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Canada’s oil and gas spending expected to rise 22% in 2022 -industry body

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Capital spending by Canada’s oil and gas industry is set to jump 22% to C$32.8 billion ($26.28 billion) this year as it looks to capitalize on a surge in crude oil prices, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said on Thursday.

A swift recovery in global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic and a supply tightening by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies helped drive a 50% surge in oil prices last year, prompting companies to raise their capital budgets in anticipation of strong demand.

The Calgary-based oil and gas lobby expects oil-rich Alberta to lead the country’s provinces, forecasting C$24.5 billion in investments in 2022.

“Rapid demand growth for oil and natural gas globally and strengthening commodity prices mean there is opportunity for Canada’s industry for decades to come,” said Tim McMillan, the group’s president and chief executive officer.

 

Canada’s oil producers loosen their purse strings https://graphics.reuters.com/CANADAPRODUCERS-OUTPUT/lbpgnjwlgvq/chart.png

 

Still, the total forecast is about 40.5% below the industry’s peak spend of C$81 billion reached in 2014, as the country’s energy sector fell out of favour with global investors even before the pandemic. (https://reut.rs/3AjlnTy)

CAPP’s members represent about 80% of Canada’s oil and natural gas production, according to the industry group.

($1 = 1.2483 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Ruhi Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Quebec drops section of assisted-death bill to ensure it gets adopted quickly

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QUEBEC — The Quebec government is removing a section of its end-of-life care bill that would have allowed quadriplegics and people with cerebral palsy to receive an assisted death.

Health Minister Christian Dubé told reporters Thursday he is making the change to ensure the bill is passed before the legislature breaks for the summer break ahead of a fall election.

Dubé said opposition parties expressed concern with the article, which was part of a bill tabled Wednesday, because the question of extending medical aid in dying to people with neuromuscular disorders was never debated in the province.

The minister told reporters he had followed the advice of Quebec’s College of Physicians, which had pushed for serious neuromuscular disabilities to be included in the bill. The aim was to harmonize the Quebec legislation with federal law.

“There is a legal blur between the federal government and Quebec, which is very uncomfortable for doctors,” Dubé said, adding he had listened to the concerns to those on the front line. But in the end he has decided to postpone that element until “Quebecers are ready.”

In order for the bill to pass before the end of the session, it needs unanimous approval from all five parties in the legislature. The main thrust of the bill is to allow people to make an advanced request for an assisted death in the event they develop severe Alzheimer’s disease.

Opposition parties were caught off guard by the addition of severe neuromotor impairment, which had not come up for debate, and denounced Dubé’s decision to include it.

“But it’s so silly, why did they put it in the bill? We just lost 48 hours, we don’t have time to lose,” said Vincent Marissal of Québec solidaire.

In a series of tweets, the College of Physicians said it is confident the public supports its proposed expansion of medical aid in dying and will make its case before a future legislature committee hearing.

“Medical assistance in dying is a very sensitive issue that must move forward in consensus,” the college said.  “It is important to us that the situation be clarified so that doctors can provide this care legally and with peace of mind to eligible people who request it.”

Premier François Legault said it was important to have all parties in agreement.

“I have one goal, and that is to have a bill that brings everyone together,” Legault said. “We will go with the consensus.”

Quebec’s medical-aid-in-dying law requires that patients give written consent to an assisted death within 90 days of the procedure.

Patients with severe Alzheimer’s, however, are usually incapable of offering clear and informed consent and are therefore currently prohibited under law from accessing medical aid in dying.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

 

 

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Gunman entered Texas school unimpeded, police say as questions swirl about response

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WASHINGTON — Law enforcement officials described in chilling detail Thursday the time it took for tactical officers to finally gun down an 18-year-old attacker after he shot and killed 19 students and two teachers inside a fourth-grade classroom in small-town Texas.

Victor Escalon, the south Texas regional director for the state’s Department of Public Safety, stood before a backdrop of stone-faced police officers, investigators and officials — a news conference that appeared aimed at deflecting mounting concerns about what took so long.

The gunman entered the school at about 11:40 a.m. local time through an apparently unlocked door, and contrary to initial reports, encountered no resistance, Escalon said — the armed school safety officer, normally a fixture at educational facilities around the U.S., was not there.

“He was not confronted by anybody,” he said. “Four minutes later, law enforcement are coming in to solve this problem step by step.”

Those officers who initially arrived on the scene pursued the gunman into the school, but soon after had to take cover when the shooter began opening fire on them, he continued. It would be a full hour before Border Patrol officers wearing tactical gear found their target.

“They don’t make entry initially because of the gunfire they’re receiving,” Escalon said of the officers who arrived on the scene first.

“But we have officers calling for additional resources — everybody that’s in the area, tactical teams. We need equipment — we need specialty equipment. We need body armour; we need precision riflemen; negotiators.”

Students and teachers were also being evacuated from the building at the same time, he added.

Escalon also suggested that even if tactical officers had been able to breach the classroom sooner, it might have already been too late for the children and teachers inside.

“According to the information we have, the majority of the gunfire was in the beginning — in the beginning,” he said. “I say numerous, more than 25 (rounds) — I repeat, it was a lot of gunfire in the beginning.”

Media reports Thursday, coupled with cellphone video of the civilian pandemonium outside, detailed how parents and bystanders, well aware of the imminent threat inside the building, were frantically trying to get officers to go into the school to confront the gunman.

A Wall Street Journal report detailed how one of the parents on the scene was handcuffed by federal marshals who accused her of interfering with a police investigation. After local officers convinced their colleagues to set her free, she ran into the school and emerged with her two kids, the paper reported.

Escalon did not directly answer questions about why it took so long for tactical officers to get into the classroom, but promised more details would be forthcoming.

