Tuesday, December 13, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 12 December 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

Canada walks away from Kyoto climate deal


Canada has formally withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. Environment Minister Peter Kent says it's clear that Kyoto is "not the path forward." Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol but the country hasn't come close to meeting its emissions reduction targets either under the former Liberal Party or the current Conservative Party governments. The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the targets are impossible to achieve. Mr. Kent's announcement comes one day after Canada and almost 200 other countries agreed at a UN climate conference in South Africa to sign a new climate accordby 2015 to replace Kyoto.



Central banker says world financial mess presents opportunity


Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney says the advanced economies of the world are facing a massive challenge with debt, but that Canada may be in a position to take advantage. The central banker warned Monday that a historic era of paying off debt is being forced upon European countries and the U.S. The task is so large that Mr. Carney compares it to what occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

He says said that Canada's relative virtue throughout this era of deleveraging puts the country in a "privileged position" because of lower government and corporate debt in Canada. Businesses can benefit from one of the world's soundest banking systems in Canada, low interest rates and their own sound balance sheets flush with cash. As well, firms in the resource sector can place a safe bet that commodity prices will remain elevated. Mr. Carney says this creates an ideal situation to invest to boost productivity and make inroads in the fast-growing emerging nations In Europe, the government debt crisis has led countries with huge deficits to cut pensions, thousands of public sector jobs and to raise taxes in an austerity drive to balance the books and secure new bailout financing.



Canadian govt. warned on deficit


Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the country's budget watchdog still don't see eye to eye on the federal deficit. In a new report Monday, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page says the country is still facing a structural deficit that will persist past 2016-17. Mr. Page says that while the government projects that all of the deficit is cyclical, due to the under-performing economy, he believes about $10 billion on average is structural. Mr. Page predicts that even in 2016-17, when the economy has fully recovered, Canada will still have a $1.6 billion structural deficit.

In his economic update last month, Mr. Flaherty said he expects the government to balance the budget in 2015-16, and possibly as early as 2014-15. Mr. Flaherty has persistently denied the government has a structural deficit, saying the shortfall is due to temporary stimulus spending and poor economic conditions which limit tax revenues and drive up costs, such as benefits to unemployed workers.



U.S. governor backs Canadian pipeline


Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman said Monday that he supports efforts to accelerate federal approval of a controversial crude oil pipeline through Nebraska. The Republican governor says he'd like to see the Keystone XL project move forward as soon as state officials agree to a new, acceptable route in Nebraska. Pipeline developer Canadian pipeline firm TransCanada agreed to divert the project away from the sensitive Nebraska Sandhills after Mr. Heineman called a special session aimed at the Keystone XL. The project will face a state environmental review before the governor makes a recommendation to the U.S. State Department, which must approve or deny a federal permit.

Environmentalists say the Canada-to-Texas pipeline threatens the state's water and wildlife, and dispute claims that it will create thousands of jobs or reduce U.S. dependence on oil from hostile nations. The department has said it will delay a decision until 2013, after the presidential election, but congressional Republicans are attempting to force an earlier decision. One provision in a bill to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits would force the department to rule on the project before the election.



Gov.-Gen. involved in wheat monopoly squabble


Canadian Gov. Gen. David Johnston has been dragged into the partisan fight over the fate of the Canadian Wheat Board. Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae is urging Mr. Johnston to refuse to give royal assent to a bill that would end the wheat board's monopoly on marketing western grain.

The Conservative Party government is pushing Bill C-18 through the Senate, despite a Federal Court of Canada ruling last week which concluded the government is disregarding the rule of law. The court said the government should have conducted a plebiscite among farmers, as required by the Canadian Wheat Board Act, before proceeding with plans to take away the marketing body's monopoly over the marketing of Western wheat and barley. The government is appealing the ruling. In a letter to Johnston, Rae urges the Governor General to withhold royal assent until the legality of C-18 is sorted out.



Troubled native village rejects federal trusteeship


The chief of an aboriginal group in Canada's province of Ontario says additional housing units are welcome. But Chief Theresa Spence of the troubled Attawapiskat First Nation does not want the federal government to take over management of her reserve's finances. Mrs. Spence says her community appreciates a federal move to buy the reserve seven more modular homes, for a total of 22. But she says Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan was misinformed when he said she had acknowledged the need for third-party management. Tens of millions of dollars have gone missing from the reserve's federal funding.





