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'A grave disappointment': Premier, First Nations Chief shocked over Teck's withdrawal of Frontier project – Calgary Herald

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks to media in Calgary on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Jim Wells/Postmedia


Less than a week before the federal government’s deadline to determine the future of a $20.6-billion oilsands project in northern Alberta, Teck Resources Ltd., the company behind the project, has withdrawn its application.

Earlier in the day, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) reached an agreement with the province on several environmental areas of concern. That agreement meant that all 14 affected First Nations and Métis organizations in the area had granted their support for the project that would have been about 110 kilometres north of Fort McMurray and would have covered roughly 10,000 hectares of the boreal forest.

But just hours after sharing the news of the agreement, ACFN Chief Allan Adam was shocked to hear of Teck’s decision.

“It’s a shame, because we worked so hard with the province and did everything we can to make sure the project was going to get the green light,” he said Sunday night. “To me, it’s shocking news . . . What went wrong?”

Sunday evening, Teck CEO Don Lindsay released a statement sent to federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Johnathan Wilkinson, stating the Vancouver-based company’s desire to “withdraw our regulatory application for the Frontier oilsands project from the federal environmental assessment process.”

“It is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project,” he wrote.


Teck Resources CEO Don Lindsay

Carla Gottgens /

Bloomberg

“The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development.

“Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”

ACFN had previously reached deals with Teck Resources Ltd. for the Frontier mine in 2018, but at the time were still negotiating with the province over environmental and cultural concerns.

The project would have created an estimated 7,000 construction jobs, 2,500 operating jobs and about $12 billion in federal income and capital taxes. But it was also expected to produce about four megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year over 40 years.

As a result of the decision, Teck will write down the $1.13-billion carrying value of the Frontier Project.

Despite his disappointment, Adam said he’s pleased with how the process went overall.

“You have to give Teck a hand because they did everything right in regards to mitigating their project with ACFN,” he said. “We never had any oil company do what Teck has done and it’s too bad if they do pull their application but we can’t do anything about it.”

In a statement, Premier Jason Kenney called the decision “a grave disappointment to Albertans,” in particular to the two First Nations who in the past 48 hours had reached agreements with the province in regards to the project.

“The Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation both signed historic agreements with the Government of Alberta, which would have made them partners in the prosperity of the Frontier project, bringing hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars to their remote communities,” Kenney said.

“The factors that led to today’s decision further weaken national unity. The Government of Alberta agreed to every request and condition raised by the federal government for approving the Frontier project, including protecting bison and caribou habitat, regulation of oilsands emissions and securing full Indigenous support,” he continued. “The Government of Alberta repeatedly asked what more we could do to smooth the approval process. We did our part, but the federal government’s inability to convey a clear or unified position let us, and Teck, down.”

Municipal and industry leaders in Alberta were stunned by the news.

“It’s going to be real blow to the region,” said Fort McMurray Mayor Don Scott. “It was going to be a catalyst for the future.”

Scott hopes the prime minister and premier reach out to Teck to see if there’s any way the venture can be revived. But if the project doesn’t proceed, it’s not sending a positive message to investors, he noted.

“If not this project, then what project could possibly be approved? This one, they had worked so hard to get approvals and Indigenous agreements, consultations across the board. This is the one that made perfect sense. And it still does,” he said.

“Teck had worked hard. We were just days, literally, away from a decision. I think we collectively feel a punch in the gut.”

Ron Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Métis, one of the 14 Indigenous communities who signed on to the Frontier project, said Teck’s decision “is understandable, if devastating.”

“This decision is damaging to the Alberta and Canadian economies and to the economies of Aboriginal Peoples around the project area who would have seen enormous long-term, sustainable benefit,” he said Sunday night. “I fully understand Teck’s reasoning, but it is deeply regrettable. This is a black eye for Canada.”

In a statement, NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said the “heated rhetoric and constant conflict generated by Jason Kenney is the primary reason for withdrawal of Teck’s application.” 

“We worked to unify our economic and environmental efforts, not pit them against each other,” she said. “(Kenney) intentionally reduced the Teck project to a political football.” 

Energy Minister Sonya Savage said in a tweet the news was “devastating” for the province. 

