Liberals win tight poll in Canada’s British Columbia, lose majority

By Nicole Mordant

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – The ruling Liberal Party squeaked to victory in British Columbia elections, but it lost its majority after 16 years in power as the left-leaning New Democrats picked up seats, preliminary results showed.

The Liberals will now form the Western Canadian province’s first minority government in 65 years, and uncertainty over whether the parties will form coalitions left the future of big oil and gas projects in the region unclear.

John Horgan, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), had vowed to stop Kinder Morgan Inc’s C$7.4 billion ($5.4 billion) Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion if elected. Horgan has also expressed reservations about a $27 billion liquefied natural gas terminal that Malaysia’s Petronas [PETR.UL] wants to build.

Going into the vote, the Liberals were neck-and-neck in the polls with the opposition NDP, whose campaign promise to make life more affordable in a province that is home to Canada’s most expensive real estate appeared to have resonated with voters.

With the vote count not complete, the Liberals, which are not linked to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal Party, had won 43 seats in the 87-seat provincial legislature. The NDP had 41 and the Green Party three. Forty-four seats was needed for a majority.

“A majority of British Columbians voted for a new government and I believe that is what they deserve,” NDP leader Horgan told jubilant supporters to chants of “NDP, NDP”.

The Green Party tripled its seats from the last election, positioning the party to hold the balance of power in a minority government.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has said he is open to working with other parties provided they agree to abolish corporate and union donations.

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Good news for Canada’s Conservatives

Conservatives in Canada have a lot to be optimistic about.

This may seem counter-intuitive, given the recent string of electoral loses that saw conservatives defeated by far-left candidates in Alberta, Ontario and in the federal campaign.

Despite these setbacks, Conservative Party faithful can hold their heads high going into their federal party convention later this month.

The nearly 260,000 Canadians who are paid members of the Conservative Party of Canada have received their ballots in the mail and are deliberating on how to cast their vote to select the party’s next leader.

After a slow start, this leadership race has attracted more Canadians to join the Conservative Party than at any time in the party’s history.

For those quarter of a million Canadians voting for a new leader, the ranked-ballot system gives them the ability to rank the candidates and determine where their vote will go if their top choice is eliminated.

On May 27 in Toronto, the ballot-by-ballot results will be announced, and a new leader will be elected.

It’s an exciting process, and the Conservatives leadership candidates have shown not only an excellent ability to connect with Canadians, but also, a revived commitment to small “c” conservative principles.

The leadership race was full of genuine discussions and new ideas.

Many issues that once seemed untouchable in federal politics — for example, defunding the CBC or scrapping dairy subsidies — were robustly debated by the candidates.

The issues were framed by conservatives, advocating their own principles and ideas, not defined by the biases and groupthink of the mainstream media.

Two candidates in particular — Andrew Saxton on the fiscal side, and Steven Blaney on the national security front — deserve special recognition for their bold leadership and proposals to get Canada back on the right track.

British Columbia is often forgotten in federal politics, but Saxton made sure his home province was well represented on the national stage.

Not only was B.C.’s voice heard, loud and clear, fiscal conservatives have a real champion in Saxton.

His platform, “The Road Back to Balance”, is a clear-eyed, practical guide to good governance and fiscal responsibility. It provides a detailed plan to cut wasteful spending, promote economic growth and return to a balanced budget in just a few years.

Regardless of how Saxton does on May 27, his budget proposals should be required reading for all federal politicians.

When it comes to national security, Quebec MP and former federal public safety minister Steven Blaney provides a reality check to counter Trudeau’s open-border naivety.

Far from cowering to political correctness, Blaney’s no-nonsense approach to immigration and security is exactly what Canada needs.

From his sensible proposal to stop illegal immigration across the U.S. border, to his commitment to the integration of newcomers, rather than hands-off mass migration, these policies would help restore the integrity of our immigration system.

Unlike most politicians, Blaney understands Canada’s natural advantages are being undermined by Trudeau’s gullible approach to immigration and security.

All Canadians must remain vigilant to the threats we face and, like Blaney, should refuse to be silenced by the politically correct liberal mob.

Canada is the best country in the world and common sense, conservative values and ideas are needed now more than ever to ensure we remain strong and free.

