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4 Unifor members arrested at Co-op Refinery Complex picket line

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Four people were arrested at the Unifor picket line at the Co-op Refinery Complex early Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the refinery says six managers have had their homes vandalized with paintballs.

Union members have been barricading the Co-op Refinery Complex since Jan. 20, 2020. Refinery management says the barricades are illegal and contrary to a court injunction limiting pickets to blocking trucks for a maximum of 10 minutes.

Regina police say they arrested and charged four men on the picket line on Wednesday at 12:42 a.m. CST. They were charged with mischief and disobeying order of court.

The accused are a 41-year-old from Drinkwater, Sask., a 31-year-old from Regina, a 34-year-old from Southey, Sask., and a 45-year-old from Regina.

Each person is charged with mischief under $5,000 and disobeying the court order by Justice J.E. McMurtry.

All four were released and are scheduled to make their first court appearances on these charges in Provincial Court on March 23, 2020.

Refinery alleges managers’ homes vandalized with paintballs

Later Wednesday morning, Regina police said seven homes were vandalized with paintballs. The refinery said six of the homes belonged to managers from the refinery.

“This is obviously a concerning development,” the refinery said in a statement.

Regina police say the incidents were reported on Feb. 4 and 5, but may have happened from Jan. 30 and Feb. 5. Anyone with information is asked to contact Regina police.

Two homes were in the east end of Regina, four were in the north end and one was in the south end.

Unifor said the Wednesday arrests show the Regina Police Service is siding with Federative Co-operatives Limited.

“For Regina police to side with the employer and arrest lawful, peaceful picketers is a disgrace and shows the unjust obstacles workers face simply to protect what they already have,” Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president, said in a statement.

Dias confirmed Unifor has been engaging in the mediation process that Premier Scott Moe offered on Monday. The Premier offered to appoint a special mediator if Unifor removes the barricades around the refinery.

Unifor said the mediation process is the best option to get both sides back to the table and reach a deal.

Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the president of Unifor, said the arrests Wednesday are contrary to what police are supposed to be doing, “keeping the peace and de-escalating this tense situation.”

On Monday, police said they respect the right of Unifor to peacefully, lawfully and safely protest, but that at the same time, the Co-op Refinery Complex has the right to operate its business.

In the same statement, police said they were concerned about the ongoing illegal actions and the violation of the court order.

 

Regina police were seen monitoring the Unifor picket lines at the Co-op Refinery Complex on Friday, Jan. 31. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

 

Unifor said refinery security personnel were filming leading up to and during the arrests. Doherty said in a statement that the filming shows that the refinery and police or some officers are working together and not unbiased.

On Monday, police said as long as civil remedies are available, they should be explored by the people involved. As well, police said the contempt of court application scheduled for February 6 is an appropriate way to end the blockade.

The labour dispute between Unifor and the Co-op Refinery has been going for months. On Dec. 3, Unifor issued a 48-hour strike notice. On Dec. 5, the Co-op Refinery Complex locked workers out.

The two sides were back to bargaining last Friday, but talks broke down Friday night.

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U.S. inflation shows signs of having peaked as rate eases to 8.5% in July – CBC News

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The torrid increase in the cost of living showed signs of finally easing last month, with the U.S. inflation rate cooling to 8.5 per cent.

The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reported Wednesday that the annual inflation rate eased from a 40-year high of 9.1 per cent in June to 8.5 in July. 

Economists had been expected the rate to ease off, but the 8.5 per cent figure was softer than the 8.7 per cent they were expecting.

“The July CPI report might be the first clear indication that consumers are pushing back against high inflation in response to tighter monetary policy,” Sal Guatieri, an economist with BMO Markets, wrote in a note to investors. “It’s a sign that inflation is close to peaking, though the climb down the mountain will be slow due to rising wages and rents.”

Gasoline prices have eased significantly, which was a major contributor to the slowdown.

Guatieri also pointed to price reductions in airfare, hotels and car rentals. 

“With many travellers now exhausting earlier pent-up demand, fewer people are willing to face hassles at the airport or pay the well-above pre-pandemic cost of flying, rooming at a hotel or renting a car.”

Food prices, meanwhile, continued to rise at a faster pace than the overall rate, with costs increasing by 10.9 per cent in the past year.

Statistics Canada is expected to report its inflation numbers on Aug. 16. 

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Commercial fishers and wild salmon advocates cheer large returns to B.C. waters

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VICTORIA — The summer of 2022 is shaping up to be a bumper season for both pink and sockeye salmon in British Columbia rivers, with one veteran Indigenous fisherman reporting the biggest catches of sockeye in decades.

Mitch Dudoward has worked in the salmon industry for more than 40 years, and says fishing on the Skeena River in northwest B.C. has never been better.

“This is the best season I can recall in my lifetime with the numbers we are catching,” said Dudoward, who recently completely a big sockeye haul aboard his gillnetter Irenda.

Bob Chamberlin, chairman of the Indigenous-led First Nations Wild Salmon Alliance, meanwhile said that thousands of pink salmon are in Central Coast rivers after years of minimal returns.

The strong run comes two years after the closure of two open-net Atlantic salmon farms in the area.

“We had targeted those farms,” said Chamberlin, whose group wants open-net farms removed from B.C.’s waters. “We got them removed and two years later we went from 200 fish in the river to where we have several thousand to date. In our mind and knowledge that is a really clear indicator.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada spokeswoman Lara Sloan said departmental observations indicated big returns of sockeye to the Skeena River.

