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Ottawa still silent on help for oilpatch they promised was ‘days’ away last month

“I don’t have the final answer on the exact hour that that will be delivered, but I’m not talking about weeks. I’m talking about hours, potentially days, that we can ensure that there’s credit facilities for especially the small- and medium-size firms in that sector.”

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When Finance Minister Bill Morneau said help for the oil industry was “hours away” most experts thoughts 24 to 48.

It’s now been 384 hours since Morneau made that statement and climbing hourly.

On March 25, Morneau told a senate committee, the energy industry had been decimated by a combination of the record low price for a barrel of oil caused by a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia and the coronavirus crisis.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Senate committee help for the beleaguered oilpatch could be hours or days away.

“The energy sector is in a particularly challenging situation,” Morneau told the committee.

“We’re also in hourly contact with the energy sector to think about how we can bridge the time by providing some sort of appropriate credit opportunities for them — and that is work that is going on right now,” he said.

“I don’t have the final answer on the exact hour that that will be delivered, but I’m not talking about weeks. I’m talking about hours, potentially days, that we can ensure that there’s credit facilities for especially the small- and medium-size firms in that sector.”

In the first jobs figures since the coronavirus hit, more than one million people in Canada lost their jobs in March and the unemployment rate climbed to 7.8 per cent, the largest one-month increase in history of the country’s jobless rate, which had been 5.6 per cent in February.

In a statement Wednesday, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said it has been working closely with the federal government to identify important areas for urgent action to help Canada’s energy sector survive.

CAPP said liquidity for companies and regulatory certainty were among the keys to keep the oilpatch alive.

“Urgent action is needed to provide a measure of certainty for Canadian energy producers during exceptionally uncertain times. Since we began our discussions with the Government of Canada three weeks ago, we have lost between $6 billion to $8 billion of investment in the Canadian energy sector. This has resulted in job losses across the country and further damage to every sector of our economy,” said Tim McMillan, president and CEO of CAPP.

“A strong industry creates jobs for Canadians and generates much-needed revenues for government. The oil and natural gas industry is crucial to our country’s economic well-being and can help lead our recovery, as well as be the foundation for long-term resilience.”

Morneau hasn’t given any details of the possible help but the Globe reported last month a $15-billion bailout would give companies more access to credit, especially for struggling small and medium-sized operations, and significant funding to create jobs for laid-off workers to clean up abandoned oil and gas wells.

Bloomberg News estimated Canadian energy companies have slashed in capital spending for the year between $5.3 billion to $6.5 billion.

Former Green Party leader Elizabeth May has called for the government not to bailout the industry and to let it die.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said many oil producing companies have lost 90 per cent of their value in the last month, alone.

Kenney announced last week his government was providing $1.5 billion in equity investment and a $6-billion loan guarantee to TC Energy to get the Keystone XL project completed 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/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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Tory leadership hopefuls blast own party for taking wage subsidies

Both Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole said the federal Conservative party should not have applied for the subsidies.

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The two top Tory leadership candidates have criticized their own party for accepting federal wage subsidies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole said the federal Conservative party should not have applied for the subsidies.

Over the weekend it was revealed the federal Liberal, Tory and NDP parties are all accepting the packages on behalf of their paid staff due to a steep drop in political donations.

In Alberta, the UCP party is also accepting the subsidy.

“Canadians have sacrificed enough,” O’Toole said in a Twitter post on the weekend.

“They shouldn’t have to pay wage subsidies for political parties. Under my leadership the Conservative Party will not take the subsidy and over time will repay the amount it has taken. I call on all parties to do the same.”

MacKay also tweeted he was against the Tory party taking the money.

“Political parties should not qualify for a wage subsidy and Justin Trudeau’s law is flawed. As leader, I would have stopped the application in its tracks. We should not be bailed out by taxpayer money with millions unemployed and small businesses struggling to stay afloat.”

At his daily press conference in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to defend the Liberal Party accessing the funds.

Trudeau was repeatedly asked by reporters on Monday how he can justify his own Liberal party making use of the funding, given the amount his party has already raised this year. He did not directly answer.

“We put in place a wage subsidy that is available to small businesses, large businesses, non-profits and charities to be able to support people who might otherwise be laid off – this is going to be an important part of the economy bouncing back, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

The wage subsidy covers 75 per cent of an employer’s payroll if revenue has dropped by at least 30 per cent in one month since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Bloc Quebecois did not apply for the subsidy.

Leader Yves-François Blanchet mocked the Tories and Liberals for using the program despite having already raised millions of dollars this year.

“The money is not a gift provided to the people by the government because they are nice people. It is reserved for businesses, the companies and the people who really need it. And the Liberals don’t need it and the Conservatives don’t need it. Maybe the NDP needs it. Maybe the Greens need it. We do not,” Blanchet told reporters.

According to the National Post, first quarter fundraising for 2020 shows the Conservatives raised $3.8 million, the Liberals took in $2.9 million, the NDP raised $964,000 and the Bloc raised $184,000.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Bigots deface French signs in historic Calgary neighbourhood

Located in the community of Rouleauville, also known as Mission, the stop signs also contained the French word ‘Arret’, French for halt.

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Bilingual signs in a historic Calgary neighbourhood have been defaced, with French words being spray-painted out.

Located in the community of Rouleauville, now known as Mission, the stop signs also contained the French word ‘Arret’, French for halt.

But vandals have recently gone through the community with black spray-paint and covered up the French part.

“Oh look: Calgary’s bigots have been busy -erasing one tiny French word. Come on guys, we’re a better city than this! #frab ⁦@cityofcalgary⁩ ⁦@nenshi,” Sheila Risbud tweeted.

Defaced signs

Leela Sharon Aheer, Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, responded with disgust.

“These actions have no place in our province and must be condemned. Our government values the role of Franco-Albertans and is committed to ensuring the French language and culture flourish in Alberta,” she tweeted.

Rouleauville, now Mission, was originally named for Charles and Edward Rouleau — brothers who moved to Calgary from Quebec in the late 1800s.

The village had been founded by French Canadian priests. 

In 1907, when the village was annexed by the Calgary its French street names were replaced with the current numbered street system.

Council voted in June to add French to the signs.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP hires fired federal Tory official as new executive director

Dustin van Vugt was fired in December after the federal Conservative party’s fundraising arm (the Fund) launched an internal audit into how the party handles expenses.

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The Alberta United Conservative Party has a new executive director – the man fired over the Andrew Scheer private school controversy.

Dustin van Vugt was fired in December after the federal Conservative party’s fundraising arm (the Fund) launched an internal audit into how the party handles expenses.

van Vugt was the executive director of the Fund.

The firing came less than 24 hours after Global News reported that Conservative leader Scheer was using Fund money to send his children to private school, an arrangement van Vugt took responsibility for.

In a statement, van Vugt described the arrangement as “normal practice for political parties” and said “all proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people.”

The seven-person board, which included former prime minister Stephen Harper, were furious over the arrangement, Global reported at the time.

Other Tories said van Vugt was being made a scapegoat.

Van Vugt replaces Brad Tennant, who left the job to become a vice-president at the lobbying firm Wellington Advocacy. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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