Saturday, November 26, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 25 November 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Minister says govt. must practice what it preaches

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says it's time for the federal government to do what he has been urging consumers to do for months: start getting spending under control and pay off debt. Mr. Flaherty says he'll start national consultations for the 2012 federal budget early next month, and he's looking to hear ideas from Canadians on how to create jobs and growth while still keeping taxes low.

In a speech to the Canadian Club in Toronto, the minister said he wants to focus on getting spending under control, and that means getting rid of programs or initiatives that do nothing for the economy. He did not name any federal programs that might have to be cut, nor did he say specifically where Ottawa is looking to reduce its spending. Both Mr. Flaherty and Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney have been warning for months that Canadians need to start reducing debts incurred during a long period of low interest rates, in case they are unable to pay them off down the road if rates move higher.

Thnk-tank upbeat on economy

The Conference Board of Canada has released an optimistic economic forecast that predicts the Western provinces will power the country to growth over the next couple of years, thanks to expected strong activity in the resource sector. The Ottawa-based think-tank said Friday that Canada's economy will expand to 2.4 per cent growth in 2012, and 3.3 in 2013.

The projections were about half-a-point better than the Bank of Canada's and a full point higher than other observers, but came with a caution that severe government debt problems in Europe remain a real threat to all economies. The board said it sees strength in businesses flush with cash and ready to re-engage and strong global commodity prices, which will drive investment and production in the resource sector, particularly in the West. That will help offset a sharp drop in federal and provincial infrastructure spending that had been increased during the recession to stimulate the economy.

Ottawa making progress reducing deficit

The Canadian government is well ahead of the pace it set to meet its budget deficit target. The federal government says it recorded a $2.5-billion shortfall in the month of September, bringing the deficit for the first half of the financial year to $13.2 billion. That's about $4 billion better than where the government stood at the same time last year. Ottawa says its improved fiscal position is due to a combination of higher revenues, particularly income taxes from individuals, and slightly lower program and debt expenses.

Calgary protesters plan to stay put

Occupy Calgary protesters say they're not going anywhere despite a court injunction that has now been served to them. The injunction requires about a dozen protesters to appear in court on Dec. 2 to determine if their camp at Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary can stay. The city wants a judge to order the removal of all tents and prevent protesters from setting up in any other city park. The protesters say the city's actions have just strengthened their resolve.

After a series of bylaw sweeps warned, ticketed and finally confiscated unoccupied tents, about 10 structures remained at Olympic Plaza on Wednesday.

Raw milk advocate fined

An Ontario raw milk crusader has been fined more than $9,000 and handed one year of probation for selling and distributing unpasteurized milk. Michael Schmidt, whose sentence was handed down Friday in a Newmarket, Ont., court, says he won't pay the fine and plans an appeal. Mr. Schmidt had been acquitted in a lower court last year but Justice Peter Tetley overturned most of those acquittals in September. Mr. Schmidt's Durham-area farm was raided in November 2006 by officers from the ministry of natural eesources and the Ontario Provincial Police.

The Health Protection and Promotion Act makes it illegal to sell unpasteurized milk in Canada because it's considered a health hazard. It is, however, legal to drink raw milk.

Mexican migrants sue Ottawa

Three Mexican migrant farm workers have sued the Canadian government and their former farm employer in Ontario for having allegedly been arbitrarily sent home. The plaintiffs say they don't know why they were returned to Mexico and that the owners of the strawberry farm in Vineland, ON, didn't provide a reason. Each of the three is demanding $50,000 in compensation because their constitutional and contractual rights were violated. The cause could be the first such suit of its kind. The Mexicans had come to Canada under the federal seasonal agricultural workers program.


Egypt's protesters reject new prime minister

The U.S. increased pressure Friday on Egypt's military rulers to hand over power to civilian leaders, and the generals turned to a Mubarak-era politician to head a new government in a move that failed to satisfy the more than 100,000 protesters who jammed Tahrir Square in the biggest rally yet this week. The demonstrators rejected the appointment of Kamal el-Ganzouri as prime minister, setting up a showdown between the two sides only three days before key parliamentary elections.

The size of the rally and the resilience of protesters in the face of the violence used by security forces in this week's deadly street battles have won back for the movement much of the strength it projected during the 18-day uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February. The protesters say they will not leave the square until the military rulers led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi step down and a civilian presidential council is formed to run the country until a new leader is elected.

The U.S. government brought its position on the crisis in Egypt closer to the protesters' demands, urging the military to fully empower the next interim civilian government.

Syria faces more external pressure

Syria faced the possibility of sweeping economic sanctions from the Arab League on Friday as pressure mounted on Damascus to end the country's bloodshed, even as the military vowed to "cut every evil hand that targets Syrian blood." The escalating bloodshed has raised fears of civil war.

The UN estimates the military crackdown on the revolt already has killed at least 3,500 people. Activists said at least 11 people were killed by security forces Friday. According to the military's statement, six elite pilots and four technical officers were killed in an ambush on Thursday in Homs, in an unusually high-level strike. It is not clear who was behind the attacks. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces carried out raids Friday in the village of Furoqlos, near where the pilots were ambushed, and detained 37 people. On Thursday, the Arab League gave Syria 24 hours to agree to an observer mission or face sanctions.

