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Natural gas, electricity costs to spike in Canada this winter



Most Canadians who pay for natural gas or electricity can expect their bills to rise by between 50 and 100 per cent on average this winter, according to one energy analyst.

Some consumers could see their bills rise by as much as 300 per cent while others could see minimal increases, but the overall trend is clear, says founder Joel MacDonald.

“In general, Canadians join the global community in seeing exceptionally high electricity and natural gas bills,” MacDonald told in a phone interview on Friday. “There are a few provinces where some of those increases are muted by the structure of the marketplace, but in general the answer is very high energy bills.”

Most of what will drive up the cost of home energy this winter is the rising price of natural gas, which generates 8.5 per cent of Canada’s electricity.

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According to Statistics Canada, most Canadians – 61 per cent – use traditionally gas-powered systems, such as furnaces and boilers, to heat their homes. A smaller proportion – 29 per cent – use electric baseboard and radiant heating systems. The rest use heat pumps, stoves and other heating systems.

Right now, MacDonald said, natural gas prices are being driven upward by a combination of geopolitical strife in Europe, the global transition to renewable energy, seasonal demand, the federal carbon tax and the cyclical fluctuation of gas prices over roughly 20-year periods as supply and demand try to meet and overcorrect.

Some of these factors are predictable. Some, like the war in Ukraine, are not. The war reduced the global supply of natural gas, generally driving prices up. It has also reduced Europe’s access to the resource. As a result, the U.S. has increased its natural gas exports to Europe, and Canada has increased its exports to the U.S., further reducing Canada’s supply. Natural gas is currently five times more expensive in Europe than in Canada, MacDonald said, but as our supply drops, that will change.

“We’re sending more and we’re going to start to see the Canadian marketplace and the price of natural gas in Canada trend closer to the global price than it has done historically,” he said.

Further driving Europe’s demand for natural gas is a gap in its energy supply generated by the continent’s transition to renewable energy. It’s in a phase, MacDonald said, where neither its slowing fossil-fuel sector nor its burgeoning renewable sector can meet its energy needs.

So international demand for natural gas is rising. As the days become shorter and colder heading into the winter months, domestic demand is rising, too. Heftier energy bills are something Canadians expect each winter, but some years are costlier than others. This winter is shaping up to be a costly one, explains Michelle Leslie, senior manager of infrastructure and capital projects at Deloitte Canada.

“Forecasts indicate it’s going to be cold and snowy, especially for the central parts of the country and in the maritime provinces,” Leslie told in a phone interview on Friday. “If the forecast pans out…that will drive demand on heating systems. When you look at supply and demand, as the demand goes up, depending on what your supplies look like, you could be looking at increased prices.”

Then there’s the federal carbon tax, which applies to both natural gas and electricity generated using combustible fuel. Putting a price on carbon pollution is widely recognized as the most efficient method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive innovation, but it can translate to heftier home heating and electrical bills.

Finally, MacDonald explained, natural gas prices tend to rise and fall over years-long cycles as the market overcorrects gaps between supply and demand. For example, the cost of natural gas in Alberta this July was $5.44 per gigajoule (GJ). In mid-2008, it peaked at $9.84 before falling again. In late 2005 and early 2001 it temporarily surpassed $11.

“Natural gas from 2000 to 2010 regularly traded around $6 per GJ,” MacDonald said. “Then we had a period of extreme lows from 2015 to 2020, and we’ve been seeing over the last year a return to the $6-per-gigajoule mark.”

All of these factors – domestic, international, predictable and unpredictable – spell increasing energy costs.

How much and how quickly residents’ home energy bills reflect these increases will depend on which province or territory they live in. This is because marketplace mechanisms within some provinces and territories act to mitigate or delay increases. Provincial energy retail marketplaces are either regulated or unregulated. Unregulated marketplaces tend to be more volatile, while price changes in regulated retail marketplaces tend to be more controlled.

“Everyone’s prices will be going up with time,” MacDonald said. “I think one of the biggest regional differences right now is the speed at which they are going up, and the regulated marketplaces are a little slower than the unregulated.”

Ontario’s marketplace is technically deregulated, but most consumers purchase from entities whose rates are regulated by the province, like Enbridge Gas and EPCOR Natural Gas Limited Partnership. The Ontario Energy Board announced in June it would allow Enbridge to increase natural gas prices by 20 per cent, but MacDonald said that increase actually reflects debt Enbridge was asked to absorb when the market price of natural gas rose during the pandemic, to avoid passing the increase to consumers at a time when many people were unable to work.

“Ontario asked Enbridge to take on $527 million in debt to cover the increases, so up until recently, the bills weren’t increasing,” he explained. “But now they have to start to recapture (that) debt.”

Regional nuances aside, MacDonald and Leslie both agree that Canadians aren’t likely to see home energy prices fall again soon.

“As of right now, there’s not a lot of reason to think prices will be going down in the next two to three years,” MacDonald said.

Leslie elaborated, adding that all signs point to domestic and global demand for natural gas continuing to rise for the foreseeable future, driving up prices if supply can’t keep up.

