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Ottawa rejects calls to shut down rail blockades, will focus on negotiation – The Globe and Mail



A protester carries a sign at a rail blockade in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ont., on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

The federal government is ramping up its efforts to convince Indigenous communities to peacefully end a series of rail blockades, as Canadian National Railway Co. announced 1,000 temporary layoffs on Sunday, reflecting the growing economic impact of the protests.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday cancelled a trip to the Caribbean to focus on the blockades and Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said that Ottawa doesn’t believe police intervention is the solution to anti-pipeline protests that have shut down much of the country’s rail system. Some premiers and the federal Conservative opposition had called on the government in recent days to take a hard line, enforce injunctions and remove protesters.

Businesses have warned of economic damage as trains typically carrying tens of thousands of commuters and billions of dollars worth of freight have been idled in railyards and sidings across the country since the blockades began on Feb. 6. CN sent out 450 of an estimated 1,000 temporary layoff notices on Sunday, spokesman Alexandre Boulé confirmed, as protests have shuttered much of the railway’s eastern Canadian network.

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Late Sunday, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau relaxed a ministerial order that had limited the speed of trains transporting combustible cargo such as crude oil. The order followed a fiery derailment in Saskatchewan in early February. CN said the change would allow it to increase the speed of its shipments in Western Canada, which would help compensate for the blockades in the east.

The protests have been spearheaded by groups opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia and the RCMP’s enforcement of injunctions to dislodge protesters who had been blocking construction of the $6.6-billion pipeline. All 20 elected First Nation councils along the natural gas pipeline’s route support the project, but a group of eight Wet’suwet’en hereditary house chiefs have led a vocal campaign to oppose the pipeline’s construction.

Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett is expected to meet with Indigenous leaders in British Columbia on Monday. The Gitxsan First Nation temporarily took down a rail blockade near Hazelton, B.C., last week pending a proposed meeting with the minister, provincial officials and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Chantal Gagnon, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister, said Mr. Trudeau has been in communication on the weekend with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Mr. Garneau and Ms. Bennett.

“Our priority remains the safety and security of all Canadians and the swift resolution of this issue to restore service across the rail system in accordance with the law,” she said in a statement.

Opinion: Every day rail blockade lasts, Trudeau’s stock drops lower

Mr. Miller, the Indigenous Services Minister, said the federal government has learned from two bloody police raids on First Nations encampments in recent decades, in Oka, Que., in 1990 and in Ipperwash, Ont., in 1995. More dialogue with Indigenous leaders and communities is the only solution to the continuing blockades, he said on Sunday.

“We have the experience of Oka 30 years ago where people went in with police and someone died. My question to Canadians, my questions to myself and to fellow politicians regardless of the party, is whether we do things the same old way and repeat the errors of the past, or do we take the time to do it right?” he said in an interview.

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A blockade in the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., has stopped most traffic on CN’s rail network east of Winnipeg.

Via Rail said on Sunday that it has cancelled all trains across Canada, except for two secondary routes, until the end of Monday. More than 83,000 passengers have had their trips cancelled since the Ontario blockade started.

One of Montreal’s commuter lines has been shut down by a blockade in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory outside the city. The provincial authority that operates the line said it is planning to run buses for commuters on Monday.

Smaller protests were also held on the weekend in Vancouver, Vaughan, Ont., and Niagara Falls, Ont.

Protesters at the Tyendinaga blockade declined to speak to media, including regarding Mr. Trudeau’s plans – except to say they believed it was unlikely that he would show up and speak to them in person.

Four Ontario Provincial Police officers hung back several hundred metres from the blockade Sunday, coming closer only for a brief check-in with the protesters in the late afternoon. “The dialogue is still open,” said Sergeant Cynthia Savard, the OPP’s regional community safety officer, in a phone interview. “It’s about keeping a peaceful, safe environment.”

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Several dozen supporters arrived over the course of the day, delivering supplies including pizza, propane, firewood and Tim Hortons coffee. Some came from hundreds of kilometres away to share their support for the blockaders and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, and share their fears over the natural gas pipeline in B.C.

“It’s our future that’s going to be destroyed – it’s really important for youth,” said Malika Gasbaoui, 17, who is Ojibwa-Métis and visited from the Laurentians in Quebec. Her mother, Anna, added that “a lot of people have been saying that the majority of native people, and non-native people in Canada, are for pipelines – which is not true. … The more these guys destroy, the less we’re going to have.”

Mike Salmon came with his family from Kitchener, Ont. to bring the protesters tarps, toilet paper and batteries. “I think it’s such a sign of the times that Canada’s been going through this wake-up call about reconciliation, and the whole planet is going through a wake-up call around climate change,” he said.

Kenneth Deer, the secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, said his community’s blockade has been supported by the local band council and he expects it will remain in place until the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs tell them to stand down. Kahnawake was one of the communities at the centre of the Oka crisis.

“They blocked highways and railroads during the Oka crisis. They helped us. Now the shoe is on the other foot and we’re going to help them,” said Mr. Deer. “This has to be dealt with over there, with the Wet’suwet’en. All of this is for them. This is not for Tyendinaga and not for Kahnawake.”

Last week, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on police to enforce court orders and end the blockades, and criticized protesters as misguided activists who are damaging the economy and ignoring the wishes of elected First Nations leaders.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Sunday evening that he had urged Mr. Trudeau to focus on ending the blockades, calling it a “serious issue of national significance.”

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U.S. Oil Producers Take Their Crude Back From The Government –



U.S. Oil Producers Take Their Crude Back From The Government |

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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    U.S. oil companies have started pulling their crude oil back from government storage tanks, suggesting that the glut that forced them to stash it there in the first place is now easing.