International

German leader to speak on debt crisis


Chancellor Angela Merkel will address German lawmakers this week on the euro crisis pact agreed by all European states except Britain at last week's summit, her spokesman said on Monday. European Union leaders from 26 of the 27 member states agreed on Friday at a two-day Brussels summit to back a Franco-German drive for tighter budget policing in a bid to save the eurozone.

After Britain, which does not use the euro, blocked an EU-wide treaty, the other 26 EU states signalled their willingness to join a "new fiscal compact" which will see new budget rules enshrined in a modified EU treaty. British Prime Minister David Cameron, under pressure from "eurosceptics" within his own Conservative party, argued it would have threatened Britain's vital financial services sector in the City of London. The accord, which is to include automatic sanctions that can only be blocked by a large majority of states, aims to end past practices of overspending responsible for the two-year debt crisis ravaging Europe.



Italian unions strike against austerity


A series of strikes began in Italy began by the three biggest labour unions against Prime Minister Mario Monti's 33-billion-euro austerity package. Port, highway, and haulage personnel stopped work for three hours and metal workers put down their tools for eight hours. Printing press operators stopped for a full shift and most newspapers won't publish on Tuesday. Public transport strikes will be held on Dec. 15-16. Bank employees will halt work for the afternoon of Dec 16, and the public administration will close down for a whole day on Dec. 19. Prime Minister Mario Monti failed to thwart the strikes during a last-ditch meeting on Sunday night with union leaders.



Tunisia has new president


Tunisia's veteran opposition leader Moncef Marzouki was elected president Monday, a month and a half after the north African country held its first post-revolution election. The fierce opponent of ousted dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was elected with 153 votes in the 217-member assembly, with three of the 202 deputies present voting against, two abstaining and 44 casting blank ballots. Mr. Marzouki is to be sworn in Tuesday at the presidential palace in Carthage. His first order of business will be to name the prime minister, with Hamadi Jebali, the number two of the Ennahda party that came in first in the October 23 legislative poll with 89 seats, expected receive the post.



NATO to leave Iraq by end of month


NATO has announced that it will permanently shut down its military training mission in Iraq and withdraw all of its soldiers from the country by Dec. 31. Talks on extending the mission had stalled over NATO's request for legal immunity for the foreign trainers. Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had requested the alliance extend the eight-year training mission until the end of 2013, but he also insisted that all NATO troops in the country be subject to Iraq's laws and judicial system. The U.S. and NATO feared that servicemen might not receive fair trials in a county where anti-Western sentiment is high.



Israel plans new West Bank homes


Israel's defence ministry has approved construction of 40 homes in a new settler enclave near the West Bank town of Bethlehem, effectively expanding a large settlement bloc there. Efrat lies in the sprawling Etzion bloc of settlements which lies southwest of Bethlehem, with the new district set to expand the bloc northwards.

Haaretz newspaper, which broke the story on Monday morning, says construction of the farm was a bid to preserve the land for the future expansion of Efrat, suggesting there were plans to build some 2,500 homes in that area. Peace Now's Hagit Ofran said the project should be seen in the light of Israel's stated intention to annex the Etzion bloc in any future agreement with the Palestinians. The news was received angrily by the Palestinians who have said they will not hold peace talks while Israel builds on land they want for their future state.



Israeli envoy returns to Egypt


Israel's new ambassador to Egypt arrived in Cairo on Monday, airport officials said, three months after rioters ransacked the Israeli Embassy here. Yaakov Amitai joined a small number of Israeli diplomatic staff still in the Egyptian capital. His predecessor left after protesters in September tore down a security wall around the building housing the Israeli Embassy, then stormed and trashed its offices. The assault followed the killing of six Egyptian soldiers by Israeli troops who were pursuing Palestinian militants near the Egyptian border.