“Teck’s withdrawal falls squarely at the feet of the Trudeau government. They’ve undermined national unity, investor confidence and our economic interests all at the same time. This is not only regulatory dysfunction, it is national disgrace.” 

Kevin Birn, oilsands analyst with energy consultancy IHS Markit in Calgary, said the project was unique given its size and scale, coming as spending in the islands has fallen in recent years.

“It is unfortunate, but not particularly surprising, given recent tensions in Canada, to see Teck cite uncertainty of Canadian energy and climate policy as a key source of uncertainty effecting their decision to withdraw this project,” he said. “The unfortunate bit from the Teck statement is they also seemed intent on only advancing a project that could meet the appropriate environmental and economic bars.”

Tristan Goodman, president the Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, believes the ongoing blockades tied to the Coastal GasLink project and protests against energy projects likely had a role in the Frontier project application being withdrawn, and he’s concerned about the broader signal it sends to investors and all Canadians.

“It’s dramatically disappointing and really unfortunate for the entire country,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we have this small, militant vocal minority that is really shutting down the future economic prosperity for everybody in this country, including the Indigenous community. This is really getting quite out of hand and at some point, we are going to lose a generation of economic prosperity from east to west to the north here if we can’t get our house in order.”

‘Precedent’ for negotiations

A few hours earlier, Adam said he was looking forward to the future working relationship with the province, federal government and Teck on the project.

“We’re quite pleased with everything that happened because it’s a win-win for both parties,” Adam said. “ACFN is satisfied because we got our engagement tables and we’re moving forward.”


Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam is pictured outside Government House in Edmonton on Feb. 12, 2020. Jeff Labine/Postmedia

Edmonton

Adam said that they were able to negotiate on some key areas of concerns and developed a list of environmental priorities including the Ronald Lake bison herd, the Richardson Backcountry caribou herds, migratory birds, waterfowl and navigational rights to the waterways.

Jason Nixon, provincial minister of environment and parks, said before the news broke that even if the project was rejected by the federal government, the province will honour any and all environmental partnerships made in negotiations with the ACFN.

Adam said the negotiations between his Nation and the provincial government have been beneficial for all involved and can serve as an example for others.

“This is a model that should set precedent right across the country in regards to how First Nations and government should sit down with engagement tables and mitigation in regards to major developments,” he said.

Earlier this month, Alberta’s Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson expressed concern that a public spat over the negotiations with Adam, who also called for a share of tax revenue from resource projects, could give the federal government a reason to reject the project.

A federal-provincial review last summer determined that the mine would be in the public interest, even though it would be likely to harm the environment and the land, resources and culture of Indigenous people.

Last week, author Alice Munro and dozens of other Nobel Prize winners urged Trudeau to reject the project, calling fossil-fuel expansion an affront to the climate emergency and incompatible with Canada’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The federal government had until the end of the month to make a decision on the project and Nixon said that if it’s rejected, it would send negative messages to Alberta.

“It would add to concerns that we’ve been raising for weeks, which is that clearly the federal government has no intention of letting us develop our resources and does not see a future for the oil and gas industry in this country and that’s not acceptable to Alberta,” said Nixon. “If you can’t approve a project that has been through this much environmental regulation and has this much support, then you can’t approve any project, which is not acceptable to us.

The second message, according to Nixon, would be dismissing the First Nations communities that are depending on this project for “wealth, jobs and prosperity.”

“So if the federal Liberals are truly serious about wanting to work with First Nation communities on reconciliation and moving forward in positive ways, they should not reject this project because it would be a direct rejection of both those for all 14 of those First Nation communities.”

— With files from Chris Varcoe

ocondon@postmedia.com
Twitter: @oliviacondon

sbabych@postmedia.com
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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Canada's inflation rate rises to new 30-year high of 4.8% – CBC News

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The Consumer Price Index increased at an annual pace of 4.8 per cent in December, as sharply higher prices for food led to the cost of living going up at its fastest rate since 1991.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that grocery prices increased by 5.7 per cent, the biggest annual gain since 2011.

The price of fresh produce is being walloped by two things, the data agency said: “Unfavourable weather conditions in growing regions, as well as supply chain disruptions.”

