Saturday, May 5, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Evidence emerges of Tory dirty electoral tricks
Elections Canada says it was told by Conservative staffers that local campaign workers in Guelph, ON., openly discussed making misleading telephone calls during the last election. Newly filed court documents say Conservative staff told chief investigator Allan Mathews that Guelph Tory staffer Michael Sona talked about American-style politics and making misleading or harassing calls to non-supporters. Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton accompanied the staffers when they spoke to Mr. Mathews. Mr. Sona has denied being behind the calls. The court filings also shed light on Mathews' hunt for the elusive "Pierre Poutine," the name linked to the account behind the Guelph calls. To Edmonton-based RackNine Inc., he was client 93, who gave the fake name Pierre S. Jones. PayPal records show the mysterious client paid for the RackNine robocalls using a prepaid money card to conceal his or her identity.







Canadian opposition angry over budget bill
The opposition parties in Canada's Parliament are angry over a government decision that they will have a limited time to debate a federal budget bill that makes major changes to major aspects of politics. The Conservative Party government intends to pass the bill by summer. Government House of Commons Leader Peter Van Loan says he doesn't understand why critics are complaining. He says the bill will get more debate that any other budget package has in a long time. The bill amends about 60 different laws, eliminates a half dozen others and rewrites the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.





Military returns to Northwest Passage
Military teams are to return to the Northwest Passage this summer to resume work on a troubled project meant to monitor increased shipping through waters Canada claims as its own. The Northern Watch project is to eventually install high-tech sensors to monitor traffic through the strategic sea lane in all weather both above and below the water surface. Officials acknowledge Arctic conditions have put the project years behind schedule and tripled the original cost. The sensors were supposed to be operational this summer, a deadline that has now been pushed back to 2015. They will also cost $18 million, up from the original $6 million.





Former Alberta premier called the best
A Canadian magazine that focuses on public policy says the best provincial premier in the last 40 years is Alberta's Peter Lougheed. Policy Options magazine asked 30 historians, political scientists, journalists, economists, and policy advisers for their top five picks for the best premier since 1972. Mr. Lougheed was the only premier named by each member of the panel. Finishing second is Ontario's Bill Davis, followed by Allan Blakeney of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick's Frank McKenna, and Robert Bourassa of Quebec.





E. Coli eruption in eastern province
Health officials in New Brunswick are searching for the source of an E. coli outbreak that has left people ill in three communities. Dr. Denis Allard, the deputy chief medical officer of health, said 24 cases of bloody diarrhea suspected to be caused by E. coli have been reported so far. Dr. Allard says officials became aware of the outbreak on Tuesday, and that the first person began showing symptoms on April 23. He said 20 cases were reported in Miramichi, two in Saint John and two in Bathurst. Dr. Allard says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is helping officials trace the source, but they haven't found it yet. Eight cases have tested positive as E. coli O157, a severe strain that can cause serious illness and can sometimes lead to kidney failure.





Last penny made
The last Canadian penny was made Friday at the Royal Canadian Mint facility in Winnipeg, MB. It was five weeks ago that federal government announced one-cent coins will no longer be produced, a move that will save the government $11-million a year. The value of pennies have fallen so much over the years that they cost more to make than they are worth. Although Canadian pennies will no longer be manufactured, they will be accepted in cash transactions for as long as Canadians hold on to them.





Black back
Conrad Black has been spotted at his home in Toronto, just hours after being released from a prison in Florida. Reporters spotted the former media baron being greeted by wife Barbara Amiel and walking through the door of his home. Black was believed to be in a three-vehicle caravan that rushed out the front gate of the Federal Correctional Institute in Miami on Friday at 8:15 a.m. Despite the fact Black renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to accept a British peerage, the federal government granted his application for a one-year temporary resident permit. He was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice charges in 2007 for his business dealings while at the helm of newspaper giant Hollinger.






Teen bomber kills 20 Pakistanis
A teenager blew himself up near a Pakistani market close to the Afghan border Friday, killing 20 people. Five of the dead in the blast in the northwestern Bajur tribal area were local members of the security forces. The others were passersby, including a woman and several schoolchildren. The suicide bomber, who was believed to be 15 to 16 years old, detonated his explosives as he approached a security checkpoint near the market in the town of Khar. The attack took place as locals were headed to work or taking their children to school. More than 40 people were wounded, most civilians. Pakistan's branch of the Taliban, which is battling for control of the region, has killed and wounded thousands of people since 2009, many of them civilians in markets or mosques.





