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Keystone XL finishes pipeline across the border

This was a significant milestone for the project that has been years in the making, involving hundreds of employees and contractors.

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Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion across the U.S. border has been officially completed.

“This was a significant milestone for the project that has been years in the making, involving hundreds of employees and contractors, and I want to thank the team on site in particular who sacrificed their time and effort remaining in place for the entire duration of the project,” said Gary Salsman, Project Vice-President of U.S. Keystone XL.

In a release, TC Energy, which owns the pipeline, said the 2.2-km border crossing had its “fair share of challenges and complexities, with the Keystone XL Project Team working with numerous federal, state and provincial authorities to garner the necessary permits and approvals needed to cross an international border.

“The onset of COVID-19 also presented a significant challenge to the team. Crews began to arrive at the border just as both the U.S. and Canadian federal governments were issuing social-distancing guidelines and calling for containment measures to stem the pandemic,” said the release.

“The project team met the challenge by working closely with state and local authorities on developing a COVID-19 safety plan that ensured the safety of both the community and the workers.

“The team hired additional health-care workers to take incoming workers’ temperatures and monitor for potential symptoms related to COVID-19.  And, as restaurants closed, the project team provided locally catered meals to the work crew, utilizing local businesses in the nearby communities.”

Last week, likely U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden trashed the Alberta oil industry and vowed to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion,

“I’ve been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tar sands that we don’t need — that in fact is very, very high pollutant,” Biden said in an interview on CNBC.

“We’re gonna transition gradually to get to a clean economy.

“But the idea of shutting down Keystone, as if that is the thing that keeps the oil industry moving, is just not rational. It does not economically, nor, in my view, environmentally, make any sense.”

Biden was repeating statements made earlier this week by a campaign official that drew the ire of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

Kenney noted the pipeline is part of “sensitive” Canada-U.S. relations and he would “hate to see thousands of miles of pipe pulled out of the ground” if Biden revokes the permit.

Kenney said he was “disappointed” in Biden’s stand and said Alberta officials hope to work with his campaign on the issue.

Kenney announced in April 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 but so far no details have been publicly released. 

After the project is completed, Kenney said the government would sell its shares back to TC Energy but he did not say at what price.

Kenney said while the $1.5-billion has been used to put thousands of people back to work, the $6-billion part of the deal remains untouched.

The premier noted the cross border section of the pipeline had been completed and without the government’s $1.5 billion, work “wouldn’t have been able to start this year.”

He said the remainder of the money would be for the 2021 construction season which TC Energy won’t make a decision on until next January.

 In 2015, Biden was then vice-president to Barack Obama who cancelled the permit.

When he was elected, Trump overruled the Obama decision and approved the oft-delayed pipeline for construction.

Environmental groups in the States have fought tooth-and-nail in an effort to stop the pipeline.

A judge in Montana put a halt to further construction of the pipeline over concerns of what effects the project may have on endangered species.

The federal judge ordered the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers to conduct a further review and barred it from authorizing dredging in waterways covered by the permit.

The Keystone pipeline runs from Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Texas.

The new pipeline would run from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.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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NDP MLA under fire for mocking death of British PM Margaret Thatcher

“The only thing I regret about Margaret Thatcher’s death is that it happened probably 30 years too late,” said Marlin Schmidt

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An Edmonton NDP MLA is being slammed for mocking the death of the Iron Lady – former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“I can still go on to enjoy the fact that Margaret Thatcher is dead. The only thing I regret about Margaret Thatcher’s death is that it happened probably 30 years too late,” said Marlin Schmidt, MLA for Edmonton-Gold Bar, in the Legislature Wednesday afternoon.

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Thatcher is known around the world as a conservative icon.

Schmidt’s comments drew the ire of former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

“Keepin’ it classy. @abndpcaucus” Wall tweeted.

Thatcher served as British PM from 1979 to 1990. She was the first woman to hold the position.

A Soviet journalist dubbed her the “Iron Lady.”

Thatcher was also credited with crushing the powerful British union movement and being in charge when Britain defeated Argentina in a war over the Falkland Islands.

Thatcher died in 2013, at the age of 87, after suffering a stroke.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP bill will allow private sale of blood

Tany Yao, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, has brought forward Bill 204 that will repeal Alberta’s ban on the private purchase of human blood.

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The UCP is about to repeal a law in Alberta that bans the private sale of blood.

Tany Yao, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, has brought forward Bill 204 that will repeal Alberta’s ban on the private purchase of human blood.

In 2017, the NDP passed the Voluntary Blood Donations Act, which banned everyone except for the Canadian Blood Services from paying for plasma and other blood products.

“A secure supply of plasma is a cornerstone of a modern twenty-first century health care system. The repeal of the Voluntary Blood Donations Act will help patients by making our plasma supply less dependent on international supply which can be unreliable,” Yao said.

Bill advocate Whitney Goulstone, Executive Director Canadian Immunodeficiencies Patient Organization (CIPO), noted last summer Canada experienced its first IG (Immune Globulin) shortage.

Kate van der Meer, said the bill, if it becomes law, will make her life easier.

“I was originally scheduled to switch to SCIG (Subcutaneous Immune Globulin) in May 2019. Due to the shortage, this did not happen. Instead, I had to continue traveling to the hospital every 3 weeks, and struggle to care for my 3 young children while recovering from each intravenous infusion. This continued until the end of September 2019 when the shortage eased and Canadian Blood Services began allowing patients to switch to SCIG again,” she said, in a statement in the government press release.

“Patients have suffered because of our apathy, and because of the Voluntary Blood Donations Act.”