The price of apples has increased by 6.7 per cent in the past year, and oranges by almost as much — 6.6 per cent. 

The U.S. is the major supplier of oranges to Canada, and because of bad weather and a plant disease called citrus greening, the major growing region of Florida is on track to produce the smallest number of oranges since 1945. 

That’s causing the price of frozen concentrated orange juice to skyrocket on commodities markets.

“If you’re an orange juice drinker, it means your prices are going to be going up at the store,” analyst Phil Flynn, with Chicago-based commodity trading firm Price Group, told CBC News. “The cost of orange juice has almost doubled here in the last few months, and that’s going to be passed down to the consumers.”

Other types of food are going up quickly, too. The price of frozen beef has gone up by almost 12 per cent in the past year, while ham and bacon are up by about 15 per cent.

Kendra Sozinho, a manager at the Fiesta Farms grocery store in Toronto, says costs from suppliers are going up faster than she’s ever seen “We’re seeing almost every single supplier increasing their pricing whech then increases our pricing,” she told CBC News in an interview. “I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve never seen a jump like this.”

WATCH | Grocery store manager explains why prices are going up:

Grocery costs going up

59 minutes ago

Duration 0:38

Kendra Sozinho at Fiesta Farms in Toronto says consumers are seeing higher prices because grocers are dealing with sharply higher prices themselves. 0:38

Economist Tu Nguyen with consultancy RSM says food price increases could be set to get even worse in the coming weeks and months because of new rules forbidding unvaccinated truckers from entering the country.

“The current bout of inflation is driven by supply chain disruptions, pent-up demand and inflation expectations,” she said. “While pent-up demand is expected to ease as pandemic spending winds down, supply chain and inflation expectations remain paramount challenges.”

Prices for oranges and orange juice are set to rise because of bad weather and a citrus disease in Florida, which supplies most of Canada’s oranges. (Bruna Prado/Getty Images)

Expect a rate hike soon  

Food is far from the only thing becoming more expensive.

Shelter costs have risen by 5.4 per cent in the past year, faster than the overall inflation rate. And unlike the global forces at play pushing up food prices, the factors driving up shelter costs are all Canadian-made, TD Bank economist James Marple said.

“The one exception to the global nature of the current inflationary environment, is housing inflation, which is both domestically driven and, outside of increased incidents of extreme weather driving up insurance prices, directly related to the Bank of Canada’s policy stance,” he said.

Politicians weigh in

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre placed the blame for high inflation squarely at the foot of the federal government, noting that as a country with abundant energy and food resources, Canada should have a built-in advantage when it comes to keeping a lid on prices.

“The biggest increases for consumer products have been those that we source right here at home, not those that depend on foreign supply chains,” he told reporters in Ottawa.

“Home price inflation is a home-grown problem,” he went on, arguing that record government spending under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to blame for inflation. “The more he spends, the more things cost,” Poilievre said.

The Prime Minister, for his part, rejected that claim and said his government has a plan in place to face the inflationary challenges that many countries are facing.

WATCH | Trudeau talks about record high inflation:

Trudeau says inflation is a ‘global challenge’

2 hours ago

Duration 1:34

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says inflation is a challenge facing many countries and his government has a fiscal plan in place to get past it. 1:34

Lending rates were slashed to record lows in the early days of the pandemic to stimulate the economy. But two years of rock bottom mortgage rates have proven to be jet fuel for Canada’s housing market, causing many policy makers to suggest the time has come for the Bank of Canada to hike its rate to cool things down.

After Wednesday’s inflation report, investors think there’s about a 75 per cent chance of a rate hike as soon as next week, when the bank is set to meet. 

“Inflation is likely to come down over the next year, but getting it there will require tighter financial conditions and rate hikes by the Bank of Canada,” Marple said. 

Semiconductor shortage persists

And an ongoing lack of semiconductor microchips continues to drive up the price of just about anything with a microchip in it.

That includes durable goods like washing machines and other household appliances, the price of which have gone up by 5.7 per cent in the past 12 months. New car prices are up by even more — 7.2 per cent. 

