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Pipe Dream: Taxpayer-Owned TMX Is a Bust, Concludes Analyst

Pipe Dream: Taxpayer-Owned TMX Is a Bust, Concludes Analyst

Expect no Asian windfall for oilsands crude, says a new report by expert David Hughes.

Remember that 67-year-old pipeline and its controversial bitumen expansion project that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bought from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in 2018?

Well, a lot has happened since then.

For starters, the bitumen export project has climbed from a price tag of $7.8 billion to $12.6 billion and counting.

Meanwhile, a global pandemic has slowed the economy to a crawl and destabilized oil prices by bluntly curbing demand, probably for years.

The troubled oil industry, already reeling from global overproduction and crushing debt, is now actively contracting.

Cenovus and Husky, two of the five largest oilsands producers, just merged to save money by killing more than 2,000 jobs. Suncor axed another 2,000 employees. The so-called “economic engine of Canada” is shedding jobs, not making them.

As the world’s oil industry shrinks, prospects for global economic recovery seem remote if not problematic, because the world runs on oil.

China, the presumed market for Alberta’s heavy sour crude, has arrested two of our citizens, bullied our leaders and become a global exporter of technological tyranny.

And climate change, the topic everyone likes to endlessly talk about, continues to erode shorelines, burn forests, create refugees and undermine global security.

So does the world still need the Trans Mountain expansion project?

That’s the timely question David Hughes, one of the country’s foremost energy experts, deftly answers in his latest report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

And the answer is a big fat no.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

If Trudeau Suddenly Looks Green, Here’s Why

If Trudeau Suddenly Looks Green, Here’s Why

Fossil fuels flagging, the economy demands reinvention. Expect a bold gamble of a throne speech.

Justin Trudeau’s imminent green gamble, casting the dice with long odds against rolling lucky eleven, is a risky move.

On Sept. 23, Trudeau will put his government, and his legacy, on the line with a throne speech. It faces a confidence vote. If the Liberals should lose that vote, the government would fall.

Then Canadians would be plunged into their first national campaign held during a pandemic, left to scratch their heads over myriad questions.

Who would the citizenry blame for sending them to the polls with COVID-19 still very much on the prowl?

How would newly minted CPC leader Erin O’Toole, a Harper retread, have a chance of winning? It doesn’t help that the convention that crowned him on national television looked like it was run by Curly, Larry, and Moe. Then there was that disingenuous victory handshake with Peter MacKay, the leadership rival O’Toole asked the RCMP to investigate as a thief. Worst of all, O’Toole is the invisible man of politics. Most voters wouldn’t recognize the new CPC leader if he were standing beside them at the bus-stop wearing an Erin O’Toole t-shirt.

Despite denials from party stalwarts, the NDP don’t have enough chips to even sit at the high-stakes poker table of a national election. How could Jagmeet Singh be competitive if the party can’t afford to lease a plane for their national leader, as was the case in 2019?

In that election, the NDP plunged from 44 seats in 2015 to a mere 24 in 2019, making them the fourth party in parliament behind the Liberals, Conservatives, and Bloc Québécois.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Inches Forward, But Opposition Intensifies

Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Inches Forward, But Opposition Intensifies

Tiny House Warriors rally near Blue River, BC

Late one night this past April, four people on off-road vehicles drove into a small, Indigenous village near the town of Blue River in British Columbia, Canada. It was dark and the vehicles drove through deep snow, smashing through wooden signs and barriers that guarded the village of tiny houses, erected in the path of a long-distance oil pipeline that runs from Alberta to the Pacific Coast.

The attackers punched and kicked a man, shouting profanity and racial slurs. One of them stole a truck and used it to mow down a display of red dresses, hung as a memorial to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, who are disproportionally affected by violence. The driver then crashed the truck into one of the houses.

The small houses were built by Secwepemc and Ktunaxa people, who built them to assert their rights over unceded Indigenous land, through which an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is slated to carry diluted tar sands oil. Members of the village believe the attack was related to their opposition to the pipeline.

Confrontation between the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and a variety of Indigenous and environmental groups is heating up, precisely because the new pipeline is now moving forward with construction after years of legal battles.

The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau purchased the Trans Mountain system from Kinder Morgan in 2018 in order to keep the expansion alive. Texas-based Kinder Morgan was about to scrap the project, but Canada bought it for C$4.5 billion and vowed to see a second, “twin,” pipeline built alongside the existing line. The expansion would triple the system’s capacity to 890,000 barrels of oil per day, allowing Alberta’s tar sands to expand to overseas markets.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trudeau’s Climate Change Policy Is Strategically Inadequate

Trudeau’s Climate Change Policy Is Strategically Inadequate

Approving a pipeline while declaring a climate emergency is ‘climate change denial with a human face.’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
‘This is how climate change denial will increasingly look in the future.’ Photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

The Trudeau government’s recent actions — declaring a climate emergency and re-approving the Trans Mountain expansion project within two days — aren’t just hypocritical: they’re morally equivalent to climate change denial.

