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Alberta premier suggests Canada impose trade sanctions if U.S. refuses to discuss Keystone XL decision – CBC.ca

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to revoke the permit for Calgary-based TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline was a “gut punch,” characterizing it as a direct attack on the trade relationship between the two countries.

“Sadly, [this is] an insult directed at the United States’s most important ally and trading partner,” Kenney said during a press conference held Wednesday.

Kenney said he was calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sit down with the new administration, suggesting that the federal government impose trade and economic sanctions should those efforts be refused.

“Canada is part of the solution to the energy transition, but today’s decision was made without giving Canada the chance to make that case,” Kenney said.

WATCH | Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reacts to Keystone decision:

Premier Jason Kenney responds to U.S. President Joe Biden’s move to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, calling it, “an insult directed at the United States’s most important ally and trading partner.” 1:55

Prior to Kenney’s comments, both Trudeau and Canadian Ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman indicated that while disappointed with the decision, they were resigned to live with it.

“While we welcome the president’s commitment to fight climate change, we are disappointed but acknowledge the president’s decision to fulfil his election campaign promise on Keystone XL,” Trudeau said in a statement.

Biden revoked the permit for the $8-billion pipeline via executive action a few hours after being sworn in as the 46th U.S. president Wednesday.

“I’m proud of today’s executive actions, and I’m going to start by keeping the promises I made to the American people,” Biden said from the Oval Office.

Biden’s revoking of the permit was part of a series of executive orders aimed at tackling climate change that also included re-entering the Paris climate accord. 

Biden’s 15 executive actions also introduced a national mask mandate and reversed outgoing president Donald Trump’s ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries.

The Alberta government agreed last year to invest about $1.5 billion as equity in the project, plus billions more in loan guarantees. As a result, the Canadian leg of the project has been under construction for several months with about 1,000 workers in southeast Alberta. 

Trudeau pledges support for energy workers

In his statement, Trudeau said he had spoken directly with Biden about the project in November, and Hillman along with others in the government had made Canada’s case to high-level officials in the administration.

“Workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and across Canada will always have our support,” he said. “Canada is the single-largest supplier of energy to the United States, contributing to U.S. energy security and economic competitiveness, and supporting thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.”

Trudeau said his government did welcome the new administration’s moves to rejoin the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, and to temporarily suspend oil and natural gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole called the cancellation of the pipeline “devastating.”

“We need to get as many people back to work, in every part of Canada, in every sector, as quickly as possible. The loss of this important project only makes that harder,” O’Toole said in a statement.

“Justin Trudeau should have done more to stand up for our world-class energy sector and the men and women who depend on it to provide for their families.”

TC Energy says it’s considering its options

In a statement released Wednesday morning, TC Energy said it was disappointed in the move and warned it would lead to the layoffs of thousands of unionized workers.

“TC Energy will review the decision, assess its implications and consider its options,” the statement reads. “However, as a result of the expected revocation of the presidential permit, advancement of the project will be suspended.”

The company said the decision would “overturn an unprecedented, comprehensive regulatory process that lasted more than a decade.”

The company struck a deal with four labour unions to build the pipeline and has an agreement in place with five Indigenous tribes to take a roughly $785-million ownership stake.

The Progressive Contractors Association of Canada said in a news release it is disappointed that Biden is “putting politics before reason.” 

“We’re disappointed that the new president has lost sight of the huge economic and strategic advantages of this project,” said PCAC president Paul de Jong.

“Pulling the plug on a major project, hours after taking office, is a rocky starting point for re-setting Canada/U.S. relations.”

The association, whose member companies employ thousands of Alberta and B.C. construction workers, said the pipeline would have generated as many as 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada and the United States.

If completed, the 1,897-kilometre pipeline, first announced in 2005, would carry 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. It would then connect with the original Keystone pipeline that runs to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries.

Canadian producers, who have struggled for years from low prices partly related to sometimes-congested pipelines, have long supported Keystone XL.

In a statement, Suncor Energy said it backed expanding market access to the U.S. through pipelines like KXL, which would provide responsibly sourced oil to U.S. refineries for the benefit of U.S. consumers.

(CBC News)

But a Canada Energy Regulator report in November said western Canadian crude exports are expected to remain below total pipeline capacity over the next 30 years if KXL and two other projects proceed, prompting environmental groups to question the need for all three.

Biden signalled plan for months

For months, Biden had said he intended to cancel the project if elected.

Trudeau said he raised the issue with Biden prior to the inauguration and reaffirmed Canada’s support for the project.

Hillman said she was disappointed but that Canada would accept the decision. 

“We respect that that’s the decision he’s made,” she said. “He had made a commitment during his campaign, and he lived up to that commitment, and I think we have to accept that and move forward.”

WATCH | Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Kirsten Hillman reacts to Keystone decision:

Canada’s Ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman tells the CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault that she “respects” but is “disappointed” by U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit. 0:47

Greg Anderson, a political scientist at the University of Alberta, says Canadians tend to look at narrow trade conflicts as a sort of barometer for the larger relationship with the U.S. but added “that just isn’t the case.”

