Tuesday, January 17, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 16 January 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Harper warns on economy

Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not expect 2012 to be a good year for the country's economy.

He warned in a letter to Members of Parliament of his Conservative Party that with Europe on the verge of a new recession and the rest of the world facing economic uncertainty, this year is likely to be just as challenging as 2011.

Mr. Harper says Canadians have long told the government that the economy is their top priority, specifically, jobs.

But he warns that creating jobs will not be easy and he's urging Conservative Party MPs to travel the country to hear ideas on ways to do that and stimulate economic growth.

Premiers reject federal position on health financing

Provincial premiers and territorial leaders meeting in Victoria appear united in their opposition to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's take-it-or-leave-it plans for health transfer payments.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is suggesting Ottawa is trying to ram through changes to health transfers payments without any discussions. He says he's never seen anything llike it,

Meanwhile, Canadian Medical Association president Dr. John Haggie says the premiers have an opportunity to look to new ways to fund and improve the system, despite Ottawa's insistence on a strict funding model. The surgeon from Gander, Newfoundland, says there's a lot of scope within the available funding to do things differently without necessarily demanding more money.

He says nationwide surveys done by the association suggest nine out of 10 Canadians want the same level of care across the country.

The Victoria meeting will continue on Tuesday.

Prescriptions out-of-reach for some

As many as ten per cent of Canadians choose not to fill prescriptions for medications because they can't afford them. Most affected are the poor and those without drug insurance.

The results were contained in a survey conducted in 2007 and published Monday by the journal of the Canadian Medical Association. About two-thirds of Canadian households incur out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs each year because they don't have a private or public insurance drug plan, the study noted.

The study was done by researchers at the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto.

Dr. Michael Law of the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at UBC, said the findings are timely with premiers meeting this week in Victoria. "The country's 13 provincial and territorial premiers should focus on how to address this disparity to improve access to prescription drugs for all Canadians," he said in a release.

CMAJ editorial urges restrictions on gender screening

The journal of the Canadian Medical Association has taken aim at Asian immigrants who choose to abort female fetuses.

In an editorial, the journal counsels doctors to conceal the gender of a fetus from all pregnant women until 30 weeks to prevent sex-selective abortion.

The editorial points to research that suggests sex-selection is more common among immigrants from India, China, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines who already have at least one daughter.

A separate article in the same issue warns that Canada has become "a haven for parents who would terminate female fetuses in favor of having sons" due to advanced prenatal testing and easy access to abortion.

The Canadian Medical Association stressed that the editorial viewpoints are not necessarily those of the CMA or its members.

Canadian sailor arraigned in Halifax on security charges

A member of Canada's navy has been charged with breaching the Security of Information Act for allegedly passing secrets to a foreign entity or terrorist group.

Forty-year-old Jeffrey Paul Delisle of the Halifax area is accused of communicating information that could harm Canada's interests.

The RCMP claim Delisle's role in passing information the Canadian government wanted to safeguard happened in Kingston and Ottawa in Ontario, and Halifax and Bedford in Nova Scotia between July of 2007 and last week..

There has been no indication as to what kind of information was allegedly passed on or to whom. It's also not clear if the allegations relate to deliberate actions or neglect.

Mugesera's detention upheld

Léon Mugusera will remain behind bars as the courts decide on his deportation to Rwanda. A commissioner ruled Monday that Mugesera posed a flight risk and must remain at the detention centre near Montreal.

The hearing heard that Mugesera, who is accused of helping to incite the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, ingested a number of pills after receiving a Federal Court decision last week. Mugesera was hospitalized after the court ruled against what was believed to be his final attempt to stay in Canada. He was then successful in delaying his deportation with a motion filed in Quebec Superior Court.

Mugesera has been fighting for years to stay in Canada, arguing in court that he would face torture or death if he returns Rwanda. He has lived in Quebec City for nearly 20 years with his wife and two children.

Canadian couple aboard stricken Italian cruise ship swim ashore

A couple from the western Canadian Province of Alberta were among the more than 4,000 survivors of Friday's cruise-ship accident off the coast of Italy.

Laurence and Andrea Davis were just starting dinner when the vessel, Costa Concordia, struck a reef and rolled over.

They told their son-in-law by phone that the crew was not of much help.

The couple could not find lifejackets and decided to jump ship and swim to shore.

The ship's captain is being held for suspected manslaughter in the disaster that left at least six people dead and four crewmen and 25 passengers unaccounted for.

