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B.C. hereditary chiefs launch climate court challenge of contentious pipeline – Global News

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Two hereditary chiefs from a British Columbia First Nation at the heart of a wave of national protests launched a constitutional challenge of fossil fuel projects on Wednesday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for demonstrators to observe the rule of law.

The challenge calls on the Federal Court to declare that Canada is constitutionally obliged to meet international climate change targets, which the chiefs contend would cancel approvals for a natural gas pipeline that runs through traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.


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“If Canada is allowed to continue approving infrastructure for fracked gas projects on a 40-year timeline, our territories will become a wasteland before the project licenses expire,” Chief Lho’imggin, who also goes by Alphonse Gagnon, said in a statement.

“As house chief it is my responsibility to protect our house territory. We’re asking the court to get Canada to act before it is too late.”

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Protests become more than anti-pipeline


Protests become more than anti-pipeline

The challenge came as protesters continued to blockade major ports and rail lines in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, scuttling freight and passenger service and prompting growing calls for federal government intervention.

Speaking in Senegal on Wednesday, Trudeau called on all sides to resolve their differences but insisted that protesters must honour Canadian law.

“We recognize the important democratic right and will always defend it of peaceful protest,” Trudeau said during a news conference with Senegal President Macky Sall.


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“But we are also a country of the rule of law, and we need to make sure those laws are respected.”

Trudeau’s remarks, echoed by Canada’s transportation and finance ministers throughout the day, drew scorn from Indigenous protesters backing the Wet’suet’en hereditary chiefs.

Herb Varley, who helped organize a blockade at the Port of Vancouver, accused Trudeau of “mindlessly parroting” the term rule of law, which he said is empty rhetoric.

If his elders had followed the rule of law, he said their language would have died out.

“If my Nisga’a grandmothers, grandfathers, aunties and uncles had followed the rule of law, we wouldn’t know we were Nisga’a,” he said outside the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, where he and other protesters announced they were challenging an injunction served against them over the weekend.

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Blockade organizers across Canada have said they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline project that crosses the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation near Houston, B.C.

The blockades were erected after the RCMP enforced a court injunction last week against Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who had been blocking construction of the pipeline, a key part of a $40-billion LNG Canada liquefied natural gas export project.


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Another group of supporters took to the streets in Ottawa on Wednesday morning, moving from the office of the federal justice minister into a major intersection near the Supreme Court of Canada. The crowd caused a traffic jam that backed up vehicles for blocks, but the delay was cleared in less than an hour as protesters dispersed.

Similar protests in Vancouver tied up traffic at different points of the city throughout the day.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said anti-pipeline demonstrators who prevented people from entering the legislature for his government’s throne speech on Tuesday need to respect the rights of others.






2:04
Western producers worry about railway protest impacts


Western producers worry about railway protest impacts

“Peaceful demonstration is fundamental to our success as a democracy,” he told a news conference in Victoria on Wednesday.

“But to have a group of people say to others you are illegitimate, you are not allowed in here, you are somehow a sellout to the values of Canadians is just plain wrong, and I want to underline that.”

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The economic impact of the demonstrations has started to crystallize: Canadian National Railway Co. warned Tuesday that it would have to close “significant” parts of its network unless blockades on its rail lines were removed.


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Passenger rail services have also been affected in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., with Via Rail cancelling service on its Montreal-Toronto and Ottawa-Toronto routes until at least the end of the day on Friday because of a blockade near Belleville, Ont.

It had previously cancelled service on those routes until the end of the day on Thursday.

Via has also said a blockade near New Hazelton, B.C., means normal rail service is being interrupted between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister said the Justice Department will seek an injunction to end a rail blockade west of Winnipeg and have it enforced within a few days.






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Freeland confronted by pipeline protesters in Halifax


Freeland confronted by pipeline protesters in Halifax

“As much as we will always respect the right of protesters to have a voice, they don’t have a veto and … they don’t have the right to put their rights ahead of everyone else and to disregard the laws of our province and country,” he said in an interview.

The Alberta wheat and barley commissions said rail disruptions of just a few days will cause economic loss for farmers, who have faced difficult harvest conditions.

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“Delays will result in farmers being unable to deliver their grain, meaning they can’t be paid at least until service resumes,” said Dave Bishop, chair of the barley commission.

“We are still recovering from the harvest from hell and need reliable grain movement in order to get back on track.”


READ MORE:
Protesters block rail traffic in support of Wet’suwet’en First Nation west of Winnipeg

Mohawks at a barricade that has disrupted rail traffic near Montreal said they’ll remain in place as long as the RCMP is present on Wet’suwet’en territory.

Tekarontake, a Kahnawake Mohawk, said the conflict is the result of a failure by governments and others to accept that the land belongs to the people who continue to adhere to the ways of their ancestors.

“That’s whose land this is, we have never disconnected ourselves from our mother. This land is our mother,” he said.

“We haven’t abandoned her, we still love her, we care for her and we will defend her to the best of our ability.”

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said Transport Minister Marc Garneau is “seized” with the blockades affecting railways.

“Our economy really relies on our ability to safely transport goods across the country,” he said.

