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Alberta lashes back against reported federal bailout over Teck mine

Reports the federal government is preparing an aid package for Alberta for when they turn down the proposed Teck mine has provincial officials seething.

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Reports the federal government is preparing an aid package for Alberta for when they turn down the proposed Teck mine has provincial officials seething.

“This isn’t a natural disaster. Alberta isn’t in need of an aid package. We need the feds to get out of the way & stop impeding job creation & investor confidence in our province. Period.” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon in a tweet.

At an earlier press conference Nixon said: “We’re not looking for an aid package from Ottawa, we’re not looking for handouts from Justin Trudeau.”

Nixon said the Alberta government has not been in touch with anyone from Ottawa over the proposed mine in northern Alberta.

“We are worried about some of the things we’ve been seeing in the media,” Nixon said.

“We do not view a decision on Frontier as something to be traded away or politicized. For us this issue goes beyond politics – Albertans want approval plain and simple.  

“Prime Minister Trudeau has emphasized his desire to work with Alberta and to preserve national unity. It’s time he backed up his words with action.

“Albertans are watching closely.

“The project has undergone a rigorous 10-year review, including a recommendation for approval from the independent federal regulator. Teck has played by the rules endorsed by Ottawa – including by the current federal government. To arbitrarily reject the project at the eleventh hour for political reasons would send a chilling signal to international investors.”

In Washington, Premier Jason Kenney said a thumbs down for Teck would be a devasting blow.

“I think that would be a devastating message to send in terms of investor confidence at a time when we are struggling to attract foreign direct investment to the Canadian economy,” Kenney told a business audience.

“Why would anyone invest in Canada? It’s a very dangerous path to go down.”

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer also blasted a possible aid package.

“An aid package is insulting and outrageous! Albertans don’t want a handout. They want work. You need to get out of the way. Let Albertans roll up their sleeves and do what they do best,” Scheer tweeted.

The mega project in northern Alberta has already been approved by the non-political regulators, but Liberal the natural resources minister said last week that the federal government may delay approval of the project unless Alberta drops its opposition to Ottawa’s carbon tax. Adding fuel to the fire were several Eastern Liberal MPs lobbying to kill the project outright.

Reports of an aid package for the beleaguered province appear to confirm that the federal government is seriously considering nixing the mega project, which Teck says will create 7,000 jobs and significantly add to the provinces GDP.

In place of allowing the private investment project to go ahead, federal sources say that direct government spending on infrastructure projects and well cleanup is in the mix.

Earlier in the day, Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs tweeted, “A political rejection of this project by the Liberal cabinet will be perceived by most Albertans as a final rejection of Alberta by Canada.”

Teck itself issued a statement this week saying it also hoped it would become a net-zero emitter by 2050.

The project, a “truck and shovel” oil sands mine, “will consist of surface mining operations, a processing plant, tailings management facilities, water management facilities, and associated infrastructure and support facilities,” according to a statement on the company’s website. It’s expected to produce 260,000 barrels of oil a day.

“Teck has also reached agreements with all 14 Indigenous communities in the broader Frontier project area.”

The federal government has said they would give an answer on the mine before the end of February.

Federal Environment Minister Johnathan Wilkinson hinted last week approval would be based on how Alberta approaches climate change.

“With respect to (Frontier), we need to look at all the environmental impacts, we obviously need to look at the economic opportunities, and we need to ensure we’re taking both into account,” Wilkinson said.

“Certainly, one of those issues is how does this project fit with Canada’s commitments to achieving the reductions we are committing to (for) 2030, and the net zero commitment to 2050? I would just say again that it’s important that all provinces are working to help Canada to achieve its targets.”

Wilkinson said all provinces, including Alberta, are expected to do their part to help Canada meet those commitments.

The UCP government unveiled their industrial emitter plan, TIER (Technology, Innovation and Emissions Reduction system), in Bill 19, passed during the fall legislature session.

TIER replaced the NDP’s Climate Leadership Plan by maintaining the price on pollution for large emitters but repealing the price on other businesses and residents. The federal price on carbon for Albertans, excepting large emitters, came into effect January 1, 2020.

Under TIER, facilities can either reduce their emissions or; use credits from other facilities, use emissions offsets from non-regulated organizations, or pay into the TIER fund at $30 per tonne.

The Alberta government launched its challenge of federal carbon pricing in 2019 and presented arguments Dec. 16-18 in Alberta’s Court of Appeal.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Frontier Teck pulls plug on Alberta mine

The company behind a massive controversial oil sands project in northern Alberta has pulled the plug in it.

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The company behind a massive controversial oil sands project in northern Alberta has pulled the plug in it.

Teck resources said they weren’t afraid to shy away from controversy but the battle over climate change in Canada, made the project untenable.

“We are also strong supporters of Canada’s action on carbon pricing and other climate policies such as legislated caps for oil sands emissions,” said Don Lindsay
President and Chief Executive Officer of Teck Resources Limited, in a statement released Sunday night.

