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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pipeline safety, environmental concerns after major Canadian spill

   Canada column for Sunday, July 31/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The safety of oil pipelines remains a major concern after a major spill in Saskatchewan.
   Cities and towns along the North Saskatchewan River were looking for other sources of drinking water after a Husky Energy pipeline spilled up to 66,000 gallons of oil into the river.
   This happened just as public hearings are to begin on Aug. 8 on the proposed Energy East Pipeline.
   “All of these incidents shake public confidence,” Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, which wants to build the pipeline, said in an interview with the Canadian Press news service.
   “There's no question that things like that cause people concern – and rightfully so,” he added.
   TransCanada is also behind the Keystone XL pipeline that would have moved Alberta oil sands product across the U.S. but was rejected by President Barack Obama.
    Energy East would be a $15.7 billion pipeline to ship 1.1 million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan through Quebec and into New Brunswick.
   It would supply Eastern Canadian refineries and provide oil for shipment overseas but is facing significant opposition from environmentalists.


   A Toronto police officer who repeatedly shot a mentally disturbed teenager on an empty streetcar three years ago is out on bail awaiting an appeal.
   Constable James Forcillo, 33, committed an “egregious breach of trust” and abused his authority, Judge Edward Then said in sentencing Forcillo to six years in prison.
   Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder for shooting Sammy Yatim, 18, who was armed with a knife and had already been mortally wounded by Forcillo.
   Judge Eileen Gillese granted bail to Forcillo, saying there’s no risk he would commit another crime, as he appeals the conviction and sentence.


   News in brief:
   - Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has increased its risk rating for Vancouver to its highest level saying the market is “overheated.” The federal agency is concerned about demand outstripping supply and strong price acceleration. It is also watching Toronto, Calgary, Saskatoon and Regina. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver said the benchmark price for all residential properties was $917,800 last month, a 32-percent increase from a year ago.
   - The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will again be visiting one of the former “colonies” as they visit Canada in the fall. It will be the second visit for Prince William and Kate since they were married five years ago. They plan to visit British Columbia and Yukon. “Our true Canadian pride and spirit will shine and be at the very heart of this visit so they can feel at home,” Governor-General David Johnston said.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is higher at 76.5 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.306 Canadian, before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index lower at 14,558 points while the TSX Venture index is higher at 792 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada has dropped to $1 a liter or $3.80 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (July 27) 6, 7, 9, 39, 47 and 49; bonus 15. (July 23) 7, 18, 34, 41, 48 and 49; bonus 29. Lotto Max: (July 22) 9, 26, 28, 32, 37, 40 and 45; bonus 46.


   Regional briefs:
   - British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said overdose deaths have become a public health emergency. She asked for help from the federal government and is seeking restriction of access to devices involved with drug production and stronger penalties for traffickers of fentanyl. There have been 371 deaths in the first six months of the year in the province, an increase of 74 percent over last year.
   - Pokemon Go players can just go someplace else, say the Canadian Armed Forces. Military police are warning players, both in and out of uniform, not to search for Pokemon characters on defense properties. In the first week of the release of the digital pocket monster game, there have been human Pokemon invaders at Canadian Forces Base Borden and 22 Wing North Bay, both in Ontario, and 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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