Friday, December 23, 2011

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 22 December 2011
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

The late NDP leader is Canada's newsmaker of the year

Canadian Editors and news directors have chosen the late leader of the New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, as Canada's Newsmaker of the Year.

Layton's widow, Olivia Chow, says there was something good about the former N-D-P leader and his ability to touch other people.

Layton, who died of cancer in August, received 90 per cent of the votes, one of the largest margins in the 65-year history of survey conducted by the the Canadian Press news agency.

The next closest was Prime Minister Stephen Harper, at just five per cent.

Poker Champion Robbed

World poker champion, Canadian Jonathan Duhamel, has been the victim of a home invasion. Police south of Montreal say Mr. Duhamel's engraved championship bracelet was stolen, along with a Rolex watch and some cash. He was assaulted during the robbery but not seriously injured. Jonathan Duhamel made headlines around the world last year when he won nearly US $8.9 million in a poker tournament in the gambling mecca of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Wayward puffin flies home.. in style

The young Atlantic puffin who was rescued from a busy street in downtown Montreal last week is back on the East Coast. The black and white bird, believed to be less than a year old, touched down at the airport in St. John's, N.L. Thursday, after a flight home courtesy of Air Canada. The puffin will stay at a bird rehabilitation centre before being released somewhere offshore when his condition permits. The disoriented bird was toddling around downtown Montreal when he was spotted by a veterinary technician. It's not clear how the puffin ended up a thousand kilometres from home, but it's believed he may have hitched a ride aboard a ship in Atlantic Canada. The puffin is the official bird of Newfoundland and Labrador, which is home to nearly all Canadian puffin breeding grounds.

NDP Leadership

The race for the leadership of Canada's official opposition party is heating up. Candidate Thomas Mulcair says he now has the support of 35 of the New Democratic Party's elected members of Parliament from his home province of Quebec. Quebec is the province that elected the most NDP candidates to the House of Commons in last May's federal election. The Quebec MP's throwing their support behind Mr. Mulcair, say he will best defend the French language and the environment. Eight candidates are vying for the NDP leadership.

Afghan POWs

Canadians may never find out how the country's military dealt with Afghan prisoners. The military watchdog investigating the matter says its interim report must be remain confidential. The Military Complaints Commission has turned over its findings to the Defence department for review by the Defence Minister, Peter MacKay, and the Chief of Defence Staff. The Commission has been looking into what military police knew, or should have known, about the alleged torture of prisoners who were turned over to Afghan authorities by Canadian forces.

Border crossing getting easier

Flying to the United States soon will become rather less frustrating for Canadians with a Nexus card. The federal government says that by February, the pre-approved travellers will pass through airport security faster thanks to expedited passenger screening for both domestic and international flights. Also, in a change to be phased in over the next three years, baggage cleared by security at Canadian airports will not be re-screened when connecting flights are made in the United States. Speeding-up travel between Canada and the United States was a key aspect of the "roadmap" for a new trade and security deal announced earlier this month by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama. The border-security agreement also promises greater harmonization of Canadian and U.S. security measures, rules to govern the sharing of information, upgrades to border infrastructure and the removal of some cross-border trade barriers.

SCOC Kills Market Regulator Proposal

Canada's highest court has slapped-down the federal government's effort to create a single national stock market regulator. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had been trying to replace the country's current regime of 13 provinces and territories which regulate securities. But, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously that the legislation setting up the single stock-market regulator "overreaches" into provincial jurisdiction. The federal government had the support of most stock market stakeholders in its contention that a single regulator would do a better job of detecting and policing fraud.

Court orders Jean Chretien payout

Legal vindication for former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien. The Federal Court has ordered the government to pay Mr. Chretien 200-thousand dollars compensation for some of the legal costs he incurred fighting the findings of the inquiry into the sponsorship scandal. The lump-sum payment is the last chapter in a drawn-out court battle the former P.M. waged against Justice John Gomery and the report he wrote on the scandal in 2005.



An advance team from the Arab League has arrived in Syria to prepare for the arrival of monitors to assess whether Damascus is acting to end a nine-month crackdown on anti-government protesters that has killed more than 5,000 people. The advance teamis comprised ofabout 10 people including financial, administrative and legal experts to ensure monitors have free access across the country. Syria's President Bashar al-Assad agreed to the Arab plan last month demanding an end to fighting, the withdrawal of troops from residential areas, the release of prisoners and the start of a dialogue with the opposition. Syria only agreed to admit the monitors this month.