The United Nation’s authority on climate change recently recommended“rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” to counter an imminent crisis, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent decisions have flagrantly ignored the UN’s counsel.

He’s bent over backwards to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline’s expansion, propping up the project with extensive financial and rhetorical support. In the process, the Trudeau government has perpetuated the prerogatives of an industry that has funded climate change denying research and (knowingly) pollutes the planet. 

Make no mistake: Trudeau’s actions represent climate change denial “with a human face,” a darker version of Czech communist leader Alexander Dubček’s 1968 description of his ill-fated liberalization program as “socialism with a human face.” 

Trudeau and the Liberal party affirm the reality of global warming in theory, but they effectively deny the phenomenon in practice by facilitating a harmful status quo and belittling the urgency of radical change.The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

This is how climate change denial will increasingly look in the future: a mixture of symbolic proclamation and strategically inadequate policy. 

With flooding, suffocating wildfires and abnormal temperatures across much of the country, the climate crisis isn’t just a theoretical concern for most Canadians. Global warming’s impacts are now apparent, a fact that’s reflected in a recent poll showing that over two-thirds of Canadians consider stopping climate change “a priority.” 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

On Climate, Does Trudeau’s Canada Play Hero or Villain?

On Climate, Does Trudeau’s Canada Play Hero or Villain?

The Tyee asked global experts, and got some surprising answers.

Canada’s symbolic role globally outweighs its actual emissions impact, say experts, who call Trudeau’s carbon tax ‘courageous.’ Still, it’s not enough to meet emissions pledges, upping the ante for the federal election.

How does Canada rate in fighting climate change? 

Better than most countries, especially ones where fossil fuels drive politics. 

Terribly for the world, because if every country copied Canada, that would ensure climate catastrophe. 

That’s the complicated picture climate policy experts in Canada and abroad shared with The Tyee.

They said Canada, while still far from where it needs to be in lowering its greenhouse gas emissions, is enacting “courageous” and “interesting” policies that are pushing global progress forward at a time when the opportunity for action is rapidly fading

On the surface this doesn’t seem to make much sense, given that under Trudeau’s Liberal government Canada is set to miss the 2030 climate targets it agreed to at Paris, spends billions of dollars propping up the oil and gas industry (despite promising to end fossil fuel subsidies), and last year nationalized Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion. 

But Mark Jaccard, a professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University who has contributed to assessments from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that Canada’s record on climate change is more complex and productive than most people realize.

“It seems to me people get so focussed on the Trans Mountain pipeline as a symbol that the federal government has failed on climate policy, without paying attention to the actual policies and comparing them to the rest of the world,” he told The Tyee. “When you do that, we’re among the leaders.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Morneau is Flying Blind

Morneau is Flying Blind

Morneau is Flying Blind - Peter Diekmeyer (01/04/2019)

The Trudeau Government continues to resist calls for an overhaul of its complex tax regime. 

Yet Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance, who was in town this week to address the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, wouldn’t name a single non-accountant that he knew who understands tax code.

Pressed by local media, the Minister admitted that he had no idea whether even his own university-educated daughters—who he has said are powerful influences on his political thinking—were able to complete their own returns. 

“The subject never comes up at the supper table,” he joked. 

Long-time tax reform activists greeted the news with a yawn. 

“The Minister’s answer speaks for itself,” says Aaron Wudrick, a director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “Nobody understands the tax code because it’s absurdly complex.” 

Cracks in Canada’s centrally-planned economy

Less well-understood is the fact that even the brightest public officials can’t measure the far-reaching implications of the Income Tax Act and other complex legislation. 

That’s because much of the government’s spending comes in the form of increases in unfunded liabilities and hidden transfers caused by interest rate suppression. These expenses are kept off of the government’s books, making them almost impossible for activists like Wudrick to challenge. 

This in turn raises growing questions about the overall effectiveness of Canada’s centrally-planned economy, where public spending accounts for nearly half of GDP. 

Some examples:

1. Subsidizing electric vehicles, but giving bigger breaks for gas-guzzlers

Morneau’s proudest achievements include the government’s environmental record, notably the measures announced in his budget to support the electric car industry.

