Friday, March 23, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 22 March 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

PM launches Asia tour in Thailand
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper has arrived in Thailand at the beginning of a three-country Asia tour that will include visits to Japan and South Korea. He is expected to discuss the expansion of trade relations with Japanese and Thai officials. In South Korea, Mr. Harper will be attending a nuclear security summit. Fifty-three world leaders are expected to focus not only on questions of weapons proliferation but on the need better to oversee the peaceful use of atomic energy. Mr. Harper's Asia trip comes a month after his visit to China, where the primary focus was on improving relations and opening up Canadian oil and gas sources to that country.

B.C. teachers weigh illegal walkout
The B.C. Teachers' Federation in Canada's Pacific coast province of British Columbia is threatening to stage a full-scale strike, despite stiff penalties. However, the illegal walkout would not go ahead for at least a month, and not until a majority of teachers vote twice in favour to hold it. The union has revealed its new plan to resist the provincial government's back-to-work legislation. It's giving the province until April 18 to reverse the order and decide on a fair mediation process, or risk the chance of 41,000 teachers staging more protests.

Ontario court to rule on prostitution law
The Court of Appeal in Canada's province of Ontario says it will deliver its decision on Monday in a case concerning the constitutionality of Canada's prostitution laws. The federal and Ontario governments appealed a provincial court ruling that struck down laws against keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of the trade. The lower court ruled that the laws contribute to the danger faced by prostitutes and violate the Charter of Rights by forcing prostitutes to choose between their liberty and their security.

Quebec students stage biggest protest against tuition hikes

Tens of thousands of students protested on Thursday against a 75-percent tuition hike at universities in Canada's mostly French-speaking province of Quebec, bringing downtown Montreal to a standstill. Since mid-February nearly 300,000 students have boycotted classes, blocked bridges and held smaller protests around the province against the government's plan to raise tuition by $1,625 over the next five years. Once the fee hike takes effect, Quebec's tuition will still be significantly lower than in other Canadian provinces and neighboring U.S. states, but higher than in many European countries. The rate hike when it begins to take effect in September would also impact nearly 10,000 French students who pay the same fees as local students to study in Quebec as part of an education pact between France and Quebec.



Mutineers in Mali loot presidential palace
In the western African nation of Mali, soldiers looted the presidential palace in Bamako in the wake of a military coup. The soldiers removed televisions and other goods from the palace, as gunfire was heard throughout the capital. Military and medical sources at least one soldier was killed and about 40 people, including civilians. There were conflicting reports on the whereabouts of President Amadou Toumani Touré. He had been due to leave office after elections on Aprilbut it now seems unlikely the vote will be held. The mutineers blamed his government for mishandling a revolt by Tuaregs in the north that broke out in January.

South Africa wants African World Bank head
South Africa has called a news conference for Friday to announce an African candidate for the World Bank presidency, widely expected to be Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. South Africa chairs one of the three African seats on the
25-member World Bank board, and Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy was being proposed after consultations between South AfricanPresident Jacob Zuma and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo are set to make the first concerted challenge to the U.S. grip on the top job at the World Bank.

French Islamist extremist killed after standoff
An Islamic extremist who boasted of killing seven people to strike back at France died Thursday after jumping from his window, gun in hand, in a fierce shootout with police. Interior Minister Claude Guéant said Mohamed Merah, 23, a French citizen of Algerian descent who claimed links to al-Qaida, lept out after police entered his apartment Thursday and found him holed up in the bathroom. His dramatic death ended a more than 32-hour standoff with an elite police squad trying to capture him alive. Merah was wanted in the deaths of seven people -- three paratroopers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi -- all killed since March 11 in what he told police was an attempt to "bring France to its knees."
A volley of gunfire resounded Thursday morning throughout the neighbourhood in the southwestern city of Toulouse as police stormed the apartment, and two police officers were wounded in the firefight. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said an investigation was under way to see if the suspect in a series of radical Islam-inspired killings had any accomplices.

No end in sight to Syria clashes
Fierce clashes erupted in Syria on Thursday, with a busload of fleeing civilians among 39 killed. The army attacked a string of towns, while rebel fighters struck military posts in several provinces and announced a command structure to coordinate hit-and-run strikes in and around Damascus. The escalation came just hours after the Security Council adopted a statement urging President Bashar Assad and the opposition to implement "fully and immediately" international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan. The Syrian National Council, the main opposition group, dismisssed the UN statement, saying it offered the regime the opportunity to push ahead with its repression. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the international community had to go further and develop "a joint plan of action.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a bus, with women and children on board, was shot up close to the town of Sermin in the northwestern province of Idlib, near the Turkish border, and 10 people died.

