Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 18 July 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather


Canada's information commissioner, Suzanne Legault, has called on the Canadian government to play a leading role in a initiative aimed at global openness and transparency. The Open Government Partnership is co-chaired by eight countries and civil organizations and seeks commitments from countries to promote transparency and to fight corruption. Mrs. Legault took part last week in a gathering in Washington of representatives of more than 60 countries to lay the groundwork for the project. Canada was present but made no commitment. Canada was one of the first countries to introduce freedom-of-information laws but the Access to Information Act hasn't been updated for 30 years. Mrs. Legault says Canada has room for improvement but could nonetheless be an example for developing nations when it comes to information. She added that global partnerships for information make sense because issues like fisheries and forest conservation overlap borders.



One Canadian is aboard a ship that's trying to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. Stéphane Corriveau of Montreal is one of about 10 pro-Palestinian activists on a French ship that left Greek waters. A Montreal-based organizer says the latest attempt sends a political message that the activists have not given up protesting the blockade. Israel imposed the it in 2007 after Hamas militants took over Gaza. Israel says it's a security measure but critics say it amounts to collective punishment. An Israeli raid on a convoy of aid ships sailing to Gaza last year killed nine Turkish activists.


Several hundred of Canadian travellers considered trustworthy enough to be waved through border crossings in and out of the United States have been caught smuggling goods into the country. The Nexus program allows low-risk Canadian residents to be fast-tracked through special lines when they travel to the U.S. Newly released documents from the second half of last year, show that more than a hundred Nexus travelers were found to be less than honest about declaring the goods they were bringing into Canada. The items being smuggled into Canada ranged from a couple of bottles of undeclared beer to a boat. The Canada Border Services Agency says more than 400 Nexus members had their passes revoked last year, a small fraction of the half-million people who hold Nexus passes.


Quebec's labour standards board says it's investigating the abrupt shutdown of three call centres on Friday by a U.S. firm. IQT Solutions threw out of work 600 employees at a call centre in Oshawa, ON, and 600 more a two centres in Laval and Trois-Rivières, QC. The workers were told without warning to gather their personal belongings and leave the premises. The standards board says it could take legal action against the firm for not paying workers their outstanding wages and other money owed them under Quebec's labour laws concerning layoffs. Danielle At-Amand, a Liberal Party legislator for Trois-Rivières, says the government is looking at its legal options and that foreign firms operating in Quebec must obey its laws. At the time of the closures, the centre in Trois-Rivières was organizing a union.


Federal Court of Canada is going to allow the country's tax agency to audit the financial records of dozens of municipalities in the province of Quebec. The Canada Revenue Agency wants to examine hundreds of contracts ranging from snow-removal jobs to larger deals handed out by the municipalities between 2007 and 2010. It's looking to see whether people who received those contracts declared that income. Municipalities including Quebec City, Laval and Saguenay will have about six weeks to provide the records.


Another person has died in the Canadian province of Ontario's outbreak of the C. difficile bacterium. Six hospitals in the province are still struggling to contain the spread of the infection. The latest victim was an elderly patient who died on Saturday at a hospital in Welland. At least 24 people have died since the outbreak began in late May.


The University of British Columbia says a student who was maimed in a domestic dispute in Bangladesh won't recover her eyesight. Thirty-three-year-old 33-year-old Rumana Monzur was at home in Dhaka when her eyes were gouged and her face bitten. Her husband is in jail and faces a charge of attempted murder. The university reports that the four eye operations which she underwent were all unsuccessful. The school has been raising money for her medical and living expenses as she completes her master's thesis. Her plight has aroused attention in both Canada and Bangladesh. The United Nations Population Fund has said that about one-half of Bangladeshi women face domestic violence at least once.



At least 30 people were killed this past weekend in clashes between residents in the Syrian town of Homs. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that clashes between pro- and anti-President Bashar al-Assad residents started on Saturday after the bodies of three government supporters kidnapped last week were returned to their relatives dismembered. Homs, Syria's third largest city, has been a focal point of the Syrian uprising since the military stormed the central city two months ago to try to crush street protests calling for Mr. Assad to resign after 11 years in power.


Opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh say fighting between them and the president's forces broke out for the first time in the capital Sana'a on Monday for the first time since he went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment following an assassination attempt last month. The opposition claims six people were killed, including a family of five in northern Sana'a who died in shelling between the Republic Guard and tribesmen loyal to the opposition. In southern Yemen, in the meantime, fighting continued for a third day between the army and Islamists connected to al-Qaeda in the city of Zinjibar. the military claims to have killed more than 20 of their adversaries.


