Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is spending his summer vacation crossing Canada from coast to coast to coast — from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans.
While on the "barbecue circuit," he is spreading the message that his Liberals are a better alternative to the minority Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Boarding the "Liberal Express" bus in Ottawa, Ignatieff said the party will "reconnect to Canadians" by taking politics "out to the barbecue, to the back door, to the deck of the cottage."
This six-week tour is "make-or-break" for Ignatieff, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported, "Canadians don't like him."
While the Liberals continue to trail the Conservatives in popular support, Ignatieff is viewed by many as arrogant.
Leaving British Columbia in 1978, the historian and author held senior academic positions at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford in England, and Harvard. He returned to Canada in 2005 to the University of Toronto and entered politics a year later.
The tour will let Canadians know the Liberals are "fiscally responsible, socially progressive" and a "compassionate alternative," he said.
Monthly home sales fall amid rising costs
There were fewer houses sold last month over concerns about higher interest rates and tighter mortgage rules.
The Canadian Real Estate Association said sales through the multiple listing service dropped by 8.2 percent, led by Toronto and Calgary, from May.
While fewer sales were reported in 70 percent of the country, the economic recovery with higher employment levels is continuing to boost prices.
The national average price of houses sold in June rose 4.9 percent from a year ago to $342,662.
News in brief
• The Canadian government will spend $9 billion to buy 65 F-35 fighter jets and another $7 billion for their maintenance and repairs over 20 years. Defense Minister Peter MacKay said the first of the Lightning II fighter jets to replace the CF-18 Hornet will arrive in 2016. This will be the fifth-generation stealth aircraft.
• Ontario residents, who pay higher taxes through the combining of the federal and provincial sales taxes, have another added cost. Stewardship Ontario, a quasigovernmental agency, has added an environmental fee to thousands of products to offset costs of disposing of waste items, including light bulbs, toasters, soap and laundry detergent.
• Female broadcasters have been named to succeed longtime male anchors at two national TV networks. Winnipeg native Dawna Friesen, currently with NBC, will replace Kevin Newman at Global National news next month. With the retirement next year of CTV News anchor Lloyd Robertson, the network announced Lisa LaFlamme of Kitchener, Ontario, will replace him.
Facts and figures
Canada's dollar settled back down to 94.89 cents U.S. on Friday on concerns about decreased demand for the country's commodities, including oil, with the lagging international economic recovery. The U.S. dollar returns $1.0538 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada's trendsetting interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent, while the prime lending rate is 2.5 percent.
Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,529 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,378 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 4, 17, 20, 31, 36 and 40; bonus 37. (July 10) 13, 14, 16, 28, 34 and 42; bonus 26. Lotto Max: (July 9) 9, 10, 19, 24, 28, 30 and 31; bonus 46.
• Mounties are intensifying their search for a missing Alberta couple whose motor home was found on fire and their missing Hyundai Tucson SUV sighted later in Prince George, British Columbia. Lyle McCann, 78, and wife Marie, 77, disappeared July 3 while on a road trip from their St. Albert home to Abbotsford.
• Critics are suggesting animal cruelty at the Calgary Stampede where six horses have died this year. The chuck wagon races are a particular source of concern after two animals died during or after the events last week. Earlier, two horses died of injuries and two succumbed to "natural causes."
• No one needed to offer a penny for his thoughts when Normand Czepial of Ripon, Quebec, went to City Hall to pay his property taxes. He arrived with a child's swimming pool filled with 213,625 pennies to protest a tax increase. Mayor Luc Desjardins told him to leave a check instead, as the Currency Act says anyone can refuse to accept more than 25 pennies as payment for a product or service.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com.