Wednesday, August 31, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 30 August 2011
Canadian International Financial Weather


Canada will try to find out the needs of Libya's transition government at a high-level international meeting in Paris on Thursday. The official spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada won't enter the meeting with any formal offers of assistance before discovering what the National Transitional Council needs. The spokesman says Canada can help in several ways but that the international community must first co-ordinate its aid. One expected topic in Paris will be how to free up billions of dollars in Libyan assets frozen as part of UN sanctions against the Gadhafi régime.


Canada's interim Liberal Party leader, Bob Rae, says the Conservative government has taken an stubborn ideological approach with its deficit and tax reduction priorities and risks driving the country back into recession. Mr. Rae says the government ought to be investing strategically in infrastructure, innovation, research and other measures that would stimulate the economy and to abandon its obsession with tax cuts and lower spending to the disregard of any other considerations. The Liberal leader made the remarks on Tuesday, a day before Statistics Canada is expected to announced that the economy contracted in the second quarter. The government invested heavily in infrastructure in response to the 2008-09 recession, but its stimulus package has been mostly wrapped up and its present priority is a return to a balanced budget by 2015. Mr. Rae is attending a party caucus in Ottawa to prepare for the resumption of Parliament on Sept. 19. The Liberals were reduced to only 34 seats in the House of Commons in the May 2 election.


Nova Scotia Member of Parliament Robert Chisholm says he's considering running for the leadership of the country's official opposition New Democratic Party. Mr. Chisholm says he won't try to hide his interest in succeeding Jack Layton, who died last week. The 54-year-old MP is a former leader of the Nova Scotia NDP. He says Mr. Layton last spring encouraged him to think of a leadership run. Mr. Chisholm is in Quebec this week taking French lessons and says he knows he'll have to learn the language if he has leadership ambitions. The first person to openly say he's considering a run for the job is party President Brian Topp. He's already taking steps to make sure he is not in a conflict of interest by distancing himself from the process to set the rules for the leadership race. He also says he will take a leave of absence from the presidency if he enters the race.


Canada's trade deficit grew by more than half in the second quarter of the year. Statistics Canada puts the deficit at $15.3 billion, up from about $10 billion in the previous quarter. The main factor is weaker exports. The trade surplus with the U.S. fell by $2.5 billion because of lower exports of oil and automobiles.


Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield says the crash last week of a Russian cargo spacecraft won't affect his planned flight to the International Space Station. Mr. Hadfield is scheduled to travel to the station next year in a capsule atop a Soyuz rocket similar to the one that crashed carrying supplies to the facility. The astronaut is now in Moscow training for the mission. He says any interruptions caused by the accident won't affect flights planned for six months to a year from now, including his own. The Russian space vehicles provide the only way to reach the station since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttles last month.


Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says he's thinking about changing the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act because it's too slanted toward the release of people scheduled to be deported. The minister complains that the law puts the onus on the government to prove that those in custody are a danger to the public or a flight risk. Mr. Toews was reacting to the release last week by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Walter Ernest Guzman of El Salvador on $3,000 bail. He was one of three suspects arrested within 24 hours after the Canadian Board Services Agency posted their names and photos on a special website. Guzman was in Canada illegally after being convicted of drug trafficking, assault and other serious offences. He surrendered to Montreal police on Aug. 19.


Vancouver police have again asked the public's help in making sure that the worst of the Stanley Cup hockey rioters are duly punished. The police have posted a website containing photos of the 40 of the most violent rioters and asked the public to help identify them. The information supplied is to enable the police lay tougher charges against the perpetrators. Police Chief Jim Chu has been sharply criticized because no rioting charges at all have been filed since the riot erupted two-and-a-half months ago. Mr. Chu acknowledges that he himself is frustrated with the slow pace of the investigation but that he wants convictions for participation in a riot rather than the lesser charges of mischief or looting. The loss by the Vancouver Canucks to the Boston Bruins triggered a frenzy of pillage and destruction in downtown Vancouver.



