Tuesday, November 1, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Federal agency upbeat on exports

Canada's export agency is sounding an optimistic note for the prospects for one of the economy's most critical sectors that stands in sharp contrast to the distinctly bleak outlook of the Bank of Canada and other forecasters. Export Development Canada says that shipments to the rest of the world are holding up well in the face of a global slowdown, and will likely do so again next year with gains of 11 per cent and seven per cent respectively. In its latest review of the global economy last week the Bank of Canada blamed exports, which represent about one third of the economy, as the primary reason Canadian growth will slow to below one per cent in the last three months of 2011 and remain modest at 1.9 per cent in 2012. But EDC disagrees with the assessment, judging that exports will add 2.3 per cent to Canada's gross domestic product performance this year and 2.4 next. The bank's analysis, supported by many private sector economists, is that market turmoil brought about by European debt problems, weakness and political gridlock in the U.S., and slowing growth in emerging economies, will soften demand for what Canada sells the world.

Ottawa ready with new immigration rules

Canada's Conservative Party government will announce new immigration targets this week. Under the Conservatives, Canada has allowed in an average of 254,000 immigrants a year, and the number is not expected to change much over the next year. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is planning several reforms which he says will lead to a flow of newcomers who will be predominantly young, well educated, highly skilled, and fluent in English or French.

Charges laid in hockey riot

Vancouver police are recommending that 60 people be charged with everything from assault to break and enter and taking part in a riot after last June's riot in the city's downtown. Police Chief Jim Chu says police have recommended the Crown approve 163 charges against the 60 alleged rioters. Chief Chu officers needed to spend the last four months on a vigorous investigation to ensure the most serious charges were laid against those who caused such extensive damage. Police have been under intense pressure to lay charges after thousands of people lit fires, burned cars and looted stores following the Vancouver Canucks' loss in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final. As of mid-October, a total of 79 people had admitted involvement in the riot.

Canadian cleric freed in Saudi Arabia

The Islamic Human Rights Commission in Cairo says a Canadian man who was beaten and dragged out of a mosque while performing the Islamic hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia has been released from prison. The London-based Egyptian group says Sheik Usama Al-Atar was arrested in Medina during dawn prayers and held about 24 hours until he was freed Monday. The rights lobby, which spoke to witnesses, says Mr. Al-Atar, a Shi'ite, may have been arrested for criticizing the kingdom's handling of uprisings in Yemen and Bahrain. The group says the arrest reflects Saudi intolerance toward Muslims who do not follow the country's conservative Wahhabi trend of Islam. Mr. Al-Atar, a lecturer at the University of Alberta in Canada, says he plans to continue his pilgrimage.

Potato farmer jailed in Lebanon gets opposition support

The foreign affairs critic for Canada's opposition Liberal Party, Dominic Leblanc, wants the federal government to quickly intervene to win freedom for a Canadian potato farmer in Lebanon. Henk Tepper of the province of New Brunswick has been held in a Beirut prison since March on allegations that he exported rotten potatoes to Algeria in 2007. Mr. Leblanc is confident that a call from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Lebanese authorities would bring Mr. Mr. Tepper home.


The United Nations' cultural agency granted the Palestinians full membership on Monday, a step forward in their long-running efforts to achieve recognition before the world as an independent state. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) became the first UN agency to welcome the Palestinians as a full member since President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on Sept. 23. A huge cheer erupted in UNESCO's General Assembly after the vote, which marks a symbolic victory for Palestinians in the complex diplomacy that surrounds their collective status and relations with foreign powers. Israel called the vote a "tragedy" and the decision damaged relations between UNESCO and the United States, an ally of Israel that provides about 22 percent of the body's funding, or some $70 million. Legislation stipulates that the U.S. can cut off funding to any United Nations agency that accepts Palestinians as a member. The White House said the vote was "premature" and would not aid peace and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said UNESCO would suffer.


NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen made a surprise visit to Tripoli on Monday, saying he foresaw no major role left for the alliance in Libya hours before its air mission was due to officially end. The visit came seven months after Western powers fired the first barrage of missiles against Moammar Gadhafi'sforces in an air war that played a major role in ousting the veteran dictator. The no-fly zone and naval blockade, enforced by NATO since March 31, ended Monday at 11:59 pm Libyan time, as stipulated by a UN Security Council resolution last week that closed the mandate authorizing military action. Operation Unified Protector was terminated even though Abdel Jalil, the head of the National Transitional Council, had asked for the alliance to stay until the end of the year, warning that Gadhafi loyalists still pose a threat.


Kyrgyzstan's Moscow-backed prime minister claimed victory on Monday in a presidential election tainted by charges of voting abuses and protests by defeated challengers from the restive south of the former Soviet republic. With more than 99 percent of ballots counted, pro-business Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev had 63 percent of the vote, an outright majority that avoids the need for a second round run-off against a potentially strong rival from the south.Atambayev's win reinforces reforms designed to make Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous country of 5.5 million, Central Asia's first parliamentary democracy after 20 years of authoritarian rule that triggered a bloody revolution in April last year. A trouble-free election would signal the first peaceful transfer of power in the mainly Muslim country, which lies on a drugs route out of nearby Afghanistan and hosts both Russian and U.S. military air bases. But international observers reported cases of ballot box stuffing and vote buying, while a group of candidates vowed to challenge the result even before polls had closed on Sunday.


