Saturday, March 12, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

PM offers Canadian support to Japan


GUELPH: Prime Minister Stephen Harper is extending Canada's condolences to the people of Japan and has offered any support and assistance that may be necessary. Mr. Harper said embassy officials are working to determine whether any Canadians have been injured. He also acknowledged the risk to Canada's West Coast, although it appears the worst may have already passed.He said there are good emergency plans in place and that authorities are on notice and prepared to deal with any emergencies. Other Canadian leaders also extended their sympathies to the families of the victims.

Royal Bank upbeat about Canadian economy


TORONTO: One of Canada's major banks says the Canadian economy will grow by 3.2 per cent this year. The Royal Bank of Canada says the prediction is based on the assumption of rising US demand for consumer goods and autos. The report from RBC Economics says demand for Canadian commodities will keep the Canadian dollar high and help Canadian businesses import equipment from abroad. It also predicts the Bank of Canada will increase overnight interest rates to two per cent by the end of the year. That would be a full percentage point higher than the central bank's current policy rate. Labour market conditions should be stable in 2011 while disposable income will see a 4.1 per cent gain. The report says net exports and consumer spending helped drive Canada's economy to higher-than-expected gains in 2010.

New job figures below expectations


OTTAWA: New figures released Fridayby Statistics Canada show the national jobless rate last month was 7.8 per cent, no change from January. The agency says just over 15-thousand jobs were created across the country last month. The small gain is below the consensus expectations of as many as 25-thousand new jobs.

Opposition upset over Harper's reaction to speaker's rulings


OTTAWA: Canada's federal opposition parties are upset at the government's reactions to rulings by the Speaker of the House of Commons on Wednesday. The Conservative Party government is calling two parliamentary breaches nothing more than distractions. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday the opposition should be more concerned with what Canadians really care about and that is the economy. Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff said the prime minister has shown contempt for Canadians by not taking the Speakers' ruling more seriously.

Senator found guilty of fraud


OTTAWA: A Canadian senator has been found guilty of fraud. Raymond Lavigne, a member of the Liberal Party, was tried by an Ontario Superior Court judge on accusations he misused Senate funds and pocketed expenses that were actually run up by his staff. Mr. Lavigne has been barred from attending Senate proceedings since he was charged in 2007, though he has continued to collect his $132,300 annual salary. He has also claimed hundreds of thousands more for travel, hospitality, office and living expenses. Mr. Lavigne is a former Liberal Member of Parliament. He was appointed to the Senate in 2002, but was expelled from the Liberal caucus in 2006.

Tories dispute war plane cost estimate


OTTAWA: The Harper government is questioning the credibility of the parliamentary budget officer's report on the costs of the stealth fighter program. On Friday, Laurie Hawn, the junior defence minister, dismissed Kevin Page's contention earlier this week that the jets will cost nearly $30 billion over 30 years. That's far higher than government cost estimates. Mr. Hawn said Mr. Page's forecast is speculative and illogical. However, Mr. Hawn offered no concrete figures to rebut the findings. He said commercial or international agreements limit what the government can say publicly in defence of its own estimates.

Former Integrity Commissioner tells her side of story


OTTAWA: Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet made a long-awaited appearance before a parliamentary committee on Thursday. She told the committee that the auditor general's report that led to her surprise resignation last October was seriously flawed. The report outlined how Ms. Ouimet intimidated her staff and failed to protect public service whistleblowers. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Ms. Ouimet received a more than $500,000 severance package because she could not be fired and that was the cheapest and fastest way to dismiss her.

Former Cinar president arrested in Montreal


MONTREAL: The former president of the Canadian film animation company Cinar has surrendered to police. Ronald Weinberg was arrested Thursday at Montreal's Trudeau Airport after a flight from the Dominican Republic. The 59-year old Weinberg was to appear in court Friday to face charges in an alleged $120-million fraud. Of the three other men charged in the case, two are free on bail and one is still being sought.

Incendies tops Genie winners


OTTAWA: The Genie awards for the best in Canadian film were handed out Thursday night in Ottawa. Incendies was the big winner. Denis Villeneuve's drama won eight Genies, including best film, best actress for Lubna Azabal, best director and best adapted screenplay. The other top film, Barney's Version, won seven Genies, including best actor for Paul Giamatti, best supporting actor for Dustin Hoffman and best supporting actress for Minnie Driver.


