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'They can't continue to deny us': Northern leaders react to Teck Frontier's project withdrawal – CBC.ca



Northern leaders are responding to the decision from Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. to withdraw its application for its Frontier oilsands mine project south of Fort Chipewyan, Alta.

The federal government was slated to make a decision this week on whether to approve the $20-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier project.

On Sunday, Teck Resources cited the ongoing debate over climate policy in Canada as among factors for its decision to halt the approval process. The company did not explain what economic benefits would have been brought to the N.W.T., or if the decision to withdraw was influenced by opposition from the South Slave region.

Smith’s Landing First Nation Chief Gerry Cheezie, who is among the leaders in the Northwest Territories who showed opposition to the project, said he was happy to hear the news.

Cheezie previously said his community wasn’t consulted, and that contaminants from the mine could enter the water supply and N.W.T. communities would feel the downstream effects of the mine. He wanted the N.W.T. government to step in.

If you can’t attract investment capital into Alberta, the chances are less so for the North.– Doug Matthews, Energy analyst

“Government and industry … have got to understand that we have rights — legal rights — that have been fought for and won in the Supreme Court,” he said.

He said he cancelled the rally planned for Tuesday outside the Legislative Assembly. Instead, Cheezie said he plans to write a letter to the N.W.T. premier and cabinet and request a meeting to discuss how to deal with these kind of projects with Indigenous governments.

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

He said this fight, along with other Indigenous leaders opposing projects on their land, is the “start of a new era.” 

“Indigenous governments are giving the signal to government that they can’t continue to deny us and ignore us, or these things will continue to happen until our grievances are being settled,” Cheezie said, pointing at the rail blockades sparked by arrests of protestors on Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation territory earlier this month.

In a statement, Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya commended Teck’s decision, calling the Frontier project a “lightning rod for all the concerns about the health of the Mackenzie River Basin.”

Yakeleya added that despite Teck’s withdrawal, water management and protection remains an ongoing concern for
Indigenous people.

“This is no time to get complacent,” Yakeleya’s statement reads in part.

‘People still have to put food on the table’

Chief April Martel of K’atl’odeeche First Nation near Hay River, N.W.T., who supported Cheezie, said she was pleased to hear the process was halted but thinks northern leaders have to create a plan to participate in the regulatory process in the future. 

“We’re very excited that the process has stopped,” she said. “You need to be, you know, 10 steps ahead of them.”

“Get all your ducks in a row. Get everything checked, you know, make sure you have a plan in place right now … With everything that’s going on, it might move forward again.”

N.W.T. MLA Frieda Martselos said she thinks there needs to be stronger federal leadership. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

N.W.T. MLA for Thebacha, Frieda Martselos, the former chief of Salt River First Nation, said the decision bodes poorly for the Canadian economy. 

“When major projects are withdrawn, it has bearing on the economy,” Martselos said.

She said a move like this affects the “little guys more than the big guys.”

“The way things are going in Canada, we’re not going to have [an] economy. Nobody’s going to want to come to invest here,” she said. “That’s kind of scary because people still have to put food on the table.”

Martselos said she thinks there needs to be stronger federal leadership. 

Damaging to potential investments

Doug Matthews, an energy analyst who has spent much of his career in the energy sector with the N.W.T. government, said it’s not surprising that the company “pulled the plug” — since the company has indicated in the past that the project may not be economical.

Given the federal government’s looming decision, Matthews said the move may have been a strategy for the company to take control of either a potentially damaging federal refusal to approve the project, or an approval that could potentially be later plagued by lawsuits.

When it comes to what it means for future investments for northern Canada or the country as a whole, Matthews said that it it could be bad news.

“We’ve shown as a country we just can’t get a project done — whether it’s a pipeline, whether in this case it’s a mine, it’s just not possible. That means investment dollars will not be flowing into the country and that’s a problem,” he said.

It could be even more difficult for companies in the territories, he added.

Teck Resources has withdrawn the application for its new Frontier oilsands mine. The federal government was supposed to decide on the $20-billion project this week.  2:42

“If you can’t attract investment capital into Alberta, the chances are less so for the North,” he said.

Matthews said the situation could be an opportunity for industry and environmentalists to come to terms with the other.

“The development industry, the resource industry need to get with the program in terms of environmental damage,” he said.

