Wednesday, February 8, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 7 February 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

PM arrives in China
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in China Tuesday for a four-day visit. His trip comes as Canada looks to expand into new energy markets as China's demand for oil grows. That demand is also reflected in the billions of dollars that China has invested in Canada's oilfields since 2009. Mr. Harper will also highlight tourism, lumber and commercial links between the two countries in a bid to expand business in those sectors. He is scheduled to hold talks in Beijing with President Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and other top officials. Mr. Harper is expected to raise China's decision to veto a United Nations resolution that would have supported a plan to see Syrian President Bashar Assad give up power. And the prime minister is expected to raise the issue of human rights with his Chinese hosts.




Spy agency may use evidence extracted through torture
The federal government has directed Canada's spy agency to use information that may have been extracted through torture in cases where public safety is at stake. The order represents a reversal of policy for the Conservative government, which once insisted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service would discard information if there was any inkling it might be tainted. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has quietly told CSIS the government now expects the spy service to "make the protection of life and property its overriding priority." A copy of the two-page December 2010 directive was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. It drew swift condemnation from Amnesty International Canada, which said information obtained under torture "has no place in the justice system..." The directive from Mr. Toews expands upon a May 2009 ministerial order that states CSIS must not knowingly rely upon information derived from torture, and have measures in place to identify such tainted information. But the latest directive says in "exceptional circumstances" where there is a threat to human life or public safety, urgency may require CSIS to "share the most complete information available at the time with relevant authorities, including information based on intelligence provided by foreign agencies that may have been derived from the use of torture or mistreatment."



Bahrain frees Canadian
A court in Bahrain has released on bail a Canadian of Kuwaiti origin who was jailed for his role in Shiite-led protests last year in the Gulf kingdom. The court of appeals released Naser al-Raas for health reasons, as he suffers from cardiac problems. He was serving a five-year sentence. Last week, Canada's Deputy Foreign Minister Diane Ablonczy said her government was pushing for the case to be resolved because of Mr. Al-Raas' grave health concerns. Mr. Raas, a 29-year-old Kuwaiti-born engineer from Ottawa, travelled to Bahrain in early March 2011 to visit members of his family.


Tories moving fast to end gun registry debate in Commons
Canada's Conservative government is curtailing the House of Commons debate on ending the long-gun registry. The
government has used its majority to push through a time allocation motion to limit further debate to one day at report stage and two days at third reading. The motion passed 150-132. The bill eliminates the requirement for gun owners to register their rifles and shotguns and other weapons that are not restricted or prohibited, and provides for the destruction of records currently held in the Canadian Firearms Registry. The legislation was introduced last June and was given second reading in November after another time-allocation motion.



Migrant workers die in gruesome crash
A horrendous crash that killed 10 migrant farm workers and a truck driver in rural Ontario is raising concerns about labour rights and safety in the agriculture sector. Stan Raper of the Agriculture Workers Alliance says migrant workers toiling on Ontario's farms face long shifts under often difficult conditions. He said fatigue leaves workers vulnerable to accidents such as Monday's crash in Hampstead, northeast of Stratford. The deadly collision has also revived safety questions surrounding the transportation of migrant workers, with some pushing for a ban on 15-passenger vans, the kind that ferried Monday's crew. A van carrying workers from Peru and Jamaica collided with a flatbed truck after reportedly going through a stop sign. The impact of the crash sent the van hurtling across a lawn before smashing into the side of a house with the passenger side ripped nearly clean off. It was the deadliest multi-vehicle crash in Ontario since 1999,



SK labour unions hail court ruling
Union leaders in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan are welcoming a court ruling that says the province's essential services legislation is unconstitutional. Justice Dennis Ball said the law infringes on the freedom of association of employees protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The law says employers and unions have to agree on which workers are so needed they cannot walk off the job. But it also states that if the two sides can't agree, employers can dictate who is essential. Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich says the group feels vindicated because it has long argued the legislation is unfair. The province has been given a year to fix the legislation.






International

Russian claims Syrian leader set to reform
Russia says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad presented reform plans on Tuesday to help end the bloodshed in Syria, but Western and Arab states acted to isolate Assad further as his forces resumed bombarding the protest hotbed of Homs. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with Mr. Assad in Damascus on a solution to the crisis palatable to Moscow, a longtime ally of Mr. Assad, after it vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that backed an Arab League call for his ouster. But the Russian mediation failed to slow a rush by countries that denounced the Russian-Chinese veto three days ago to corner Syria diplomatically and cripple Mr. Assad with sanctions in hopes
of removing him. Opposition activists said government forces renewed shelling of the central city of Homs on Tuesday just before Mr. Lavrov's arrival, killing some 19 people in an onslaught that they say
has claimed over 300 lives in the last five days.


Dead Russian lawyer could get posthumous trial
Russia may posthumously try for tax evasion Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in prison in 2009 after exposing police corruption, investigators said Tuesday. His former employer, investment firm Hermitage Capital, decried the continued "repression" of the lawyer and accused authorities of "running roughshod over all legal precedent, practice and morality". Mr. Magnitsky claimed in 2008 to have unraveled a corruption scheme in which interior ministry officials had siphoned off $230 million from government funds after stealing three firms owned by Hermitage. After he brought his discovery to light, Mr. Magnitsky was himself arrested. The lawyer died several months later in prison, where he had been denied medical treatment. He was 37 years old. Russia's Investigative Committee said in a statement on Tuesday that it had finished its preliminary investigation of the tax evasion case that led to the arrest of Magnitsky in 2008. Investigators said a posthumous trial would be necessary because Magnitsky's legal representatives had not authorized the closure of the case.