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Canada’s 150th: A Québécois View

Each sovereign state can choose the date of its national holiday. Generally, this date recalls the accession to independence. The United States, for example, chose to emphasize each year their unilateral declaration of independence of July 4, 1776. They preferred this date to the date of the Treaty of Paris, 1783, which ended the revolutionary war they had won thanks to France’s decisive support. Their national holiday commemorates a founding act.

In France, where the origin of independence is lost in the mists of time, they remember the 14th of July, the fall of the Bastille, as the passage from monarchy to the Republic, the founding act of modern France. Unlike some other countries, the United Kingdom celebrates the birth of its sovereign as its national holiday; it is celebrated on the second Saturday in June. In Canada, they celebrate “the Queen’s birthday” in late May. In Quebec, the Parti Québécois government of Bernard Landry transformed the Queen’s birthday into its opposite, the Patriots’ Day, after the Patriotes who sought to establish the independence of Lower Canada, Quebec’s ancestor.

So Canada celebrates two national holidays: the United Kingdom’s and the one called Canada Day, referring to “Confederation,” (which was a confederation in name only), on July 1. Neither has any relation to its independence. Canada does not celebrate the date of its accession to independence, which legally occurred on December 11, 1931 through the adoption of a British law called the Statute of Westminster. Why?

Birth of Canada?

There is more than one reason for this. First, the date when Canada achieved independence is in reality uncertain. In its Patriation Reference in 1981, the Supreme Court was unable to situate it precisely, which in itself is an anomaly. At most it indicated that it had occurred in events between 1919 and 1931. This effective sovereignty was allegedly won on the battlefields of the First World War, in particular at the battle of Vimy Ridge – one of uncertain military importance but of great importance in the construction of Canadian identity, and for which its 100th anniversary has just been celebrated. This victory led to the separate signature to the Treaty of Versailles of His Majesty King George V on behalf of Canada, which conferred on Canada an international juridical personality, one of the fundamental attributes of sovereignty.

It should be noted that during the centennial ceremonies at Vimy on April 9 the Canadian prime minister stated: “It is here where Canada was born.” This statement teaches us two things. First, and this is an irony of history, Canada was born in France. Second, Canada did not exist in 1867. It was born, according to Mr. Trudeau, exactly a half-century later.

Indeed, it should be recalled that British troops were still occupying the Quebec Citadel in 1867. The Canadian armed forces did not yet exist. Canada had no international relations other than relations within the British Empire. There was no Canadian ambassador abroad, and Canada could sign no treaty because its international relations, including with the United States, were conducted in London. Canadian citizenship did not appear until 1947.

The only provision in the British North America Act, 1867 that had anything to do with international affairs was section 132, which granted the Parliament and Government of Canada “all Powers necessary or proper for performing the Obligations of Canada or of any Province thereof, as Part of the British Empire, towards Foreign Countries, arising under Treaties between the Empire and such Foreign Countries.” Moreover, the same Act provided that all federal laws could be disallowed [overruled] by London. The 1867 Act failed to respect the principle of effectiveness of core state functions, a necessary condition of independence.

Why 150 Years?

Why, then, do they want to celebrate 150 years of colonial autonomy? It can only be because in 1867 they thought they had found the final solution to an event that had occurred thirty years earlier and had been a political earthquake. This was, of course, the rebellion of the Patriotes of Lower Canada. A parallel revolt occurred in Upper Canada, but it concerned only the distribution of powers among Anglophones, namely the British governor and the local élite. That was remedied by the advent of responsible government which turned power over to the elected representatives of the population. In Lower Canada, in contrast, responsible government aggravated the fundamental problem which was the co-existence of two nations – the more vigorous one, demographically, being the French-Canadian nation.

The Act of Union in 1840, which merged Upper and Lower Canada, had been designed to dilute the power of the Francophone majority of Lower Canada at a time when responsible government was becoming inevitable. However, the Act of Union was a failure since the political and national realities were obvious: in effect, there were two co-premiers and two attorneys general in United Canada; two parliamentary majorities were required if laws were to be adopted. The fait francophone continued to weigh heavily in the functioning of the Union, too heavily in the eyes of certain Anglophone politicians.

