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Teck withdraws application for $20B Frontier oilsands mine – CBC.ca

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Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd., has withdrawn its application to build a massive oilsands project in northern Alberta, citing the ongoing debate over climate policy in Canada.

The federal government was slated to make a decision this week on whether to approve the $20.6-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier. 

Sources close to the project confirmed to CBC News the application was withdrawn. 

The company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the project, which it said would have created 7,000 construction jobs, 2,500 operating jobs, and brought in more than $70 billion in government revenue.

“We are disappointed to have arrived at this point,” CEO and president Don Lindsay wrote in a letter addressed to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, posted to the company’s website Sunday evening.

“Teck put forward a socially and environmentally responsible project that was industry leading and had the potential to create significant economic benefits for Canadians.”

Lindsay wrote that customers want policies that reconcile resource development and climate change — something he said the region has yet to achieve, but he did not clarify if the region he was referring to was Alberta or Canada.

“Unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved. In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project,” he wrote.

Cabinet was to decide this week

But he said he wanted to make it clear the company isn’t shying away from controversy.

“The nature of our business dictates that a vocal minority will almost inevitably oppose specific developments. We are prepared to face that sort of opposition,” he wrote.

“Frontier, however, has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward.”

Following Teck’s announcement, Wilkinson and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan confirmed in a statement that cabinet will no longer be making a decision on the project.

“As Teck has rightly pointed out, and as many in the industry know, global investors and consumers are increasingly looking for the cleanest products available and sustainable resource development,” the statement read.

Fourteen First Nations and Metis communities signed participation agreements with the company on the mine, and the project was awaiting approval from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, which had been expected by the end of the month.

Cabinet was expected to discuss the project at its meeting on Tuesday. It had until the end of the week to make a decision, though it could have decided to push that deadline back.

Wilkinson has been signalling for weeks that cabinet’s discussion would include the fact that Alberta has not set specific greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets, and in recent days specifically asked the Alberta government to enforce its cap on emissions from the oilsands.

Teck’s Frontier oilsands project was planned for northern Alberta. The company pulled its application for the project on Sunday. (Teck Resources)

Ottawa ‘let us down,’ says Kenney

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney described Teck’s announcement as a grave disappointment for Albertans, but said it didn’t come as a surprise. 

“It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority,” Kenney said in an emailed statement, pointing to what he described as weeks of federal indecision on blockades in solidarity with those opposed a natural gas pipeline proposed by Coastal GasLink in northern B.C.

The premier wrote that the province agreed to federal requests and conditions for approving the project.

“The factors that led to the today’s decision further weaken national unity.… We did our part, but the federal government’s inability to convey a clear or unified position let us, and Teck, down,” Kenney said.

Pressure still on Liberals, says political scientist

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau spoke with Kenney Sunday evening to discuss Teck’s decision, and the ongoing railway blockades.

“The Prime Minister reaffirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to working with Alberta and the resource sector to keep creating good jobs and to ensure clean, sustainable growth for Canadians,” the statement said.

Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said Teck’s decision to pull the application won’t relieve pressure on the Liberal government from critics.

He said even though Teck’s letter did not lay blame on the prime minister, he anticipates it will be interpreted that way by his political opponents as part of the “anti-Trudeau … anti-Liberal discussion.”

“This will just be rolled in as part of that narrative,” Bratt said. 

Sunday’s announcement came just hours after the Alberta government announced it had struck deals with two First Nations over the proposed project, which would have been located 110 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. 

The province said the agreements with the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations addressed bison and caribou habitats and protected Wood Buffalo National Park. 

Ron Quintal, president of the Fort McKay Métis, one of 14 First Nations and Métis communities in favour of the project, said the withdrawal is a “black eye” for Canada.

But Bill Loutitt, CEO of McMurray Métis, said while his community supported the application, the decision to withdraw was the correct one.

“We know Teck as a progressive company and supporter of the Indigenous communities in Wood Buffalo, but tonight’s statement clearly shows that Teck acted in the best interests of Canadians, as they always have,” he said.

Project’s economic viability questioned

In July 2019, a joint federal-provincial review panel recommended the mine be approved, saying the economic benefits outweighed what it described as significant adverse environmental impacts. 

However, a January report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis made the case that Teck’s application showed a “reckless disregard for the facts regarding oil prices in Canada.”

The joint-review panel relied on a long-term oil price projection of more than $95 US per barrel provided by Teck, the IEEFA wrote, about $40 US higher than current prices and around $20 US higher than other forecasts.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province had agreed to federal requests and conditions for approving the project. (Mike Symington/CBC)

On Friday, Teck released disappointing fourth quarter results, saying global economic uncertainty negatively impacted commodity prices.

The project was also expected to produce about four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year over its 40 year lifespan, and disturb 292 square kilometres of pristine wetlands and boreal forest — although that whole area wouldn’t be mined at once.

Greenpeace applauds decision

“The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development,” Lindsay wrote. “Without clarity on this critical question, the situation that has faced Frontier will be faced by future projects and it will be very difficult to attract future investment, either domestic or foreign.”

Energy consultant Greg Stringham, who has worked for the industry, government and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said tight economics and increasing risks put Teck at the centre of debate around energy projects.

“And they’re going, well … do they want to be the straw that breaks the policy camel’s back?” he said in an interview.

Keith Stewart, senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada, said he was surprised by Teck’s decision to withdraw the project, but believes it is the right one.

“This project never made economic sense; it didn’t make climate sense; it wasn’t really going to happen,” Stewart told CBC News.

“This was a project that might have made sense 10 years ago. It certainly doesn’t today,” he said.

