Friday, November 4, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 3 November 2011
Canadian International Financial Weather

PM maintains calm amid Greek crisis

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has taken a relatively upbeat view of this week's dramatic developments swirling around Greece's debt crisis. Speaking at the G20 summit in Cannes, France, he said he expects that "cooler heads will prevail." The 20 leaders are holding two days of talks aimed at stabilizing the world economy and preventing another global recession. At the centre of the talks is a proposed $1.4-billion bailout of Greece. Mr. Harper acknowledges that the leaders discussed contingency plans in the event that Greece leaves the eurozone but added that events in Athens seemed to be moving in the right direction. In the Greek capital, Prime Minister George Papandreou seemed to be moving away from his suggestion that a referendum would be held on the bailout, a suggestion that caused panic in world markets. He told parliament that the exercise could be scrapped if the opposition accepts the bailout. The opposition responded by demanding his resignation and storming out of the legislature.

High court won't hear Ottawa's appeal in terrorist case

The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear the extradition case of Abdullah Khadr. The high court has dismissed the federal government's request to appeal the case of Mr. Khadr, the older brother of Omar Khadr, the last Western detainee to be held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The federal government was appealing rulings by lower courts that prevented Abdullah Khadr from being extradited to the United States. Ottawa had argued it was wrong to prevent an "admitted" terrorist from facing trial in the U.S. Last year, the Ontario Superior Court decided there were sufficient grounds to send Mr. Khadr to the U.S. based on self-incriminating statements he'd given the RCMP. However, the court ruled the U.S. had violated fundamental justice with its involvement in Khadr's "shocking" mistreatment during 14-months' detention in Pakistan, a decision that was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Canadian ship headed for Gaza blockade

Two ships, one of them Canadian, are again trying to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. A spokesman for the Canadian ship says there are a dozen peace activists on board, two of them Canadian. The spokesman demanded that the Canadian government tell Israel not to attack the unarmed civilians on the boats. The government has advised Canadian against travel to Gaza because the security situation there is volatile. The foreign affairs department says Canada cannot protect Canadians who violated other countries' laws. An attempted flotilla that wanted to break the blockade last summer was prevented by the Greek authorities from making the attempt. A flotilla last year ended in bloodshed. Nine people were killed when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish ship.

NB supports controversial federal crime bill

The New Brunswick attorney general backs the sweeping federal justice bill, saying the measures will be worth the price-tag. Marie-Claude Blais says her province is still studying the cost, but insisted money cannot be a barrier to justice. The federal omnibus bill would change drug laws, youth sentencing, the pardon system, detention of refugees, parole, house arrest and anti-terrorism provisions. The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the measures send a stern message to criminals that law-breaking will not be tolerated by Canadians. Critics say the amendments will simply lock away more people for longer periods, doing nothing to make society safer. In one of its first acts since winning a majority, the government has bundled many of the bills into a single package, pushing for speedy passage through Parliament. It estimates the cost of the omnibus bill would be $78.5 million over five years, but hasn't said how much the provinces will have to pay. Quebec and Ontario have objected strongly to footing the bill, saying the federal government itself should ante up.

Immigration quotas unchanged

Canadian Immigration minister Jason Kenney says immigration levels will stay the same next year at between 240,000 and 265,000. But the minister says in his annual report that there will be a different mix of immigrants. Mr. Kenney says there will be more skilled workers, particularly white-collar workers, as well as high numbers of refugees, parents and grandparents. The government will also create a new class of immigrants that will allow as many as 1,000 international doctoral students, provided they've completed at least two years of schooling toward a PhdD. New Democratic Party immigration critic Don Davies was critical of thde ceiling, complaining that the government is shortsighted by limiting numbers of immigrants when so many want to come and so many employers are clamouring for them. Mr. Kenney responded that the government doesn't want a policy that diverges sharply from the public's sense of the country ability to integrate newcomers.

Postal arbitrator quits

The union representing Canada Post workers says the retired judge who was to act as an arbitrator to settle a dispute between the union and the post office has resigned. Coulter Osborne had been appointed by Labour Minister Lisa Raitt. The union says the resignation creates an opportunity for both sides to return to the bargaining table and negotiate a deal. The union had launched a court challenge to Mr. Osborne being chosen as the arbitrator. Federal back-to-work legislation passed in June forced postal workers to accept wages that amounted to less than Canada Post's last offer. On other issues, the law imposed a form of winner-take-all arbitration in which union and the post office will each make a final offer, one of which will be accepted.