All 12 Canadians aboard the vessel survived.

Ways sought to help those who contribute to charity.

Canada's House of Commons finance committee will begin a study later this month on ways individuals and corporations give to charity.

It will discuss tax incentives for boosting that generosity.

The last federal budget recommended such a review.

One of the central ideas to be examined will be to offer a proportionately larger tax break to the more modest donor.

Food-safety warning issued by union

The union representing food inspectors employed by the Canadian government is warning that proposed budget cuts will put consumers at risk. It says the plans to cut some 234 jobs will have its greatest impact on the food-safety program.

In its warning, the meat inspectors' union cited the 2008 outbreak listeriosis at a food processing plant in Toronto that led to the deaths of 23 Canadians.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz issued a brief statement in response to the union claims. "Our government has made real and significant investments to ensure the safety of Canada's food supply," he said in the release. "Canadian families can be assured that the safety of our food supply will not be affected as federal departments and agencies look for ways to be more efficient and more financially prudent with taxpayers' dollars."

Fletcher takes time-out for treatment

Canada's minister of state for transport, Stephen Fletcher, has announced that he is temporarily stepping down from his cabinet post for an undisclosed medical treatment.

His ministerial duties will be taken up by Transport Minister Denis Lebel.

Mr. Fletcher is a quadriplegic. He was paralyzed after being injured in an automobile collision.

Small business vs the tax collector

There is still work to be done in improving relations between Canadian small business owners and the Canada Revenue Agency.

In its fourth such survey over the past ten years, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has found that despite efforts by the tax agency to improve relations, little appears to have changed.

Only 14 per cent of respondents gave the CRA a good or excellent rating, while almost 40 per cent judged it poor or fail. Forty-four per cent gave the agency a C, or satisfactory grade.

Most of the complaints centered around perceived intimidation as well as incorrect advice that led to penalties down the road.


Violence continues in Syria as twelve people are killed

Twelve people were killed today in separate incidents across Syria.

Six civilians were killed in the city of Homs. Five soldiers were killed in in the province of Idlib while a General, Abdul-Hamid al-Awad, was assassinated by an armed terrorist group in the countryside near Damascus.

Hundreds of people have been reported killed in Syria since Arab League monitors were deployed in Syria on December 26.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad continue to crush peaceful protests that began 10 months ago and have resulted in more than 5,000 deaths.

Arab League foreign ministers will meet on Sunday to discuss the future of the mission sent last month to check if Syria is abiding by the Arab plan it accepted on November 2.

The plan required Syria to stop the violence, withdraw the military from cities, free detainees and hold a dialogue.


Iraq bombing kills at least nine people

At least nine people were killed today in the Iraqi city of Mosul after a car bomb exploded inside a residential complex for displaced Shiite Muslims.

The bombing was the latest in a series of attacks on Shiite targets since a political crisis erupted a month ago threatening the survival of Iraq's fragile power-sharing government following the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Political tensions in Iraq have been high since December when Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government ordered the arrest of a Sunni vice president.

The move caused a crisis that many fear will again cause sectarian conflict.

 U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate drops out 

Jon Huntsman is dropping out of the campaign to seek the U.S. Republican Party presidential nomination for the 2012 election.

During his withdrawal speech, he endorsed leading candidate Mitt Romney.

Mr. Hunt also called on his party to end the series of negative and personal attacks in the campaign.

Mr. Hunt, a former governor of the state of Utah, also served as U.S. ambassador to China under Democratic Party President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama will be seeking a second four year presidential term in the next election.

China and India hold new round of border talks

Officials from China and India have begun a new round of talks on sensitive border issues after discussions last year were cancelled over a speech in India by Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

China considers him a separatist.

Shiv Shankar Menon, India's national security adviser, and Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo led the two delegations at the meeting today in New Delhi.

The 15th round of the cross-border talks will last two days and cover the range of long-standing territorial disputes and other issues.

The 2,000-kilometre border between India and China has been the subject of talks since the 1980s after the two nations fought a brief war in 1962.

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev welcomes election win 

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev described his victory in a weekend election as an endorsement of national unity.

However, western monitors say the vote excluded any genuine opposition to Mr. Nazarbayev who has ruled the former Soviet republic for more than 20 years.

The election was held one month after protests by fired oil workers in the town of Zhanaozen erupted into clashes that killed at least 16 people.

A state of emergency remains in place in Zhanaozen.

