Saturday, January 14, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Ottawa says it will clarify same-sex marriage law

Canada's justice minister, Rob Nicholson, says he will look to clarify the law to ensure that same-sex couples from abroad who get married in Canada can also get divorced. Advocates of same-sex marriage reacted with shock on Thursday after the Globe and Mail published a front-page story reporting the federal government's position in a same-sex divorce case. The case involves a foreign lesbian couple who were married in Canada several years ago, and have now returned to Toronto to seek a divorce. A government lawyer said the couple was never legally married in the first place because same-sex marriage was illegal in Florida and or Britain where they reside. Mr. Nicholson says the marriage that ignited the controversy cannot legally be disssolved, but his department will search for a solution. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday he was unfamiliar but that same-sex marriage is legal in Canada and that his government is not going to re-open that issue.

Rwandan man evades deportation from Canada

A man facing deportation for allegedly helping to incite the genocide in Rwanda has won a temporary legal reprieve to stay in Canada. A court in the Province of Quebec has ordered the federal government to let Leon Mugesera stay in Canada for now. The 59-year-old Mugesera is said to be in critical condition in a Quebec City hospital.He apparently fell ill Wednesday, shortly after a Federal Court judge ruled against, what was thought to be, Mugesera's last attempt to stay in Canada. He was scheduled to be deported Thursday to Rwanda where he is expected to face criminal charges related to the 1994 killing of between 800,000 and one million Rwandans.

High oil prices help prompt trade surplus in November

Statistics Canada says rebounding merchandise exports and the high price of oil turned a trade deficit into a surplus in November. The agency says exports increased 3.2 per cent, while imports declined 0.8 per cent, turning an October trade deficit of $487 million into a November surplus of $1.1 billion. Exports rose to $40.1 billion, with gains in most sectors. Imports slipped to $39 billion, mainly because of lower imports of automotive products, as well as industrial goods and materials. The trade surplus with the United States rose to $4.6 billion in November from $3.5 billion in October. The trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed from to $3.5 billion in November from $4 billion in October.

Bank of Montreal announces lowest mortgage rate in Canadian history

One of Canada's banks has dropped its mortgage rate to the lowest rate in Canadian history. The Bank of Montreal announced Thursday it would offer a special discount five-year fixed rate at 2.99 per cent for a limited time. Not all bank customers qualify for the two-week long promotion, which also contains a provision for a 25-year amortization period. The other big banks, which are also struggling with lower consumer borrowing levels, could also follow suit as the banks usually move in lockstep on rates. Fixed mortgage rates are closely tied to bond interest rates, which have fallen over worries of government debt.

Canada's Liberal Party begins three-day convention

Canada's federal Liberal Party began a three-day convention Friday in Ottawa. The Liberals are trying to rebuild after suffering their worst electoral defeat in history last May. They finished in third place behind the New Democratic Party and the Conservatives who were re-elected. I terim leader Bob Rae opened the convention by telling the delegates that the party is not dead. He also said that the once-powerful party was knocked down but not out in last May's federal election. Mr. Rae said core Liberal values, such as the belief in equality of opportunity, equal rights, pluralism and tolerance, continue to resonate deeply with Canadians. He said the challenge is to re-engage people who share those values and to win back their trust. The Liberals, who were once called the country's natural governing party, were reduced to a third-party status in the May 2nd federal election with less than 20 per cent of the popular vote and only 34 seats.

Canada remains wary of Sri Lanka's war crimes report

Canada remains skeptical about Sri Lanka's commitment to an independent investigation of possible war crimes during its civil war. A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper says a recent report from Sri Lanka's reconciliation commission does not adequately address the widespread allegations of war crimes committed by the country's army. Mr. Harper has threatened to boycott the Commonwealth meeting in Colombo next year unless Sri Lanka shows it is genuinely interested in accountability and takes meaningful steps toward reconciliation with its Tamil population. Human rights organizations estimate that tens of thousands of innocent civilians were killed when the Sri Lankan military crushed the rebel Tamil Tigers in May 2009 to end 26 years of civil strife.

Quebec group to take Ottawa to court over Kyoto withdrawal

A group led by a former Bloc Quebecois MP is taking the Canadian government to court in the hope of overturning Ottawa's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. Daniel Turp presented a motion in Federal Court Friday to contest the Conservative government's decision to ditch the world's only binding climate treaty. Mr. Turp's group, which includes university students and environmentalists, is asking the court to determine whether the Kyoto withdrawal violates Canada's international commitments. Mr. Turp, a professor of international law, argues Canada signed the protocol as a country and that it cannot back out based on just a simple decision by the Harper government. Mr. Turp also says the Tories' decision to withdraw from Kyoto violates democratic principles. Environment Minister Peter Kent announced last month that Canada was pulling out of Kyoto, making it the first country to abandon the climate treaty.

