To The Pointwith Boris Bozic
Commentary, Opinions, Thoughts and Discussion on Current Events, Politics and The Mortgage Industry

0 Comments Moving On – Oh Joy, Oh Bliss

Article written by on the 31 Jul 2012 in Family,Personal

I can think of hundreds of mundane and bothersome activities that we all encounter and simply have to do.  The activities can range from going to the dentist to renewing the sticker on your license plate.  On one end of the spectrum the activity can be painful and the other end the government treats your wallet like a buffet.  But I can say unequivocally that one of the top 5 activates I hate more than others is, moving!  And that’s what awaits me tomorrow.  Ah, but tomorrow’s move is extra special for our family because we don’t get possession of our new home for another three weeks.   For the next three weeks I get to say, Boris Bozic, of no fixed address.

I’m not sure what it is about moving that I hate most.  I’ve moved more often than I care to remember, and given my so called “expertise” in this regard you would think that I would have this down to a science.  Sure, I know what to expect but the experience is always the same.  One of the experiences I go through when I move is the revelation that I’m a bit of a pack rat.  I have no idea why I save some of my stuff.  I believe that I’m a minimalist of junk only to be proven wrong when I move.   I put stuff away thinking that I’ll use it again.  Okay, so it sat there in the same box for six years from the last move, but you never know it might come back.  Who knows?  Maybe one day Clackers and Pong will be all the rage again?  Tools?  I never throw out any tools; interesting considering I have two left hands.  For god sakes I have to call an electrician when a light bulb goes out.  So hanging on to those wire strippers makes a lot of sense.  Maybe it’s a psychological thing, like discarding a tool that has the word “strippers” in its name.   I was cleaning out our shed over the weekend and there in the corner was extra carpet left over from the when the builder installed it when we moved into our home, SIX YEARS AGO.  I know we have too much stuff when I cleaned out the shed and found 10 sprinklers.  Come on, every family needs 10 sprinklers.  The reason we have so many sprinklers is because when we put it away in the fall we can never find it again in the spring.  So, you buy new one.  Clothes?  Oh my, we could dress a small third world country with all the clothes we just got rid of.  We would never throw clothes away.  I ended up taking about 47 bags of clothes to Goodwill boxes in our area.  Someone is walking around the city right now with a nice golf shirt that has Ryder Cup, 2004 embroidered on the shirt.  Hope they got the matching golf hat as well.

The good thing about moving is that it forces you to purge, trash, liquidate and perform a junk enema.   As you’re doing it you feel good but there are mixed emotions.  The purging represents new beginnings but you can’t help but think about the money you have wasted.  You’re reminded that a lot of stuff you’ve accumulated was for just because.  But when you make that difficult decision to discard you’re comforted by the fact that you’ll have less to pack; unless of course you’re talking about woman’s shoes.  Well, that’s another blog all together.

Until next time,

Cheers.
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We love our home in Florida.  It’s a great place to go to decompress and leave the real world behind.  I’m not suggesting the real world doesn’t follow us, technology and commitments see to that.  However, when we’re away we’re not slaves to our blackberry and telephone.  It’s a great place do as little as possible, and that’s great unless you bring your 10 year old along. Read More…

The nurses at the hospital have dubbed baby Owen, Bubba.   Trust me, that’s going to stick. Read More…

We’re all familiar with the saying, “don’t sweat the small stuff”.  In reality it should be “celebrate the small stuff”.  I had such a moment last night.  As a point of background I’m a step-father.  That’s evidenced by the fact that our 10 year old refers to me as Boris.  That’s a recent phenomenon because until recently he referred to me as Bowis.  A step-father is like an older brother, a much older brother.  He respects me because I’m, well , a lot bigger than he is.  Read More…

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0 Comments Global Financial Crisis – Five Years And Counting

Article written by on the 26 Jul 2012 in World Events

Global-Financial-Crisis-5-Years_laterWe are quickly approaching a significant date, a date which had a profound impact on the global economy and our physchy.  This August is the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis, yes, it started a half decade ago.    What were you doing five years ago?  I suspect you were reading the headlines of the day wondering what does it all mean to me?  It was unfathomable to think back then that sub-prime mortgages, ARM teaser rates, and new terms to the general public like derivatives and swaps, could nearly bring down the global economy.  And yet here we are five years later, dealing with a fragile economy because aftershocks are still being felt because of the GFC, Global Financial Crisis.

