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Cancelled Teck Frontier means even First Nations’ support can’t get projects built

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For the Kenney government and almost anybody interested in oil and gas investment, it was the Sunday night slaughter — sudden news that Teck Resources has cancelled its $20-billion Frontier oilsands mine.

Federal cabinet was expected to rule on the mine this week. Teck’s sudden decision to withdraw its application has many consequences, but one is to get Ottawa off the hook for a ruling that deeply divided the Trudeau cabinet.

Premier Jason Kenney had made Teck the big test of whether the Trudeau government will allow further oilsands projects. Now the Liberals won’t even face the test.

When the word came out Sunday evening, the province still hadn’t been officially informed by the company or by Ottawa.

But soon enough, Premier Jason Kenney blasted Ottawa for creating such chaotic security risks, including the refusal to clear rail blockades, that the company felt it couldn’t go ahead at this time.

“Teck’s decision is disappointing,” he said in a news release, “but in light of the events of the past few weeks it is not surprising.

“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority.

“The timing of the decision is not a coincidence. This was an economically viable project, as the company confirmed this week, for which the company was advocating earlier this week, so something clearly changed very recently.”

Earlier Sunday, Environment Minister Jason Nixon was proudly announcing crucial new agreements with Mikisew Cree First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

Technically, they related to dealings between the province and the First Nations, but they had a bearing on Teck and thus made the agreement of 14 Indigenous groups complete.

“My only reaction is that I’m disappointed . . . why would I put a press release out today (announcing support for the project) to hear this kind of news?” Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam told Postmedia on Sunday evening.


Protesters on both sides of the Frontier mine issue gather in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020.

Jim Wells/Postmedia

Teck did not specifically cite the rail blockades but said “there is no constructive path forward for the project,” given that the company is now “squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved.”

Teck makes no mention of resubmitting the application in the future.

This seems to be the end of a project that’s been a decade in the making, passed both federal and provincial regulatory hurdles, and would have created thousands of jobs with potential investment of $20 billion.

“The factors that led to today’s decision further weaken national unity,” Kenney said.

“The Government of Alberta agreed to every request and condition raised by the federal government for approving the Frontier project, including protecting bison and caribou habitat, regulation of oilsands emissions and securing full Indigenous support.

“The Government of Alberta repeatedly asked what more we could do to smooth the approval process. We did our part, but the federal government’s inability to convey a clear or unified position let us, and Teck, down.”

The company pointed out that it had done all the required work and secured unprecedented Indigenous agreement, but still had to cancel because “global capital markets are changing rapidly, and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products. This does not yet exist here today.”


Members of Beaver Hills Warriors and Extinction Rebellion Edmonton protest further expansion of the oil sands, specifically the Teck Frontier Mine, inside Canada Place, in Edmonton Wednesday Jan. 22, 2020.

David Bloom

Teck expressed hope that withdrawing from the fray will allow Canada to finally settle the issues. True optimists, these people.

There’s an immediate suspicion that Ottawa somehow strong-armed Teck into this decision. But for the directors of this company, just following the daily news was probably enough.

Rail blockades continue to spring up, paralyzing vital economic links. In B.C., the Horgan government has moved the goalposts on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, sending it back to Wet’suwet’en for further consultation.

Premier John Horgan is now fully immersed in the very mess he created for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, whose own future is still very much in doubt.

We’ve now had Energy East cancelled because of endless hurdles thrown up by governments. Kinder Morgan abandoned Trans Mountain because it saw no way to get the project done.

Teck is just the latest abandoned project — and maybe the last, because it’s unlikely that anything of this size will even be proposed again.

There will be a mighty uproar for days and weeks to come. But one early message is this — First Nations approval, once touted as the route to approval and Indigenous prosperity, no longer means a thing.

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Goldman Sachs moves to full ownership of China securities JV

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Goldman Sachs said on Sunday it received approval from China’s securities regulator to take full control of its mainland securities business.

The U.S. bank said it would buy the remainder of Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities Company Ltd (GSGH), and rename it as Goldman Sachs (China) Securities Company Ltd.

The migration of its onshore business units to GSGH from Beijing Gao Hua Securities was underway, it added.

“This marks the start of a new chapter for our China business following a successful 17-year joint venture,” Goldman Sachs said in a statement.

It becomes the second Wall Street firm to be granted approval to shift to full ownership of its securities business after JPMorgan Chase & Co moved to 100% in August https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/jpmorgan-gets-beijings-approval-first-fully-foreign-owned-brokerage-2021-08-06.

Securities businesses in China typically house investment banking, research, equities and fixed income businesses.

Unlike most of the other China JVs, Goldman had day-to-day operational control of its business even with its minority ownership.

Lucrative underwriting fees on equity and bond transactions – especially initial public offerings (IPOs) – in China’s expanding capital markets has been the driving force for Western banks to increase stakes in their mainland business.

Full ownership could allow foreign banks to expand their operations in the multi-trillion-dollar Chinese financial sector, and better integrate them with their global businesses.

Morgan Stanley currently owns 90% of its securities joint venture with partner Shanghai Chinafortune Co Ltd after increasing its stake https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/morgan-stanley-nears-full-ownership-china-ventures-with-stake-buys-2021-05-28 in May.