U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Uvalde on Sunday to “offer comfort” to the families of the victims and meet with community leaders, said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre as she urged Congress to take meaningful steps toward tougher gun restrictions.

“We need the help of Congress … we cannot do this alone,” she said. “We need them to step in and to deal with this gun violence that we’re seeing, that’s tearing up not just families but communities across the country.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he’s asked Texas Sen. John Cornyn to meet with Democrats to talk about legislation, but offered no details about what he hopes to see, beyond “an outcome that can actually pass and become law.”

That’s a tall order: Congress remains in a state of gridlock, in part because the Senate is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, but also because so many U.S. lawmakers support the rights of gun owners and enjoy the generous financial backing of the National Rifle Association.

The NRA, easily one of the most powerful political groups in the U.S., is meanwhile pressing ahead with its annual meeting in Houston despite the tragedy that unfolded Tuesday just a four-hour drive away.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and victims involved in this horrific and evil crime,” the association said in a statement that described the gunman as a “lone, deranged criminal.”

“As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”

Texas Republicans Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz have come under withering criticism for their planned appearances at the convention, which begins Friday. Former president Donald Trump has already confirmed he’ll be there to deliver a speech.

“They are contributing to the problem of gun violence, not trying to solve it,” Jean-Pierre said of the NRA.

“They don’t represent gun owners who know that we need to take action. And it’s shameful that the NRA and their allies have stood in the way of every attempt to advance measures that we all know will save lives.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

 

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

 

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version contained an incorrect spelling of Uvalde, Tex.

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Canada’s transport minister detects ‘shift’ in U.S. outlook after meetings in D.C.

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WASHINGTON — The latest federal cabinet minister to press Canada’s case with President Joe Biden’s administration says he is detecting a positive “shift” in U.S. thinking when it comes to the question of tax incentives for electric vehicles.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra spent Tuesday in Washington, D.C., for meetings with officials including U.S. counterpart Pete Buttigieg and senior White House adviser Mitch Landrieu.

It was just the latest in a series of cabinet-level visits — Defence Minister Anita Anand, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Trade Minister Mary Ng have been in town in recent weeks — where the ministerial marching orders included voicing opposition to the tax-credit scheme.

Biden’s original vision was a sliding scale of tax incentives, with the richest ones reserved for electric vehicles assembled in the U.S. with union labour — a proposal Ottawa feared would be devastating for Canada’s auto sector.

It died back in December when West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a vital vote in the evenly divided Senate, refused to support Biden’s $2-trillion environmental and social spending package, known as Build Back Better. 

Ever since, Canada has maintained a strict defensive footing against the tax credits coming back to life.

“I don’t know if the old incarnation is going to come back exactly as it was or not. But I can say that what I am sensing today is that there is now a shift in strategic outlook,” Alghabra said.

The war in Ukraine, and the way NATO members and allies have made common cause with each other in pushing back against Russia, is putting a “new frame” around how the U.S. deals with its allies, he noted.

The world, including the U.S., better understands that trustworthy trading partners and consistent, reliable supply chains that are impervious to unexpected geopolitical shocks have long been taken for granted.

“There is, I think, a new frame for the conversations that are taking place in the U.S. And while I don’t know what the future of the previous EV tax credit is, I am hopeful that I think now we’re entering into a new type of discussion.”

The White House has acknowledged that it’s working on a scaled-down version of Build Back Better, but has so far refused to say publicly whether the tax credits would return in their original form.

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said discussions are underway for legislation that would resurrect some of the environmental provisions of Build Back Better, including its “energy transition-related elements.”

Canada would welcome and support any effort on the part of the U.S. to fight climate change, she said.

“But we never miss an opportunity to re-emphasize with them that, in so doing, it’s imperative that as the staunchest of environmental allies, we do it together in a way that supports each other and doesn’t make this path that we’re on together harder for either of us,” Hillman said.

“That message is heard loud and clear by lawmakers on the Hill, by the White House, and they have expressed an understanding of our concerns, and more than that, a desire to make sure that it works for us in our partnership.”

Manchin, the mercurial moderate Democrat whose support has become essential for any White House measure on Capitol Hill, recently suggested he would not support any proposal that would harm Canada’s auto industry.

Manchin, who heads the Senate’s energy and natural resources committee, hosted Jason Kenney when the Alberta premier testified in person on Capitol Hill earlier this month.

The pair have become cross-border allies as the U.S. looks for ways to both combat inflation while reducing its dependence on fossil fuels from hostile regimes, while Kenney continues to prod the Biden administration to depend more on Canada for its short-term energy needs.

After the May 17 hearing, Manchin said he expects the White House is still working on some sort of a program to encourage American consumers to buy more electric vehicles and ease U.S. dependence on gasoline.

But he insisted that he wouldn’t support any measure that would hurt automakers north of the border.

“There’s no way in the world that we’re going to put that type of harm and allow that to happen,” Manchin said. “My vote would never support that at all.”

It was not abundantly clear whether Manchin was talking specifically about the tax credits or more broadly about Canada’s own efforts to develop its reserves of critical minerals, a key component in the production of electric vehicles.

That ambiguity is part of why Canada remains so guarded on the subject, Hillman said.

“Until we see what is actually on the table and how it’s going to be implemented, we cannot rest.”

Manchin and Kenney both voiced support for the idea of a more closely integrated Canada-U.S. energy “alliance.” It would focus on the need for traditional energy in the short term, as well as reliable bilateral supply chains for critical minerals.

Alghabra said the role Canada could play in buttressing U.S. supply chains for those minerals is also generating increased interest south of the border.

“We have more of those critical minerals, and some types of the critical minerals that the U.S. doesn’t have,” he said. “There’s a new sense of interest and intrigue about this new frame that I think maybe did not exist last year.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

 

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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