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Canada will not be pressured to release Meng Wanzhou, Trudeau says

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will not be pressured to release Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou just because China has detained two of its citizens.

Trudeau’s remarks were according to a transcript of a wide-ranging interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd and Meet the Press, which was provided to Global News. The interview is set to air on Sunday.

The two Canadian men — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — were arrested in China in 2018 on espionage charges, shortly after Meng was arrested by authorities in British Columbia on an extradition charge from the U.S.

During the interview, the prime minister said the men were detained on “national security trumped-up charges” and have been detained for nearly 800 days “in an attempt to try and pressure us to release the executive.”

“We, of course, are a country of the rule of law,” he said. “We will not do that. We live by our treaties and live by the rule of law.

But it is extremely difficult for Canada to be going through this, when we know it’s fundamentally unfair of China to have arbitrarily detained our citizens.”

Trudeau’s comments come just days after he and newly sworn-in U.S. President Joe Biden shared their first bilateral meeting.

Shortly after the leaders met virtually, Biden vowed to work with Canada to secure the safe release of Spavor and Kovrig, saying “humans are not bartering chips.”

Trudeau told Meet the Press his conversation with Biden regarding the two men was “very positive,” adding that they have agreed to work together to try to resolve the situation and “hold China to account.”

Keystone XL

During the interview, Trudeau was also asked about the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project, which has been a point of contention between the two countries since Biden became president.

Hours after he was sworn into office, Biden signed an executive order to revoke a presidential permit signed by his predecessor, Donald Trump, that would have allowed the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline expansion project to continue.

The democrat had long-promised to revoke the permit in an effort to honour one of his campaign promises to shift the U.S. from fossil fuels towards clean energy.

However, the move dealt an especially hard blow to Alberta and Saskatchewan, whose energy sectors were counting on the US$8-billion project.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called the move a “gut punch” and urged the federal government to consider sanctions if the Biden administration refused to discuss the project further.

However, Trudeau said, “it’s fairly clear that the U.S. administration has made its decision on that.”

“And we’re much more interested in ensuring that we’re moving forward in ways that are good for both of our countries,” he said.

Trudeau said the government does have “concerns” about the Line 5 initiative.

Click to play video 'Trudeau questioned on cancellation of Keystone XL project, impacts of calls to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5'

“We want to make sure we’re continuing to sell hydro-electricity into the United States, and that the two of us are partnering in ways that are going to create good jobs and compete successfully against the world for cleaner products and cleaner solutions,” he said.

Ultimately, Trudeau said there is “so much” Canada and the U.S. can do together that he doesn’t “spend too much time worrying about the tension points.”

“It’ll always come up in our relationship, but we’ll work through them, particularly given the alignment on so many things that we’re able to bring with this new administration,” he said.

Trudeau said the decision around the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project “was a disappointment,” though.

“But when you talk about clean energy and hydro-electricity from Canada, when we talk about what we can do around smarter grids, what we can do around electric vehicles and transportation, there is so much we’re going to continue to do together.”

Canada’s vaccine rollout

Trudeau was also asked about Canada’s vaccine rollout plan, which has been repeatedly hampered by delays from manufacturers.

He conceded that the rollout has not been “going as fast as everyone would want,” but said “we are going to have everyone vaccinated probably by the end of the summer.”

“And that is something that we’re very positive and excited about,” Trudeau said.

However, Canada has fallen considerably behind even its closest allies when it comes to vaccine rollout.

As of Saturday afternoon, only 1,816,797 doses had been administered across Canada, amounting to approximately 2.43 per cent of the country’s population.

Asked if he regrets not investing in a company in Canada to develop a vaccine at home, Trudeau said the country didn’t have the domestic pharmaceutical capacity to do so.

“We had had it in decades past. But off-shoring and globalization meant that we no longer have the capacity,” he said. “We had from the very beginning of this pandemic started re-investing in Canadian pharmaceutical capacity which will be online in the coming year, not quick enough for this wave. But certainly moving forward, we have rebuilt and are rebuilding our scientific and domestic capacity so that we can be ready.”

“That’s what international supply chains are for,” he said. “And that’s why we’re pleased that we were able to sign so many contracts in order to be able to say we’re going to get all Canadians vaccinated in the coming months.”

Trudeau has repeatedly said Canada remains “on track” to deliver vaccines to all Canadians who want one by the end of September, despite the delays.

