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Sunday, April 27, 2014

European leaders eye Canada's oil and gas reserves as U.S. pipeline plan approval stalls

   Canada column for Sunday, April 27/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Tapping into Canada’s vast oil and gas reserves has become an attractive proposition for European leaders as a decision on a proposed pipeline to ship crude to U.S. refineries remains stalled.
   Marcin Bosacki, Poland's ambassador to Canada, said his country is in favor of importing Canadian oil and gas, given the turmoil with the Russian invasion of Crimea.
   “We are absolutely in favor of increasing the abilities of western Canada oil and gas to be exported to Europe,” he told Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird who is visiting the country.
   Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said the European Union should become less dependent on Russian energy sources.
   “The crisis in Eastern Europe underlines the importance of moving ahead responsibly on the export of our oil and natural gas,” Baird’s press secretary Adam Hodge said.
   “Canada is one of the only countries with substantial energy reserves that offers an open and transparent market and the backing of a stable democracy that respects the rule of law,” he said.
   Meanwhile, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the U.S. administration’s further indefinite delay of the proposed $5.4-billion oil pipeline to tap into Canada’s crude oil hurts employment and energy security on both sides of the border.


   The Canadian government has suspended access by restaurants to the temporary foreign workers’ program.
   There has been widespread criticism of the hiring of foreign workers in place of Canadians, especially in the western provinces.
   Employment Minister Jason Kenney said the moratorium on new or pending applications related to the food services’ sector will allow time for a review of the program and allegations of abuse.
   A C.D. Howe Institute report said the program makes it easier for employers to hire temporary foreign workers and has accelerated a rise in unemployment in Alberta and British Columbia.


    News in brief:
   - Canada’s Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said 5,000 of the most potentially dangerous railway tank cars will be taken out of service within a month. The move is one of the measures in response to a Transportation Safety Board review of last year’s oil train derailment and fire that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. The plan calls for removing tens of thousands of older tank cars used to transport oil and ethanol by rail within three years.
   - A series of earthquakes that followed a 6.7 magnitude jolt shook the north coast of Vancouver Island on Wednesday night. The epicenter was off the coast about 55 miles south of Port Hardy and felt like a rolling motion lasting for 10 to 12 seconds. There were no reports of injuries or major damage. Quakes are common of the coast where the Juan de Fuca and Pacific tectonic plates meet.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 90.53 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1045 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,515 points and the TSX Venture index 1,013 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is up at $1.3848 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (April 23) 22, 25, 35, 40, 45 and 46; bonus 38. (April 19) 6, 15, 40, 41, 42 and 44; bonus 4. Lotto Max: (April 18) 9, 16, 24, 30, 39, 40 and 45; bonus 14.


   Regional briefs:
   - The Ontario Conservatives have served notice they will “vigorously defend” the party in a $2-million libel suit by Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne over the “gas-plant scandal.” It concerns Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s suggestion that Wynne “oversaw and possibly ordered the criminal destruction of documents” related to the $1.1-billion cancelation of two unpopular gas plants before the 2011 election.
   - “Big Lonely Doug,” a colossal conifer, is confirmed to be the second largest tree in Canada. The tree, near Port Renfrew on southern Vancouver Island, is about 1,000 years old. British Columbia’s Big Tree Registry said it stands 230-feet high, about the size of an 18-story building, and has a diameter of 12.8 feet. Canada’s largest Douglas fir, found nearby in the San Juan River Valley, is 242-feet tall and has a circumference of 43.5 feet.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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