Tuesday, April 3, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 2 April 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

U.S. says Canada may have to jettison dairy marketing  boards
U.S. President Barack Obama suggested Monday that Canada may have to give up its prized supply-management systems if it wants to join a new free-trade group of Pacific Rim countries, Prime Minister Stephen Harper got another expression of interest in a meeting with Mr. Obama in Washington, but hasn't yet received a formal invitation to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The president says that Canada, like any other country, may have to put protectionist marketing boards on the table if it wants to join the trade expanding group. The prime minister sat down for three hours Monday at the White House with Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
The jewel coveted by the Harper Conservatives, a seat at the fledgling Trans-Pacific Partnership, remained elusive. Mr. Obama effectively repeated his response from last November: that the United States welcomes Canada's interest in joining. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed tariff-free zone that would include 500 million consumers from nine countries, including Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Chile. But Canada's system of supply-management in eggs and dairy products is a stumbling block to participation in the new free-trade zone. The prime minister did not answer a direct question on whether he was prepared to abandon the country's supply-management mechanisms in order to take part in the trade talks.

Privacy watchdog renews concerns about U.S.-Canada security deal
Canada's privacy commissioner is once again calling for protection of personal information as the country embarks on a perimeter security deal with the United States. Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has reissued that warning on behalf of her provincial counterparts as Mr. Harper was in Washington for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon. The prime minister and Mr. Obama announced in December a new perimeter security pact designed to speed the flow of trade across the 49th parallel, while protecting the continent from terrorist threats.
Information-sharing on the movements of travellers in and out of the countries is a key feature of the deal. Mrs. Stoddart says the federal government needs to ensure that the standards and values behind Canada's privacy laws are not diminished as the specifics of the deal are rolled out in the months and years ahead. She says recommendations made by her office last summer were not incorporated into December's announcement and they should form part of the agreement as details are settled.

Central banker sees long-range economic challenges
The head of Canada's central bank says there's less risk facing the country's economic recovery but that Canadians need to make some changes. Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney says Europe's debt problems have improved and the U.S. recovery is gaining steam. He says the two factors reduce some obstacles to Canadian growth. But he also says Canada faces some very serious long-term challenges. He points out that consumers are heavily in debt, so the economy must depend on exports for growth. But Mr. Carney says corporations continue to relay for exports on countries with slow-growing economies, particularly the United States, while Canada's share of exports to emerging markets is declining rather than expanding.

Federal employees being advised of job status
Letters are being sent to thousands of federal public servants in Canada Monday telling them whether their position within a certain department will be eliminated. It's the result of last week's federal budget that calls for almost $5 billion in spending cuts. The Conservative government says it will cut some 19,000 public service jobs by 2015. It's estimated that 8,000 of those jobs will be eliminated through attrition and retirement. On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said the Ottawa area, known as the National Capital Region, can expect to lose about 4,800 public service jobs over a two- to three-year period. Union leaders say they expect the job losses to be much higher.

Air Canada union lodges rights case
The union representing 8,300 Air Canada machinists said on Monday it will take the Canadian government to court over a law preventing a strike or lockout at the airline. The union claims the law is unconstitutional. The union representing mechanics, baggage handlers and cargo agents at Canada's biggest airline says the recently passed bill violates freedom of association, a fundamental right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The legislation also sends contract disputes between the airline and two unions to binding arbitration. The union representing Air Canada's pilots has already launched a similar court challenge to the legislation.

NL premier dismayed by ruling on hydro project
The premier of Newfoundland and Labrador says she is disappointed after a regulatory body concluded it could not assess whether the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project is the cheapest energy option for the province. Kathy Dunderdale says she was puzzled after a report Monday from the province's Public Utilities Board said information provided by the province's Crown energy corporation was not detailed enough to determine whether Muskrat Falls should proceed. Nalcor Energy and Nova Scotia's private utility Emera are working on a deal to jointly fund the $6.2-billion project. Muskrat Falls would bring power from Labrador to Newfoundland and then Nova Scotia using subsea cables.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government asked the utilities board to assess whether the power is needed and if Muskrat Falls is the cheapest option before it sanctions the project. The board had asked for an extension beyond March 31 for its review but the provincial government refused. Mrs. Dunderdale says she will call for a special session of the legislature in June to debate the project if the house of assembly is not sitting.


