Tuesday, May 29, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Ottawa to legislate railway back to work
Canada's Conservative government introduced back-to-work legislation for 4,800 striking Canadian Pacific Railway workers Monday, saying Canada's entire economy was at risk along with the country's international reputation. Five Conservative cabinet ministers delivered the dire warning in Ottawa, backed by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Toronto, marking the third time in the last year the government has intervened in a national labour dispute. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt says she expects the railroad's freight service to be back in business by Thursday.

The government is limiting debate on the back-to-work bill and will speed it through the Commons and Senate. Workers have been off the job since last Wednesday, when the government first vowed to legislate an end to the labour dispute. Mediated contract talks between the railway and the Teamsters union representing locomotive engineers and conductors collapsed Sunday. Mrs. Raitt says Canada's reputation as an international business partner is at stake, and that CP Rail's operations affect a million workers in the bulk shipping industry while impacting half-a-billion dollars worth of economic activity each week.

Canada wants more sanctions after Syria massacre
Canada is calling for tougher sanctions against Syria following an attack on the town of Houla that killed more than 100 men, women and children. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday and called for those responsible for the slaughter to be held accountable. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says the attack on Friday shows the Syrian regime's appalling disregard for human life. Mr. Baird says stronger action is needed, including economic sanctions, to ensure the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad immediately stops the slaughter of its own people.

Canadian opposition party maintains popularity
A new national opinion polls suggests Canadian political opinion is shifting leftward. The Forum Poll published in the National Post concludes that the left-leaning New Democratic Party - currently the official opposition in Parliament - would form a minority government if an election were held now. Tom Mulcair, the NDP leader, also captured the highest approval rating among national party leaders, with 41%. Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister, received 33%, the same as Liberal leader Bob Rae.

Warning sounded over federal fishery cuts
Fisheries groups and academics are sounding a warning over federal government cuts to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Maria Recchia, executive director of the Fundy North Fishermen's Association in New Brunswick, says every government scientist who has worked on the impact of aquaculture pesticides on the marine ecosystem and the fishery are slated to be laid off or transferred. She calls the situation "scary." Pam Parker of the Atlantic Fish Farmers Association says the industry will have to rely on private institutions and academics because scientific work still needs to be done. A spokeswoman for Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield says the cuts are an effort to save $79.3 million over three years. She says an advisory group will be formed to get advice on the biological effects of contaminants and pesticides.

Quebec, students renew negotiations
Talks are back on between the Quebec government and student leaders in an attempt to end a months-long conflict. It's the first time the sides have met since the government tabled emergency legislation almost two weeks ago. Since then, street protests have swelled to different cities, including at least a couple outside Canada. As they entered the meeting, students said they expected the government to compromise on the key issue of tuition increases which are what sparked the movement in the first place. Representatives from the province's four largest student associations took part in talks Monday afternoon with the province's education minister. The meeting comes at a crucial time, with thousands taking to the streets nightly in protest and Montreal's peak tourist season fast approaching.

B.C. teachers conflict drags on
The B.C. Teachers' Federation says it won't back down despite threats of back-to-work legislation if a bitter contract dispute is not resolved by the end of June. BCTF president Susan Lambert warns her members will be ready to fight if Education Minister George Abbott makes good on suggestions that a new contract could be imposed over the summer. Mr. Abbott has said he would be ready to act if a government-appointed mediator can't reach a deal with teachers before June 30. Mrs. Lambert responds by saying the union has a court-mandated order for the right to free collective bargaining, something she says the B.C. Liberal government is continuing to ignore.

Rain comes to rescue in northern Ontario
The mayor of Timmins, ON, Tom Laughren says the city has lifted a state of emergency after rain dampened forest fires in northeastern Ontario. The fire has not grown since Saturday and remains at 39,500 hectares, about 30 kilometres away from the centre of the Timmins. Weaker winds and cloud cover are helping to keep smoke away from the city. Meanwhile in Kirkland Lake to the southeast, Mayor Bill Enouy says officials are keeping their state of emergency in place. Hydro crews expect to restore power to two area mines. The chief of the nearby Mattagami First Nation is allowed residents to return home Monday.

Body of Canadian mountain climber found
A team of climbers has reached the remains of a Canadian woman who died while descending from the summit of Mount Everest earlier this month. Shriya Shah-Klorfine's body has been transported down the mountain to a point where a helicopter can land. Bad weather, however, has prevented a helicopter from reaching the slope. Miss Shah-Klorfine was among four climbers who died on Mount Everest on May 19. It's believed that they ran out of oxygen.

