Wednesday, June 1, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 31 May 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


Canada's Auditor General Sheila Fraser has completed her 10-year term. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Miss Fraser exemplifies the very best of public service. He says she made an outstanding contribution to parliamentary decision-making, accountability and transparency during her term. The auditor general oversees federal spending and issues yearly reports on his or her findings. Deputy Auditor General John Wiersema takes over on an interim basis pending a national selection process to choose Miss Fraser's successor.


The Canadian province of Quebec says the federal government cannot act alone on Senate reform. The province's Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau says any changes must be done through a constitutional amendment approved by at least seven provinces. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to introduce two Senate reform bills next month. One would impose term limits on senators and the other would encourage provinces to elect nominees who would then be appointed to the Senate by the prime minister. The current process of naming a person to the Senate is the responsibility of the prime minister. A Senator can remain at the post until mandatory retirement at the age of 75.


The Bank of Canada has left its trend-setting lending rate unchanged at one per cent. This is the sixth straight time that bank Governor Mark Carney has chosen to leave the rate at its historic low. Mr. Carney says that although risks to the economic recovery remain, growth is proceeding more or less as predicted.


There's uncertainty about the steps involved in the federal government's plan to end the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on the sale of Western grain. The monopoly is to end in August 2012 but the government hadn't said whether the monopoly over the sale of all three of its products will end then. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz had a meeting in Winnipeg on Tuesday with the Board's chairman. Allen Oberg said afterwards he was told that the monopoly for spring wheat, durum and barley will end at the same time. But Mr. Ritz later said more discussion is needed to decide the question. Canada is the world's biggest exporter of the three products. Farmers opposed to the monopoly argue they should be allowed the freedom to find the best prices. Supporters say they get the best prices through the existing of a single marketer.


The premier of the eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador says she hopes the federal government will provide a loan guarantee for a major energy project by the end of summer. Kathy Dunderdale says she has been in constant contact with Ottawa over the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project and wants an answer soon. During the recent federal election campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised the province a loan guarantee or equivalent financial support for the $6.2-billion project at Muskrat Falls, Labrador. The province wants to lay an undersea cable between there and Nova Scotia to convey electricity produced at Lower Churchill. The province of Quebec objects strongly, arguing that the loan guarantee would be an unfair subsidy. Quebec fears Newfoundland would compete with Hydro Quebec for electricity sales to the U.S.



Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi renewed a ceasefire call in talks Monday in Tripoli with South African President Jacob Zuma. However, Mr. Zuma failed to work out an agreement between the Libyan leader and rebels on a plan proposed by the African Union. The rebels have rejected the AU proposal which calls for a ceasefire and political reforms, but falls short of their demand for Mr. Gaddafi to resign. After Mr. Zuma left Libya, NATO warplanes reportedly resumed attacks on civilian and military targets. Western leaders in charge of the two-month old NATO-led air campaign against Libyan forces say they will not stop bombing until Mr. Gaddafi steps down.


A boat packed with almost 1,000 illegal migrants has reached Sicily after a four-day sail from Libya. The 963 migrants were crammed into a barely seaworthy voat only 20 metres long. Most are from the sub-Sahara, although some are Bangladeshis. Some were so stressed from the voyage that they fainted after police helped them ashore. Tens of thousands of illegal migrants have sailed to Italy this year, most fleeing revolts and unrest in North Africa.


The latest efforts to broker ceasefire talks between Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and rebels who have been involved in a two-month long civil war have ended in failure. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has been in Tripoli trying to get the negotiations going. Mr. Zuma says Colonel Gadhafi has agreed to a ceasefire but is refusing to step down, a key demand of NATO and the rebels. The rebels have pledged to continue their campaign unless Gadhafi goes. During a visit to the rebel-heId city of Bengazi, Italy's foreign minister pledged to provide the rebels with fuel and hundreds of millions of dollars backed by frozen assets of Gadhafi's régime.


There was more fighting in Yemen's capital Sana'a Tuesday after a fragile truce broke down between tribal groups and forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Some analysts say the country is getting closer to civil war. Global powers have been trying to persuade Mr. Saleh to sign a Gulf-led agreement that would see him resign and end the months of protest against his régime. At least 320 people have been killed in fighting since protests started in Yemen about four months ago, inspired by the popular uprisings that ended the reign of the long-standing rulers of Tunisia and Egypt.


The Serbian government has deported accused war criminal Ratko Mladic to The Netherlands, where he will be tried at the International war tribunal in The Hague. His plane landed in Rotterdam, 16 years after the court accused him of various crimes including genocide during his time as Serb commander during the Bosnian civil war between 1992 and 1995. Mladic will be brought before a judge for a preliminary hearing in several days.



France's Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, has promised to give Brazil and other developing economies more influence at the International Monetary Fund. She made the comment as she launched a worldwide tour Monday to win support for her candidacy to lead the IMF. The support of of Brazil, Latin America's largest economy and an influential diplomatic power, could help ease discontent among developing countries over the long-standing practice of choosing a European to head the Washington-based IMF. Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega says Brazil has not yet decided whether to support Miss Lagarde or her only declared rival, Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens.


