Students, faculty and staff at Brock enjoyed some pie this week to celebrate the mathematical constant pi.The Data Research Services team of the James A. Gibson Library served up more than 150 slices of pie to commemorate Pi Day, which is observed around the world on March 14 because it is the date equivalent of the ratio 3.14.The event was hosted to highlight numeracy. And to illustrate that numbers can be fun, as well as delicious.
OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is distancing the Trudeau government from its former ambassador to China, a day after he said he has warned Chinese officials that further punishments against Canada could help the opposition Conservatives win the fall election.Asked by reporters today about John McCallum’s remarks, Freeland said it’s highly inappropriate for any Canadian to advise a foreign government on how it can influence an election result in Canada.In her response about McCallum, she also made a point of highlighting the government’s ongoing efforts to protect Canada from foreign election interference.McCallum’s recent comments to the South China Morning Post came with the two countries locked in a diplomatic dispute that has seen Chinese authorities block key imports from Canada and detain two Canadians on espionage charges.He told the newspaper that he warned his contacts in China’s foreign ministry that further negative actions against Canada would help the Conservatives, a party he described as much less friendly to China.McCallum, an economist and Liberal cabinet minister before he was named an ambassador, was fired by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in January after going off-script in the government’s efforts to win the release of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.He’s now an adviser specializing in China-Canada business at law firm McMillan.Speaking to reporters on a conference call from London, Freeland said liberal democracy is under threat as countries like Canada try to address foreign election interference.“Let me say first of all — very clearly — that Mr. McCallum does not speak for the government of Canada,” Freeland said, reminding reporters that he was asked to resign earlier this year.“I think that it is highly inappropriate for any Canadian to be offering advice or opinions to any foreign government on how that government ought or ought not to behave to secure any particular election outcome in Canada.“Nor should any Canadian be advising a foreign government on which electoral outcomes would be best for that government. Canada’s election is about Canadians full stop.”The diplomatic conflict erupted in December when Canadian authorities arrested Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant.The arrest of Huawei’s Meng has enraged the Chinese government, which has demanded her release.In the days following Meng’s arrest, Chinese authorities detained Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations of undermining China’s national security.Chinese officials have also increased inspections on Canadian goods that have led to the suspension or obstruction of key agricultural imports, including meat and canola.The Canadian Press
MADRID — Spain’s acting prime minister is asking voters for an even bigger victory for his Socialist party after his failure to form a government triggered a new election in November.Pedro Sánchez told opposition parties Wednesday in parliament “on Nov. 10 when we will be forced back to the polls, I hope that the Spanish people give the Socialist Party an even bigger majority.”He spoke a day after Spanish King Felipe VI announced that there was no viable candidate who could win the endorsement of the parliament before a Sept. 23 deadline.Sánchez’s Socialists won the April 28 election, but fell short of a majority. Sánchez was unable to win the support of any major rival parties.The upcoming election will be Spain’s fourth in four years.The Associated Press
Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network files TORONTO — When Vanessa Witkowski and her husband were tasked with selling his grandmother’s home, they both knew they didn’t want to do it the traditional way.What they wanted was to have a more transparent process and to avoid wasting time “playing games” with potential buyers.So, they decided to put the house up for auction.“We really didn’t like the traditional process. My husband and I would rather see the home sell to someone that truly loves it and values it, and not just have someone lose out on the bid because of any undisclosed information,” said 47-year-old Witkowski.“It just seemed very stressful, and in certain situations, unfair.”OREA asks Ontario to allow more ‘transparent’ bidding process, revamp realtor rulesCondo flipping was never the culprit behind Vancouver and Toronto’s home price spikesRelease of housing data opens door to innovation in real estate industry, realtors sayThe east Toronto home will be posted next month with a starting bid of $650,000 through On The Block, a Toronto-based brokerage that specializes in online real estate auctions.Currently, in the majority of real estate transactions, interested buyers are notified about competing bids but are asked to submit an offer not knowing the contents of those bids.Through this method in a hot housing market, buyers often can blindly offer more than what they initially planned on spending in hopes of beating their competitor, and sellers often come out on top.Although Witkowski wants the home to be sold for a fair price, she wanted to ensure all those interested can make serious, informed offers, so she chose to have the house sold in an open, online auction.Currently, in the majority of real estate transactions, interested buyers are asked to submit a bid through a blind offer process not knowing if there are other bids, or what those bids contain. In Ontario, realtors are permitted to share the price of a competing offer with another buyer, but only if all parties involved agree to the auction process. Although allowed, the practice is rare, especially in a market where demand still outstrips supply.The Ontario Real Estate Association, the industry group which represents more than 70,000 realtors, is taking it one step further.Earlier this month, it asked the province to revamp the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act to allow agents to not only be able to disclose offer price, but additional details such as closing dates and any other conditions to potential bidders if multiple offers are on the table.Although it won’t be mandated, this option would be available if both the buyers and seller involved agree.OREA chief executive Tim Hudak says there is growing demand for more transparent transactions, something that is already offered in some U.S. states and in Australia, where open auction wars can often erupt in the front yards of properties.“We believe that people should be offered a choice,” he said. “There are some consumers who want everything on the table, to be open and transparent and there are some homeowners who believe they will get the most money or the best deal through this method.”Hudak says that, like in Australia, a more open process in a multiple-bid situation may result in “a bit of auction fever” and could drive up housing prices.Murtaza Haider, an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, said the real estate industry is long overdue for another option from the current “ignorance-based bidding” process.“This will be a very important step to prevent price escalation and inflation at times when prices are out of step with incomes or increase beyond what one would expect them to rise given the level of demand,” said Haider, whose research includes housing markets.He said a more open offer process can lead to more informed buyers, but can also benefit sellers in a softer market by bringing in more househunters who shy away from bidding wars.The Witkowski’s realtor, Daniel Steinfeld, CEO of On The Block, said his company has sold about half a dozen properties in the Greater Toronto Area through the open auction process since launching last year. He likened the process to the website, eBay, but for real estate.He said most of his clients choose the auction route because they’ve been burned in the past as buyers shun the blind bidding process.“Up until this point, and frankly still, most people feel that there’s only one way to do it,” said Steinfeld. “That has led to some uncertainty and frustrations people have been having (about the real estate market).”Toronto Real Estate Board president Garry Bhaura said the proposal raises some issues over privacy, but that ultimately, having more choice is beneficial to the consumer.“Some would welcome this option, and others would opt for the status quo,” he said in an email. “Ultimately, the choice will be, and should be, the consumer’s.”The province said it is still reviewing the recommendations put forward by OREA.No provinces currently allow for details other than price to be revealed between buyers during the bidding process, but a spokeswoman for the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards says it is also looking at these rules and should have a recommendation within the next few weeks.