Japan


At least 200 bodies has been recovered byearly Saturdayalong Japan's northeastern coast following a huge tsunami that struck as a result of Japan's strongest earthquake in recorded history. The tremors on Friday afternoon measured 8.9. Tsunami waves as high as ten metres swept inland, sweeping aside buildings and vehicles. The number of victims is expected to rise dramatically. Japan closed several nuclear power plants as a precaution. One nuclear plant suffered a fire, forcing thousands of local residents to evacuate the area. Initial reports said that no radiation escaped. Air transport to Japan and to other points in the Far East was disrupted. The Red Cross in Geneva said the wall of water was higher than some Pacific islands and a tsunami warning was issued for the whole of the Pacific Basin, except for the West Coasts of the United States and Canada.

New Zealand


Civil defence officials upgraded their tsunami warning early Saturday, saying waves of more than one metre were expected following the earthquake in Japan. However, the first wave to reach the northern shores was barely visible and caused no damage. The powerful earthquake in Japan struck just over two weeks after a 6.3 magnitude quake devastated the New Zealand city of Christchurch, killing more than 200 people.

Libya


A high-ranking US government official is predicting that Moammar Gadhafi could prevail over rebels seeking to overthrow him in Libya. The comment by the director of national intelligence contradicted the position of US President Barack Obama.The rebels suffered setbacks in the last two days following fierce attacks by pro-Gadhafi forces. But the rebels are still vowing to continue their resistance.

Belgium


The European Union said Friday it is keeping the military option open to protect the population in Libya, but any action would need the backing of the United Nations and the Arab League. Delegates to a summit of EU government leaders also expressed political backing for Libya's opposition council but stopped short of the diplomatic recognition given the council Thursday by France. France and Britain had pushed to maintain the military option in the face of continued fighting in Libya and the threat of more violence by the forces of Moammar Gadhafi.

Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia launched a massive security operation Friday in a show of force to stop protesters from a planned so-called Day of Rage to seek democratic reform in the kingdom. The demonstrations were supposed to start after Muslim prayers at noon Friday, but as the mosques emptied there were no signs of rallies. Security teams were at checkpoints in key locations across several cities. The opposition wants a fully elected parliament and ruler in the country. Analysts say that, so far, Saudi Arabia has been spared the political tumult that has affected neighbouring countries like Yemen and forced the autocratic leaders of Egypt and Tunisia from power. The signs of unrest in the kingdom are being monitored by the United States and other major powers.

Tunisia


TUNISIA

The Interior Ministry said Fridaya new eruption of violence between police and protesters has killed two people and injured 20. The ministry said police fired tear gas and demonstrators threw stones and gasoline bombs. A statement said two protesters were killed in the incident in Metlaoui, a mining town in the centre of the Mediterranean country. The violence comes as Tunisia's interim government is trying to restore stability after deadly protests that drove out long-time leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January. That prompted uprisings around the Arab world.

Egypt


Hundreds of Egyptians holding up crosses and Korans gathered Friday in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest against sectarianism. The demonstration followed religious clashes Tuesday that left at least 13 people dead in the Cairo district of Moqattam. The fighting broke out when Muslims confronted 1,000 Christians who had been blocking a main road in protest at the burning of a church last week.

Middle East


Envoys of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet failed to secure agreement on a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after a series of separate meetings on Thursday. Officials said that despite separate talks with Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho in Jerusalem and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the two sides are still far apart. The Quartet wants the Israelis and Palestinians to renew some kind of peace negotiations that stalled last September over a dispute about Jewish settlements. The Quartet, which groups the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, is to further discuss the peace talks next month in Paris.

Afghanistan


US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is warning NATO allies against an early withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. He says it would jeopardise the war effort just as the Taliban is showing signs of weakness. Mr. Gates said foreign forces in Afghanistan, including those from Canada, have set back the Taliban insurgency in the past year. But Mr. Gates said the gains by the NATO and US-led groups against the insurgency could unravel if countries begin pulling out large numbers of troops too quickly for what he called political reasons. Canada is one of those countries withdrawing its troops this summer and will focus on training missions in Afghanistan.

Colombia


President Juan Manuel Santos has warned multi-national companies that they will be asked to leave the country if they pay ransoms to rebel groups or other criminals holding their employees. The warning follows an incident in which 22 of 23 employees of South American Exploration, a subcontractor of Canadian oil company Talisman Energy and Colombia's Ecopetrol, were freed by their kidnappers. President Santos said there had been talk among the freed hostages of a ransom in the amount of $US 2.6 million. The government blamed the kidnapping on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC, that has been at war with the state since 1964.

Mexico


Police have found nine bodies near the beach resort of Acapulco. The area has seen a series of drug killings in recent weeks. Police did not provide further details about when or how they had been killed. In the same area in January, police found 15 decapitated bodies, believed to have been victims of the fighting between the La Familia, Los Zetas and Beltran Leyva drug gangs. As many as 34,500 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006 when President Felipe Calderon deployed soldiers and federal police in a widespread crackdown on the illegal cartels.

