Canada: Environment policy & national energy strategy
7 Environmental Charities Face Canada Revenue Agency Audits
(HuffPost) The Canada Revenue Agency is currently conducting extensive audits on some of Canada’s most prominent environmental groups to determine if they comply with guidelines that restrict political advocacy, CBC News has learned.
If the CRA rules that the groups exceeded those limits, their charitable status could be revoked, which would effectively shut them down.
Many of the groups are among the Conservative government’s fiercest critics. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty signalled clearly in his budget of 2012 that political activity of these groups would be closely monitored and he allocated $8 million to the effort. The environmental organizations believe they have been targeted with the goal of silencing their criticism.
Interview with Brian Ferguson, CEO of Cenovus: Oilsands defender
Cenovus CEO Brian Ferguson defends his industry against what he calls ‘outrageous statements.’
Madelaine Drohan: Where Canada Gets Energy Wrong
Canada’s environmental performance is harming its image as an energy superpower
(OpenCanada.org) It’s that time of year when the world’s business and political elite flock to Davos, Switzerland for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
This year, they will be shown the forum’s latest report on which countries do the best job of providing an affordable, sustainable, and secure energy supply. It’s no surprise that Norway is in the top spot. Of the 124 countries assessed, they have done the best job of managing the trade-offs necessary to ensure that energy contributes to a country’s economic, social, and environmental well-being. But it is somewhat of a shock to find Canada down in 14th place, below countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Romania, and Latvia. Yes, we’ve been lapped by Latvia.
This isn’t a great result for a country that Prime Minister Stephen Harper once boasted was an emerging energy superpower and whose government has poured time and resources into trying to achieve that status. And it cannot be dismissed as an assessment put together by the “environmental and other radical groups” that have been the bane of Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver’s existence. The report is the result of a three-year research project by the World Economic Forum and Accenture, a global accounting firm. Only the most bull-headed of governments could ignore the message that Canada trails a wide range of countries in managing energy for the greater good.
The Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2014
Effectively balancing the demands of providing an affordable, sustainable and secure energy supply continues to play a key role in the development of countries. Driven by the boundary constraints of economic development, geography and prosperity, countries are striving to find new and innovative ways to meet the demands of their energy system.
During the past three years, the World Economic Forum has been working on the New Energy Architecture initiative to better understand the changes underway in the global energy system, and how they can be managed to enable an effective transition. A core pillar of this work has been the development of the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index.
Nation’s Library Advocate Raises Questions about Federal ‘Culling’
Canadian Library Association disturbed by closures, wants proof digitizing is happening.
(The Tyee) The Canadian Library Association (CLA), a voice for the nation’s 3,000 public libraries, will soon issue a policy statement on its growing concerns about the dismantling of over a dozen federal libraries, including seven world class facilities operated by the Department of Fishery and Oceans (DFO).
“Our greatest concern is whether there was consultation with the communities these libraries served as well as the impact on service and access to content,” said Marie DeYoung, president of the CLA and a librarian at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Powerful and disturbing documentary
The Fifth Estate: The Silence of the Labs
Scientists across the country are expressing growing alarm that federal cutbacks to research programs monitoring areas that range from climate change and ocean habitats to public health will deprive Canadians of crucial information.
“What’s important is the scale of the assault on knowledge, and on our ability to know about ourselves and to advance our understanding of our world,” said James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.
In the past five years the federal government has dismissed more than 2,000 scientists, and hundreds of programs and world-renowned research facilities have lost their funding. Programs that monitored things such as smoke stack emissions, food inspections, oil spills, water quality and climate change have been drastically cut or shut down.
Canadian Left split over Alberta oilsands: Walkom
Some, like left-nationalist guru Mel Watkins say the tarsands should be shut right down. The NDP disagrees.
So far, this is a debate among left academics. If it remains that way, it won’t much matter. But such debates have a habit of percolating into wider public consciousness.
As a tour through Toronto neighbourhoods would show, the anti-pipeline movement is already here. Those “Stop Line 9”posters that pop up from time to time refer to a proposal that would reverse and expand the flow in an existing Montreal to Sarnia oil pipeline so as to bring more tarsands bitumen eastward.
Why do people care which direction oil flows in an already existing pipeline? The answer, as Line 9 opponent Herman Rosenfeld told me, has to do in part with aboriginal opposition to the scheme and in part with fear of heavy-oil spills.
Boreal Forest Protection Increased In 2013, But Challenges Remain: Scientist
(Canadian Press) Canada has made significant strides in protecting the vast boreal forest that stretches across most of its provinces and territories, but the world’s largest intact forest ecosystem still faces threats, says an environmental group. …
In many jurisdictions, Wells said, mining interests are given top priority over any other possible use. …
The Canadian Boreal Initiative hopes to ultimately protect about half the country’s forest, which makes up fully one-third of the world’s such woodlands and, said [biologist Jeff Wells of the Canadian Boreal Initiative], is gaining increasing international prominence.