Sudanese rebels free Chinese hostages
A group of 29 Chinese workers taken by rebels in southern Sudan 11 days ago has been freed in good health and flown to Kenya, officials said on Tuesday, after Beijing protested their capture. Insurgents from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North confirmed the release of the Chinese, who initially spent two or three days walking away from the "front line" in a war zone through sometimes difficult terrain in the Nuba Mountains after their capture. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it arranged the transport of the 29 Chinese to Kenya on an ICRC aircraft. China last week lodged a formal protest with Khartoum over the workers' capture and dispatched a six-member team to help gain their freedom.


Senegalese demand president finally depart
Thousands of people have marched in Senegal's capital to call for the departure of aging President Abdoulaye Wade. The marchers included international pop star Youssou Ndour, who had turned in an application to run against Wade in this month's presidential election. Mr. Ndour was disqualified by the court due to a lack of valid signatures. Unlike previous demonstrations calling for Mr. Wade's resignation, Tuesday's march did not take a violent turn. Four people have been killed in the anti-government demonstrations that began over a week ago, when the constitutional council validated Mr. Wade's bid to run for re-election. The 85-year-old president has faced criticism for his decision to run in the Feb. 26 ballot, meaning he could rule into his 90s.



Hungarian leader defends controversial constitution
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Tuesday that he was "proud" of the country's contentious new constitution, saying it would help shield the country from the eurozone debt crisis. "I am proud of the new constitution, because it is modern," Orban said in his annual state-of-the-nation address in Budapest. Critics of the new constitution, who include the European Commission, say it undermines democracy by removing vital checks and balances on the government's power. Mr. Orban has signalled he is ready to alter some of the legislation as he seeks a badly-needed credit line worth up to $25 billionfrom the EU and the International Monetary Fund.



Britain marks historic literary birthday
Britain marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens on Tuesday with the laying of a wreath at his grave in Westminster Abbey in London and a street party in his native Portsmouth. Prince Charles attended the ceremony in Poets' Corner at the abbey, where Dickens was buried in 1870. The congregation included what is believed to be the largest ever gathering of descendants of the Victorian novelist as well as representatives from the worlds of literature, film and theatre. An event was held simultaneously in Portsmouth, the port on England's south coast where Dickens was born on Feb. 7, 1812. In a message read in Portsmouth, Prince Charles said: "Despite the many years that have passed, Charles Dickens remains one of the greatest writers of the English language, who used his creative genius to campaign passionately for social justice."





Financial

Opposition demands govt. respect promise on investment rules
The opposition New Democratic Party says a much delayed update of the Investment Canada Act promised by the federal government remains undelivered and makes the country a more difficult place to invest for a foreign company, NDP Industry critic Guy Caron says the opposition is moving to make an update to the act a greater priority. Mr. Caron says foreign companies looking to invest in Canada need to have a clear idea of the rules that would apply before they spend millions or even billions of dollars. While the government promised an update to the law, Industry Minister Christian Paradis has said little about foreign takeovers in Canada. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty renewed calls for a review of the legislation this week after a sudden shutdown of a locomotive plant in southwestern Ontario less than two years after it was bought by U.S. industrial giant Caterpillar Inc. The sale of Illinois-based Electro-Motive Diesel by Greenbriar Equity Group and Berkshire Partners to Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail Services was not covered by the Investment Canada Act.


RIM loses big corporate customer
In another blow to troubled Canadian smartphone maker Research in Motion, energy drilling giant Halliburton Co. says it will replace its company-issued BlackBerrys with competitor Apple's iPhone. Halliburton says its making the move after deciding that Apple's technology works better with the programs it uses in the field. A spokeswoman for the Houston, TX-based firm says the plan will roll out over the next two years as it phases out 4,500 BlackBerrys from its operations. BlackBerry developer Research In Motion has been struggling to keep a solid presence in the consumer market against Apple's products and other phones that use the Google Android operating system.


Walmart boats of huge job creation
Walmart Canada says it plans to spend more than $750 million this year to open, relocate or remodel 73 retail stores, including former Zellers locations. The world's biggest retailer said Tuesday the initiative will create more than 14,000 jobs when factoring in store employees, as well as trade and construction jobs. Walmart already employs about 85,000 Canadians. Included on the list of stores are 39 Zellers locations that Walmart purchased last year. Walmart said more than half of the 73 projects will become supercentres, which offer an array of groceries as well as general merchandise. The expansion comes as competition in the Canadian retail market heats up with the entry of fellow discount retailer Target next year. The company plans to open 125 to 135 stores.



Markets


Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday: 12,512 - 47. Canadian dollar: US1.01. Euro: $1.32. Oil: $98.69 + 41.78.




Sports

Sports
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame has announced its new members. Rusty Staub, Doug Melvin and Rheal Cormier will be inducted this June. The 2011 Canadian senior national team will also be inducted. The Canadian squad won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Cup and earned its first gold medal at the Pan Am Games last fall.





Weather

Weather
British Columbia on Wednesday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C8 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: mix sun cloud snow. Whitehorse -7, Yellowknife -17, Iqaluit -19. Prairies: sun. Edmonton -3, Regina -1, Winnipeg -2. Ontario, Quebec: sun. Toronto 1, Ottawa -3, Montreal -4. Maritimes: sun. Newfoundland and Labrador: mix sun cloud. Frederictonm, Halifax -3, Charlottetown -4, St. John's -5.




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