Tuesday, June 7, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


Canada's Conservative Party finance minister has fulfilled the party's recent campaign promise to phase out voter subsidies for political parties. The measure is contained in Jim Flaherty latest federal budget. Until now, parties would receive a $2-dollar subsidy for each voted received in an election. Mr. Flaherty's budget is virtually the same as the one he introduced in April but was never passed by Parliament because the previous minority Conservative government was overthrown and an election held. The only other major new measure is $2.2 billion for Quebec to harmonize its provincial sales tax with the federal GST. As did the earlier budget, Monday's edition contains small tax breaks, modest pension help for the poorest seniors and a promise to end the deficit in four years.


Canada Post has rejected the latest contract offer of the union representing 50,000 employees, saying the offer would have added too many labour costs. The employer says it has made some concessions to the Canadian Union of Post Workers and still hopes for a settlement. Meanwhile, the third rotating one-day strike by the union took place in Montreal Monday. The rotating walkouts began last Thursday in Winnipeg, and moved to Hamilton on the weekend. Canada Post says that so far the strike has caused minimal delays in mail delivery. Canada Post says that revenue has decreased because people are using e-mail and other forms of delivery. The postal workers' union is seeking better wages and other benefits.


The Canadian government is making little progress in reducing the country's industrial emissions. That's the conclusion to be drawn from the government's annual report on how well its environmental rules and regulations are working. The document indicates that emissions were reduced by only four megatonnes in 2009, or only one half of one per cent of the total. The chief reason for the slight decline was the recession, which slowed business activity. The figure for the previous year was two per cent. The New Democratic Party's environmental critic, MP Megan Leslie, says the numbers show that not only is the government not meeting the old Kyoto targets but is not on track to meet its new obligations agreed to last year in Copenhagen. Environment Minister Peter Kent responded that the big federal measures for greenhouse gases are still to come and that the government does have an effective plan.


Ontario Superior Court has committed an Ottawa-area sociology professor for extradition for his alleged role in a bombing in France in 1980. Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson will have the final say as to whether Lebanese-born Hassan Diab will be extradited. The French government claims he was involved in the bombing of a synagogue in which four people died and dozens were injured. Canadian police arrested him in November 2008 in response to a request by France.


Canada's privacy watchdog says she's satisfied that the Internet search engine Google is taking steps to protect the privacy of Canadians. Jennifer Stoddard says the company seems to be well on the way to resolving issues which she raised last October. Miss Stoddard reported then that Google's Street View mapping service had collected emails, email addresses, user names and passwords and home telephone numbers and addresses. Her investigation concluded that the problem was due to Google's lack of proper privacy policies and procedures. Miss Stoddard says the case is not closed, however, and that the company must hire independent auditors and reports back to her in one year.


Canada has been told to tackle the problem of low productivity now that the country has largely escaped the worst effects of the recession. That piece of advice comes from the head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Angel Gurria told the 16th annual International Economic Forum of the Americas meeting in Montreal that productivity has been lower in Canada than it should be and that if the country is to develop more into a service economy it needs to be more competitive. Mr. Gurria didn't offer any precise remedies to the long-standing problem. He says Canada has emerged from the recession in better shape than many other countries because of the federal surpluses it had accumulated before 2008 and has the present good fortune to have a majority federal government.


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced federal aid for the flooded Richelieu River region southeast of Montreal in a visit on Monday. Mr. Harper says the federal government will finance one-half of the province $4-million flood relief program. The government will also provide disaster response assistance as soon as the Quebec government requests it. Three-thousand homes along the river have been flooded in 22 municipalities since the river began to rise 40 days ago. Some residents and politicians have claimed that the federal government has withdrawn the army too quickly from disaster relief duties.


Syria's state television reports 80 police officers have been killed in an ambush in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour. The military has been attacking the town in recent days as the crackdown against anti-government protesters continues. The official source says 20 officers were killed as they responded to calls for help from residents, while the others died after armed groups blew up a post office. The groups are said to be using residents as human shields. The report could not be independently confirmed.