The lead discussion at one of the world’s main meetings of conservation biologists this year was focused on Canada’s boreal forest, which the International Boreal Conservation Science Panel has called “the world’s last great forest.”
“In the last 10 years, it has become known as a place just like the Amazon,” Wells said. “Its values towards birds, towards caribou, toward carbon, toward water — all of those things — are really becoming much better known.”
Harper government cutting more than $100 million related to protection of water
More than $100 million in cuts are underway at the federal department in charge of protecting Canada’s water and oceans, despite recommendations from top bureaucrats that it needs to increase spending for both environmental and economic reasons.
According to internal federal briefing notes obtained by Postmedia News, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is eliminating about 500 jobs at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans related to Coast Guard services, patrols to stop illegal fishing activities as well as scientific research to promote conservation, protect endangered species, and prevent industrial water pollution.
The cuts, part of the federal government’s efforts to eliminate its deficit, cover 26 different areas of the department which has a workforce of about 10,000 employees. The downsizing also includes the shutdown of federal libraries and millions of dollars in reductions to climate change adaptation programs. In total, the department estimates it will cut about $80 million per year from its budget by 2014-15, and over $100 million per year in the following fiscal year.
Is this part of the national strategy?
Andrew Nikiforuk: Dismantling of Fishery Library ‘Like a Book Burning,’ Say Scientists
Harper government shuts down ‘world class’ collection on freshwater science and protection.
(The Tyee) The Harper government has dismantled one of the world’s top aquatic and fishery libraries as part of its agenda to reduce government as well as limit the role of environmental science in policy decision-making.
Last week the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is closing five of its seven libraries, allowed scientists, consultants and members of the public to scavenge through what remained of Eric Marshall Library belonging to the Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba.
One woman showed up to pick up Christmas gifts for a son interested in environmental science. Other material went into dumpsters. Consultants walked home with piles of “grey material” such as 30-year-old reports on Arctic gas drilling
OTHER FEDERAL LIBRARY CLOSURES AND CONSOLIDATIONS CLOSED:
Canadian Heritage: The Library and Archives Canada Staff Resource Centre closed on Nov. 1, 2012. As of April 2013, the Public Service Commission (PSC) was in the process of closing. Plans regarding the disposition of PSC’s library collection had not been finalized.
Citizenship and Immigration (CIC): The CIC library closed on March 31, 2012.
Environment Canada: The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy was eliminated. Its library was closed on March 31, 2013.
Foreign Affairs: The Documentation Service and library of the Canadian Cultural Centre at the Canadian Embassy in Paris closed on June 21, 2012.
Human Resources and Skills Development: HRSDC closed its libraries in Gatineau, Quebec, and Montreal on March 31, 2013.
National Capital Commission: The National Capital Commission Library closed in 2012.
Intergovernmental Affairs: The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is expected to significantly reduce and eventually close its library.
Public Works and Government Services: PWGSC closed its library on May 31, 2012.
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities: Transport Canada closed its library in 2012.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): The CRA is consolidating its nine existing libraries into one, the location of which has yet to be determined.
Environment Canada: Parks Canada will consolidate five libraries into one. Regional libraries located in Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec City and Halifax will be consolidated into the Cornwall, Ontario location.
Fisheries and Oceans (DFO): The DFO will close seven of its libraries, leaving two principal and two subsidiary locations. Consolidation completed September 2012.
Natural Resources: Natural Resources Canada is set to close six of 14 libraries in 2012-2013: two in Ottawa, one in Varennes, Quebec; one in Edmonton, Alberta; and another in western Canada. In 2014, another Ottawa library will be closed.
Beautifully written, even-handed and thorough picture of Fort McMurray development issues
Taras Grescoe: Big Mac
Fort McMurray has ambitions to become more than a one-resource town
(The Walrus, November 2013 issue) Three hours before I leave Fort McMurray, I decide to take one last walk in the boreal forest. The folks at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre (where the gift shop sells T-shirts with the motto Size Matters) recommend the Abasand trail, a short way from downtown. I hike along a winding dirt road past saskatoon berry bushes and dogwood blooming white. The forest is redolent with the piney smell of conifers, underlaid by a harsher odour, like asphalt baking in the hot sun. Eroded hillsides reveal its source: the dark earth oozes with naturally occurring tar. Beneath the tree roots lie the remains of a prehistoric sea whose organisms have been cooked into hydrocarbons, a Cretaceous period accident that sealed this forest’s fate in the Anthropocene epoch.
After I reach the Horse River, I come to the place where it all began. This is the bend in the river where, for generations, Cree stopped to use the natural tar to patch their birchbark canoes. This is also the site of the first real tar sands company, Abasand Oils, which during World War II produced 500 barrels of refined oil a day. Ruined buildings surround me, a collapsing stone chimney, and the white walls of coking shills, now covered with graffiti.
