Wednesday, June 22, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


The Canadian Press reports that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is investigating allegations that the Conservative Party government misappropriated funds to spend $50 million in a Conservative riding in Ontario where the G8 summit was held last summer. CP's source is former Liberal Member of Parliament Marlene Jennings. She complained about the spending in the Parry-Sound-Muskoka riding of Treasury Board Secretary Tony Clement during the campaign for the May 2 election. Mrs. Jennings says the RCMP has interviewed her. Earlier this month, the federal auditor general concluded in a report that the government did not transparently explain how the money would be spent. The government asked Parliament to approve spending $83 million to improve border highway traffic, without mentioning that $50 million of the money was intended as a "legacy" fund for the summit. Mr. Clement's riding is 300 kilometres from the border. Many of 32 projects approved were located far from the summit site.


The political opposition has complained that the Conservative government is trying to limit debate on a bill to end the lockout at Canada Post. The government wants to limit the time during which Members of Parliament can discuss the bill in the House of Commons so as to see it passed before summer recess starts at the end of the week. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt presented the legislation on Monday. It requires Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to submit their final contract offers on non-wage issues. An appointed arbitrator will choose the best one. In the meantime, the parties can continue to try to negotiate a settlement. The union has criticized the proposed legislation on the grounds that it sets out wage increases below those which the employer was prepared to concede. The opposition New Democratic Party says the law sets a bad precedent and that it will vote against it. Liberal Party leader Bob Rae says the legislation is undemocratic, although he recognizes that the public wants an end to the conflict.


Canada's Conservative Party government has introduced legislation to reform the Senate. The bill to reform the upper house of Parliament would limit senators to a single nine-year term. The limit wouldn't apply to senators named by the prime minister before October 2008. The legislation also proposes a voluntary framework for provinces to elect senators. The government of Quebec province has vowed it will take the federal government to court if it tries to change the Senate without the collaboration of the provinces.


The solicitor general in Canada's Pacific coast province of British Columbia says a provincial government review of last week's riot in Vancouver will not be an exercise to blame people. Shirley Bond says the review will be a fact-finding mission to figure out ways to ensure Vancouver can hold future celebrations problem-free. Hundreds people went on a rampage after the home team Vancouver Canucks lost the National Hockey League to the Boston Bruins. The rioters destroyed shops, looted and set cars on fire. A final report is expected by the end of August.


Health experts in Canada say that just 15 minutes of exercise a day would eliminate obesity in about one million Canadians. The experts along with the Public Health Agency of Canada say improving diet with more fruit and vegetables could also reduce obesity for another 362,000 people. The report says more than one in every four Canadian adults and almost one in 11 children are obese.


Canada's health care system has been given a B grade regarding wait times. A group of national medical organizations known as the Wait Time Alliance issued its annual report on Tuesday. It states that a major problem is that thousands of chronic care patients don't have the proper facilities and end up taking hospital beds meant for other purposes. As well, thousands of patients still wait too long for psychiatric and emergency care. However, the alliance says wait times have decreased in heart and cancer care and joint replacement.


Well-known Canadian rights activist Jaggi Singh of Montreal has been sentenced to a year of probation and time served for his participation in last summer's G20 protests in Toronto. Jaggi Singh pleaded guilty to mischief. He has been convicted on at least four other occasions in relation to political demonstrations. Singh will have to perform 75 hours of community service.


There are reports of more shootings of protesters in Syria. Activists and residents have told the Reuters news agency that three people died in clashes with the army and police in the city of Homs and the town of Mayadeen in the northeast. Witnesses in Dera'a in the southwest say police opened fire on several thousand protesters who had taken to the streets in reaction to a pro-government rally. Witnesses said the government had forceD its employees and soldiers in civilian dress to take part.


A court sentencing for Tunisia's former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and his wife is being called a charade by his lawyer. The couple, currently in exile in Saudi Arabia, were sentenced to 35 years in prison each Monday for misappropriating public funds. Other Tunisians criticized the court's quick verdict after only six hours of deliberation on the first day of the trial as a joke. Saudi Arabia has so far ignored Tunisia's demands to extradite Ben Ali who, accompanied by his wife and two children, left Tunisia for Saudi Arabia in January at the climax of the first of the Arab uprisings.


Two bombing incidents in Iraq Tuesday killed at least 26 people. In the first attack, 21 people were killed when bombs exploded at a checkpoint outside a provincial governor's house in Diwaniya, 150 kilometres south of the capital Baghdad. Most of the victims were guards. In the second incident, five people were killed when a bomb exploded in a restaurant in the town of Mussayab, about 60 kilometers south of Baghdad. Violence has increasingly targeted security forces and provincial government officials, as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw from Iraq by a year-end deadline.


