If Scheer wins, Albertans can kiss their economic future goodbye


Alberta oil sands in a photograph by Kris Krug

Yet the political parties who pretend to represent the interests of the oil industry are the ones dismantling carbon pricing and other policies that would help Canada transition to a clean economy. Add to that the McCarthy-esque Kenney “war room” trying to suggest that foundations and charities are somehow not permitted to weigh-in on the world’s great challenge of climate change, and oil industry lobby groups sponsoring nonsense to support this kangaroo-court sham, and we have the makings of the true demise of Alberta as an economic player going forward.

To understand why and how this will happen, we need only turn back the clock to the days of Harper and the various Alberta premiers whose collective intransigence led to Alberta and Canada being a global punching-bag as climate laggards. Forgotten, it seems, is that the Conservatives in power federally and provincially were still incapable of getting a pipeline built, mainly because of their climate science avoidance and disrespect of due process. How then do they imagine that even greater ignorance, and more egregious due process will succeed?

If Scheer wins, this is what the Canadian political playbook will look like. First, Conservatives (or at least the Reformers at the helm) will be gloating in a false victory for those who do not accept the urgency. Second, a strong coalition of leaders who seek to delay action will dig in on dismantling climate policies, ensuring that Canada returns to global pariah status on the international stage. Third, as a consequence of the first two, anti-Alberta campaigns will ramp-up and the Kenney war room will be exposed for the boondoggle it is. And finally, the international investment community will hasten the already rapid withdrawal of investment from Alberta accelerating the provinces economic woes. At this point new pipelines will not be needed as the industry will be contracting. There is now an active and sophisticated global movement on sustainable investing and if Canadian businesses (financial and fossil fuel) aren’t actively defining how to invest in the transition out of oil, the scenario painted above will come faster and harder….

Fossil fuels aren’t going away tomorrow and having Alberta supply Canada and the rest of the world with Canadian fossil fuel is a much better scenario for Canada than shutting down one of the largest economic engines, while other countries eat our lunch. Contrary to popular wisdom, demand for fossil fuels is still growing. The Americans are massively expanding their domestic oil and gas production to record levels, the Norwegians still drill for oil offshore, the Germans mine coal etc. The only option for Canada is to understand and embrace the complexity of how to finance the transition to a clean economy through a measured, long-term transition investment strategy that sees the cleaning up of the fossil fuel sector in a way that demonstrates global leadership. Politicians pitting different parts of Canada against each other is about the worst possible outcome for Canadians and a sad reflection on the narrow-mindedness of our Balkanized politicians. We need to be competing with the world, not each other. SOURCE

Coalition of northern Metis communities file historic land claim

The first-of-its-kind interprovincial land claim is for an area of about 122,000 square kilometres. Plaintiffs are looking to redress the scrip system, a government-run land claim process for Metis people that took place throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Jim Durocher, President of A La Baie Metis Local, left, and Ron Quintal, President of the Fort Mckay Mets Nation, lead a group of supports out of the Saskatoon Court of Queens Bench, following a filing of a land claim against the federal government for land that covers a large area of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan LIAM RICHARDS / SASKATOON STARPHOENIX

Despite the large swath of land separating the northern communities of Île-à-la-Crosse in Saskatchewan and Fort McKay in Alberta, Jim Durocher and Ron Quintal were surprised by the similarities between their communities.

“Our Metis people are the same,” said Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Metis Community. “Our communities are almost exactly the same by way of culture, sense of humour, language and our ability to practice on the land.”

That connection was apparent Wednesday morning as the pair joined about 20 other plaintiffs in filing a massive land claim against the federal government. Those gathered in the lobby of Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench were told they had arrived so early they would have to wait until the office opened to submit their 33-page claim.

“It’s been 150 years so far, what’s another five minutes?” one man joked, and the room filled with laughter.

The plaintiffs represent a coalition of Metis communities from across northwest Saskatchewan and northeast Alberta, filing a first-of-its-kind interprovincial land claim for an area of about 122,000 square kilometres, most of it in oilsands territory.

With the claim, the 60 plaintiffs seek to redress the scrip system, a government-run land claim process for Metis people that took place throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The intention of the process was to provide equitable settlements for Metis people in Canada, but Metis people say it dispossessed them of land and resources. In 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada called scrip “a sorry chapter in our nation’s history.”

A 2013 Supreme Court ruling opened the door for land claim negotiations with the federal government by finding the government had failed to follow through on a land deal it made with Metis people in Manitoba.

