Thursday, October 20, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal


The Canadian government has announced a decision for its $33-billion shipbuildings program. Most of the work will go to Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax, NS. Irving will receive $25 billion in combat ship construction. Seaspan Marine Corp. will receive $8 billion of contracts for civilian ships. Davie Shipyards of Lévis, QC, was left out. The contracts will be a boost to the Nova Scotia economy, which has struggled in the wake of disappointing results from its offshore natural gas sector.


Quebec Premier Jean Charest has announced a public inquiry into allegations of corruption in the construction industry after resisting calls for one for the past two years. The inquiry will be presided by Superior Court Justic France Charbonneau and will produce a final report by October 2013. Some of the testimony will be heard behind closed door. The inquiry won't have the power to force witnesses to testify. The development comes after years of allegations of collusion between corrupt civil servants, political parties and organized crime groups to fleece the public. Quebec spends as much as one-third more on construction projects than other provinces. Mr.Charest had previously resisted demands for an inquiry by saying his government has changed municipal contracting and political financing laws and created an anti-corruption unit.


A U.S. senator has sprung to the defence of a controversial Canadian pipeline project. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she has been stunned by the opposition to TransCanada Pipeline's Keystone XL project because the oil pipeline would convey a much-needed source of energy from Canada, a trusted friend and trading partner. The pipeline would transport oil from Alberta's oilsands region through five U.S. Midwest states to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Sen. Murkowski says a pipeline is much safer than the transport of oil by tankers over thousands of kilometres of ocean. She also says that Canada isn't going to shut down its oilsands industry if the U.S. government blocks the project but rather will instead ship the oil to China. Opponents of Keystone say the pipeline would be an environmental disaster waiting to happen and denounce the carbon-intensive methods of oilsands extraction. Supporters say it would lessen U.S. dependence on Middle East oil and create thousands of jobs.


The Canadian Senate began hearings on Wednesday evening on the gap between retail prices in Canada and the U.S. Among the first witnesses was Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. The minister asked the Senate last month to look into the situation. He conceded that Canadian tariffs on imported retail goods are a factor. The Retail Council of Canada has said tariffs are the major reason for the pricing gap between the two countries, causing a difference of as much as 18 per cent on some items. A survey by the Bank of Montreal last spring found that the price gap on such goods as books, shoes, clothing, electronics and cars averaged about 20 per cent. At the time, the Canadian dollar was at or slightly above par with its U.S. counterpart.


The ombudsman for Canadian military veterans says the federal government is mistaken in its rationale for budget cuts. Guy Parent says the Veterans Affairs Department is wrong to suggest the number of veterans is decreasing. The department has offered that justification for planned spending reductions of $226 million over the next two years, claiming that the population of veterans from World War Two and the Korean War is declining. But Mr. Parent has told a Senate committee that the estimate doesn't take account of the number of more recent veterans who are entering the system. The ombudsman says these could number more than 700,000. The Canadian Legion has called on the federal government to exempt the Veterans Affairs Department from its budget cuts aimed at balancing the budget in four years' time.


A report by Statistics Canada says that aboriginal men and women may live substantially shorter lives than other Canadians, but doesn't explain why. The report suggests aboriginal men live four to six years less on average and native women an average five to seven years less than non-aboriginals. Researchers also found that income levels affect expected lifespan. The wealthiest Canadian men live seven years longer on average than those in the lowest income bracket, with men living in shelters, rooming houses and hotels living almost 11 years less.


The Canadian Press reports that the federal government plans to award Canada's most populous province, Ontario, 13 more seats in the House of Commons. The extra seats would bring the province's total to 119. During the May 2 election campaign, the Conservative Party promised to award more seats to Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta because those provinces' demographic percentages had increased.


A former Canadian cabinet minister Barney Danson has died at the age of 90. He was a Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party from Toronto between 1968 and 1979. In the late 1970s, he served as defence minister in the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Mr. Danson was a companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honor.


A two-day general strike began in Greece on Wednesday in protest against its government's planned austerity measures aimed a preventing a national bankruptcy. Government departments, businesses and public service were shut down and airline flights cancelled. Demonstrators threw stones and fire bombs at police protecting the parliament building in Athens. Legislators are to vote on Thursday for the latest austerity measures which include tax hikes, wage cuts and public sector layoffs. The Socialist government of Prime Minister George Papandreou is expected to win the vote. Passage of the measure is the condition for the latest bailout payment from the IMF and the European Central Bank. The government says that without the payment it will declare bankruptcy.


