Friday, April 13, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 12 April 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports
Canadian

Federal finance minister advises against worry over layoffs
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the planned reduction of the public-sector workforce won't result in problems on the front lines. Mr. Flaherty says about one in three of the 12,000 who will be let go are considered front line staff, but the rest are in operations. He says while department officials make the decisions, Canadians can be assured there won't be problems in food inspection or border protection. He says the adjustment will not be "terribly impactful" and will result in the public service returning to levels before the hiring that took place to implement the government's 2008 economic stimulus programs. The total size of federal public-sector workforce is almost 400,000. Mr. Flaherty says private companies have made even deeper cuts.



Canada would discuss dairy supply system
Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast says Canada is willing to discuss everything when it sits down with other countries to negotiate a trans-Pacific free trade zone. The minister says this includes its controversial supply management system for farm products. The minister made the comments as he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepare to participate in the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, this weekend. Mr. Fast spent time in Peru Thursday dseeking support for Canada's involvement in the talks for a nine-country tariff-free zone between the Western hemisphere and Asia, The United States has been the main obstacle in Canada's participation in the talks. The U.S. objects to a supply management system that protects certain Canadian farmers from international competition.




Monument uncovered to honour cancer runner
A new monument to mark the moment Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope was celebrated Thursday in St. John's, NL. The sculpture was dedicated 32 years to the day Fox began his cancer-fighting run by dipping his artificial leg into the North
Atlantic. His run inspired millions of Canadians to raise money for cancer research with scores of events that are still held each year. Members of the Fox family, including Terry's brother and father, are in St. John's for the dedication. The monument overlooks the water where Fox began the run that was cut short when his cancer returned, causing his death in 1981.



B.C. earns credit plaudits
British Columbia's triple-A credit rating has been upheld by credit rating agencies Standard and Poor's and Moody's Investors Services. The agencies say the province earned high marks for its good financial management, including efforts to reduce debt and diversify the economy. Moody's says the province's plan to balance the budget by the 2013-14 fiscal year is feasible because of it's good financial track record. A third agency, Dominion Bond Rating Service, also affirmed B.C.'s high credit rating, saying the province could outperform its financial targets because of its strong fiscal policies. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon is welcoming the assessments, saying they send a powerful message to investors that B.C. is a safe harbour for new investment and job creation.



Quebec court hears arguments on federal gun registry
A judge heard further arguments in Montreal Thursday on the fate of Quebec-related data from the long-gun registry. The Quebec government is trying to ensure the data remain intact after a federal law aimed at destroying the registry came into effect last week. A Quebec Superior Court justice agreed last week to order a delay in the deletion of registry data from Quebec following a request by the provincial government. The ruling means Quebecers are still obliged to register their weapons and that the registry data for the province will be preserved and maintained. The bill to end the federal long-gun registry received royal
assent last week and became law everywhere but Quebec, pending the court action. Quebec has said it wants to conserve the long-arm data for its own provincial registry.





International

Pakistan moves to better ties with U.S.
Pakistan's parliament approved new guidelines for the country's troubled ties with the United States on Thursday, a decision that will likely pave the way for the reopening of supply lines to NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan that have been blocked since November. The proposals call on the Pakistani government to allow the international coalition to resume transporting its supplies through the country, as well as demand an end to U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil. But the guidelines do not directly link the two issues or make a halt in strikes a prerequisite to reopening the supply lines. Pakistan's parliament has in the past called for an end to the drone strikes, which are a source of popular outrage in country and have fueled anti-Americanism. The U.S. has ignored Islamabad's previous entreaties, and is unlikely to change its policy now. Islamabad closed the supply lines in November to protest U.S. airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border. The government called for a parliamentary vote into relations with the U.S. to give it political cover for reopening the routes.



Alleged plotters against Danish newspaper on trial
Four Swedes accused of plotting a revenge attack on a newspaper that printed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad will go on trial Friday in Denmark, forcing the normally placid Nordic country to revisit an event it would rather put to rest. The four men, all Swedish residents, are charged with terrorism after allegedly planning an armed attack inside the Copenhagen-based offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which published 12 cartoons of the prophet in 2005, sparking riots in Muslim countries and calls for revenge. Swedish and Danish intelligence officials said they had followed the men for months and tailed their rental car from Stockholm before arresting three of them, Munir Awad, Omar Abdalla Aboelazm and Mounir Ben Mohamed Dhahri, in December 2010 at an apartment near the Danish capital. The fourth, Sabhi Ben Mohamed Zalouti, left the car and returned to Stockholm, were he was arrested the same day as the others. The men are also charged with possession of illegal weapons. Prosecutors have described the four as Islamic militants who wanted to frighten Danish society with a shooting spree. The men have not responded to the charges but are expected to as the trial opens.



France, U.S. discuss oil
U.S. President Barack Obama discussed conditions on world oil markets during a video conference on Thursday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The White House declined to comment on whether the leaders' discussion had touched upon the release of strategic oil reserves to bring down high global energy prices. French ministers disclosed last month that the United States, Britain and France had held talks about possible releases from strategic oil stocks, and the French voiced optimism that such action stood a good chance of taking place. The high cost of crude oil has driven up the price of U.S. gasoline. This has fanned concern that this additional burden on household budgets could dent the country's economic recovery and harm Mr. Obama's hopes for re-election on Nov. 6.