If there was one area of relief for consumers, it was gas prices, where the price to fill up at the pump fell by 4.1 per cent during the month. That’s the biggest monthly drop since April 2020. But compared to a year ago, gas prices are still 33 per cent higher than they were in December 2020.

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Pfizer’s COVID pill is in short supply. Should unvaccinated be prioritized? – Global News

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With a limited supply of Pfizer’s new COVID-19 treatment, Paxlovid, bound for Canada, the country’s top doctors have identified groups that should be first in line to get the pills — including unvaccinated older Canadians.

Giving unvaccinated Canadians access to this COVID-19 medication isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s smart public health policy, says one bioethicist.

“It would be ethically unjustifiable, and it would not be scientifically sound to withhold this limited drug from unvaccinated people,” said Dr. Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto.

In clinical trial data submitted to Health Canada, the drug was found to reduce risk of hospitalization and death by 89 per cent, according to Dr. Supriya Sharma, Canada’s chief medical adviser.

Read more:

Canada approved Paxlovid, Pfizer’s new oral COVID pill. What you need to know

Ethically speaking, Bowman explained, it’s “very dangerous” to make “judgments” about choices patients make, as well as “about how much health care they can receive based on the choices that they made.”

“It would be a dangerous precedent, and it’s not in alignment with the Canada Health Act,” Bowman said.

As for the science, keeping people out of the hospitals — unvaccinated or not — is key to emerging from the pandemic, he explained.

“From a triage point of view, (vaccination status) is not relevant information…we don’t want highly sick people in the intensive care unit with COVID that don’t have to be there,” Bowman said.

“And so if, in fact, you could avert some of the unvaccinated entering our ICU and taking up space, which is what everyone’s upset and complaining about, all the more reason to do that.”


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: O’Toole says Pfizer’s Paxlovid shipment of 30,000 treatment courses is ‘insufficient’'



1:34
COVID-19: O’Toole says Pfizer’s Paxlovid shipment of 30,000 treatment courses is ‘insufficient’


COVID-19: O’Toole says Pfizer’s Paxlovid shipment of 30,000 treatment courses is ‘insufficient’

Very few courses of this treatment are arriving in Canada in the weeks ahead. Canada has already received an initial shipment of 30,400 treatment courses, Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi said on Monday, and 120,000 more are expected to be delivered between now and the end of March.

There are over 330,000 active cases of the COVID-19 confirmed across the country right now, though that’s considered to be an underestimate.

But far from being the best option for all of those active cases, Paxlovid is only an effective treatment option for a small group of people in Canada to begin with, according to Health Canada. To receive a course of the COVID-19 treatment, an individual must be over 18, and must first test positive for COVID, either with a PCR or a rapid antigen test.

The person must also be within their first five days of having symptoms, and be sick enough to need the medicine without being so sick they need to go to the hospital.

“Paxlovid is just yet another piece of the puzzle that helps us manage this illness in people who may be at more risk,” said Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. “For instance, those very small few who are not vaccinated at the moment.”

Read more:

Paxlovid, Pfizer’s oral COVID-19 pill, approved in Canada

Evans added that if you are fully vaccinated, you probably shouldn’t be concerned about others having access to Paxlovid before you.

“If you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t need this drug,” Evans said.

“The effectiveness of vaccination is clearly better than it is for a new antiviral medication like this that’s come out. So being fully vaccinated, you’re way ahead of the game.”

Some individuals who are fully vaccinated might find themselves needing the treatment, such as “an elderly person with a solid organ transplant,” Evans said, but those people are the exception, not the rule.

Who gets priority access to Paxlovid?

The final priority list will be up to the provinces and territories to decide, Health Canada said on Tuesday, but the federal government has provided those regions with “interim implementation considerations” for the first batches of Paxlovid that have arrived.

“(The) first consideration is prioritizing individuals who are at the highest risk for severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Anne Génier, a spokesperson for Health Canada.

Those individuals, Genier added, include immunocompromised Canadians, those over 60 who live in certain at-risk settings and aren’t fully vaccinated, and those over 80 “whose vaccinations are not up to date.”


Click to play video: 'When will Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral treatment arrive in B.C.?'



1:59
When will Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral treatment arrive in B.C.?