Something else surrounds me. Piles of junk, fast-food containers and pop bottles, old sinks and televisions, a wallet stripped of its contents except for a waterlogged photo of a father and son. The ground is littered with torched cars and trucks, the forest a boneyard of the internal combustion engine. In under a kilometre, I count a dozen vehicles, including a pickup with “RCMP Sucks” sprayed on one gaping door. In ironic eschatological juxtaposition, a gasoline-singed SUV sits atop flats of sun-baked bitumen. It looks like a portent of Fort McMurray’s future, a reminder that this single-resource boom town could become what Uranium City—or Abasand, or Anthracite, or Ocean Falls, or Windfall—turned into long ago.
A ghost town.
Professor Christopher Ragan: Pragmatic conservatives missing in the climate change debate (14 May 2013)
At Issue: The politics of carbon emissions and the environment (4 April 2013)
Ottawa, July 19, 2012 – The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV) today released a unanimous report on Canada’s energy future, outlining an energy vision for Canada based on a clear and responsible path for Canadian energy development and a low- emissions economy Over a three-year period, the committee heard from Canada’s leading energy thinkers, federal, provincial and territorial representatives, research institutions, industry stakeholders, Aboriginal leaders, environmental groups, concerned citizens and youth delegates. Hearing from a wide variety of witnesses from across the country provided the committee with invaluable insight into how Canada can leverage its natural resources, technology and human capital to enhance its role in the new world energy order.
See also Tar Sands David Emerson: Why Canada needs an energy strategy, IRPP Policy Options, Feb. 2011
(RCI) The Link: Between Oil and Gas an in-depth look at the cost of oil from production to refining to retailing and explores the present and future prospects for this most essential of fossil fuels. May 2011
Canada ranks worst in developed world on climate policy: European report
Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq arrives at a climate change conference in Warsaw today amid exceedingly low expectations.
(CTV) A European report released to coincide with the United Nations conference ranks Canada 55th of 58 countries in terms of tackling greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of only Iran, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.
And a new national Environics telephone poll commissioned by the David Suzuki Foundation suggests public confidence in government as the lead actor in addressing climate change has slumped considerably — down six percentage points from the 59 per cent recorded a year ago.
Canadians want Harper government to take leadership role on climate change, poll says
(Globe & Mail) Canadians want the Harper government to take a leadership role on climate change and give the Prime Minister poor marks for his approach, says a new poll released Wednesday by a progressive think tank in Ottawa.
The survey – sponsored by Canada 2020 and the University of Montreal – found a high level of belief among Canadians that humans are contributing to global warming and that the federal government should take the lead on combatting climate change. More from Canada 2020 The politics of climate and the climate of politics
Report says Canada at risk of losing world-leader status on ocean science
(CTV) Canada is a global steward of the seas with the longest coastline in the world stretched along three oceans, but that role is at risk, says a new report.
The report released Wednesday by the Council of Canadian Academies said government funding for ocean science is actually increasing — contrary to perception — but a lack of co-ordination limits the usefulness of research being done by governments, universities and industry in this country.
The review by a panel of eight experts from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, several universities, and as far afield as the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany found three main gaps that threaten that status.
There is no overarching national strategy or vision for ocean science for Canada, and there is a lack of co-ordination among the many different organizations conducting research and innovation in the private and public sectors, the report said.
Species at risk and protected areas: beware
(PressProgress.ca) Canada’s interim commissioner of the environment and sustainable development tabled his annual report in the House of Commons on Tuesday. In the words of interim commissioner Neil Maxwell, there are “striking” results that show a pattern of “unfulfilled commitments and responsibilities.”
* The government has not met the legislative requirements under the Species at Risk Act. “At the current rate, it will take Environment Canada approximately 10 years to complete its backlog of recovery strategies required under the Act.
* Environment Canada has assessed ecological integrity to be less than adequate in over one half of its wildlife protected areas, which together cover an area about the size of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
* Less than half of the ecosystems assessed by Parks Canada in 2011 were in good condition (with declining trends in the condition of many).
* Environment Canada has completed less than half of the Bird Conservation Region Strategies it committed to finishing by 2010.
* Environment Canada estimates that monitoring for 30 percent of the bird species in Canada is insufficient to determine whether they are at risk.
* More than 70 percent of national wildlife areas and about 55 percent of migratory bird sanctuaries are considered to have less than adequate ecological integrity.
* Most of Environment Canada’s 19 draft targets to meet the goals of the International Convention on Biological Diversity are not sufficiently specific and key actions for achieving the targets have not been developed. Without details on key actions that need to be taken, it is not clear how Canada will meet its biodiversity targets by 2020.
* Environment Canada is still operating with outdated management plans for most of its 54 national wildlife areas. On average, management plans date from 1992.”
MP proposes laundry list of environment committee changes
The NDP is flooding the House of Commons environment committee with motions it says are aimed at improving the federal government’s environmental record.
A laundry list of 15 motions presented Monday by Megan Leslie, the NDP’s environment critic, range from a request that Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq appear before the committee, to more complex calls for reviews of Canada’s environmental practices.
