Wednesday, May 23, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition 22 May 2012
Canadian International Financial

OECD offers Canada advice on mortgages
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says moves by the federal government to tighten mortgage lending rules aren't doing enough to cool the housing market in the hottest regions in the country, OECD senior economist Peter Jarrett said while some areas will benefit from the changes, red-hot markets like Toronto are unaffected by the more restrictive rules. Mr. Jarrett says low rates entice homebuyers to borrow more than they can sustain at higher rates. The posted rate for a variable rate mortgage at Canada's big banks stands at roughly 3.2 per cent. The OECD has suggested the Bank of Canada begin the raise interest rates this fall with a target of 2.25 per cent by the end of next year, up from one per cent where it has stood since September 2010. Mr. Jarrett says that as long as the European national debt crisis doesn't explode again this summer, higher rates will be justified.

Federal Tories want electoral complaints dismissed
Seven Conservative Members of Parliament who narrowly won their seats in the last election are asking the Federal Court to toss out a request to review the results in their ridings. Conservative Party lawyer Arthur Hamilton has filed motions on behalf of the seven MPs asking that the cases be rejected.
The almost identically worded motions call the cases frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of process. They also claim the applications for judicial review were filed too late and don't contain any specific allegations that could furnish grounds to overturn the election results from May 2, 2011. The Council of Canadians has asked the Federal Court to review the election results in two ridings in Ontario, two in Manitoba, one in Saskatchewan, one in British Columbia and one in the Yukon. The council alleges misleading or harassing phone calls in those ridings kept some people from voting and may have affected the outcomes. The law lets voters legally challenge the results in their ridings. If a judge finds anything that would have changed the outcome, a new byelection can be ordered.

Quebec students mark milestone
A river of red-clad protesters was passing through downtown Montreal on the 100th day of Quebec's student strikes, with smaller events being held in other cities. The event came several days after the Quebec government introduced a law setting rules for protests and promising stiff financial penalties for transgressors, a move that appears to have fanned the flames of the Quebec student movement. There are hints the student unrest could spread outside the province.
The Canadian Federation of Students wants to call an Ontario-wide strike vote this fall in a show of solidarity with Quebec students. While fewer than one-third of Quebec's post-secondary students are actually on strike, they have attracted some support from people angry at the provincial government and its emergency law. The law requires organizers to give police eight hours' notice of when and where a protest will happen and imposes fines for offenders.
The Quebec government began a counter-offensive in support of its law Tuesday. Public Security Minister Robert Dutil read from a list of cities with equally tough, or even tougher, rules for organizing protests. Mr. Dutil listed Geneva, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Spain as jurisdictions that require far more than eight hours' notice to hold a protest.

Fire still burning in northeastern Ontario
About 300 people remain out of homes and cottages near Kirkland Lake, in northeastern Ontario, because of a threat from a nearby forest fire. People were told to leave residential and cottage areas at Goodfish and Nettie Lake, about 600 kilometres north of Toronto, for safety reasons on Sunday. The fire that broke out Sunday is about three kilometres from the town of Kirkland Lake. Cooler weather Monday provided a reprieve but the Ministry of Natural Resources says hot, dry weather is expected for the next few days. Crews using a pumper truck and aided by helicopters with water buckets are battling the fire.

Alberta wants solution to dangerous roadway
Alberta Premier Alison Redford says she wants solutions within six weeks on ways to fast-track the twinning of the notorious high-density highway to the oilsands. Mrs. Redford, speaking in Fort McMurray Tuesday, said she has directed the area MLA, Mike Allen, to conduct research and make recommendations both on twinning Highway 63 and on short-term measures to improve safety. Mr. Allen is to deliver those ideas to Transportation Minister Ric McIver before the end of June. Highway 63, a 240-km stretch of undivided highway, one lane running in each direction, has become a knotty, financial problem for the province and a heartbreaking, flat-top backdrop to hundreds of crashes and deaths.

Canadian military recognizes wheelchair hero
The Canadian Defence Department is marking the 25th anniversary of Rick Hanson's round-the-world wheelchair trek by naming him honorary colonel of its joint personnel support unit. The unit offers services and programs to sick or injured military personnel, both serving and retired, and their families, as well as the families of those killed. Mr. Hanson's original Man in Motion wheelchair marathon took 26 months, covered 34 countries and raised $26 million for research into spinal cord injuries. The Rick Hanson Foundation has raised more than $250 million in total and continues to investigate advances in research and
improvements in quality of life.

Nunavut wants revenue from of resources
The Canadian government and the eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut are opening talks on granting province-like powers to the eastern Arctic territory over its natural resources. Premier Eva Aariak says Nunavut's economic development and our self-reliance depend on reaching an agreement to transfer land management responsibilities. The territorial government currently doesn't collect any royalties from resources on its land. The money all flows to the federal government. Nunavut maintains that getting a share of the potential wealth from the territory's rich deposits of gold, uranium, iron and other resources are the key to weaning itself off dependence on federal transfers. Mining companies spent more than $300 million in 2011 alone on exploration and development in the territory, which currently has one gold mine in operation and other major projects underway.


