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Meet RCMP Barbie (She always gets her man) Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013.

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The new recruit
Barbie is one hot Mountie. As in, hot-selling.

The official retailer for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – themountieshop.ca – says the red-haired doll from Mattel Inc. is sold out after “extremely high demand” since it was unveiled in the spring.

“This Barbie Doll of the World hails from the land of the maple leaf, maple syrup and the maple donut: Canada!” says the product posting.

“Part of the Pink Label collection, RCMP Barbie is dressed in the uniform currently worn by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties, as they are widely known,” it adds.

“Her scarlet tunic is accented with the cross strap and belt, navy and yellow breeches and tall Strathcona boots while her Stetson can be removed to reveal her bright red hair.”

Bianca McGregor, who heads up marketing for the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina, told the Leader-Post that, initially, the gift shop took the dolls to see how they’d sell, and it turned out well.

“You’ve got two really strong brands,” she told the newspaper. “With Barbie you’ve got a brand that for some people it’s not a toy, it’s an investment. And then you’ve got one of the strongest brands this country has to offer.”

By the way, Cookie Monster (plush) Mountie costs $10 more.

BlackBerry sinks
Shares of BlackBerry Ltd. slipped today, which could indicate growing doubt about a takeover deal.

The stock lost more than 6 per cent today, falling to about $8 (U.S.) on Nasdaq, below a suggested buyout price of $9 a share.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. has signed a letter of intent proposing that it would lead a consortium for the $4.7-billion deal.

But, as Streetwise columnist Boyd Erman writes, the proposal is a frail one, and there are many questions surrounding it on Bay Street.

Fairfax will be scouring BlackBerry’s books for six weeks before committing, while other observers have raised questions over financing.

As The Globe and Mail’s Jacquie McNish reports, Fairfax has contacted several major pension funds and private-equity firms, trying to bring in more than $1-billion for the bid.

At this point, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is the only fund that is pondering taking part.

Google gives Waterloo area a boost
Google Inc. is giving Kitchener-Waterloo a morale boost as the region’s largest technology company struggles to survive, The Globe and Mail's Steve Ladurantaye reports.

The search giant will invest an undisclosed amount of money in Communitech, a regional economic development initiative that works closely with 650 technology startups to help them build their ideas into viable companies by providing them with space, funding and support.

While the cash will help the incubator purchase software and update some equipment, its chief executive officer said the most important part of the deal is the direct line the centre now has to Google’s engineers and executives.

Cost of home ownership
The record price gap between detached homes and condos in Toronto may well have an interesting impact on the housing market.

As The Globe and Mail's Tara Perkins reports, that gap has now hit a record $222,149, based on a RealNet measure that shows the cost of a low-rise home in the Toronto area has reached $658,938, compared to a condo at $436,789.

“Eight years ago you could have bought both a low-rise and high-rise property for the price of the former today,” senior economist Sal Guatieri of BMO Nesbitt Burns said today.

“Land constraints have driven detached home prices higher, while smaller unit sizes have dampened condo demand.”

This could bolster the condo market and, at the same time, keep a lid on the cost of a house.

“Going forward, the large premium on detached homes should push more buyers into the condo market, where sales are down 18 per cent from a year ago, thereby stemming the upward pressure on detached home prices,” Mr. Guatieri said.

(For Mr. Guatieri's research, see accompanying infographic or click here.)

Métro going wireless
Montreal’s Métro subway system is going wireless.

The city’s transportation agency and four cellular phone companies say they plan to build out an underground system to provide riders with full access to wireless services, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

Telus, Rogers, Bell and Vidéotron will collaborate to install the system. The cost is estimated at about $50-million and it will take five to seven years to deploy the network throughout the entire subway system, Montreal’s transit agency and the four companies said today.

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