Plenty has been and will continue to be written about the Global Financial Crisis and its aftershocks, example being the state of the U.S. economy and the European crisis.  However, little has been written about the lingering affects of the crisis will have on our collective physchy.   I see examples of it everywhere. You don’t have to look any further than the deep distrust and vitriol people have towards banks, and bankers.  Mention Wall Street, executive compensations packages, stock markets and the like and most people will speak of these in contemptuous terms.  That to me will be one of the most significant fallouts of the Global Financial Crisis; the demonization of success.

It has become fashionable to disparage and criticize success.  What was once admired and encouraged is today scorned.  You’re successful?  You make a large sum of money? Shame on you.  It really has become open season for those who are successful.  Politicians and journalists have been exploiting this sentiment for the last five years and will continue to do so until consumer confidence returns in force.  To be clear this not an attempt to justify million dollar comp packages.  But I will say this, if it doesn’t bother you that Shea Weber of the NHL’s Nashville Predators just signed a 14 year contract for $110 million, why are we bothered by what business leaders  earn?    I understand the argument that the wealth gap between middle class and the affluent is widening but its too easy to suggest that fairness would be severed by simply making the affluent pay more.  But it’s becoming fashionable to suggest that because if you’re successful, wealthy, well, you must have done something wrong to earn that wealth.  And if you ‘re legit, you should have to pay  more for the sins of your business brethren.

In some aspects I understand the cynicism towards business leaders, and bankers in particular.   Why wouldn’t there be?  Where are the indictments for those who perpetrated the Global Financial Crisis?  Prosecutors made Bernard Madoff pay, and deservedly so.  But his was school yard compared to those who nearly brought down the global economy.  This injustice fuels the mistrust and demonization of those who are successful.  I hope this doesn’t result in future generations saying to their children, “dream big, be average”.

Until next time.

Cheers.

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1 Comments Canadian Housing Bubble: Data is Not Art

Article written by on the 24 Jul 2012 in Canada,Current Events

“No Condo Bubble Here.

Really?  Everything I’ve been reading indicates that the condo market in Toronto and Vancouver was going to play a key role in the Canadian housing bust.”

 

 

Ever look a painting and say to yourself “it looks like something my six year old painted in art class”.  That’s the thing about art – it’s all in the eye of the beholder.  One person’s interpretation can be radically different than someone else’s.  That’s perfectly acceptable when it comes to art.  Art is about taste.  We all know that data can be manipulated to make a point but it’s fascinating how simple raw data can paint completely different pictures.  And is there any room for taste when analyzing data?  I was stuck by a story in the Financial Post this morning, the headline read; ”Toronto not in condo bubble: RBC”

Really?  Everything I’ve been reading indicates that the condo market in Toronto and Vancouver was going to play a key role in the Canadian housing bust.  Surely this article is based off the same data that Robert Hogue, RBC’s senior economist, used for his most recent report.  According to Mr. Hogue, “Toronto’s condo building frenzy over the last few years is mainly a response to the steep drop in new single-family homes being built. Efforts by the Ontario government to stem urban sprawl in the GTA is one of the reasons why developers are being forced to build laterally, said Mr. Hogue. To accommodate the 38,000 or so net new households it sees every year, the GTA must increasingly expand its housing stock ‘vertically’”.

Hang on a second, Mr. Hogue is the only economist to factor in that 38,000 new households are required to meet Toronto’s needs, and that the Ontario government is making it difficult for builders of single family homes outside of the GTA?  Kudos to Mr. Hogue and RBC for discovering that super-secret bit of information.  Let’s see what other nuggets Mr. Hogue came up with, like investors buying up condo’s with the sole purpose of flipping the property. “Their involvement has not inflated overall housing demand beyond household formation and may contribute only to a modest overshoot in the coming years if demographics weaken”.  Well, what are we supposed to think now?  I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

For transparency purposes, Mr. Hogue did sound an alarm bell, “if investors overwhelmingly buy single-bedroom units, for instance, it could skew demand and result in a bubble.”  Let’s also not forget that if aliens land and suck the brains out of every builder and then program them to build one bedroom units only, that too could contribute to a bubble.  I think we have it all covered now.  The fact is that facts are interpreted differently.  One analysts’ “slight overshoot” is another’s “Armageddon”.  For debating purposes that’s okay, for making public policy, not so much.