Four more reporters slain in Mexico
Four of the last reporters and photographers willing to cover crime stories have been slain in less than a week in violence-torn Veracruz state, where two Mexican drug cartels are warring over control of smuggling routes and targeting sources of independent information. The brutal campaign is bleeding the media and threatening to turn Veracruz into the latest state in Mexico where fear snuffs out reporting on the drug war. Three photojournalists who worked the perilous crime beat in the port city of Veracruz were found dismembered and dumped in plastic bags in a canal Thursday, less than a week after a reporter for an investigative newsmagazine, Regina Martinez, was beaten and strangled in her home in the state capital of Xalapa.





Greek voters in crucial election
Greece's Socialist leader warned that the country faces default and mass poverty if voters backs anti-bailout parties in the upcoming general election. Opinion polls suggest that Evangelos Venizelos' majority Pasok party will sustain heavy losses Sunday in the recession-hit country, after imposing more than two years of harsh austerity measures. But Mr. Venizelos said at his final election rally in Athens on Friday that Greeks faced a choice between seeing through the painful measures and remaining in the euro and experiencing a disastrous default. Pro-bailout conservatives are leading opinion surveys but are unlikely to be able to form a government.



South Sudan claims new attack from north
South Sudan's military spokesman said Friday that Sudanese aircraft dropped 10 bombs in an oil-rich region near a military base south of the shared border, attacks that come one day after Sudan agreed to a ceasefire and a return to talks. Col. Philip Aguer said the bombs were dropped late Thursday afternoon. He said two civilians were wounded in the bombings, which took place on the town of Laloba, about 50 kilometres north of the Unity State capital of Bentiu in South Sudan. He said southern military positions in nearby Teshwin were shelled around the same time. Col. Aguer says there were no adequate health facilities to care for the wounded woman and child, and he didn't know if they would survive. The attacks came one day after Sudan announced it had accepted an agreement put forward by the African Union to return to talks with South Sudan. The agreement demands both sides adhere to a ceasefire.





Chinese dissident allowed to go to U.S.
The U.S. and China forged the outlines of a deal Friday to end a diplomatic standoff over legal activist Chen Guangcheng that would let him travel to the U.S. with his family for a university fellowship. The Chinese Foreign Ministry says Mr. Chen may apply for travel permits to study abroad. The U.S. says an American university has offered Chen a fellowship with provisions for his family. The deal, if tentative, showed renewed resolve by Washington and Beijing to end one of their most delicate diplomatic crises in years. A blind, self-taught lawyer and symbol in China's civil rights movement, Mr. Chen triggered the standoff after he escaped abusive house arrest in his rural town and sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing last week.








Air Canada claims customer confidence recovering
Air Canada says bookings have started to recover after several job actions by unhappy workers prompted flight cancellations that had a "damaging rippling effect" on consumer confidence. The Montreal company said Friday that its net loss for the three months ended March 31 was $210 million, including $55 million attributed to discontinued operations at Aveos. The loss was 11 times higher this year than the $19 million loss in 2011 as the airline weathered higher fuel prices, work stoppages by some of its employees and the bankruptcy of Aveos, the company that formerly overhauled its planes. CEO Calvin Rovinescu says the airline expected labour issues to remain a major focus in the quarter, but said media reports about the labour disputes was "disproportionate to the actual disruption" to its operations. Air Canada will soon begin 10 days of scheduled negotiations with its pilots and machinists. If deals can't be reached, arbitrators will impose contracts within 90 days.



TransCanada files new pipeline application
TransCanada has filed a new application with the U.S. State Department for a segment of pipeline between the Canada-U.S. border and Steele City, NB. TransCanada expects to begin construction in early 2013, with oil flowing in late 2014 or early 2015. The line would run from Hardisty, AB., to Steele City, NB. The application will include a new route through Nebraska, which the state is also reviewing, that will skirt the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region. Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says the new route increases the likelihood the project will be approved. He says though "pleased" to see the pipeline proposal progress, the government will continue to seek new markets for Canadian oil, with a particular eye on the Asia-Pacific region.





Markets
The Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday: 11,871. Canadian dollar: US$1.00. Euro: $1.30. Oil: $98.54 -4.00.






Sports
HOC KEY

Canada opened the world hockey championship on a winning note, downing Slovakia 3-2. However, Alex Burrows left a little more than six minutes into the second with an apparent head injury. The team has already lost defenceman P.K. Subban, who was sent home with a knee injury.








Weather
British Columbia on Saturday: rain south, mix sun cloud north, high C11 Vancouver. Yukon, Northwest Territories: mix sun cloud. Nunavut: rain. Whitehorse 8, Yellowknife 12, Iqaluit 2. Prairies: rain. Edmonton 13, Regina, Winnipeg 14. Ontario, Quebec: mix sun rain. Toronto 16, Ottawa, Montreal 15. Atlantic Canada: rain. Fredericton 12, Halifax 15, Charlottetown 14, St. John's 17.