When will Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral treatment arrive in B.C.?

Global News contacted every province and territory to determine the criteria they’ll use in deciding who gets first access to the limited supply of Paxlovid.

In Quebec, people who are immunocompromised will be given priority access to the treatment, regardless of their vaccination status, a spokesperson told Global News. New Brunswick’s government, meanwhile, said Paxlovid “will only be provided to individuals who are among the public health priority groups for the time being.”


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Canada has already received 1st shipment of Pfizer antiviral pill, procurement minister says'



1:24
COVID-19: Canada has already received 1st shipment of Pfizer antiviral pill, procurement minister says


COVID-19: Canada has already received 1st shipment of Pfizer antiviral pill, procurement minister says

Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia did not provide specifics on their priority groups. However, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. all said they are currently working to determine eligibility and would have more details to share in the near future.

Manitoba did not directly answer Global News’ question. Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon governments did not respond by the time of publication.

At the end of the day, Paxlovid is just another tool in the pandemic toolbox, said Evans.

“I don’t think this is a game changer,” he said.

“What this is about, is yet another very effective tool we can use in a portion of the population.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Airlines worldwide rush to change flights over U.S. 5G dispute – CBC News

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Airlines across the world, including the long-haul carrier Emirates, rushed Wednesday to cancel or change flights heading into the U.S. over an ongoing dispute about the rollout of 5G mobile phone technology near American airports.

The issue appeared to impact the Boeing 777, a long-range, wide-body aircraft used by carriers across the world. Two Japanese airlines directly named the aircraft as being particularly affected by the 5G signals as they announced cancellations and changes to their schedules.

Dubai-based Emirates, a key carrier for East-West travel, announced it would halt flights to Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, New Jersey, Orlando, Florida, San Francisco and Seattle over the issue beginning Wednesday. It said it would continue flights to Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

In its announcement, Emirates cited the cancellation as necessary due to “operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the U.S. at certain airports.”

“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our U.S. services as soon as possible,” the state-owned airline said.

The United Arab Emirates successfully rolled out 5G coverage all around its airports without incident. But in the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration worries that the C-Band strand of 5G could interfere with aviation equipment.

A passenger uses a laptop aboard a commercial airline flight from Boston to Atlanta on July 1, 2017. The airline cancellations come even after mobile phone carriers AT&T and Verizon say they will postpone new wireless service near some U.S. airports planned for this week. (Bill Sikes/The Associated Press)

Of particular concern in the 5G rollout appears to be the Boeing 777, a major workhorse for Emirates.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. said in a statement that the FAA “has indicated that radio waves from the 5G wireless service may interfere with aircraft altimeters.” Altimeters measure how high a plane is in the sky, a crucial piece of equipment for flying.

“Boeing has announced flight restrictions on all airlines operating the Boeing 777 aircraft, and we have cancelled or changed the aircraft for some flights to/from the U.S. based on the announcement by Boeing,” ANA said.

Japan Airlines Co. Ltd. similarly said that it had been informed that 5G signals “may interfere with the radio altimeter installed on the Boeing 777.”

“We will refrain from using this model on the continental United States line until we can confirm its safety and we regret to inform you that we will cancel the flight for which the aircraft cannot be changed to the Boeing 787,” the airline said.

WATCH | 5G launch delayed near some U.S. airports:

FAA agreement delays 5G rollout near some U.S. airports

9 hours ago

Duration 2:04

The U.S. aviation regulator, the FAA, came to a last-minute deal to avoid turning dozens of airports into no-fly zones for certain planes, but the bigger issue about whether 5G could interfere with airplanes’ ability to land remains unresolved. 2:04

Chicago-based Boeing Co. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Air India also announced on Twitter it would cancel flights to Chicago, Newark, New York and San Francisco “due to deployment of the 5G communications” equipment. It said it would try to use other aircraft on U.S. routes as well.

The cancellations come even after mobile phone carriers AT&T and Verizon will postpone new wireless service near some U.S. airports planned for this week.

The FAA will allow planes with accurate, reliable altimeters to operate around high-power 5G. But planes with older altimeters will not be allowed to make landings under low-visibility conditions.

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