Thursday, March 31, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 30 March 2011
Canadian International Financial Weather

RCMP arrest terror suspect

TORONTO: Canada's national police force says terrorism charges have been filed against a 25-year-old man arrested Tuesday at Toronto's Pearson International airport. RCMP Investigators say Mohamed Hassan Hersi was heading to Somalia to join the al-Qaida linked militia Al-Shabaab which is trying to overthrow Somalia's transitional government. Mr. Hersi is charged with attempting to participate in terrorist activity and providing counsel to a person to participate in terrorist activity. He's due in court Friday for a bail hearing.

Green Party Leader vows to fight debate exclusion

The leader of Canada's federal Green Party, Elizabeth May, is furious over a decision not invite her to take part in the party leaders' broadcast debates. Ms May, whose party has never elected a Member of Parliament to the House of Commons, says the decision to exclude her is high-handed, arbitrary, and an affront to democracy.Ms. May was grudgingly allowed to take part in the 2008 election debates, but only after a fierce public outcry over her exclusion. At the time, the Greens had one MP in the Commons, Blair Wilson, who had been elected as a Liberal.

Leaders campaign

Canada's political leaders are campaigning in different parts of the country as they gear up for the May 2nd election. Prime Minister Stephen Harper started the day in the Toronto suburb of Brampton, Ontario before heading to Montreal for a rally. The Conservative Party leader is promising to restore a one-year, $1,000 tax credit announced in last week's budget, to help small businesses face higher employment insurance premiums. The leader of the New Democratic Party, Jack Layton was also campaigning in the Toronto suburbs today, proposing a 2.3-billion-dollar job-creation plan. It would reduce taxes for small business and provide tax credits for companies that hire new staff. Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff was in the Pacific coast city of Vancouver, where he promised a series of measures to boost pensions and help Canadians save for retirement.

Soldier's remains returned

The remains of the latest Canadian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan returned homeWednesday. Cpl. Yannick Scherrer of the 1st Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed Sunday by a roadside bomb. The 24-year-old Montrealer had been on a foot patrol with the Afghan National Army near the village of Nakhonay, southwest of Kandahar city. His death brings to 155 the number of Canadian troops killed since the Afghan mission began in 2002. Two Canadian aid workers, a diplomat and a journalist have also been killed there.

Canadian military prepares for Arctic emergencies

The Canadian military is about to deploy its first ever rapid response force in the Arctic to see how it would deal with an emergency. They'll be testing a plan which aims to have soldiers reach the scene of a plane crash, environmental disaster or shipping accident anywhere in the Arctic, within 6 hours. The plan involves northern-based Ranger reserve units, chartered airplanes and command and communications officers from Yellowknife. A recent paper in the Canadian Military Journal said Canada's Arctic search and rescue capabilities haven't improved much since the 1991 crash of a Hercules transport plane on Ellesmere Island.

Manitoba braces for flooding

GYPSUMVILLE, Manitoba: The threat of flooding has prompted authorities in Manitoba to re-locate about 30 people people from a First Nation that sits at the junction of the Dauphin River and Lake Winnipeg. With provincial officials anticipating substantial flooding this spring, the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters says it's stockpiling thousands of sandbags and bringing in extra resources. Several waterways in the province, including the Red, Assiniboine and Souris rivers are being monitored closely for possible flooding.


The Canadian National Raiway says full service on its Via Rail passenger trans resumed today on its Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa lines. Travel on those lines had been suspended since Sunday when 25 cars of a C-N freight train derailed east of Toronto, forcing Via to use buses to get affected passengers to their destinations.


The Canadian province of Ontario has tabled a budget that has no new tax increases. The budget also calls for Ontario's deficit to be reduced to 16.3 billion dollars in the fiscal year that starts Friday. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says it will be another six years before the deficit is eliminated. He also says it's an election budget. The next provincial election in Ontario election is set for October 6th.



Japanese authorities are reporting the highest radiation levels yet in the seawater surrounding the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Tests have found that seawater 300 meters outside the plant contains 33-hundred-55 times the legal limit for radioactive iodine. Japanese nuclear safety officials insist the amount of iodine-131 found south of the plant does not pose an immediate threat to human health, but they admit it is a "concern." Highly toxic plutonium also has been detected in the soil outside the plant, fueling suspicions that dangerously radioactive water is leaking from the Fukushima plant's damaged nuclear fuel rods. Authorities are now planning to spray resin on the ground around the plant in a bid to slow the spread of radioactive particles. They'll put that plan to the test Thursday to see if the resin is successful in glueing the particles to the ground. And, in another development TEPCO, the company that operates the Fukushima plant, has announced it will shut down the four stricken reactors for good.


Libyan rebels have been forced out of the key oil port of Ras Lanouf after coming under heavy shelling from ground forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. NATO planes flew over the area where the heaviest fighting was taking place and launched a new wave of air strikes against Colonel Gadhafi's forces. Meantime, the East African country of Uganda has become the first nation to offer sanctuary to Moammar Gadhafi. A spoksman for the president says the Libyan leader is welcome to live there.