Read Teck’s letter to the environment minister below: 

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Stable weather allows fire crews to focus on containment of B.C. wildfires

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Crews battling the wildfire that has forced the evacuation of more than 500 properties in British Columbia’s southern Okanagan are taking advantage of calm winds and stable conditions to bolster fire lines.

The BC Wildfire Service says the the wildfire covers 68 square kilometres southwest of Penticton, with most of the recent growth due to planned ignitions needed to create the control lines.

An update from the wildfire service says newly created control lines are “holding well.”

It says a key objective is to continue mop-up work along Highway 3A in an effort to reopen the route connecting Keremeos and the evacuated community of Olalla with towns further north.

Crews are keeping a close eye on weather conditions as a storm approaches from Washington state, bringing showers later this week and possible lightning strikes on Wednesday.

The wildfire service has recorded 564 blazes since the season began, 58 of them in the last seven days, and lists the fire danger rating as high to extreme on Vancouver Island, the entire B.C. coast and across the southern quarter of the province.

Of the eight wildfires of note currently burning in the Kamloops and Southeast fire centres, only the blaze near Penticton continues to keep residents out of their homes.

None of the other seven have grown significantly in recent days and the wildfire service website says the roughly three-square-kilometre fire in grasslands northwest of Kamloops is now listed as “being held,” allowing crews to finish building control lines.

Wildfires of note are either highly visible or pose a threat to people or properties.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Warrant issued for man in Amber Alert, Saskatchewan children believed to be in U.S.

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REGINA — Saskatchewan RCMP say an arrest warrant has been issued for a convicted sex offender at the centre of an Amber Alert for two children.

Police say seven-year-old Luna Potts and eight-year-old Hunter Potts, along with their mother, are believed to be in South Dakota with 50-year-old Benjamin Martin Moore.

“We are very concerned about the well-being of those children,” RCMP Chief Supt. Tyler Bates said Tuesday.

“We feel they are in danger.”

Bates said Moore has a history of sexual offences against children and was previously convicted of sexual interference with a minor.

Moore now faces a charge of failing to report information within seven days of changing his address, which is required for convicted sex offenders.

RCMP said Moore was being investigated by social services when he left with the children and their mother.

Officers went last week to their home in Eastend, southwest of Regina, to question Moore but found it abandoned.

Police issued the Amber Alert on Monday evening for the girl and boy. Bates said RCMP enacted the alert after social services received an apprehension order for the children.

Bates did not say why police believe Moore crossed the border into the United States, but said RCMP were looking to extend the Amber Alert into South Dakota.

Moore is described as being five feet 10 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds with black hair.

Police also said Moore, the children and their mother may be travelling in a 2015 dark blue Chevrolet Equinox with the Alberta licence plate CGC 2492.

Police have received a slew of tips in the case.

Bates said officers have also been contacted by a person who is believed to be a victim and encouraged any others to come forward.

Court records show Moore was convicted in 2009 for sexual interference of a minor. He was sentenced in Regina provincial court to two years and two months in prison.

Records also say he served another three months in jail in 2011 after he was convicted of breaching a recognizance order.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

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Senegalese diplomat arrested by Quebec police owed former landlord more than $45,000

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MONTREAL — The detention and alleged beating of a Senegalese diplomat by Quebec police last week occurred while a bailiff was attempting to seize property at her residence in connection with a court judgment against her.

Quebec’s rental board in June ordered Oumou Kalsoum Sall to pay a former landlord more than $45,000 for damage to a furnished home she occupied from Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2020. The tribunal found that she caused flooding that led to structural damage and that her use of the property forced its owner, Michel Lemay, to replace most of his furniture.

“The pictures speak for themselves,” Anne A. Laverdure, an administrative judge, wrote in her ruling. “The furniture is full of cockroaches. Pieces of furniture are scratched and scuffed. Some are missing. Everything is dirty.”

Laverdure awarded Lemay almost $13,500 for structural damage to the home and $23,000 to replace furniture. The administrative judge awarded Lemay another several thousand dollars for other damages.

Court records show that the debt was not paid and that a bailiff went to Kalsoum Sall’s residence in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, on Aug. 2 to seize property in connection with the debt.

Kalsoum Sall is a first counsellor at the embassy of the Republic of Senegal in Ottawa, according to a federal government database of foreign delegations. The Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has claimed that the diplomat had to be hospitalized after being handcuffed and beaten by police.

Quebec’s independent police watchdog said Monday it opened an investigation into the incident. Gatineau police have said that they were called to the residence to assist a bailiff and that they arrested a woman with diplomatic status after she allegedly hit a police officer in the face, adding that she was tackled to the ground after allegedly biting another officer.

Global Affairs Canada has described the incident as “unacceptable,” adding that the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations — which Canada has signed — gives diplomats immunity from any form of detention or arrest.

Gilles Rivard, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and to Haiti, said that while he doesn’t know exactly what happened during the Aug. 2 incident, some diplomats can be aggressive because they believe there will be no consequences for their actions.

“They can be aggressive because they know that they have immunity, so they believe that they can do whatever they want,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

While police are not officially supposed to arrest a diplomat, Rivard said, it’s possible a police officer might handcuff an individual while they wait to confirm the person’s diplomatic status.

“But if after that, that person shows that she is a diplomat, or he is a diplomat, normally they have to be released,” he said.

In 2001, a Russian diplomat struck and killed a woman while driving in Ottawa. The Canadian government asked Russia to waive the diplomat’s immunity so he could be charged in Canada, but Russia refused, Rivard said, adding that Canada’s only option in that case was to expel the diplomat.

Rivard said he doesn’t think the Aug. 2 incident is serious enough to damage Canada’s very good relationship with Senegal.

The Senegalese Embassy in Ottawa did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Tuesday afternoon. A call to the embassy was not answered.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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