Wednesday, March 14, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 13 March 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

Fighter deal sudddenly in doubt
Julian Fantino, Canada's associate defence minister, says government has not discounted backing out of the plan to buy the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter. He made the comment Tuesday before a House of Commons committee. He says the government remains committed to buying the radar-evading jet, but noted once again that no contract has been signed. Mr. Fantino told the all-party defence committee that the government is considering "if and when" to sign a contract. His comments represent a significant step back from the strident defence the Harper government has offered for the costly, long-delayed program.



Govt. pushing Air Canada labour bill through Commons
A spokeswoman for Canadian Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says a government bill to block a strike or lockout at Air Canada should pass the House of Commons by the early hours of Wednesday. With the threat of a simultaneous strike and lockout at the country's largest airline, Mrs. Raitt is pushing the back-to-work legislation through quickly to be sure to avoid a hit to the still-fragile economy and inconvenience to travelers. The Air Canada bill is an extra insurance measure, since the Conservative government had already temporarily staved off a work stoppage by formally asking the Canada Industrial Relations Board to determine if the airline is an essential service. The legislation will ensure that regardless of what the CIRB decides, there will not be a gap in service due to two current contract disputes at the airline.



Quebec to try to migitate implementation of federal crime bill
The debate isn't over yet in Quebec for the Conservative government's criminal justice legislation. The provincial government announced Tuesday that it would do everything in its power to limit the clout of the legislation that passed a day earlier. Because the provinces are responsible for applying the laws passed in Ottawa, Quebec says it will work to soften Bill C-10 where possible. Provincial Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier says he will issue a directive to various players in the justice system to avoid applying the strictest provisions of the crime bill, particularly when it comes to youth offenders.
Some provinces, including Quebec, also say Ottawa should be responsible for paying for the new jail spaces that will be required as a result of the legislation. Quebec estimates the costs at $750 million for new prisons, and at up to $80 million a year for application of the new rules. The new federal legislation increases sentences for drug and sex offences, reduces the use of conditional sentences like house arrest, provides harsher penalties on young offenders, makes it harder to get a pardon, gives crime victims more say in parole hearings and allows victims of terrorism to sue.



Former tobacco spokesman says firms treated unfairly
A former tobacco company spokesman says his company was already under fire in the 1970s over its position on tobacco and public health. Michel Descôteaux, who headed Imperial Tobacco's public-relations department for more than two decades, says there was no point trying to argue against a public and media that wanted to hear one thing: that smoking was bad for you. Mr. Descôteaux is testifying at the start of an historic civil suit, the biggest in Canadian history. It pits Quebec smokers against Canada's three biggest cigarette companies. The smokers accuse the tobacco companies of misleading them over the years about the potential danger from cigarettes.
Mr. Descôteaux says the evidence the company had in the 1970s, gathered by company scientists and researchers, was that there was no link between smoking and public health. But he testified that the general public and news media dismissed such reports back then and demanded that the company come clean. The landmark case, with up to $27 billion at stake, is also considered the biggest class-action suit in Canadian history.



Opposition Liberals forthcoming with robocalls
The Liberal party has given Elections Canada samples of its robocall messages and scripts for live calls to voters during last spring's election campaign. Interim leader Bob Rae says the party has recordings of all its campaign robocalls and will make them available if needed for the investigation into alleged vote-suppression tactics. And he's calling on the Conservatives to be equally transparent. Elections Canada is investigating thousands of complaints about fraudulent robocalls in which someone purporting to be calling on behalf of the agency misdirected voters to non-existent polling locations. Opposition parties accuse the Conservatives of masterminding a widespread, vote-suppression scheme since discovering that fraudulent robocalls in the hotly contested riding of Guelph had been traced to a company used by Tory candidates.



B.C. teachers blame govt. for contract deadlock
The B.C. Teachers Federation says its latest effort to break the deadlock in the teachers contract dispute has failed
and the union blames the government for refusing to budge. Union President Susan Lambert says the federation had been working behind the scenes at the Labour Relations Board to have an independent mediator appointed to resolve the dispute, and had offered to compromise on every issue, including salary. She says she even phoned Education Minister George Abbott last Friday to make him aware of the teachers' offer, but the government has stood firm. The legislation would ban further strikes and appoint a mediator in the dispute, but the mediator would have to work within the government's policy of no wage increases.




International

Syrian govt. claims recaptured city
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports at least 48 persons were reported killed in violence across Syria on Tuesday, including 25 members of the security forces. The soldiers died in the southern region of Daraa in the second deadly ambush the same day on the military, which has led a year-long crackdown on dissent that activists say has cost more than 8,500 lives. As the regime battles to mop up resistance, Syria's Al-Watan newspaper said government forces had recaptured the rebel stronghold of Idlib city in the northwest, following what activists said were three days of heavy shelling. Activists acknowledged the army had deployed in the city but said they faced pockets of resistance by rebel fighters. The Observatory said the army had shelled several districts of Idlib, leaving an unknown number of casualties and with clashes taking place in pockets of resistance.