Indian officials blame poor safety for hospital fire


The top official in India's West Bengal state told mourners Monday that her government is working to ensure that a hospital fire that killed 93 people last week would be the last tragedy of its kind. Officials say lax safety standards contributed to the tragedy Friday at AMRI Hospital in Kolkata. When fire broke out, many of the staff fled, leaving patients to suffocate from smoke inhalation. Seven hospital directors have been charged with homicide.





Financial

Ottawa, U.S. Steel settle out of court


The Canadian government says it has settled out of court a prosecution against Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel. Industry Minister Christian Paradis says the company has committed itself to continuing steel production at its plants in Hamilton and Nanticoke, ON, for at least four more years and has promised to spend $50 million to upgrade them. The minister says he has asked the attorney general therefore to stop a lawsuit against U.S. Steel. Before acquiring the former Stelco operations in Ontario, the American firm promised to maintain production and employment at the Ontario mills. The government started legal proceedings after it shut down the plants after the recession set in.



Canadian firm rejects U.S. shale gas report


Canadian energy firm Encana Corp. said Monday there are serious flaws in a U.S. government report that links its Wyoming natural gas wells to groundwater pollution and that an independent analysis of the data must be undertaken. The Calgary-based energy giant said the preliminary findings of the Environmental Protection Agency's draft report are conjecture.

Shale gas now accounts for about a third of all U.S. gas output and has lead to an economic boom in parts of Pennsylvania, the U.S. rural Midwest and western states. But it has also led to rising environmental concerns as well. Last week, the EPA released a draft report that said a controversial practice known as hydraulic fracturing may be to blame for groundwater pollution in the small community of Pavillion, WY.



Alberta's opposition to federal securities regulator softens


Alberta's finance minister says the province has softened its opposition to a national securities regulator. Ron Liepert says if the Supreme Court of Canada rules that Ottawa does have jurisdiction to create a single regulator, Alberta is ready to co-operate with the federal government. Alberta and Quebec have gone to court over the federal initiative championed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, arguing it impinges on provincial powers.

But Mr. Liepert says as long as Alberta can have a say on regulations affecting the energy sector, it would be willing to negotiate with Ottawa on creating a national regulator. Canada is the only major advanced economy without a national regulator and Ottawa contends that says having 13 different jurisdictions adds to costs and makes more difficult to detect and prosecute fraud. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the jurisdictional dispute in February.



Markets


TSX on Monday: 11,910 - 126. Dollar: US.97. Euro: $1.35. Oil: $97.93 - $1.48.



Court accepts suit against Air Canada on behalf of disabled


A Quebec judge has approved a class action lawsuit against Air Canada on behalf of disabled people who had to pay extra for seats. The suit covers both disabled individuals and those with a functional disability related to obesity who faced extra charges for seats adapted to their condition. It is also filed on behalf of those who had to pay extra fees when acting as the attendant for a person with a disability. The class action is specifically for people who traveled on a domestic flight from Dec. 5, 2005 to Dec. 5, 2008.





Sports

Sports


HOCKEY

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms.

Crosby said Monday he noticed a recurrence of the problems that

sidelined him for more than 10 months earlier this year following a

3-1 loss to Boston last week.

Crosby sat out Pittsburgh's two-game road trip to Philadelphia

and New York as a precaution but said he's noticed familiar symptoms

during light workouts over the weekend.

HOCKEY

Calgary Flames right-winger Jarome Iginla is being rewarded for his excellent play last week. He's the National Hockey League's first star of the week after recording six points over the stretch. Iginla helped the Flames pick up three straight victories last week. Minnesota goalie Matt Hackett is the second star and the third star goes to Washington defenceman John Carlson.





Weather

Weather


British Columbia on Tuesday: snow. high C4 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse -8, Yellowknife, Iqaluit -12. Alberta: mix sun cloud north, sun south. Saskatchewan: mix sun cloud south, sun north. Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton -4, Regina -6, Winnipeg -5. Ontario: mix sun cloud. Quebec: rain. Toronto 5, Ottawa 2, Montreal 3. New Brunswick: mix rain sun. Nova Scotia: rain. Prince Edward Island, NewfoundlandandLabrador: snow. Fredericton 3, Halifax 6, Charlottetown 4, St.John's 0.





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