A federal delegation includingMP Edmonton Centre,Randy Boissonnault, Natural Resources Minister AmarjeetSohi and International Trade Diversification Minister, Jim Carrmade an announcement of new funds now available to Alberta’s ailing energy sector.
The $1 billion in funding through Export Development Canada is to be made available to assist companies to invest in new technologies; $500 million in commercial financing initiatives over three years from the Business Development Bank; $50 million from Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Growth Program, which the government projects will generate $890 million in investment; and $100 million through Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund for diversification-related projects.
AmarjeetSohi said companies can apply right now for these funds, saying they’re available “as we speak. He said he understands the frustration of the people but investments will ensure companies continue to thrive and jobs will grow in the sector.“I am an Albertan. I have lived here for 34 years … and I know people who are struggling,” said Sohi. “The lack of ability to build pipelines in Canada is something we need to fix.”
Neither Alberta Premier Rachel Notley nor anyone from the Alberta government was there for the announcement.Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel criticized the announcement in a statement Tuesday, saying “corporate welfare is not a solution.Government’s job is to create the conditions which will allow our entrepreneurs and energy sector to succeed. This announcement does nothing to expand market access. It is a $1.6 billion PR move that makes no practical sense.”
United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Jason Kenney also dismissed the federal government’s announcement saying, “Today’s announcement does nothing to help the thousands of families in our province that are left unemployed as the result of Trudeau Liberal policies and actions,” Kenney said, in a statement.
With pipelines at capacity and some major refineries down for maintenance this fall, the price for Alberta crude plummeted in the fall, hitting a panic-inducing $11 a barrel in late November.
Premier Notley’s plan to buy more rail cars to help ship additional oil, as well as her decision to force a production cut from the biggest oil producers starting in January, helped push the price back up, trading above $26 a barrel at the end of last week.
But that is still significantly less than the U.S. price and Canada’s economy is losing as much as $80 million a day because of the discount.Canada’s almost total reliance on the U.S. as an export market contributes to the problem. Almost every drop of oil that is not refined and used in Canada is exported to the United States. Without more pipelines to the coasts where oil tankers could theoretically then ship oil overseas, Canada’s oil producers are at the mercy of the Americans.The only current proposal to increase pipeline capacity to the coasts is the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which is in limbo following a court ruling overturning its federal approval. Ottawa is trying to get that project back on track with more consultations, but if that does happen, it will be several years before oil actually starts to flow.
Premier Notley requested Ottawa help the province buy new rail cars to ship two additional trains full of Alberta crude out of the province every day but rail cars were not included in the newly released federal funds. Alberta is already negotiating with an as-yet-unnamed third party to buy the rail cars.
Earlier this month, Sohi asked the National Energy Board to review existing pipeline capacity for efficiency and also to figure out whether there are any short-term steps that could maximize rail capacity to ship more oil. The NEB is expected to provide him with a full report in February.
Canada’s new stricter impaired driving laws: what you need to know – Mary Thomas
Canada’s new impaired driving laws kicked in this week, giving law enforcement new powers when it comes to interacting with drivers.Last year, there were more than 69,000 police-reported impaired-driving incidents — about 3,500 were related to drugs.According to federal statistics, an average of almost four people die in Canada daily due to impaired driving.
Alcohol-related impaired driving laws will be updated in the Criminal Code of Canada as of Dec. 18.
Changes to both drug and alcohol impaired driving come as part of the former Bill C-46, which aims to make Canada’s laws “amongst the strongest in the world.”
The new laws will give police officers authority to demand breathalyzer tests from any driver they pull over. Previously, officers could only test drivers if they had a reasonable suspicion the person was impaired. Any driver who refuses to take the test can be charged.
These stronger laws are similar to ones in several other countries around the world, such as Australia, Denmark, France and Germany. In Ireland, mandatory screening reduced the number of road deaths by about 40 per cent in the first four years it was enforced.
Before Dec. 18, drivers could use the “bolus drinking defence,” arguing that they consumed alcohol just before driving and it was not absorbed yet.
The new law eliminates this defence, by making it illegal to be at or over the alcohol limit within two hours of being behind the wheel.
The new law also bumps up the maximum penalties for many alcohol-impaired driving offences.
Formerly, the mandatory minimum fines were: $1,000 for first offence, 30 days imprisonment for second offence, and 120 days in jail for a third offence.
These are the penalties now:
• First offence, with blood alcohol content of 80-119 mg: mandatory minimum $1,000 fine
• First offence, with blood alcohol content of 120-159 mg: mandatory minimum $1,500 fine
• First offence, with blood alcohol content of 160 mg or more: mandatory minimum $2,500 fine
• First offence, but refuse to be tested: mandatory minimum $2,000 fine
• Second offence: mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment
• Third or more offence: mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment
• Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing no bodily harm or death: summary conviction carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 10 years imprisonment
• Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm: Summary conviction for less severe injuries carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 14 years imprisonment
• Maximum penalty impaired driving causing death: life imprisonment
While the new laws have been welcomed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, several groups have raised concerns.
Toronto-based lawyer Michael Engel, who often defends those charged with impaired driving, said the new rules are a big change that raise concerns about baseless searches.
Civil rights organizations have also sounded alarms about the new rules, with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association expressing concern that mandatory alcohol screening will unfairly affect racial minorities who are disproportionately singled out by cops for traffic stops.
(Excerpted from the Canadian Press)