Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 3 April 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports
Canadian

Federal watchdog is scathing about handling of jet fighter file
The Canadian government has frozen spending on the multibillion-dollar plan to buy F-35 stealth jet fighters after the auditor general slammed the Defence Department for keeping Parliament in the dark about spiralling problems. Auditor general Michael Ferguson was also highly critical of Public Works for failing to exercise surveillance in what would be the largest expenditure of taxpayers' money for a piece of military hardware. But it is the Defence Department that comes in for wide-ranging blame over its management of the project to buy 65 new F-35 radar-evading stealth fighters for what the military initially insisted would cost $9 billion, but will likely be far higher.
The audit comes just one week after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced $5.2 billion in cuts to public spending in his deficit-fighting budget. The program is designed to replace the country's aging fleet of CF-18 jet fighters. Mr. Ferguson estimates the 20-year cost of the program, including maintenance, at $25 billion. Liberal defence critic John McKay accused the government Tuesday of trying to hide the true cost of the program from Canadians. The United States oversees the nine-country Joint Strike Fighter Program.


Former Libya envoy absolved of conflict of interest
Canada's ex-ambassador to Libya has been cleared of any suggestion of conflict of interest in an internal review by the Foreign Affairs Department. Sandra McCardell left her post as ambassador to Libya after questions were raised about her husband's job with SNC-Lavalin. The Canadian engineering firm had close business ties to Libya prior to the fall of Moammar Gadafi last year. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird ordered the review in January. The review by two senior bureaucrats at Foreign Affairs concludes that Mrs. McCardell's husband and his company did not benefit because of the relationship.


Former tobacco exec admits destruction of documents
A former Canadian tobacco executive has admitted in a $27-billion court case in the city of Montreal that he helped destroy research documents in the 1990s. Roger Ackman's testimony on Monday came in the largest class-action suit in Canadian history. Two groups of claimants claim they were misled by three cigarette companies about the addictiveness and danger of smoking. Mr. Ackman testified that when he was vice-president of legal affairs at the Imperial Tobacco company, he took part in the destruction of documents. But he said he could not remember why the papers were destroyed, what they contained or who ordered their destruction.


Quebec demands Air Canada maintain aviation centre
The Quebec government is formally calling on Air Canada to prove its efforts to maintain the Montreal service centre of Aveos Fleet Performance, a former division of the airline that has been shut down. Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier says that the carrier had previously given assurances that no maintenance facilities would be dismantled. He says the company also committed itself to seek the prior approval of the House of Commons before moving any of its facilities. Failure to do so could force the government to seek unspecified legal remedies. The Quebec Federation of Labour's Solidarity Fund is one of the
groups trying to revive the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company that employed 2,600 workers across Canada,
including 1,800 in Montreal. Aveos announced plans to liquidate its assets on March 20.



Ontario to fight over wind farms in court
Ontario's Liberal government said Tuesday it would defend itself against a $1-billion lawsuit over its moratorium on offshore wind farms, the second such action over the province's energy policies. The SouthPoint Wind is claiming $1 billion in damages for confiscation of its property and assets, $100 million for failure to negotiate in good faith, and another $100 million for punitive damages. SouthPoint tried to develop industrial wind power projects near the Lake Erie communities of Leamington, Union and Kingsville before the government announced a moratorium on offshore wind farms in February 2011. Energy Minister Chris Bentley said SouthPoint did not have a signed agreement with the Ontario Power Authority.
Several hundred opponents of industrial wind turbines protested in Toronto Tuesday, calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty to resign over energy policies they say create tensions between neighbours who want wind power projects and those that don't. The Ontario government was hit with a $300-million suit filed last week by the financiers of a cancelled natural-gas plant in Mississauga.



Quebec goes to court over federal gun registry
The Quebec government has taken legal action to save data from the federal gun registry. The province announced Tuesday that it has filed a motion in Quebec Superior Court to block the federal government from destroying the registry information. The Quebec government says it wants to maintain its own registry with its share of the records but can't do it if Ottawa destroys the data once its anti-registry bill becomes law. The legislation is on the verge of being adopted in the Senate. Quebec argues that the destruction of records is unconstitutional. The issue is particularly emotional in Quebec. The registry was the result of an intense lobbying campaign after the Polytechnique massacre, in which 14 female students were gunned down in 1989 by a madman armed with a hunting rifle.



Former NL premier shocked by judgment on hydro project
Former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is accusing the provincial Public Utilities Board of bias after it issued an inconclusive report on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric megaproject. Mr. Williams has championed the proposed $6.2-billion development that was announced just before he retired from politics in the fall of 2010. On Monday, the board said it couldn't confirm whether the plan to bring power from Labrador to Newfoundland would cost less than if the island generates its own power. The board said it didn't have enough information and cited gaps in the reliability of the Muskrat Falls plan. Mr. Williams says past comments by board members indicate that judgments about the project had already been made. Premier Kathy Dunderdale said Monday that she's also disappointed and puzzled by the board's failure to make a recommendation, calling
it a waste of nine months and $2 million.