“With the forecast that’s in the cards for Canada and North America this winter, with everything that’s going on with Russia and Ukraine and Europe’s energy woes, I don’t expect the demand for natural gas to decrease,” she said. “In fact I expect it to increase.”

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Hate Symbol Hoisted On Parliament Hill: Sixteen South Asian Diaspora and Civil Society Organizations Demand Immediate Action From Prime Minister Trudeau



Hate Symbol Hoisted On Parliament Hill: Sixteen South Asian Diaspora and Civil Society Organizations Demand Immediate Action From Prime Minister TrudeauMontreal, November 28, 2022 – In Ottawa, there is silence about a symbol of hate hoisted on Parliament Hill early this month, ostensibly in the context of Hindu Heritage Month.  As the letter [1] by Canadian civil society and community organizations to Prime Minister Trudeau explains, this is an insidious manipulation of multiculturalism to promote an agenda of hate. The silence is even more poignant because, at this moment, civil liberties defenders are raising questions about rights (in the context of the hearings about the Emergency measures enacted this spring).As Justice for All, one of the signatories to this letter to the PM states, the flag in question is that of a “a Hindu nationalist group, the RSS, banned thrice in Independent India, including for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by one of its members Nathuram Godse. The founder of the group took inspiration from Nazi ideology to maintain ’purity of race’. Theirs  is a supremacist ideology that aims to make India an exclusively Hindu nation.”  The academic South Asia center at Montreal’s UQAM, CERIAS, also sheds light in their open letter [2] why raising a saffron flag is a problem.The government of Canada needs to immediately disassociate itself from the flag and take action against MP Chandra Arya, the architect of this vile act. This flag represents death and genocide for minorities in India, as evidenced most recently by Amit Shah, the Indian politician with the second most powerful portfolio, Ministry of Home Affairs. Shah bragged that the killings in Gujarat, India  in 2002, in which over 2000 Muslims were killed with impunity, brought “permanent peace to Gujarat” [3].  The saffron flag on Parliament Hill is directly linked to what human rights defenders identify as the Gujarat genocide of 2002.  If PM Trudeau remains silent and does not act we are left to think that he condones this.The joint letter signed by sixteen (16) South Asian diaspora and civil society organizations demands that PM Trudeau denounce the saffron flag hoisting at Parliament Hill and to assure us that any such incidents do not take place under the watchful eyes of the Canadian government.Signatories of the open letter:Alternatives InternationalCanadian Council of Muslim Women – Montreal ChapterCERAS (Centre sur l’asie du sud)Critical Diasporic South Asian FeminismsDr. Ambedkar International Mission, CanadaHindus for Human RightsIndependent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV)India Civil Watch InternationalJustice For All CanadaPalestine Youth Movement, MontrealPalestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)People’s Health Movement CanadaPunjabi Literary and Cultural Association WinnipegSouth Asian Dalit Adivasi Network, Canada (SADAN)South Asian Diaspora Action Collective (SADAC)South Asian Network for Secularism & Democracy (SANSAD)Teesri Duniya Theatre[1]:[2]:[3]: 514-502-9948French: 514-569-8234cerasmontreal@gmail.comsadac_info@riseup.net Asian Diaspora Action Collective (SADAC)CERAS (South Asia Forum)

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Air Force officers charged for 'inappropriate' call sign – CTV News



Two senior Air Force officers have been charged for allegedly failing to stop a group of fighter pilots from assigning an inappropriate nickname to another member in June.

Col. Colin Marks and Lt.-Col. Corey Mask each face one charge of failing to effectively carry out their responsibilities and will face disciplinary hearings, according to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Specifically, military police have accused the two officers of having failed to enforce the military’s orders when it comes to preventing and addressing sexual misconduct.

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Neither Marks nor Mask responded to requests for comment on Monday.

Air Force spokesman Maj. Trevor Reid said in a statement Monday that both officers were charged last month.

The charges are not criminal in nature, and Reid said their hearings will be conducted by other officers in Cold Lake.

A summary hearing is scheduled for Mask on Dec. 5 and will be heard by the commander of military cadets, Brig.-Gen. Jamie Speiser-Blanchet.

Marks’s hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12 and will be conducted by Col. Robert McBride, commander of 3rd Canadian Division Support Base Edmonton.

Neither hearing will be open to the public, Reid said.

“The Royal Canadian Air Force believes in a just culture, centred upon supporting victims and their well-being,” Reid said in a written statement.

“We also believe in our members and in their ability and commitment to learn from their mistakes and to always strive to be better. The results of the summary hearings will be communicated following their conclusion.”

A third, more junior officer was also charged with undermining discipline or morale “for having participated in the assignment of an inappropriate call sign,” Reid said.

“Following a review of evidence, a summary hearing for this officer was determined to not be appropriate; rather, the chain-of-command has applied separate administrative measures as a disciplinary response.”

The third officer’s name was not released.