    Companies have taken out some 2.2 million barrels of crude since the start of the month, Reuters reports, citing government figures. That’s out of some 23 million barrels that oil producers had to store at government tanks when they ran out of storage space after the slump in demand.

    Storage space was leased in April after oil prices tanked below zero for the first time in history as traders rushed to offload their positions before the contract expired. Despite the brevity of this particular mini-crisis, fundamentals remained difficult as companies were just beginning to cut production, which left them saddled with a lot of oil they could neither sell nor store.

    President Trump tried to help by ordering the Energy Department to buy some 77 million barrels from the struggling industry. That order, however, was never fulfilled. Renting out storage space was the only viable alternative.

    At the time, there were worries that this additional flow of oil into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would push its occupancy rate too high, leaving nothing available and sending oil prices downward again. While this did not happen thanks to the production cuts that U.S. producers made, prices remained depressed for quite a while because of these storage space availability concerns.

    This makes the news that Exxon, Chevron, and the other six companies that rented SPR storage space are taking it back all the better. However, those watching the Energy Information Administration’s weekly inventory report might want to bear it in mind in case one of the next reports does not feature a hefty drawdown.

    By Irina Slav for

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      BC Ferries will be eligible for federal bail-out funds –



      Officials say BC Ferries will be eligible to receive federal financial assistance from Ottawa, adding it to the list of other struggling transit agencies eligible for millions in bail-out funds.

      The money comes from the $1 billion already set aside for transportation by both the federal and provincial governments under Ottawa’s Safe Restart Agreement. TransLink and B.C. Transit, facing staggering financial losses, are set to receive a portion of that funding.

      “We are working … to make sure they are able to provide service as they rebuild,” said B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena.

      The federal government announced last month it would be providing $19 billion to the provinces and territories to help fund a “safe restart” of the Canadian economy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the agreement is meant to help governments pay for a variety of needs, including transit, paying for child care, bailing out financially strapped cities, and increasing contact tracing.

      A total of about $2.2 billion in federal transfers will go to B.C., meant to keep people afloat as the economy reopens and to bolster provincial support programs.

      How much each transit authority receives is yet to be decided.

      A statement said the province is working with the agencies “to fully understand the operational and financial challenges resulting from the pandemic before determining what level of relief may be considered.”

      BC Ferries will be required to bring forward a comprehensive relief proposal to the province to ask for the funding, with “all necessary information made available to support the government’s decision.”

      Trevena said restoring ferry service to pre-pandemic levels and “keeping fares reasonable” will be priorities.

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      Canada Goose speeds up e-commerce spending, restricts manufacturing of new clothing as pandemic impact continues – The Globe and Mail



      Canada Goose jackets are stacked up at a factory in Toronto, on April 2, 2015.

      Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

      Canada Goose Holdings Inc. is speeding up its investments in e-commerce, restricting its manufacturing of new clothing, and cutting back on new store openings, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect its business.

      The company reported on Tuesday that its first-quarter revenue plunged 63 per cent compared to the same period last year, to $26.1-million. In June, Canada Goose projected that sales this quarter would be “negligible” as it was forced to shut down its own stores, and wholesale shipments of its products to other retailers were frozen in the midst of widespread business closures.

      Canada Goose’s net loss widened in the quarter ended June 28, to $50.1-million or 46 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $29.4-million or 27 cents a share in the same period last year.

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      While 21 of Canada Goose’s 22 own stores have now reopened and performance is improving, the Toronto-based outerwear brand said on Tuesday that it also expects a “significant” decline in revenue in the second quarter. The company cut $90-million in costs in the first quarter.

      As Canada Goose prepares for its busiest fall-winter selling season, it is speeding up investments in e-commerce improvements, including a “cross-border solution” to reach international customers in more countries.

      “The online world is becoming increasingly important,” chief executive officer Dani Reiss said on a conference call to discuss the results on Tuesday.

      Canada Goose is shifting its investments in new retail store openings to focus mostly on China, where the economy opened up earlier than in other parts of the world and shopping traffic has begun to recover. With more people around the world staying home rather than traveling this year, the company is hoping to serve Chinese shoppers closer to home rather than counting on its usual sales to Chinese tourists at its stores abroad. Canada Goose will double its store count in China this year with four new stores, and will open three in other markets in North America and Europe.

      While Canada Goose has begun manufacturing jackets again, it plans to produce just one-third of the fall-winter goods it made in the same season last year, and is aiming to “significantly” cut back on its inventory by the end of this fiscal year.

      The company is continuing to take a “brand-first” approach to its inventory, focusing on its direct-to-consumer sales through its website and its own stores, and expecting lower wholesale revenue this year. However, Mr. Reiss said on the call that the company has “enough inventory to chase orders as needed,” and that its wholesale business continues to be important. 

      While many apparel companies cleared out inventory through online promotions over the spring and summer, Mr. Reiss said on the call that the danger of this strategy is that it could “dilute the value” of some products.

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      “We’re a full-price brand,” he said. “Many brands became more promotional, and we did not.” 

      Manufacturing products in Canada gives the company more flexibility to manage its inventory compared to other relying on offshore suppliers, chief executive officer Dani Reiss said in an interview with the Globe and Mail last month.

      “We can react faster. If there’s a shift in demand, we’re able to make smaller runs of styles, closer to the season,” Mr. Reiss said. “We’re self-reliant, that’s the biggest thing. We’re not reliant on a third party to bring us goods.”

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