Vigilante makes first court appearance
Neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman made his first court appearance Thursday on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Mr. Zimmerman stood up straight, looked straight ahead and wore a grey prison jumpsuit. He spoke only to answer "Yes, sir," twice after he was asked basic questions about the charge against him. He had resurfaced Wednesday to turn himself in after weeks in hiding. The judge said he found probable cause to move ahead with the case and that an arraignment would be held on May 29. Mr. Zimmerman was charged after a public campaign to make an arrest in the Feb. 26 shooting, which has mesmerized Americans for weeks. Mr. Zimmerman has claimed that he fired in self-defence.


Both Sudans dig in heels


South Sudan's president says that the nation will not withdraw its troops that this week entered a disputed border region with Sudan. South Sudan President Salva Kiir spoke to parliament in the midst of escalating clashes along the border with Sudan. He said the country's military would also re-enter another disputed area, Abyei, currently occupied by Sudan. Troops from South Sudan on Wednesday captured the oil-rich border town of Heglig that is claimed by Sudan. Heglig has been the focal point of more than two weeks of clashes between the two nations. Both sides claim the area, but Sudan operates Heglig's oil facilities, which account for nearly half of the country's daily production. Fighting along the north-south border has been near constant over the past two weeks.


Desertions force end to military operations in Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has suspended military operations against rebels in the eastern North and South Kivu provinces following a rash of desertions in the army, the government and army said on Thursday. The eastern region of the vast central African country remains unstable nearly ten years after the signing of a peace deal ending a wider war, and Congolese troops and UN peacekeepers regularly clash with several rebel groups.Earlier this month, hundreds of government troops abandoned their posts, sparking violent clashes within the army and allowing rebels to seize territory. government and army spokesmen say the main military operation in the east was being suspended on the president's orders. Mr. Kabila, who was re-elected last November in polls widely criticized as flawed by international observers and foreign governments, announced the move during a speech in the northern town of Goma on Wednesday.



Mexican leader welcomes Cuba visit
Mexican President Felipe Calderon is calling his visit to Cuba a "re-encounter" between two nations that have had rocky relations for more than a decade. Mr. Calderon says it has been an extraordinary trip during which Cuba and Mexico have "rediscovered their mutual affection." The Mexican leader said in 2006 when his term began that he would improve troubled ties with Cuba. But his planned trip was delayed until now, about eight months before he leaves office. The two countries temporarily withdrew their ambassadors in 2004 when Mexico voted for a U.S.-backed condemnation of the island's human rights situation. Mr. Calderon spoke Thursday at the Havana airport before embarking for Haiti. He met Wednesday with Cuban President Raul Castro and other top officials.





Financial

Ontario tightens wireless billing rules
The Ontario government says new legislation will better protect consumers who sign contracts for wireless telephone services. Consumer Services Minister Margarett Best says too many people are experiencing what she calls "cell shock" when they open the bills for their cell or smart phones and find unexpected extra charges. Mrs. Best says contracts are being changed without the knowledge of consumers to add new charges, which are only discovered when the bill arrives. She says the legislation will require that contracts for wireless services be written in plain language and spell out which services come with the basic fee, and which cost extra. In addition, wireless providers will have to put a cap on the cost of cancelling a contract and charge only what the government calls a "modest fee" for walking away from fixed-term contracts. Consumers will also have to be notified of any changes to wireless contracts and agree to the amendments before they can be implemented.



U.S. pipeline project grows
Kinder Morgan says it's going ahead with the TransMountain pipeline between Alberta and the West Coast and it will be a lot bigger than envisioned just a few months ago. The U.S. pipeline firm says the line will grow from 300,000 barrels per day to 850,000 barrels per day at a cost of $5 billion. In February, the company said it had enough support to build a line with a capacity of 600,000 barrels per day, at a cost of $3.8 billion. Kinder Morgan says new and existing customers have signed up to ship 660,000 barrels per day over a 20-year period. The process allows pipeline companies to gauge customer support for new projects. Enbridge Inc. is proposing to build a $5.5-billion line from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C., which is much further north on the West Coast than the Trans Mountain line would go. It has been met with fierce resistance from aboriginal, environmental and other groups who are concerned about the ecological effects of a potential pipeline spill and tanker traffic along the coast. Politicians in Ottawa and in Alberta have stressed the need for Canadian oil producers to tap new export markets besides the United States. Both the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge proposals would enable Canadian crude to be shipped to Asia by tankers.



Markets
The Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday: 12,208 + 101. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.31. Oil: $103.66 + .96.




Sports

Sports
HOCKEY
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and his American counterpart Hillary Clinton are dropping the gloves, diplomatically speaking. Mr. Baird has placed a friendly wager with his U.S. counterpart during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mr. Baird is backing his hometown Ottawa Senators in their best-of-seven series with the New York Rangers. Mrs. Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, is a former New York senator. The pair announced the wager at an event in Washington, each clutching their team's hometown jersey, Mr. Baird's emblazoned with the name of Senators centre Jason Spezza, his favourite player.
If the Rangers win, Baird must wear New York blue.




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