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Russian turbine hearings: Ministers defend granting permit – CTV News




Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly was challenged Thursday on her assertion the federal government making the decision to grant a two-year exemption to federal sanctions, allowing a Canadian company to return repaired turbines from a Russian-German natural gas pipeline, was done to “call Putin’s bluff.”

“Russia has weaponized energy by cutting the flows of gas to Europe. We hoped to leverage Canada’s role in the maintenance of Nord Stream 1 turbines to do just that,” Joly said Thursday during her testimony as part of parliamentary hearings on Canada’s decision to return Russian-owned pipeline parts.


The foreign affairs minister said ahead of Canada making the decision, both she and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson discussed the matter with Germany and Ukraine, encouraged discussion between the two countries, and sought to find alternatives including an ultimately deemed unviable route for the gas to flow through Ukraine.

“Knowing that turbines were being repaired in Canada, the German Chancellor reached out to us directly pleading for us to call Putin’s bluff,” Joly said, going on to make an effort to tout Canada’s efforts to support Ukraine to date, from highlighting the range of sanctions imposed on the various tranches of military, financial and humanitarian aid.

However, opposition MPs were quick to question this rationale, peppering the minister with questions over why this idea of calling “Putin’s bluff” has only recently been circulated, and why Canada didn’t consider it would be predictable that Russia would continue to use energy as a weapon regardless of what happened with the turbines.

“This whole decision was based on the idea that there is any trust, any belief that Putin would in fact continue to provide gas to Germany… He lies. We know Putin lies… Why call the bluff as you say, when realistically, he’s already told us, he’s already told the world what he intends?” asked NDP MP and foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson. “We already knew the bluff was there. So now what we’ve done is we’ve weakened our sanctions regime, we’ve weakened Canada’s stand standing with Ukraine, and yet we haven’t actually helped get gas to Germany.”


Wilkinson testified alongside Joly at Thursday’s meeting of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, speaking to the events that unfolded in the lead up to the decision, including the consideration that Canada’s sanctions regime was meant to directly punish Russia, not indirectly jeopardize European economies.

“The trap that Putin was trying to set by weaponizing the Nord Stream pipeline was obvious. Don’t return the turbines such that Canada and the West are likely to be blamed for reducing the gas flow to Europe and risking dividing the alliance, or return the turbine and risk a perceived weakening in the alliances’ resolve regarding sanctions,” Wilkinson said.

During a heated exchange in which Conservative MP and ethics critic James Bezan suggested Putin was “playing chess” while the Government of Canada was “playing checkers” and was “outplayed,” Wilkinson denied Canada was effectively enabling Gazprom to put more money into Russia’s “war machine.”

“I think Mr. Bezan you actually misunderstand a lot of the things that were going on,” Wilkinson said, asking what the Conservatives would have done differently. “It’s very easy to make those kinds of comments.”

Committee members voted in July to launch a special summer study into the federal government’s decision to circumvent Canadian sanctions, expressing a desire to be briefed by those involved in the decision on how it was made, and what its implications and ramifications are.


The marathon committee hearing continued after the ministers’ testimony, with President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alexandra Chyczij explaining to MPs her organization’s opposition to Canada’s decision, suggesting that granting the permit has given Russia leverage they will continue to try to exploit in regards to the energy sector.

“I think it has always been about sanctions, not about the pipeline or the turbine. And we have allowed ourselves, Canada has allowed itself, to be party to blackmail that resulted in a waiver of those sanctions,” she told the committee.

Chyczij questioned whether the federal government did do—as it claims— everything possible to avoid lifting sanctions on Gazprom, and whether there remains any justification to continue with the permit given Russia’s continued choking off of energy supplies.

“It’s absolutely clear that Russia contrived the Nord Stream 1 debacle to test the resolve of Germany, Canada, and our allies on sanctions. And we have failed that test. Germany and Canada did not understand what the test was. It’s about sanctions, the unity on sanctions, not just on Nord Stream 1… So when Chancellor Scholz says that he called a bluff, he called the wrong bluff.”

Her organization, working alongside the Ukrainian World Congress, have sought to challenge the decision in Federal Court, arguing that granting the permit “was not reasonable, transparent or properly authorized.”