“At the same time environmentalists have to get with the program that wind power does not generate resource revenues.”

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BMO names new head of retail banking Subscriber content – theglobeandmail.com



A Bank of Montreal sign is seen in Toronto’s financial district, in an Aug. 22, 2017, file photo.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Bank of Montreal gave two of its senior executives new responsibilities for winning over customers in an increasingly digital business.

Toronto-based BMO handed Cam Fowler the title of chief strategy and operations officer, a newly created role that wraps in all of the bank’s branch and digital services. Mr. Fowler was the head of BMO’s North American personal and business banking group. That job now belongs to Erminia (Ernie) Johannson, who is currently the head of BMO’s North American personal banking and U.S. business banking teams. The promotions are effective March 1, and both Mr. Fowler and Ms. Johannson will report to BMO chief executive officer Darryl White.

In his new role, Mr. Fowler “will be responsible for a lot,” Mr. White said. It will be Mr. Fowler’s job to draw the bank’s strategy, digital operations, innovation, procurement, workplace transformation, marketing and social impact initiatives more closely together.

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“The world moves so quickly and the digital agenda is so important that the premium I put on being front-footed and having a view of the future, and investing horizontally across the enterprise, I’m relying on Cam to be a huge help to me to do that,” Mr. White said.

Mr. Fowler is a 10-year veteran of BMO who has served as one of Mr. White’s key lieutenants over the last two years. On Mr. White’s first day as CEO in November, 2017, Mr. Fowler was promoted to president of North American personal and business banking, tasked with deploying new products and strategies across BMO’s Canadian and U.S. footprint.

Ms. Johannson has been in charge of U.S. personal and business banking since 2018, and has significantly boosted the bank’s American deposit base. Last year, her role expanded to include BMO’s network of bank branches in Canada. She has also held roles in credit cards, payments, marketing and risk, and was the architect of the launch of BMO’s nationwide U.S. digital bank a year ago.

“It’s so natural, because she has done virtually every job that [her new role] encompasses,” Mr. White said. Ms. Johansson will divide her time between BMO’s Toronto headquarters and its U.S. base in Chicago. David Casper, BMO’s U.S. CEO and head of North American commercial banking, will work closely with Ms. Johannson.

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Bank of Canada decides against launching digital currency, but leaves door open – The Globe and Mail



The Bank of Canada has made a bank-issued digital currency a key research priority over the past year, as the development of private-sector alternatives, especially Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency, have accelerated the urgency among the world’s central banks to respond.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Bank of Canada doesn’t yet see a need to create its own digital currency, even as some central banks advance toward e-money.

“We have concluded that there is not a compelling case to issue a CBDC [central bank digital currency] at this time,” Bank of Canada deputy governor Timothy Lane said in a speech in Montreal Tuesday. Nevertheless, the bank is developing a contingency plan so that it is prepared for the possibility of such a digital option down the road.

“The Bank will build the capacity to issue a general-purpose, cash-like CBDC should the need to implement one arise,” the bank said in a background note published on its website in conjunction with Mr. Lane’s speech.

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“While we don’t know what the future may bring, we need to move forward to work out what a potential CBDC might look like and how it could be managed, if the decision were ever taken to issue one,” Mr. Lane said in his speech. And he noted that the decision wouldn’t be up to the Bank of Canada.

“That’s a choice that Canadians and their elected representatives would need to make at the time,” he said, adding that “the bank would need proper legislative authority to issue a CBDC.”

The background paper indicated that it would take “several years” before the central bank would be in a position to launch its own digital currency.

The Bank of Canada has made a bank-issued digital currency a key research priority over the past year, as the development of private-sector alternatives, especially Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency, have accelerated the urgency among the world’s central banks to respond. The bank published a series of papers on the issue Tuesday. It has also formed a working group along with the central banks of England, Japan, the European Union, Sweden and Switzerland to combine their efforts on understanding the implications of CBDCs.

But many central banks look to be further down the road toward pursuing their own digital currencies than Canada is. In a recent survey by the Bank for International Settlements, about one in 10 central banks said they are likely to issue a digital currency within the next three years. China’s powerful central bank is believed to be considering a launch of a digital currency within the year. Last week, Sweden’s Riksbank announced the launch of a pilot program over the next year to test a new “e-krona” using blockchain technology, though it stressed that no decision has been made regarding introducing the currency.