CIA chief meets head Turk
CIA chief David Petraeus met Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday for closed-door talks focusing on the crisis across the border in Syria. Mr. Petraeus, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, also discussed the latest developments in neighbouring Iran and efforts to counter Kurdish rebels attacking Turkey from safe havens in northern Iraq. The U.S. embassy said Mr. Petraeus met with Mr. Erdogan and Turkish National Intelligence Organisation chief Hakan Fidan and "discussed areas of mutual concern, including regional security issues and counter-terrorism cooperation. Mr. Erdogan has been fiercely critical of the Syrian régime's year-long crackdown on the opposition and has called on President Bashar al-Assad to quit.


Israel, Gaza in truce
Israel and militants in Gaza began observing an Egyptian-brokered truce on Tuesday after four days of violence, which officials on both sides warned could flare up again. The ceasefire was holding after more than 72 hours of cross-border fighting in which 25 Gazans were killed, most of them militants, and 200 rockets were fired at Israel. Under the deal, both Israel and militants from Islamic Jihad agreed to hold their fire. The skies over Gaza remained calm. Home Front Defence Minister Matan Vilnai confirmed Israel had reached an unwritten "understanding" with militant groups in Gaza and was now watching to see it was being observed.



Negotiations between Sudans fail
Mediators said Tuesday the latest week-long round of talks between Sudan and South Sudan has ended without any deal on the contentious issues of disputed border areas and oil revenue sharing, Lead mediator Thabo Mbeki, a former South African president, says the two parties did agree that their respective presidents, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir, will meet at a summit to be held in South Sudan's capital Juba "quite soon." Talks on nationality were stalled after Juba accused Khartoum of failing to address the fate of 35,000 people the South said were being held as "slaves" in Sudan. South Sudan split from the North in July, taking with it 75 percent of the country's oil, but the export and processing facilities remain in Sudan.


U.S. sues China over export curbs
U.S. President Barack Obama says he is putting China and America's other economic competitors on notice that they will not get away with "skirting the rules" on international trade. Talking about a politically sensitive issue, Mr. Obama says the U.S. is bringing a new trade case against China because of its export restrictions on key materials used to manufacture high-tech goods. The U.S. is taking its case to the World Trade Organization along with the European Union and Japan. The president made his statement at the White House Tuesday. He said Chinese restrictions on exports of rare earth minerals prevents trade from happening as it should.


Guatemalan mass killer gets long sentence
A former member of an elite Guatemalan military force extradited from the United States last July was sentenced to 6,060 years in prison Monday for his role in the killings of 201 people in a 1982 massacre. Pedro Pimentel Rios was the fifth former special forces soldier sentenced to 6,060 years or more for what became known as the "Dos Erres" massacre after the northern Guatemala hamlet where the killings occurred during the country's 1960-1996 civil war. The sentence was handed down by a three-judge panel is largely symbolic since under Guatemalan law the maximum time a convict can serve is 50 years.




Financial

ABCP investors get restitution
An Ontario court has approved a plan to distribute $60 million of penalties collected by regulators to some investors who bought asset-backed commercial paper before the ABCP market collapsed. The money will come from five Canadian financial institutions that have settled with two of the country's financial market regulators. Scotia Capital has agreed to pay $28.95 million, CIBC will pay $21.8 million, HSBC Canada will pay $5.93 million, Canaccord Financial Ltd. $3.1 million and Credential Securities Inc. $200,000. The Ontario Securities Commission and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization asked for the Ontario Superior Court to decide whether the distribution to ABCP investors would be legal. Canada's ABCP crisis began in mid-2007 when about $32 billion of asset-backed commercial paper became frozen, affecting pensions, companies and individuals who couldn't redeem their notes. Fines were paid into the fund by some of the banks and investment managers who sold ABCP.



Markets
Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday: 12,538 + 11. Canadian dollar: US$1.01. Euro: $1.29. Oil: $106.87 + .53.




Sports

Sports
HOCKEY
In the National Hockey League, Sidney Crosby will make his return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup Thursday against the New York Rangers. The star forward says he's feeling good and "the plan is to play Thursday." Crosby has been sidelined for more than three months after concussion-like symptoms resurfaced in early December. Crosby had 12 points in eight games after making his season debut against the New York Islanders on Nov. 21. He went back on the injured reserve when the symptoms returned
following a loss to the Bruins on Dec. 5.
TENNIS
There was a big test for Milos Raonic.The hard-serving Canadian faces world number three Roger Federer in third-round action tonight at the BNP Paribas Open in California. The Swiss star comes in the tournament on a 10-match win streak that includes consecutive titles.





Weather

Weather
British Columbia on Wednesday: snow north, rain south, high C8 Vancouver. Yukon, Nunavut: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories: snow. Whitehorse -5, Yellowknife -18, Iqaluit -17. Alberta: sun north, mix sun cloud south. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 4, Regina 6, Winnipeg 10. Ontario: sun. Quebec: rain. Toronto 17, Ottawa 10, Montreal 6. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia: rain. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton -1, Halifax 3, Charlottetown 0, St. John's -4.





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