A week of turmoil
It was a tumultuous week that started with Remembrance Day and ended with looming battles in the Middle East.
But here at The Rundown, a few themes sprung up, with the first rooted in the communal hip pocket. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty kicked things off with a fiscal update full of bigger deficits, longer recoveries, and the likelihood that more than a few election promises might have to be dropped along the way.
Canadians have responded to all this uncertainty by… buying new cars. Household debt grew at its fastest pace in two years, with the average non-mortgage debt hitting $26,768. (Sadly, the party was ruined for Toyota when it had to recall of almost 15,000 Priuses in Canada.)
While we were drowning our sorrows with the new-car smell, Europeans were taking to the streets in a series of anti-austerity protests that turned violent this week.
BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion, and have three employees charged with manslaughter, following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Greenpeace said the fine “amounts to a rounding error” for the global giant.
Politics took centre stage too. After the drama of last week’s U.S. election, the installation of Xi Jinpeng as China’s new leader was uncannily orderly.
The same can’t be said for the Liberal Party in Canada, which is facing two increasingly fractious leadership battles. Martha Hall Findlay officially threw her hat into the ring for the national leadership, pitting her ‘guts’ against frontrunner Justin Trudeau’s fabulous hair.
In Rome, the Pope proclaimed it was “beautiful to be old”, but someone forgot to tell two elderly female friends in Nova Scotia who were facing deportation because the American woman didn’t have residency, and her Canadian friend couldn’t cope without assistance with early-stage dementia. They found out a day later that they’ll be allowed back in.
Junk food lovers felt a bit of shock this week when Hostess, makers of Twinkies and Ding Dongs, shut its doors in the U.S. after a national strike by workers crippled operations, the company said. Hostess-loving Canadians don’t need to worry, though: The Montreal-based company Saputo Inc. holds the Canadian rights to the brand.
And in PEI, a southern visitor of another kind caused a stir as a wayward pelican got birders twittering with excitement.
But on to the biggest stories of the week.