To read the full story in the National Post, please click here. 

Until next time,

Cheers.

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0 Comments Bank of Canada: Colour Me Surprised

Article written by on the 19 Jul 2012 in Mortgage

“Our first clue – the overnight lending rate in the U.S. would remain the same until 2014.  The second clue was the most recent changes to mortgage rules here in Canada.”

BLAIR GABLE/REUTERS

On Tuesday, the Bank of Canada made no adjustment to the overnight rate.  No increase and no decrease.  The announcement from the BOC reminds me of the movie Groundhog’s Day.  For the 15th consecutive time there’s been no change to the overnight rate, and it looks like it will be much the same for at least another 14 months.  According to the Central Bank, Mark Carney, we will not see any movement or adjustment to the overnight rate until 2014; it is suggested that time rates will gradually start to rise.  Then again the BOC indicated last year that by June of 2012, interest rates would be up by 75 to 100 bps.  Correct me if I’m wrong but that doesn’t appear to have happened.  I guess the crystal ball is a little murky.  Fascinating, we can’t predict, with any certainty, what the weather will be like three weeks from next Wednesday, but we can predict where rates will be in 14 months.

 The fact of the matter is that most recent BOC rate announcement was big yawn.  Ben Bernanke,  U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman, recently announced that the overnight lending rate in the U.S. would remain the same until 2014.  That was our first clue.  The second clue was the most recent changes to mortgage rules here in Canada.  Clearly the BOC cannot slow down the housing market in Canada by way of monetary policy, so regulations will have to do.  As soon as the rules changes were announced it was a clear signal, 2014 it is.  The big benefactors are all those that are renewing mortgages in the next 12 to 18 months.  The time coincides perfectly with what can only be described as the halcyon days of our industry.  All those five years mortgages taken out in 2006, 2007 and 2008, are coming up for renewal.  There’s a good likelihood that the effective rate for the economic life of those mortgages, original term and renewal, is free money.  I consider any rate less than 4% free money. 

 The BOC is predicting modest growth for 2013 and 2014, a clear sign that the global economy is at best, fragile.  A number of Central Banks around the world recently cut their overnight lending rate in an attempt to stimulate the economy.  No such indications of that happening here in Canada.   What is happening in Canada is that investor sentiment is starting to wane.  Manulife’s Investor Sentiment Index was down in the first half of 2012.  The report suggested less enthusiasm for almost all types of investments, including fixed income securities, investment properties, balanced funds and cash.  Sophisticated investors are weary and starting to sit on the sidelines.  What happens when the uninitiated start to make purchasing decisions purely based on headlines?  There might have to be an adjustment to the economic growth forecasts for 2013 and 2014.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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1 Comments U.S. Housing Market: Could it be the Bottom?

Article written by on the 17 Jul 2012 in Current Events

US Housing Market Near End?I’m referring to the real estate market in the U.S.  There have been some signs that real estate market may have reached the point where you can actually see the bottom.  Interesting to note that new home construction is up in many regions of the U.S.  Drive through parts of Florida and you’ll be surprised by the number of new homes being built.  Another sign is the number of pending sales just recently reported.  On a year over year basis, pending sales were up 14.5% in the West, 22.1% in the Midwest, 19.8% in the Northeast and 11.9% in the south.  Another sign that real estate market is getting better is due to increased foreclosures.

