Friday, April 6, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 5 April 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather
Canadian

Tories seek to shift blame for plane kerfuffle
Canada's governing Conservative Party has dumped blame for the F-35 fiasco over the heads of bureaucrats, seeking to distance themselves from Opposition claims that they've been lying to Parliament about the cost of the planes. House Leader Peter Van Loan says the government agrees with the conclusions of the auditor general's report that neither the Defence nor Public Works departments were doing their jobs when it came to oversight of the project. The auditor general had said that because of this, Parliament was kept in the dark about the true costs of the planes. While the two departments had told the auditor general they didn't agree with his findings, Mr. Van Loan says that's not the government's position. But interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae says if the Tories say they agree with the auditor general, they must also accept his finding that Parliament wasn't told the full truth and there must be consequences. Stephen Harper's minority government fell last year after a contempt motion related to the Conservatives' refusal to disclose the cost of the planes, among other things.



Job surprise in March
The Canadian government agency, Statistics Canada, says the economy created 82,000 jobs in March, far higher than the 10,000 jobs economists had been expecting. The numbers sent the jobless rate down to 7.2 per cent from 7.4 per cent in February. The vast majority of the new jobs were created in the province of Ontario with 46,000 and the province of Quebec with 36,000. The economies of both provinces have been struggling. Canada has not had a month of significant job gains since September.


Quebec court provides respite for gun registry
The federal long-gun registry might die but not happening on Thursday. A Quebec court has stepped in and ordered a delay in the destruction of registry data, following a request by the Quebec government. The court has granted the delay until further motions are argued in court next week. The legal battle is playing out in Montreal while, in Ottawa, legislation to kill the registry has sailed through the Senate and was set to receive royal assent Thursday.
The federal government says it plans to begin the process of deleting the registry data immediately. A federal lawyer told the court that royal assent takes effect at midnight. Now Quebec can keep up the fight in court next week to save the information. It wants the data to create its own registry. It argues that it's unconstitutional for the federal government to destroy the information, if it means thwarting the public policy of another level of government. The registry battle has been particularly emotional in Quebec, which was the epicentre of the national gun-control movement after the Polytechnique massacre of 1989.



B.C. teachers squabble no closer to resolution
The B.C. teachers union has asked the province's labour board to fire the mediator the government appointed to find a way out of the contract quagmire that has disrupted the entire school year so far. Earlier this week, union president Susan Lambert wrote to Charles Jago asking that he step down from his job, saying his work is clouded by an apprehension of bias. Mr. Jago refused, so the teachers' union applied to the Labour Relations Board Thursday morning to quash his appointment. Union president Susan Lambert says Mr. Jago has admitted to helping draft the legislation that was passed last month that ended further walkouts and forced teachers to resume the administrative duties they have been refusing to perform since September. But Mrs. Lambert couldn't say if Jago did anything more than add some "musts" and "shoulds" to the draft of the bill.
bargaining agent.



MP defends federal role in freeing NB farmer
A New Brunswick Coonservative MP is defending Ottawa's role in securing the release of a farmer who spent more than a year in a Lebanese jail on accusations he exported rotten potatoes. Mike Allen says the federal government deserves more credit in helping facilitate the release of Henk Tepper, who returned to Canada last weekend. Mr. Allen says allegations that the government wasn't doing all it could to help Mr. Tepper are "a slap" to the work of consular officials. Earlier this week, Tepper's sister and legal team held a news conference during which they said the government did not do enough
to have Tepper return home. Mr. Tepper was detained on an international arrest warrant on allegations he exported rotten potatoes to Algeria in 2007 and
forged export documents. He was arrested in Lebanon when he travelled to the Middle East on an agricultural trade mission to promote seed potatoes from Atlantic Canada.




International

UN representative arrives in Syria
A team led by a Norwegian major general arrived Thursday in Damascus to negotiate the possible deployment of UN monitors for any cease-fire between Syrian troops and rebel forces. Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for peace envoy Kofi Annan, reported the arrival and said the UN is already asking members to contribute 200 to 250 soldiers to monitor a cease-fire that officials hope would start April 10. His comments came as activists reported that Syrian troops attacked the Damascus suburb of Douma, an assault they said shows that Syrian President Bashar Assad is intensifying violence in the days before the deadline. Mr. Assad's crackdown on the yearlong uprising has left at least 9,000 people dead. Mr. Annan has asked the Norwegian major-general, Robert Mood, to begin discussing with the Syrian authorities the eventual deployment of this U.N. supervision and monitoring mission.


Mali's neighbours set to intervene against coup
The heads of West Africa's militaries are meeting to come up with a plan to intervene in Mali after a coup and a rebellion in the north. The generals met Thursday in Ivory Coast at the request of the Economic Community of West African States. It has suspended Mali from its ranks after a March 21 coup. ECOWAS has ordered a 2,000-member force to be put on standby possibly to intervene in Mali. In addition to the coup in the capital, a rebel army has seized the northern half of the nation. Ivory Coast's Deputy Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said at the start of the meeting that the military chiefs needed to decide how many troops each country would send.