“The promise of Canada’s potential will not be realized until governments can reach agreement around how climate policy considerations will be addressed in the context of future responsible energy sector development.

“Questions about the societal implications of energy development, climate change and Indigenous rights are critically important ones for Canada, its provinces and Indigenous governments to work through.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny said the move came as a shock.

“Today’s announcement by Teck to withdraw its application for approval of the Frontier project, only days before the federal cabinet was set to decide whether to approve or reject it, is a grave disappointment to Albertans. Alberta has lost the opportunity for 7,000 jobs and Canada has lost the opportunity for $70 billion of dollars in new tax and royalty revenue that could have funded our generous social services over the next four decades. The project would also have produced oil cleaner than half the barrels in North America, Kenney said in a statement.

“Teck’s decision is disappointing, but in light of the events of the last few weeks it is not surprising. It is what happens when governments lack the courage to defend the interests of Canadians in the face of a militant minority. The timing of the decision is not a coincidence. This was an economically viable project, as the company confirmed this week, for which the company was advocating earlier this week, so something clearly changed very recently.

“Weeks of federal indecision on the regulatory approval process and inaction in the face of illegal blockades have created more uncertainty for investors looking at Canada. Teck’s predicament shows that even when a company spends more than $1 billion over a decade to satisfy every regulatory requirement, a regulatory process that values politics over evidence and the erosion of the rule of law will be fatal to investor confidence.”

“The factors that led to the today’s decision further weaken national unity. The Government of Alberta agreed to every request and condition raised by the federal government for approving the Frontier project, including protecting bison and caribou habitat, regulation of oilsands emissions, and securing full Indigenous support. The Government of Alberta repeatedly asked what more we could do to smooth the approval process. We did our part, but the federal government’s inability to convey a clear or unified position let us, and Teck, down. 

“This news deepens our government’s resolve to use every tool available to fight for greater control and autonomy for Alberta within Canada, including reinforcing our constitutional right to develop our natural resources, ensuring a sustainable future for our oil and gas industries, and restoring Canada’s reputation as a reliable place to do business.”

After the decision was announced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Kenney.

“Both the Prime Minister and the Premier agreed on the importance of Canada’s natural resource sector to our economy. They discussed their commitment to developing our natural resources sustainably and creating jobs,” said Trudeau’s office in a statement.

“The Prime Minister reaffirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to working with Alberta and the resource sector to keep creating good jobs and to ensure clean, sustainable growth for Canadians.

“The Prime Minister and the Premier also briefly discussed the railway blockades and the impacts they are having across the country on Canadians and the economy, and they affirmed their desire for a quick and peaceful resolution.”

Former premier Rachel Notley said Kenney only has himself to blame.

“The heated rhetoric and constant conflict generated by Jason Kenney and the UCP is the primary reason for withdrawal of Teck’s application. Jason Kenney has acted only to inflame this debate. He intentionally reduced the Teck project to a political football.
Now that project has been spiked – and the Premier himself is the one to blame.”

mackay tweet
Andrew Scheer tweet

As a result of this decision, Teck will write down the $1.13 billion carrying value of the Frontier Project.

Sonya Savage tweet

The full Teck letter to the government can be read here.

Clark tweet

–More to come

The $20.6-billion Teck mega project in northern Alberta has already been approved by the non-political regulators, but the Liberal natural resources minister has said the federal government may delay approval of the project unless Alberta drops its opposition to Ottawa’s carbon tax. Adding fuel to the fire were several Eastern Liberal MPs lobbying to kill the project outright.

Reports of an aid package for the beleaguered province appear to confirm that the federal government is seriously considering nixing the mega project, which Teck says will create 7,000 jobs and significantly add to the provinces GDP.

In place of allowing the private investment project to go ahead, federal sources say that direct government spending on infrastructure projects and well cleanup is in the mix.

Teck itself issued a statement this week saying it also hoped it would become a net-zero emitter by 2050.

The project, a “truck and shovel” oil sands mine, “will consist of surface mining operations, a processing plant, tailings management facilities, water management facilities, and associated infrastructure and support facilities,” according to a statement on the company’s website. It’s expected to produce 260,000 barrels of oil a day.

Teck has also reached agreements with all 14 Indigenous communities in the broader Frontier project area.

The federal government has said they would give an answer on the mine before the end of February.

Federal Environment Minister Johnathan Wilkinson has hinted approval would be based on how Alberta approaches climate change.

“With respect to (Frontier), we need to look at all the environmental impacts, we obviously need to look at the economic opportunities, and we need to ensure we’re taking both into account,” Wilkinson said.

Certainly, one of those issues is how does this project fit with Canada’s commitments to achieving the reductions we are committing to (for) 2030, and the net zero commitment to 2050? I would just say again that it’s important that all provinces are working to help Canada to achieve its targets.”

Wilkinson said all provinces, including Alberta, are expected to do their part to help Canada meet those commitments.

The UCP government unveiled their industrial emitter plan, TIER (Technology, Innovation and Emissions Reduction system), in Bill 19, passed during the fall legislature session.