China’s regulators had examined Goldman Sach’s application to move to full ownership https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/goldman-sachs-signs-pact-wholly-own-china-joint-venture-2020-12-11 since the bank flagged its intention to buy out its partner in December.

(Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Stephen Coates)

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From Canada? Want to go to the U.S.A.? Better have the right vaccine – Boing Boing

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The last couple of years have been hard on Canadian Snowbirds. Many of us, myself included, are used to heading south in the fall, to escape the icy bullshit of a Canadian winter. Unfortunately, thanks to COVID-19, a lot of us have been trapped, north of the wall, since March 2020. 

I’ve been fine with this. 

When the land border was closed down to everyone but essential travellers, my mindset was that if I was going to get sick, I’d just as soon do it in my own nation where healthcare is free (yeah, we pay our taxes, but still.) Then, last winter, the vaccines started to roll out. By early spring, both my wife and I had been injected with two doses of Pfizer’s version of the brew. We breathed a sigh of relief and began to hope that we might, one day soon, be able to start our travels again. I’m sure that lots of other folks did too. Unfortunately, depending on where in Canada they live, it wasn’t a sure bet that they’d wind up with two doses of the same vaccine. In the rush to get as many Canadians vaccinated against the plague as possible, many provinces started mixing and matching whichever vaccines that they had on hand.

So, you could wind up with Pfizer for your first jab and Moderna for your second. It’s cool, they told us. Mixing vaccines affords tons of protection, we were assured. Why, we’d all be able to get back to our lives in no time… provided said life doesn’t include travelling to one of many countries where vaccine mixing is considered to be a dangerous load of bullshit. You may have guessed by now, that America is one of those countries.  

From The CBC:

…at the same time the U.S. reopens the land border, it will start requiring that foreign land and air travellers entering the country be fully vaccinated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently doesn’t recognize mixed COVID-19 vaccines — such as one dose of AstraZeneca, and one dose of Pfizer or Moderna — and hasn’t yet said if travellers with two different doses will be blocked from entry when the vaccine requirement kicks in.

So that sucks. 

According to the CBC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might soon consider changing their stance on mixed vaccines. I’d like to think that a crap load of data on the effectiveness of mixed vaccine dosing will play into such a decision. No matter how badly folks might want to head south for the winter, Americans deserve to be as safe as they can be. 

In the meantime, I suspect that, just like last fall, many snowbirds will wind up on Vancouver Island, where I hang my hat, these days. It’s warm enough here that living in an RV is both possible and comfortable.

But I’ll tell ya, it’s a far cry from kicking back in the trade winds on the cusp of Texas’ southern border.

Image via Wikipedia Commons

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Travel industry, health experts applaud U.S. decision to allow travellers with mixed doses – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The organization representing Canada’s tourism industry is applauding the U.S. government’s decision to allow Canadian travellers with mixed vaccine doses once the border opens in November.

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that travellers with “any combination” of two doses of vaccines approved by the World Health Organization or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “are considered fully vaccinated.”

Beth Potter, who is president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, says the announcement is “really good news.”

“What it does is it provides a little bit more clarity, and this is something that we’ve talked about a lot. We know now that if you’ve got that mixed dose, as of November you’re going to be able to enter into the United States,” she told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

Infectious disease expert Isaac Bogoch of the University Health Network in Toronto says allowing mixed dosed travellers is “a smart and data driven approach.”

“This will be a huge relief to many Canadians who did the right thing and got vaccinated and even took those mixed and matched vaccine approaches. It’s safe, it’s effective, and now there’s a recognition of this,” Bogoch said in an interview with CTV News Channel on Saturday.

“I’m really happy to hear this. It’s about time.”

This announcement came after the White House confirmed that the U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico would be open to fully vaccinated tourists by Nov. 8.

On the American side, the U.S. Travel Association also applauded the Biden Administration’s plans to reopen the border.

“Reopening to international visitors will provide a jolt to the economy and accelerate the return of travel-related jobs that were lost due to travel restrictions,” said association president and CEO Roger Dow in a statement on Friday.

“We applaud the administration for recognizing the value of international travel to our economy and our country, and for working to safely reopen our borders and reconnect America to the world.”

But while the U.S. won’t require Canadians to show proof of vaccination to cross, returning to Canada requires a negative PCR test conducted at most 72 hours before crossing the border.

PCR tests can cost upwards of $200. The Canadian government does not accept rapid antigen tests, which can be had for only $40.

Brian Higgins, a New York congressman whose district includes the border cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, wants to see Canada drop the COVID-19 PCR test requirement.

“I think that the U.S. decision to allow Canadians coming into the United States without a test again underscores the potency of the vaccine,” Higgins told The Canadian Press on Friday. “I would like to see that reciprocated by our Canadian neighbours.”

However, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said that Canada will continue to require PCR tests so long as the Public Health Agency of Canada advocates for it.

“We’ve seen throughout the pandemic that advice has evolved as new evidence and new data is available. We’ll continue to follow the advice in the Public Health Agency Canada​,” he said in an ​interview with CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

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