NATO warplanes attacked Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's command network in the capital Tripoli Monday. The city has been the target of intense NATO raids during the past two weeks. The military alliance says it will continue to conduct air strikes until the violence against the Libyan population ends. Meanwhile, Russian mediator Mikhail Margelov travelled to Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi Monday to meet leaders of Libya's National Transitional Council. Russia, which is calling for a negotiated solution to the conflict, expressed alarm during the weekend as NATO's air war entered a new phase with the deployment of British and French attack helicopters. Mr. Gadhafi continues to say he will not resign despite the uprising that has left thousands dead. Libyan rebels and NATO have made his departure a condition for a ceasefire.


Pakistani intelligence officials report that missile strikes by presumed U.S. drones have killed at least 17 militants in South Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan. The sources say 14 people were killed in a strike against a compound near Wana, the state's main town.


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he has repeatedly advised China that its government must improve its human rights record and will continue to do so. Mr. Ban added that there have been cases when the "background and dimensions" on UN involvement have been sometimes different. Mr. Ban was criticized when he did not raise the case of jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo at a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao last November during a visit to China. Mr. Ban also announced he is a candidate for a second five-year term as secretary general.


Former army commander Ollanta Humala is claiming victory in Sunday's presidential election. Results from 85 percent of the vote gave him a narrow lead over his rival Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former President Alberto Fujimori. The 48-year old Mr. Humala campaigned on a promise to spread around more of the country's new wealth. During the past 10 years, Peru has been one of the world's fastest-growing economies but one-third of its people live in poverty


Russia's ambassador to the EU has denied that his country's ban on imported European vegetables is a violation of the rules of the World Trade Organization. The ban was decreed in response to the E. coli outbreak on the continent. Speaking in Brussels, Vladimir Chizhov said the rules allow such bans in cases of threats to public health. Mr. Chizhov says he hopes the issue will be resolved before the Russia-EU summit in the city of Nizhny Novgorod later this week. Mr. Chizhov says he hopes as well that remaining questions involving the EU and Russia's long-standing application to join the WTO will be resolved in a few weeks.


The Canadian Federation of Small Business has warned that the postal system will soon become "gummed up" if the series of planned one-day strikes spreads. , Federation senior vice-president Dan Kelly, says the lobby hasn't yet received panicked telephone calls from members, who in any case are used to Canada Post delays. But he says that if the strikes extend to hubs like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary the cumulative effects of previous strikes will begin to be felt. The first strike occurred in Winnipeg on Friday and came to Hamilton during the weekend. Montreal union president Alain Duguay says the Canadian Union of Postal Workers is trying to disrupt service as little as possible.


The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has taken a stake in a European natural gas pipeline. CPPID and two partners will pay Norway's state-owned energy firm Statoil $3.18 billion for a 24.1-per cent share of the Gassled pipeline. The Pension Plan's share is 10.8 per cent. Gassled is one of the world's largest offshore natural gas transportation networks. Europe is expected to become more reliant on natural gas as some countries turn away from nuclear energy. On Monday, the German government approved a plan to abolish nuclear energy within 10 years and to increase investment in renewable energies.



The Vancouver Canucks were looking at gaining a stranglehold on the National Hockey League -best-of-seven championship on Monday evening. The Canucks lead the series 2-0 heading into Game three in Boston.


British Columbia on Tuesday: rain, high C17 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse 18, Yellowknife 14, Iqaluit 4. Alberta: rain south, mix sun cloud north. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: rain. Edmonton 19, Regina 12, Winnipeg 16. Ontario: mix sun cloud south, rain north. Quebec: rain. Toronto, Montreal 27, Ottawa 30. New Brunswick: mix sun cloud. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 23, Halifax 15, Charlottetown 13, St. John's 10.