He also says the province faces bigger challenges than the loss of one pipeline. 

“I think a lot of Albertans were hoping that maybe this could just kind of slide by and the pipeline would get built,” said Anderson. 

“But the Keystone pipeline is not the Alberta economy. You know, it’s not going to save Alberta or solve Alberta’s problems. It might have helped on the margins, but Alberta has bigger fish to fry.” 

The pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and curbing the fossil fuel emissions that are causing climate change.

The Obama administration rejected it in 2015, prompting TC Energy in 2016 to launch a lawsuit and a multibillion-dollar North American Free Trade Agreement claim against the U.S. government.

The company changed course after Donald Trump revived it once he became president four years ago and gave it strong support. Construction has already started in the United States. 

TC Energy could now take similar action in order to prevent walking away from Keystone XL empty-handed after a dozen years of setbacks, billions of dollars spent and thousands of pages of filings.

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COVID-19 vaccination ramps up in several provinces as supply worries ease – CTV News

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Several provinces began expanding their COVID-19 vaccination programs to members of the general population on Monday, as new recommendations on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine suggested it should be targeted at younger Canadians.

A national panel of vaccine experts said provinces should not use the newly approved vaccine on people 65 and over out of concern there is limited data on how well the vaccine will work in older populations — even though Health Canada approved the vaccine for all adults.

Rather, the recommendations issued by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization noted that the AstraZeneca vaccine could help speed up vaccination for younger age groups, who otherwise would have to wait longer for protection.

The arrival of a third vaccine raises the prospect of further accelerating Canada’s efforts to inoculate the general population, which hit a new gear Monday in several provinces.

Ontario, Quebec and B.C. started or announced plans to start vaccinating older seniors living in the community on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care.

In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city.

The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province has already finished vaccinating long-term care residents with a first dose and was almost finished in private seniors homes, the premier said Saturday.

There were long lineups and some frustration among vaccine recipients at the Olympic Stadium, but at another site, Montreal’s downtown convention centre, people reported a swift process.

Julie Provencher, a spokeswoman with the regional health authority asked people not to be too harsh. “For the first day of the biggest mass vaccination in the history of humanity, I think it’s going OK,” she said in an interview.

Several Ontario health units were also set to begin giving COVID-19 vaccines to their oldest residents after a provincial website for appointment bookings opened in six regions.

Some health units reported thousands of bookings and high call volumes, as regions such as York, Windsor-Essex and Hamilton began taking appointments for seniors aged 80 or 85 and up, depending on the region.

In York Region — where those aged 80 and older could start scheduling and receiving their shots on Monday — vaccination clinics were fully booked just two hours after they started taking appointments, according to a spokesman.

“At this time residents are urged to remain patient and will be notified as more appointment bookings become available,” Patrick Casey said in a statement.

A similar problem occurred in Nova Scotia, where the COVID-19 vaccination-booking web page was taken off-line Monday after it experienced technical issues the first day it opened to people aged 80 and over. The Health Department said high traffic to the site prompted the slowdown and suggested people could book by phone in the meantime.

In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlined the next phase of the province’s immunization plan, which covers all seniors 80 and over and Indigenous seniors 65 and up.

Despite the good news, Horgan warned that the province still has several difficult months to come. “Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, we’re far from out of this,” he said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is expecting delivery of about 445,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week and none from Moderna — numbers that are down from last week’s all-time high.

It’s unclear when the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in the country, but a senior government official told The Canadian Press on background Sunday it could be as early as midweek.

The advisory committee’s recommendations raise the prospect of younger Canadians getting vaccine much earlier than originally planned.

There are no concerns that the vaccine is unsafe, but the panel said the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are preferred, especially for people 65 years old and above, “due to suggested superior efficacy.”

The advisory committee said AstraZeneca should be offered to people under 65 as long as the benefits of getting a good vaccine early outweigh any limitations the vaccine may have in terms of effectiveness. It also noted that because AstraZeneca, unlike the first two vaccines, is stable at normal refrigerated temperatures, it allows for “a variety of alternate vaccination sites.”

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna reported about 95 per cent effectiveness at preventing COVID-19 overall, while AstraZeneca reported its vaccine to be about 62 per cent effective.

B.C. announced it would extend to four months the time between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine in order to allow the province to vaccinate more people sooner. Henry said the decision was based on evidence that showed the first two approved vaccines provide “a high level of real-world protection” after one dose.

Ontario confirmed Monday that it is considering following suit, adding that it’s asking the federal government for guidance on possibly extending the intervals between doses.

Despite the positivity surrounding vaccines, some Canadians were returning to lockdown on Monday.

Those included residents of the Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka health regions in Ontario as well as Prince Edward Island, which entered a 72-hour, provincewide lockdown Monday meant to stop two clusters of COVID-19 cases from spreading.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021.

