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Indigenous group that supports Teck mine now calling for delay

One of the 14 indigenous groups that signed a deal approving the giant Teck mine on their lands, now says the federal government should delay approving the mine because cultural and environmental questions haven’t been answered.

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One of the 14 indigenous groups that signed a deal approving the giant Teck mine on their lands, now says the federal government should delay approving the mine because cultural and environmental questions haven’t been answered.

Chief Allan Adam, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), wrote a letter, obtained by the CBC, to federal Environment Minister Jonathon Wilkinson asking for the delay.

The feds had promised to give an answer on the mine, north of Fort McMurray, by the end of February. Construction on the mine is expected to create 7,000 jobs.

The ACFN has threatened legal action in the past and Adam’s letter says time is running out for Alberta to live up to its responsibilities.

“”We are still talking with Alberta and remain hopeful that progress can be made from now until the end of February. However, this seems increasingly unlikely within the prescribed timelines for a final decision on the project,” the letter reads.

“Canada and Teck have gone to great lengths to ensure that this [project] can be built in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. However, Alberta has not yet taken the appropriate actions or put the policies in place to support this goal.”

An Alberta government spokesperson told the CBC they must consider the best interests of Alberta taxpayers.

“We recognize that Chief Adam intends to drive a hard bargain, as should any official representing his constituents,” Jess Sinclair, press secretary to Alberta’s environment minister, Jason Nixon, told CBC.

“However, the Government of Alberta must carefully consider the interests of Alberta taxpayers.”

In Calgary, Finance Minister Bill Mourneau said cabinet was still mulling the decision.

The $20.6-billion 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.

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 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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MPs from B.C least likely to give their April 1 raises to charity

B.C was the most miserly in western Canada with only 48 per cent of MPs donating their increase.

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MPs from B.C. are the stingiest in western Canada when it comes to giving up their April 1 raises to charity.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation asked all 338 MP from across the country if they planned to give their salary increase to charity in light of the coronavirus crisis. A total of 120 replied.

This year, MPs are entitled to a 2.1 per cent hike, which will increase their base salaries by just over $3,750 to $182,656.

B.C was the most miserly in western Canada with only 48 per cent of MPs donating their increase.

Of 42 B.C. MPs, only 20 did so. That was made up of 12 Tory MPs, four Liberals, three NDP members and one independent.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh did not donate his increase nor did Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

Elizabeth May

In Alberta, 24 of its 34 MPs, or 71 per cent, gave their raise to charity.

That includes 23 Tories and the lone NDP member.

In Saskatchewan, where the Tories swept the 14 available seats, 12 donated their increase for a mark of 86 per cent. Tory party leader Andrew Scheer did give up his raise.

And in Manitoba, where 14 seats were available 10 MPs made the choice to donate for a total of 71 per cent. That included 10 Tories, one NDP member and four Liberals.

Prime Minister Trudeau did make the decision to give up his raise. He earns $347,400.

“There’s no way politicians should be seeing a pay hike while countless Canadian families and businesses are struggling just to keep the lights on. It’s good to see many MPs turn down their pay bump, but there’s still MPs who haven’t confirmed whether or not they will accept a pay increase,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director of the CTF.

Franco Terrazzano

“Now would be the perfect time for politicians across the country to voluntarily reduce their own pay.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Kenney announces $2-billion in infrastructure funding

“This will create thousands of good jobs,” Kenney said at a press conference in Edmonton.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on Thursday announced $2-billion in spending to fix provincial roads, bridges and fill potholes.

The money will also be used for fixing roofs, windows and doors in K-12 schools across the province.

Kenney said some of the cash would also be used for infrastructure fixes in the province’s post secondary education facilities and justice system.

“This will create thousands of good jobs,” Kenney said at a press conference in Edmonton.

“The good news for drivers is crews will be making sure roads are pothole free.”

Kenney repeated the Alberta economy is “in serious contraction” and will talk longer to recover.

“The government is doubling the capital maintenance and renewal (CMR) funding in 2020-21 from $937 million to $1.9 billion by accelerating the capital plan. This will allow government to act quickly and work with companies across the province so they can keep their workers employed during these challenging times,” the government said in a release.

“These infrastructure investments will be focused on projects that can be actioned quickly. By doubling our capital maintenance and renewal project funds, we will deliver much-needed improvements to important assets, keep companies operating and most importantly, keep Albertans working. As the weather improves and buildings are empty, now is the perfect time for us to act,” said Kenney

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Kenney wants to track COVID cases via smartphone

A spokesperson for Alberta’s privacy commissioner said the potential use of an app to monitor movements of citizens heightened privacy concerns.

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In an effort to contain the spread of the virus, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his government would be willing to use technology to monitor the movements of Albertans who tested positive for COVID-19.

Such apps have been in use in China, Taiwan, and South Korea but have yet to be introduced to Western countries.

“I have been very clear; we intend to follow the lessons learned from successful countries like Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea to more quickly reopen our economy and the relaunch strategy involves, in part, the limited and appropriate use of wireless apps, of smartphone apps for individuals who are under quarantine orders,” the premier said Wednesday in response to a question in the Legislature from UCP MLA Shane Getson.

Using international travel as an example, Kenney said it would help the government to “know if that person is going to go home and stay home”.

A spokesperson for Alberta’s privacy commissioner said the potential use of an app to monitor movements of citizens heightened privacy concerns.

“There are several unknowns about how an app would be deployed and what laws would be engaged by doing so,” Scott Sibbald told Postmedia.

“Any option being considered is sure to have privacy implications that would require reasonable safeguards to protect personal or health information. The Commissioner expects to be consulted on the various initiatives being explored by the Government of Alberta.”

Across the border, Kentucky officials have opted to use ankle monitors for individuals who have tested positive but “refuse to stay home”.

Kenney’s brief statement did not suggest the app would be used for those who refused to follow public health orders but rather for the government to monitor their cellular location and be assured targeted Albertans were staying home.

“The thought the government is going to start tracing people everywhere they go is ridiculous,” Kenney said.

“To protect us from a second phase of the pandemic, we might have to do what Taiwan, (China), Singapore and South Korea have done … we want to make sure they’re actually following the quarantine.”

Numbers released from the Alberta government’s modelling on Wednesday suggest the peak of the pandemic will not happen until late May. A second wave, if it were going to happen, would likely come in the fall after physical distancing restrictions were reduced.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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