This week was the first time Tom Simons had travelled to the U.S. in eight months because of the pandemic, and he just happened to be in Texas on election day.
Simons is the chief executive of CES Energy Solutions, which is based in Calgary but has most of its operations in the U.S.
He said that while meeting with staff, he was struck by the way some colleagues said they had filled out their election ballots. People may see the oilpatch as staunchly Republican, he said, but some of his employees said they just couldn’t cast a ballot for the incumbent, U.S. President Donald Trump, who they felt was often embarrassing the nation.
“They’ve had enough of Trump offending [their] love of country,” he said. “So they voted Republican all the way on the ballot and then they didn’t vote on the president.”
Simons himself may not want Democrat Joe Biden in the White House based on some of his campaign promises, but he’s keenly aware that the energy sector has more pressing problems than politics.
Oil prices hit record lows this summer and remain depressed, companies are struggling to attract investor interest, and demand for fuel hasn’t recovered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several mega-projects have been shelved and thousands of oil workers have lost their livelihoods.
Companies of all sizes are struggling to turn a profit right now.
Even if possible impacts from the U.S. election are relatively small, some in the Canadian oilpatch are nervous because the sector is already under severe financial pressure.
“A lot of Canadian oilfield service companies have Canadian and American employees and there has been cash flow and profits generated [in the U.S.],” said Garnet Amundson, president of Calgary-based Essential Energy Services.
“If there are anti-oil policies put in, such as frack-banning or anti-Canadian protection policies, it will further hit the Canadian oilpatch and lead to more job losses and sectoral damage.”
The actions of a Biden White House — assuming he were to win the presidential election — would be watched closely.
Biden has vowed to make policy changes that critics argue would be a setback for the oil and gas sector, such as preventing new drilling on federal land in the U.S. and cancelling the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would help deliver Alberta crude to the U.S.’s Gulf Coast refineries.
Biden hasn’t wavered in his opposition to the pipeline project, but that doesn’t mean its fate is sealed.
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For one, Keystone XL may be a way for Biden to show support for blue-collar workers and create much-needed jobs as the U.S. tries to recover from the pandemic.
“There are many reasons that may give him cover to say, ‘Look, we can actually approve Keystone XL and continue with it because it is in the greater national interest of the United States today in a way that it was not in 2016,” said Gary Mar, who was Alberta’s representative in Washington, D.C., from 2007 to 2011.
Alberta’s government is no doubt hoping that’s the case since it is financially committed to the pipeline project through $1.1 billion US in equity and $4.2 billion US in loan guarantees.
Those who’ve been fighting Keystone XL expect Biden will stop the project.
“It is my expectation, and I don’t think I’m alone in that as well,” said Anthony Swift, an attorney based in Washington, D.C., with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Everything I’ve seen from Biden suggests to me that he is … someone who follows through with his commitments.”
Opponents have voiced concerns about the environmental impact they fear the project could have along the route during and after construction. Many are also worried about the climate impact of locking in long-term expansion of carbon-intensive oil sources.
“I think the reality is a project that has a 50-year timeline that enables new expansion of tarsands development during that time is just mathematically inconsistent with a 2050 net-zero trajectory for North America,” Swift said.
As for the ban Biden has pledged on new oil and gas permits on federal lands, such a move could crack open the door for more Canadian crude exports.
Stephanie Kainz, a senior associate with Enverus, an energy data analytics firm, said if such a strategy slows down production in the U.S., it could see more interest in investing in Canada’s energy sector.
“It could possibly open up more investment into the Canadian oil sector, and even the gas sector itself,” said Kainz, who is based in Texas. “You have a really deep inventory in Canada and years and years of production ahead of you.”
There is no doubt if the Keystone XL project is delayed or halted, it would sting the Canadian oilpatch, but with other pipeline projects under construction such as Enbridge’s Line 3 and the Trans Mountain expansion, there are other export avenues being developed.
Biden’s other proposed policies could create more turbulence for the industry, but will be muted if oil prices recover and fuel demand picks up, among other changes in the market.
That’s why Biden in the White House would be just one of many uncertainties for Canada’s oil industry.
WATCH: Work on Keystone XL provides economic boost for Alberta town:
What do you want to know about the U.S. election? Email us at Ask@cbc.ca.
Canada posts deadliest day of coronavirus pandemic since June as vaccine hopes rise – Global News
The new cases, which totaled 6,302, brought Canada’s caseload to 389,436. Health authorities also reported an increase of 114 deaths, though only 80 of those fatalities occurred in the past 24 hours.
The last time cases surpassed 110 was on June 4, which saw 139 deaths reported to have been caused by the virus.
Canada’s death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 12,325, while over 309,000 patients have since recovered and another 14.8 million tests have been administered so far.
