Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 19 March 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Maintenance closure could leave Air Canada passengers stranded
Air Canada said Monday it could be forced to cancel flights and strand thousands of passengers if the maintenance company that obtained creditor protection Monday is unable to complete repairs to several planes. Despite saying earlier in the day it won't be affected by the closure, the airline's lawyers argued in vain Monday for a Quebec Superior Court judge to order Aveos Fleet Performance to not lay off more workers and meet its obligations to complete the repairs. Three widebody planes and several narrowbody aircraft are sitting in Aveos facilities across the country, some missing landing gear. The airline warns that nearly 3,000 passengers daily could be affected if the planes aren't promptly returned to service.
Despite what it argued in court, Air Canada said in a news release that its fleet's maintenance and repair activities wouldn't be affected by the plant closures. Montreal-based Aveos said it has permanently shut its airframe repair business. The move will affect about 1,800 of the company's 2,600 employees. Aveos said it will be able to restart operations if it can secure liquidity and develop a restructuring plan. The court denied an Air Canada request that would have forced Aveos to maintain operations and employment to complete the contracted repairs.

Vote held to replace late NDP leader
A federal byelection was held Monday in the Canadian city of Toronto. The election was held in Toronto-Danforth riding as a result of the death of New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton last August. He had held the riding through four elections. His widow, Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, says voters are looking for someone to carry on Mr. Layton's legacy in the riding and the House of Commons. The New Democratic Party candidate is law professor Craig Scott, while the Liberal Party presented advertising executive Grant Gordon and the Conservatives communications consultant Andrew Keyes. The vote will not affect the balance of power in the House of Commons, where the Conservative Party has a majority.

NDP to apply ounce of prevention
Canada's official opposition New Democratic Party is preparing a "significant" ad campaign to promote its new leader before the Conservatives get a chance to taint Canadians' first impressions with attack ads of their own. The new leader, to be chosen Saturday, will have to agree to the plan but the idea is to beat the Tories to the punch. The Conservatives have successfully launched attack ads that helped demolish the reputations of the past two Liberal leaders,
Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. And they're launching another this week against interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, accusing him of turning Ontario "into the welfare capital of Canada" during his single term as premier in the early 1990s. NDP officials have no doubt the Tories plan to smear their party's new leader too and have already had a taste of things to come in the House of Commons, where Conservative MPs have adopted the slogan that the NDP is "not fit to govern."

Police irate after Ontario Paddy's Day riot
The police chief of the Canadian city of London, ON, is angry over the riot that occurred in the city's east end on Saturday duirng Saint Patrick day celebrations. Hundreds of revellers took part in the mayhem that caused $100,000 dollars damage to the city, wrecking 17 police vehicles and a television news truck. Chief Brad Duncan says the city will not tolerate such dangerous and disrespectful behaviour, and that those responsible will be held accountable. Police are examining over video footage of the crowd to try to identify the culprits. Eleven arrests have been made so far.

Alberta to review disastrous blaze
The government of the Canadian province of Alberta is launching a formal review of how well it responded to the fire last May that devastated the town of Slave Lake. The firm KPMG is conducting the review. It will include interviews with emergency responders who handled the evacuation and some of the 7,000 residents who fled their homes. The firm is to submit an interim report by the May 15 anniversary of the wildfires that destroyed 400 homes and caused more than $700 million damage. The review is separate from another government study underway into the conditions that lead to the Slave Lake wildfire and how it was fought.

B.C. teachers faction weighs illegal strike
One faction of British Columbia's public school teachers is urging its union to stage an illegal strike in protest of recently passed education legislation that it argues prevents fair collective bargaining. Tara Ehrcke,president of the Greater Victoria Teachers' Association, says several other union locals have voiced agreement as the B.C. Teachers' Federation debates next steps at its annual convention in Vancouver.
The union is barred from striking under the new legislation, and could be fined more than $1 million per day, but Mrs. Ehrcke says teachers would only agree to return to work if the fines were waived. She says other options to applly pressure include pulling voluntary extracurricular supervision, performing duties from bell-to-bell and even challenging the legislation in court. About 700 union members will vote on the proposals when the convention closes Tuesday, after which a broader vote would be held
by the province's 41,000 teachers. B.C. Education Minister George Abbott says he hopes the union elects to take advantage of the new legislation, which will appoint a mediator who will work with both sides during this so-called "cooling-off" period.


France presents new Syria resolution at UN
France submitted to the Security Council on Monday a Western-drafted statement supporting UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace efforts in Syria and sending a strong message to Damascus to end violence against protesters. The decision to prepare a "presidential statement" for the 15-nation council comes after Russia and China twice vetoed resolutions that would have condemned Syria's yearlong assault on demonstrators opposed to President Bashar al-Assad that the United Nations says has killed well over 8,000 civilians. The draft statement would have the council voice its "gravest concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria" and declare that it the UN plan that calls for a ceasefire, political dialogue and full access for humanitarian agencies. French Ambassador Gérard Araud said that council members would most likely want to consult their capitals on the draft statement before approval. It was not clear whether Russia and China would oppose some elements of the statement.