European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has called for the immediate release of Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Ms. Ashton says she is concerned at news that Gao has been sentenced again to three years in prison. Ms. Ashton had repeatedly urged the Chinese government, at the highest level, todisclose his whereabouts, give him access to a lawyer and allow him to maintain contact with his family. Gao, who defended some of China's most vulnerable people including Christians and coal miners, was arrested in February 2009 and has been held incommunicado by the authorities. China's official Xinhua news agency said last Friday that he had been sent back to prison after a court ruled he had violated the terms of his probation.


Ukraine's former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, and her lawyers will boycott appeals looking into her conviction on abuse-of-office charges. They are calling the trial a farce. It was not clear whether the trial would be held in their absence. The 51-year old Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison in October in a trial condemned by the West as politically motivated. It has also jeopardised Ukraine's plans for closer ties with Europe. She was found guilty of abusing her powers in forcing through a 2009 gas agreement with Russia. Tymoshenko has been under arrest since early August.


Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev is calling for reform of Russia's political system. The announcement comes as the government tries to appease protesters who have held the biggest demonstrations since Vladimir Putin rose to power 12 years ago. Medvedev outlined plans that would ease the Kremlin's tight grip on power. The plans include restoring the election of regional governors and allowing half the seats in the State Duma lower house of parliament to be directly elected in the regions. However, opponents to the plan have dismissed it as the empty promises of a lame-duck president who is stepping aside for Putin to return to the presidency in March next year after four years as premier.


Lawmakers in France have passed a measure to make it a crime to deny the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 by Ottoman Turks. The killings were referred to as genocide. Turkey retaliated quickly to the French move by ordering its ambassador home and halting official contacts including some military co-operation. Turkey, a NATO member, is a strategic ally of France and valued trading partner. And analysts say that Thursday's moves weaken relations at a crucial time. The two countries are involved in international issues from the uprising in Syria to Afghanistan. Turkey has always rejected the term genocide for the 1915 mass killings of Armenians, saying the issue should be left to historians. An estimated 500,000 Armenians live in France and many have lobbied to raise the legal statute regarding the massacres to the same level as the Holocaust by punishing denial of genocide.


A series of bombings in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, has killed at least 69-people and wounded some 180 others. Reports say there were at least 16 separate bombings in a series of apparently co-ordinated attacks that targeted numerous neighbourhoods around the Iraqi capital. It was the worst violence to hit Baghdad in months; and, comes just days after the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.


IMF warning

The International Monetary Fund has issued a cautionary note about the Canadian economy. It says that both external pressures and domestic factors are causing it to slow, with growth predicted to expand by just 1.9 per cent in 2012. The IMF assessment points to record-high household debt, as well as inflated housing prices. A correction in the real estate market, it says, could lead to downward economic pressure.

Consumer Confidence Index

Consumer confidence in Canada is the shakiest it's been since the height of the recession. That assessment is from the Conference Board of Canada, which says its Index of Consumer Confidence recorded a 6.5-point drop this month, falling to its lowest point in more than two and a half years. The Ottawa-based think-tank says the index suggests Canadians are deeply concerned about their financial situation and will delay major purchases.

Financial Markets

The S&P/TSX composite index was 123 points higher at 11,876.

The Canadian dollar added 45-100ths of a cent to 97.93 cents.

The Dow was up 62 points at 12,170.

The Nasdaq index added 21.5 points to 2,599.5.

Oil prices rose for the fourth day in a row Thursday: The price of benchmark crude rose 86 cents to finish at US$99.53 per barrel in New York.

The New York gold February futures went down three dollars U-S to 1,610 dollars, 60 cents an ounce.


Habs incur wrath of language activists

The language controversy surrounding the Montreal Canadiens isn't dying down. A pair of Quebec nationalist groups are planning a protest at a Canadiens home game January 7th. They're upset over the team's hiring of unilingual anglophone Randy Cunneyworth as interim head coach. The Habs are in Winnipeg tonight to play the Jets.

Junior Hockey captain chosen

Canada's world junior hockey team has its captain. Nineteen-year-old forward Jaden Schwartz will wear the C for Canada. He's a sophomore at Colorado College where he's the second-leading scorer with 18 points in 13 games. The world junior hockey tournament begins Monday in Calgary and Edmonton.


Canada's weather for Friday, December 23, 2011

In the Canadian north, clearing in Iqaluit and minus 16 degrees Celsius. Variable cloudiness in Yukon and 0 in Whitehorse. Rain in British Columbia with a high of 8 in Vancouver. Mainly sunny across the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, cloudy in Manitoba with highs of 4 in Edmonton, minus 1 in Regina and minus 5 in Winnipeg. Mainly sunny in Ontario and cloudy with flurries in Quebec. Cloudy across most of the four Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Some temperatures: minus-2 in Toronto, minus-9 in Ottawa, minus-7 in Montreal, 0 in Halifax and 0 in Saint John's.

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