Syria accepts peace plan deadline
UN mediator Kofi Annanhas told the UN Security Council that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to an April 10 deadline to start implementing a peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy The partial implementation of his plan would include a full cessation of hostilities within 48 hours of the deadline. Mr. Annan appealed to the 15-member council to support the deadline. The Syrian government would start by halting the movement of troops into cities, withdraw heavy weapons from cities and start to pull back troops. Mr. Annan also says the Council has to start considering the deployment of an observer mission with a broad mandate to monitor events in Syria. The worldbody says more than 9,000 people have been killed in the past year.

Myanmar opposition chief wins stunning electoral victory
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday hailed a "new era" for Myanmar and called for political unity after her party swept to victory in elections seen as a test of recent political reforms. The Nobel peace laureate won her first seat in parliament, saying that her National League for Democracy (NLD) party secured 40 of the 44 seats it contested. Supporters, some shedding tears of delight, celebrated into the night after the NLD declared that Suu Kyi, who was locked up by the former junta for most of the past 22 years, had secured a seat after Sunday's by-elections.
The veteran activist's election to political office marks the latest sweeping change in the country formerly known as Burma after decades of outright military rule ended last year. Suu Kyi struck a conciliatory tone towards the other political parties as she prepares to take her place in a parliament that will remain dominated by the military and its political allies.

African states impose sanctions on Mali
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara says leaders of the 15-state West African bloc ECOWAS have decided to impose diplomatic, trade and financial sanctions on Mali's military junta. Mr. Ouattara the leaders will apply the sanctions to put pressure on leaders of last month's coup to return power to civilians. The measures include a crippling closure of the land-locked country's borders. The closure of borders will suffocate the economy ofAfrica's third biggest gold miner by cutting it off from the imported fuel on which it depends. The imposition of sanctions came despite a promise by junta leader Amadou Sanogo on Sunday to reinstate the former Malian constitution and all institutions of state.

Dozens dead in plane crash in Siberia
A passenger plane crashed and burst into flames after takeoff in Siberia on Monday, killing 31 people and putting the spotlight on Russia's poor air-safety record. Thirteen survivors were pulled from the wreckage but one later died after being rushed by helicopter to hospital in the city of Tyumen, some 1,720 kilometres east of Moscow. Television footage showed the UTair airlines ATR 72, which had snapped in two, lying in a snowy field with only the tail and rear visible. Emergency workers sifted through the wreckage and cleared away the snow. An investigative committee said the most likely cause of the crash was a technical malfunction as the 21-year-old twin-engine, turbo-prop plane carried its four crew and 39 passengers on a flight to the oil town of Surgut.

Falklands war erupted 30 years ago
Monday was the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falkland Islands war. Services are being held in Britain and Argentina to mark the milestone. Britain won the war and has always defended the Islanders right to stay British. Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, led a memorial. Despite losing the war, Argentina has never given up its claim for the territory. In Britain, veterans of the conflict meanwhile gathered for a low-key service of remembrance, after Prime Minister David Cameron described the invasion of the South Atlantic islands as a "profound wrong."

BP accuses U;.S. of withholding evidence
BP Plc has accused the U.S. government of withholding evidence that may show the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was smaller than federal officials claimed, a key issue in determining the oil company's liability.
A reduction in the size of the spill would lower the maximum civil fine BP could be forced to pay under the U.S. Clean Water Act, a sum now estimated as high as $17.6 billion. The government is one of many plaintiffs suing BP over the
April 20, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and triggered the largest U.S. offshore oil spill. In a filing late on Thursday with the U.S. district court in New Orleans, BP said more than 10,000 documents the government is refusing to turn over "appear to relate to flow rate issues" at the company's ruptured Macondo well. BP said the documents, which the government considers privileged because they reflect policy deliberations, may show that an August 2010 estimate that 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled from the well is too high.

