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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Canada offers oil to Asia after U.S. pipeline decision delay

   Canada column published on Sunday, Nov. 20/11


   By Jim Fox

   Canada is looking to sell its oil and natural gas in Asia after the U.S. administration delayed a decision on a controversial $7-billion pipeline project.
   Approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline to transport Canadian crude to refineries in Texas from Alberta’s oilsands was a “no brainer,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said earlier.
   He even predicted it would be approved by the end of the year and construction would begin soon afterwards.
   After all, it would have created thousands of jobs in the U.S. and provided a major source of oil to its neighbor and largest trading partner to help ease dependence on crude from non-friendly Middle East nations, he reasoned.
   Harper expressed Canada’s disappointment in a meeting last week in Hawaii with President Barack Obama after the U.S. State Department asked for a different route through Nebraska and a further environmental assessment.
   “This highlights why Canada must increase its efforts to make sure it can supply its energy outside of the United States and into Asia in particular," Harper said.
   Chinese President Hu Jintao said he approves of Canada’s bid to reach out and invited Harper to visit to discuss a potential deal.


   Canada’s iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police force has a new commissioner, veteran officer Bob Paulson.
   The appointment of Paulson from Lachute, Quebec comes at a critical time as the force deals with internal concerns including highly publicized grievances about workplace harassment.
   “It is my intention to address this problem so that the RCMP once again has the confidence and loyalty of all Canadians,” Paulson said.
   A federal task force has also called for major changes to the structure, independence and oversight of the Mounties.
   He succeeds William Elliott, the first civilian commissioner, who was the subject of a revolt by senior members over his “brash” management style.


   News in brief:
   - A proposed high-speed rail line between Quebec City and Windsor (at the border with Detroit) would cost more than $21.3 billion with little hope of making money, a study said. EcoTrain, a group of international consulting firms, said governments would have to contribute significantly to the project for trains that travel up to 186 mph. Via Rail trains now have a top speed of 100 mph and carry four-million people annually on the route.
   - Ontario’s New Democratic Party wants the Liberal government to cut the sales tax on home heating fuel. A private member’s bill calls for removing the provincial eight-percent tax from the 13-percent combined tax on heating bills. It would save families $100 a year, New Democrat Michael Mantha said but cost the government $350 million in lost revenue.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s annual inflation rate fell to 2.9 percent last month, down three-tenths of a percent, while the “core” rate excluding gasoline was down to 2.1 percent.
   The dollar is lower at 97.43 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0264 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is unchanged 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,960 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 1,607 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 15, 25, 28, 32, 35 and 42; bonus 45. (Nov. 12) 3, 4, 20, 34, 39 and 48; bonus 2. Lotto Max: (Nov. 11) 5, 7, 9, 25, 31, 37 and 39; bonus 22.


   Regional briefs:
   - A second person has died after the crash last month of a Northern Thunderbird Air plane near the Vancouver International Airport. Co-pilot Matt Robic, 26, died of burns while pilot Luc Fortin, 44, was also killed and nine were injured. The Burnaby-bound plane developed mechanical problems and was returning to the airport.
   - Fire has destroyed the lodge at White Point Beach Resort on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. No one was injured in the fire that leveled the conference center, kitchen, pool area and some guest rooms at the resort built in 1928. The fire began in the basement and was “not suspicious” but the cause is still unknown, investigators said.
   - It took 27 years, but Newfoundland police have finally recovered a car stolen in 1984. The 1970 Opel reported stolen by its owner was found in a garage in St. John’s. It appears the car had been there since soon after it was taken, police said.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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