Archive for category Canada
Crude Landlocked as Canadians Join U.S. to Halt Pipelines
By Jeremy van Loon & Christopher Donville - May 24, 2013 3:26 AM CT
British Columbia, the Canadian province whose official slogan to its own beauty is “Super, Natural,” is invoking another saying: “No more supertankers.”
That’s potentially big trouble in a nation where oil exports amount to $73 billion annually and the industry employs more than 550,000 workers. It’s also a bad omen for nations, notably China, that have invested billions in Canadian oil projects with expectations that they will one day be able to buy vast quantities of heavy Canadian crude.
In Vancouver, with a metro-area population of 2.5 million, the evergreen-rimmed, blue sprawl of English Bay laps up to the city center and is already a port for supertankers taking crude from an existing pipeline known as the Trans Mountain conduit. Photographer: Adrian Brown/Bloomberg News.
To do that means not just pumping it from the vast tar sands – thought to hold as many as 170 billion barrels — lying mainly to the east in the neighboring province of Alberta. It also means building pipelines to carry that heavy oil, known as bitumen, west to the coast. From there, fleets of supertankers will be needed to ship it across the Pacific to Asian markets that desperately want cheap oil.
Two such projects, representing about C$11.4 billion ($11.1 billion) in investments, are on the drawing boards. British Columbia, with its mountainous forests, national parks and salmon streams standing between the crude and the sea, wants no part of those pipelines — nor does it want its scenic bays to be turned into supertanker terminals.
In Vancouver, with a metro-area population of 2.5 million, the evergreen-rimmed, blue sprawl of English Bay laps up to the city center and is already a port for supertankers taking crude from an existing pipeline known as the Trans Mountain conduit. Sean Austin offered an opinion sounded often there — that enough is enough. “English Bay shouldn’t become a parking lot for supertankers,” Austin, a 41-year-old construction worker, said in an interview as the sun set over a seawall behind him.
Chinese Caught Out?
An end to the pipeline projects would be devastating news to a number of Chinese companies including Sinopec (386) and Cnooc Ltd. (883) Collectively, they have invested $36.3 billion in Canadian oil and gas assets over the past two years — the largest foreign investment inCanada’s petroleum industry.
“The expectation for Chinese investors from the very beginning was that Canadian oil would physically be delivered to China,” Wenran Jiang, an adviser to the Alberta government on Asian investment, said in an interview. “Chinese companies are heavily invested in the oil sands and they want to see these pipelines built.”
Austin’s view is backed up by a recent opinion poll that shows 60 percent of British Columbia voters fear continued oil and gas development will ruin their green paradise. The two projects drawing their ire are Enbridge Inc. (ENB)’s Northern Gateway pipeline and the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP)’s Trans Mountain conduit.
Kinder Morgan Campaign
Kinder Morgan has been conducting a “grassroots” campaign to meet with British Columbians that would be affected by its project, in what will amount to a two-year effort in advance of the company seeking regulatory approval in late 2013, Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan’s Canadian unit, said yesterday in Calgary.
There is “value-based opposition and opinion-based opposition, and where we have our work ahead of us is to understand where that opinion lacks information, lacks clarity, and informing that,” Anderson said in an interview yesterday.
Northern Gateway would cut a line across the middle of the province through a national park and over the Rockies and Coast Mountains, an area sparsely inhabited by aboriginal groups that say they don’t like pipelines. Kinder Morgan wants to more than double capacity on the Trans Mountain conduit, in operation for half a century, to 890,000 barrels a day to bring more oil through Vancouver to the city’s port.
Without these and other such projects, “Canada’s oil industry is facing a serious challenge to its long-term growth,” Craig Alexander, chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, said in an interview.
While fights over TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline, designed to transport Canadian tar-sands oil to U.S. refineries, have gotten most of the press, this long-simmering and escalating resentment of the province becoming a tar-sands conduit may in the end prove more damaging.
British Columbia voters on May 14 went through provincial elections in which the opposing parties fought hotly over a laundry list of social and economic issues. Yet the parties agreed vociferously on one thing: British Columbia will not sacrifice its environment for economic growth.
The national ruling Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper favors oil and gas development and has the power to outright veto a pipeline project, following hearings by the national energy regulator. In January 2012, as pipeline regulatory hearings were about to begin, Harper’s government seemed steadfast in its support of the Northern Gateway project with Joe Oliver, Harper’s natural resources minister, accusing opponents of attempting to “hijack” the nation’s regulatory process in an effort to block energy exports.