The solution was colonial federalism, that is, Quebec’s imprisonment in a federal framework in which it was to become increasingly a minority. This imprisonment, which was an attempt at more definitive appropriation and neutralization of Québécois identity, is the precondition to the existence of Canada. This existential condition found its logical follow-up in the negation of the Quebec nation in the constitutional renewal of 1982. Canada was built on the weakening of Quebec. On July 1st each year the Canadian nation celebrates its domination over the Quebec nation. The choice of a founding act that is to be collectively celebrated is never innocent and is always revealing.

André Binette is a prominent constitutional lawyer in Quebec.

This article originally appeared in L’Aut’journal.

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Green candidate David Wong woos voters in Vancouver-Hastings with candour and humility

First-time candidate David Wong is learning that politics can get brutish in our province.

In an interview at the Georgia Straight office, the Vancouver-Hastings Green representative said he’s witnessed a great deal of anger on the campaign trail. And it’s taken him by surprise.

“This woman, out of nowhere, jumped out and started attacking me,” Wong recalled. “She said ‘how dare you be so rude to me?’ I just said ‘hello madam.’ She…started screaming at the top of her lungs and making a scene.”

Fortunately for Wong, for every hater he’s encountered, there have been about 100 people of a more loving nature.

But he admitted that people sometimes expect him to have all the answers when that’s just not realistic.

When this has happened, he’s responded that he can share his experiences and then mentioned the Greens’ guiding principles on respect and participatory democracy.

“I have to be very judicious about what I say,” Wong said. “I can’t just be flippant with my remarks.”

In the past as a housing activist and advocate for First Nations people, Wong hasn’t been afraid to raise hackles. In 2013, for example, he didn’t hesitate to rip into city councillors and senior city staff during his fight to save the Ming Sun Benevolent Society building on Powell Street.

Wong also didn’t censor himself when the B.C. Liberal government crafted a plan to apologize for the Chinese head tax while ignoring Chinese Canadians, like him, who traced their B.C. roots back several generations.

Instead, the Christy Clark government seemed more interested in speaking to first-generation immigrants to further its political goals.

“They have no connection to the historic past,” Wong told the Straight in 2013. “That’s wrong. Because a person’s ethnicity is Chinese does not mean that person is a long-time multigenerational Canadian.”

He showed a similar determination and capacity to speak his mind more than two decades ago while trying to stop the Vancouver park board from cutting down hundreds of trees on the Fraserview Golf Course.

But nowadays, as a politician, Wong is decidedly more diplomatic.

“That’s one thing I’ve learned: to be more guarded because it can affect the party adversely,” he acknowledged.

So what are some of the things that Wong has had to address on the campaign trail?

He mentioned the dogmatism of many voters. He said that they look upon politics almost like a team sport, with winners and losers. And for them, he said, it’s often only black and white without a lot of grey.

“It’s very heartbreaking,” Wong said.

It gets personal, too. Because he’s a member of the Greens, he’s been accused of being anti-union.

But Wong pointed out that his father was a union member and he’s even visited B.C. labour hero Ginger Goodwin’s grave.

And he insisted if he’s elected, he will ensure that the voices of working-class people in East Vancouver will be heard.

Wong added that he’s also been accused of being against arts and culture. This occurred even though he’s been involved in arts organizations and magazines, including Rice Paper. He even wrote a well-received graphic history book, Escape to Gold Mountain, on Chinese people in North America.

David Wong’s graphic history book, Escape to Gold Mountain, highlighted the hardship that Chinese people encountered in North America during the 19th and 20th centuries.

He’s also an architect who runs his own business. So that leads some people to assume he’s right wing.

“They can’t see that people can be on both sides of the spectrum and still be a good human being,” Wong said.

Later in the interview, he declared: “We don’t owe anything to any big unions or big corporations.”

After becoming a Green candidate, Wong was appointed as his party’s housing spokesperson. He claimed that ideas he raised at a housing debate with the NDP’s David Eby and the B.C. Liberals’ Rich Coleman were later usurped by other parties.

As an example, he cited his comments on how the government of Singapore encourages home ownership by having people set aside a certain percentage of their income, which is matched by their employers. 

