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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Environmentalists' concern rising after major pipeline rupture in Alberta

   Canada column for Sunday, July 26/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   There is growing concern in Canada’s oil patch about the safety of pipelines after a major rupture in northern Alberta.
   A Nexen Energy pipeline leaked 13.1-million gallons of emulsion -- a mixture of bitumen, water and sand -- near Fort McMurray.
   Nexen senior vice president Ron Bailey said it is believed the leak occurred between June 29 and July 15 when a contractor discovered it near the Long Lake oil sands facility.
   Greenpeace Canada environmentalist Mike Hudema said for the leak to go undetected for up to two weeks and discovered by chance is cause for alarm.
   The pipeline was installed only last year and a warning system didn't detect the leak.
   “It’s disheartening to see the site and it’s disappointing that this has happened,” said Nexen Energy CEO Fang Zhi.
   “Our focus as of now is ensuring the safety of our workers on the site, minimizing whatever impact on the environment and on the wildlife, as well as understanding the root causes of this incident through investigations,” he added.
   “Warning bells should be going off for Canada’s premiers right now about the dangers they are bringing to their communities if new pipelines are built, because that’s what they’re calling for with the Canadian Energy Strategy,” Hudema said.


   A retired New Brunswick man arrested for cross-border shopping for beer and liquor plans a court challenge of antiquated inter-provincial laws.
   Gerard Comeau, 62, was arrested by the Mounties in 2012 when he returned to New Brunswick with 12 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor from neighboring Quebec.
   The booze was seized and Comeau was arrested for illegally importing alcohol into his home province where it is much more expensive to buy.
   He is planning a constitutional challenge of the law from Prohibition days related to federal anti-smuggling efforts.
   The Canadian Constitution Foundation is backing his cause with a “crowdfunding drive” to raise money to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.


   News in brief:
   - Socialist New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair has started his campaign for the October 19 federal election with an eight-day tour of Ontario. A Forum Research poll shows his party has the lead in public support at 34 percent, while the Liberals have 29 and the ruling Conservatives 28. The Bloc and Green parties are 5 and 4, respectively.
   - Loblaw Companies Ltd., Canada’s largest food retailer, plans to close 52 “unprofitable” stores to cut costs and boost its operating profit. The closings will happen over the next year and follow a review after Loblaw bought the Shoppers Drug Mart chain. The company has 2,300 Loblaws, Shoppers and No Frills stores and the Joe Fresh clothing brand. It is also building 50 new stores and renovating 100 others.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is at a six-year low of 76.67 cents compared with the U.S. dollar now valued at $1.3041 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is 0.50 percent while the lowest prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Markets are lower with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 14,160 points and the TSX Venture index 591 points.
   The average price of gas is lower at a national average of $1.177 a liter or $4.47 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (July 22) 6, 9, 13, 26, 27 and 46; bonus 15. (July 18) 2, 12, 22, 28, 41 and 48; bonus 5. Lotto Max: (July 17) 23, 24, 29, 36, 42, 43 and 49; bonus 38.


   Regional briefs:
   - Benjamin Robinson, a former Mountie involved in the 2007 Taser death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport, has been sentenced to two years in prison for perjury. Judge Nathan Smith ruled that Robinson colluded with fellow officers to make up testimony given at an inquiry. Constable Kwesi Millington received a 30-month sentence and two other officers were acquitted.
   - Twenty night-shift workers at hardware retailer Rona near Montreal are Canada’s newest millionaires. They won a cash prize of $55 million in a Lotto Max draw. Each person received $2.75- million tax free in the largest jackpot paid by the Canada-wide lottery.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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