As Canadian communities continue to grapple with surges in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Canada’s chief public health officer said the priority list of people to get the coronavirus vaccine would have to be refined further, due to the initial six million doses not being enough to inoculate them all.
Coronavirus: Tam says priority list for first COVID-19 vaccinations being refined
As of now, Canada is set to receive four million doses from Pfizer and two million from Moderna within the first quarter of 2021. The amount would only be enough to vaccinate three million people, however, as a person would need two doses of the vaccine in order for it to be effective.
Tam hinted that the variety and supply of doses was expected to increase soon due to Canada having contracts for three more vaccines that are in late-state clinical trials, having said that “means we will have more flexibility as time goes on, and more and more vaccines come on board.”
“We’re expecting that in the second quarter. Depending on the approvals of the vaccines, we will have different amounts, but that is when the supply will become more and more plentiful,” said Tam Wednesday during a virtual speech at the 2020 Canadian Immunization Conference.
Canada’s health minister also said on Wednesday that the country’s review of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was “expected to be completed soon” — comments that come shortly after news of the U.K. officially approving the vaccine.
“The news that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved in the U.K. is encouraging. Health Canada’s review of this candidate is ongoing, and is expected to be completed soon,” said Patty Hadju.
“Making sure a COVID-19 vaccine is safe before approving it is Health Canada’s priority, and when a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”
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During the conference, Tam also revealed plans from the Public Health Agency of Canada to combat the increase in misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine using online webinars. According to her, the webinars would include several topics like the different types of vaccines available, how to run immunization clinics and guidance on how to use vaccines.
“Because of the social media and its internet age, we’ve got even more of a challenge on our hands than anyone else in tackling pandemics of the past,” said Tam, who also noted the importance of Canadians knowing how vaccines are developed
The federal government also introduced a new COVID-19 spending bill Wednesday, just days after revealing the country’s economic update.
The bill, which would effectively determine how billions of dollars in new pandemic-related aid would be spent, would follow the measures proposed in Monday’s fall economic statement.
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Several provinces across Canada also reported surges in new coronavirus cases Wednesday, with Ontario, Alberta and Quebec all reporting over 1,500 newly reported infections.
Ontario added the highest increase of 1,723 cases, pushing its total caseload to 119,922. Another 35 deaths were also reported by the province, which now has 656 people in hospital due to COVID-19.
Alberta added 1,685 more infections on Wednesday as well as 10 additional deaths. The new data also comes amid an announcement from Premier Jason Kenney that the province expects its first doses of the coronavirus vaccine to arrive by Jan 4.
“While we can’t control when these vaccines arrive in Alberta, we can make sure that when we get them, we’re ready to roll them out as quickly as we can,” said Kenny during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. To date, Alberta has seen a total of 61,169 virus cases and 561 deaths.
Quebec added another 43 deaths on Wednesday, of which only nine occurred within the past 24 hours. The fatalities bring the province’s death toll to 7,125, while health authorities reported an additional 1,514 cases Wednesday.
British Columbia added 830 cases as well, pushing the province’s caseload to 34,728. A total of 338 cases are considered “epi-linked,’ which are cases that show symptoms and were close contacts of confirmed infections, but were never tested.
Saskatchewan announced 237 cases and Manitoba another 277, bringing their total case figures to 8,982 and 17,384, respectively.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick added another six cases while Newfoundland and Labrador reported just one. Nova Scotia reported an increase of 17 cases Wednesday, pushing its total infections to 1,332.
The Yukon added one more cases on Wednesday, while Nunavut added another 11. The Northwest Territories did not report any additional cases.
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Nunavut’s government also lifted its two-week lockdown on Wednesday everywhere except for the coastal town of Arviat, of which saw all 11 new cases reported by the province. To date, Nunavut has seen 193 cases of the novel coronavirus — the highest among Canada’s territories.
Cases of the coronavirus have since surpassed 64.4 million according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. A total of 1,491,000 people have also succumbed to the virus, with the United States, Brazil and India leading in both cases and deaths.
— With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun and The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada-U.S. border rules: Why some travellers get to cross while others are shut out – CBC.ca
Kim Zavesky is desperate to return to her home in Golden, B.C.
After retiring last year, she and her husband — both Americans — sold their house in Chandler, Ariz., and moved most of their belongings to their second home in Golden, in southeastern British Columbia.
The plan was to rent a place in the United States for the first part of the year and spend the rest of the year in Golden. But then the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential traffic in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, blocking the couple from accessing their Canadian property.
“All my stuff is there, all my documents except for my passport,” Zavesky said. “It’s like not being able to go home.”
Adding to her frustration is the fact that, despite the border closure, Canadians can still fly to the U.S for leisure travel. That includes snowbirds who are currently flocking to the Sunbelt states.
“The unfairness of it really bothers me,” Zavesky said. “Whatever the rules are, I just feel like it should be the same.”