Fiery Iraqi cleric stages show of strength in Basra
Up to a million followers of Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets on Monday in a massive show of force before an Arab League summit which Iraq's long-oppressed Shi'ite majority view as their debut on the regional stage. The protest in the southern city of Basra marked the anniversary of the start of the U.S. invasion in 2003. Slogans were mainly directed at the government of Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki for failing to improve the lives of Iraq's poor. But the main context appears to be the March 27-29 Arab League summit, the first in Iraq in more than 20 years and the first ever hosted by a mainstream Shi'ite Arab ruler. Basra police estimated the size of the crowd at between 700,000 and 1 million.

Portugal's finances less bleak
Portuguese Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar said Monday that the country is cutting its debt levels faster than earlier projected under its bailout plan. Mr. Gaspar says that the details of the country's third review under the $103-billion EU-International Monetary Fund rescue last year will show improvement in several key metrics, including the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product. Under the previous review the country's debt ratio, a measure of whether its debt burden is sustainable, was expected to peak at 188 percent in 2013 and then fall about two percentage points a year through 2016, the end of the bailout program. But the minister says new forecast "is actually more favorable" than that from December. He declined to give any data, which is usually released by the IMF, which monitors performance under its loan program.

Gunman kills four at French Jewish school
A gunman on a motorbike shot dead at least four people, including three children, at a Jewish school in Toulouse on Monday, just days after three soldiers were killed in similar shootings in the same area of southwest France. The gunman killed a 30-year old Hebrew teacher, his two children aged three and six, and another child, A 17-year-old was wounded. The soldiers, one of Caribbean and two of Muslim origin, also been killed in drive-by shootings and prosecutors opened an anti-terrorism investigation into all three attacks although it was not clear whether the motive was political or purely racist. President Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, the Socialist opposing him in his re-election in May, both rushed to the scene.

GI accused of massacre meets lawyers

A U.S. soldier implicated in the massacre of 16 villagers in Afghanistan was expected to have his first meeting with his defense team on Monday. U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales has been in solitary confinement at a military detention center at Fort Leavenworth, KS, since arriving there on Friday. Sgt. Bales, 38, a four-tour combat veteran, is suspected of walking off his base in southern Afghanistan on March 11 and gunning down the 16 civilians, including nine children and three women. He has not yet been charged. The soldier had been injured in his previous deployments to Iraq, including losing part of a foot and suffering a concussion from a vehicle accident.

UPS in mega-deal
United Parcel Service will pay $6.85 billion for Dutch competitor TNT Express in a deal that will boost the position of the world's largest package delivery company outside the United States. UPS will become the market leader in Europe and also get access to TNT's stronger networks in the fast-growing Asian and Latin American markets, increasing the U.S. company's global sales to over $60 billion and leaving it with 477,000 employees. The deal will boost UPS' revenue outside the United States to 36 percent of total projected annual revenue of $60 billion, up from 26 percent.


Obama to visit Canadian pipeline hub
As his Republican foes assail him for high gas prices, U.S. President Barack Obama heads west this week in a visit that will take him to the Oklahoma town that's the southern starting point of TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Mr. Obama is travelling to tiny Cushing to promote and defend his energy policies as prices at the pump continue to soar, while his public approval ratings drop in response. Cushing is the starting point for the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline. Millions of barrels of unrefined crude are sitting in storage facilities in the state, but there's a lack of pipeline capacity to carry it to Gulf Coast refineries and a limited number of rail cars that can transport the oil south. Mr. Obama's recent praise of TransCanada's decision to proceed with the construction of the southern segment of the pipeline signalled a shift in attitude from the White House after it rejected the pipeline outright in January. The opposition Republicans have accused the president of trying to defuse any political damage from his pipeline decision by travelling to Oklahoma.

Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday: 12,480 - 17. Canadian dollar: US$1.01. Euro: $1.30. Oil: $108.02 + .96.


Friends, family and teammates have gathered at a Toronto church to pay tribute to Canadian freestyle skier Nik Zoricic. Zoricic died earlier this month after crashing in a World Cup skicross event in Switzerland. Members of the entire Canadian skicross team are among those attending today's funeral.


British Columbia on Tuesday: rain, high C8 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: snow. Nunavut: sun. Whitehorse -4, Yellowknife -15, Iqaluit -24. Alberta, Saskatchewan: mix sun cloud. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 4, Regina 7, Winnipeg 10. Ontario: rain north, mix sun cloud. Quebec: sun. Toronto 23, Ottawa 24, Montreal 21. Maritimes: sun. Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton 20, Halifax 15, Charlottetown 14, St. John's 2.

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