Stability in Kazakhstan had been upset by a series of Islamist-inspired attacks even before the riots in Zhanaozen.



The Toronto stock market closed slightly higher Monday as commodity prices supported the TSX despite the potential knock-on effects of a downgrade of nine eurozone countries by Standard & Poor's rating agency.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 27.54 points to 12,258.6, while the Canadian dollar was up 0.45 of a cent to 98.23 cents US.

New York markets were closed for the Martin Luther King holiday.

Nortel fraud trial opens

Former senior executives of Nortel Networks Corp. appeared in a Toronto courtroom Monday to face charges of fraud as lawyers deliver opening arguments in the case against them.

Former CEO Frank Dunn, chief financial officer Douglas Beatty and corporate controller Michael Gollogly are accused of defrauding investors.

The court will hear prosecution arguments that the men, who were dismissed from the company in 2004, fraudulently misstated financial results in order to get bonuses they were promised if the company returned to profitability.

The trial got under way after Justice Frank Marrocco ruled not to delay over a pre-trial defence motion requesting more details about the accusations.

The Ontario Superior Court trial is expected to last more than six months.

The Nortel accounting scandal of 2002-2003 produced one of the most spectacular stock market flameouts of a Canadian company, dragging down the share price of what had been Canada's premier technology firm from a peak of $124.50 in 2000 to penny-stock status.

Nortel's stock has since been delisted and is worthless.


Sarah Burke

Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke's agent and publicist were in tears at a Utah hospital Monday as they tried to explain the lack of any prognosis report.

The Olympic favourite was seriously injured last week in a training accident and remains sedated.

Ms. Burke's family cancelled a planned news conference after discussing the latest scan results and other tests with her doctors. The briefing scheduled at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City was to have been the first on Burke's medical status since she suffered a traumatic brain injury last Tuesday during a half-pipe run at Park City Mountain Resort.

The 29-year-old athlete, an early favorite to win an Olympic gold medal at the 2014 Winter Games, had surgery on Wednesday, but as of Friday doctors said she remained in critical condition with an uncertain prognosis.

On Monday, reporters who gathered at the hospital for a formal update were handed a statement from her family. It said her husband and fellow skier, Rory Bushfield, and other members of the family met on Sunday night with physicians "to discuss the results of Sarah's most recent neurological tests and assessments." "Based on the information they received, we regret to inform you that they have decided to cancel today's press conference in order for further tests to be conducted.

The family asked that the media "respect their privacy" and said future updates would be released via Burke's website,



Sunday's results: Montreal defeated the New York Rangers 4-1, Edmonton defeated Los Angeles 2-1 in overtime and Anaheim defeated Vancouver 4-2.


Four Canadians are in singles draws at the Australian Open. Milos Raonic, seeded 23 in the men's competition, plays number-72 Filippo Volandri of Italy in the first round. Rebecca Marino, Stephanie Dubois and Aleksandra Wozniak are in the women's main draw.

Daniel Nestor and his partner, Max Mirnyi of Belarus, are seeded second in men's doubles, which includes the team of Canadian Adil Shamasdin and German Phillipp Marx.

On Saturday, Canadian Peter Polansky was eliminated in the third round of the qualifications and failed to make the main draw, losing in straight sets to Danai Udomchoke of Thailand.

Three other Canadians - Vasek Pospisil, Erik Chvojka and Pierre-Ludovic Duclos - also failed to qualify earlier.


Tuesday, January 17th

Vancouver has a mix of sun and cloud with a chance of afternoon flurries. The forecast high temperature: two degrees Celsius.

Calgary has periods of light snow with a high of minus 29.

Regina is mainly cloudy with a chance of flurries, a high of minus 20.

Winnipeg has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of minus 17.

Toronto has a mix of cloud, rain and possible flurries, a high of three.

Ottawa has snow mixed with freezing rain and ice pellets, a high of minus two.

Montreal has a mix of snow, rain and freezing rain, a high of zero. Fredericton is cloudy with snow beginning in the evening, a high of minus one.

Charlottetown has morning snow followed by clearing skies, a high of minus two.

Halifax has periods of light snow ending early in the afternoon then cloudy afternoon skies, a high of three.

St. John's has snow, a high of zero.

Whitehorse is sunny, a high of minus 30.

Yellowknife has periods of light snow and blowing snow beginning near noon, a high of minus 24.

Iqaluit has clear skies with some blowing snow, a high of minus 29.

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