, said a caretaker.

"Her day goes very much the way she wants it to go,'' added Dewar. "We're not going to dictate her schedule, she does that.''


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2023.

The Canadian Press