Major oil, gas and provincial pipelines excluded from list requiring environmental reviews
(The Gazette) Some major oil and gas projects and provincially regulated pipelines are among the types of development that won’t require an automatic federal environmental review before getting a green light, according to a new list published this week by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
The list, developed in support of new environmental laws adopted along with hundreds of pages of legislation to support the Harper government’s 2012 budget, would require automatic reviews into impacts of projects in a variety of new categories, including diamond mines, international or interprovincial bridges and tunnels, some offshore exploratory wells and oilsands mines expansion projects.
But heavy oil or oilsands processing facilities, deep underground oilsands drilling operations, such as one that has recently experienced a blowout in northern Alberta that was ongoing for months, could proceed without any federal review, in the absence of a special request from the environment minister.
Elizabeth May: Canada is missing out on global clean-tech revolution
(The Hill Times) Remember the 2008 Speech from the Throne? I may be the only one who does. In the context of “Securing our energy future by developing our rich energy resources and pursuing new cleaner energy supplies,” the 2008 Speech from the Throne promised that “90 per cent of our electricity needs are met by non-emitting sources” by 2020. It certainly does not seem to be operative, and the SFTs since then have made no mention of this particular commitment.
Time for Ottawa to embrace energy strategy, get serious about climate change
The federal government has a role to play in crafting a Canadian energy strategy. After all, it’s the federal government that harbours the aspiration for Canada to be an energy superpower.
(Hill Times) if Ottawa is ready to get serious about Canada becoming an energy super power, we have some suggestions as to what the federal government can do.
First, renewable energy and energy conservation need to receive priority support from Ottawa. Right now, both get a cold shoulder while $1.4-billion in taxpayer money is doled out to the oil and gas industry each year. We did some number crunching on this recently and found that 18,000 more jobs could be created in low-carbon industries if the whopping oil and gas subsidies were redirected.
Second, we need a federal plan to tackle climate change that makes sure all jurisdictions and sectors do their fair share. Some provinces, like Ontario, are doing their part to reduce pollution, but the planned increase in oil sands production over the next decade will wipe out those gains. It’s a recipe for inter-provincial strife to ask some provinces to shoulder greater burden for cutting greenhouse gas pollution so that other provinces can pollute at will and the country still meet its stated climate goals. It’s up to the federal government to sort this out.
Third, there needs to be a strategy for good jobs in the energy sector across the country. We need to take a hard look at the impact of rising oil production on the manufacturing sector in provinces like Ontario and Quebec, and decide how much oil production is good for the country and how to minimize the negative impacts on other sectors. And, we need to chart a path for building healthy industries that create jobs in a low-carbon economy, and proactively transition workers.
Finally, we need to have a serious conversation about the stakes and choices ahead of us. Canada has an abundance of energy resources—both renewable and non-renewable—and that means we have an abundance of options. To develop a Canadian energy strategy that is in the interests of all Canadians, we need to have a grown up conversation about those options, and assess which choices make the most sense for our country, now and in the future.
Ken Neumann is the national director for the United Steelworkers. Gillian McEachern is the campaigns director for Environmental Defence. The United Steelworkers and Environmental Defence are the founding members of Blue Green Canada.
Elizabeth May: Pipelines to the east?
The best environmental, economic and climate outcome would be to slow down the boom-and-bust cycle of constant expansion in the oil sands. What the late Peter Lougheed used to describe as the ‘traffic jam’ of feverish expansion in the oilsands prevents the construction of ancillary infrastructure, like upgraders and refineries.
The hyper-inflationary bubble that sits on northern Alberta is what makes it cheaper for Big Oil to build a $7 billion pipeline to Texas, rather than build facilities in Alberta. Any reasonable carbon plan would set a level of managed growth for oil sands production—say 2 million barrels of oil a day (more than the current 1.7 million barrels, but less than Harper’s goal of 6 million barrels of oil a day). That level of production could cool down the capital and labour markets enough to build upgraders and refineries near the resource. Then, we could be talking about shipping— by pipeline, truck or train— a finished product whose properties are better understood. Shipping a product with a far lower risk of environmental impact in the event of spills.
If we are thinking like a country, we should get Alberta oil to Eastern Canada, but we should not ship bitumen + diluents.
Joe Oliver sparks environmentalist fury as Tory ministers head in opposite directions on climate change debate
(National Post) Just as one federal cabinet minister is urging a more sophisticated tone to the climate change debate, a second cabinet minister has sparked an angry response from environmentalists over comments he made to a newspaper.
Environment Minister Peter Kent this week said the federal government would never opt for a carbon pricing scheme itself, but would be open minded about pricing arrangements set up by the provinces.
But a day later, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver appeared to downplay the urgency of fighting climate change.
This is deliciously scathing
Terry Glavin: Calamity Joe Oliver’s voyage of the damned
It’s a press conference. Oliver is there with Transport Minister Denis Lebel. There is a flotilla of oil-spill-response ships floating in the background. It’s a nice day. Oliver takes the lead in announcing a brand new “world-class tanker safety system” with eight new “tanker safety measures” and the unveiling of something called the “Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act.”