“Test fisheries currently indicate that Skeena sockeye returns are tracking at the upper end of the forecast, with an in-season estimate of approximately four million sockeye,” said Sloan in a statement. “Sockeye populations returning to a number of areas in British Columbia, Washington and Alaska are returning better than forecast in 2022.”

The five-year average return of sockeye to the Skeena is 1.4 million and the 10-year average is 1.7 million, Sloan said.

Dudoward said the Skeena sockeye season ended this week, but it could have gone on longer.

“We should be fishing until the end of August when the sockeye stop running,” he said. “There’s plenty of them to take.”

But Sloan said the Fisheries Department was being careful about salmon stocks.

“For 2022, the department is taking a more precautionary approach toward managing impacts of commercial fisheries on stocks of conservation concern including smaller wild sockeye populations, chum and steelhead returning to the Skeena River,” she said.

The Fisheries Department also expects a large sockeye run to the Fraser River this summer, but returns of chinook, coho and chum to northern and Central Coast rivers and streams are expected to be low.

“The forecast range for Fraser River sockeye in 2022 is 2.3 million to 41.7 million, with a median forecast of 9.7 million,” said Sloan. “The median forecast means there is a 50 per cent chance returns will come in below that level.”

That is well above the estimated 2.5 million sockeye returns in 2021, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada data.

The strong returns come amid debate over the future of open-net salmon farming in B.C. waters.

In 2018, the B.C. government, First Nations and the salmon farming industry reached an agreement to phase out 17 open-net farms in the Broughton Archipelago between 2019 and 2023.

The agreement was negotiated to establish a farm-free migration corridor to help reduce harm to wild salmon.

In June, federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray said the government will consult with First Nations communities and salmon farm operators in the Discovery Islands, near Campbell River on Vancouver Island, about the future of open-net farming in the area.

A final decision on the future of the farms is expected in January 2023, the minister said.

“That is such a key migratory route of all Fraser River salmon, in particular coho and chinook,” Chamberlin said. “If we are going to see Fraser runs return, we need to see removal of impediments.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Montreal-based WSP Global to buy U.K. environmental consulting company in third takeover in just three months – The Globe and Mail

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Canadian engineering giant WSP Global Inc. WSP-T is buying British environmental consulting firm RPS Group Plc in a deal worth almost a billion dollars, its third major takeover in just three months.

Montreal-based WSP said it struck a deal Monday to acquire RPS for £2.06 per share in cash for a total enterprise value of £625-million, or $975-million. It is paying 15 times RPS’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the 12 months ended June 30.

“RPS is of utmost value to WSP for its sustainability focus, global presence, expertise and talent,” WSP chief executive Alexandre L’Heureux told analysts on a conference call after markets closed. The takeover of RPS’s 5,000 employees brings additional scale to WSP and advances its efforts to expand its front-end consulting work, he said.

Demand for environmental engineering and consulting services is growing as private-sector companies and governments seek advice on things ranging from climate-change risks to waste management. WSP is beefing up its capabilities in the space as part of a wider growth effort.

This is the company’s third major takeover in as many months. In June, it said it had struck a definitive agreement to acquire a business known as Environment & Infrastructure (E&I) from Aberdeen, Scotland-based Wood for US$1.8-billion, adding another 6,000 employees to its payroll. Earlier this month, WSP said it would buy Capita Plc’s Capita REI and GL Hearn businesses in the U.K. for £60-million in a smaller deal that adds skill in real estate planning.

Once a boutique engineering company, WSP has ballooned in recent years to become a major player in global design consultancy and project management, with a current market capitalization topping $18-billion. Mr. L’Heureux wants to expand the company further. He outlined a three-year strategic plan this March that aims to boost net revenues 30 per cent to well over $10-billion a year and increase adjusted net earnings per share by 50 per cent by 2024.

WSP said it secured a new bank credit facility worth £600-million (about $935-million), including commitments for the full amount of the RPS purchase price, in order to meet British takeover regulations. But it intends to use the proceeds from share sales to fund the takeover.

The company said it will sell $400-million worth of equity in a bought deal with a syndicate of underwriters led by CIBC Capital Markets, National Bank Financial and RBC Capital Markets. It will raise another $400-million in a private placement with three existing WSP shareholders: Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Canadian pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

London Stock Exchange-listed RPS generates about two-thirds of its revenue from environmental work and water services and has longstanding relationships with major water utilities in the U.K. and Ireland, Mr. L’Heureux said. It has also developed a deep expertise in oceanic science, which it uses to support offshore wind energy players, he added.

RPS’s board intends to recommend the deal, WSP said. The Canadian company said it has the backing of directors and other shareholders holding about 18 per cent of RPS stock.

WSP is one of the most active companies in Canadian infrastructure megaprojects – involved in the development of 18 of the 20 biggest projects currently under way, according to trade publication ReNew Canada. This latest takeover would bring its total employee count to 70,000 and boost revenue to $10-billion a year on a pro-forma basis.

The engineering firm’s recent contracts illustrate the kind of work it is now bidding on as it tries to reshape itself as one of the world’s top companies with environmental expertise. In Canada, it won a mandate from pension fund PSP Investments to conduct a detailed climate analysis of more than three million hectares of farmland and timberland in its Global Natural Resources Portfolio.

In the United States, WSP was awarded a contract for engineering, procurement and construction management for the underground storage of the Aces Delta project, the largest green hydrogen production and storage facility ever built. WSP says the facility will help decarbonize the Western U.S. power grid by providing seasonal clean energy storage capabilities.

WSP shares rose 0.8 per cent in Monday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, closing at $157.58. The stock is down 16 per cent since hitting an all-time high of $187.94 last November.

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