He noted that Singapore also builds complete communities, including housing and community centres and marketplaces, on government-owned land.

“Now I hear others using these ideas, saying they’re quite successful over there and not over here,” Wong said.

He isn’t bothered if other parties embrace ideas advanced by the Green party. But he claimed that people who “don’t have dirt under their fingernails” in delivering affordable housing won’t be knowledgeable enough to make these concepts work.

In his architectural practice, Wong has designed sustainable affordable housing in First Nations communities.

His attachment to indigenous people is so deep that it was the subject of a CBC documentary by indigenous journalist Duncan McCue when Vancouver was hosting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. For Wong, it’s carrying on the friendship and connections that existed between First Nations people and Chinese residents of the region that dated back more than a century.

Near the end of the interview, Wong revealed that he recently visited a homeless camp in Vancouver.

“I brought food, brought blankets, and didn’t tell them that I was a politician,” he recalled.

Wong noted that he wasn’t a politician when visited another homeless camp in the past at Oppenheimer Park. So why should he do it this time?

“I do love these people,” he stated “If I was the housing minister, I would look at ways of accommodating tent cities.”

With that, Wong was on his way to talk to more voters in Vancouver-Hastings.

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Early results in B.C. election show small Liberal lead

VANCOUVER — Early results in British Columbia’s election campaign show the Liberals edging into a slight lead over the NDP with a small number of polls reporting.

The election campaign began four weeks ago with Liberal Leader Christy Clark and the NDP’s John Horgan locked in a tight race to become B.C.’s next premier, and Green Leader Andrew Weaver looking to make a historic breakthrough for his third-place party.

The Liberals are trying to win a fifth successive majority government after holding power for 16 years.

Clark’s strategy marked a return to the Liberals’ winning approach in 2013, when she promoted her party as the only one that could create and protect jobs while portraying the NDP as disastrous managers of the economy.

While her promise of a booming liquefied natural gas industry has not materialized, Clark was able to point to B.C.’s strong economy as proof of the Liberals’ financial savvy. The province has Canada’s lowest unemployment rate and has led the country in economic growth two years in a row.

Horgan sought to portray Clark as out of touch with regular British Columbians who feel the economy is not working for them, while Weaver cast the Greens as political outsiders.

The NDP focused largely on the seat-rich Lower Mainland, home to a number of battleground ridings.

The New Democrats’ platform contained big-ticket promises including $10-a-day childcare, freezing hydro rates for a year and eliminating tolls on two major Lower Mainland bridges. Horgan said the NDP would balance the budget by raising taxes on the top two per cent of earners and by using a $500-million “LNG prosperity fund” that Clark created out of general revenue.

But the Liberals sowed doubts about the NDP’s ability to pay for its promises, repeatedly accusing the party of a massive “crater” in its platform that could only be filled with new taxes.

Weaver reminded voters that his party was the only one to ban corporate and union donations and his promises included electoral reform, increasing the carbon tax and investing millions in clean technology jobs.

Weaver, a climate scientist who became the first Green elected to the B.C. legislature four years ago, said if the party only won one seat this time he would not run again.

Before the results began to come in, Green deputy leader Matt Toner said the campaign turned a corner for the party. He said Green support on Vancouver Island was “tremendous” and the possibility of a minority government where the Greens held the balance of power was often discussed.

“People used to look at the Green party as a punchline in this province and now we’re being seen as a pivotal player,” he said.

“This is not the end of the race for us, but it’s certainly a heck of a level up. I think it’s going to impact B.C. politics for years to come.”

B.C.’s campaign finance laws dominated headlines before the election began. The province allows unlimited corporate and union donations and the RCMP is investigating fundraising by the province’s political parties.

After months of pressure, the Liberals committed to convening a panel to review political fundraising. The NDP and Greens have promised an outright ban on corporate and union donations.

The campaign was thrown a curveball when U.S. President Donald Trump announced a 20-per-cent tariff on softwood lumber in late April. More than half of B.C. softwood lumber exports go to the U.S.

Clark called for a retaliatory ban or tax on U.S. thermal coal exports moving through B.C. ports.

Horgan blamed Clark for the softwood tariff, saying that if she had managed the file better the duties could have been avoided.