Unfortunately, the Canadian government also provides billions of dollars of much-larger subsidies to buyers of gas-guzzling cars, trucks and SUVs.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Judy Wilson’s Message for Canadians: ‘The Land Defenders Are Doing This for Everybody’

Judy Wilson’s Message for Canadians: ‘The Land Defenders Are Doing This for Everybody’

RCMP raids in Wet’suwet’en territory can’t bring justice, reconciliation or a better future, Neskonlith chief says.

The Tyee reached out to Wilson to talk about RCMP action against pipeline protesters in the Wet’suwet’en nation in northwest B.C. because of her extensive involvement with government and industries and her long history of environmental advocacy. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What are your thoughts on how governments are responding to the RCMP action in the Wet’suwet’en territory?

I was just reading Premier [John] Horgan’s response to the Unist’ot’en, and I think he was trying to stay on the middle ground. He mentioned the bands who signed these agreements [to allow the pipeline], but to me, the issue is clearly about the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs. They are the proper titleholders to their unceded territory, and they already made a decision. They said no pipelines in their territory.

As for Trudeau, I don’t think he’s really responded. It’s concerning that on one hand he talks about truth and reconciliation, he talks about implementing UNDRIP [the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People] and has supported Bill C-262, which is about implementation — and then he’s using forceful, militarized RCMP to remove people and arrest them at Unist’ot’en and Wet’suwet’en territory. He’s speaking contradictorily, and he’s actually in violation of some of the conventions that he signed at the United Nations.

You called for Canadians to ‘stand with land defenders.’ How can they do that?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Ottawa, Yemen and Guardian

Ottawa, Yemen and Guardian

One has to admire the Canadian government’s manipulation of the media regarding its relationship with Saudi Arabia. Despite being partners with the Kingdom’s international crimes, the Liberals have managed to convince some gullible folks they are challenging Riyadh’s rights abuses.

By downplaying Ottawa’s support for violence in Yemen while amplifying Saudi reaction to an innocuous tweet the dominant media has wildly distorted the Trudeau government’s relationship to the monarchy.

In a story headlined “Trudeau says Canada has heard Turkish tape of Khashoggi murder”, Guardian diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour affirmed that “Canada has taken a tough line on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record for months.” Hogwash. Justin Trudeau’s government has okayed massive arms sales to the monarchy and largely ignored the Saudi’s devastating war in Yemen, which has left up to 80,000 dead, millions hungry and sparked a terrible cholera epidemic.

While Ottawa recently called for a ceasefire, the Liberals only direct condemnation of the Saudi bombing in Yemen was an October 2016 statement. It noted, “the Saudi-led coalition must move forward now on its commitment to investigate this incident” after two airstrikes killed over 150  and wounded 500 during a funeral in Sana’a.

By contrast when the first person was killed from a rocket launched into the Saudi capital seven months ago, Chrystia Freeland stated, “Canada strongly condemns the ballistic missile attacks launched by Houthi rebels on Sunday, against four towns and cities in Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh’s international airport. The deliberate targeting of civilians is unacceptable.” In her release, Canada’s foreign minister also accepted the monarchy’s justification for waging war. “There is a real risk of escalation if these kinds of attacks by Houthi rebels continue and if Iran keeps supplying weapons to the Houthis”, Freeland added.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Questions Remain As Shifting Narrative, Conflicting Testimony Indicates Cover Up in Quebec Terror Incident

Questions Remain As Shifting Narrative, Conflicting Testimony Indicates Cover Up in Quebec Terror Incident

Witness statements and reports which conflict with the Canadian government’s account of what occurred during the tragic January 29th, 2017 Quebec terror attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City raise questions about what actually happened the night of the tragedy. The evidence indicates that contrary to the official narrative, there was more than one gunman and multiple weapons were captured in the possession of arrestees. Media outlets also were so eager to claim the incident was caused by white supremacists that they were fooled into reporting false information from parody news accounts on twitter.

I. Multiple Media Sources Cited Witness Statements Claiming There Were Multiple Gunmen, Number Of Weapons Seized Inconsistent With “Lone Wolf” Narrative

The Canadian government’s claims that the Quebec shooting was a “lone wolf” incident is not consistent with multiple media reports and witness statements that there were at least two gunmen participating in the incident. Canadian news source Le Soleil reported that “at least one gunman” participated in the attack. A witness told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that they saw two masked gunmen enter the building, shout the Takbir (Islamic phrase “Allahu akbar” which means “God is great” in Arabic) and open fire on worshippers. The Sun also ran a statement from a 22 year old student named Abdi, who was reading the Koran with his friends at the time of the attack. Abdi similarly said he was convinced he had seen two attackers and that they shouted the Takbir before opening fire. Reuters also ran an additional report citing another witness statement which said that three attackers had taken part in the incident.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In September, Did the Liberals Out-Harper the Conservatives?