Canada’s decision to allow the return of these turbines has been met with mixed reviews internationally. While it has been backed by allies, such as the U.S. and the EU, it has been roundly condemned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,

Diving further into the differing views on the issue, MPs also heard testimony from the Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada Yuliia Kovaliv, the Ambassador of Germany to Canada Sabine Sparwasser, and the Ambassador of the European Union to Canada Melita Gabric.

Both Sparwasser and Gabric offered insight into the rationale for their support of Canada’s decision as a short-term necessity as Germany and other European countries work to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas.

“We appreciate Canada’s investment in European security and its commitment to a rules-based international order,” Gabric said. “With the return of this part, one of the excuses being used by Russia for reduced gas flows was removed.”

Sparwasser told the committee that while the debate being had about the turbines is an important one, with valid arguments on both sides, it should not be forgotten that it’s a debate happening among allies who are united in their overall goal of not allowing Russia to win the war on Ukraine.

“No decision is perfect. None was easy. It was only after a lot of soul searching that Germany asked Canada to allow a waiver of its national sanctions regime. And the Canadian government did grant it, after difficult deliberations. We’re very grateful for the decision,” the German ambassador said.

In contrast, Kovaliv restated Ukraine’s position that Canada is setting a dangerous precedent and renewed Kyiv’s calls to reverse the decision, arguing that Ukraine would be capable of providing substitute gas delivery despite currently being under attack.

“This waiver is not a one time decision. The maintenance of all six turbines in Canada will cement Russia’s ability for years ahead to weaponize energy and to derail the efforts to address climate change, and it will be done with Canada’s blessing,” Kovaliv said. “Now it’s more than clear that the additional five turbines that were allowed to be further maintained in Canada will be turned by Russia into tools of humiliation.”

“We urge you: do not take the bait. There was no need to waive the sanctions to call the Putin regime’s bluff… You just can Google the history. This logic of appeasement already failed to prevent the war in Ukraine,” said Ukraine’s ambassador.


The issue bubbled up last month after Wilkinson announced Canada would be granting Siemens Canada a “time-limited and revocable permit,” allowing the company to return turbines — part of Gazprom’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline — that had been sent to Montreal for repairs.

After the federal government imposed sanctions on Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom as part of an expanding economic sanctions program in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, Siemens Canada was restricted from sending the equipment back.

As a result, Canada faced pressure from both Russia and Germany to return one of the turbines to Germany ahead of scheduled maintenance that has since gone ahead. Wilkinson said Thursday that in June, Siemens Canada applied to Global Affairs Canada with an urgent request to continue scheduled maintenance of the turbines at its facility, saying it was the only facility in the world capable of providing the service needed.

Gazprom claimed it needed the turbines in order to continue supplying Germany, after already considerably decreasing the gas flow through the pipeline. This prompted Germans to express concern that Russia could use not having the turbines as a reason to further cut off its natural gas supply, leaving Germany without a sufficient reserve.

However, since the turbine has been returned, Russia has further reduced gas supplies and has not installed the key piece of pipeline infrastructure it said it needed. According to The Associated Press, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz inspected the turbine on Wednesday in Germany and said there were no problems prohibiting the part’s return to Russia, other than missing information from Gazprom.

“With the issue of turbine maintenance taken off the table, Putin has nothing left to hide behind. When the flow of gas slows down, the world now knows with certainty that it was Putin’s decision and his alone,” Joly said Thursday.

While it was not made clear by the Liberal government at the time the deal was announced, the permit allows for the movement of six turbines to be sent back and forth for regular maintenance over the next two years, with the ability for the permit to be revoked at any time. There has no been indication to date that Canada is prepared to do so.

Canada has ardently defended the move, saying while it was a difficult decision, it was necessary to push back on Russia’s attempts sow division among western allies, as well as to ensure European allies are able to “stay steadfast and generous in their support of Ukraine,” which would become more difficult to do if their economies were feeling the impact of reduced energy resources.

Ahead of two of her ministerial counterparts taking the hot seat, Defence Minister Anita Anand said Thursday the federal government is backing Ukraine “full stop” despite the contentious move.

“I have been in touch with [Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov] this morning and we continue to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and with our counterparts in the Ukrainian government,” Anand said. “They recognize that we stand with Ukraine shoulder-to-shoulder, full stop.”