Canadian envoy confident about pipeline plan for U.S.

The Canadian ambassador to the U.S. says he's confident that a huge Canadian pipeline project in the U.S. will be approved. But Gary Doer added that TransCanada Pipeline Keystone XL project will only be approved if the decision is based on the project's and not on "noise." TransCanada wants to run a pipelin from the Alberta oilsands region through the U.S. Midwest to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The project has aroused the ire of enviromentalists who fear the environmental effects of a spill. U.S. President Barack Obama told a radio station in Nebraska on Wednesday that his government will make a final decision on Keystone based on many factors, including the environment. The ambassador says he believes the $7-billion project meets U.S. energy needs and will meet the state department's environmental requirements. Mr. Doer also says that the new Canadian oil would be displacing oil from Venezuela is another positive argument.



Leading Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas was released from custody Thursday after 40 hours in detention. Farinas was arrested along with other activists who came to the hospital to visit Alcides Rivera, a dissident who is on a hunger strike, according to Elizardo Sanchez of the opposition Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation. The dissident said he was beaten but by security guards at the hospital. He said he planned to file a complaint against the guards. Farinas, 49, won the Sakharov rights prize in 2010 after his 135-day hunger strike to press for the release of political prisoners.


Greece's prime minister abandoned his explosive plan to put a European rescue deal to popular vote and opened emergency talks Thursday with his opponents, who reversed themselves and agreed to broad austerity measures in exchange for a European bailout. Prime Minister George Papandreou ignored widespread calls for his resignation and instead invited the opposition to join negotiations on the bailout, telling an emergency Cabinet meeting that early elections would force Greece into leaving the 17-nation euro currency, with disastrous effects for both Greece and other European economies. Papandreou caused a global crisis Monday when he announced he would put the latest European deal to cut Greece's massive debts, an accord that took months of negotiations, to a referendum. The idea horrified other EU nations and Greece's creditors, triggering turmoil in financial markets as investors fretted over the prospect of Greece being forced into a disorderly default. Two officials close to Papandreou said Thursday the referendum idea has now been scrapped, after the debt deal won support from the opposition.


Russia is on the verge of ending its 18-year wait to join the World Trade Organization after accepting a trade deal with Georgia, the last big obstacle to membership of a club that will seal its integration into the global economy. Russia's accession will be the biggest step in world trade liberalization since China joined a decade ago, making its $1.9 trillion economy more attractive to investors 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After nearly two decades of tortuous negotiations with the 153-member club, Russia's last challenge was to reach a deal with Georgia to stop its entry being blocked by the former Soviet republic with which it fought a short war in 2008. Russia's top negotiator said late on Wednesday that Moscow had accepted the terms of a compromise deal proposed by Tbilisi on monitoring mutual trade, and a Georgian negotiator said on Thursday he expected the agreement to be signed within a week.


Syrian troops killed nine civilians and arrested dozens on Thursday, a rights watchdog said, a day after Damascus pledged to withdraw its forces from protest centres under an Arab League plan to end the bloodshed. As activists called for mass demonstrations to test the genuineness of the government's commitment to the peace blueprint, the largest opposition group, Syrian National Council, held talks in Cairo with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi to voice concerns. Mr. al-Arabi briefed them on the peace plan, which also calls on embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to engage in a national dialogue with his opponents adding that the SNC does not want talks but for Assad to quit. The SNC, the largest and most representative Syrian opposition grouping, on Wednesday urged the Arab League to freeze Syria's membership in the 22-member organization and recognize it as the sole representative of the opposition. Hours after Syria agreed to the Arab plan its security forces pressed on with the crackdown. Nine people were killed in several flashpoint neighbourhoods of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that Syrian forces used heavy machineguns mounted on tanks.

West Bank

The foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority says Palestinians will not accept anything less than full United Nations membership and do not want an upgrade to an observer state in the world body. Riyad al-Malki's remarks suggested the Palestinians would not seek such an upgrade once their bid for full state membership meets the fate widely expected for it. failure because of opposition from the United States, among other governments. The Palestinians now hold the status of an observer entity at the United Nations. Their bid for statehood recognition has drawn fierce criticism and sanctions from the United States and Israel, Peace talks collapsed last year. The U.S. Congress has frozen some $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority over its statehood quest. Israel this week froze duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in response to its admission to the UN cultural agency UNESCO. Mr. Malki said for now the Palestinians would not seek to join more U.N. agencies as a full member.