Canada to change law on sharing and reporting election results

Canada will reverse a ban onsharing and reportingelection results before all polls have closed. Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal said Friday saying such blackouts are not enforceable in the Internet age. He told reporters the use of email, Facebook and Twitter means Canadians should be able to freely communicate with friends and family about election results, without restricting their freedom of expression. He added that the ban is also "largely unenforceable. " he said. Twitter users in Canada and the United States defied the ban during the country's federal election last year, risking penalties of up to five years in prison and fines as high as $25,000. But no charges were laid. The ban was enacted in 1938 to prevent voters in western Canada from knowing results in the east of the country before they cast their ballot and to prevent the undue influence of one upon the other. The Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2007, but Canada's chief electoral officer said after last year's election that it was difficult to enforce.

Moore pledges bilingual CRTC chairman

The Canadian government promises that the next head of Canada's broadcast regulator will be bilingual. The commitment from Heritage Minister James Moore comes amid a period of increased language tension. Mr. Moore made the promise immediately after news emerged that bilingualism was being downplayed for the job with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. The job posting to replace Chairman Konrad Von Finckenstein says bilingualism is preferable, but it does not say anything about it being an essential condition. Mr. Von Finckenstein's mandate ends Jan. 24. The official opposition New Democratic Party drew attention to the job ad on Thursday, insisting that the next CRTC chairman must be bilingual.

Royal Canadian Mint to produce cheaper coins

The Canadian agency that manufactures money is looking for a less expensive way to produce its products. The Royal Canadian Mint says its one dollar and two dollar coins will be made of steel instead of nickel, which is more expensive. Although the move will save the Mint about $16 million a year, coin-operated industries will have re-calibrate their machines so they willl recognize the new coins.That will cost those industries about $40 million. The new coins should enter circulation this spring.

Canadian expert has species of bee named after him

Canadian university researcher Peter Kevan will have a new species of bee named after him. The newly discovered bee, found in the Brazilian state of Bahia, will be named Chilicola kevani in his honour. Mr. Kevan's work in pollinator conservation has earned him many awards including election to the Royal Society of Canada, which recognizes excellence in learning. But the University of Guelph researcher says the process of naming a new species is not easy. He says once the species is discovered, the claim must be carefully investigated to ensure it's legitimate.

Syrian activists call for nationwide rallies for the Free Syrian Army

Syrian activists have called for nationwide rallies in support of the Free Syrian Army, a group of army defectors who changed sides to try to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Analysts say it's impossible to verify how many defectors are fighting the regime but the group's leader, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, claims there are thousands of former soldiers in his ranks. Army deserters have carried out a series of attacks on military and security targets. Some 5,000 people, most believed to be unarmed protesters, have been killed in the 10-month-old revolt against President Assad.

Israeli and Palestinian representatives meet again searching for peace

Israeli and Palestinian representatives will hold their third round of face-to-face talks this year on Saturday. Diplomats are hoping the meetings might lead to the resumption of full peace talks.The exploratory discussions began on Jan. 3. They resumed after a long break in negotiations when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks 15 months ago over Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Mr. Abbas is pessimistic about prospects of any breakthrough in the talks. He told members of his Fatah party that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not put forward any new proposals.

Protesters take to streets in Saudi Arabia

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in a tense region in eastern Saudi Arabia on Friday following the killing of a Shiite youth in clashes with security forces. The killing and protests reflect simmering tensions in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Qatif region, where most residents belong to the kingdom's Shiites, who make up 10 per cent of the kingdom's 23 million people. The Shiites complain of discrimination by the Sunni rulers. The protest came as British Prime Minster David Cameron met with the Saudi King Abdullah to discuss regional issues and co-operation between the two countries. As uprisings against autocratic rulers began to sweep the Arab world last year, small protests were held in eastern Saudi Arabia but were largely quelled, though tensions remain.

France to award Legion of Honor to Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi

President Nicolas Sarkozy has informed Burma's opposition leader, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, that she will receive one of France's highest honours, the Legion of Honor. Mr. Sarkozy told the Nobel Peace laureate that his foreign minister, Alain Juppe, would visit her in Burma next week to present the award. Ms. Suu Kyi is the leader of Burma's National League for Democracy Party. It won the 1990 election, but the military refused to give up power. Since that time, Ms. Suu Kyi has spent many years under house arrest in the capital, Rangoon.

Prominent Chinese dissident in the United States

One of China's most prominent Christian dissidents, Yu Jie, is in the United States. Mr. Yu told the Reuters news agency by telephone that he's at a location near the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C.He says he will testify before the U.S. Congress next week about China's crackdown on dissent last year. He says he will give a graphic account of a year under house arrest and episodes of torture. Mr. Yu also says Chinese authorities started their crackdown after his fellow dissident, Liu Xiaobo, won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Yu did not say whether he formally sought asylum in the United States for himself and his wife and young son, who both left China with him. He has visited the United States many times. The 38 Yu has been among the most outspoken critics of the Communist Party's controls on religion and expression. In 2006, he and two other dissidents met President George W. Bush in the White House.

