The prime minister’s point man for the Prairies said today the fate of the proposed Teck Frontier oilsands mine will be decided next week, setting the table for another potential showdown over an oil and gas project in this country.
Liberal MP Jim Carr said the nearly $21-billion project represents a complex challenge for the federal government, one that demands a balance between the interests of Alberta — which sees the project’s thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue as critical to the province’s future — and environmentalists who insist that approving the project would make a mockery of the Trudeau government’s international commitments on climate change.
“I believe that when the decision is made, the arguments will be advanced why it is in the public interest and the national interest,” Carr said in an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House. “And always and ultimately, Canadians will decide if they agree.”
Carr insisted he was not signalling that cabinet is ready to approve the project, although he acknowledged that the decision the government announces in the coming days — whatever it is — will be a tough sell.
“It’s complex. It’s full of issues that are important to Alberta and the country,” he said. “As always, there are the balances and trade-offs and the consideration of environmental stewardship while living up to international obligations.”
Canada has committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 — a target that Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith insists will remain out of reach if Teck Frontier is approved.
‘A pretty easy ‘no’ — Erskine-Smith
“There is no clear picture of how this project, which lasts until 2067, fits within our net-zero commitment,” Erskine-Smith said in a separate interview with The House. “When you look at this project, when you look at the climate commitments specifically, I think it’s a pretty easy ‘no’.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been warned already about the political risks of killing the project. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has lobbied hard for its approval, warning Trudeau that a rejection could give a boost to separatist sentiments in the province.
“Here in Alberta, it would interpreted as a rejection of our most important industry and it could raise roiling western alienation to a boiling point — something I know your government has been attentive to since the election,” Kenney wrote in a Feb. 5 letter to Trudeau.
“The rejection would send a signal to the international investment community that Canada’s regulatory system is arbitrary, subject to moving and invisible goal posts and that even the best evidence can be trumped by narrow politics.”
The Frontier mine has received regulatory approval already, even though the review panel concluded there would significant adverse environmental affects.
This week, federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson wrote to his Alberta counterpart urging him to introduce regulations to enforce a 100-megatonne cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the oilsands introduced by the province’s previous NDP government.
Adding to the stakes was a warning issued by Teck Resources on Friday that it would take a writedown of more than $1 billion if Frontier is rejected.
Carr said that’s just another factor to consider.
“You know that’s their point of view. There are lots of points of view,” he told CBC News. “The one point of view that will determine the fate of the project is the government’s assessment of Canada’s interest.”
Erskine-Smith said he doesn’t believe the project is profitable at current prices for oil — or that the Liberals would escape unscathed politically if cabinet approves it.
“In terms of political backlash I think there will be great concern in my community that we are not taking our climate change obligations seriously,” he said.
“We have obligations to the work, to future generations, and we have to do our part in tackling climate change.”
COVID booster use may be expanded, US health officials say – Al Jazeera English
FDA advisory body this week recommended coronavirus booster shots for people more than age 65 and those at high risk.
Top health officials in the United States have said broader approval of COVID-19 booster shots could be weeks away, after a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expert advisory panel this week recommended a third jab for a limited segment of the population.
The director of the National Institutes of Health said the FDA panel’s decision on Friday to limit Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots to Americans age 65 and older as well as those at high risk of severe disease was a preliminary step.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Dr Francis Collins predicted more wide-ranging approval for most Americans “in the next few weeks”.
Collins said the panel’s recommendation was correct based on a “snapshot” of available data on the effectiveness of Pfizer’s two-jab regimen over time. But he said real-time data from the US and Israel continue to come in showing waning efficacy among more groups of people that will need to be addressed soon.
“I think there will be a decision in the coming weeks to extend boosters beyond the list that they approved on Friday,” said Collins, who also appeared CBS’ Face the Nation programme on Sunday.
Some rich nations, including the US and UK, are considering coronavirus booster shots amid a recent surge in cases linked to the highly contagious Delta variant.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) this month called for a moratorium on booster shots amid concerns about vaccine supplies to poorer nations, where millions have yet to receive their first jab.
A group of international scientists also said last week that even with the threat from the Delta strain, “booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic”.
“Any decisions about the need for boosting or timing of boosting should be based on careful analyses of adequately controlled clinical or epidemiological data, or both, indicating a persistent and meaningful reduction in severe disease,” the scientists wrote in The Lancet medical journal.
Dr Anthony Fauci, who is US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, on Sunday praised the FDA advisory board’s plan for covering a “good chunk” of Americans. But he stressed that “this is not the end of the story” based on data that was emerging and said the guidance would likely be expanded in the coming weeks to months.
People in the US who have received the two-dose Moderna vaccine or one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are still awaiting guidance on possible booster shots.