It all sounds so impressive until everyone notices the bit about requirements that tankers be double-hulled, for instance (which sounds ultrasafe, but isn’t) actually comes from amendments to the Canada Shipping Act from 1993 that set in motion a phasing-out of single-hulled tankers in Canadian waters by 2015. And the Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act contains nothing relevant except minor amendments to bring Canadian law in line with a three-year-old international convention that deals with compensation and liability — after an oil spill occurs.
That would have been embarrassing enough but for the Coast Guard unions’ report that the Burrard Cleaner 9, the largest oil-spill response vessel conscripted for Oliver’s media show, had taken something between eight and 11 hours to arrive in Vancouver harbour from its base in far-off Esquimalt, and the vessel showed up only after running aground on a sandbar and allegedly coming into dangerously “close quarters” with a ferry.
To understand just how painfully absurd all this was, it helps to know that oil tanker traffic in Vancouver harbour — which absolutely nobody in Vancouver wants to begin with — has quadrupled from 20 ships a year since 2005, and the new Kinder Morgan pipeline that Oliver was chatting up is intended to bring enough bitumen to the harbour to triple oil tanker traffic. But wait. It gets better. …
Carbon Emissions Canada: Oil, Gas Needs 42-Per-Cent Reduction To Meet Targets, Pembina Institute Says
The oil and gas sector will need to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent if Canada has any hope of meeting overall reductions targets by the end of the decade, says a new report from an environmental think-tank.
The Pembina Institute report also says the only way that’s going to happen is if upcoming federal regulations on the sector go much farther than those already in place in Alberta.
The Conservative government has been promising new rules for the oil and gas sector since 2008 and has suggested they will finally be unveiled this year.
Something that Mr. Harper and his colleagues may wish to consider in developing a national energy strategy
How high oil prices lead to financial collapse
(Christian Science Monitor) Financial collapse is related to high oil prices, [Gail] Tverberg writes, and also to higher costs for other resources as we approach their limits.
Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, delivered the keynote speech at the PDAC International (Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada) convention . Not surprisingly, his comments included the statement that realizing the potential of mining is essential to the government’s goal of jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, and that discoveries in Ontario’s Ring of Fire, northern Quebec and Northern Canada will provide economic growth for years to come. According to the press release from the Ministry, he also highlighted the progress in modernizing Canada’s regulatory regime – both north and south of the 60th parallel. The government’s Responsible Resource Development plan attaches firm timelines to the reviews of major projects. It moves Canada closer to “one project, one review,” thereby ensuring that the regulatory regime for major natural resource projects is among the most efficient, effective and competitive in the world. This of course says nothing about environmental reviews, but at least, he confirmed the government’s commitment to consulting with Aboriginal groups, ensuring meaningful input and engagement from the very beginning of major projects. He took this opportunity to announce the launch of the updated Exploration and Mining Guide for Aboriginal Communities, designed to encourage Aboriginal participation in mining projects.
One of the aspects of Chinese ownership of natural resource companies that was raised during the CNOOC/Nexen debate – how will the national energy strategy answer this problem?
Labour dispute over Chinese Foreign workers
(RCI) A contentious labour dispute is playing out in the west coast province of British Columbia, but one with national and international implications.
A Chinese mining company, HD Mines, is seeking to extract coal from a site in the central BC mountains near the boundary with Alberta. It wants to bring in some 200 Chinese miners as temporary foreign workers, saying no Canadians are qualified. Another Chinese company, which also planned to bring in Chinese workers, has temporarily stopped its plans to develop a site called the Wapiti Mine
Provincial labour unions say that is nonsense, and the company is excluding Canadians in order to pay the foreign workers far below typical wages and benefits.
Mike De Souza: Cutting oil and gas incentives would create thousands of clean energy jobs, says report
(Canada.com) The federal government could create 18,000 jobs if it removed existing tax incentives for oil and gas companies, and invested the money instead in industries that reduce pollution, says a new report to be released Thursday by an alliance of labour and environmental groups.
The analysis immediately prompted an industry spokesman to respond by noting that oil and gas companies were responsible for hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs through private sector investments, while contributing billions of dollars to government coffers in tax revenues and royalty payments.
The industry’s main lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, also said that subsidies for alternative forms of energy would not be economically responsible.
But the 30-page report – called More Bang for our Buck – based its estimates on previously published studies about the economic benefits of investments in energy efficiency, home retrofits, and emerging energy sectors such as wind and solar power.
BNN Business Day – David Kilgour opposes the CNOOC acquisition of Nexen (http://watch.bnn.ca/monday#clip809956)
China treaty uproar signals growing rift between Ottawa, grassroots conservatives
72 per cent of people who give the Conservative Party money said they would consider withdrawing their financial support if the treaty was signed. Harper should pay attention, as the threat of withdrawing financial support was highest in Alberta at 87 per cent.
