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January 26, 2006

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B.C. election races remain tight
Prince George Citizen, Jan. 16
It appears there are two campaigns taking place in the province of B.C. - in the Interior between the NDP and Conservatives, and also in Vancouver and its suburbs between the NDP and Liberals. Some party members feel that B.C.'s votes may be pivotal in the shaping of our next government and there are many ridings that have tight, three-way races. According to SFU political scientist Patrick Smith, “It's possible in some constituencies, if people want to keep Harper's numbers down, Liberals might actually vote NDP this time, which is the opposite of what happened last time.” At the time the election was called, the Liberals held eight B.C. seats, while the NDP held five, with one vacant due to the death of Independent Chuck Cadman.

Meet water's cooler cousins
Los Angeles Times, Jan. 16
Bottled water has huge demand and subsequent growth for a refreshing beverage that has become innovative and broadening in variety. The latest trend indicates that consumers are looking for water that does more than quench your thirst - they are looking for energy, vitamins or mineral benefits. There is a very lucrative market that is catering to this consumer need by manufacturing trendy looking bottles in a variety of flavours, colours and shapes. But skeptics, like retired SFU chemistry professor Stephen Lower, warn that there is lots of hype around this issue. “It's snake oil,” says Lower, and, “there is no evidence that you can change the structure of water.” To put it simply, water is water, refreshing and hydrating and nothing more.

Marketing to immigrants
Calgary Sun, Jan. 15
Despite Canada's other official language being French, when walking certain streets, such as the case in Richmond, you may think it is Cantonese. The advertising signage on stores and strip malls could include more Cantonese than English. Many retail outlets and financial institutions, such as Vancity, realize that they must target and gain access to the immigrant market that is growing quickly. Research by SFU business assistant professor, Diane Cyr shows that when websites are culturally sensitive, people will return. Cyr adds, “If customers are trusting, satisfied and loyal that will compensate for the cost.” Other financial institutions, such as Scotiabank, are adapting to fill the needs of the market segmentation by offering very specific material to the various cultures.

Vancouver property crime down
CBC News, Jan. 12
In 2005, reported cases of property crime dipped significantly compared to 2004. A Vancouver police report shows a 16 per cent drop in cases of possession of stolen goods and break and entry, and a 15 per cent decrease in auto theft. The police department attributes these changes to its crackdown on property offences which includes breaking up theft rings. SFU criminologist Neil Boyd says it's difficult to say conclusively what causes reported crime to drop suddenly, noting that repeat victims sometimes give up reporting thefts. Despite these encouraging figures, Vancouver's property crime rate is one of the highest in North America.

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