Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 13 June 2011
Canadian International Financial


The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees has accused the employer of trying to provoke the union into staging a national strike. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has been staging rotating one-day walkouts. Union President Denis Lemelin says Canada Post wants to trick the union into staging a full strike to encourage the federal government to present back-to-work legislation. Mr. Lemelin also claims that the employer's decision to cut mail service to three days a week amounts to a lockout. He says the decision is unnecessary because the rotating strikes have so affected only one-third of the population. Canada Post has said that delivery in most cities will be limited to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


The union representing 3,800 Air Canada customer service employees was threatening to go on strike at midnight on Monday. The president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, Ken Lewenza, says the two sides have reached agreement on some contract issues but remain far apart on the crucial issues of pensions and wages. Mr. Lewenza says his members have made significant sacrifices on their employer's behalf over the past 10 years and that now is the time for progress on wages. Air Canada declined any discussion of the contract issues on Monday. The airline says it has a contingency plan to continue operating a full schedule if there's a strike.


Ontario Appeal Court is hearing an appeal by the Canadian and Ontario governments of a case involving prostitution. A lower court in Ontario last year invalidated three laws affecting prostitution. The lower court ruled that laws against keeping a bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of the trade were contributing to the danger faced by prostitutes. But a federal lawyer told the court on Monday that the lower court shouldn't have become involved in policy matters. The lawyer argued that it's up to Parliament to decide how to deal with prostitution, which he called an economic activity not a right protected to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Sex-trade workers say the laws prevent them from working inside where it's safer and from taking the time to talk to clients to assess the risk.


Thousands of volunteers in the Canadian province of Quebec were part of a major clean up this past weekend after flooding in the Richelieu Valley southeast of Montreal. Organizers say volunteer crews worked quicker than expected in removing debris and sandbags from around flood-ravaged homes. About 1,000 volunteers helped out on Sunday after more than 2,000 took part in the cleanup the day before. Officials estimate the flooding will cost the province about $40 million.


A university in Canada's Pacific coast province of British Columbia will award an honorary degree to the man who brought the McDonald fast-food restaurants to Canada in 1971. George Cohon will recognized for the feat by the University of British Columbia during spring convocation this week. He became a Canadian citizen in 1975 and was later named to the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian award. The university will also confer honorary degrees on songstress Sarah McLachlan, Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk and sportscaster Brian Williams.



Rebels besieged for months in the western Libyan city of Misrata by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have staged a breakout to the west. The Associated Press reports that the insurgents are not within 10 kilometres of Zlitan, the next city to the west of Misrata. A rebel commander told AP that the insurgents are using arms seized from government weapons depot and that fresh arms had reached them from rebel-held Benghazi. In another development, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that the provisional government in Benghazi, which he was visiting, is the legitimate government of Libya. Mr. Westerwelle stopped short of offering diplomatic recognition. And in London, Libya experts report that another top Gadhafi associate, Sassi Garada, has defected to Switzerland. Garada helped Gadhafi seize power 40 years ago.


The Syrian government says the army is pursuing armed gangs in mountains near Jisr al-Shughur after seizing control of the northern town. Rights activists report heavy gunfire and explosions throughout Sunday in the town near the Turkish border after troops supported by helicopter gunships and around 200 tanks launched an assault. Jisr al-Shughur, in Idlib province, has been the focus of military operations for the past week, following what the authorities said was the massacre of 120 policemen by armed gangs in the town on June 6. Activists and residents deny the existence of such gangs and the allegations of a massacre. They say a number of policemen were executed by other security force members when they refused to fire on protesters in the town. Meanwhile, more than 5,000 refugees have arrived in Turkey so far and are settled in camps erected by the Turkish Red Crescent. Thousands more are said to be near the border line but are hesitating to cross.


