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Biden spokesperson rules out helping Canada, Mexico with vaccine supply before all Americans are inoculated – CBC.ca

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The White House spokesperson today ruled out sending vaccines to continental partners like Canada and Mexico, saying U.S. President Joe Biden is committed to getting every American vaccinated before sharing doses with other countries.

During a White House press briefing today, Jen Psaki was asked if Biden was considering sharing part of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine supply with allies. “No,” she replied.

“The president has made clear that he is focused on ensuring that vaccines are accessible to every American. That is our focus,” she added.

Psaki was more definitive than U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was last week. In an interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live, Blinken said the U.S. was looking at “how we can help get vaccines around the world.”

“None of us are going to be fully safe until everyone in every part of the world is vaccinated,” Blinken said when asked if the administration would scrap Trump-era restrictions on U.S. vaccine exports.

WATCH: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the Canada-U.S. border

In an exclusive interview with CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discusses the Canada/U.S. border. 1:20

Canada is a vaccine laggard in the Western world right now; dozens of other countries have vaccinated more people per capita. The U.S. is expected to have enough supply to vaccinate 4.5 times more people, per capita, than Canada in the first three months of 2021.

Biden has so far maintained the past administration’s policy of earmarking virtually all U.S.-made vaccines for the American market. Pfizer’s Kalamazoo, Mich. plant and Moderna operations in New England are dedicated to producing U.S. shipments alone.

Last December, then-U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order demanding drugmakers first supply the U.S. government before assisting other nations. Trump’s Operation Warp Speed — the U.S. mission to develop a vaccine, manufacture it in large quantities and push it out into communities — provided funding to Moderna to develop its product.

That policy has forced Canada to turn to European plants for supply, despite the geographic proximity of those American operations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week, however, that Canada is expecting part of its supply of the AstraZeneca product to be shipped from U.S. plants in the second and third quarters of this year.

U.S. President Joe Biden listens as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his statement following a virtual meeting in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

While Health Canada approved the shot last week, that company hasn’t yet applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) for the U.S. market.

“We are receiving positive indications that we will be on track to receive our 20 million doses from the facility in the United States,” Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said.

Anand has said she asked the U.S. administration to allow some Pfizer shots to flow north but her requests were rebuffed.

Psaki said that once the 300 million-plus Americans who are eligible for a shot have been vaccinated, the U.S. could talk about sharing supply.

“But our focus, [Biden’s] focus, the administration’s focus is on ensuring that every American is vaccinated, and once we accomplish that objective we’re happy to discuss further steps beyond that,” she said.

“The next step is economic recovery and that is ensuring that our neighbours, Mexico and Canada, have similarly managed the pandemic so that we can open borders and build back better.”

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Iran indicts 10 over Ukraine plane crash, prosecutor says; Canada demands justice

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has indicted 10 officials over the shooting-down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020 that killed all 176 people on board, a military prosecutor said on Tuesday.

In a report published last month, Iran’s civil aviation body blamed the crash on a misaligned radar and an error by an air defence operator. Ukraine and Canada, home to many of those who died, criticised the report as insufficient.

“Indictments have been issued for 10 officials involved in the crash of the Ukrainian plane…and necessary decisions will be taken in court,” Gholam Abbas Torki, the outgoing military prosecutor for Tehran province, was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency ISNA. He did not elaborate.

In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “tremendously concerned about the lack of accountability” from Iran about the disaster.

Canada, along with its partners, will continue to press Tehran to deliver justice and compensation for families of the victims, he told a briefing when asked about the indictments.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight on Jan. 8, 2020, shortly after it took off from Tehran Airport.

The Iranian government later said the shooting-down was a “disastrous mistake” by its forces at a time when they were on high alert in a regional confrontation with the United States.

Iran was on edge about possible attacks after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing days before of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. missile strike at Baghdad airport.

 

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Gareth Jones and Mark Heinrich)

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Canadian oil producers CNRL, Cenovus plan new emissions targets, no pivot to renewables

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CNRL

By Rod Nickel and Nia Williams

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) -Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNRL) and Cenovus Energy Inc, two of Canada‘s biggest oil producers, said on Tuesday they would set new goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but not pivot away from their core businesses.

Oil sands producers, which extract some of the world’s most carbon-intense crude, face investor pressure to reduce their environmental impact. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to raise Canada‘s carbon price steeply over time to position the country for carbon-neutral status by 2050.

CNRL’s corporate emissions-cutting goal will be announced in the second quarter, President Tim McKay said at the Scotiabank CAPP Energy Symposium, which is being held remotely.

The company cut carbon intensity per barrel by 18% between 2016 and 2020 and sees carbon capture as a way to further reduce its environmental toll, McKay said.

It does not plan major investments in renewable energy as European oil majors have done.

“The preference is to stick with what we know and what we’re good at,” McKay said. “There’s going to be a need for oil long-term.”

Cenovus is also planning new emissions-cutting targets and might invest in renewable power partnerships.

“Where we’re likely to remain is focused on oil and gas production,” Cenovus Chief Executive Officer Alex Pourbaix told the symposium. “But don’t look for us to become a late-entrant renewable-power developer.”

Suncor Energy Inc is on track to achieve its goal of cutting the emissions intensity of production by 30% versus 2014 levels by 2030, said Chief Financial Officer Alister Cowan, and is now talking about updating its target beyond 2030.

Imperial Oil Ltd could adopt technologies of parent company Exxon Mobil Corp like carbon capture and biofuel blending, Senior Vice President of Finance Dan Lyons said.

“When it comes to wind farms and solar farms, that’s not really in our wheelhouse.”

Sticking to fossil fuels will jeopardize the businesses long-term, said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada.

“They will go the way of Blockbuster Video once Netflix arrived,” Stewart said.

Canada‘s transition to a low-carbon economy could displace up to 450,000 oil and gas workers over the next three decades, TD Economics said.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Nia Williams in Calgary; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Peter Cooney)

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Saskatchewan sees bigger, C$2.6-billion deficit to fight pandemic

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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Saskatchewan forecast on Tuesday a C$2.6-billion ($2.07 billion)deficit in the current 2021-22 fiscal year, up from last year’s C$1.9 billion, as the pandemic drives up costs.

The province, whose economy relies on farming, oil production and mining, is running a larger deficit so it can effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said.

Canadian provincial governments, like the national government, have run bigger deficits since the pandemic began, trying to slow its spread and buttress economies that lockdowns have hit hard.

With government debt rising, credit rating agencies are watching closely for provincial strategies to tame deficits, TD Economics said in a report last month.

Saskatchewan expects to continue running deficits until balancing the books in 2026-27, the provincial government said while introducing its new budget.

The Saskatchewan Party government, led by Premier Scott Moe, forecast spending to increase by 7% to C$17.1 billion from last year, including costs such as vaccinations, tests for infection and purchases of protective equipment.

It forecast provincial revenues for the 2021-22 fiscal year at C$14.5 billion, up nearly 3% from last year.

Saskatchewan’s real gross domestic product looks to grow 3.4% in 2021 after contracting 4.2% last year, the government said.

The budget assumes an average North American oil futures price of $54.33 per barrel during its fiscal year, generating C$505.1 million in royalties.

Neighboring Alberta estimated in February that its 2021-22 budget deficit would shrink to C$18.2 billion, as its economy starts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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