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Regulator allows Trans Mountain to keep insurers names private

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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) granted on Thursday a request of government-owned oil pipeline operator Trans Mountain to keep the names of its insurers confidential, to protect them from pressure by protesters.

Activists have stepped up pressure on banks and insurers to drop financing and insurance for fossil fuel companies, leading to European companies like AXA and Zurich pulling back from underwriting coal and oil sands projects.

Trans Mountain has said it incurred higher costs last year due to dwindling insurance options.

CER decided that sharing the names of Trans Mountain’s insurers could make it harder to obtain insurance at a reasonable price, and that the names are commercial information. A Canadian government corporation owns and runs the pipeline.

Much of the oil Trans Mountain transports from Edmonton, Alberta to the British Columbia coast comes from Alberta’s oil sands – a focus of protests due to their high carbon emissions.

The regulator’s decision is troubling and makes it more difficult for indigenous groups to oppose such projects, said Charlene Aleck, spokesperson for Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce supported Trans Mountain’s request, saying in a letter to the CER that disclosing insurers would otherwise jeopardize the pipeline’s ability to secure affordable coverage for its required C$1 billion in liabilities.

The decision applies only to the pipeline that is currently operating, not an expansion project under construction.

Trans Mountain is nearly tripling capacity of the pipeline to carry 890,000 barrels of crude and refined products per day.

 

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Spotify founder Ek says his bid for Arsenal was rejected

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Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek said on Saturday an offer to buy Premier League Arsenal had been rejected by owner Stan Kroenke’s family.

Ek took to Twitter to issue a statement correcting “inaccurate reports” that he had not made a bid.

“This week an offer was made to both Josh Kroenke and their bankers that included fan ownership, representation at the board and a golden share for the supporters,” the Swede said. “They replied that they don’t need the money.

“I respect their decision but remain interested and available should that situation ever change.”

Ek said last month that he had secured the funds to buy Arsenal, valued at $2.8 billion according to Forbes.

British media reported Arsenal greats Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira were backing Ek’s bid.

The club’s American owners are under fire from fans following the North London team’s attempt to join a breakaway European Super League that collapsed within 48 hours of being announced.

 

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Commander leading COVID vaccine rollout leaves pending investigation

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A top military commander tasked with Canada‘s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has unexpectedly left his assignment pending the results of a military investigation, a government statement said on Friday.

Major-General Dany Fortin was brought in by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to lead Canada‘s vaccine distribution in November, describing the effort as the greatest mobilization effort the country has seen since World War Two.

The brief statement did not elaborate on the nature of the investigation. Acting Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Eyre will be reviewing next steps with Fortin, the statement added.

Fortin, who has decades of experience including in warzones, was a key fixture of the government’s vaccine briefings and his team coordinated the logistical challenge of reaching vaccines to Canada‘s far-flung places.

Canada‘s vaccination campaign has picked up pace after a rocky start, with some 43.1% of the country’s population receiving at least one dose.

 

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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Canada slams ‘unconscionable’ Iran conduct since airliner shootdown

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Canada on Thursday condemned Tehran’s “unconscionable” conduct since Iranian forces shot down an airliner last year, killing 176 people, including dozens of Canadians, and vowed to keep pressing for answers as to what really happened.

The comments by Foreign Minister Marc Garneau were among the strongest Ottawa has made about the January 2020 disaster.

“The behavior of the Iranian government has been frankly unconscionable in this past 15 months and we are going to continue to pursue them so we have accountability,” Garneau told a committee of legislators examining what occurred.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight shortly after it took off from Tehran Airport. Iran said its forces had been on high alert during a regional confrontation with the United States.

Iran was on edge about possible attacks after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing days before of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. missile strike at Baghdad airport.

Garneau complained it had taken months of pressure for Iran, with which Canada does not have diplomatic relations, to hand over the flight recorders for independent analysis and said Tehran had still not explained why the airspace had not been closed at the time.

In March, Iran’s civil aviation body blamed the crash on a misaligned radar and an error by an air defense operator. Iran has indicted 10 officials.

At the time, Ukraine and Canada criticized the report as insufficient. But Garneau went further on Thursday, saying it was “totally unacceptable … they are laying the blame on some low-level people who operated a missile battery and not providing the accountability within the chain of command.”

Canada is compiling its own forensic report into the disaster and will be releasing it in the coming weeks, he said.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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