There was more fighting in the streets of the Libyan city of Sirte between new régime fighters and the forces of deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi. Libyan revolutionary forces fought building by building Wednesday against the final pocket of resistance in Gadhafi's hometown, the last major city in Libya to be under the control of forces loyal to the fugitive leader. While Libya's transitional leadership works to consolidate control over the entire country, the country's acting prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, warned in a newspaper interview that Gadhafi can still cause trouble from his hiding place.


Syria's official media have accused the Arab League of serving U.S. and Israeli interests. The announcement came as Syria continues its crackdown on a seven-month popular protest, with 10 more civilians reported killed. The United Nations estimates more than 3,000 people have been killed in the crackdown on dissent in Syria. The Arab League is attempting to help defuse the deadly violence, specifically a call for a dialogue between the government and the opposition. Syria claims the Arab League has turned into an instrument of injustice aimed at destabilizing Syria.


There was more fighting in the streets of the Libyan city of Sirte between new regime fighters and the forces of deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi. Libyan revolutionary forces fought building by building today against the final pocket of resistance in Mr. Gaddafi's hometown, the last major city in Libya to have been under the control of forces loyal to the fugitive leader. While Libya's transitional leadership worked to consolidate control over the entire country, the country's acting prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, warned in a newspaper interview that Mr. Gaddafi, who remains at large, can still cause trouble from his hiding place. The fighting has prevented the attempt by Libya's new leaders to try to build a democratic government. They say the process will begin only after the city is captured. Also, Mr. Gaddafi is still at large and his whereabouts are not known.


The United States wants China to explain why it appears to be blocking the websites of American firms. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is concerned about the periodic disruptions to the availability of their websites in China. U.S. officials have asked the World Trade Organization to look into the matter. The request was made under global trade rules which require members to provide information about potential barriers to trade.


Canadian National Railway has agreed to pay US$36.25 to settle two lawsuits for negligence. The suits were filed by the husband and daughter of a woman who died in the U.S. Midwest in an explosion from a derailed train 114-car train that was carrying 7.6 million litres of ethanol to Chicago. Court documents showed that 20 minutes before the derailment, a local coiuntry 911 emergency centre phoned CN's Montreal headquarters to warn that a portion of the track ahead of the train was washed out. The train's engineer noticed the water conditions but nonetheless sped up the train.


A report commissioned by top Canadian companies is critical of the Canadian government for ignoring major international business opportunities. The report says the government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper has missed economic opportunities in China and elsewhere in Asia. It says Canada has acquired a bad reputation in Asia of showing up, but not following up. And the result is that Canada is losing out on the world's fastest growing region. The report's author, Wendy Dobson of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, says it's astounding that Canada has yet to sign a free trade deal with any country in Asia.


Tour operator Transat A.T. has eliminated 143 non-union positions in an attempt to return to profitability. The cuts are intended to save $10 million a year. Sixty-per cent of the job losses are in Quebec, most of them at its headquarters in Montreal. Transat lost $2.9 million in the third quarter, compared with a profit of almost $21 million a year earlier. Transat CEO Jean-Marc Eustache says the company's challenge next year will be an tourism industry overcapacity that prevent Transat from raising prices to compensate for high fuel costs.


TSX on Wednesday: 11,850 - 204. Dollar: US.98. Euro: $1.40. Oil: $86.18 - $2.16.



Canadian Milos Raonic reached his first quarter-final since June with a straight-set victory at the Stockholm Open. The 20-year-old from Thornhill, ON, won in just 74 minutes with seven aces and 38 winners. Raonic is playing in only his third ATP event since returning from hip surgery. He required the operation after slipping on the slick grass at Wimbledon in June.


Canada has moved up in the FIFA world soccer rankings.

The Canadian men jumped four spots to Number 83. Spain continues

to lead the standings, ahead of the Netherlands, Germany, Uruguay

and Brazil.


Canada's has added to its gold-medal haul

at the Pan American Games.

Michelle Li of Markham, Ont., and Toronto's Alexandra Bruce

defeated Americans Iris and Rena Wang 21-15, 21-15 in women's

doubles badminton Wednesday.

Canada's women's quadruple sculls team opened the day with a

silver medal, before the men's coxed eight added a silver of its



British Columbia on Thursday: rain south, sun north, high C12 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories, Nunavut: flurries. Whitehorse, Yellowknife 1, Iqaluit -3. Alberta: rain north, mix sun cloud south. Saskatchewan: mix sun cloud. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton, Winnipeg 7, Regina 14. Ontario: rain south, sun north. Quebec: rain. Toronto 13, Ottawa 14, Montreal 16. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 14, Halifax, Charlottetown 19, St. John's 13.