As pipeline opposition mounted across the nation, however, Oliver in a speech last October said such projects shouldn’t proceed unless they are “safe and responsible.”
“We are committed to building a strong economy and protecting the environment,” said Todd Nogier, an Enbridge spokesman. “There is support for the project. And we are committed to increasing support.”
Even if the federal government gives the green light, British Columbia and its green groups have weapons to fight the projects beyond the court of public opinion.
Litigation, potentially long and costly, is already a reality. Environmental groups led by Ecojusticefiled suit in September to stop the pipeline projects, contending that the federal government hasn’t performed adequate environmental impact statements on the threat to imperiled species.
One British Columbia native group, the Saik’uz First Nation, has also threatened legal action should Enbridge win a green light from the federal regulator. The company has been threatened with civil disobedience and legal action that will go on “for years,” said John Ridsdale, a hereditary chief of the Wet’suwet’en nation.
“The big concern is the tanker traffic on the coast,” according to Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate scientist and the first Green Party member to win a seat in the provincial legislature. “That issue won’t go away.”
Oil Price Reaction
The uncertainty over the fate of these pipelines is beginning show up in the oil price, with Canada’s biggest export being discounted as land-locked supplies build up.
The price of Canadian heavy has fallen 17 percent from last year’s high of $90.50. The discount to the U.S. price is costing the Canadian economy C$27 billion a year in lost profits and taxes and deprives markets of the world’s cheapest crude, according to the Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner.
A majority of British Columbians don’t care. The same poll by Forum Research in December that found 60 percent of voters opposed oil and gas development also found only 37 percent of voters in favor.
Of course, Vancouver is known as “Lotus Land” in the rest of Canada. It’s also home to yoga-gear maker Lululemon Athletica Inc. (LULU), a mayor who started an organic juice company called Happy Planet and a green movement every bit as vociferous as California’s. So even as British Columbia’s economy has traditionally been reliant on forestry and mining, the times and attitudes are changing.
“People have a right to enjoy this inlet, this very small inlet, without having to look at oil tankers,” said Austin. “You have this wonderful sea walk. If the pipeline goes through and you have more tankers, what’s the use of having a sea walk?”
- Crude Landlocked as Canadians Join U.S. to Halt Pipelines (bloomberg.com)
- Drumbeat: May 24, 2013 (fuelfix.com)
- Crude landlocked as Canadians join U.S. to halt pipelines (fuelfix.com)
- Keystone Lobby Works on Democrats to Win Obama: Corporate … – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Oil pipelines to drive Canadian economy like 1800s railway track (business.financialpost.com)
- The Keystone XL debate is not an equal contest (philebersole.wordpress.com)
- U.S. publishes batch of Keystone XL comments (upi.com)
- Anatomy of an oil spill (globalnews.ca)
- Enbridge to meet re-elected B.C. Liberals on Northern Gateway (business.financialpost.com)
- Oil Pipelines to Drive Canadian Economy Like 1880s Railroads (bloomberg.com)
Listening equipment ‘will record conversations’ at Canadian airports: CBSA
BY IAN MACLEOD, POSTMEDIA NEWS JUNE 16, 2012
Sophisticated cameras and microphones will put passengers at the Ottawa airport under greater scrutiny than ever before.
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto , The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA – Airports and border crossings across Canada are being wired with high-definition cameras and microphones that can eavesdrop on travellers’ conversations, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
A CBSA statement said that audio-video monitoring and recording is already in place at unidentified CBSA sites at airports and border points of entry as part of an effort to enhance “border integrity, infrastructure and asset security and health and safety.”
As part of the work, the agency is introducing audio-monitoring equipment as well.
“It is important to note that even though audio technology is installed, no audio is recorded at this time. It will become functional at a later date,” CBSA spokesman Chris Kealey said in a written statement.
But whenever that occurs, the technology, “will record conversations,” the agency said in a separate statement in response to questions from the Ottawa Citizen.
At Ottawa’s airport, signs will be posted referring passersby to a “privacy notice” that will be posted on the CBSA website once the equipment is activated, and to a separate help line explaining how the recordings will be used, stored, disclosed and retained.
Already, though, the union representing about 45 CBSA employees at the airport is concerned personal workplace conversations and remarks could be captured and become part of employees’ official record, Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Custom and Immigration Union, said Friday. He added that the union only learned of the audio-recording development this week, after reporters began making inquiries.
