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Integrating foreigners into Canada will take time, Trudeau says

The integration of foreigners, including Muslims, into Canadian society is nothing new and will take some time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

Since last November, Canada has "resettled" 30,647 Syrian refugees and more continue to arrive.

Trudeau told a conference in Montreal, hosted by the "progressive think tank" Canada 2020, that being fearful of immigrants is "nothing new" here or around the world.

There were similar circumstances when the Italians and Greeks settled in Montreal in the 1950s and they faced "tremendous" discrimination and distrust, Trudeau said.

Canadians shouldn't be "overly impatient" with integrating newcomers as the "first generation is always going to have challenges," Trudeau said.

In a panel discussion, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Canada is a "beacon of how a civilized G7 country should treat those who are vulnerable and need help."

He praised Trudeau for his "progressive" politics and said his election last October inspired him.

Vancouver real estate cools, Toronto sizzles

The Toronto real estate market is red hot while Vancouver has cooled due to a tax on foreign buyers.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said activity in Toronto climbed 2 percent last month, up 22.7 percent in 12 months, while sales in British Columbia's Lower Mainland, including Vancouver, dropped 18.6 percent in August.

To cool down the Vancouver-area market, the provincial government enacted a 15 percent foreign home buyer's tax, leading to a 24.5 percent year-over-year drop.

While the average price of a single detached house in Vancouver and Toronto tops $1 million, nationally the average price is $456,722.

News in brief

• The West Block of Canada's Parliament buildings in Ottawa, is getting an $862.9 million refurbishment. Expected to be ready in time for the fall sitting of Parliament in 2018, the work is largely in line with its previous iconic imagery. It's the most complex rehabilitation project ever on Parliament Hill, with about 80 percent of the original stone reused to keep the facade as it was when constructed in 1859.

• The so-called "Beyoncé Bounce" has helped Atlantic Canada's lobster fishermen return to profitable days. Since seafood chain Red Lobster said its sales surged 33 percent on Super Bowl Sunday and attributed it to singer Beyoncé Knowles' song Formation that alludes to her taking a man to Red Lobster after sex, sales for the troubled industry have boomed. The lower-valued Canadian dollar, growing demand from China and a shift in consumer tastes are also credited.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is lower at 75.70 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.3209 Canadian, before exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index down at 14,455 points while the TSX Venture index is at 799 points.

The average price for gas in Canada is steady at $1.01 a liter or $3.83 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.

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Regional briefs

• The fight between Walmart Canada and Visa over merchant fees is escalating with the retail giant saying it will no longer accept the credit card at any of its Manitoba stores starting next month. Three stores in Thunder Bay, Ontario, stopped taking the cards in July but all stores will take cash, debit, MasterCard and American Express. Walmart warned it would drop Visa at its 405 Canadian stores because it is "unfairly" charged $100 million annually in fees.

• In a move sure to "ruffle some feathers," the Canadian Geographic Society wants to choose a national bird for Canada's 150th birthday next year. An online survey has the pecking order down to five contenders, ranging from urban regulars to boreal forest ghosts. The list has three official provincial birds — Ontario's loon, the snowy owl of Quebec and the black-capped chickadee from New Brunswick. The others are the gray jay, commonly known as the whiskey jack, and the Canada goose. The winner will be announced Nov. 16.

Contact Jim Fox at