“The actual data that we’ll get [on] that third shot for the Moderna and second shot for the J&J is literally a couple to a few weeks away,” Fauci told NBC’s Meet the Press programme.
“We’re working on that right now to get the data to the FDA so they can examine it and make a determination about the boosters for those people.”
The FDA will consider the advisory group’s advice and make its own decision, probably within days. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also is set to weigh in this week.
US stocks tumble amid fears of market correction – BBC News
US markets have tumbled amid growing concerns about China’s financial system and the impact of coronavirus on the global economy.
On Wednesday, the Dow Jones index lost almost 800 points to 33,816.92 before regaining ground.
There were similar falls in Europe, with the Germany’s Dax index losing 2.3%, and France’s Cac 40 down 1.7%.
One analyst called it “a classic flight to safety”, with Wall Street seeing its worst day since May.
But US stocks are still up more than 12% this year and some analysts played down fears of a correction ahead.
Monday’s sell-off was primarily driven by concerns that Evergrande – one of China’s biggest property developers – is struggling to repay around $300bn of debts.
Regulators in China warned it could spark broader risks to the country’s financial system. And investors fear this could hit big banks exposed to Evergrande and companies like it, causing contagion in global markets.
“The fear of an Evergrande bankruptcy appears to be leading to concern about China’s very own Lehman [Brothers] moment, and a big overspill across the region,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.
Investors are also nervous that the US Federal Reserve, which meets on Tuesday and Wednesday, will confirm plans to pare back its support for the US economy this year.
Global stocks have rallied as economies have reopened and central banks have provided trillions of dollars in support to boost growth.
But there are concerns there could be a pull-back, if support is taken away at a time when the Delta variant is starting to drag on the recovery.
Strategists at Morgan Stanley said they expected a 10% correction in America’s S&P 500 index as the Fed starts to unwind its support. They added that signs of a stalling recovery could deepen that fall to 20%.
‘Signal from the noise’
However, other analysts played down fears of a rout, noting that September is typically a bad months for stocks.
“Overall, September continues to live up to its bad reputation as historically the weakest month of the year. But that doesn’t mean it can’t rebound,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.
And Lindsey Bell of Ally Invest said any pullback may be short-lived.
“Much of investing is about sorting through what’s signal and what’s noise,” she said. “While there is concern about the Evergrande situation infecting global markets, for the long-term investor, this situation may just be noise.”
Pfizer Canada eyeing urgent COVID-19 vaccine approval for children aged 5 to 11 – Global News
Pfizer said Monday its research shows its product works for children aged five to 11 and that it will also seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon _ a key step toward protecting schoolchildren from the novel coronavirus.
Christina Antoniou, the company’s director of corporate affairs in Canada, says they “share the urgency” to provide data that could lead to a shot for young kids.
She could not say when that information would be submitted, but notes Pfizer has been sending new vaccine data to Health Canada as it becomes available.
Pfizer’s latest findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.
Health Canada says several studies on children are underway by various COVID-19 vaccine makers, and that it “anticipates vaccine manufacturers to provide data in children in the coming months.”
Pfizer says their vaccine works for children 5-11
Health Canada adds that no submission has been received yet for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine in children younger than 12 years old.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is already available for anyone aged 12 and older.
Pfizer studied a lower dose of its two-dose vaccine in more than 2,200 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids, mostly in the United States and Europe. It says the kids developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as those detected in teenagers and young adults.
Moderna is also testing its shots in elementary school-aged children, and both Pfizer and Moderna are studying COVID-19 vaccines for those as young as six months old. Results are expected later in the year.
Medical officials called the results of Pfizer’s trial with kids “encouraging” but cautioned against anticipating too much too soon.
The medical lead with Manitoba’s COVID-19 vaccine implementation team said it was too early to know what the findings could mean for kids under the age of 12 in the province.
“At this time, we don’t even know the extent of how well it protects, what number of side effects they saw. We’re very early in the planning,” said Dr. Joss Reimer.
However, Reimer said the team has started planning in the event Health Canada approves the Pfizer vaccine for children.
She said this may include providing doses in schools or having alternative clinics in place for youth.
Parents react to COVID-19 cases in Ontario schools
A spokeswoman for Ontario’s health ministry said the province is “monitoring the evidence.”
“Working with our public health and health system partners we will be ready to administer doses to children aged five to 11 as soon as they are approved by Health Canada,” said Alexandra Hilkene.
Alberta also said it would await Health Canada approval before vaccinating children.
“Until vaccines are approved for this age group, younger children rely on older Albertans who are immunized to strengthen our defences to protect everyone in our province,” said provincial government spokeswoman Lisa Glover.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.
— With files from Laura Osman in Ottawa, Brittany Hobson in Winnipeg, John Chidley-Hill in Toronto, and the Associated Press
© 2021 The Canadian Press
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