Sweden is considered one of the world’s most cash-less societies, with cash used for only about 15 per cent of retail payments. By comparison, Mr. Lane noted that, while Canadians’ use of electronic payment methods has risen substantially in recent years, cash is still used in about one-third of transactions.

He said the case for a Bank of Canada digital currency would become more compelling “if we ever reach the tipping point where cash could no longer be used for a sufficiently wide range of transactions.”

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He added that another key factor would be if private digital currencies became widely adopted, something that could pose a risk to the stability of central bank currencies and the conducting of monetary policy.

“If either scenario came to pass, society may be well-served with a digital currency,” he said.

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Hong Kong Budget 2020: HK$10000 cash handouts for all adult permanent residents among raft of relief measures – Hong Kong Free Press



Hong Kong’s financial secretary has announced a HK$10,000 cash handout to all permanent residents over the age of 18 in a bid to boost local consumption and ease economic woes in light of a fiscal deficit.

The relief measure involving an estimated expenditure of around HK$71 billion came amid negative economic growth since the second half of last year and the city’s first deficit in 15 years as the economy took a hit from the US-China trade war, large-scale protests and the coronavirus outbreak.

But Paul Chan remained confident that fiscal reserves, previously estimated at HK$1.1 trillion, could weather the cost of the handout.

“I consider that, with ample fiscal reserves, the government has to increase public expenditure amid an economic downturn to stimulate the economy and ride of the difficult times with members of the public,” he said as he delivered his fourth budget blueprint at the legislature on Wednesday.

paul chan

Paul Chan. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Chan also announced a salary tax cut of 100 per cent for the 2019-20 year up to a ceiling of HK$20,000 – set to benefit 1.95 million taxpayers and cost HK$18.8 billion.

Other relief measures for the public:

  • Rates for residential properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$1,500 per quarter – estimated to involve 2.93 million properties and cost HK$13.3 billion.
  • Eligible social security recipients will benefit from an extra month of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance or Disability Allowance. A similar arrangement will be rolled out for the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy. It will cost around HK$4.23 billion.
  • Lower-income tenants in government public housing will have a month of rent waived, with a total cost of HK$1.83 billion.
  • Exam fees for students sitting the 2021 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination will be waived, at a cost of about HK$150 million.
sophia chan

Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Relief measures for business:

  • Profits tax will be reduced by 100 per cent for the 2019-20 year to benefit 141,000 taxpayers at a cost of HK$2 billion.
  • Business registration fees will be waived for 2020-21, benefitting 1.5 million business owners at a cost of HK$3 billion. Company registry fees for annual tax returns will be waived for two years to benefit 1.4 million firms at a cost of HK$212 million.
  • A concessionary low-interest loan of up to HK$2 million will be provided to enterprises under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme.
  • Rates for non-domestic properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 per quarter in the first two quarters and a ceiling of $1,500 per quarter in the remaining two quarters for each non-domestic property. 420,000 properties will benefit, at a cost of HK$3.2 billion.
  • Non-domestic electricity accounts will enjoy a 75 per cent discount up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 for four months, at a cost of HK$2.9 billion. Likewise, water and sewage costs will be discounted by 75 per cent up to a cap of HK$20,000 and HK$12,500 respectively, costing HK$340 billion.
  • Local recycling firms will see a rental subsidy for six months, costing HK$100 million.
  • Tenants of government properties, government land and EcoPark will see rent discounts of 50 per cent, costing HK$573 million. Rent and fees for eligible operators of properties will be slashed by 50 per cent, costing HK$265 million.
  • Hirers of civic centres under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will enjoy discounts of 50 per cent for six months, costing HK$23 million.

“In preparing this budget, I put the focus on ‘supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stimulating the economy and relieving people’s burden,’ Chan said.

Paul Chan

Paul Chan. Photo: Inmediahk.net.

“Hong Kong may have all sorts of shortcomings, but it is our home which allows diversity and freedom of development. Even if we have been disappointed, we can choose to feel hopeful for our future. Even if we are striving for different goals, we can work together to put aside our differences, make room for resolving conflicts, and drive Hong Kong forward,” he said in his concluding remarks.

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