Taiwan hold its Presidential election on Saturday

Taiwan's presidential election will be held Saturday. Analysts say the choice is between incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, who has overseen four years of improved ties with China, and his main challenger, Tsai Ing-wen, a sceptic on closer mainland relations. Recent surveys show Mr. Ma leading Mr. Tsai by as little as three percentage points. It is only the fifth time that Taiwan will hold direct democratic presidential elections since its first in 1996. Taiwan has governed itself since 1949. But China claims it as part of its territory, and has never ruled out the use of force to bring about reunification. The constant threat from China means mainland policies are always an issue in Taiwan's elections.

Friday's markets

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index dropped 43.27 points to 12,231.06. In New York, the Dow lost 48.96 points to 12,422.06. The Nasdaq fell 14.03 points to 2,710.67 and the S&P 500 index was down 6.41 points to 1,289.09 The Canadian dollar closed at 97.78 cents US on Friday, down 0.42 of a cent. The U.S. dollar stood at 102.27 cents Cdn, up 0.44 of a cent. Pound sterling closed at C$1.5670, up 0.45 of a cent, and US$1.5322, down 0.22 of a cent. The Euro was worth C$1.2971, down 0.92 of a cent.



The Montreal Canadiens traded forward Michael Cammalleri on Thursday, one day after he publicly questioned the team's attitude following a loss to St. Louis. He returns to Calgary for forwards Rene Bourque and Patrick Holland. Cammalleri was pulled during the third-period of Montreal's 2-1 loss at Boston. GM Pierre Gauthier says the trade had nothing to do with the recent controversy, saying the teams had been working on a trade for more than a month. Montreal is in 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings with 39 points in 43 games. In other action involving Canadian-based teams, Ottawa shut out the New York Rangers 3-0, St. Jose shut out Winnipeg 2-0, Calgary defeated Anaheim 1-0 in overtime and Vancouver defeated St. Louis 3-2 in overtime.


Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke remains in critical condition in a UItah hospital following a successful operation to repair a tear to an artery that caused bleeding in her brain. The Squamish, B.C. resident is a four-time Winter X Games champion in halfpipe skiing, and one of the leading pioneers of her sport. Burke was injured Tuesday while practising on the halfpipe in Park City, Utah.


Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Sean Lucas, who is widely regarded as the13th Man on the field that cost the team the 2009 Grey Cup, is retiring. Lucas played six seasons with Saskatchewan. While the team never said who the extra man was, replays showed Lucas start off the field, then turn and stay on for Montreal kicker Damon Duval's missed field goal attempt in the most heart-breaking finish in Grey Cup history. The too many men on the field penalty gave Duval a second shot at the game winning field goal as time expired. His second kick was good and the Als won the game.


Canada's Peter Polansky remains in the hunt for a spot in the men's main draw of the Australian Open. The Toronto native defeated his French opponent 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of qualifying on Friday. Two other Canadians weren't as fortunate. Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil and Pierre-Ludovic Duclos of Ste.Foy, QC are both out after second-round defeats. Number 23-seed Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ontario, is the only Canadian with a guaranteed spot in the men's main draw. Play in the main draw begins Monday.


Canada won asilver medal ata women's World Cup bobsled event in Germany on Friday. Calgary's Kaillie Humphries and Emily Baadsvik of St. Stephen,NB finished with a two-run combined time of 1.44.01.Fellow CanadianMelissa Hollingsworth took bronze in skelton.

Saturday's forecasts

Vancouver has rain or snow ending early in the afternoon, then cloud with a 60 percent chance of rain showers or flurries. The forecast high temperature: five degrees Celsius. Calgary is sunny with increasing cloudiness late in the afternoon, then periods of light snow. The high: zero. Regina is mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries in the morning and snow beginning early in the evening, a high of minus-four. Winnipeg has morning cloud followed by a mix of sun and cloud in the afternoon, a high of minus-seven. Toronto is sunny, a high of minus-10. Ottawa is sunny, a high of minus-16. Montreal has a mix of sun and cloud, a high of minus-15. Fredericton has a mix of sun a cloud, a high of minus-two. Charlottetown is mainly cloudy, a high of minus-one. Halifax is cloudy with 30 a chance of rain showers in the morning and early in the afternoon, a chance of flurries in the afternoon and early in the evening with a high of three. St. John's has morning drizzle followed by afternoon cloud, a high of eight. Whitehorse has clearing skies, a high of minus-25. Yellowknife is cloudy with a chance of afternoon flurries, a high of minus-26. Iqaluit is mainly sunny, a high of minus-22.