Friday, June 15, 2012

RCI Cyberjournal

Edition du 14 June 2012
Canadian International Financial Sports Weather

Marathon budget vote continues
Members of Canada's Parliament are continuing their non-stop marathon session. They're voting on hundreds of amendments to the Conservative Party government's massive budget bill. Opposition parties proposed more than 800 amendments. The opposition is vigorously opposed to proposed changes to about 70 laws that touch a wide range of issues including immigration, the environment and unemployment insurance. To shorten the voting time, the amendments were grouped into 159 packages. But voting is still expected to continue, possibly early into Friday morning. Despite the opposition parties' efforts, the Conservative Party will use its majority in parliament to approve the bill.

Newfoundland seeking to restrict access-to-information law
While Canadian parliamentarians in Ottawa were holding a marathon vote, parliamentarians in the province of Newfoundland were completing a marathon debate of their own. They were arguing over the governing Conservative Party's bill to change access-to-information laws. Journalists often invoke the access laws to gain access to government information. The bill proposes that government cabinet meetings be more secret. The bill would also prevent the province's auditor general from having access to all records. The government house leader planned on Thursday to end all further debate on the bill. Opposition members accuse the government of trying to shield itself from public view.

Judge guilty of murder
The first judge in Canadian legal history to be tried for murder has been found guilty in a Quebec City court room. Jacques Delisle, a retired Quebec Court of Appeal justice, was accused of first-degree murder in the slaying of his wife, Marie-Nicole Rainville, on Nov. 12, 2009. Delisle's lawyer claimed that Rainville committed suicide. Authorities had originally agreed that Rainville's death was a suicide. But a police investigation eventually led detectives to a different conclusion; that he shot his wife because she was an obstacle to his plans to live with his former secretary, with whom he was having an affair.

Air India bombing plotter going back to court

A man sentenced to nine years in prison for perjury in connection with the Air India bombing is appealing his conviction. Inderjit Singh Reyat was convicted of lying during the trial in 2003 of two men charged with planning the bombing of Air India Flight 182. The bombing in 1985 killed 329 people on board. The attack was the worst terrorist act until the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. Both defendants were acquitted but Reyat pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty to plotting a bomb attack on another Air India plane. The bomb exploded prematurely at Tokyo's airport, killing two baggage handlers. Reyat received a ten-year prison for the Japan bombing. He was the only person convicted in connection with the Air India bombings.

Ontario acts to prevent discrimination against transgenders
Canada's most-populous province, Ontario, has amended its Human Rights Code to prevent discrimination against transgendered people. The Code has added the phrases, 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' to acknowledge the existence of men and women who change their sex. Manitoba is expected to follow Ontario's lead.

Bank of Canada stresses Canada's vulnerability
Canada's central bank has reiterated a warning that Canada's economy is vulnerable if a financial shock erupts in Europe. The Bank of Canada cites two reasons: the high level of household debt and overvalued real estate. The Bank of Canada was careful to point out it wasn't predicting a global crisis like the one in 2008, but suggested a failure in Europe could not be contained. Using a hypothetical stress test, the bank says a three per cent increase in unemployment - about the same as occurred in the recent recession - would almost triple the proportion of indebted households that would go into arrears. The current rate is currently about half a per cent and could rise 1.3 per cent under that scenario. A shock would also cut into net worth of Canadians. The bank points out that 40 per cent of household worth is tied to the value of their real estate holdings, compared to only 34 per cent a decade ago.

After hot start, Canada housing market cooling

The Canadian government agency that deals with housing predicts that the housing market will moderate for the rest of the year after a strong early start. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation forecasts that housing starts will range from 182,300 to 220,600 units this year, a moderate increase of its forecast in February. CMHC deputy chief economist Mathieu Laberge says that condo construction helped to drive housing starts in the early part of the year. Average house costs this year are predicted to range between CDN$341,100 and CDN$406,700. Prices are expected to increase by two to three per cent, which is consistent with market conditions that are expected to continue in 2012 and 2013. The housing market has been strong largely due to low interest rates. Some economists warn that homeowners who used low interest rates to borrow more than they could afford might be vulnerable to an economic downturn.

Gordon Lightfoot honoured
Singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot is being inducted into the U.S. Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Orillia, Ontario, born singer was to be feted at an awards dinner in New York on Thursday. The 73-year-old is credited with helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960's and 1970's. Some of Lightfoot's more than 20 albums have achieved gold and multi-platinum status internationally, and his songs have been recorded by some of the world's most renowned recording artists, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., The Kingston Trio, Marty Robbins, Barbra Streisand and Harry Belafonte, among others. Lightfoot's songs include "For Lovin' Me", "Early Morning Rain", "Steel Rail Blues", "Ribbon of Darkness", Black Day In July" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".