The Arab League awaited a response from Syria on Monday to its proposal to end seven months of increasingly violent unrest against President Bashar al-Assad's rule and to start talks between Syrian authorities and their opponents. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, whose country presides over the committee, also said Assad must launch serious reforms if Syria was to avoid slipping further into violence. Arab diplomats said the plan, put to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem in Qatar, includes immediate release of prisoners held since February, a withdrawal of security forces, deployment of Arab League monitors and starting a dialogue. Mr. Assad told Russian Television on Sunday he would co-operate with the opposition. But in another interview with a British newspaper he portrayed Syria's uprising as an Islamist insurgency which would be defeated. The United Nations says more than 3,000 people have been killed in the Syrian government's crackdown on protesters demanding political reforms and an end to Assad's rule.


China pledged "active support" to debt-stricken Europe and said it was "convinced" the EU could work through its current debt crisis, as President Hu Jintao visited Vienna on Monday ahead of a G20 meeting. He also hinted at investments from Beijing at an Austrian-Chinese economic forum in Vienna, without specifying whether these would go into the EU's debt rescue fund. Earlier, Mr. Hu told journalists after talks with Austrian President Heinz Fischer that China "is convinced Europe has the wisdom and the competency to overcome the current difficulties." The trip comes as the region is struggling with a spiralling debt crisis and amid hopes that Beijing might invest in its bailout fund. After his Austrian visit, Hu will travel Wednesday to the French resort of Cannes to attend a G20 meeting of world leaders on Thursday and Friday. Last week, European leaders appealed to China to invest in the region's European Financial Stability Facility to help it overcome the debt crisis.


Chinese state media report that China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have agreed to joint security operations to go after "criminal organizations" which operate along the Mekong River after 13 Chinese sailors were killed in the area this month. The victims were crew members on two cargo ships attacked on Oct. 5 in the "Golden Triangle", where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet, a region notorious for drug smuggling. China's official news agency says ministers from the four countries at a meeting in Beijing agreed to set up a law enforcement cooperation mechanism for the Mekong "to cope with the new security situation on the river."

Thai floods cause Honda slowdown in Canada

Honda's assembly plants in Canada will be part of a dramatic international slowdown by the Japanese automaker. The company says it will cut output at its six North American factories by 50 per cent, starting Wednesday. The Japanese carmaker is suffering from a parts shortage due to flooding in Thailand. In Canada, Honda has major assembly and parts operations in the central Ontario community of Alliston, near Barrie.

Stock exchange directors back takeover bid

TMX Group's board of directors has decided to support a $3.8-billion takeover bid that will see the owner of Canada's stock markets acquired by a group of banks, insurance companies and pension funds. TMX chairman Wayne Fox says that the offer by Maple Group Acquisition Ltd. "is in the best interests" of the company and its shareholders. He advised shareholders to accept the Maple proposal and said the two sides will work to ensure it is approved by Canadian securities regulators and the federal Competition Bureau. The future of the TMX has been a major issue not only on Bay Street but also in Ottawa, where an earlier deal that would have seen the company acquired by the London Stock Exchange raised fears that Canada's stock markets would come under foreign control. The LSE bid eventually failed as shareholders rejected the offer in the wake of the Maple Group rival bid. Tom Kloet, TMX Group's CEO, said the now friendly merger will help Canada's stock markets expand and grow. Luc Bertrand, head of the Maple Group and a National Bank of Canada senior executive, agreed the deal will help TMX grow its business in Canada and abroad.


TSX on Friday: 12,252 - 267 54. Dollar: US$1.00 - 129. Euro: $1.37. Oil: $92.48 - .84.



Canada finished off the final medal podium for the first time in more than 50 years at the Pan American Games, nudged off by a proud host Mexican team and a Brazilian squad building toward the 2016 Summer Olympics. But Canadian Olympic Committee officials said its difficult to gauge success from these Games, saying they won't have much bearing on how Canada will do on the pitch and in the pool nine months from now in London. Canada had 119 medals, 30 gold, 40 silver, and 49 bronze, to

finish fifth behind the United States (236), Brazil (141), Cuba (136), and Mexico (133) on Sunday. The last time Canada failed to finish in the top three was at the 1959 Pan Am Games in Chicago.


Ken Miller's days with the Saskatchewan Roughriders are coming to an end.

A team official confirmed Monday that Miller will step down as the Riders' head coach and vice-president of football operations at season's end.

The official said the 70-year-old Miller would make the move official following the team's practice Monday.

Saskatchewan (5-12) finishes its season Friday in Edmonton.

Miller returned to the sidelines in August after Greg Marshall was fired as Riders head coach following losses in seven of the team's first eight games.


Canada has been awarded two world softball championship events. The International Softball Federation has granted the 2014 world junior men's tournament to Whitehorse as well as the 2015 senior men's competition to Saskatoon. Whitehorse hosted the world junior competition in 2008 and will

also stage the 2012 senior women's tournament in July. Saskatoon is the site for the 2009 senior men's event.


British Columbia on Tuesday: mix sun cloud, high C11 Vancouver. Yukon: snow. Northwest Territories: rain. Nunavut: mix sun rain flurries. Whitehorse 4, Yellowknife 6, Iqaluit -6. Alberta: sun. Saskatchewan: north mix sun cloud, rain south. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 6, Regina 4, Winnipeg 8. Ontario: sun south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: sun. Toronto, Ottawa 11, Montreal 10. Maritimes: sun. Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton 10, Halifax 9, Charlottetown 8, St. John's 3.