Cuba accused of rights violations
Human rights group Amnesty on Thursday accused Cuba of intensifying its programme of harassment against political dissidents, human rights activists, journalists and bloggers. The group said in a report that there had been a sharp rise in the number of dissidents taken into short-term detention over the past 24 months. Hopes for progress in Cuba have risen since president Raul Castro, brother of ailing long-time leader Fidel Castro, implemented gradual economic reforms after assuming permanent control in February 2008. But Amnesty criticized the new régime for carrying out 2,784 incidents of human rights abuses between January and September 2011, mostly short-term detention of dissidents, citing figures from the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation. According to the Routine Repression report, more than 65 independent journalists have been detained, most of them repeatedly, since March 2011.

Portuguese strike against austerity
Portuguese strikers halted trains, shut ports and paralysed most public transport on Thursday in protest at austerity measures that is nevertheless unlikely to temper the government's resolve in implementing the terms of an EU/IMF bailout. There was little impact outside of the transport sector from the general strike that caused no major output disruptions at companies. The country's second-largest union UGT did not back the strike, unlike in previous work stoppages. Many struggled into work, unconvinced by the call to strike and reluctant to lose money in support of it.


Air Canada seeks jobs for laid off Aveos workers

Air Canada is encouraging global aircraft repair companies to compensate the bankruptcy of Aveos Fleet Performance and hire its former workers across the country. To help address its long-term needs for heavy maintenance, Canada's largest airline is encouraging companies to assess which of the former Aveos businesses may be viable in Canada under new ownership. The airline says it has a strong preference to work with companies that provide services in Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto. The Montreal-based airline said it is making alternative short-term arrangements following this week's sudden closure of Aveos facilities and the layoffs of 2,600 workers. Aveos has blamed Air Canada for its financial troubles, saying that the airline reduced, deferred, and cancelled maintenance work, which resulted in approximately $16 million in lost revenue in less than two months. Aveos announced last weekend it was shutting down three main plants in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal, as well as other facilities in Edmonton, Calgary, Trenton and Mississauga, Ont.

Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday: 12,362 - 74. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $105.41 - $1.86.

Obama pushes for partial approval of Canadian pipeline

U.S. President Barack Obama pushed Thursday for the speedy approval for the southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline as he insisted oil has an important place in his energy proposals. The announcement came just a few weeks after Mr. Obama rejected the entire length of Keystone XL, a pipeline that would transport Alberta oilsands bitumen from the northern reaches of the province through six U.S. states to Texas. The president said there was not enough time to review a new route around a crucial aquifer in Nebraska in order to meet a tight deadline imposed by congressional Republicans.
He insisted on Thursday he remains a staunch supporter of domestic oil production as he stood in tiny Cushing, where there's a backlog of oil from states like North Dakota and Montana that cannot easily be transported south. Environmentalists have mounted an extensive campaign against Keystone XL, assailing the plan to transport millions of barrels a week of bitumen, an energy source they decry as "dirty oil", to the Gulf Coast. Pipeline proponents insist Keystone XL will create thousands of jobs and help end American dependence on oil from often hostile OPEC regimes.

SNC wins Ontario highway contract
The Ontario government has selected an SNC-Lavalin consortium as the preferred bidder to build and maintain the first phase of the eastern extension of Highway 407. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Ontario said the Montreal-based engineering and construction giant's partnership with Cintra Infraestructuras S. A. was selected to extend the four-lane toll road from Pickering to Oshawa. Phase one of the new highway will connect the electronic toll
road to Highway 401 by 2015. The second phase of the 65-kilometre extension will take the world's biggest toll road to Clarington. The cost of the project will be disclosed after a final contract is expected to be negotiated this spring. But analysts value the deal at about $1 billion. Highway 407 East will be a publicly owned toll road. The province will operate the highway, set toll rates and retain all generated revenues.


An important piece of the B.C. Lions' Grey Cup championship team is returning. Slotback Geroy Simon has signed a contract extension with B.C. after leading all Lions receivers last season with 1,350 yards and eight touchdowns. The 36-year-old is just 66 yards shy of Milt Stegall's all-time receiving yardage mark.
Denny Morrison of Canada won the 1,500-meter speedskating world title despite appearing to be hampered by Shani Davis on the first crossing of their head-to-head race. Morrison had to hold himself back to prevent crashing into Davis as the skaters came out of the second bend, but managed to retain enough speed to finish first in 1 minute, 46.44 seconds. Ivan Skobrev of Russia was second in 1:46.49.


British Columbia on Friday: sun north, mix sun cloud south, high C10 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse -3, Yellowknife -13, Iqaluit -16. Alberta: snow south, mix sun cloud north. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: rain. Edmonton 0, Regina, Winnipeg 18. Ontario: cloud south, rain north. Quebec: sun. Toronto 16, Ottawa 17, Montreal 15. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia: sun. Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador: snow. Fredericton 8, Halifax 13, Prince Edward Island 3, St. John's -2.

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