Suicide leads to new Greek violence
Anti-austerity activists are planning new protests Thursday in Athens' main square the day after a retiree publicly killed himself, leaving a note that blasted politicians over the country's financial crisis. Many in the debt-crippled country see the 77-year-old retired pharmacist as a martyr, whose suicide symbolized the cumulative effect of over two years of economic pain imposed to secure international bailouts shielding the country from bankruptcy. More than 1,500 people gathered at Syntagma Square hours after the suicide Wednesday and clashing with riot police. The retiree chose the morning rush hour to shoot himself in the head near a subway exit on the square -- a focal point for protests and a stone's throw from Parliament. In a suicide note, the man said could he not survive on his pension.



Venezuelan leader again returns from cancer treatment
President Hugo Chavez returned home to Venezuela on Wednesday after his latest session of cancer treatment in Cuba, as he aims to fight off the illness and win a new six-year term in an October election. The 57-year-old socialist leader walking unaided from his plane after it landed in his home state of Barinas and he was greeted on the runway by relatives, the vice-president and several government ministers. He says his second session of radiation treatment had gone well and the results of all his medical tests were positive. He is expected to return to Cuba for a third session soon.



Zimbabwe takes control of foreign mines
Zimbabwe has taken majority ownership of all foreign-owned mining companies, Zimbabwe's black empowerment minister said Thursday, a move the prime minister told companies to ignore, saying it could create "anarchy in the industry" in the already ruptured economy. Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said in a statement that all companies that did not meet a late 2011 deadline to submit proposals to cede a controlling stake to blacks have forfeited 51 per cent of their shareholdings and are now "deemed to be owned by the state." Zimbabwe has large Australian, Canadian and South African mining interests, including giants Rio Tinto, Canadile and Anglo American, and with scores of small white-owned gold mines.
The empowerment drive has split the shaky three-year-old coalition government. Critics says it has scared off much-needed investment and is being used as a political ploy ahead of elections President Robert Mugabe wants this year. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, immediately urged the nation to ignore Kasukuwere and said the empowerment laws did not allow him to "unilaterally nationalize private entities."


Pontiff denounces priestly rebels
Pope Benedict XVI has denounced priests who have questioned church teaching on celibacy and ordaining women, saying Thursday they were disobeying his authority to try to impose their own ideas on the church. Benedict made the rare and explicit criticism from the altar of St. Peter's Basilica in his homily on Holy Thursday, when priests recall the promises they made when ordained. In 2006, a group of Austrian priests launched the Pfarrer
Initiative, or pastor initiative, a call to disobedience aimed at abolishing priestly celibacy and opening the clergy to women to relieve the shortages of priests.
Last June, the group's members threatened a schism, saying the Vatican's refusal to hear their complaints left them no choice but to "follow our conscience and act independently." The group now claims more than 300 Austrian priests and deacons as well as supporters in other countries, and its influence has grown to such an extent that top Austrian bishops met with Vatican officials in January to discuss how to handle them.



Egypt's Brotherhood candidates registry for presidential test
The Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Egypt's presidency was cheered by supporters on Thursday when he registered to run in an election where his main rivals will be other Islamists and candidates who served under the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak. Khairat al-Shater, 61, a millionaire businessman and leading strategist in the Brotherhood, was named as its candidate last week in a policy reversal by the group that previously pledged it would not participate. The Brotherhood's broad grass-roots network, built over decades, ensures Shater is a frontrunner, although he has yet to launch his campaign. Mr. Shater's bid for the presidency risks splitting the Islamist vote between him, a candidate who follows the stricter Salafi interpretation of Islam and another contender with more moderate views who was expelled from the Brotherhood over his decision to run before the group changed tack on fielding a candidate. That could hand the advantage to two other main contenders: Amr Moussa, the former head of the Arab League who had also served as Mubarak's foreign minister in the 1990s, and Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.




Financial

Minority investor progresses in drive to replace railway exec


Hedge fund Pershing Square has taken another step in its battle to replace the leadership of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. to shareholders, filing an official proxy circular that invites them to vote for an alternative slate of directors at the rail company. In a letter addressed to investors released Thursday, Pershing chief executive officer Bill Ackman outlined his view of CP, which he called the worst-performing top tier railroad in the industry. Ackman put the blame on the company's board and CEO Fred Green, who he said have poorly managed the company's operations. Pershing Square holds a 14.2 per cent interest in Canadian Pacific. It has nominated a slate of seven prospective directors for election to CP's 15-member board. Among its top goals is the replacement of current chief executive Green with Hunter Harrison, former CEO of rival Canadian National Railway Co. The hedge fund and other investors have long been frustrated with CP's share price performance compared with its peers.



Markets
The Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday: 12,101 - 77. Canadian dollar: $1.00. Euro: $1.29. Oil: $103.30 - $1.83.




Sports

Sports
BASEBALL
In Major League Baseball, Toronto's Joey Votto got a big payday by staying in a small market, agreeing to a US$251.5 million, 12-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday that is the longest guaranteed contract in major league history. The agreement adds $225 million over 10 years to his previous contract. The deal includes a club option for 2024, when the 2010 National League MVP turns 41.




Weather

Weather
British Columbia on Friday: mix sun cloud, high C11 Vancouver. Yukon: mix sun cloud. Northwest Territories: sun. Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse 7, Yellowknife -7, Iqaluit - 9. Alberta: sun north, mix sun cloud south. Saskatchewan: rain. Manitoba: mix sun cloud. Edmonton 4, Regina 6, Winnipeg 19. Ontario, Quebec: sun. Toronto 1, Ottawa, Montreal 9. Atlantic Canada: mix sun cloud. Fredericton, Charlottetown 4, Halifax 7, St John's 8.




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