 As odd as that made sound, a real recovery of the real estate market in the U.S. will only happen when financial institutions finally deal with the backlog of foreclosures.  Recent reports indicate the U.S. financial institutions are taking action against more delinquent home owners.  Statistics indicated that foreclosure proceedings increased by 6% in the second quarter as compared to the precious year.  That’s the first increase since 2009.  How is that possible?  Simple, banks chose to do nothing.  If the borrower didn’t approach the bank and request a loan modification or approval of a short sale, the banks were free to act at their own pace.  I suspect their motivation to deal with these issues had nothing to do with any kind of empathy for the home owner.  It was more to do with flooding the market with more distressed properties which ultimately would drive the prices down even further.  The shadow inventory is a subject that all stakeholders wanted to set aside and deal with it  in a mushroom growing fashion.  Clearly something has changed, and the banks now feel that the market can absorb the additional foreclosures.  This could have further impact on home prices in the short term but many analysts are predicting the drop could be as little as 1%.  Here’s another stat I found to be both encouraging and staggering.  At of the end of the 2012 first quarter, approximately 11.4 million homes or 23.7% of all homes with a mortgage in the U.S. were under water, negative equity.  On a quarter over quarter comparison it was 12.1 million homes or 25.2%.

 There’s no doubt that U.S. real estate market has a long way to go before anyone would suggest that it’s a “normal” market.  Until they (the politicians, Federal Reserve, regulators etc.,) deal with the real estate issue there will be no full economic recovery.  Put aside the markets and consumer spending because the real estate market is the 800 pound gorilla. The real unemployment rate in the U.S is just over 14%, the 8.2% reported unemployment rate is manipulated data and reported by Obama sycophants, and will not come down until there’s marked improvement in the real estate market.  As soon as that has happened, the better it is for us.  We love it when Americans are working because they love to spend, and we have stuff  we would love to sell them.  Recently, given the value of the Canadian dollar, we been purchasing more in the U.S., like their homes.  If you’re thinking of buying a second home in the U.S., this might be the bottom.

 Until next time,

 Cheers.

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3 Comments Stepping Out Of Your Element

Article written by on the 12 Jul 2012 in Personal

“Now all I have to deal with is the cotton mouth.  I can’t produce enough saliva to swallow.  It really is laughable.
The reason is simple; I’m just not used to this kind of pressure.”


mortaio-golf-tournament
If you’re successful in your professional life it’s due in large part to repetition.  You work on your skill sets day in and day out.  After years it gets to the point that you just do things without thinking.   It almost becomes second nature, and you learn to trust your internal GPS.  Ah, but when you do something that doesn’t come close to being second nature the results can be fascinating.

 I had such an experience this week.  As a point of background, every year around this time I join 23 of my industry colleagues to participate in the Mortario Cup.  What is the Mortario Cup?  It’s two and a half days of make believe; it’s 24 golfers who gather together to play a Ryder Cup style golf tournament.  The make believe part is we get to pretend we’re just like the pro’s.  We all have matching tour golf bags, each team wears the same coloured golf shirts during the  competition, we all wear the same coloured jacket to the champions dinner, each team wears matching ties, we even have matching cufflinks!  Unfortunately, just because you dress up like the pros doesn’t mean you play like one.  Every golfer at this tournament has probably played over a 1,000 rounds of golf over their life time. Some of the golfers have put their time to good use based on how good they are.  It doesn’t matter what the skill level is something happens to each of us at this tournament.

I know this may sound crazy but nerves can get the best of me at this tournament.  I’m not playing for money, the results will not impact my real life one bit, and yet I struggle to keep my emotions in check.  Maybe it’s the responsibility I have to my team members.  If you lose your matches you feel like you have let your eleven team members down.  The tournament is made of two teams of 12, Team Blue which was captioned by Terry Dolson this year,  and the bastards, I mean Team Red, captained by Bryan Devries this year, going head to head.  As you may have surmised I’m on Team Blue, and have been for the last eight years.  The bastard reference to Team Red is all in jest, kind of.  Bryan is a good buddy of mine and damn good player.  I want Bryan and Team Red to play well but I want Team Blue to beat their brains in.  That’s the truth.