The recording equipment may also be linked to a federal initiative to help CBSA combat organized crime and internal smuggling conspiracies at big Canadian airports.
A 2008 RCMP report said at least 58 crime groups were believed active at major airports, typically by corrupting airport employees or placing criminal associates in airport jobs to move narcotics and other contraband to and from planes.
The Customs Act was amended in 2009 to allow for the creation of “customs controlled areas” within airports, starting with those in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, followed by Ottawa and other international Canadian aerodromes.
A crucial aspect of the change are proposed regulations giving border services officers expanded powers to question, examine and search airport workers and travellers, both domestic and international, within the designated areas.
The controlled areas at Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier International Airport include the areas surrounding aircraft that have arrived in or are about to leave Canada; the primary inspection area where all travellers must report to a border services officer; the secondary inspection area where border services officers conduct further examinations of travellers and goods; as well as certain holding and departure areas at the airport.
The Treasury Board requires government departments to conduct a “privacy impact assessment” before establishing any new or substantially modified program or activity involving personal information. The assessment is then reviewed by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
The office this week said it is reviewing a CBSA privacy assessment for the customs controlled areas.
But, “we have not received a privacy impact assessment regarding audio-video monitoring at the Ottawa airport,” said spokeswoman Valerie Lawton. “If the CBSA were to introduce audio-video monitoring, our office would expect a full privacy impact assessment, which we would review and make (non-binding) recommendations as necessary to protect privacy.”
An official with the Ottawa International Airport Authority had no comment on the CBSA installations, saying the two organizations are distinct and separate.
- Canadian airports being wired with listening equipment that ‘will record conversations’: CBSA (vancouversun.com)
- Ottawa airport wired with microphones to record travellers’ conversations (blacklistednews.com)
- Listening equipment ‘will record conversations’ at Canadian airports: CBSA (canada.com)
- Ottawa Airport Wired with Microphones as Border Services Prepares to Record Travellers’ Conversations (sott.net)
- Ottawa Airport Wired with Microphones to Record Travelers’ Conversations (cryptogon.com)
- Ottawa Airport Violates Privacy Laws And Records Your Conversations (newsworldwide.wordpress.com)
- Undeclared Rolex watch costs Vancouver traveller $40,000 in fines (calgaryherald.com)
- The CBSA Investigates the Dumping and Subsidizing of Certain Steel Piling Pipe (sys-con.com)
- Seizure of Stun Guns Leads to Charges by the CBSA (sys-con.com)
- Halifax consulting firm members charged with aiding immigration fraud: CBSA (news.nationalpost.com)
Canadian Pacific Railway strike leads to 2,000 layoffs
Federal labour minister gives notice of legislation in case talks don’t work out
Posted: May 23, 2012 12:44 AM ET
The Canadian Pacific Railway strike means more than 2,000 non-striking unionized CP employees will be laid off, a spokesman for the company said Wednesday, as the federal labour minister said she may force an end to the work stoppage.
“Unfortunately, with this unnecessary strike by the Teamsters, more than 2,000 other unionized CP employees will not be required and are being laid off,” CP’s Ed Greenberg said. “We expect this to grow by another 1,400 employees as their work, related to the operations of the railroad, is no longer required. This is in addition to the 4,800 Teamster-represented employees currently on strike.”
Greenberg said the strike means tens of thousands of carloads a day of grain, coal, automobiles and other products won’t be moving along nearly 24,000 kilometres of track in Canada and the U.S.
Earlier Wednesday, Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said she was giving notice of legislation to force the union back to work.
Raitt urged both sides to keep negotiating but said she’s being prudent by putting the legislation on the order paper in the House of Commons. The announcement came 10 hours after the workers went on strike.
“We want to make sure that they’re doing the best that they can, but they understand as well that if they cannot conclude their deal, we will have the ability to intervene,” Raitt told reporters in Ottawa.
“We want to make sure that the effect on the economy is being brought to people’s attention and that we’re keeping it in mind as it proceeds.”
http://www.cbc.ca/news/charts/pie/cp-revenues/index.html Raitt says the parties are still at the table but said late Wednesday afternoon that they seem to be far apart on the issue of pensions. She says the government estimates a strike could cost $540 million a week.