Asked how he could assure industry that natural resource projects can proceed in Canada, O’Regan said there will always be differing opinions.

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“As we work toward net zero (emissions) by 2050 and considering we are an economy that relies heavily on natural resources and natural resource development, there’s always going to be that friction. There will always be that tension.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Oil prices fall as market weighs coronavirus demand impact – CNBC

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Oil pumpjacks in silhouette at sunset.

Oil prices fell on Tuesday, tracking losses in financial markets on lingering concerns over the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China and its effect on oil demand.

Brent crude was at $57.07 a barrel, down 60 cents, or 1%, by 0348 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 38 cents, or 0.7%, to $51.67 a barrel.

“Oil prices remain heavy as energy traders may have been overly optimistic as to the crude demand impact of the coronavirus, and in fading optimism that OPEC + will come through with deeper production cuts in March,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“Optimism that China would see a return to normalcy in travel and trade next quarter was probably wrong… The rest of world is exercising caution on virus spreading fears and that will do no favors for crude’s demand outlook.”

U.S. stock futures slipped from record levels on Tuesday after Apple Inc, the most valuable company in the United States, said it will not meet its revenue guidance for the March quarter as the coronavirus outbreak slowed production and weakened demand in China. 

The number of new coronavirus infections in mainland China fell below 2,000 on Tuesday for the first time since January, Chinese health officials said, although global experts warn it is too early to say the outbreak is being contained. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said last week the virus was set to cause oil demand to fall by 435,000 barrels per day (bpd) year-on-year in the first quarter, in what would be the first quarterly drop since the financial crisis in 2009.

Still, with some Chinese independent refineries snapping up crude supplies after being absent from the market for weeks, traders held out hopes that China’s demand could recover in coming months. 

Investors are also anticipating that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, will approve a proposal to deepen production cuts to tighten global supplies and support prices.

The group, known as OPEC+, has an agreement to cut oil output by 1.7 million bpd until the end of March.

Oil output from Libya has fallen sharply since Jan. 18 because of a blockade of ports and oil fields by groups loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar.

Libya’s national oil corporation, NOC, said on Monday that oil production was at 135,745 barrels per day as of Monday, compared with 1.2 million bpd before the stoppage.

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Pier 1 Imports closing all Canadian stores as it files for bankruptcy protection – Global News

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Home goods retailer Pier 1 Imports Inc. says it has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States and plans to close all Canadian stores as part of its restructuring process.

The Texas-based company has been struggling with increased competition from budget-friendly online retailers such as Wayfair.

Pier 1 says it will pursue a sale, with a March 23 deadline to submit bids.

The company last month announced it would close 450 stores, including all its Canadian locations.

A Pier 1 Imports furniture and home furnishings store in Laval, Que. on Feb. 22, 2018.

A Pier 1 Imports furniture and home furnishings store in Laval, Que. on Feb. 22, 2018.


Mario Beauregard / The Canadian Press

Pier 1’s Canadian website now directs customers to a short statement announcing the closures and thanks them for their loyalty.

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The company is also commencing creditor protection proceedings in Canada.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP are serving as Canadian legal advisers.

In a statement Monday, the company said it will continue to shutter stores as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. The company, which was founded in 1962, is also closing two distribution centres.


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A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In the meantime, Pier 1 said lenders have committed approximately $256 million in debtor-in-possession financing so it can continue its operations during the Chapter 11 proceedings.

“Today’s actions are intended to provide Pier 1 with additional time and financial flexibility as we now work to unlock additional value for our stakeholders through a sale of the company,” Pier 1 CEO and Chief Financial Officer Robert Riesbeck said in a statement. Riesbeck, an executive with previous corporate turnarounds, joined Pier 1 last summer.

Pier 1’s sales fell 13 per cent to $358 million in its most recent quarter, which ended Nov. 30. It reported a net loss of $59 million for the quarter as it struggled to draw customers to its stores. Pier 1 has been trying to declutter its stores, improve online sales and draw in younger customers.

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Pier 1’s shares have fallen 45 per cent since the start of the year. They closed at $3.58 per share on Friday.

— With files from The Associated Press. 

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Bombardier to sell train unit to France’s Alstom, shedding biggest division – Toronto Star

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MONTREAL— Bombardier, the supplier of Toronto’s signature streetcars and subways, has reached a US$8.2-billion deal to sell its rail business to French train giant Alstom SA. Both the TTC and Metrolinx say the sale won’t immediately impact their operations.

The company is narrowing its focus to commit itself solely to business jets while casting off its largest division, in part to help pay down US$9.3 billion in debt.

“Going forward, we will focus all our capital, energy and resources on accelerating growth and driving margin expansion in our market-leading US$7 billion business aircraft franchise,” CEO Alain Bellemare said in a statement Monday.

The news comes only weeks after the TTC took delivery of the last of 204 new Bombardier streetcars. All the maintenance of those vehicles is done in-house at the TTC, said transit spokesperson Stuart Green.

The $1.25 billion streetcar order was believed to be the biggest in the world when it was announced in 2009. But the 11 intervening years were an especially problematic chapter in the city’s long transit history with Bombardier.