— With files from Dirk Meissner in Victoria

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

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Back to Bitumount: How the oilsands changed Alberta and Canada forever

David O’Laney unlocks the gate to the historic site he is charged with protecting and swings it wide, allowing entrance to what is arguably the birthplace of modern Alberta and all that has meant to the rest of Canada.

Appropriately, the road in is paved with bitumen.

“This is where the first experimental oilsands processing took place,” says O’Laney, who monitors and maintains the site for Alberta Culture.

“This” – a stretch of Athabasca River bank north of Fort McMurray – is Bitumount.

It’s where almost a century ago, men and money laboured mightily to turn the black, gooey, sandy gunk into something – anything – that people would pay for.

Eventually, an industry was founded. The result changed Alberta – and Canada – forever.

“It really did change the economy and the political landscape of the country,” says University of Toronto political scientist Chris Cochrane. “It’s still changing them.” 

Half homestead, half abandoned industrial yard, Bitumount doesn’t look like a birthplace.

It was started in the mid-1920s when Robert Fitzsimmons, a career oilman, decided the tarry goo along the riverbank was his ticket to riches.

For more than a decade, he did everything he could to make the oilsands pay. He advertised 38 different ways to use bitumen, including road paving, home roofing and even as a therapeutic bath.

His cabin and those of his workers, the gaps in the walls chinked with bitumen, still stand.

Some of today’s mines have their own airstrips, but in those days the only way in and out was Fitzsimmon’s boat. The Golden Slipper still moulders on the riverbank.

Fitzsimmons was bought out in 1942 by Lloyd Champion, a serial entrepreneur who thought bitumen just the thing to pave the Alaska Highway, then under construction. Champion later partnered with the provincial government, which ultimately ran the site until it closed in 1955.

Touring Bitumount today, it’s impossible not to be struck by the parallels between past and present. 

Despite their rusty patina, many of the structures from Fitzsimmons’ time would look familiar to today’s oilsands workers – the dormitories, the power plant, the refinery, the pipelines.

There’s an old rail car on site once used as a travelling road show to sell the oilsands – a harbinger of the two-storey dump truck Alberta brought to Washington D.C. in 2006 for the same purpose. 

Fitzsimmons’ old operation even presaged the modern method of using hot water to separate the oil from the sand it’s mixed with. Except his workers stirred a huge open-air cauldron and raked off the oily slurry off by hand.

“Imagine the smell,” says O’Laney.

Those old crews produced about 60 barrels a day. Now, 2.3 million barrels are piped out each day.

That’s the result of decades of innovative engineering – and a pipeline of money.

“The perfect metaphor is someone spiking the punch bowl,” says Todd Hirsch, chief economist for Alberta Treasury Branches, a provincially owned bank.

In 2014 alone, the oilsands attracted $34 billion in investment.

Alberta, a jurisdiction of just over four million people, knocked back years of that. It was quite a party.

Corporate shindigs featured caviar and filet at the Calgary Stampede, where $100 hot dogs loaded with cognac and lobster sold out. Mobile homes in Fort McMurray sold for $400,000.

Competing with a black hole

A 17-year-old could make $80 an hour driving a truck. Retail sales staff in Alberta could expect to earn $5,000 a year more than elsewhere in the country.

Every year from 2000 to 2015, Alberta gained about 23,000 people at the expense of the other provinces. The Alberta economy grew by a fifth between 2010 and 2014.

That’s not necessarily good, Hirsch says.

“When you have one dominant industry that pulls so much capital, it turns into a bit of a black hole that has its own gravitational force and it pulls in everything around it including labour, capital, everything from office space to building materials to all kinds of talent.

“It makes it very difficult for other industries and non-energy sectors to compete.”

The industry has created enormous wealth, but it has left Alberta vulnerable.

“Everyone would like to have a more diverse economy, but when oil’s at $100 a barrel it pinches off any attempts,” says Hirsch.

Nationally, the oilsands boom exaggerated the regional tensions that have plagued Canada since 1867, says Cochrane.

“It’s very difficult to craft comprehensive economic strategies for this country given the variable conditions and industries that dominate in different regions.

‘Enormous imbalances’

“I don’t want to say the oilsands have damaged Canadian politics or national unity. (But) I think the reaction to the oilsands has left a lasting impact on people’s sense of national cohesiveness.”