Libya's interim leader has given military forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi four days to surrender the towns they hold. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the National Transitional Council, says that otherwise the outcome will come militarily. In Benghazi, the NTC has said that the negotiations over Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte are taking place with tribal elders, not Gadhafi supporters. The Council repeated its accusation against Algeria that that country had committed an act of aggression by offering shelter to the fallen dictator's wife, daughter and two sons on Monday. Also in Benghazi, the newly named head of the National Oil Corporation, Nouri Berouin, has promised to resume oil production within weeks. He also pledged that oil production will return to the daily output of 1.6 million barrels when the civil conflict began within 15 months.


Transportation returned slowly to normal along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. after last weekend's hurricane. Hurricane Irene killed at least 46 people in the U.S. In the northeastern state of Vermont south of Canada, a number of towns remained cut off by flood-damaged roads and bridges. In New York City, most riders on commuter lines were able to get onto trains into Manhattan, although some Long Island communities were still without service because of flooded tracks. The city had anticipated a major disaster which never materialized. Amtrak reports that some rail service remained limited or suspended. Airlines say it will be several more days before thousands of stranded passengers will find their way home.


The world's biggest natural gas firm, Gazprom of Russia, has announced huge profits of more than $16 billion for the first quarter. Analysts say it's one of the biggest interim profits in history and driven by high global energy prices. The profit of $16.24 billion for January through March was up 44 percent from the same period in 2010. The results mean that Gazprom is already well on the way to topping its record performance in 2010, when it posted the biggest profits in its history. According to Gazprom, it controls one-fifth of the world's gas reserves and provides for one-sixth of world's gas production.


Five men have been arrested in connection with an attack last week on a casino in the Mexican city of Monterey that killed 52 people. The state governor of Nuevo Leon, Rodrigo Medina, says the suspects are believed to be members of the Zetas drug cartel. President Felipe Calderon declared three days of national mourning after the attack and in a television interview Monday pledged to continue the fight against organized crime.


The Chinese government has presented legislation that would enable the police to hold dissidents and other suspects of state at secret locations without telling their families. Critics of the law predict it could embolden the authorities to go even farther in the kind of shadowy detentions in which human rights lawyer, veteran protesters and people like artist-dissident Ai Weiwei earlier this year. Lawyer Jiang Tianyoung says that if the legislation becomes law the authorities will have even fewer problems and obstacles in detaining people like himself and Mr. Ai. Mr. Jiang was detained for two months without any contact with his family earlier this year.


The U.S. has frozen assets belonging to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem and two other top-ranking Syrians. The state department says the three have been targeted because of their roles in advancing President Bashar al-Assad's reign of terror. Meanwhile, Syria's security forces shot dead four demonstrators, including a 13-year-old boy, after people emerged from mosques after prayers to mark the end of Ramadan.



Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. has emerged as a white-knight bidder for competitor Afexa Life Sciences Inc. Afexa manufactures the Cold-FX flu remedy, which Valeant says is Canada's leading over-the-counter cold and flu treatment. Valeant's offer is $76 million, an improvement over the hostile offer of $56.7 put forward by Paladin Labs Inc. Valeant CEO Michael Pearson says the acquisition of Afexa would improve Valeant's roster of non-prescription drugs.


TSX on Tuesday: 12,635 + 130. Dollar: US$1.02, down .15. Euro: $1.41, down .10. Oil: $88.87 + $1.60.



British Columbia on Wednesday: sun north, rain south, high C21 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 17, Yellowknife 9, Iqaluit 6. Alberta, Saskatchewan: mix sun cloud north, rain south. Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton 15, Regina 22, Winnipeg 29. Ontario: rain north, sun south. Quebec: sun. Toronto 24, Ottawa 25, Montreal 22. Maritimes: sun. Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 23, Halifax 24, Charlottetown 21, St. John's 15.

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