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Two sizes too small: Dr. Seuss and wonky Ontario election math

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, June 3, 2014.

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'Funny things are everywhere'
With apologies to Dr. Seuss, the mind boggles at how the red fish and the blue fish count one fish and two fish in Ontario.

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Indeed, the Shakespeare for kids could have been writing about Ontario's election campaign when he noted: "From near to far, from here to there, funny things are everywhere."

Leader Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives have been shamed for how they seemingly misread a consultant's report, thus inflating the numbers in their Million Jobs Plan, something he denies.

The Liberals under Kathleen Wynne, in turn, have been pilloried over a swollen deficit, cancelled gas plants, and troubles with the ORNGE air-ambulance service.

Finally, there's the New Democrats under Andrea Horwath, who have been hurt by their opposition to what had been the Liberal budget, and grass-roots dissatisfaction.

Herein, then, Dr. Seuss for a new generation of Ontarians:

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (How Hudak Found A Million Jobs)

Look at his fingers!
One, two, three ...
How many fingers
Do I see?
One, two, three, four,
Five, six, seven
Eight, nine, ten
He has eleven!
This is something new
I wish I had
Eleven too!

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The Sneetches (A Wynne-Wynne budget)

Then, when every last cent
Of their money was spent
The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up
And he went
And he laughed as he drove
In his car up the beach
"They never will learn
No. You can't teach a Sneetch!"

Yertle the Turtle (The Horwath Revolt)

Then again, from below, in the great heavy stack
Came a groan from the plain little turtle named Mack
"Your Majesty, please ... I don't like to complain
But down here below, we are feeling great pain
I know, up on top you are seeing great sights
But down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights

The Sneetches (The Difference Between the Liberals and NDP)

When the Plain-bellied Sneetches popped out, they had stars!
They actually did. They had stars upon thars!
Then they yelled at the ones who had stars at the start
'We're exactly like you! You can't tell us apart

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Why Hudak Gutted the Public Sector)

But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small

HBC posts gains
Hudson's Bay Co. today posted stronger same store sales for the first quarter, while keeping its outlook for the year intact.

The Canadian retailer, whose results include those of Saks and Lord & Taylor, rebounded to a quarterly profit of $176-million, or 97 cents a share, from a loss a year earlier of $82-million or 68 cents.

Sales climbed to $1.9-billion from $884-million.

Same-store sales, a key measure in retailing, rose 2.8 per cent.

"We are encouraged by the business trends witnessed through the quarter, which bode well for the balance of this year," said chief executive officer Richard Baker.

For the year, HBC expects a profit of between $580-million and $620-million, and sales of $7.8-billion to $8.1-billion.

Bombardier confident
Bombardier Inc. is still confident of its schedule for its crucial C Series program, but an engine fire last week could change that.

Guy Hachey, the chief of Bombardier's aerospace business, told Bloomberg News the train-and-plane maker is still aiming to put the new jet into service in the latter six months of next year.

But "if it turns out to be something major, we would have to revisit," he said, referring to the engine failure in ground testing.

The company doesn't yet know what caused the fire.

Separately, Bombardier chief executive officer Pierre Beaudoin said the prototype should take to the sky again.

"There are going to be some fixes, but we feel confident that we will be able to put that airplane back into flight," he said.

Euro inflation eases
Some food for thought before Thursday's European Central Bank meeting: Annual inflation in the euro zone is believed to be running at just 0.5 per cent, according to the Eurostat agency's estimate today, and unemployment now stands at 11.7 per cent.

The May reading of inflation is down from 0.7 per cent in April, while the April measure of unemployment is down from 11.8 per cent.

The ECB is widely expected to act Thursday, with new measures aimed at fighting the exceptionally low rate of inflation.

"The rally in the euro was nothing spectacular following the release and it has pulled back since, but it does make me question exactly what the markets have priced in ahead of the ECB meeting on Thursday," market analyst Craig Erlam of Alpari said of the reaction to the inflation data.

"This would suggest that the markets are pricing in something much more aggressive than I am currently anticipating, be it quantitative easing or negative deposit rates," he said in a research note.

"I don't believe the ECB will be quite so bold this week and therefore expect traders to be very disappointed, once again."

Others hold firm
While investors ponder what to expect in Europe, two other central banks held the line today.

The Reserve Bank of Australia kept its key rate at 2.5 per cent.

"The RBA's accompanying statement to its unchanged decision was largely unchanged from last month's," said Adam Cole of Royal Bank of Canada in Europe.

"There was a slight step up in jawboning however, as the bank repeated 'the exchange rate remains high by historical standards,' adding, 'particularly given the further decline in commodity prices.'"

Similarly, the Reserve Bank of India held steady, with its policy rate at 8 per cent.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More


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