International

Syria claims military withdrawal
The Syrian government says troops began pulling out Tuesday from some calm cities and headed back to their bases a week ahead of a deadline to implement an international cease-fire plan. The claim could not immediately be verified. President Bashar Assad agreed just days ago to an April 10 deadline to implement international envoy Kofi Annan's truce plan. It requires regime forces to withdraw from towns and cities and observe a ceasefire. Rebel fighters are to immediately follow by ceasing violence. Earlier in the day, opposition activists charged that the regime was racing to crush opponents ahead of the cease-fire deadline by carrying out intense raids, arrests and shelling on Tuesday. Opposition activists have criticized Mr. Annan's plan as too little, too late and are particularly angry that it does not call for Mr. Assad to leave power.


Mali's coup leader willing to restore constitutional order
One day after an embargo was placed on Mali, the soldier who led a recent coup there says he agrees the nation's constitutional order should be restored, but he wants to first address Mali's ills. The nations surrounding Mali imposed severe financial sanctions Monday, including the closing of its borders, after their 72-hour ultimatum to Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo expired. The bloc representing the 15 nations in West Africa had called on Sanogo to hand power back to civilians immediately. In his first comments since the sanctions were imposed, Sanogo called on Mali's neighbours to re-examine the issue and invited all Mali representatives to join him in a national convention starting Thursday.



Qatar refuses to repatriate Iraqi VP


Qatar said on Tuesday it will not hand Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, accused by the Iraqi authorities of running death squads, over to his own government. Iraq, whose sectarian divisions risk reopening over the case against Mr. Hashemi, one of the senior Sunni Arab politicians in a central government led by Shi'ite Muslims, had demanded Qatar return him a day earlier. But Qatar said it was unable to comply with the request.
Mr. Hashemi arrived in Qatar on Sunday from semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, where he took refuge late last year after judicial authorities in Baghdad issued a warrant for his arrest. His office has said he will return to Kurdistan after a Gulf trip that will include other countries as well. He has denied the allegations against him and has said his post means he is immune from prosecution anyway. Iraq's government, led by a Shi'ite party with close ties to Shi'ite-led Iran, is viewed with suspicion in Gulf Arab countries, whose Sunni Muslim monarchies have accused Iran of seeking to expand its influence in the region.



Colombian guerrillas free hostages after decade
Colombia's FARC rebels freed 10 members of the armed forces held hostage in jungle prison camps for more than a decade on Monday, the last of a group the drug-funded group had used as bargaining chips to pressure the government. The four soldiers and six policemen were released to a humanitarian mission led by the International Committee of the Red Cross in what the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia called a gesture of peace. Wearing olive fatigues and seeming well fed and relatively healthy, the 10 men stepped off a helicopter provided by Brazil after the Marxist rebels freed them in a remote area of southern Colombia. The release could signal that the FARC is taking tentative steps toward a bid for talks that may end Latin America's oldest insurgency. But many Colombians remain skeptical that the guerrilla group, which is still believed to be holding as many as 700 civilian hostages for ransom, will lay down its weapons after having used previous peace talks to strengthen their forces.



Russia loosens political rules
Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday signed off on a new law meant to open up the country's political system to greater competition after a wave of protests against the dominance of Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party. Mr. Medvedev, who is due to step down in May in favour of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, signed the new bill into law at a meeting with opposition leaders, but the event was boycotted by organisers of the recent anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow and other large cities. The new law will make it easier to register political parties, cutting the required number of members to 500 from the previous 40,000, and should benefit the groups behind the protests. The move is one of the few concrete gains for demonstrators, who failed to prevent Mr. Putin from winning a six-year presidential term in a March 4 vote or to force the rerun of a December parliamentary vote.



World Bank supports new development bank
World Bank President Robert Zoellick is supporting a new development bank proposed by the leaders of the BRICS emerging countries. He says the Bank would be prepared to work with the new financial institution, which was discussed by the leaders of the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, when they met in New Delhi last week. While the plans are still in their preliminary stages, such a bank is seen as a potential counterweight to other multilateral lenders such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The five members of BRICS now account for roughly 18 percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product.




Financial

RBC acquires whole of troubled European bank
Royal Bank of Canada said Tuesday it will pay $1.1 billion in cash to buy the remaining half of RBC Dexia, an adviser to pension fund managers and institutional investors, which it doesn't already own. The Canadian bank's acquisition of the 50 per cent stake will give it full control of the French-Belgian bank, which has been in financial trouble since the onset of the credit crisis. Royal Bank's partner, formerly called Dexia Internationale à Luxembourg SA, had indicated months ago it would sell its half of the joint venture and RBC announced in October it was in talks to acquire full control of RBC Dexia. Dexia is one of the victims of the European debt crisis and the 2008 credit crunch sparked by the failure of Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street investment bank. Dexia SA was the first major European bank to need a bailout in 2011 as a result of concerns over the sovereign debt crisis.



Markets
The Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday: 12,324 - 183. Canadian dollar: $1.00. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $104.15 - $1.08.




Sports

Sports
CURLING
Canada's Glenn Howard is a perfect 7-0 after 10 draws at the world men's curling championship in Switzerland. The Ontario skip edged the host squad 7-6 in an early draw before downing Denmark 8-5. Canada is alone atop the standings with China and Sweden tied for second at 5-and-1.




Radio Canada International reproduction rights and reserved broadcast

Click here if you do not see the message correctlyUnsubscribe