Friday, April 27, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 26 April 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Cabinet knowledge about F-35 cost murky

Auditor General Michael Ferguson says he doesn't know precisely who in the federal cabinet was aware of the fudged stealth fighter figures. He says the project with all of the associated numbers was approved by cabinet in 2008. Mr. Ferguson was testifying before the House of Commons public accounts committee about a major report which accused National Defence of hiding the true cost of the multi-role F-35 jet. He says $10 billion in full, life-time costs of the aircraft, including salaries and fuel, were not laid before the public. Ferguson says outlining those costs should be Treasury Board policy. He says the F-35 program is a very large purchase and requires the proper financial analysis.

EU trade deal could be wrecked by Canadian visa requirement
Canada's long-sought free trade deal with the European Union could be scuttled by three countries angry over a travel visa imposed on their citizens by the Harper government. The warning comes from the EU's ambassador to Canada as the Canada-EU talks now enter what has been described as their endgame. The president of the EU council said on a visit to Ottawa earlier this week that three-quarters of the deal is finalized and there's optimism a deal could be struck within six months. However, full ratification requires unanimous approval from the bloc's 27-member countries. Ambassador Matthias Brinkmann says the final ratification faces serious opposition by the Czech Republic, Hungary and Bulgaria, whose citizens were hit with a visa requirement by Canada to stop the flow of bogus Roma refugee claimants. The envoy says the EU allows visa free travel among its member states, so the visa has created ill will in those countries

Ottawa to appeal prostitution ruling
Canada's Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, says prostitution is harmful for society. His comment comes as the federal government seeks to appeal last month's ruling that effectively legalized brothels. The Superior Court in the province of Ontario struck down the ban on brothels on the grounds that it increased the dangers that prostitutes face because they are forced to work outside. The Ontario government says it will join the federal government in seeking to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Both governments want the high court to provide a binding, national ruling on prostitution.

Talks with restive Quebec students off
The Quebec government is rejecting further talks with students because of their demand that two members from a more radical group be involved. Education Minister Line Beauchamp has said there would be no negotiations with members of a student federation known as the C.L.A.S.S.E. The government believes the group has not done enough to condone the violence that has plagued student protests over the past two months. Talks between the two sides aimed at settling their bitter tuition dispute ended Wednesday when the C.L.A.S.S.E. was kicked out for not respecting a truce on protests. That prompted the other student groups to walk out. One of those student federations said earlier Thursday the talks would resume Friday with two representatives of the C.L.A.S.S.E. replacing its own members. But a spokeswoman for Mrs. Beauchamp says there's no way that's going to happen. On Thursday, police in Montreal made 85 arrests in their latest clash with hundreds of student protesters.

Canadian minister repays taxpayers
Canadian International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda has agreed to repay almost $3,000 she charged taxpayers for limousine service while staying at a posh hotel in London. The beleaguered Conservative minister had already coughed up $1,353.81 in extra hotel charges earlier this week after it was reported that she upgraded to the five-star-plus Savoy Hotel for unknown reasons during a conference last June. The conference on international immunizations was at another five-star hotel where Oda cancelled her cheaper room in favour of the tonier Savoy, which was more than two kilometres away.
A terse message from Oda's office said that all incremental costs that should not have been charged, including the car service, have been repaid. Mrs. Oda's expensive tastes created a storm of controversy at a time when the Harper government is cutting overseas development funding by hundreds of millions of dollars. The minister issued an abject apology in the House of Commons earlier this week, but critics says she should be turfed from the cabinet as an example.

Tobacco firm to fight label rule
A Canadian tobacco company is going to court to fight the federal government's plan to increase the size of graphic health warnings on cigarette packages. Warnings that cover 75 per cent of the pack are to go into effect in June. Imperial Tobacco Canada says the existing 50-per-cent-sized health warnings provide sufficient information to consumers. The company says increasing their size infringes on its ability to communicate and violates the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


War crimes court convicts first head of state
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor on Thursday became the first head of state since World War II convicted by an international war crimes court, a legal landmark. Taylor, 64, was found guilty on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for sending guns and bullets to Sierra Leone rebels in return for so-called blood diamonds mined by slave labourers and smuggled across the border. The verdicts were hailed by prosecutors, victims and rights activists as a watershed moment in efforts to end impunity for leaders responsible for atrocities. Judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone said Taylor's aid
played a crucial role in allowing the rebels to continue a bloody rampage during that West African nation's 11-year civil war that ended in 2002 with more than 50,000 dead.

Egyptian presidential campaign has three frontrunners
Egypt's presidential race is coming down to a contest between Hosni Mubarak's former foreign minister and two Islamists with strong bases of support after the election commission released the final list of 13 candidates on Thursday. In the past few weeks, the commission disqualified 10 of the 23 hopefuls who had initially registered for the May 23-24 elections. After a turbulent, 14-month transition led by the ruling military council that took over from Mubarak, none of the front-runners represents the largely liberal and secular youth who drove the uprising that ousted the former regime in February 2011. And with a Mubarak-era figure and two Islamists dominating, the hopes for a truly representative and democratic government are dimming fast. The three front-runners are Mubarak's longtime foreign minister and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa; Mohammed Morsi, the second-choice candidate of the nation's most powerful political group, the Muslim Brotherhood; and moderate Islamist candidate Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who defected from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Norwegians remember massacre victims
Facing terror with music, tens of thousands gathered in squares across Norway to sing a children's song that gunman Anders Behring Breivik claimed is being used to brainwash young Norwegians. The defiant protest against the right-wing fanatic took place as survivors gave tearful testimony Thursday in his trial for the July 22 bombing-and-shooting rampage that killed 77 people, mostly teenagers. Some 40,000 people converged at a central square in Oslo in the pouring rain to sing the 1970's song "Children of the Rainbow." Later they were to lay roses on the steps of the courthouse in memory of those killed in the massacre. In testimony last week, Breivik mentioned the song as an example of how he believes "cultural Marxists" have infiltrated Norwegian schools, triggering a Facebook intiative for Thursday's protests.

