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Friday, May 15, 2015

Socialist government in Alberta could shake up oil policies, pipeline plans



   Canada column for Sunday, May 10/15

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   By Jim Fox

   The election of a socialist government in Alberta could lead to big changes in Canada’s oil patch and the future of oil pipeline projects.
   Rachel Notley will take over as Premier with her New Democratic Party after a decisive victory that ended 44 years of pro big oil and right-wing Conservative rule.
   Unlike previous Alberta premiers, Notley said she will let the political events in the United States take their course without her government’s lobbying for construction of the long-stalled $8-billion Keystone XL project.
   Instead of sending Alberta oilsands crude and thousands of jobs to Texas refineries with the building of the Keystone XL, Notley said she’d prefer to have the oil processed instead in Canada.
   On the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to ship oil to British Columbia seaports for export, Notley said it’s so contentious with environmentalists and native opposition that she won’t spend much time worrying about it.
   Projects such as Energy East to ship oil from Alberta through existing pipelines and an extension to the east coast “might” be supported, she said.
   Notley’s election could give President Barack Obama pause to reject Keystone XL, said Nebraska pipeline-fighter Jane Kleeb.

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   Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was ordered freed from jail in Canada by the Alberta Court of Appeal.
   The Canadian government had vigorously fought Khadr’s attempts for freedom after his capture 13 years ago when he was a 15-year-old fighting in Afghanistan.
   He was arrested by U.S. soldiers after throwing a hand grenade in a firefight that killed a U.S. soldier and wounded another.
   Judge Myra Bielby ruled the government failed to prove that releasing Khadr with strict restrictions while he appeals his war crimes conviction in the U.S. would cause “irreparable harm” to Canada’s international treaty obligations.
   “(We) regret that a convicted terrorist has been allowed back into Canadian society without having served his full sentence,” government spokesman Jeremy Laurin said.

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   News in brief:
   - Canada’s economy erased 19,700 net jobs last month while the national unemployment rate held steady at 6.8 percent for the third month. Statistics Canada said Guelph, Ontario and Kelowna, British Columbia tied for Canada’s lowest jobless rate at 4.1 percent. Alberta added 12,500 net jobs last month while the natural resources sector lost 3,500 positions. British Columbia lost 28,700 net jobs in April.
   - After Target’s dismal attempt to set up shop in Canada that lasted only two years, Walmart is acquiring the leases of 13 of the former stores and Canadian Tire is taking 12 others. Walmart, which has been in Canada for 21 years, will spend $165 million for the leases and properties, and $185 million on renovations.

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   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar has advanced to 82.86 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.2067 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.75 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.85 percent.
   Markets are lower, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 15,186 points and the TSX Venture index at 690 points.
   The average price of gasoline is higher at $1.10 a liter or $4.18 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (May 6) 13, 16, 19, 24, 27 and 30; bonus 48. (May 2) 2, 8, 17, 23, 40 and 42; bonus 25. Lotto Max: (May 1) 6, 18, 20, 37, 40, 44 and 46; bonus 49.

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   Regional briefs:
   - More Ontario teachers are taking job action against the provincial government in their contract disputes. Elementary school teachers will begin “working to rule” on Monday. They plan not to perform some administrative duties but won’t be going on strike initially. About 70,000 high school teachers in Peel, Durham and Sudbury are on strike.
   - Wade MacLauchlan was returned as Premier as the Prince Edward Island Liberal Party won a third majority government in a provincial election. While the Liberals were returned with 18 of the 27 seats in the legislature, the party dropped 10 points in the popular vote to 41 percent from 2011.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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