TIER replaced the NDP’s Climate Leadership Plan by maintaining the carbon tax on large emitters but repealing the tax on other businesses and residents. The federal price on carbon for Albertans, excepting large emitters, came into effect January 1, 2020.

Under TIER, facilities can either reduce their emissions or; use credits from other facilities, use emissions offsets from non-regulated organizations, or pay into the TIER fund at $30 per tonne.

The Alberta government launched its challenge of federal carbon tax in 2019 and presented arguments Dec. 16-18 in Alberta’s Court of Appeal.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

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Calgary mayor says Buffalo Declaration authors ‘need to calm down’

Calling the rhetoric of the Buffalo Declaration “overheated”, Nenshi said he wished politicians would focus on the need for job creation.

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Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the authors of the Buffalo Doctrine need to “calm down.”

Nenshi said the type of rhetoric in the 6,000-word essay “doesn’t create jobs” – purportedly the number one priority for Calgary, the province, and all elected representatives of Alberta.

Nenshi said he was “one hundred per cent focused… on rebuilding the economy in Alberta and building up quality of life for Calgarians,” intimating that other politicians were not as similarly inclined – but should be.

Alberta CPC MPs Michelle Rempel Garner, Blake Richardson, Arnold Viersen, and Glen Motz, released a declaration Thursday about Alberta’s future in Confederation.

Calling the rhetoric “overheated”, Nenshi said he wished politicians would focus on the need for job creation.

Premier Jason Kenney refused to back the declaration when pointedly asked by reporters at a media scrum after Kenney announced $40 million in funding for Calgary’s Glenbow Museum on Friday February 21.

Admitting that he had not read the declaration “in detail”, the premier said the Declaration “underscored the depth of frustration” in the province.

The premier then went on to detail what his government was doing to address the concerns of Albertans – namely, with the government’s Fair Deal panel.

Deirdre is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard

dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com, @Mitchell_AB on Twitter

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Kenney, Scheer won’t back Buffalo Declaration – Wall and Barnes come out in support

Barnes, who is also a member of the Fair Deal Panel, said the Buffalo Declaration echoes what he’s been hearing at the consultations around the province.

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The Buffalo Declaration issued by four Alberta Conservative MPs caused quick public reaction soon after it was released, but while some prominent Westerners have come out in support, others have been less enthusiastic.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney gave a tepid response when asked about his reaction to the Buffalo Declaration at a Glenbow Museum funding announcement on the morning of February 21st. In fact, the premier didn’t mention it at all when asked about it.

“Our government was elected on a mandate to fight for Alberta – that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Kenney said…It’s exactly why we’re in court challenging the federal carbon tax, challenging the ‘no more pipelines law’ – Bill C-69. It’s why we launched the Fair Deal Panel, and it’s why we are prepared to go to Albertans with a number of ideas to maximize our autonomy as a province.”

Taking a different route, UCP MLA and Fair Deal Panel member Drew Barnes said the Buffalo Declaration echoes what he’s been hearing at the consultations around the province.

“We could lose it all if we don’t get equitable representation – the fact is our voice is so often not heard”, he told the Western Standard.

“A lot of people support Alberta and what we do here and we need to get the word out that our economy, our families, and communities are hurting. When people with a platform, MPs and MLAs, talk about that, it helps,” he said.

“For those that don’t believe in Albertans having the opportunity to live in the freest and the richest province and contribute to Canada and Albertans have the opportunity to live life to the fullest – we have to push back. We’re in a situation where we have unequal representation in the house and, senate and the Supreme Court – nothing moves unless it’s pushed and it’s our job to push.”

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer issued a statement acknowledging that four of his MPs had issued the declaration, but said that he will not comment on it because there was an ongoing leadership race to replace him. Instead of addressing the declaration directly, Scheer said that his party has long advocated for democratic reform to “ensure Western Canadians have an equal voice in Canadian politics…The frustration and anger in Western Canada is very real and should not be ignored.”

Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall said the four MPs deserved credit.

“There needs to be national attention to and action on the abiding unfairness in the confederation toward Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the west in general,” he wrote on social media.

“You and your colleagues deserve credit for this Michelle [Rempel-Garner]. There needs to be national attention to and action on the abiding unfairness in the confederation toward Alberta, Saskatchewan and the west in general.”

NDP leader Rachel Notley left no doubt what she thought.

“At the end of the day, as a born and raised Albertan, I love this province. I will not have my values mistakenly described by extremist MPs in the conservative party,” she said in a statement.

“I believe in Canada. My Alberta is proud to be part of the greatest nation on the planet. My Alberta will lead on tackling climate change and create a stronger, more diversified economy that sets our children up for the future. We will continue on the path to reconciliation. My Alberta will offer good wages and fair workplaces. My Alberta is capable of cutting child poverty in half and ensuring our most vulnerable are protected. My Alberta cares about those kinds of things.”

Deirdre is the Senior Reporter for Western Standard.
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
@Mitchell_AB

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