France expels radical Muslims
France says it has expelled an Algerian Islamist extremist and a radical Muslim preacher from Mali, and that it is in the process of deporting a Saudi Muslim prayer leader. Extremist Muslims from abroad are being targeted as part of a
French crackdown after deadly March attacks in the southwest city of Toulouse by a 23-year-old claiming links to al-Qaida. The French Interior Ministry said Monday that others it plans to expel include a Tunisian militant and a Turkish imam. Three paratroopers, a rabbi and three young Jewish school children were killed in the March attacks. The alleged shooter, Mohamed Merah, was killed after a 32-hour standoff with police.


The Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday: 12,507 + 115. Canadian dollar: $1.00. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $105.03 + $2.01.

Royal Bank dismisses suit by U.S. regulators
Royal Bank is calling "absurd" a lawsuit filed against it by U.S. regulators that alleges it engaged in hundreds of millions of dollars in sham futures trades to reap tax benefits on its holdings of company stocks. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission lawsuit against Royal says the bank also concealed the true nature of the trades and made false statements to a futures trading exchange. Royal says in a statement it consulted stock exchanges and the commission itself for guidance when the trades were made and got no objection from either. The bank says it's "absurd" that the CFTC is now alleging the trading activity was either fictitious or wash sales. The agency said it is the largest case it has brought against so-called wash trades, which cancel each other out. The CFTC alleged that Royal Bank made the trades in stock futures contracts from 2007 to 2010 with two foreign subsidiaries.

World Bank takes action against SNC-Lavalin
Engineering giant SNC-Lavalin says its subsidiary in Bangladesh has been temporarily suspended from bidding on new World Bank projects. The Montreal-based company said Monday the World Bank's decision follows an investigation about a bridge project launched last September. SNC-Lavalin says it will provide "a comprehensive response" to the allegations contained in a confidential report, before a final decision by the world body is taken. The company, which is looking for a new chief executive after last week's departure of Pierre Duhaime over $56 million in payments to agents, said ongoing projects and new bids by other subsidiaries will continue as usual. The allegations relate to the Padma Bridge project, for which SNC's subsidiary bid to act as the government engineer in supervising the contractor responsible for construction. SNC-Lavalin says it remains committed to maintaining ethical standards of business conduct.

Private sector to fund export infrastructure plan
B.C.'s private sector will provide the bulk of a $25-billion investment into a transportation strategy aimed at boosting trade with Asia. Premier Christy Clark says the new Pacific Gateway plan will ensure goods such as potash, minerals and grain reach markets through improvements in roads, rail lines and ports over the next eight years. Teck Resources President Don Lindsay says the company has already invested more than $1 billion and hired 1,000 people in the last two years to expand its steelmaking coal, copper and zinc operations. He says Teck's expansion means more opportunities for equipment operators, trades people and professionals. Neptune Bulk Terminals' president James Belsheim says his company's investments have resulted in record exports of potash and steelmaking coal and a 20-per cent increase in jobs. The B.C. government says that besides increasing terminal capacity at ports, air and cargo capacity will also go up to meet projected growth through to 2020.


Canada unbeated in men's curling
Canada's Glenn Howard is still unbeaten at the world men's curling championship. The Ontario skip defeated Norway's Thomas Ulsrud 8-3 and is now 4-and-0 after six draws of round-robin play. Howard, a three-time world champion, was to play Jiri Snitil of the Czech Republic in the evening draw.


British Columbia on Tuesday: rain, high C10 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse 5, Yellowknife 3, Iqaluit -4. Alberta; mix sun cloud. Saskatchewan, Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 13, Regina 16, Winnipeg 11. Ontario: rain. Quebec: mix sun cloud. Toronto, Ottawa: 10, Montreal 9. Atlantic Canada: mix sun cloud. Fredericton 10, Halifax, Charlottetown 2, St. John's 0.

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