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Liberals ready aid package as decision to kill major oilsands project looms

Reports of an aid package for the beleaguered province appear to confirm that the federal government is seriously considering nixing the mega project.

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Worries that the federal government may decide to kill a $20 billion investment by Teck Resource Ltd. were given new cause today as reports emerge from Ottawa that the Liberals are preparing an “aid package” for Alberta as compensation.

The mega project 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.”

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Calgary’s once bustling Nexen Building now sits empty

FOR LEASE: One of Calgary’s most central properties as it has been completely abandoned by renters.

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FOR LEASE: One of Calgary’s most central properties as it has been completely abandoned by renters.

The 37-storey Nexen building at 801 7 Ave. S.W., features 600,000 sq.-ft., of which none currently is being used.

It’s the first time in city history a building of that size has been completely vacant, Michael Gigliuk, vice-president, associate, with Devoncore told the Real Estate News Exchange.

He said during the recession of the 1980s there were a couple of buildings that emptied but nothing to this scale.

Nexen, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based CNOOC Ltd., moved and leased 290,000 sq.-ft. in The Bow in 2019.

The building was opened in 1982 as the headquarters of Nova Corp.

The building is now owned by five Calgary families and an Ontario-based pension fund group, said the RENE.

Currently, the office vacancy rate in Calgary sits around 25%

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

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BREAKING: Kenney vows provincial money will be invested in oil industry

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says it’s time for the Alberta government to get back into the business of being in business.

His announcement came a day after Teck canceled their $20 billion oilsands mine in northern Alberta.

Evoking the memory of former premier Peter Lougheed, Kenney said his government will do whatever needs to be done to ensure investor confidence stays.

“Alberta is prepared to invest directly to companies or Indigenous groups in resource development …we rule nothing out in that regard,” Kenney said at a speech Monday in Edmonton.

“Whatever it takes to ensure our economic future… we will will not back down.”

After he speech he told reporters the government already has “several projects we are looking at.”

Asked if that could involve buying the Teck lease Kenney said:” We’re ruling nothing out.”

Government getting more into business drew scorn from Franco Terrazzano, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“”The issue here isn’t a lack of money. Businesses have been willing to put up their money for a number of big projects. The issue is a political system in Canada that increasingly seems unworkable. Throwing taxpayer cash doesn’t solve the issue and really only makes problems in Alberta worse,” he said.

Kenney noted one of the reason Teck canceled it’s mine was the current “lawlessness” of rail blockades that is criss-crossing Canada.

He said when the Alberta legislature returns to work tomorrow, Bill 1, will be the  Critical Infrastructure Protection Act that will been stiff penalties for anyone impeding rail traffic or other critical infrastructure.

Kenney said the bill has been developed “quickly, over the last week or ten days.”

The cancellation of the mine was greeted with joy by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Suzuki tweet

The $20.6-billion Teck mega project in northern Alberta had 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.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

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Alberta Court of Appeal finds federal carbon tax unconstitutional

In a 4-1 majority decision, the Alberta Court of Appeal has found the federal carbon tax unconstitutional.

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In a 4-1 majority decision, the Alberta Court of Appeal has found the federal carbon tax unconstitutional, calling it a “Trojan horse” with the potential for “unlimited federal intrusion”.

Premier Jason Kenney said he was pleased with the decision.

“We promised to take meaningful action on climate change without punishing Alberta families for driving to work and heating their homes,” Kenney said.

“We urge the Trudeau government to respect the ruling of the court and scrap their carbon tax immediately on Alberta families.”

Alberta’s Court of Appeal is the first provincial court to reject the federal government’s jurisdiction.

A jubilant Jason Kenney said it was a great day for Alberta and federalism in a press conference after the decision was made public.

“Let me be clear about why we’re fighting so hard – there’s no one size fits all plan – we categorically reject that.”

“We do not believe Canadian families should be penalized for living normal lives.”

The provinces of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Ontario acted as intervenors in the appeal.

Ontario and Saskatchewan have previously lost their provincial appeals and filed notice to appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada.

Saskatchewan and Ontario’s provincial appeal courts delivered split decisions with the majority siding with the federal government’s jurisdiction in implementing the tax.

Canadian Taxpayer Federation President and CEO Scott Hennig said he was also pleased with the decision and that the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) final decision “should be interesting”.

Arguments on behalf of Saskatchewan’s carbon tax challenge will be heard by the SCC this spring.

Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopeful Peter MacKay said it was time for the federal and provincial governments to work together on climate policy.

“A carbon tax is not a (climate change) plan, it is a tax,” MacKay wrote on Twitter.

Kenney said his government respects the science behind climate change and touted the TIER program that maintained a carbon tax on Alberta businesses.

The UCP government repealed Alberta’s provincial carbon tax on individuals in June of 2019 but left the $30/tonne tax on Alberta’s “largest emitting” corporations with the TIER (Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction) program.

TIER replaced the NDP government’s CCIR (Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation) as of January 1, 2020.

“The TIER Fund would be used for new and cleaner Alberta-based technologies that reduce emissions – like improved oil sands extraction methods and research and investment in carbon capture, utilization and storage” a statement on the Alberta government website reads.

“It would also be used to reduce Alberta’s deficit and support the province’s energy war room, which is now incorporated as the Canadian Energy Centre.”

Cabinet Ministers Doug Schweitzer, Jason Nixon and Sonya Savage are the named directors of the private corporation.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told CBC’s Power and Politics that because both Ontario and Saskatchewan Court of Appeal found the carbon tax constitutional, “the ultimate arbiter will be the Supreme Court of Canada who will be hearing this case in March”.

“The federal government remains confident that our arguments will be upheld,” he said.

“I will simply say that pricing pollution… is the most efficient, most cost effective manner in which to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it’s something to which (the federal government remains) committed.”

Deirdre is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard

dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com @Mitchell_AB

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