(Dogwood Initiative) As with the oil tanker and pipeline issue, the Conservatives are clearly at odds with their own supporters on Chinese trade issues. Unwittingly, the Prime Minister has triggered deeply held values about Canada’s control over its own natural resources. And from what we heard from the folks who give the party money, it is clear this is not just a minor annoyance that can be glossed over with a targeted tax credit before the next election.
For now, the China trade treaty is still on the table. Two weeks have passed since it was first eligible to be ratified. We watch, wait and wonder: has Harper realized such a move could be toxic to his own base?
There’s no doubt the backlash could have electoral consequences. Numerous polls show that since the last election, the Conservatives have lost around 30 per cent of their support in British Columbia. Polls also show dropping Conservative support in other parts of the country. If an election were held today, it is unlikely the Conservatives would get a majority.
Opposition, activists in last-minute push for more scrutiny of Canada-China treaty
(Globe & Mail) An investment treaty with China that would turn Canada into a “resource colony” is about to be ratified despite almost no parliamentary debate, opposition critics charge.
Petronas, Progress extend closing date on proposed deal
(Reuters) – Malaysian state oil firm Petronas said on Monday it has extended the closing date on its bid for Canadian gas producer Progress Energy Resources until November 30, as it works to overturn the Canadian government’s rejection of the proposed deal.
An unflattering (and no doubt accurate) analysis of the mishandling of the Petronas file, best summed up by
… Ottawa somehow expected joint ventures, export markets and money for pipelines, without realizing the friendly approach would translate into bids for entire Canadian companies.
“We expected them to buy our oil, not our oil companies,” one leading Conservative said.
Insight: How the Petronas deal fell victim to Canada’s China fears
(Reuters) Canada’s 11th-hour veto of the $5.2 billion deal was the result of miscalculations and miscommunications, Reuters has learned through interviews with a dozen people briefed on the October 19 events.
The ruling stunned investors, driving down Canadian energy stocks and pressuring the Canadian dollar. It also cast doubt on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s repeated assertions that the country has an open door to foreign investment.
The result was an embarrassment for the supposedly pro-business Conservative government, which needs an estimated $660 billion to develop Canada’s energy sector over the next decade.
Ottawa, sources said, wanted to approve the Petronas-Progress deal but was afraid that would tie the government’s hands when reviewing the much more controversial $15.1 billion bid by China’s CNOOC Ltd for Nexen Inc. Officials were wary of setting a policy on investment by foreign state-owned enterprises that would make things difficult if Canada later decided to take a tougher line on CNOOC-Nexen. (See Comment of 27 October below)
Petronas move spurs fear of investor chill
(Globe & Mail) The federal government has delivered a veiled but powerful message to state-owned foreign enterprises that are keen to acquire Canadian resources: You must play by Western business standards.
Ottawa rejected a $6-billion bid by Malaysia’s national oil company, Petronas, to acquire Calgary’s gas-rich Progress Energy Resources Corp., offering no explanation for its decision, which was announced at midnight Friday.
Mulcair slams feds on handling of Petronas deal
NDP leader unhappy with lack of transparency in foreign investment decisions
(CBC) Progress Energy CEO Michael Culbert said the company “will be working over the next 30 days to determine the nature of the issues and the potential remedies.”
“The long-term health of the natural gas industry in Canada and the development of a new [liquified natural gas] export industry are dependent on international investments,” Culbert said
In his speech Mulcair said Ottawa’s lack of transparency was bad for business and the economy.
“In the absence of a transparent and open process, investors can’t be certain these decisions aren’t made for political reasons or influenced by pure cronyism, said Mulcair adding that Canadians also “can’t be certain that the development of our strategic resources will benefit Canada.”
Energy company upset feds blocked Malaysian takeover — Rejection puts B.C. liquefied natural gas plant in limbo
Garneau: Resource royalties must be saved
By Marc Garneau
(Calgary Herald) while we must be wary of politicians who cry “Dutch Disease” for partisan gain, we must pay heed to the economic imbalances that can ensue. How do other resource-rich countries avoid the so-called resource curse? In a recent report published by the Canadian International Council, the answer is clear: they save.
Since starting their sovereign wealth fund in 1996, Norway has put aside more than $600 billion — over twice its annual GDP. Alaska has saved $42 billion since 1976 — roughly 85 per cent of its GDP. Chile: $13 billion. Brunei: $30 billion. Even tiny East Timor has put aside $7 billion since 2005.
Their motivation? Natural resource wealth is a windfall and it should benefit not only citizens of today, but also citizens of the future.
Many of our natural resources are non-renewable. Once deposits are exhausted, the public will not get any more royalties. Economically, this means that a government should save its resource royalties and invest in assets that will yield an ongoing return. This is the Hartwick Rule, named for a 1977 paper by Queen’s University economist John Hartwick. It ensures that future generations share in resource wealth and that the present generation doesn’t hog the windfall.