Bridge announcement imminent
A much-needed second bridge linking the province of Ontario with the state of Michigan appears closer to reality. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be in Windsor and Detroit on Friday and his office says the prime minister will take part in announcements and a signing ceremony along with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, the Canadian and U.S. ambassadors and cabinet members from the two countries. About one-quarter of all Canada-U.S. trade currently flows across the Ambassador Bridge. But the bridge is close to 100 years old and bottlenecks are not uncommon. The new bridge would be jointly owned by governments on both sides of the border, but the deal will likely involve Ottawa footing Michigan's $550-million share and recovering the money from the state's share of bridge tolls.


Haffeh deserted - Syrian death toll mounts

The Syrian town of Haffeh was smouldering and nearly deserted on Thursday after days of clashes between government forces and rebels, while activists reported more army assaults on pro-opposition areas across the country. United Nations monitors had been trying to enter the town after several days of fighting but were forced to turn back on Tuesday when a crowd attacked them. They finally gained access on Thursday to find state buildings burnt down, shops abandoned and a body lying in the street. There were signs of heavy bombardment. Only a handful of residents could be seen. Rebels pulled out of the town this week saying the thousands of remaining citizens risked being killed in cold blood, a warning echoed by the United States. In Douma, about 15 km (10 miles) from Damascus, activists said tanks had entered the city outskirts and government forces were battling rebel fighters. At least two people were killed and 15 wounded, they added. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists across the country, said 44 people were killed on Thursday. Most were civilians and rebels but there were also three security personnel among the dead, it added.

Yemen continues offensive against Islamist militants
The Yemeni army is pushing ahead with a U.S.-backed offensive against the last stronghold held by the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) in Abyan province. The push comes after they were driven out from the cities of Jaar and Zinjibar on Tuesday. According to local Defence Ministry officials, Yemeni soldiers killed 40 Islamist militants and captured one of their outposts in heavy fighting in southern Yemen on Thursday. The report could not be independently verified. Thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and war planes launched the offensive last month and were joined by local tribesmen opposed to the militants. The United States has provided training and other support, including drone strikes. The U.S. is concerned its Islamist foes have gained a new foothold in the Middle East.

Former Mubarak official allowed to run in Egyptian runoff election - new parliamentary elections in offing

The highest court in Egypt has dismissed a vote in parliament against one of the two candidates in Egypt's runoff presidential election on Sunday. The Islamist-dominated parliament voted to bar Ahmed Shafik from running. Mr. Shafik was formerly prime minister under the government of deposed president Hosni Mubarek. The other candidate is a member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt's highest court also ruled that the election of the country's Islamist-dominated parliament six months ago was unconstitutional. The Supreme Constitutional Court says a third of the legislature was elected illegally. The court threw out a law passed by the Islamist-dominated parliament in April that denied political rights to anyone who held a senior post in government or ruling party in the last decade of Hosni Mubarak's rule. The ruling means new elections for the entire parliament are needed. Egypt's presidential election will go ahead as planned this weekend.

Pakistan demanding NATO apology

NATO will have to apologize to Pakistan before Pakistan will reopen its vital supply routes to NATO troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan wants an apology for a NATO cross-border strike last year in which more than 20 Pakistan soldiers were killed. Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, says that NATO must apologize unconditionally and guarantee that such strikes do not occur again. Pakistan has often criticized the United States for drone attacks on militants in Pakistan's territory that accidentally kill civilians.

In wake of fan violence, Poland ensuring security at Euro 2012 matches

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, says that Poland bears full responsibility for the safety of Russian soccer fans attending Euro 2012 matches in Poland. Mr. Putin was reacting to violence between Russian and Polish fans at a match in Warsaw on Tuesday in which police detained 184 people, most of them Poles. A Polish court handed down suspended sentences to offenders. Eight offenders received fines. Polish authorities expect 20,000 Russian fans to arrive in Warsaw for their team's final Group A match against Greece. Municipal officials are promising sufficient security to protect fans. European soccer officials warn that Russia could lost qualifying points for the next European championships if Russian fans repeat their actions at Russia's opening game last week. Fans threw fireworks and waved offensive banners.

Spain, Italy, promising more government spending controls
As Greek voters prepare for an election on Sunday that could determine the fate of the eurozone, Spain and Italy are promising new measures to control government expenses. Spain's government bond yield rose to more than seven per cent, a level at which other eurozone countries, Greece, Ireland and Portugal, were forced to seek massive international bailouts. Spain's high bond yield raises fears that the eurozone's decision last week to lend Spain as much as 125 billion dollars might not be enough. Spain's economy minister says that the government will introduce more cost-cutting measures in the weeks to come. Italy, meanwhile, is cutting more from its state budgets. Cuts will total five billion euros, some 800 million euros more than previously announced. The government says that the money saved will be used to help two Italian regions that suffered damage from earthquakes last month.