Alberta’s financial strength during the 2000s was enough to destabilize the relationship between Alberta, Ottawa and the other provinces, says Hirsch.

“If the Fathers of Confederation had to go back and make a redo, they probably wouldn’t have handed over natural resources to provinces,” he says. “This is really what has caused the enormous imbalances between the provinces.”

Think of the now-notorious 2001 firewall letter, written by a young lobbyist named Stephen Harper to then-Alberta Premier Ralph Klein urging him to opt out of national programs such as the Canada Health Act.


Alberta Premier Ralph Klein waves to the media as he is greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper prior to an informal meeting with Canadian Premiers, in Ottawa Friday Feb 24, 2006. (Tom Hanson)


“Nothing of that is even imaginable without the kind of fiscal independence that Alberta was able to secure from the resource industries,” Cochrane says.

But the industry has also fostered national ties. There’s all those Newfoundlanders moving west, or the 1,500 Ontario manufacturers filling oilsands orders.

“There’s no question Alberta’s energy industry has really become Canada’s energy industry,” says Hirsch.

The industry is so big that when the 2016 wildfires near Fort McMurray temporarily shut production in May, Canada’s GDP shrunk that month by 0.6 per cent.

 ‘We’ve painted outselves into a corner’

The oilsands have also become an international issue.

At one point in 2010, arguments from environmental groups convinced six Fortune 500 companies to promise to avoid oilsands-derived fuel in their transportation fleet. Ad campaigns targeting the industry ran throughout the U.S. and in Europe.

Under attack, Albertans became more than a bit defensive about the industry that butters their bread.

“We are a bit on our back foot,” says Hirsch. “We’ve painted outselves into a corner where we find ourselves with a dependence on a commodity that the rest of the world is viewing unfavourably.”

Things, of course, have changed since 2014. Oil prices have collapsed from over $100 a barrel to about $50. 

CP graphic

Analysts wonder if the age of megaprojects such as the $16.5-billion Fort Hills project – jointly owned by Suncor, Total and Teck Resources, next door to Bitumount – is nearing the end.

ExxonMobil and Chevron recently wrote down $183 billion of oilsands reserves in response to concerns from American securities regulators that they were no longer economic to produce.

And other multinationals are backing away from the resource.

Royal Dutch Shell recently sold most of its oilsands holdings to Canadian Natural Resources. Statoil has sold its oilsands assets to Athabasca Oil Corp. of Calgary.

Alberta actually lost people to other provinces last year.

Hirsch suggests the current oil price is Goldilocks – high enough to stabilize the industry and keep it profitable, low enough to leave economic space for diversification.

The problem for the Alberta government is that high-tech manufacturing or the renewable energy or advanced agri-food or tourism or engineering sectors may create tax revenue, but they don’t pay royalties.

“Royalties are really nice and easy to spend because you didn’t have to work very hard for them,” Hirsch says.

Alta Environmental Monitoring 20141009

A hydraulic shovel loads a heavy hauler at an oilsands mine north of Fort McMurray. (Adrian Wyld)

Nationally, the oilsands have been an abundant and growing source of good-paying middle-class jobs, the kind to which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau constantly refers. More than 400,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs depend on the oilsands and supporting sectors.

Even if the oilsands remain stable, it’s hard to see where new jobs for all those skilled trades will come from, says Cochrane.

“To what extent are people fundamentally malleable in terms of the kinds of things they’re willing or able to do?” he asks.

“There’s a kind of person who stands to gain stable employment from oilsands work. One line of thinking is that these folks will have to go away and retrain and adapt to another kind of economy.

“I think that people’s horizons for what they want to do, the kind of thing they’re good at, isn’t as infinite as some of these arguments imply.”

Canadians who have grown accustomed to fat oilsands paycheques may be facing a reckoning, Hirsch says.

“Wages are coming down, wage expectations are coming down, and that is difficult when households have set up budgets and expectations of how much money and how many vacations to Maui.”

Disaster Social Work 20170329

A wild fire rips through the forest 16 kilometres south of Fort McMurray on highway 63 on May 7, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward)

And the challenge of climate change – perhaps the biggest one the industry faces – has never gone away.