David Kilgour and Clive Ansley: Harper Tories should block Nexen takeover
(Calgary Herald) Stephen Harper’s Conservative government must decide whether or not to approve the purchase under the vague “net benefit” and “national security” tests in the Investment Canada Act. It is important to keep in mind that what is sought is a complete change of ownership of a business with about 3,000 employees, which has been operating in a socially responsible manner in Canada and internationally for many years.
The takeover would constitute Nexen’s nationalization by the party state in Beijing. CNOOC is controlled by its parent, China National Offshore Oil, wholly owned by the Chinese government, which is in turn dominated from top to bottom by the Communist Party. A similar offer was made by CNOOC for Unocal of California in 2005, but was halted in the face of opposition in Congress and by American public opinion. China Minmetals considered a takeover the same year of Noranda, then Canada’s largest mining enterprise, but abandoned it when Canadians became aware that Minmetals was a branch of the mines department of the government of China.
Canada bureaucrat looking at CNOOC deal to take new job
(Reuters) – The top Canadian bureaucrat involved in examining a landmark $15.1 billion bid by China’s CNOOC Ltd for oil producer Nexen Inc will take up another government job on November 12, a hint that Ottawa will announce its decision on whether to approve the takeover before then.
Simon Kennedy is the director of Investment Canada, the section inside the federal industry ministry that reviews all major foreign takeover bids. He will become the top civil servant at the trade ministry, the government said on Monday as it announced a series of job changes within the bureaucracy.
Andrew Nikiforuk: Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out
Who needs democracy? Secret treaty is a massive giveaway of Canadian resources and rights with no vote in Parliament.
(TheTyee.ca) By Nov. 1 three of China’s national oil companies will have more power to shape Canada’s energy markets as well as challenge the politics of this country than Canadians themselves. And you can thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper for this economic treason.
The new agreement will not only support more foreign takeovers of Canada’s natural resources, but pave the way for CNOOC’s dramatic $15-billion purchase of Nexen.
That controversial deal, which the majority of ordinary Canadians oppose, represents the largest-ever overseas takeover of any firm by a Chinese national oil company.
New report commissioned by the CIC calls for sovereign wealth funds, a price on carbon, and a national natural resources plan
(CIC OpenCanada) This report set out to find the basket of issues that should be addressed now if Canada is to have a proactive rather than reactive resource policy. The nine recommendations reflect the issues raised most often in more than 160 conversations held with representatives of government, industry, and academia in Canada, as well as in Australia, Chile, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Britain. Norway is often held up as an exemplar, but no one country offers a model Canada could adopt in its entirety. Still, Canada’s resource peers offer lessons that too often are overlooked in our domestic debate, which is narrow, partisan, frequently uninformed, and almost entirely focused on the Alberta oilsands. “We’ve been handed the golden goose and we squabble over it,” says John Hancock, a counsellor at the World Trade Organization.
Those squabbles have ranged from inter-governmental spats over revenues to whether high resource prices are good for Canada. In a September 2012 speech in Calgary, Mark Carney, governor of the
Bank of Canada, emphatically stated that high commodity prices are “unambiguously good for Canada.” But he added some important advice that lies in with the content of this report: “Rather than debate their utility we should focus on how we can minimize the pain of the inevitable adjustment and maximize the benefits of our resource economy for all Canadians.”
Shoal Point Energy Exploring Green Point Shale In Newfoundland
(HuffPost) A long, narrow stretch of shale rock that runs along western Newfoundland’s coastline might be home to North America’s next big oil find.
So believes the junior oil explorer that’s snapped up virtually all of the land in the Green Point shale.
But Shoal Point Energy Ltd. (CNSX:SHP) hasn’t quite figured out how to economically draw the crude — some 23 billion barrels of it in place, according to one estimate — from the uneven, broken-up rock.
CNOOC’s bid for Nexen is a key move on China’s global chess board
(Toronto Star) If this deal goes through, China via CNOOC via Nexen will assume a major voice in government consultations on Canada’s national energy policy. It also has significant implications for China’s political influence in Canada. Would Beijing be prepared to leverage Nexen business decisions to reward or sanction the Canadian government over, say, the Dalai Lama or resolutions on China’s human rights record in the UN? For Beijing, protecting the Chinese Communist Party’s political rule from external challenges matters more than short-term oil profits.
Then there is the moral dilemma. Under this deal, profits from sales of Canadian oil would go to the Chinese state, thereby strengthening its capacity to carry out domestic and international policies that are at odds to Canada’s foreign policy agenda of promotion of human rights, democracy and rule of law and condemnation of regimes that violate these norms.
And there are other issues. Nexen presently has an outstandingly good record on environmental issues, corporate citizenship and social responsibility, especially with regard to First Nations and local communities. CNOOC is dogged by allegations of appalling abuses in Burma and elsewhere. Would Nexen’s “Canadian” corporate culture be eroded after becoming a Chinese company?