Mobile phone maker Nokia laying off thousands
Finland's giant mobile phone maker, Nokia Corporation, is going to lay off thousands of its workers worldwide, including some in Canada. In all, ten thousands jobs will be cut. The company's main plant in Finland will close its manufacturing division, and some research and development projects will end in Germany and in Canada's west coast city of Burnaby. Nokia says that it's taking the moves in the face of strong world competition in the smartphone sector. In April, Nokia announced one of its worst quarterly results in its history.


The S&P/TSX composite index edged 31.45 points lower to 11,466.42.
The Dow Jones industrials were up 155.53 points at 12,651.91.
The Nasdaq composite index gained 17.72 points to 2,836.33 and the S&P 500 index climbed 14.22 points to 1,329.1.
The Canadian dollar was up 52-100ths to 97.68 cents US.
Oil rose $1.29 to US$83.91 a barrel.

Air Transat showing worse-than-expected losses
The Canadian travel company, Transat A.T., is reporting second-quarter losses far worse than expected. The loss was CDN$13.2 million. At the same time a year ago, the company showed a profit of CDN$600,000. Transat shares fell sharply in early trading on Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Montreal-based Transat said that its North American and European arms both had operating losses in the quarter. Transat president and CEO Jean-Marc Eustache says that selling prices of travel packages to Mexico and Caribbean declined sharply while fuel costs remained higher. The company expects to struggle during the next quarter. Air Transat flight attendants have accepted a wage freeze in an effort to ensure their jobs.

The former co-CEOs of BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion will receive a combined $12 million in payouts for leaving their roles at the struggling company. In a document filed with securities regulators ahead of the company's annual meeting, RIM said Jim Balsillie will be paid nearly $8 million in salary and other compensation after completely exiting his role at the company in January. Mike Lazaridis, who remains a member of the board, will be paid about $4 million in salary and compensation under the condition that he will "continue to make himself reasonably available" to help the company in the future. The deal also give Lazaridis his own office, executive assistant, as well as a car and driver for two years, at a combined value of about $733,000. RIM says in the filings that Balsillie and Lazaridis revolutionized the worldwide wireless industry with the BlackBerry," though the company has seen its stock plummet and its financial results significantly weaken.


The Toronto Blue Jays lost their third game in a row on Wednesday, defeated 4-2, by the Washington Nationals. Washington Rookie Tyler Moore had his first two career homers and added a double to finish with five RBI's.

The Montreal Canadiens recently appointed general manager, Marc Bergevin, has hired more French-speaking personnel. One week after hiring Michel Therrien as coach, Bergevin added three former players from Quebec to his management team. Martin Lapointe was named director of player development, Patrice Brisebois is the new player development coach, and Sylvain Lefebvre will coach Montreal's farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs.

The B.C. Lions beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders, 44-10, in pre-season CFL action on Wednesday. In another pre-season game, quarterback Ricky Ray made his first appearance as a Toronto Argonaut, while Henry Burris made his debut as Hamilton's quarterback as Toronto beat the Tiger Cats, 29-24.


Friday, June 14, 2012
VANCOUVER: A mix of sun and cloud. High 17 except 21 inland.
EDMONTON: Rain ending in the morning then clearing. High 18.
CALGARY: Rain ending early in the evening then a mix of sun and cloud. Amount 10 to 15 mm. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 increasing to 50 gusting to 70 in the morning then diminishing to 30 gusting to 50 in the afternoon. High 13.
SASKATOON: A mix of sun and cloud. Becoming cloudy near noon with 60 percent chance of showers in the afternoon and evening. Risk of a thunderstorm in the evening. High 19.
REGINA: Increasing cloudiness. A few showers beginning near noon and ending in the evening. Amount 5 mm. Wind becoming northwest 30 km/h in the afternoon then light in the evening. High 20.
WINNIPEG: Mainly sunny. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light late in the afternoon. High 25.
TORONTO: Sunny. High 26.
OTTAWA: Sunny. High 25.
MONTREAL: Sunny. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h near noon. High 23.
FREDERICTON: Sunny. Wind northeast 20 km/h becoming light in the evening. High 24.
HALIFAX: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 18.
CHARLOTTETOWN: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind north 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 15.
ST. JOHN'S: Drizzle ending near noon then mainly cloudy. Fog retreating to the coast in the morning. Wind east 20 km/h. High 16 except 11 along parts of the coast.
HAPPY VALLEY - GOOSE BAY: Mainly sunny. High 17.
WHITEHORSE: Mainly cloudy. Wind becoming south 20 km/h late in the morning. High 15
YELLOWKNIFE: A mix of sun and cloud. Temperature steady near 13.
IQALUIT: Clearing in the morning. Increasing cloudiness late in the evening. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h late in the afternoon. High 11.

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