Although Canada and the U.S. agreed to close their shared border to non-essential travel during the pandemic, they each crafted their own policies. That has sparked some confusion and frustration because the rules vary — depending on which border you’re crossing.
Political scientist Don Abelson said the different rules between the two countries isn’t surprising.
“You’re still dealing with two sovereign countries who have jurisdiction over their own border, and they certainly have jurisdiction and responsibility for developing their own policies,” said Abelson, a professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.
Snowbirds OK to fly south
The Canada-U.S. land border is set to stay closed until Dec. 21, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implied on Tuesday that the date could be extended.
“The [COVID-19] situation in the United States continues to be extremely serious,” he said on CBC Radio’s The Current.
Since the start of the border closure, the Canadian government has barred Americans from entering for non-essential travel by all modes of transport.
But while the U.S. has barred Canadian travellers from crossing by land, it still allows them to fly into the country. The U.S. has declined to tell CBC News why it made this decision, but in general, its air travel restrictions are less stringent than Canada’s.
“No way in hell we’re staying here,” said Claudine Durand of Lachine, Que.
If the land border is still closed when Durand and her husband head to Florida in late January, they plan to use a new service offered by Transport KMC. The Quebec company flies snowbirds — and transports their vehicles — across the Quebec-New York border.
“Basically, it solves our problem because we want to take our RV down,” Durand said, adding that she plans to take all COVID-19 safety precautions while in Florida.
Those who do must quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Canada.
Canada and the U.S. also have different rules for family member exemptions.
Following protests from families separated by the border shutdown, the Canadian government loosened its travel restrictions in June to allow Americans with certain immediate family in Canada to enter the country for any reason by both land and air.
In October, the government further widened the exemptions to include additional family members, as well as couples who’ve been together for at least a year.
Conversely, the U.S. offers no exemptions for Canadians crossing into the country by land to visit family, unless they’re tending to a sick relative.
U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders suggests the U.S. hasn’t bothered to loosen the restrictions as the pandemic drags on because separated family members can still fly to the country.
“There’s a huge alternative,” said Saunders, who’s based in Blaine, Wash. “There’s no restrictions on flying.”
WATCH | Some Canadians decide to spend winter in U.S. amid COVID-19:
One affected group that has found no way around the federal government’s travel restrictions are Americans who own property in Canada. Some of them argue they, too, should get an exemption to enter the country.
“I pay [property] taxes. I would more than live by the rules,” said Zavesky, who points out she has a place where she can quarantine for 14 days — her home in Golden, B.C.
Mark Brosch of Atlanta owns a cottage in Muskoka Lakes, Ont. He said he believes he should be allowed to enter Canada so he can check on a property that has sat vacant for 10 months.
“I get across the border and I go to my cottage and quarantine for 14 days,” he said. “I am less of a risk to the public in Muskoka than the people that travel back and forth from Toronto every weekend.”
When asked about property owners, the Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News in an email that U.S. visitors will be allowed to re-enter Canada when it’s deemed safe to do so.
“Travel into Canada for tourism and recreation purposes is currently prohibited, regardless of the ability of the traveller to quarantine for the full 14 days upon arrival,” spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau said.
Once Canada gets a vaccine, what happens next? Doctor answers our COVID-19 questions – Global News
Canadians have been asking this question for months now — when will we get the vaccine?
Epidemiologist Dr. Isaac Bogoch recently joined The Morning Show to speak to that question and to share all the latest COVID-19 updates.
On Tuesday, Moderna gave the world good news when it announced that its vaccine is up to 94.5 per cent effective.
However, Dr. Bogoch says the promising results also call for optimistic caution. The data still needs to be peer-reviewed and made accessible to experts.
Moderna applied for vaccine approval in the U.S. and the U.K. However, the company has been gradually releasing data to Health Canada for its approval.
The infectious diseases expert believes the approval process will be fair and transparent.
While we still don’t know when will we receive the vaccine, Bogoch says prioritized groups like people in long-term care homes and front-line workers will be among the first to get the vaccine when it is available.
He says a significant number of deaths come from long-term care homes and giving them vaccines will reduce the stress on the health-care system.
As for concerns about side-effects of the vaccine, Bogoch says people receiving the two-shot vaccine may experience fatigue, fever and a sore arm. “It is important to inform people on what they can expect,” he says.
While Canada, and indeed the world, waits for vaccines amid continued restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, lockdowns have been working elsewhere — in countries like France and the U.K. — to reduce infection.
Bogoch says “we can all acknowledge that they’re terrible for mental health, they bad for physical health, they take a tremendous economic toll,” and urges Canadians to stay patient in these lockdowns because they can get the cases under control despite the challenges.
“Unfortunately, when health-care systems are stretched beyond capacity, that’s really the last straw,” he added.
To find out more about Canada’s process of getting vaccines, watch the full video above.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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