“This is a long overdue action that could have been avoided if successive governments had simply done the right thing and admitted the scrip process deprived Metis people of what the law promised to us,” Quintal said.

There are about 20 Metis communities within the claim boundary and the filing is open to other communities to join on as plaintiffs as well. Although First Nations have land within the boundary of the claim, Quintal said they have nothing to worry about and talks will only involve land as it pertains to the Metis.

The action speaks to a larger matter of Metis people being able to assert autonomy and speak on their own behalf, Quintal said, especially in regard to negotiating with resource extraction companies about activity taking place. MORE

 

The only growing business in the oilpatch: dead wells

More oil and gas wells will be decommissioned in Alberta this year than new wells drilled


A rig crew works to clean up an old natural gas well near Stettler, Alta. The growth potential for decommissioning wells is substantial considering there are about 93,000 inactive wells in Alberta and 139,000 across Western Canada. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

In the middle of a farmer’s field, the rumble of machinery can be heard half a kilometre away.

There aren’t any tractors or combines in sight. Instead a collection of cement and water trucks and other equipment surround a large service rig.

The crew would much rather be busy drilling new oil and gas wells, but with the oilpatch stuck in a seemingly endless downward spiral, the rig hands are just happy to get a cheque.

Much of the work is like this: decommissioning old wells.

“The last three months have been pretty good. Things are picking up a little bit,” said Jonathan Hofer, a 26-year-old who began working on the rigs when he was 15.

“When I first started working on the rigs, you were busy all the time. Now, if you get two weeks in a month or sometimes one week, you do pretty good,” he said.

In the middle of a farmer’s field, the rumble of machinery can be heard half a kilometre away.There aren’t any tractors or combines in sight. Instead a collection of cement and water trucks and other equipment surround a large service rig.

The crew would much rather be busy drilling new oil and gas wells, but with the oilpatch stuck in a seemingly endless downward spiral, the rig hands are just happy to get a cheque.

Much of the work is like this: decommissioning old wells.

“The last three months have been pretty good. Things are picking up a little bit,” said Jonathan Hofer, a 26-year-old who began working on the rigs when he was 15.

“When I first started working on the rigs, you were busy all the time. Now, if you get two weeks in a month or sometimes one week, you do pretty good,” he said.



Cleaning up old wells is the only growing business right now in the oilpatch in Western Canada. Still, the rise in business is somewhat limited and is just enough to help keep some small oilfield service companies in business.

Without it, many more of the firms would go belly up.

“I joke the only thing worse than being in the service rig business is being in the drilling rig business right now,” said Scott Darling, president of Performance Energy Services. About 70 of the 100 people employed at the business are focused on decommissioning old wells. MORE

Carbon Pricing: Ontario Court Of Appeal Delivers Constitutional Endorsement

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The Ontario Court of Appeal has found that the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is valid federal legislation. The Act implements national minimum pricing standards to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions. In a divided 4-1 opinion, the Ontario Court of Appeal concluded that the Act is constitutional and falls within the authority granted to Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Canada. The impact of this decision for the Atlantic provinces is discussed below.

Overview of the Act

The Act places a price on carbon pollution:

  • Part 1 of the Act establishes a charge on fuels producing GHGs.4 The charge applies to carbon-based fuels that are produced, delivered or used in a listed province, brought into a listed province from another place in Canada, or imported into Canada at a location in a listed province. The charge is presently $20 per tonne of CO2 emitted and will rise annually until 2022 when it reaches $50 per tonne.
  • Part 2 of the Act creates an output-based regulatory system for GHG emissions by industrial facilities.5 The system places annual limits on emissions, extends credits to facilities operating below those limits, and establishes charges for facilities whose emissions exceed the prescribed limits. While facilities subject to the system are exempt from the fuel charge, they are required to pay compensation for GHG emissions that exceed the annual limits. This compensation may take the form of credits earned or acquired by the facility, payments by the facility, or a combination of both.

The Act does not apply in all provinces. Rather, the Act operates as a “backstop” by extending into provinces without a sufficiently stringent system to reduce GHG emissions. This determination as to stringency is made by the federal Cabinet.6 Provinces may opt into the federal system voluntarily, adopt the national minimum standards as their own, or enact their own system that meets or exceeds the national standards for reducing GHG emissions. The fuel charge and trading system prescribed by the Act therefore only apply in provinces that do not satisfy the national standard for stringency.

Constitutional questions

Constitutional responsibility for the environment is not assigned exclusively to the federal government or the provinces.