After announcing Canadian Armed Forces personnel will be deployed next week to take part in a training mission of Ukrainian soldiers in the U.K., Canada’s defence minister was questioned about Canada heeding Ukraine’s requests for military assistance while still standing by returning of these parts, something Ukrainians have suggested will indirectly allow Russia to continue funding its war.

“We will continue to impose severe costs on the Russian regime in response to Putin’s illegal and unprovoked war against Ukraine. At the same time, it is important for us to support our European friends and allies as they work to end their dependency on Russian gas imports as quickly as possible,” Anand said.

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Canada’s Climate Crisis: An In-Depth Look at the Current State and What’s Being Done to Combat It



Canada's Climate Crisis

Canada’s annual average temperature increased by 1.9C from 1948 to 2021. According to the Government of Canada, northern regions exhibited an increase in annual mean temperature three times over the global mean warming rate.

Climate change affects food security, biological diversity, and people’s health. Many believe that Canada’s dealing with a climate crisis and wondering what’s been done to combat it. Here’s a quick overview of the current situation and the plans the government has available to tackle this problem.

What’s the Current Climate Situation in Canada?

According to the last update from the Climate Action Tracker, the action taken by Canada has been rated as “highly insufficient.” That means the country isn’t in line with the global agreement made in Paris to stick to the 1.5C limit.

Furthermore, CAT experts believe the emission reduction target by 2030 is only enough to be in line with a 4C warming. They warn that Canada should strengthen their climate policies and targets while offering more support to others to reach set goals.


Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan

The plan for reducing emissions by 2030 was adopted in March 2022, and the government itself describes it as achievable but ambitious. The idea is to lower emissions in 2030 by 40% when compared to 2005. It’s worth noting that Canada has a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

According to this plan, the country will invest over $9 billion to promote pollution-cutting effects. The strategy includes:

  • Improving electric vehicle infrastructure. People who want to purchase ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles) can hope for financial support.
  • Greening buildings and homes. The idea is to adopt revised building codes that are in line with the environmental goals.
  • Clean energy projects. These include investing in solar and wind power, electricity, and other projects.
  • Reduce gas and oil emissions. It seems to be the most ambitious part of the plan, especially since Canada keeps supporting the Trans Mounting pipeline and exporting LNG to Europe.

Some other details include empowering farmers to implement sustainable practices and communities to launch climate action projects.

What Can You Do to Help with Climate Change?

Collective action is important to restrict climate change, and some suggestions for individuals include the following:

  • Consider how you travel. Use public transport or walk when possible. If you are heading to far destinations, consider not taking frequent long-distance flights. For example, if you want to go to Vegas to enjoy casino games, consider playing online roulette while at home, which can provide immersive fun while reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Use LED lightbulbs and energy-efficient appliances. Many modern appliances come with an energy efficiency rating.
  • Eat veggies to reduce a carbon footprint. It takes less energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce vegetables. Apart from lowering your carbon footprint, this is a healthy diet that could help you lose pounds and manage weight.
  • Focus on reusing and recycling items. Consider shopping for second-hand clothes and not purchasing anything you don’t absolutely need. Consider donating the items you don’t need anymore, and make sure to recycle those that you throw away properly.

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy

The federal authorities adopted this long-term plan in 2020, and its goal is to secure a future with a healthier environment and economy. The main principles of this plan include the following:

  • Making energy-efficient structures more affordable. The idea is to make locations where Canadians live easier to purchase, maintain, and upgrade while ensuring houses and buildings energy-efficient.
  • Affordable and eco-friendly transportation. From clean electricity supply to ZEVs and other details, the idea is to reduce congestion while making communities healthier.
  • Carbon pollution pricing. The idea is for pollution to be pricey but ensure that the households get back more than they pay.
  • Achieving a clean industrial advantage. The country aims to focus on “Made in Canada” services and products with low carbon footprints.
  • Embrace the power of nature. Restoring and conserving natural spaces while planting billions of trees is another way to reduce pollution and fight climate change.

The government has released the final National Adaptation Strategy for comments. It’s the first strategy of this type that was designed by working with Indigenous People, municipal, territorial, and provincial authorities, as well as other relevant platforms. The idea is to design shared priorities and unite everyone across Canada to take joint action to decrease climate change risks.