Industry has agreed to a hard cap of 100 megatonnes of carbon emissions, a limit that will be pretty much maxed out when projects now in the regulatory process are all built. I

Industry says technological advances will eventually allow more production without CO2 growth, but it’s been saying that for a long time and possible solutions are a long way from commercially feasible.

Many analysts suggest that meeting Canada’s international greenhouse gas reduction goals will mean the country will simply have to walk away from some bitumen deposits.

‘We took a marginal resource and turned it into something’

“I’m trying to think about how a government could bring an entire country together around a policy that will leave a pile of money in the ground and unemploy a lot of people, if handled incorrectly,” Cochrane says.

“If there is going to be a convincing strategy of moving away from oilsands development, it’s going to have to be a policy that’s going to benefit those most likely to lose from the shift. That’s going to be hard to tell people in Quebec or Ontario.”

Still, Bitumount holds one more lesson, this one more optimistic.

The oilsands are just one more example of Canadians creating value with persistence, hard work and imagination — turning an ugly duckling into a golden goose.

“The oilsands didn’t work at the beginning,” says Hirsch. “Agriculture, at the beginning, did not work here.

“We took a marginal resource and turned it into something.”

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Canadian insurer Sun Life’s profit misses estimates

(adds details)

Canada’s third-biggest life insurer by assets said its
underlying net income fell to C$573 million ($417.7 million), or
93 Canadian per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from
C$582 million, or 95 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Underlying net income excludes the impact of interest rate
and equity market movements.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 99 Canadian
cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Underlying net income in the U.S slumped 28.4 percent to
C$58 million, while the measure in its Canadian business, its
biggest unit, jumped 5 percent to $229 million, the company

The company’s total life and health sales rose to C$772
million from C$488 million, while wealth sales stood at C$37.6
billion, up from C$33.2 billion.

Sun Life’s total assets under management rose 7.8 percent to
C$927.28 billion at the end of the quarter.

Rival Manulife Financial Corp last week reported a
rise in first-quarter earnings, slightly beating market
forecasts with help from strong sales in Asia.
($1 = 1.37 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Ahmed Farhatha in Bengaluru and Matt Scuffham in
Toronto; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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CANADA STOCKS-TSX dragged by banks and energy; Valeant, Home Capital surges

May 9 Canada’s main stock index fell
more than half a percent on Tuesday as bank and energy stocks
led the market lower, but Valeant Pharmaceuticals International
and Home Capital Group Inc stocks soared as
investors cheered news from the companies.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index
closed down 82.88 points, or 0.53 percent, at
15,569.2. Seven of the index’s 10 key sectors lost ground.
(Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Chris Reese)


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Jimmy Carter: Trump is right. Canada’s lumber trade practices are unfair.

Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States.

I agree with the recent decision of the White House and the Commerce Department to impose anti-subsidy duties against Canada’s unfairly traded softwood lumber imports. This belated enforcement of U.S. trade laws will help millions of private timberland owners, American forestry workers and members of their local communities by leveling the playing field in the timber industry.

Timber sales are a major source of income for my own family, and we have suffered financially for many years from an unfair advantage enjoyed by our major competitor in this vital market.

(The Washington Post)

With moderate adjustments in management, there is enough timberland in the United States to supply the total American market with lumber. Without adjusting any U.S. timber policies, and if we are able to compete on a level playing field against Canada, our production of lumber could satisfy more than 84 percent of total U.S. demand, according to Western Woods Products Association data. This would leave the remaining 16 percent to be supplied by imports, but now about 32 percent of our lumber is being imported from Canada.

Canada enjoys an inherent advantage in that the vast majority of its standing timber is owned by provincial governments, which are free to dump their timber at practically no cost in order to stimulate their forest industry. At the same time, most of America’s timber is privately owned, and market forces impose a minimum price at which farm owners can continue in business.

There has been a long-lasting dispute about importing Canadian softwood, which has gone through an increasingly crucial phase during the past 35 years. About 70 percent of Canada’s softwood lumber exports came to the United States in 2015. One indication of the recent changes in market forces is that the number of Canadian-owned sawmills in our country has exploded to more than 40 in the past decade — partially because of lower labor costs in the United States.