Chinese police have for the first time raised the possibility of compensation for those killed in the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests. Reports say that police have met twice with relatives of one victim. Observers say it could be an indication that the Communist government is changing its view on the June 4 military crackdown in Beijing that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of peaceful protesters. A group called The Tiananmen Mothers and made up of relatives of those killed in the crackdown, has repeatedly appealed to the government over the past 16 years for dialogue.


The death toll in Haiti's 2010 earthquake may be substantially lower than what the government claimed. A report commissioned by the U.S. government estimates no more than 85,000 people died while the Haitian government claims more than 300,000 were killed. The U.S. Agency for International Development also says far fewer people were left homeless than previously stated and that the amount of rubble is less. The Haitian government had claimed that as many as two million people were left homeless by the powerful quake.


The Russian security forces have arrested the accused killer of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. Ekho Moscow radio cited a lawyer as saying that Rustam Makhmudov was arrested in Chechenya. The Investigative Committee says Makhmudov will be brought to Moscow soon. Two of Makhmudov's brothers and a third man were acquitted of the crime in a trial in 2009. Mrs. Politkovskaya was world renowned for her reports in the Novaya Gazeta newspaper on violence, police oppression and corruption in Chechenya. The newspaper's deputy editor, Sergei Sokolov, welcomed the announcement of the arrest of the accused triggerman.



The head of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has become the latest voice in the business community to press the federal government to come up with a national energy strategy. Perrin Beatty says Canada has the potential to be an "energy superpower," but is hampered in doing so by a series of challenges. These include labour shortages, environmental problems and lagging investment in new technologies. Mr. Beatty says it's inconceivable that instead of seeking solutions to them, the federal government is content to let the provinces and territories go in their own directions. Earlier this year, the head of Royal Dutch Shell's Canadian division, Lorraine Michelmore, spoke to much the same effect. Mr. Beatty expressed optimism, however, that the federal government will find it easier to develop a coherent energy strategy now that it has a majority government, adding that minority governments are focussed on where they'll be in four weeks if there's an election.


TSX on Tuesday: 13,803 - 27. Dollar: US$1.03. Euro: $1.39. Oil: $102.53 + $1.94.


The U.S. Supreme Court has maintained two convictions against Canadian-born former media tycoon Conrad Black. The convictions for fraud and obstruction of justice will stand. The high court didn't explain its ruling. Black is to be resentenced on June 24. Last year, the Supreme Court narrowed the interpretation of "honest services" laws used to convict Black and several associates of having defrauded investors of the former Hollinger International firm. A lower court then reversed two of four convictions but maintained the two others. Black once owned some of the world's most prestigious newspapers, as well as many smaller ones in Canada and the U.S.


Barrick Gold Corp., the world's biggest gold firm, reports that the Zambian regulatory authorities have approved its purchase of Equinox Minerals Ltd. Barrick has offered $7.3 billion for the Canadian-Australian company. Its biggest asset is the Lumwana copper mine in Zambia, one of the biggest new copper mines developed in recent years. Barrick now earns 90 per cent of its profit from gold and the rest from copper. With the takeover of Lumwana, the latter figure will rise to 18 per cent.


TransCanada Corp. says it has suspended shipment of Alberta crude oil to the U.S. because of another leak in its Keystone pipeline. The small leak occurred at a pumping station in the U.S. state of Kansas. The leak comes just two-and-a-half weeks after a similar mishap at a pumping station in North Dakota in which 500 barrels of oil leaked. The Keystone pipeline conveys 400,000 to 450,000 barrels of Alberta crude to a hub at Cushing, OK, per day. TransCanada says it doesn't know how long it will take to repair the latest leak. Environmentals and landowners oppose TransCanada's plan to spend US$7 billion for the Keystone XL project, which would double the system's capacity and extend it to Texas. The U.S. state department is expected to make a decision on the project later this year.


Activists opposed to mining operations in Peru's southeastern Puno region are preparing for a new round of protests. The protesters, mostly Aymara Indians, are angry with plans by a Canadian company to open a silver mine in the area. They are concerned it will pollute the water and leave few local benefits. They also oppose other area mines. More than 3,000 Aymara protesters reached the city of Puno Monday and were threatening again to block all access to the city of 120,000 on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. The crowd spent the night in the city's main square.



Canada is getting a seventh NHL team.

True North Sports and Entertainment says an agreement has been finalized that will see the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg.

The move still needs to be approved the league's board of governors.

The Manitoba capital has been without NHL hockey since the Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996.



British Columbia on Wednesday: rain, high C14 Vancouver. Yukon: sun. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: cloud. Whitehorse 23, Yellowknife 20, Iqaluit 2. Alberta: mix sun cloud north, rain south. Saskatchewan: mix sun cloud. Manitoba: rain. Edmonton 21, Regina 20, Winnipeg 18. Ontario: sun south, rain north. Quebec: sun. Toronto 24, Ottawa, Montreal 27. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Nova Scotia: mix sun cloud. Fredericton 21, Halifax 14, Charlottetown 16, St. John's 8.

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