Raitt’s statement ‘consistent’ with union attitude
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) said in a statement later Wednesday that Raitt didn’t threaten them with back-to-work legislation, and promised to stay at the negotiating table as long as it takes.
“Minister Raitt’s comment is consistent with our attitude since the beginning of the negotiations,” said Doug Finnson, TCRC vice-president.
“The minister wants the parties to continue talking and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
The statement said Raitt “seemed inclined to give the parties time to find common ground.”
“CP’s management needs to understand that hiding behind the federal government is not going to resolve things,” Finnson said.
Canadian Pacific’s statement Wednesday evening said it respected Raitt’s announcement and that it is willing to enter binding arbitration.
· They negotiate a deal, which she said seems to be becoming more unlikely.
· They voluntarily go to arbitration, with an arbitrator of their choosing.
· Both sides accept an offer Raitt says she made last week to stop the strike and agree to 120 days further mediation with an expert provided by Labour Canada. Canadian Pacific accepted that offer but the Teamsters did not. “It’s still there for them to take, and they should look at it,” she said.
If they don’t do any of those things, “They are leaving their destiny in the hands of Parliament,” Raitt said.
The House of Commons isn’t sitting this week, with MPs working in their ridings, so the legislation isn’t likely to start moving through Parliament until Monday.
Asked whether Canadian Pacific asked for the legislation, Raitt said no.
Last year, the government brought in back-to-work legislation for both Air Canada and Canada Post disputes — in the case of Canada Post, it ended a lockout.
In June 2011, the NDP forced the House to sit continuously for three days as the party fought the Canada Post legislation.
‘The Conservatives are taking only one side’
NDP labour critic Alexandre Boulerice said he’s concerned the threat of back-to-work legislation will skew the balance at the negotiating table in favour of Canadian Pacific.
“Once again the Conservatives are taking only one side and by threatening the union and the workers with back-to-work legislation, it removes a lot of pressure from the employer,” said the Montreal MP.
“It constitutes another attack against the rights of the workers to associate and to freely negotiate.”
The workers went on strike early Wednesday morning after last-minute negotiations failed. Freight service was then suspended across the country.
Officials with the railway and the union met with Raitt on Tuesday morning, where they agreed that in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto will keep running in the event of a strike. That means 65,000 Canadians were able to get to work as usual Wednesday morning, Raitt said.
Two intercity routes in Ontario that use CP infrastructure will be affected by the strike. Via Rail said on Wednesday that passengers travelling between Ottawa and Toronto will have to take buses between Ottawa and Brockville, with train service still available on the journey between Brockville and Toronto.
The Toronto to Sarnia route is also affected, with four trains cancelled — numbers 85, 86, 88 and 89 — and buses provided as an alternative. Trains from White River to Sudbury have also been cancelled numbers —185 and 186 — with buses providing alternate transportation.
The TCRC represents 4,800 engineers, conductors and rail traffic controllers in Canada. The union and CP have been negotiating since October in an attempt to renew the collective agreements that expired Jan. 1, 2012.
Finnson says the major points of contention for the union are pensions, some work rules and fatigue management.
Management shakeup at CP
The strike comes at a time of major changes at Canada’s second-biggest railway. A bruising months-long proxy fight with the railway’s biggest shareholder culminated last week in Fred Green’s exit as CEO.
New York hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management argued the railway was lagging under Green’s leadership and that a change was necessary.
Green and five other board members stepped down hours before the company’s annual general meeting last Thursday after shareholders voted overwhelmingly for director nominees on Pershing’s slate.
The Teamsters’ Finnson said the union has not yet met with Green’s interim replacement, Stephen Tobias. He said the management shakeup has not affected the bargaining process.
- Canadian Pacific strikers face back-to-work legislation (cbc.ca)
- Government ready to order end to strike by CP Rail workers (canada.com)
- Canadian Pacific Railway workers on strike (cbc.ca)
- Government expected to order CP Rail workers back to work today (vancouversun.com)
- News Summary: Strike hits Canadian Pacific railway (mysanantonio.com)
- Canadian Pacific Railway workers on strike (cbc.ca)
- Strike begins at Canadian Pacific railway, with freight service suspended in Canada, US (foxnews.com)
- Canadian Pacific workers give 72-hour strike notice (cbc.ca)
- Tories prep back-to-work law for Canadian Pacific Railway (cbc.ca)
- Canada May Step In to Resolve Rail Strike (nytimes.com)