The spread of Chile's volcanic cloud has forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled in several Australian cities. The cloud created by the eruption of the Puyehue volcano high in the Andes more than two weeks ago has circled the globe and made its way back to Australia. Officials say it's Australia's worst air travel disruption in more than 20 years. Flights were also affected across Argentina and Uruguay. Meteorologists say that while the ash has thinned during its travels around the world, it is still clearly visible on satellite images and is moving at an altitude where aircraft generally cruise.


The Russian government has announced the release of the first down payment on an emergency loan to Belarus of $3 billion over three years. The down payment comes to $800 million. The loan is being extended by Russia and several former Soviet republics. Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin says Belarus met the formal conditions for the loan on Monday, and so the payment was duly made on Tuesday. Among them is a broad privatization of state-owned firms. The government of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has so far failed to put any of them up for sale. Mr. Lukashenko warned on Friday that he was prepared to close Belarus to imports and to require consumers to relay only on domestic goods. Mr. Kudrin reacted on Tuesday by saying that Russia reserved the right to review future payments of the loan if Russian goods are excluded.


A spokeswoman for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko says she'll go on try in a court in Kiev on Friday on charges of abuse of power. Mrs. Timoshenko is accused of signing a disadvantageous gas pricing deal with Gazprom that cost the government $190 million in overcharges. Her former government signed the deal with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin after Gazprom cut off shipments to Ukraine after its refusal to pay higher prices. Mrs. Timoshenko's decision to accept the higher prices led to the restoration of the shipments.


The United Nations General Assembly will today elect South Korean Ban Ki-moon to a second term as UN general secretary after he was backed by all major powers. The former South Korean foreign minister has been certain to win re-election for several months. The 67-year-old Mr. Ban declared his candidacy two weeks ago and was given formal backing by the UN Security Council on Friday. With no challenger to force a contest, the 192-member General Assembly will confirm the new term by consensus. Mr. Ban has said that climate change is his top challenge.


Shares of beleaguered forestry firm Sino-Forest Corp. plummeted by almost 45 per cent on Tuesday. The stock fell by $1.21 to $1.52 in midday trading. This coincided with the announcement by one of its biggest shareholders, hedge fund Paulson & Co., that it had sold its 14.13-per cent stake in the company. The shares in what had been one of Canada's largest forestry firms by stock value collapsed after the Muddy Waters research and investment claimed that Sino-Forest had greatly exaggerated its assets in China. The company has called the claims false and defamatory and has hired an independent law firm to address the allegations.


The South Korean airlines company Korean Air has signed an agreement to buy 10 aircraft from the Canadian firm Bombardier Aerospace Inc. The two sides signed a contract Tuesday at the Paris Air Show after several months of negotiations. Bombardier says this the first customer in Asia for its new CSeries model and signals an entry into the fast growing Asia-Pacific market.


TSX on Tuesday: 13,066 + 209. Dollar: US$1.02. Euro: $1.40. Oil: $93.40 + .14.



Winnipeg's new National Hockey League franchise continues to distance itself from its Atlanta past. Former Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay has been told he won't have a job when the team moves to Manitoba. This means the club will have an all-new coaching staff to match its fresh front office. General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is said to have narrowed his coaching search to two candidates.


Canadians Rebecca Marino and Stephanie Dubois advanced to the second round at Wimbledon after posting their first career wins Tuesday at the All England club. But Aleksandra Wozniak lost her first-round match to a Czech opponent.


In the National Basketball Association, Dwane Casey is the new head coach of the Toronto


The Raptors introduced the Dallas assistant at a news conference

nine days after he helped the Mavericks win the NBA title.

The 54-year-old Casey succeeds Canadian Jay Triano, who was

shuffled into the role of a consultant after the season.

Casey takes over a team coming off a disappointing 22-60

campaign, with the fifth overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft.


Coach Sean Fleming says his team must be focused and concentrate

for the full 90 minutes when Canada plays England at the FIFA U-17

World Cup in Mexico.

Fleming says small mental errors cost Canada in a 3-0 loss to

Uruguay in Sunday's opening match.

Fleming says England will make mistakes in the match, and his

players must be ready to take advantage of those.


British Columbia on Wednesday: sun north, mix sun cloud south. High C22 Vancouver. Yukon, Nunavut: rain. Northwest Territories: sun. Whitehorse 20, Yellowknife 23, Iqaluit 3. Alberta, Saskatchewan: sun. Manitoba: rain. Edmonton 25, Regina 23, Winnipeg 17. Ontario: rain. Quebec: sun. Toronto 20, Ottawa 25, Montreal 26. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 21, Halifax 18, Charlottetown 14, St. John's 12.