Canada as a whole only supplies 13.5 per cent of the plasma needed for the production of the IG and other plasma therapies used for the treatment of Canadian patients.

The NDP is on the record as opposing the new bill.

“If passed, this bill will divert donations away from Canadian Blood Services to private buyers, who can then sell them to the highest bidder on world markets,” said NDP Health Critic David Shepherd.

“This is very bad for Albertans. It flies directly in the face of the Krever Inquiry.”

 The Krever Inquiry investigated Canada’s tainted blood scandal, in which tens of thousands of people were infected with hepatitis C or HIV through tainted blood products.

The inquiry’s report led to the creation of a single national agency, Canadian Blood Services. 

Ontario, Quebec and B.C. also have legislated bans on the purchase of human blood. Manitoba has a single paid-donation centre for rare blood types that predates the Krever Inquiry.

Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have private blood purchasing locations. 

Shepherd said: “This isn’t a partisan issue – our single public voluntary system has served Albertans well for decades, and through this global pandemic.  Allowing private buyers to divert donations away from Canadian Blood Services will cause terrible harm to Canada’s supply. Tany Yao’s bill is a terrible mistake, and I hope members of the UCP caucus will join us in defeating it.”

Peter Martin Jaworski, Ph.D., an Associate Teaching Professor in Strategy, Ethics, Economics and Public Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business has made the case for allowing blood products to be sold.

“In order to meet the demands of patients, every country has come to rely increasingly on plasma from the United States, one of the few countries that permits some form of payment for plasma. The United
States is responsible for 70% of the global supply of plasma. Along with the other countries that permit a form of payment for plasma donations (including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Czechia), they
together account for nearly 90% of the total supply,” he wrote in a paper called Bloody Well Pay Them.

“This situation is unsustainable, a risk to security, and, most importantly, a threat to the millions of patients who currently depend on plasma therapies, those who will in future, and those who would benefit from them but do not have access.

“In order to ensure a safe, secure, and sufficient supply of plasma therapies, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia should withdraw prohibitions on voluntary remunerated plasma collections, and thereby ensure domestic security of supply for our patients, and begin to contribute to the global supply of plasma.”

David Clement, Toronto-based North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said “We applaud the Government of Alberta and MLA Tany Yao for putting this forward. A ban on paid blood plasma was ridiculous to begin with, especially considering that 70 per cent of Canada’s blood plasma supply comes from the USA, where they compensate donors.

“Blood plasma is used for a variety of medical treatments, and plays and important role in the fight against Covid-19. Our hope is that by allowing for compensation, more Albertans will donate blood plasma and help the province overcome the persistent shortages that occur. Czechia (previously the Czech Republic) legalized paying for blood plasma, and saw a 7 fold increase in donations. If that were to happen in Alberta it would be cause for celebration, not condemnation.” said Clement.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Canada now $1,200,000,000,000 in debt

The projected debt will be $1.2 trillion by March 2021, up from $765 billion a year earlier.

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced Wednesday a deficit of $343 billion this fiscal year – taking Canada’s debt to more than $1.2 trillion.

In a what he called a “fiscal snapshot”, Morneau said spending from the COVID-19 outbreak was to blame for the massive deficit.

The projected debt will be $1.2 trillion by March 2021, up from $765 billion a year earlier.

Before the pandemic hit, the federal deficit was pegged about $34.4 billion.

“Some will criticize us on the cost of action,” Morneau said in the House of Commons. 

“But our government knew that the cost of inaction would’ve been far greater.

“Those who would have us do less ignore that, without government action, millions of jobs would have been lost, putting the burden of debt onto families and jeopardizing Canada’s resilience.”

Much of the higher deficit comes from higher than projected spending under Ottawa’s two key COVID-19 financial aid programs, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The snapshot shows that GDP will shrink by projected 6.8% this year — worst since the Great Depression. But the economy is expected to bounce back by 5.5% next year.

One of the reason the deficit is so much higher is the government predicting the amount of money it takes in will drop substantially.

Personal income taxes are projected to dip by 30 per cent and corporate taxes will be 11 per cent lower.

The national unemployment rate hit almost 14 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 but is expected that rate to return to levels closer to the pre-pandemic era — roughly 7 per cent — by the end of 2021.

“The reality is we’ve witnessed an unprecedented shock to our system,” Morneau told reporters.

“With a crisis of this magnitude, someone was going to have to shoulder the costs and the federal government was uniquely placed to take this responsibility on. We took on this role because it was the right thing to do.”

Tory leader Andrew Scheer called Morneau’s fiscal update a “dire picture of Canada’s finances.”

“The prime minister’s track record proves that he cannot be trusted to lead Canada through the recovery,” he said.

Scheer said Canada is the only G7 country that has had its credit rating cut during the pandemic and Canada has the highest unemployment rate among the group of developed nations.

“That should be a real wake-up call for this government.”

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Federal Director Aaron Wudrick said the news should alarm Ottawa.

“Unfortunately, Ottawa doesn’t seem to have a plan to manage this deep dive into debt. For all the specifics he provided today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau may as well have posted a picture on Instagram,” Wudrick said.

“Pandemic-related spending has caused the deficit to balloon by more than one thousand per cent in just four months. Much of this spending was intended to temporarily address the COVID-19 crisis, but these programs are extremely expensive and unsustainable. Minister Morneau needs to lay out a plan to turn off the taps, but he failed to do that.

“In particular, it is clear that the government must either end or significantly reform the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which creates a strong unintended incentive for people to stay out of the workforce. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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