Yemeni soldiers clash with defectors

Heavy fighting between government forces and defected military troops shook the Yemeni capital early Friday, killing two people in what could signal the start of a power struggle just days after autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to end his 33-year rule.

The clashes pitted Central Security forces commanded by Mr. Saleh's nephew, Col. Yehia Saleh, against troops from the First Armored Division, headed by Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who defected and joined the protesters in March. The troops fired machine-guns and mortars, some of which landed on civilian homes and scarred the facades of buildings. A security official said one soldier from each side was killed before the fighting stopped around dawn.

Moroccans vote

Moroccans voted for a new parliament Friday in Arab Spring-inspired elections that are facing a boycott by democracy campaigners who say the ruling monarchy isn't committed to real change. A moderate Islamist party and a pro-palace coalition led by the finance minister are competing for the top spot, but a key test for the authorities' legitimacy will be how many voters cast ballots. The king amended the constitution over the summer giving the prime minister new powers, including the ability to dissolve parliament and make certain appointments, in response to pro-democracy protests. But the ultimate authority remains with the king.

Italy bond issue a disaster

A disastrous sale of Italian debt on Friday was not just bad news for the country's finances and the euro zone as a whole but increased political problems for the new government of Prime Minister Mario Monti. The sale, in which Italy was forced to pay a record 6.5 percent for six-month bonds.

Mr. Monti's predecessor, media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, was finally forced to resign on Nov. 12 because of untenable yields on Italian debt which have put the euro zone's third-largest economy at the centre of its widening crisis. But so far Italian debt yields are still going the wrong way. The Italian auction capped a terrible week for the euro zone after a disastrous German bond auction and a continuing failure of European leaders to agree on measures to combat the crisis.

Gambia leader wins in a walk

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh secured a new five-year term on Friday after the election commission declared him the winner in a poll regional leaders said was marked by intimidation of voters and the opposition. Former military coup leader Mr. Jammeh scored a landslide 72 percent victory, according to results from the Independent Electoral Commission.

Russian to vote for leader on March 4

The upper house of Russia's parliament on Friday formally set March 4 as the date for the presidential election, a vote expected to see Vladimir Putin return to the top job. Mr. Putin, the current prime minister, is expected to reclaim the presidency in the poll, making a dramatic comeback to the Kremlin after his protegé President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to a job swap. Once the date is published, parties will be able to formally put forward their candidates.

World body slates Belarus over prisoners

A UN human rights panel has criticized Belarus over what it called "numerous and consistent allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment of detainees." The Committee against Torture says it is deeply concerned at Belarus' failure to investigate allegations of abuse by law enforcement officials and prosecute the perpetrators. It also expressed concern Friday at reports that Belarus only informs the families of persons sentenced to death weeks after the punishment has been carried out. Belarus is the only country in Europe that carries out the death penalty.


Telecom says no to spectrum reservations

Rogers Communications Inc. says it opposes any new radio waves being set aside for new wireless firms in a forthcoming auction. Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed says there should be an open auction in which all parties are welcome to participate. The federal government is expected to auction off the 700-megahertz wireless spectrum to give cellphone users better service in both urban and rural settings next year or the following. The new wireless firms fear the Rogers, Bell and Telus will outbid them.

Former Quebec premier cautious about on exchange takeover

Former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau says the province's securities regulator must impose conditions on Maple Group Acquisition's proposed $3.8-billion acquisition of the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Montreal derivatives market. Mr. Parizeau, a staunch Quebec nationalist and noted economist who was the Parti Quebecois premier from 1994-96, said Friday that he's not opposed to the transaction but that its conditions must be approved.

Derivatives are an important type of security that are mainly traded by investment professionals. The Montreal Exchange became the country's primary derivatives market, while stock trading is primarily conducted through the Toronto Stock Exchange. Quebec's stocks regulator, L'Autorite des marches financiers, has the power to veto the $3.8 billion transaction, which would make a group of pensions, banks and other financial companies the dominant owners of Canada's stock exchanges.


TSX on Friday: 11,462 - 23. Dollar: US.95. Euro: $1.38. Oil: $96.77 - .60.




Canada's Denny Morrison raced to a silver medal in the 1,500 metres at a long-track speedskating World Cup on Friday. The native of Fort St. John, B.C., crossed just 0.11 seconds behind gold medallist Wouter Olde Heuvel of the Netherlands. Morrison finished in one minute 45.80 seconds, boosting Canada's medal total to five on the World Cup season, two gold, two silver and a bronze.



British Columbia on Saturday: rain, high C11 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: snow. Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse -17, Yellowknkife -7, Iqaluit -26. Alberta, Saskatchewan: mix sun cloud. Manitoba: snow. Edmonton 4, Regina -4, Winnipeg 0. Ontario, Quebec: rain. Toronto 11, Ottawa 10, Montreal 7. Maritimes: mix sun cloud. Newfoundland and Labrador: rain. Fredericton, Halifax 9, Charlottetown 6, St. John's 7.

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