So there I am on the first tee, and it’s amazing what goes through your head, “Please god, don’t hit into the woods.  Just put a good swing on it.  Christ, stop thinking about this. Oh man, if I poop the bed on my first shot my team members will think I stink!”  This conversation between my ears all takes place during my warm up swings, which is about three seconds.  I’ve taken thousands of golf swings over the years yet this is different.  I finally pull the trigger and think, “well, now it’s in god’s hands”.  No it’s not you idiot, god’s way too busy to be worrying about my swing.  Then the club finally makes contact with the ball and I see it flying majestically, landing in the middle of the fairway.  Then I nonchalantly bend over, pick up my tee and pretend like there was no doubt.   I can’t wait to get to my ball in the fairway so I can start breathing normally again.  I finally get to my ball and I take a bit of extra time to get my pulse rate back to normal.  Now all I have to deal with is the cotton mouth.  I can’t produce enough saliva to swallow.  It really is laughable.  I’ve done public speaking in front of hundreds of people and yet I don’t experience the same nervous reaction that I do when I play in this tournament.  The reason is simple; I’m just not used to this kind of pressure.  Over the years I’ve played really well at this tournament only to choke on the last few holes.  I can feel myself squeezing the club tighter, and I can just feel that something bad is going to happen.  And you know what? It does.  When it happens I ask myself, “WHY NOW?”  The answer is simple – I’m out of my element.

I must be handling the pressure little better because the last two years I’ve been fortunate enough to close out my opponents.  There’s a difference in being beaten by an opponent rather than beating yourself.  I played fairly well, for my skill level, by earning the maximum three points for our team.  But that matters little because we lost to Bryan Devries and Team Red.  They out played us and were deserving of victory. I hate to lose but if lose I must, it might as well be to a great bunch of guys.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s tournament; for redemption? Maybe a little, but what I look forward to is that 24 men get together to be little boys again.

 Until next time

 Cheers,

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4 Comments Mortgage & Housing Industry: It’s all About the Timing

Article written by on the 10 Jul 2012 in Current Events

“If I’m a home owner in the Greater Vancouver Area, and just read the National Post article, I think I would be coughing up my latte through my nose about now.  But fear not Vancouver, you’re not alone.  Toronto joined in with its own negative results.”

 

It’s always easy to use the word “timing” to categorize success or failure.  We’ve all heard it before, “he was in the right place at the right time”.  Those who chalk up people’s success, purely based on timing, are usually the ones who missed the same opportunity because of a lack of skill and vision.  In politics timing is used to justify ineptitude and a lack of positive results.  If using timing as an excuse for failure, and if it was an Olympic sport,  then the Obama administration would own the podium.  After 3 ½ years of being in power all you here out of Washington is that it’s all George Bush’s fault, and that the Obama administration needs more time to set the country on the right path.  Blaming the last guy, after all this time, is laughable.  The President wanted the gig and he knew the mess he was inheriting.  It was his job to fix it or at the very least put the country back on track.  Time might be running out for Obama, and we’ll all find out in November.  Should he end up being a one term President, I’m sure the Dem’s will rationalize his failure with “he was the right guy at the wrong time”.

Here in Canada many have supported and questioned the timing of the most recent changes to mortgage rules.  As of July 6th it’s our new reality.  I’m looking out the window right now and it’s sunny, stinking hot here in Toronto, and the ground hasn’t opened up and swallowed up all of us in the industry.  Then again it’s been less than a week.  I was thinking of the timing of the new mortgage rules while reading an article in the National Post recently, “On Wednesday (July 5th) the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver released June figures showing sales down 27.6% from a year earlier and down 17.2% from just May.  The benchmark price index was 1.7% from a year ago but the city has seen prices drop in the shorter term and economists expect more declines to come”.  If I’m a home owner in the GVA, and just read the National Post article, I think I would be coughing up my latte through my nose about now.  But fear not Vancouver, you’re not alone.  “Toronto joined in with its own negative results as sales in the city declined 13% from a year ago while the entire GTA was off 5.4%”.  Prices have remained steady in the GTA but that appears to have a short shelf life.  For so long now pundits eagerly predicated a housing bust and I guess if they say it often and long enough they will be able to say, “I told you so”.

The most recent changes to mortgage rules had zero impact on the stat’s noted above.  There were many in the mortgage and housing sector, including CAAMP, who publicly stated that previous changes to mortgage rules went far enough.  Of course it’s easy for critics to dismiss the industry as being self-serving but based on the data available today, maybe, just maybe, the industry was not that far off.  The IMF (International Monetary Fund) is tweaking economic forecast for the remainder of the year.  There’s a general malaise as it relates to investments, jobs and manufacturing for the U.S., Europe, Brazil, India and China.   As we have all learned, what happens in the rest of the world impacts us here in Canada.  There’s merit to the argument that economic data justified the changes to the most recent mortgage rules.  But what if the most recent changes to the mortgage rules just adds to an already stagnant economy and slowing housing sector?  Not good if you’re an home owner and certainly less than optimal for those who could have a finger pointed at them, accompanied with a simple message,”you made it worse”.  Indeed, it’s all about the timing.