— With files from Mia Rabson, Stephanie Marin and Holly McKenzie-Sutter

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Huawei CFO’s lawyer disputes what HSBC knew as U.S. extradition case resumes

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By Moira Warburton and Sarah Berman

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou‘s U.S. extradition hearing resumed in a Canadian court on Monday with defence countering prosecutors’ claims that Meng misled HSBC about the Chinese telecom company’s relationship with its affiliate while doing business in Iran.

As five days of hearings in the British Columbia Supreme Court started, the defence drilled into the alleged sanction violations that led to Meng’s arrest. The daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is accused by the United States of misleading HSBC about her company’s business arrangements in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018 on a U.S. warrant and has been living under house arrest while her case makes its way through Canada‘s courts.

Defence lawyer Frank Addario kicked off a new phase of hearings with an assertion that HSBC’s global client relationship manager, tasked with overseeing its dealings with Huawei Technologies, knew that Huawei controlled Skycom Tech Co Ltd’s accounts.

U.S. prosecutors allege Skycom operated as a Huawei affiliate in Iran and that Meng misrepresented this relationship. Meng allegedly made statements suggesting Skycom was sold to an arms-length third party, according to the prosecutors, when it was in fact sold to a parent company controlled by Huawei.

Addario countered that HSBC employee emails show that information about Huawei’s control of Skycom was shared freely before and after this relationship was first reported by Reuters. (https://reut.rs/3q0dtIc)

Addario said that U.S. prosecutors’ evidence that HSBC made decisions based on Meng’s statements “is very misleading in that it underplays the global relationship manager’s knowledge.”

Canadian prosecutor Robert Frater opposed Addario’s call to admit new evidence on Monday afternoon, insisting that an extradition hearing is not a trial. He told the judge she’s “not here to draw inferences about their (the bank employees) state of knowledge.”

Frater argued that Meng’s defence lawyers will have an opportunity to cross-examine bank witnesses about their knowledge of Huawei’s affiliates at trial.

Following testimony from Canadian border officials and police officers involved in the case in late 2020, the latest hearings will also focus on then-President Donald Trump’s alleged interference in the case, as well as outstanding issues from witness testimony and other abuses of process arguments.

Meng’s arrest caused tensions between Beijing and Ottawa, and soon afterward, China detained two Canadians, who continue to have limited access to legal counsel or diplomatic officials.

Meng’s case is scheduled to wrap in May.

 

(This story drops reference to South District of New York in paragraph nine)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton and Sarah Berman; Editing by Denny Thomas and Lisa Shumaker)

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'Each time we get a different answer': Do older children arriving to Canada have to stay in quarantine hotels? – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
A group of Toronto-area parents are struggling to interpret Canada’s rules over whether younger adults and older children have to book themselves into so-called quarantine hotels when they return to Canada.

The problem appears to be the use of two definitions for whether a child or a young adult qualifies for an exemption and can go straight home — with two different ages — and, if someone is caught in between, no one is sure what will happen when they get to the airport.

“Each time we get a different answer,” said Michael Stavsky, whose 20-year-old son Isaac is slated to return to Canada after spending two years studying in Israel on March 10. Stavsky said his son has received both doses of the vaccine while studying abroad.

“We had answers ranging from, ‘sure it says 22 and under, that’s no problem,’ to others that said ‘no it’s 19 and under and even one saying, ‘it’s 20 and under.’ We don’t know,” he said.

The Stavskys aren’t the only family that’s had this issue, said Peter Kent, the MP for Thornhill. He said he’s received several calls from people who aren’t sure where government officials will send their children.

“It’s been very inconsistent and CBSA, Health Canada and Immigration Canada, the messaging is all over the place,” Kent told CTV News Toronto.

The hotel stay requirement can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on the hotel and require all incoming air travellers to Canada to spend at least three days in an approved hotel at their own expense as they await the results of a COVID-19 test they were required to take when they landed in Canada.

Some guests have complained to CTV News about a lack of bottled water and hot, prompt meals; others have said the hotels have been very difficult to book.

CTV News Toronto reached out to the Canadian Border Services Agency about the question of whether young adults must stay in the hotels, but the department referred the inquiry to the Public Health Agency of Canada, which didn’t respond by deadline.

The answer, however, may lie in the order-in-council that explains the quarantine regulations. It says most people are required to “quarantine themselves without delay at a government-authorized accommodation…and remain until they receive the result for the COVID-19 molecular test.”

The rule doesn’t apply to a “diplomatic or consular courier” and an “unaccompanied dependent child or an unaccompanied minor.”

If that seems clear, it isn’t, said immigration lawyer Michael Battista, who pointed out that “unaccompanied minor” is customarily someone under 18, while a “unaccompanied dependent child” for immigration purposes is someone who is under 22 — as long as they are not married.

“To use both definitions simultaneously does create confusion,” Battista said.

He said strictly the language implies that if a person meets either definition they should be eligible — but it is going to be up to the border guards — because any legal appeal will take too long to make a difference for a two-week quarantine.

The people coming into Canada from Israel are much more likely to be vaccinated than those already here — more than 93 per cent of adults in the country have received at least one dose, while less than five per cent of Canadian adults have.

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