At least five people were killed Monday in the Iraqi city of Basra after a suicide bomber blew up an explosives-filled vehicle at the entrance to a police unit. The attack damaged the building and destroyed several vehicles at the main gate of the compound. All of the casualties were police personnel. Officials say the bomber tried to drive into the compound but guards shot at him after he failed to stop and he detonated his vehicle. Basra, which handles most of of Iraq's oil exports, has seen fewer attacks this year than other cities in the country.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed diplomats at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Monday. She said it was urgent that African states demand that a genuine ceasefire be put in place in Libya and that Col. Moammar Gadhafi step down. The U.S. Secretary also warned African states that unless they enact broad social, economic and political reforms, they will face the same kind of revolts now sweeping the Arab world. Mrs. Clinton said repressive governments are no longer accepted and that discontent, particularly among young people, cannot be suppressed in the era of the Internet and social media.


The presidents of North and South Sudan are also attending the AU summit in Addis Ababa. Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir have agreed to demilitarize the disputed territory of Abyei and to allow an Ethiopian peacekeeping force into the territory. Last month, northern troops moved into Abyei, causing the flight of tens of thousands of residents. Southern Sudan secedes on July 9 and tensions between the two halves of Sudan have been rising over border issues.


Beleaguered Swedish automaker Saab says a rescue package has been reached with two Chinese companies. Saab's Dutch owner Spyker says Chinese distributor Pang Da Automobile and automaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to pay $352 million for a 70-per cent stake in Saab. The deal requires regulatory approval from several authorities. If the deal goes through, almost all of Sweden's auto industry would be in Chinese hands. Last year, the Chinese firm Geely bought Volvo from Ford Motor Co.


A cloud of ash from an erupting volcano in Chile disrupted air travel in New Zealand and Australia for a second day Monday, causing many flights to be cancelled and grounding thousands of travelers. Flights between New Zealand and Australia, and some domestic routes in both countries, were affected as the cloud, which has traveled some 10,000 kilometres, drifted over their southern air space. The volcano in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle chain in Chile has been erupting for the past week, disrupting South American air travel by sending ash high into the atmosphere.


Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is accusing his political rivals of trying to blame his government for electricity blackouts affecting much of Venezuela. Many Venezuelans in affected areas appear to be growing impatient as government officials promise solutions to a problem that has persisted since 2009 despite billions of dollars in investment aimed at improving the power grid. Mr. Chavez made his comments in Cuba where he's recovering from surgery last week for a pelvic abscess.


The President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, is renaming the South China Sea the West Philippine Sea. A Presidential spokesman says the foreign affairs and defence departments recently began using the term West Philippine Sea instead of the South China Sea and the president's office had decided to allow the change. The decision comes as tensions with China mount over a disputed area in the South China Sea. The Philippines and China, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims to areas of the South China Sea, most importantly the Spratly Islands, that are believed to sit on vast oil and gas resources. In recent weeks, the Philippines has publicly accused Chinese forces of being behind seven incidents or confrontations with Filipinos in and around the Spratlys.



TSX on Monday: 12,956 - 128. Dollar: US$1.02. Euro: $1.40. Oil: $97.15 - $2.14.


A consortium of Canadian banks, pension funds and other financial institutions has formally launched its hostile bid to buy the company that controls the Toronto Stock Exchange. Maple Group Acquisition Corp. has mailed details of its offer to TMX shareholders. Maple Leaf is offering to buy 70 per cent of TMX for $3.7 billion. The consortium is urging shareholders to vote against TMX's proposed merger with the London Stock Exchange before TMX's annual meeting at the end of June. The consortium's goal is to keep control of TMX in Canada. The latter's directors have rejected the bid partly for regulatory reasons. The directors warn that Investment Canada is likely to reject Maple Leaf's bid because the bank-owned Alpha Group would be wrapped into the new entity, thus eliminating TMX's only competition.


The head of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has called upon the federal government to rethink its policy to reflect the dramatic changes in the telecom sector. Konrad Finckenstein says the advent of the digital world has reduced the Commission's ability to control access to what has become a single industry. In a speech before the Banff World Media Festival, Mr. Finckenstein said the telecom industry is going through basic changes in technology, business models and corporate structures but that it continues to be regulated under three separate acts which are 20 years old. He concludes that Ottawa's best approach should be to gather up all telecom policy under a single act and possibly under one minister.


Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard will acquire as many as 322 additional retail sites in western U.S. from ExxonMobil. Financial terms of the transaction weren't disclosed. Couche-Tard is North America's largest independent operator of convenience stores.

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