The first two cars arrived in Toronto in 2014. But a series of manufacturing defects and missed delivery targets caused tempers to flare at the TTC and city hall. At one point the first 67 streetcars had to be recalled and repaired. Meantime, the TTC was desperately trying to extend the life of its old CLRV streetcars and run buses to supplement service on routes that desperately needed the new, bigger vehicles.

Toronto’s newest subways, the $1 billion Toronto Rockets, were also made by Bombardier. Ordered in 2006, they proved controversial for former Toronto Mayor David Miller, who defended the sole-source contract because it supported jobs at Bombardier’s Thunder Bay plant. The subways arrived late due to the bankruptcy of Bombardier’s New York door manufacturer but entered service in 2011.

Metrolinx said that “initial indications from Bombardier suggest it is business as usual,” with its order for Bombardier light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown, GO buses and the operation of GO and Union-Pearson Express trains. Most of GO’s locomotives are built by U.S.-based MotivePower.

The Finch West and Hurontario light rail lines are being furnished by Alstom, said spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins.

“We look forward to continuing with all of our rail delivery partners to bring better transit to the region,” she said.

Toronto transit historian Ed Levy said the sale of Bombardier’s train division is the end of an era that was for decades a happy match between the city and the company.

“They really screwed up on the streetcar thing but not on the very large orders of the subway cars over the years. When they started doing off-shore stuff that’s where their problems began,” he said.

The acquisition also signals an effort by Alstom to scale up amid rising competition from China’s state-owned CRRC, the world’s largest train maker.

The transaction will see the Caisse de depot et placement, which owns a 32.5 per cent stake in Bombardier’s train division, become Alstom’s largest shareholder.

The deal converts the Quebec pension giant’s investment in Bombardier Transportation into Alstom shares, handing the Caisse about 18 per cent of the Paris-based company with an investment of up to $4 billion, depending on closing conditions. The transaction includes an additional Caisse investment of $1 billion.

Bombardier said net proceeds from the deal will be between US$4.2 billion and US$4.5 billion after deducting the Caisse’s equity position of roughly US$2.2 billion, as well as adjustments for debts and other liabilities.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021 if it can move through regulatory hurdles.

Alstom’s purchase is expected to come under intense scrutiny from antitrust regulators in the European Union. Last year, EU authorities blocked a proposed merger between Alstom and the train division of German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG, arguing the proposed tie-up would result in higher price tags on signalling systems and bullet trains.

Montreal-based Bombardier has sold several divisions since Bellemare took the helm in 2015, including its turboprop and aerostructure segments as well as its commercial airline unit, once touted as the company’s crown jewel.

Bombardier announced last month it was working to reduce debt and pursuing strategic options, which analysts and other observers suggested could include the sale of the company’s rail or business jet units.

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Bombardier shares have fallen about 70 per cent since July 2018 while Alstom’s have risen by more than 50 per cent over the past two years, including 3.5 per cent Monday.

The announcement was made after the Paris Stock Exchange closed Monday. The Toronto Stock Exchange was closed for Family Day.

The new deal and other recent transactions will leave Bombardier with between US$6.5 and US$7 billion of cash on hand, “putting the company on a brand-new footing” to deal with its sizable debt, Bellemare said.

The company has already ramped up production of high-margin business jets, which it expects will drive double-digit revenue growth with 160 unit sales in 2020 amid a $16.3-billion backlog. But delays and “some volatility” continue to plague several “large, challenging” rail contracts, Bellemare said last Thursday.

While its business jets are now at full production, analysts highlight the cyclical luxury market of private planes in comparison to the relatively stable field of rail car and network construction, which is fuelled by government infrastructure projects.

Nonetheless, hefty production costs and lower margins remain an issue in the rail business, said Jacques Roy, professor of transport management at HEC Montreal business school.

“You can see the fixed costs increasing all the time, because they pretty much have to establish facilities everywhere they sell equipment,” Roy said, pointing to Bombardier’s plant in Plattsburgh, N.Y., which makes trains for U.S. clients.

“If they were a little bit better at this they would be able to compete with the Chinese. They could brag that, ‘Okay, we’re not as cheap as the Chinese, but we produce much better quality, we deliver on time.’ But they don’t. That’s a concern to me,” he said.

The rail and business jet divisions represent Bombardier’s only remaining revenue streams — about 53 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively, of $15.76 billion in revenue last year — after Bombardier sold its waterbomber unit, Q400 turboprop business, CRJ regional jet program and flight-training enterprise over the past four years.

And last week, Bombardier announced the sale of its remaining stake in the A220 commercial jetliner program — formerly known as the C Series — as it reported quarterly results last Thursday, marking the end of its failed bid to take on the commercial aircraft duopoly of Airbus SE and Boeing Co.

Bombardier, founded in Valcourt, Que., in 1942 as a snowmobile manufacturer, now stares down a US$9.32-billion debt load — nearly 60 per cent of it due within five years.

The rail business, Bombardier Transportation, is based in Berlin. In Canada, it employs some 1,000 workers at factories in Quebec’s Bas-St-Laurent region and in St-Bruno-de-Montarville, on Montreal’s South Shore.

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