Elizabeth May: National energy strategy possible, federal leadership missing
Nationally, despite the Prime Minister’s crowing about Canada being an ‘energy superpower,’ we are establishing ourselves as a compliant resource colony for the United States and China. (Hill Times subscription required)
B.C. premier won’t support national energy plan
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark made it clear this morning that her province isn’t willing to sign on to the national energy strategy being championed by her Alberta counterpart.
Clark made the comment at a meeting of premiers in Halifax. She told reporters she’s not interested in discussing a national strategy until Alberta and the federal government are willing to address her conditions for the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
We Need Canadian, Not Albertan, Strategy
By Keith Brooks, Project manager, Environmental Defence
(HuffPost) On the one hand, Redford has said a lot of the right things about an energy strategy. She recognizes climate change and the need to address it. She says she is concerned about other environmental impacts to land, air and water that result from oilsands development. And PremierRedford has said that energy efficiency and renewable energy need to be part of any Canadian energy strategy.
But, on the other hand, she recently implied that the strategy she favours is really about getting more oil to market, and the other provinces should facilitate this by welcoming more pipelines while asking for nothing in return. Instead, they should be content with Ottawa receiving more tax revenue which is, in turn, meted out to the provinces via equalization payments and the like.
Given these contrary statements, it’s difficult to know exactly what the energy strategy she is proposing would consist of. But it is time we had this discussion.
Oilsands play big role in Redford’s ‘national energy strategy’
(CBC) When Alberta’s premier speaks about need for a co-ordinated plan, what does she really mean?
Alberta Premier Alison Redford nominated herself to champion the herculean task of spearheading a Canadian energy strategy, but on the eve of the annual summer premiers conference in Halifax, the B.C. government has made her undertaking that much more difficult.
Yesterday’s announcement by B.C.’s ministers of the environment and aboriginal affairs sent a message to Alberta that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline will have to overcome environmental and financial hurdles before the provincial government will allow the project to proceed.
Andrew Coyne: Too much heat, too little light in talk of a ‘national energy strategy’
(National Post) At the very moment the premiers were being urged to commit themselves, at their meeting in Halifax later this week, to a “national energy strategy,” events were conspiring to demonstrate how vacuous such a pledge would be.
Redford’s energy vision gains traction with premiers
(Globe & Mail) Alberta Premier Alison Redford is quietly building support among her provincial colleagues for a national energy strategy, saying Canada’s prosperity hinges on forging a united front to exploit the country’s vast resource riches.
Ms. Redford has lined up the support of other premiers in Western Canada ahead of next week’s Council of the Federation meeting of provincial and territorial leaders in Halifax.
Jack Mintz: National energy strategy would be highly dangerous
(Financial Post) It is appropriate for the federal and provincial governments to manage policies of joint interest to them. However, trying to develop an overarching Canadian energy strategy will be another Italian cruiser heading to the rocks at shore.
For this reason, some industry leaders have figured out that we should at least agree on a framework with understood principles. That might make sense in a federal union, but effectively the best approach is for each province as resource owner to work out its best provincial strategy, agreeing to work with each other respecting other provincial priorities and policies.
A Canadian energy strategy could do more harm than good. We should drop the idea fast.
Andrew Coyne: Confusion over national energy strategy is entirely appropriate
(Ottawa Citizen) … When industry and business groups talk about a national energy strategy, they mean a concerted push to expand sales of Canadian oil abroad, together with the regulatory approvals needed to make it happen at home: a big broom to sweep away local objections to energy infrastructure projects, such as Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, the subject of just-opened hearings in British Columbia. But when labour and environmental groups talk about a national energy strategy, they mean policies to reduce Canada’s use of fossil fuels, whether through conservation or alternative energy sources.
… You say we need a national energy strategy? Here’s mine: prices. If the returns to producing oil are greater than to other activities, we should produce oil; if China will pay us more for our oil than we could get elsewhere, we should sell it to them; if prices do not include all costs including environmental costs, we should adjust them with a carbon tax. Other than that I can’t see the point.
Energy Policy Institute of Canada: Regulatory Reform will Impact Canada’s Energy Future
The Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC) is fully supportive of Minister Oliver’s announcement to advance work towards the ultimate regulatory goal of “one project, one review.”
STEPHAN SCHOTT: We need a coordinated national strategy more than any in the world
(Hill Times) The federal government must start playing a more active role in establishing an energy strategy and coordinating with Canadian provinces. If they don’t, we will leave it up to industry and our American partners to define what this strategy should be. … About 50 per cent of the crude oil used by Canadian refiners to meet consumers’ oil product needs comes from imports. About 44 per cent of those imports come from OPEC countries and 37 per cent come from the North Sea. It is predicted that as of 2020 no more North Sea oil will be available, and we will exclusively depend on what are considered less secure and volatile oil supplies. Canada is in a unique situation of trying to secure and improve market access for its raw bitumen products, while facing increasingly insecure oil imports to meet domestic consumption needs.