The latest Softwood Lumber Agreement expired on Oct. 12, 2015, and Canadian producers now have almost unrestricted access to the U.S. softwood lumber market. Last month, the Trump administration announced plans to impose average duties of 20 percent on most Canadian lumber, charging that these lumber companies are subsidized by the government. To remain in effect, however, the duties need to be finalized by our Commerce Department and then confirmed by the U.S. International Trade Commission after an investigation that includes testimony from both sides. This enforcement of U.S. trade laws is consistent with our international commitments.

The members of my family own about 1,800 acres of timberland, and the softwood (pine) tracts are mostly planted as seedlings (from 550 to 900 per acre) that even in our warm climate need to grow for at least 25 years before becoming large enough to sell for lumber. Unless in urgent need of cash income, we usually wait at least 10 additional years before harvesting and replanting. After this 35-year period, we sell our softwood timber — usually less than 100 acres a year — in a competitive and open process to Canadian sawmills to make lumber.

With logs selling at the present price of $25 per ton, we can expect to realize a net income of about $875 per acre, or just $25 a year over 35 years, plus some secondary income for pulp wood and other products. Largely because of Canada’s unfair trade, the prices we receive today are the same as when I was in office over 35 years ago, although expenses from planting seedlings, thinning, removing unmarketable trees, periodic controlled burning and timber severance taxes are much greater.

While there are many benefits to harmonious bilateral relationship between the United States and Canada, our neighbor to the north must still play by the rules and stop engaging in its unfair trade practices. We must either enforce U.S. trade laws with tariffs or insist on an effective and lasting bilateral softwood trade agreement that allows our industry to survive, provide jobs for workers and sustain vibrant forestry communities across our country.

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CANADA STOCKS-TSX down as banks and energy weigh; Valeant, Home Capital soars

* TSX down 82.88 points, or 0.53 percent, to 15,569.2

* Seven of the TSX’s 10 main groups fell

By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, May 9 Canada’s main stock index fell on
Tuesday as banks, oil and gas companies pulled the market lower,
but losses were modestly tempered by Valeant Pharmaceuticals
International and Home Capital Group Inc
stocks, which soared as investors cheered news from the

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index
fell 82.88 points, or 0.53 percent, to 15,569.2. Seven
of the 10 most influential index movers were in negative

Home Capital Group, which was accused by the Ontario
securities regulator for making misleading statements to
investors, saw its shares surge after it said an unnamed buyer
intended to purchase up to C$1.5 billion ($1.09 billion) worth
of its mortgages.

The overall financials group fell 0.9 percent, however.

Thirteen of the 15 biggest drags on the index were financial
and energy companies, and accounted for the bulk of declines.

Royal Bank of Canada was by far the most influential
driver on the downside, falling 1.3 percent to close at C$92.94.
Bank of Nova Scotia followed, with a 1.1 percent
decline to end at C$75.91.

Michael Simpson, senior portfolio manager at Sentry Select
Capital Corp said bank weakness could be attributed in part to
concerns about weaker oil prices on the economy, but also to
Home Capital related concerns.

“More short-term investors are concerned about the quality
of the books of the Canadian banks, consumer debt showing no
sign of abating, and Canadian real estate price in Toronto being
quite robust,” Simpson said. “Some would wisely ask, how long
can this keep going?”

The energy group retreated 1.1 percent, mirroring declines
in U.S. crude prices, which were down 0.6 percent at
$46.17 a barrel.

“Today’s losses is a continuation of weakness we’ve seen
throughout the year in energy,” Simpson said.

“The judgment by the market is that there’s too much oil, so
this will cause a headwind for companies that are producing.”

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd fell 1.6 percent to

Healthcare was among the few gainers, rising 5.5 percent.
Valeant skyrocketed 24.1 percent to C$16.58 after it raised its
earnings outlook and reported its first quarterly profit in six

Software company Open Text Corp retreated after
its quarterly profit missed expectations. Shares slid 5.3
percent to end at C$45.13.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the TSX by
160 to 85, for a 1.88-to-1 ratio on the downside.

The index was posting 13 new 52-week highs.
($1 = 1.3717 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by David Gregorio)

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