UN mediator horrified by massacre in Syria
UN envoy Kofi Annan called Monday on "every individual with a gun" in Syria to lay down arms, saying he was horrified by a weekend massacre that killed more than 100 people, including women and small children. Even Syria's staunchest ally Russia joined sweeping international criticism of the mass killings on Friday in the Houla area, saying the government was at least partly to blame for one of the deadliest single events in the 15-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad's rule. Mr. Annan said arrived in the Syrian capital Damascus for talks with Mr. Assad and other senior officials. He called on all sides of the conflict to end the bloodshed, Activists from the Houla area said the army pounded the villages with artillery and clashed with local rebels after protests Friday. Some activists said pro-regime thugs later stormed the area, doing the bulk of the killing by gunning down men in the streets and stabbing women and children in their homes. The Syrian government rejected that narrative and claimed soldiers were attacked in their bases and fought back in self-defence.

Egypt's presidential race narrows down
Egypt headed for a divisive duel between a Muslim Brother and an ex-military man in a run-off for a president to replace ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, after election results on Monday that one losing candidate called "dishonest". The electoral committee confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi and former air force chief and Mubarak ally Ahmed Shafiq had won through to the second round of Egypt's first genuinely contested presidential election. Mr. Mursi topped the poll with 24.3 percent of the vote, followed by Mr. Shafiq with 23.3 percent.

Palestinians talk unity
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas began talks to form a unity government on Monday in a renewed bid to heal political rifts, paving the way for a general election. Hamas runs the Gaza Strip, cut off from the West Bank by Israeli territory, as a separate entity, ignoring policies set by Mr. Abbas' Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. While Fatah endorses the goal of a two-state solution with Israel, Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist. Itsleaders say they could accept a Palestinian state in return for long-term truce with Israel, an offer Israel rejects.

Blast erupts in Kenyan capital
A blast struck a shopping complex in Nairobi's business district during Monday's lunch hour. More than two dozen people were injured. It's uncertain whether but there was the explosion was caused by a bomb or electrical fault. Two shopkeepers said that they saw a man drop a bag inside the trading centre moments before the blast. Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Kenyans would not be cowered by "terrorists". More than 10 people have been killed in a string of attacks in Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.

Ukrainian opposition adopts joint policies
Ukraine's two biggest opposition parties are presenting a joint reform plan. The plan seeks to change the law enforcement and judicial systems in a bid to fight widespread corruption. But it also aims to raise wages for government workers. The plan also promises to free former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is in jail following her controversial conviction for abuse of power. Former parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov, a former aide to Ms. Tymoshenko, are vowing to free Ms. Tymoshenko. Ukraine holds national elections in October.

Family of convicted Pakistani CIA collaborator denounces trial
The family of the Pakistani doctor sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping the United States track down Osama bin Laden said Monday the man is innocent and dismissed his trial as a sham. The conviction of Shakil Afridi last week created another conflict between Pakistan and the U.S. Senior American officials have urged Pakistan to release the doctor, regarding him as a hero who worked to stop the terrorist leader. Islamabad views Afridi as a traitor who colluded with a foreign intelligence agency in an illegal operation on Pakistani soil. Also Monday, two suspected U.S. missile strikes pounded militant hide-outs in a tribal region close to Afghan border, killing nine alleged insurgents.

Telecom competition goes North
Northern consumers will have more choice for their Internet, residential and cellphone services with two private telecom companies joining forces to expand their footprint in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut. Ice Wireless and Iristel said Monday they will bring competition to NorthwesTel, a subsidiary of BCE Inc.'s Bell Canada that serves the North. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission recently ordered that other competitive telephone companies be allowed to enter the three territories starting this May. Ice Wireless and Iristel will provide bundled communications to Canada's northern communities for a range of services, including Internet, local and long distance phone services, expanded cellular coverage with a faster network as well as data services such as Internet surfing. The services are expected to be launched in July.

RIM loses another exec
Research In Motion Ltd. is losing another senior executive as its chief legal officer is retiring amid reports RIM may announce a major restructuring this week, a move that could result in thousands of job cuts. RIM said Monday that Karima Bawa had been in discussions about her retirement for some time and plans to stay on to help with thetransition once a replacement has been hired. Mrs. Bawa's retirement follows the departure last week of Patrick Spence, the BlackBerry maker's head of global sales. Changes in the senior leadership at RIM follow the appointment of Thorsten Heins as RIM's president and chief executive earlier this year. He replaced co-chief executives Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis after months of pressure from shareholders. Several reports have suggested RIM will cut at least 2,000 jobs at its operations around globe as part of a massive restructuring.

The Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday: 11,566.07 - 10. Canadian dollar: US97 US. Euro: $1.28. Oil: $91.14 + .28.


Roger Federer has tied Jimmy Connors' Open era record of 233 Grand Slam match wins. He beat Tobias Kamke of Germany in three sets in the first round of the French Open. Canada's Milos Raonic also advanced at the French Open, dispatching Spain's Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.