Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 7/14
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Plans are advancing for a $12-billion Energy East pipeline that would carry Alberta oilsands crude to export terminals and refineries in New Brunswick.
Once it reaches Canada’s east coast, the oil would be shipped to the United States, Europe, China and India by cargo ships.
It’s one of three major – but controversial – oil pipeline projects involving the export of Canada’s vast supply of crude oil and concerns over environmental impacts.
The others are the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, still seeking U.S. approval, and the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to British Columbia ports from Alberta.
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice has been meeting with provincial premiers seeking their support and approval for the Energy East plan.
TransCanada wants to use a repurposed gas pipeline to carry crude oil two-thirds of the way across the country and build an extension that would lead to Saint John, New Brunswick.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called it a project “of national importance . . . and a nation-building exercise.”
The project must also be approved by the National Energy Board.
Opposition politicians are demanding the resignation of Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino over reports about the Conservative government’s treatment of mentally ill veterans.
At issue is an announcement by Fantino of $200 million for mental health initiatives over six years but reports suggest the money will actually be spread out over 50 years.
As well, Auditor General Michael Ferguson said that 80 percent of veterans face an eight-month wait to learn if they are eligible for physical and mental health benefits.
New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said Fantino has mismanaged his duties and should resign.
The opposition leaders have resorted to “fear-mongering and mudslinging” when the government is making “tangible improvements,” Fantino said.
News in brief:
- A “humble but accessible” funeral will be held Wednesday for Jean Beliveau, the former iconic Montreal Canadiens hockey player. He died last Tuesday at age 83. “He is probably the most respected hockey player in the world and he touched so many lives in all aspects of his life for almost seven decades,” said Canadiens president Geoff Molson. Beliveau led the team to 10 Stanley Cup championships as captain before retiring in 1971.
- Teams of up to 40 Canadian military medical specialists are being deployed to Sierra Leone for two months at a time over a six-month period in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus. The federal government is encouraging private health-care workers to join them in the Ebola mission where about 5,700 people have died. The Canadians will work with military medics from the United Kingdom and treat workers who have been exposed to the virus.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has dropped to 87.75 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.139 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 unchanged at 3 percent.
Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,469 points and the TSX Venture index 707 points.
The average price of a liter of gasoline is lower at $1.092 (Canadian).
Lotto 6-49: (Dec. 3) 1, 3, 4, 24, 28 and 36; bonus 6. (Nov. 29) 9, 20, 24, 26, 43 and 47; bonus 45. Lotto Max: (Nov. 28) 3, 4, 7, 12, 17, 26 and 34; bonus 1.
- A bad-weather plan is ready to be enacted at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to ease the pain of stranded travelers. The enhanced Winter Weather Operations Approach includes a mobile flight tracking app, more widespread Wi-Fi access and access to food, water and even baby diapers during extended delays. It’s the result of a review by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority after thousands of passengers were delayed by weather issues last winter.
- Sun News Network host Ezra Levant has been ordered to pay $80,000 in damages for libeling Saskatchewan lawyer Khurrum Awan. Judge Wendy Matheson said Levant’s series of blog posts were “motivated by malice.” The posts concerned Awan’s testimony at a British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal case about a magazine article about Islam.
Jim Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org