Administrative measures, which typically involve warnings and reprimands, have also been imposed on a number of other officers ranging in rank from second lieutenant to major, Reid added.

The charges and disciplinary actions stem from an informal meeting known as a “call sign review board” on June 22 at one of Canada’s two main fighter jet bases, 4 Wing Cold Lake in Alberta.

Despite their formal-sounding names, former fighter pilots have described such review boards as informal meetings after major training exercises or operations in which pilots assign nicknames, or call signs, to newer members over drinks.

According to the air force, during the meeting in June, several fighter pilots proposed, discussed and assigned an “inappropriate” call sign for another pilot.

Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Eric Kenny first revealed an investigation into the meeting on June 22 when he announced in August that a ceremony to install Marks as commander of Canada’s other fighter jet base, 3 Wing in Bagotville, Que., was being delayed.

The revelation cast a spotlight on a long-standing tradition in Canada’s military of assigning call signs at a time when the military is still dealing with the fallout from a rash of inappropriate — and in some cases criminal — behaviour by senior officers.

Retired lieutenant-colonel Rory Fowler, who is now a lawyer specializing on military cases, questioned the decision to conduct the hearings for Marks and Mask behind closed doors.

“While an officer conducting a summary hearing does have the discretion to close part, or all of a hearing, the expectation is that such a derogation from transparency will only arise in exceptional circumstances,” Fowler said in an email.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

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Opinion: Canada’s news strategy is a mess



Peter Menzies is a senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a former publisher at The Calgary Herald and a previous vice chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). This article is based on a recent MLI paper titled, Fixing the media’s trust deficit: Why a long-term national news media policy is vital and urgent.

Canada desperately needs a coherent news industry strategy to merge a series of patchwork actions that risk making the country’s journalists permanently dependent on federal subsidies and oversight.

As it stands, the news industry is supported by roughly $220-million annually through programs such as the Local Journalism Initiative, Canadian Journalism Labour Tax Credit and the Canada Periodical Fund. While the first two were initially introduced as temporary measures, recent enhancements by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez hint at their becoming every bit as permanent as the periodical fund.

Meanwhile, Bill C-18, the Online News Act, is intended to ensure domestic platforms can bargain collectively with offshore tech companies such as Facebook and Google. But it has been criticized on several fronts.

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Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley, for example, has raised his concerns over the possible oversight of commercial agreements by the cabinet-appointed leadership of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Small independent news providers and new online innovators – numbering more than 200 across the country – are worried about their exclusion from benefits and view the legislation as tipping the scales against them.

Still others raise concerns regarding the ability of news media to maintain public trust to hold government to account in an independent manner, when their sustainability may be tied to that very government. This is of timely significance when public confidence in journalism is at an all-time low.

What is most troubling is that no one seems to be in charge of the overall picture, or care about the impact and unintended consequences of policy on the overall health of the news industrial ecosystem.

The CRTC, for instance, continues to insist that each radio station must have a news component when, at least in major markets, citizens are already well-served. Moreover, in smaller markets, many radio companies have used their news and other resources to develop websites that put local papers in such financial peril that they seek government subsidies. Similarly, community broadcasters were created to ensure alternative views have a voice. But now, thanks to the internet, everyone has a voice.

And then there’s the CBC.

It is one thing to have a properly funded public broadcaster capable of ensuring programming in both official and Indigenous languages. But what we have right now is a public-funded maze of commercial television and ad-free radio that all become merged into the nation’s dominant commercial news website and, as such, is forecast to be the single largest beneficiary of Bill C-18.

Ottawa subsidizes CBC with $1.4-billion annually. This is to the detriment of other news organizations, which it then must also support with funding. Nothing about this scenario is sensible.

So long as government is prepared to sustain the news industry through subsidy and oversight of commercial arrangements (which then actually aren’t commercial arrangements), there will be less room in the market for 21st-century innovation and revitalization. We will increasingly see unbalanced outcomes such as legacy daily newspapers without city hall, provincial or parliamentary bureaus being eligible for subsidies, while independent online news providers that staff such bureaus are not.

The federal government must develop and implement a national media strategy focused on ensuring that citizens have access to information vital to being accurately informed on current events and assist them with the organization of their lives. Such a strategy should emphasize the need for pluralism of ownership and sustain journalism that provides information to the public in a manner that halts and reverses declines in their trust.

Moreover, Ottawa must recognize that public confidence in both it and news media can only be sustained and flourish if the journalism industry becomes independent from government funding or approval of content. We must accept that, just like in every other industry, some organizations incapable of transitioning to the digital age will fail.

There is an opportunity to devise a strategy that fosters a market-based news industry based on meeting the needs and expectations of citizens. Rather than bankroll an outdated model, Ottawa can inspire and support the innovation and entrepreneurship required for the industry to move into a new era of digital news delivery.

Lurching from one reactionary subsidy to the next, however well-intended, is no way to provide the stability this struggling – and important – industry needs. Ad hoc policy making, as Canada is currently doing, can’t possibly end well for anyone.

Well, except the CBC.

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