In September, Did the Liberals Out-Harper the Conservatives?

On climate, foreign workers, and unions, Trudeau government moves this month have rankled progressives.

The key players in Stephen Harper’s government would have been high-fiving after the month Justin Trudeau’s is finishing up.

In September, the Liberal government took a hard line stance with a public union, held steady to the Conservatives’ greenhouse gas targets, approved a liquefied natural gas plant and pipeline assailed by environmentalists and Indigenous groups, and some say signalled it may extend, rather than curtail, powers to spy on citizens granted by the Harper government’s controversial Bill C-51.

For good measure, Trudeau’s Liberals also suggested making it easier for businesses to bring more temporary foreign workers to Canada, taking a position even Harper had backed away from after abuses of the federal program hit the headlines. The Conservatives tightened restrictions on who can hire foreign workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Earlier this month, a Liberal-dominated Parliamentary committee released a report recommending easier access to the program for businesses.

Trudeau rode to victory in October by running to the left of the NDP on many issues. In New York this month, he painted his government, and Canada, as progressive beacons to the world, particularly in welcoming refugees.

But at home, the Trudeau government’s actions have left many progressive Canadians feeling frustrated and misled.

Even Conservatives are concluding that Trudeau’s team has come to embrace Harper’s political agenda.

Conservative Colin Carrie, Oshawa MP and critic for health, says the Liberals’ decision to “copy” Conservative policy shows the Harper government was on the right track.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Wayne Smith, Head Of Statistics Canada, Quits On Point Of Principle

Wayne Smith, Head Of Statistics Canada, Quits On Point Of Principle

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada chief Wayne Smith has resigned, saying the independence of his agency is compromised by new information-technology arrangements.

It marks the second time in just over six years that a chief statistician has quit over a point of principle.

In an email to the National Statistical Council, Smith says Shared Services Canada now holds an effective veto over many of the statistical agency’s operations.

wayne smith
Chief Statistician of Canada Wayne Smith appears before a standing committee in Ottawa on April 12, 2016. (Photo: Matthew Usherwood/CP)

Smith says he can’t support federal initiatives to centralize IT services that effectively undermine the independence of Statistics Canada, which the federal government has committed to protect.

“All of you are aware of my view that this loss of independence and control is not only an apprehension, but an effective reality today, as Statistics Canada is increasingly hobbled in the delivery of its programs through disruptive, ineffective, slow and unaffordable supply of physical informatics services by Shared Services Canada,” says the email, obtained by The Canadian Press.

“I have made the best effort I can to have this situation remediated, but to no effect. I cannot lend my support to government initiatives that will purport to protect the independence of Statistics Canada when, in fact, that independence has never been more compromised.”

Smith says he does not wish to preside over what he describes as the decline of a world-leading statistical office. “So I am resigning, in order to call public attention to this situation.”

The decision of the previous Conservative government to make the long-form census a voluntary survey led to the July 2010 resignation of Munir Sheikh, Smith’s predecessor.

“I cannot lend my support to government initiatives that will purport to protect the independence of Statistics Canada when, in fact, that independence has never been more compromised.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Interest on Gold Is the New Tempest in a Teapot

Zero Hedge published an article on Canadian Bullion Services (CBS) last week. Other sites ran similar articles. The common thread through these articles, and in the user comments section, is that CBS is committing criminal fraud. Or, if not, then it’s a conspiracy by the Canadian government to confiscate gold. Terms like fractional reserve and re-hypothecation were dusted off for the occasion.

t-bill3-month t-bill rates: all the way to nada – click to enlarge.

I don’t know anything about this company other than what I read that day. I am writing today to make a different point, not to address or defend CBS. My point is: a company offers interest on gold, and the gold community goes ballistic. Why so visceral a response? To answer that, we need to look at the backdrop of today’s bizarre financial world.

Interest rates have been falling for well over three decades. This has caused endless asset bubbles in which to speculate to make a fortune (or lose one). And now, in the terminal stage of our monetary disease, there is scant yield to be had even in the US. Negative yields already prevail in several other countries.

We have become accustomed to it. We’re trained to not expect to earn interest, to not even think about it. Instead, we’re like Pavlov’s dogs who know to salivate at the sound of a bell. Only we’re not after food, but opportunities to speculate. All we want to know is, what’s going up next.