Walmart allegations stir Mexico
Mexico City's mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, said on Thursday authorities in the capital would investigate allegations "store by store" that the Mexican unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc bribed officials to expand its business in the country. Mr. Ebrard was speaking a day after the federal comptroller's office said it had launched a probe following a New York Times report that alleged the company made suspect payments worth $24 million to expand rapidly in Mexico. The comptroller's office said it had begun checking federal paperwork and permits that Wal-Mart de Mexico obtained to open and operate stores in Mexico. Walmex's operations in the city proper include 23 Wal-Mart brand superstores, according to Walmex's website. It also owns dozens of other businesses in Mexico City including smaller supermarkets. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said on Wednesday the scandal had made him "very indignant."

Ukraine orders inquiry into opposition leader's abuse claim
Ukraine's president on Thursday ordered a thorough probe into the alleged beating by prison officials of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Mrs. Tymoshenko, 51, the country's top opposition leader, launched a hunger strike nearly a week ago to protest the alleged violence. She claims that prison guards punched her in the stomach and twisted her arms and legs while transporting her to a local hospital against her will to be treated for a spinal condition. She was soon returned to jail after refusing treatment from state doctors at the clinic. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych made his statement about Tymoshenko on Thursday hours after German President Joachim Gauck cancelled a visit to Ukraine next month and opposition politicians in Germany urged their government to boycott the Euro 2012 football championship that Ukraine will host in June.

Murdoch claims to be victim
News Corp. executive chairman Rupert Murdoch said Thursday that his U.K. newspaper company was the victim of a cover-up, alleging that he and his son were deliberately kept in the dark about phone hacking at the News of the World. Mr. Murdoch was being questioned at a media ethics inquiry led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, which was set up following the scandal over large-scale wrongdoing at the Sunday tabloid. Mr. Murdoch has condemned phone hacking and other media misdeeds but claims he was unaware of its scope. He admits he could have done more to nip the scandal in the bud. Murdoch's earlier testimony has focused on his political influence. The newspaper mogul has downplayed his political role in Britain and says he has not sought special favours.

Venezuelan leader again returns after cancer treatment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has returned home after 11 days of cancer treatment in Cuba. State television showed images of Chavez chatting with his vice-president and other aides after arriving at Caracas' international airport early Thursday. Chavez travelled to Cuba on April 14 for radiation therapy treatment. He said earlier this week that he expects to return to Havana soon to undergo more treatments. The Venezuelan leader began radiation treatment in Cuba in late March after an operation in February that he says removed a second tumour from his pelvic region. The first tumour was taken out in an operation last June. Mr. Chavez has kept secret some details of his illness, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors. He is seeking re-election in October.


Daimler closes Ontario plant
Daimler AG is closing a bus plant in Mississauga, ON, as part of a plan to shut down its North American transit bus business due to weak demand. The plant currently employs 390 people. The German company said Wednesday it will immediately stop taking orders for its Orion buses and look to close the Toronto-area plant once it completes its current orders over the next year. A plant in Oriskany, NY, will continue operations as a parts and field service location. Daimler said the decision follows expectations that the transit bus business will remain depressed for the next several years. The Canadian Auto Workers union, which represents workers at the plant, blamed chronic underfunding of public transit across Canada for the closure.

Wireless firm wins case over rival
A two-year legal battle that centered on whether new wireless carrier Wind Mobile was Canadian owned and controlled when it entered the market was put to an end Thursday by the Supreme Court of Canada. The high court decided it will not hear an appeal of a Federal Court decision involving Wind Mobile, meaning it's business as usual for the wireless carrier and its roughly 400,000 customers. Rival wireless company Public Mobile had argued rules for Canadian ownership and control had not been applied to Wind Mobile and wanted the Supreme Court to hear the case. Wind Mobile was one of several new entrants into the mobile phone market in Canada following a wireless spectrum auction in 2008. Its major backer was an Egyptian telecom company.

The Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday: 12,146 + 35. Canadian dollar: US$1.01. Euro: $1.30. Oil: $104.42 + .30.



Canada has dropped to fifth in world rankings released ahead of the IIHF World Hockey Championship. Defending champion Finland remains No. 1 ahead of Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic. Canada sat in top spot after winning gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver but has dropped down after consecutive quarter-final exits at the world championship. The Canadian players participating in this year's tournament leave Thursday for Europe and will play two exhibition games in Zurich. Canada opens the tournament May 4 in Helsinki against Slovakia.


British Columbia on Friday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C11 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: rain. Nunavut: snow. Whitehorse 6, Yellowknife 4, Iqaluit -3. Alberta, Saskatchewan: rain. Manitoba: sun. Edmonton 3, Regina 5, Winnipeg 15. Ontario: sun. Quebec: snow. Toronto 9, Ottawa 2, Montreal 4. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 6, Halifax, Charlottetown, St. John's 13.

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