On Friday, Health Canada announced it had approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University-AstraZeneca for use in the country.

To date, three vaccines have been approved for use in Canada.

Source: – Global News

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Citigroup lawyer says another bank made bigger payment error than Revlon

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A lawyer for Citigroup Inc told a U.S. judge on Friday he was aware of another large bank that recently made a bigger payment error than Citigroup made last August when it sent $894 million of its own money to Revlon Inc lenders.

Neal Katyal, the lawyer, made the disclosure at a hearing in Manhattan federal court, where Citigroup urged U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman to extend a freeze on $504 million that it has been unable to recoup from the Revlon lenders.

Katyal did not identify the bank, the size of the payment error, or whether the error was fixed.

Citigroup is appealing Furman’s Feb. 16 decision that 10 asset managers, whose clients include Revlon lenders, could keep its mistaken payments.

Furman accepted the asset managers’ argument that Citigroup, as Revlon’s loan agent, paid what they were owed, and they had no reason to think a sophisticated bank would blunder so badly.

Citigroup has said the lenders received a “windfall,” and Furman’s decision could steer banks away from doing wire transfers in a “finders, keepers” marketplace.

Katyal is a partner at Hogan Lovells and former Acting U.S. Solicitor General. Citigroup hired him for its appeal.

 

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Diane Craft)

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Canada aims to raise safety along notorious “Highway of Tears” with cell phone service

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By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Canadian authorities will help fund mobile phone service to increase safety along a remote stretch of highway in British Columbia known as the “Highway of Tears” for the number of women who have gone missing on the route, most of them indigenous.

Indigenous groups recommended the move in 2006 in a report on disappearances and murders of women along the highway between the cities of Prince Rupert and Prince George, roughly 800 km (500 miles) north of Vancouver.

The recommendation was endorsed by a provincial government-mandated commission several years later.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating 13 cases of murdered women and five who disappeared on or near the Highway of Tears, although no new cases have been added since 2007. Advocates believe the number of homicides and missing is significantly higher.

Lisa Beare, British Columbia’s minister of citizens’ services, called the project “a critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies along this route.”

Cell phone plans in Canada are among the most expensive in the world, according to government data, and the cost and lack of coverage in rural areas was a top issue in the last election.

The provincial and federal governments will contribute C$4.5 million towards the C$11.6 million ($9.24 million) cost for Rogers Communications to install 12 cell phone towers, the British Columbia government said on Wednesday.

Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, applauded the plan but said it was only one step in making the area safer for indigenous women.

“This truly is a blessing for the women,” she said. “But not all women have a phone. These towers are being put up, but it makes no use to the person that has no cell phone.”

($1 = 1.2558 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030

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By Rod Nickel and Rithika Krishna

(Reuters) –Canada‘s Nutrien Ltd, the world’s largest fertilizer producer by capacity, said on Thursday it aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by 2030, in a plan costing the company up to $700 million.

Agricultural companies, including Mosaic and Corteva, have set carbon emissions targets as climate-conscious investors push firms to become more environmentally friendly.

Nutrien plans to spend $500 million to $700 million to meet the carbon emissions target, which includes cutting emissions from nitrogen production by 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by the end of 2023.

“We’re in a really unique spot to address two big societal challenges – food security, and in a way that reduces our environmental footprint,” said Mark Thompson, Nutrien’s chief corporate development and strategy officer, in an interview.

Synthetic fertilizers account for 12% of global emissions from agriculture, according to a 2016 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.

Nutrien’s target includes Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which reflect direct operations and electricity use. Nutrien is addressing Scope 3 emissions – those related to on-farm activity – with a program that encourages growers to adopt sustainable practices that generate monetary credits.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company plans to deploy wind and solar energy at four potash plants by the end of 2025, replacing electricity generated by coal and natural gas.

It also plans to expand its sequestration of carbon emissions from nitrogen fertilizer production and to invest in technology to capture nitrous oxide gas from its facilities.

Nutrien estimates that its carbon credit program could directly amount to $10 to $20 per acre for farmers, and it expects to benefit financially itself as well.

“If we can provide agronomic value and the value of the carbon credit over time, we’ll have customer loyalty – we anticipate that we’ll be a preferred supplier,” Thompson said.

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Steve Orlofsky)

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