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Andrew Coyne: ‘There’ll be hell to pay’ if a coalition government cancels TMX pipeline

In conversation with host Larysa Harapyn, the National Post columnist says this is the closest election since 1972

“Right now, the Liberals and the NDP don’t have enough (seats) together to form a government. If the Greens are involved, it’s hard to see how that pipeline gets built. And if that’s the case, you have some real issues for the country.”

SOURCE

 

 

8 key, written rules needed to have a fair post-election, and minority government

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8 Key Rules for Minority Government

Given lack of honesty-in-politics law, and past pattern of ruling party breaking half of democratic reform promises, voters should be skeptical of all parties’ promises

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released it Report Card on the Federal Parties’ 2019 Democratic Reform Platforms (See the full Report Card chart below, and click here to see the Report Card Backgrounder).

Voters should be very skeptical of all the parties’ promises given the lack of an honesty-in-politics law, and the fact that Prime Minister Chrétien, Prime Minister Harper, and Prime Minister Trudeau all failed to keep half of their democratic reform promises, and the fact that no party promised an honesty law covering promises in their platforms.

The Green Party received the best grade B- as it promised 25 key, systemic democratic reforms and had good grades in four of the five areas graded in the Report Card.

Democracy Watch’s Report Card on the Federal Parties’ 2019 Democratic Reform Platforms

“Given only the Green Party has a strong democracy platform, hopefully all the parties will get serious after the election and work together to finally make the key changes needed to give Canadians the fully democratic and accountable federal government that many surveys over the past 15 years have shown a large majority of voters want,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch.

“The Liberals and the Conservatives especially made a big mistake in this election thinking they could ignore key democracy reforms and still have voters hand them power – voters have clearly been disappointed too many times by past Liberal and Conservative governments abusing their power.”

“Unfortunately, even if the Green Party is able to push through all the changes it promised, everyone in federal politics would still be allowed to lie to voters, politicians would still be allowed to make money from their decisions, secret lobbying would still be legal, wealthy individuals would still be allowed to use money to have unethical influence, and enforcement and penalties would still be too weak to stop wrongdoing,” said Conacher.

Hundreds of thousands of messages have been sent to federal party leaders and politicians through Democracy Watch’s campaigns calling for the 100 key changes needed to ensure fully honest, ethical, open, representative and waste-preventing federal politics, and accountability for everyone who violates any rule.

Democracy Watch and the coalitions it leads will continue to push for all 100 key changes.

The NDP received the next best grade of D+ because it had only a dozen vague promises in its platform, and no promises in the area of open government.

The Conservatives failed to make any promises in three of the five categories measured by the Report Card, and ended up with a D- grade. This is a big change from their 2006 election platform – in that platform the Conservatives promised 60 democratic reform and government accountability changes in their so-called “Federal Accountability Act”, which earned them a B grade.

The Liberals failed to make any promises in two of the five categories measured by the Report Card, and also ended up with a D- grade. This is a big change from their 2015 election platform – in that platform the Liberals promised about 75 democratic reform and government accountability changes, which earned them a B grade.

The Liberals’ 2019 platform is as weak as their democratic reform record since 2015:

  1. they broke most of their open government promises;
  2. Prime Minister Trudeau broke his electoral reform promise;
  3. they failed to make the political finance system more democratic;
  4. they ignored recommendations to strengthen whistleblower protection in a unanimous House Committee report;
  5. they ignored recommendations to stop secret, fake online election ads in a unanimous House Committee report, and weakened a key honest election rule;
  6. Prime Minister Trudeau and Liberal Cabinet ministers have been involved in many secrecy and ethics scandals.

The Bloc received an F as it had no promises in four of the five categories of the Report Card, and the People’s Party of Canada received an Incomplete as it had no democratic reform promises in its platform. SOURCE

The Liberals’ 2019 platform is as weak as their democratic reform record since 2015:

  1. they broke most of their open government promises;
  2. Prime Minister Trudeau broke his electoral reform promise;
  3. they failed to make the political finance system more democratic;
  4. they ignored recommendations to strengthen whistleblower protection in a unanimous House Committee report;
  5. they ignored recommendations to stop secret, fake online election ads in a unanimous House Committee report, and weakened a key honest election rule;
  6. Prime Minister Trudeau and Liberal Cabinet ministers have been involved in many secrecy and ethics scandals.

The Bloc received an F as it had no promises in four of the five categories of the Report Card, and the People’s Party of Canada received an Incomplete as it had no democratic reform promises in its platform.