Egypt's Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has postponed the swearing-in of a new cabinet. The new cabinet was aimed at deflecting anger over the pace of reform. But protesters in the capital Cairo say a new cabinet is not enough. Mr. Sharaf, who heads a caretaker government after a revolt toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February, had hoped the shuffle would persuade the protesters to end a 10-day-old sit-in at Cairo's Tahrir Square. But the protesters claim the new cabinet retained ministers they wanted fired. They include Justice Minister Abdel Aziz al-Gindi, whom they accuse of delaying trials for former régime officials, including Mr. Mubarak.


Colombia's air force bombed a suspected arms factory operated by the leftist FARC rebel group on the weekend. The government says the attack Saturday evening left four rebels dead. Two women were captured during the operation in Arauca near the border with Venezuela. A senior Colombia official said there were unconfirmed reports the FARC leader in the area was one of those killed. The military recovered mines, several hundred mortars and more than a tonne of explosives in the raid.


A second senior British police officer has resigned in Britain's widening scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch's media empire. Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism chief, John Yates, has quit, just a day after the head of London's Metropolitan Police did so as well. The mayor of London says Mr. Yates said he preferred to quit rather than be suspended. He had been criticized for having decided in 2009 not to reopen cases involving alleged phone-hacking by Murdoch's now defunct News of the World newspaper. Mr. Yates's boss, Metropolitan police chief Paul Stephenson, said on Sunday that he had to quit because he couldn't stay while an investigation continued into his appointment of a former News of the World deputy editor as a public relations consultant. Also on Sunday, Rebakah Brooks, a top News Corp. executive and former News of the World editor, was arrested. Miss Brooks is a personal friend of Prime Minister David Cameron.



The consortium that wants to take over TMX Group, the company that operates the Toronto Stock Exchange says the Canadian government needs more information before it can complete a review of the transaction. Maple Group Acquisition Corp. says the Competition Bureau has asked for more information about the deal, wishing particularly to know more about the consortium's relationship with Alpha Group. Alpha Group is an alternative trading platform and a major competitor to the Toronto Stock Exchange. Alpha is owned by several of the big banks that are Maple members. TMX has rejected Maple's $3.7-billion bid because of, among other reasons, fears that the regulator would see a violation of the Competition Act. Last month, the London Stock Exchange's proposal of a merger with the Toronto exchange collapsed for lack of support among both sets of shareholders.


French film company Technicolor has announced it has closed its plant at Mirabel, QC, north of Montreal, forcing the layoff of almost 180 employees. The plant manufactured rolls of film used in movie making. Technicolor says digital technology has forced it to review its operations and to focus more on digital. The company says it will remain the top provider of 65/70mm film printing worldwide.


Opponents of a Canadian gold mine project in Romania are threatening to sue the country's culture ministry to stop it. The opponents include scores of villagers at Rosia Montana in Transylvania as well as a dozen historians and archeologists, They say the mine would destroy an ancient Roman site. The Rosia Montana gold Corp. is 80-per cent owned by the Canadian firm Gabriel Resources. The ministry says the project has been approved by the National Archeological Commission and that the company has pledged $70 million to preserve and to develop the local heritage at the site. The site is thought to contain more than 300 tonnes of gold, one of the biggest gold deposits in Europe. Gabriel Resources first obtained a concession license to exploit the deposit in 1999 but the firm still hasn't been granted all the required environmental and archeological permits.


TSX on Monday: 13,254 - 45. Dollar: US$1.04. Euro: $1.33. Oil: $95.90 - $1.34.




Regina's Kevin Graham scored five times as the Canadian men's water polo team defeated Japan 11-5 at the world aquatic championships in Shanghai. In synchronized swimming action, Canada's Elise Marcotte and Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon were fourth in the solo duet. Regina diver Reuben Ross finished sixth in the men's one-metre springboard.



British Columbia on Tuesday: rain north, mix sun cloud south, high C22 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 15, Yellowknife 23, Iqaluit 15. Prairies: rain. Edmonton 24, Regina 34, Winnipeg 32. Ontario: sun south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec sun. Toronto, Montreal 28, Ottawa 25. New Brunswick: mix sun cloud. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 27, Halifax, Charlottetown 22, St. John's 23.

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