Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 22/12
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Reports of the death of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to supply Alberta crude oil to Texas refineries appear to be greatly exaggerated.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his “profound disappointment” to President Barack Obama for rejecting TransCanada’s proposed $7-billion pipeline.
Obama was up against a political deadline for approving the project vigorously opposed by environmentalists and wanted more time for further reviews of the plans.
In a phone call to Harper, Obama said TransCanada can submit an amended plan to reroute the pipeline around an environmentally sensitive aquifer in Nebraska.
“This outcome is one of the scenarios we anticipated,” CEO Russ Girling said, adding that TransCanada would reapply for a presidential permit.
Keystone is “in the best interests of both countries,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said.
The controversy shows the need for Canada to diversify its energy markets, which it is attempting to do with China, he added.
Proponents say the Keystone project would have created thousands of jobs in both countries and supplied energy to the U.S. from a trusted source.
A couple from Calgary jumped from the sinking Costa Concordia cruise ship and swam to shore after it hit rocks off the coast of Italy last week.
“This is it, we've got to swim or we're going to die,'" Laurence Davis said to his wife Andrea after the ship began to sink.
It took 20 minutes for them to reach the shore in the dark in what he said was a “horrific experience.”
With the assistance of the Canadian consulate in Rome, they flew home at mid-week.
All 12 Canadians on the ship escaped unharmed including Alan and Laurie Willits, of Wingham, Ontario who reached shore by lifeboat.
News in brief:
Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, 29, of Whistler, British Columbia has died of injuries from a fall while training at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. The four-time Winter X Games champion was to compete next week in Aspen and suffered a ruptured vertebral artery. It was on the same halfpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce of Vermont had a near-fatal fall in 2009.
- There are suggestions the Canadian government will consider raising the age to quality for the “Old Age Security” pension to 67 from 65. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has not confirmed this in his pre-budget meetings across the county. The government is also reviewing how the aging population will impact tax revenues and expenses in a slow-growth economy.
- Canada Post is now charging 61 cents to mail a letter within Canada, up two cents. There’s a similar increase for letters to the U.S. at $1.05 and a five-cent jump in overseas mail to $1.80. Electronic communications have resulted in a 17-percent drop in business over the past five years.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s central bank has left is trend-setting interest rate at 1 percent where it has been since September 2010 while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
The Canadian dollar is higher at 98.87 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0114 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,380 points and the TSX Venture Exchange index 1,554 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 4, 7, 10, 27, 37 and 49; bonus 44. (Jan. 14) 1, 3, 7, 11, 38 and 40; bonus 37. Lotto Max: (Jan. 13) 6, 15, 18, 26, 41, 46 and 48; bonus 27.
- Quebec has decided to launch an anti-tobacco lawsuit before the June deadline, Health Minister Yves Bolduc said. The action would be similar to that being taken by the Ontario government seeking $50 billion to recover medical costs from cigarette manufacturers.
- Vowing to “cut waist” at city hall, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is on a campaign to drop 50 pounds in six months. He tipped the scales during a weigh-in at 330 pounds. Councilor Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, at 275 pounds has also joined to fight the battle of the bulge.
- The town of Canso, a fishing port since 1604, will cease to exist, at least in name, on July 1 when it amalgamates with the District of Guysborough. The provincial Utility and Review Board approved the dissolution of the community of 1,000 people on the northeastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia to cut administrative costs.
Jim Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org