PavlovPavlov looks at one of his dogs. The dog is probably not happy, but it is certainly well-trained…Photo credit: Corbis

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Liberal fiscal plans less transparent than under Harper, Kevin Page says

Kevin Page, Canada’s former parliamentary budget officer, says the Liberal government is even less transparent on fiscal matters than their Conservative predecessors. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

 Listen 9:40

Canada’s former parliamentary budget officer says the Liberal government is even less transparent on fiscal matters than the Conservative government it succeeded.

“I don’t think it is [more transparent]. The documents — they’re not better from a government that promised to be better, more transparent … there’s no more information, perhaps even less information, than what we got from the previous government,” Kevin Page said said in an interview CBC Radio’s The House.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the transparency yet,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a pledge to run three “modest” deficits of no more than $10 billion a year. But Finance Minister Bill Morneau released his second fiscal update this week ahead of the March 22 federal budget, and his figures show it will be much higher than that.

The deficit will balloon to $18.4 billion in 2016-17 and $15.5 billion in 2017-18 — and that is before any new spending Morneau outlines in the March budget. Those numbers are drastically different from the $3.9-billion and $2.4-billion shortfalls forecast just three months ago.

“A less ambitious government might see these conditions as a reason to hide, to make cuts or to be overly cautious. But our government might see that the economic downturn makes our plan to grow the economy even more relevant than it was a few short months ago,” Morneau said Monday.

Page, who frequently squared off with the previous Conservative government over their fiscal secrecy, says his concerns about transparency stem from a lack clarity around the deficit figure.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New mortgage rule might ‘temper’ hot markets, but not for long

New mortgage rule might ‘temper’ hot markets, but not for long

Starting Feb. 15, mortgage insurers require 10% down payment on portion of mortgages above $500K

Vancouver and Toronto saw real estate prices, particularly for detached and semi-detached home, continue to rise last year. Most other markets saw only modest increases, or even decreases in some cases.

Vancouver and Toronto saw real estate prices, particularly for detached and semi-detached home, continue to rise last year. Most other markets saw only modest increases, or even decreases in some cases. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Beginning next week, many Canadians hoping to buy an abode will need to put more cash down before they can call it home. The extra cost might keep some would-be homeowners from mortgages they can’t really afford, but it’s unlikely to leave any lasting impressions on the country’s most “overheated” real estate markets.

The federal government announced in December that mortgage insurers, including the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation — by far the largest in the country — will require a 10 per cent down payment on any portion of a mortgage it insures above $500,000 and up to $999,000.

That’s double the five per cent down they currently ask to insure mortgages worth more than 80 per cent of a home’s value.

“We want to make sure we create an environment that protects the people buying homes so they have sufficient equity in their home,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau at the time, also noting that “elevated” house prices were the driving force behind the move.

The change will “likely impact a broad spectrum of buyers,” though it will surely be the highest hurdle for those who don’t already have a good bit of equity from one home already.

“The majority of the impact is going to be on first-time homebuyers, particularly first-time buyers in the hotter markets,” says Don Campbell, senior analyst at Real Estate Investment Network, an organization that tracks Canadian housing trends.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Alberta’s Oil Companies Warn Government On Taxes

Alberta’s Oil Companies Warn Government On Taxes

Big oil is taking no chances with the outcome of Alberta’s royalty review currently underway. In 2007, the industry was surprised when royalties were jacked up despite dozens of corporate presentations to the royalty review panel warning of the fragility of investment economics and the damage increased royalties would cause. Therefore producers and others with significant vested interest have already started the lobbying process.

Such is the case with Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) which made a slide presentation to the new NDP Alberta government on August 20. The industry has obviously learned never to assume politicians actually understand what makes the economy and oil industry work.

The presentation’s key messages were: CNRL is a responsible operator in every way; jobs are created by investment, supported by a positive return on capital; Alberta needs a supportive environment which creates jobs; Alberta is a high cost place to do business, and historically, returns on investment have been poor. That’s when prices were high. It is worse now.

CNRL has been very successful because it is all business. Any oilfield service contractor working for CNRL knows how much price matters to that operator. The company’s Mission Statement reads, “To develop people to work together to create value for the Company’s shareholders by doing it right with fun and integrity.” There is little confusion about why CNRL is in business and what it is trying to accomplish. The presentation ended with the message, “Share the contents of this presentation with your friends and family.” So here we go.

You hope when CNRL talks somebody listens. The company is a made-in-Alberta success story. The public corporate entity started life in Vancouver in 1973 as AEX Minerals Corporation, a junior miner which explored for zinc and lead in the Yukon. In 1975 it was renamed Canadian Natural Resources Limited and registered in Alberta 1982. The company has been on a breathtaking growth tear ever since.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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