 Until next time

Cheers.

 

 

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0 Comments My Dog Ate My Blog

Article written by on the 06 Jul 2012 in Personal

Not buying it? Neither did my grade four teacher, Mrs. Cops.  I still remember her after all these years.  What I remember the most about her is the accuracy she had when throwing chalk at us.  She would be writing on the board and in one fluid motion turn, fire and nail you right in the forehead.  It was uncanny.  That’s why I always tried to sit behind the kid with biggest head in the class.  I was just trying to work the odds.  Speaking of odds, after posting over 104 blogs, without fail, there’s was bound to be a day when I just couldn’t come up with anything.  Maybe it’s the heat wave we’re going through in Toronto, maybe it’s trying to catch up after all the travel or simply a cranial cramp.  I got nothing. 

I wonder what would have happened if I was totally honest with Mrs. Cops?  “My homework?…To be honest Mrs. Cops I didn’t feel like doing it”.  Just got a shiver.

Until next time,

 Cheers.

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0 Comments National Pride

Article written by on the 03 Jul 2012 in Current Events,Euro 2012,Uncategorized

“Italy and Spain will be left with little choice but to plug its nose, open wide and except the bitter medicine. Both Italy and Spain are too big to fail.”

Canada wasn’t the only nation that celebrated this weekend. The Austerity Bowl, better known as Euro 2012 soccer final was played this weekend. The finals were a nice distraction for those of Spanish and Italian decent – that was before the game started. The final wasn’t much of a game because Spain destroyed the Italians on the field. Soccer purists could marvel at Spain’s dominance and breath taking skills. But if it was an exciting game you were looking for, you would have been better off channel surfing. If you missed it the final score it was Spain 4 Italy 0. Ouch!

Prior to Sunday’s final game you couldn’t help but notice the flags of European countries being proudly displayed by motorists. If it’s like this in Toronto and other Canadian cities can you imagine what it must have been like in Spain and Italy leading up to the game?! These two countries could sure use a distraction. Both countries are in dire straits when it comes to their respective economies. Both Spain and Italy’s have had to look for handouts from their European ruler, Germany and the IMF. The only thing missing for the Italian and Spanish President is a piece of cardboard that reads, can you spare a trillion? Spain’s unemployment rate has now reached a shocking 25%, and they can only envy Italy’s 10.2% unemployment rate. Investors view Italy as being much safer than Spain, but that’s like picking your poison. Home sales in Italy have dropped by 20% in 2012, and they cannot service their $2 trillion debt. That being said home prices have remained steady in Italy, and their banks are not nearly exposed as Spanish banks. But Italy’s irresponsible government spending in the last twenty years has given them very little leverage to negotiate favorable loan terms. Italy and Spain will be left with little choice but to plug its nose, open wide and except the bitter medicine. Both Italy and Spain are too big to fail. They are the 8th and 12th largest economies in the world, their neighbor, Germany, cannot afford to let that happen. Greece? A throw away. The two aforementioned countries? Not a chance. Germany will figure out a solution and Italy and Spain will have to accept the terms; Like maybe having Angela Merkel’s picture on all their currency, including coins.

If the fine people of Italy and Spain derived any kind of pleasure prior to the final, good for them. A distraction doesn’t make the problems go away but being able to put aside everyday problems for a brief moment canadian fansmust have been such a relief for them. I suspect that good number of people in Italy and Spain must be envious of us here in Canada. Sure, we have our issues but when compared to other countries around the world they would gladly trade their problems for ours. How fortunate that those of Italian and Spanish nationality get to live in such great countries like Canada. That applies to individuals of every nationality that lives in Canada. Maybe one day everyone will remember to celebrate Canada during international sporting events; something simple, like displaying the Canadian Flag along with your country of origins flag when driving around the city. No one can use the excuse “I didn’t think of that”. The final was played on Canada Day.

Until next time

Cheers

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