Bahraini dissident reported in court
Bahraini activists report that jailed colleague Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, on hunger strike for more than three months, was brought to court in a wheelchair on Tuesday when the retrial resumed of 13 men imprisoned over protests that rocked the island last year. A military court convicted the men last year of using violence in protests led by majority Shi'ite Muslims in an effort to topple the Sunni monarchy. Bahrain's highest appeals court ordered a retrial last month for 21 protest leaders, ruling that they should be retried in a civilian court. Seven of them were convicted in absentia and are abroad or in hiding. The court did not order the release of the remaining 13 or cancel their convictions, despite calls by international rights groups for their unconditional release. Eight of them are serving life sentences.

Egyptian cops sentenced in absentia
An Egyptian court sentenced five policemen to 10 years in prison in absentia on Tuesday for killing protesters. It was a rare conviction of security officials accused of using deadly force against the demonstrations that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Families of slain protesters attending the court session counted the convictions as a victory. They broke down in tears and chanted "God is great!" Until now, out of the nearly 200 policemen and security officials who face charges related to the killing of protesters in 2011, only one has been convicted in absentia. When had a retrial, he received a one-year suspended sentence.

Gunmen strike at Pakistani political rally
Police in Karachi, Pakistan, report that gunmen opened fire on a political rally in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Tuesday, killing at least nine people and sparking rioting. The violence was a reminder of the port city's volatility. It ishome to several political parties with armed wings that extort its citizens and feud among themselves, leading to frequent outbreaks of violence. City police chief Akhtar Gorchani said nine people were killed and more then 30 wounded in shootouts. Karachi is home to 18 million people and is the commercial hub of Pakistan. But it is riven with ethnic, political and sectarian tensions, and is also believed to be a hiding place for Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

Yemen marks reunification
Yemeni leaders led a sombre ceremony Tuesday to mark the country's national day. They had scaled back the celebrations a day after a suicide bombing killed nearly 100 soldiers during a rehearsal for a military parade. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with top military commanders, government officials and foreign diplomats, took part in a small, symbolic parade held inside Sanaa's Aviation Academy. Security concerns were paramount at the ceremony following Monday's suicide attack, when a Yemeni soldier detonated a bomb hidden in his uniform during a rehearsal for a military parade for National Day, which marks the 1990 reunification of north and south Yemen. Ninety-six soldiers were killed.

Myanmar opposition chief to speak abroad
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver her first speech outside the country before a UN labour conference in Geneva on June 14. Suu Kyi's speech to the annual conference of the Geneva-based UN's International Labour Organization will be a key element of her first trip abroad since 1988, when she returned to Myanmar to care for her ailing mother. After becoming leader of Myanmar's pro-democracy movement, Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for 15 of the following 22 years of military rule. Her confinement also prevented her from attending the ceremony in Oslo, Norway, where she was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize. The ILO has long been a vocal critic of forced labour in Myanmar.

Putin names associate to top post
Igor Sechin, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest confidants, was named CEO of Rosneft on Tuesday, putting the previous government's energy 'tsar' in direct charge of the country's biggest oil company. Mr. Sechin's move from the corridors of power to the executive suite at Rosneft marks the culmination of his evolving role over the past decade in masterminding strategic energy policy in the world's largest oil-producing nation. Rosneft's shares gained by as much at 3.5 percent asindustry analysts welcomed the appointment, praising Mr. Sechin's unparalleled lobbying power and proven ability to cut deals.

Tallest tower opens
The world's tallest tower and Japan's biggest new landmark, the Tokyo Skytree, opened to the public on Tuesday. Nearly 8,000 visitors were expected to take high-speed elevators up to the observation decks of the 634-meter tower to mark its opening. Some reportedly waited in line more than a week to get the coveted tickets for a panoramic view. Skytree is recognized by Guinness World Records as the tallest tower, beating out the Canton Tower in China, which is 600 metres.


Ontario fomally accuses troubled Chinese forestry firm
The Ontario Securities Commission is accusing troubled Chinese timberland company Sino-Forest Corp. of lying to investors and attempting to misleading investigators. The regulator launched the fraud allegations against the company as well as founder and former chief executive Allen Chan and other executives. Sino-Forest is accused of overstating its assets and revenue. The company was at one time the most highly valued stock traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Convenience store expansion hits snag
Canada's largest operator of convenience stores says it's disappointed by shareholder response to a takeover proposal under which it plans to expanded into northern Europe, but believes the deal will ultimately succeed. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. said minority shareholders of Statoil Fuel & Retail have been slow to tender their stock to its friendly takeover offer. So far, about 67 per cent of the shares have been tendered, including Statoil ASA, the oil company that owns 54 per cent of the Scandinavian convenience store operator. But Couche-Tard requires acceptance by 90 per cent of Statoil Fuel's shareholders. Three independent evaluations have confirmed that Couche-Tard's US$2.68-billion offer is within the range that reflects the value of the company. Couche-Tard said that due to disappointing response from minority shareholders, the deadline for acceptance has been extended to May 29.

The Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday: 11,452 + 171. Canadian dollar: US.97 - 0.57. Euro: $1.29. Oil: $91.66 -0.91.

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