Rebels linked to al-Qaeda mounted weapons on rooftops, dug trenches and armed students to defend the southern Somali port of Kismayu from an expected onslaught by Kenya's military. Kenya's army has warned Somalis to stay away from al Shabaab bases in 10 southern towns due to "imminent strikes", but nearly three weeks into their cross-border operation, Kenyan and Somali government troops are bogged down by heavy rains and thick mud. Kenya issued the warning after it received intelligence reports that consignments of weapons had reached al Shabaab militants in the rebel-controlled town of Baidoa. Dismayed by a wave of kidnappings and attacks on its soil, Kenya is the latest country to be drawn into the conflict in Somalia.

United States

The International Monetary Fund said Thursday it was planning to meet with Libya's new leaders soon to determine the financing needs of the war-torn country. The IMF estimates that Libya's gross domestic product has been slashed by more than half this year amid an uprising that ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi last month. The new regime estimates normal oil production will resume by end-2012. According to the national oil company NOC, current output is 530,000 barrels a day, compared with 1.7 million before the conflict began in February.


Telecom complaints rise

There's a report that complaints by telecom users increased by 114 per cent this year to more than 8,000. The Commission for Complaints to Telecommunications Services made the revelation its its annual report. The report says most of the complaints were about wireless services and almost all of these concerned billing errors or contract disputes. The commission says bills for data usage produce many complaints from consumers who don't know the limits of their plans or have no idea how much data they use. The report suggests the industry take steps to increase consumer awareness of data use. The agency is an independent, industry-financed body which the federal government established in 2007,

Gas giant unloads U.S. asset

Major natural gas producer Encana Corp. has reached an agreement to sell its North Texas natural gas properties for about US$975 million. The Calgary-based company said Thursday it has struck a deal through its U.S subsidiary to transfer the assets to partnerships managed by EnerVest Ltd., a private oil and gas company based in Houston, TX. Encana says money from the sale will help strengthen its balance sheet and provide financial flexibility going into 2012.Encana had been banking on a $5.4-billion cash infusion from a joint-venture deal with PetroChina centred around assets in northeastern B.C. and Alberta. But that deal fell through in June when the two companies couldn't see eye-to-eye on an operating agreement. Encana has since been looking for other partnerships for its undeveloped Cutbank Ridge lands.

China crucial to future of Canadian aerospace industry

A Canadian conference on aerospace heard Thursday that emerging economic powerhouses like China are changing the face of the international space industry, Daniel Goldberg, the president and CEO of Telesat, says the implications are broad, not only for the space industry, but beyond. He described how resource-hungry China shares satellite technology with poorer countries, which can not only drag down prices within the industry but also have a geopolitical impact. Michel Pley, the CEO of ComDev International, also has his eye on the new arrival in the space market; like Goldberg, he also sees business opportunities there. He says the so-called BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China "...are putting billions and billions of dollars into their space programs and we have a huge opportunity to participate." Pley adds that ComDev has seen a tremendous amount of change in China since the company first went there 15 years ago and changes have also been noticed in India. Steve MacLean, head of the Canadian Space Agency, says the two weeks he recently spent in China were an eye-opener. The former Canadian astronaut says the Chinese are, for starters, copying everything the Russians build.

Directories firm suffers loss

Directories publisher Yellow Media posted a $2.8-billion loss in its latest quarter after the company logged a nearly $3-billion writedown to the value of its business. The publisher of the Yellow Pages telephone directory said Thursday that after filtering out the non-cash goodwill charge, it earned $74.6 million from its continuing operations, or 14 cents per share, up from $65.6 million, or 12 cents per share, for the same period in 2010. Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations were seven cents, well below average analyst estimates of 18 cents per share in the same quarter last year. Yellow Media has been struggling as it tries to reposition itself primarily as an Internet company. Earlier this year, the company said it would stop paying dividends to improve its financial position.



British Columbia on Friday: mix sun cloud, high C7 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: snow. Nunavut: mix sun cloud. Whitehorse -7. Yellowknife -5, Iqaluit -14. Alberta: snow south, mix sun cloud north. Saskatchewan: rain north, mix sun cloud south. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton -3, Regina 7, Winnipeg 10. Ontario: sun south, mix sun cloud north. Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto 8, Ottawa 5, Montreal 6. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton , Charlottetown 6, Halifax 7, St. John's 8.

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