North Korea

North Korean representatives were sounding optimistic as they emerged from three days of talks with former U.S. officials on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. The head of the North Korean contingent, Ri Gun, says they agreed to resolve their concerns through negotiation. Since the meetings were unofficial, he did not elaborate further and took no questions. Talks involving China, the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Russia began in 2003 to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for aid. But, the talks broke down two years ago when North Korea was criticised for firing a long-range rocket. North Korea and China recently called for a resumption of those negotiations.

China (Libya)

The president of China is using unusually strong language to express his country's reservations about the Western bombing campaign in Libya. President Hu Jintao warned his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy that force will not resolve the conflict and could result in a divided Libya. Pesident Hu is calling for an immediate ceasefire saying China "is not in favour of the use of force in international affairs."

Russia (Libya)

Russia's foreign minister is warning the West against arming Libya's rebels and is calling for a speedy end to hostilities. Sergey Lavrov says Libya needs a new, democratic regime, but it's up to the Libyans to make the changes without outside interference. Mr. Lavrov says Russia shares concerns that some of Moammar Gadhafi's opponents could have ties to al-Qaida and warned that the instability could spread from Libya to other regions. Russia abstained in the United Nations vote that authorised the military operation against forces loyal to Colonel Gadhafi, and has been expressing concern about civilian casualties and excessive use of force since the operation began.


Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad is blaming "conspirators" for the unprecedented wave of dissent against his regime today. But in his first speech since the protests began nearly two weeks ago, President Assad failed to lift the country's despised emergency law and made no concessions to his opponents. Within hours of the address, there were reports that troops had opened fire during a protest by about 100 people in the port city of Latakia. It wasn't immediately clear though, whether the soldiers were firing in the air or at the protesters.


Police in the volatile North Caucasus region of Ingushetia have shot and killed two militants who'd opened fire on them during an identity check. The gunmen, who were wanted on terrorism charges, shot at the officers when they were asked to show their papers at a bus stop in the village of Nizhny Alkun. Today's (Wednesday's) shootings come in the wake of a major coup by Russian special forces on Monday. 17 militants were killed in a precision air strike on their base in Ingushetia. Russian authorities are conducting tests ton confirm whether the dead include the leader of the Islamist insurgency in the Northern Caucasus, Doku Umarov. Russia fought two wars against separatist rebels in Chechnya in the 1990s, and the violence has since spread into the nearby regions of Dagestan and Ingushetia.


Wednesday's markets

In Toronto, The S&P/TSX composite index ran up 153.23 points to 14,083.58. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 71.6 points to 12,350.61. The Nasdaq composite index was up 19.9 points at 2,776.79, while the S&P 500 index gained 8.82 points to 1,328.26. Oil lost 52 cents to close at US$104.27 a barrel.

The Canadian dollar settled at 102.95 cents US, up 0.35 of a cent. The U.S. dollar stood at 97.13 cents Cdn, down 0.34 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5617, up 0.12 of a cent and US$1.6078, up 0.68 of a cent. The euro was worth C$1.3719, down 0.33 of a cent.

U.S. eyes Canadian oil

U-S President Barack Obama singled out Canada when outlined a new energy plan Wednesday. The president suggests Canada will play a role as his country tries to wean itself from its reliance on oil from the Middle-East and North Africa where bloody uprisings are threatening the supply. Mr. Obama's new plan, which he outlined in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, signals good news for Alberta's oilsands and the Transcanada Keystone pipeline that will bring the Alberta oil to the United States. The president's speech came on the eve of a hearing in the House of Representatives entitled "The Urgent Case for Canadian Oil."


OTTAWA: Foreigners aren't spending as much in Canada, but Canadians are making up for it. New figures from Statistics Canada show domestic tourism spending was up by 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, while spending by foreign visitors was down by 0.2 percent. There was higher spending on accommodation, food and beverage services and on non-tourism commodities like groceries, souvenirs and clothing which contributed to the overall increase in tourism spending at home. Foreign visitors spent less on air travel and non-tourism items, but spent more on accommodation, food and drink, and; recreation and entertainment.

National Bank frowns on stock market merger

MONTREAL: The head of the National Bank of Canada is warning that planned merger of the Toronto and London stock exchanges will interfere with Canada's ability to raise capital for its natural resources sector. CEO Louis Vachon says the National Bank also objects to the deal because it doesn't offer shareholders a premium. The National Bank, which is Canada's 6th largest bank, holds 1.3 million shares in TMX, the company that operates the Toronto stock exchange. Mr Vachon also describes the London exchange as a relatively weak strategic partner, and says the TMX's financial plan is stronger. He says it would be preferable that ownership of the derivatives business remain in Canadian hands than simply be regulated in Canada.



Canada's weather for Thursday. In the Canadian north, sunny in Iqaluit and minus 15 degrees Celsius. Flurries in Yukon and 7 degrees in Whitehorse. Rain in British Columbia with a high of 12 in Vancouver. A mix of sun and cloud in Alberta, clearing in Saskatchewan and possible showers in Manitoba with highs of 6 in Edmonton, 1 in Regina and 3 in Winnipeg. A chance of showers or flurries in Ontario and a mix of sun and cloudy in Quebec. Sunny in the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Possible flurries in Newfoundland. Some temperatures: 5 in Toronto, 4 in Ottawa, 7 in Montreal, 9 in Halifax and 1 in St. John's.

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