Final Thoughts

Scientists are racing to find the most effective climate change solutions, with the potential options leaving them divided. However, they agree on one thing – it’s necessary to take strong action in the soonest possible timeframe.

Canada has already adopted a climate change action plan, and the only question is if it’s aggressive enough. It remains to be seen whether some changes to the strategy will be made in order to reach the long-term goals of dealing with the climate crisis.

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Debt in Canada: What’s normal for your age?



If you’re like most people, you have at least some debt. Your mortgage, car payment, credit card balance, and student loans are all liabilities that contribute to your total debt.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much debt is normal for your age, though?

Below, I’ll outline the average and median debt by age in Canada, so you can see how your finances compare. Then I’ll explain some of the key reasons why Canadians’ debt is increasing.

Average debt by age group in Canada

First of all, it’s important to understand that debt is normal. Very few Canadians are 100% debt-free. Even those with near-perfect credit scores likely have an auto or student loan they’re paying down.


These are the debt metrics measured by Statistics Canada during census surveys.

Here’s the average debt by age group in Canada as of 2019, according to the latest data sets from Statistics Canada:

Note – this data applies to individuals who are not in an economic family. The numbers differ for economic families, which include married/common-law partners and families with dependent children.

The total debt measured includes:

  • Mortgage debt
  • Lines of credit
  • Credit card debt
  • Student loans
  • Vehicle loans
  • Other debt (doesn’t fit in the categories above)

Median debt by age group in Canada

Looking at average debt provides a decent overview of the data. However, the averages are very skewed by the debt incurred by Canada’s ultra-wealthy taxpayers.

When calculating the average, all values are added together and divided by the total number of values. This means that a few extreme values can greatly influence the result.

In contrast, the median is the middle value in a dataset when values are arranged in order. As such, it is less affected by outliers and provides a more accurate representation of typical values.

For example, a multi-millionaire with a $2-million mortgage will skew the average higher than the average Canadian.

For a more accurate look at Canadian debt, I find that the median data as of 2019 provides more accurate insight:

Why is consumer debt increasing in Canada?

Over the past year, consumer debt has notably increased. This is especially true for credit card debt. The average monthly spending per credit card increased by 17.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, according to a recent report by Equifax Canada.

In the report Rebecca Oakes, vice-president of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada, stated that “Gen Z and Millennials are driving up higher consumer spending the most.”

Even though inflation is slowly easing, it’s still relatively high. The high inflation has driven up the cost of everyday goods, including groceries and fuel. This, in turn, means that Canadians are spending more per month than they were before 2022, when inflation started to rise.

Unfortunately, workers’ pay hasn’t grown with inflation. This means that the average Canadian simply has less money to spend, increasing their reliance on credit cards to purchase daily necessities.

  • Pent-up demand and travel

Oakes goes on to state that “Pent-up demand and increased travel with the easing of COVID restrictions, combined with soaring inflation, have led to some of the highest increases in credit card spending we’ve ever seen.”

It makes sense that Canadians would be eager to travel after several years of travel restrictions, even if it means incurring more credit card debt.

  • Increased interest rates

To keep inflation under control, the fed steadily increased interest rates throughout 2022 and is discussing more rate hikes this year. As the federal interest rate has increased, variable interest rates, such as those offered by credit card companies, have also increased.

Those who carry a credit balance over to the next month must now pay even more interest on their credit card debt, increasing their overall debt.

Creating a plan to manage your debt

Accruing debt in the short-term may be inevitable due to high-interest rates and inflation. However, it’s important to create a plan to get your debt under control.

A reliable budget plan paired with consistent action is the best way to get out of debt.

Revisit your monthly budget to find areas where you can save, try to pay down high-interest credit card debt as quickly as possible, and consider taking up a side hustle to earn extra money that you can put towards your debt.


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Six bodies, including one child, recovered from St. Lawrence River




The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island.
The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island. (CBC News)

The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

Dulude said he could not provide any information on the nationalities of the other five deceased.


The Mohawk community of Akwesasne straddles the Canada-U.S. border and occupies territory in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police, with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard, is leading the ongoing investigation, Dulude said.

The bodies were spotted in Canadian waters by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, he said.

The discovery of the bodies coincided with the search for a missing Akwesasne community member that also began Thursday, Dulude said.



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