China


Justice officials are promising to eliminate all threats to state security, social stability and the country's economy. The pledges by the parliament's chief prosecutor, Cao Jianming, came amid a major crackdown on government critics and activist lawyers. It also follows the December, 2009 imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo on subversion charges. Analysts say China's leaders are always prepared for any challenges to communist rule. And they are currently more sensitive to the issue especially the recent protests against autocratic rulers in the Middle East and North Africa.

Russia


RUSSIA

A list published in a leading US business magazine shows Moscow is home to more super-rich people than any other city. Forbes said Russia now had 101 billionaires, a third of the total in Europe, with 79 of them living in the Moscow. The number of Russian billionaires went up from 62 last year with Russia's richest overwhelmingly working in natural resource industries, particularly metals. Forbes said Russia's wealthiest person Vladimir Lisin, worth $24 billion, was the world's 14th-richest man. Statistics show with the richest 10 percent in Russia earn 30 times more than the poorest 10 percent of the population.


Friday's markets


In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite indexclosed up35.67 points to 13,674.25. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial averageclosed up 60 points, to 12,044. The Nasdaq composite was up 15 points, to 2,716. The Canadian dollar settled at 102.98 cents US, up 0.48 of a cent. The US dollar stood at 97.11 cents Cdn, down 0.45 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5619, down 0.41 of a cent and US$1.6084, up 0.32 of a cent. The euro was worth C$1.3507, up 0.53 of a cent.

Earthquake will affect Canada-Japan trade


TORONTO: Experts say Canada stands to lose out on short-term trade as Japan focuses on recovering from Friday's destructive earthquake and tsunami. Tim Richardson, who was the head of the Canada-Japan Trade Council, says Canada will lose out on exports to Japan. Each year, Japan buys tens of millions of dollars worth of Canadian wheat, lumber and minerals used in manufacturing. But with the country so focused on the devastation and Japanese factories shut down, the country won't worry about buying Canadian goods needed for production. Mr. Richardson says Canada will likely recover in the long term by selling lumber that Japan will use to rebuild. Mr. Richardson says the extent of Canada's short-term economic impact won't be clear for days because the earthquake happened on a Friday.

Cascades sells unit to New Zealand company


KINGSEY FALLS: Cascades Inc. is selling its Dopaco business unit for US$400 million to a global packaging company based in New Zealand. Dopaco makes paper cups and folding cartons for fast-food restaurants and the food industry. It has six plants -- two in Ontario and four in the United States. Cascades (TSX:CAS) didn't disclose how the new owner plans to integrate the Dopaco business into its operations. The buyer is Reynolds Group Holdings Ltd., a global supplier of consumer food and beverage packaging headquartered in Auckland, NZ. Cascades of Kingsey Falls, Que., said it will use proceeds from the sale of Dopaco to pay down debt.


The Brier


In curling, Alberta's Kevin Martin beat Ontario's Glenn Howard 6-5 to complete the round-robin at the Tim Hortons Brier in London, Ont. on Thursday. The two teams play again Saturday when they meet in the three-versus-four playoff. Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and Alberta all finished 9-and-2, with Ontario next at 8-and-3. Brad Gushue's rink from Newfoundland and Labrador was to face Jeff Stoughton's Manitoba foursome Friday night in the one-two Page Playoff, with the winner advancing to Sunday's final.

National Hockey League


Thursday's results: St. Louis defeated Montreal 4-1, Ottawa defeated Florida 2-1, Philadelphia defeated Toronto 3-2, Phoenix shut out Calgary 3-0 and Vancouver defeated San Jose 5-4 in a shootout.


Saturday's forecasts


Vancouver has rain with a forecast high temperature of eight degrees Celsius. Calgary is sunny with a high of five. Regina is sunny with cloudy periods, a high of minus-15. Winnipeg is cloudy with sunny periods, blowing snow and a high of minus-13. Toronto is cloudy with a chance of flurries and showers, a high of six. Ottawa is cloudy with a chance of showers, a high of three. Montreal is cloudy with sunny periods with a chance of showers and a high of three. Fredericton has rain, a high of nine. Charlottetown and Halifax have periods of rain followed by a mix of sun and cloud. Highs: eight in Charlottetown, nine in Halifax. St. John's is cloudy with drizzle, a high of five. Whitehorse has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of minus-13. Yellowknife is cloudy with a chance of flurries, a high of minus-17. Sunny with a high of minus-30 in Iqaluit.