By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 23, 2012 - 0 Comments
BC Premier Christy Clark talks tough about the Northern Gateway pipeline.
“There is a risk to our environment and there is very little benefit to jobs and to our economy and to our province,” she said. “The balance isn’t there for British Columbia today and I don’t think British Columbians will want this project to go ahead until we can find that balance — unless we can find that balance.”
And her government follows that with a set of five prerequisites for pipeline construction—complete with some rather pointed pie charts. The last of those prerequisites is that “British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.”
More from the CBC.
Lake also said B.C. has “insufficient” information to support the Enbridge pipeline at this time, and the province would exercise its right to cross-examine Enbridge at upcoming federal hearings on the proposed pipeline.
B.C. Minister for Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Mary Polak said she was unaware of any First Nation in B.C. that supported the project, and it was clear they had real concerns about the project.
Meanwhile, Joe Oliver’s office has released a statement from the minister on “the Harper Government’s Commitment to the Responsible Development of Resources.” Continue…
By Paul Wells - Friday, July 13, 2012 at 3:39 PM - 0 Comments
Time to change the agenda–again?
What if the major policy initiative of Stephen Harper’s majority mandate is a non-starter?
This will take some explaining. Let’s begin with a pop quiz. You’re in charge of a big pipe that carries liquid a long distance. One day you notice the pressure inside the pipe is dropping. What on Earth could be making the pressure in your pipe fall?
If it takes you less than 17 hours to answer, “hole in the pipe,” then you would have been much too clever to work for Enbridge in July 2010, when more than three million litres of diluted bitumen gushed out of that company’s pipeline and into the wetlands and rivers near Marshall, Mich. That’s an amount of ethical oil roughly equivalent to the amount of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The oil kept spilling for 17 hours after the initial alarm. By Enbridge’s own rules, the response to a pressure drop should have been to shut the line down until the cause was known, but, you know, whoopsie.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 12:01 PM - 0 Comments
There’s been plenty of debate about the protest which caused Joe Oliver to move a funding announcement. But I’d think there’s a more fundamental question we should ask about the event, particularly when the indignant response of the event host was to the effect that “this is an important announcement!”.
To wit: how exactly is it important for the Cons to be able to dictate that a public venue serve as a resistance-free backdrop for their PR efforts?
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 8:01 PM - 0 Comments
Despite—indeed, because of—Wayne Easter’s statement that no Nazi salute was made during last week’s C-38 votes, Joe Oliver rose after QP today to press the case, alleging that Mr. Easter and Liberal MP Hedy Fry engaged in inappropriate gesturing. Mr. Easter again asserted innocence, but Conservative MP Chris Warkentin suggested he should apologize anyway. After an intervention by Bob Rae, the Speaker said he would review the video footage. (Ms. Fry responds via Twitter.)
Below, the transcript of today’s discussion. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Wayne Easter says no such gesture was made during last week’s C-38 votes.
In speaking with The Guardian, Easter said he pointed at Harper because the prime minister was bowing like he was an emperor. ”Why don’t you go over and shine his shoes and why don’t you salute him,” Easter said he shouted to the Conservatives.
Joe Oliver’s original complaint and the resulting discussion are here.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s C-38 votes. It was expected that voting would begin around 5:30pm, but some procedural fussing about by the Liberals seems to have delayed those votes by a few hours. Stay tuned throughout the evening (and morning?) as we follow the parliamentary festivities.
4:43pm. If you’re only now tuning in, you just missed a fascinating series of points of order, during which Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux twice asked the Speaker to clarify the rules of the House (Speaker Devolin invited Mr. Lamoureux to read the standing orders) and Bob Rae objected to the Defence Minister’s earlier use of the word “mendaciousness” (Peter MacKay duly stood and withdrew the remark). The House is now at the time reserved each day for the presenting of petitions and will soon move to the final period of report stage debate on C-38.
4:51pm. The New Democrats held a photo op this afternoon to demonstrate how they were preparing for tonight’s votes. Mostly this seems to have involved Nathan Cullen removing his jacket and writing “C-38″ on a giant white pad of paper.
5:04pm. The Liberals have chosen now to discuss Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. And now there is some discussion between the Speaker, Elizabeth May and Denis Coderre about how long one can speak when responding to a question of privilege.
5:15pm. With Mr. Lamoureux still responding to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege, Conservative MP Bob Zimmer rises on a point of order to question Mr. Lamoureux’s point of privilege. The Speaker stands and reads the rules pertaining to questions of privilege, specifically that such interventions should be “brief and concise” and that the Speaker has the right to “terminate” the discussion. Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti rises on a point of order to object to Mr. Zimmer’s point of order. Mr. Lamoureux attempts a point of order to respond to Mr. Zimmer, but the Speaker suggests he carry on with his point of privilege, but then Mr. Coderre rises on a point of order to complain about the Speaker’s desire to move things along. The Speaker asserts his impartiality and attempts to straighten this all out, but Mr. Coderre rises on another point of order to clarify his respect for the Speaker, but also to express his desire that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to give a full response to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. Mr. Pacetti rises on a point of order to add his concern that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to speak fully. The Speaker says he was merely reminding everyone of the rules and gives Mr. Lamoureux five minutes to finish and, finally, we’re now back to Mr. Lamoruex’s point of privilege.
5:30pm. The Speaker stands and calls an end to Mr. Lamoureux’s remarks and attempts to move to the last hour of report stage debate on C-38, but now Mauril Belanger is up on a separate point of privilege.
5:32pm. The Speaker cuts off Mr. Belanger to move to deferred votes on two opposition motions and one private member’s bill. MPs have 30 minutes to report to the chamber.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 4, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Budget bill protests were organized this weekend in Victoria, Owen Sound, Waterloo, Penticton, Halifax, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Mississauga, Port Moody, North Bay, Prince George, Beamsville and Calgary. And dozens of websites will go dark today to protest C-38.
Seemingly in response, the Conservatives are dispatching 10 ministers across the country to “detail the benefits of the Government’s Plan for Responsible Resource Development.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 5:39 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. The Honourable Thomas Edward Siddon, our 36th minister of fisheries, he haunts us still.
“Mr. Speaker, former Conservative fisheries minister Thomas Siddon is again sounding the alarm on the Conservatives’ Trojan Horse bill,” the NDP’s Nathan Cullen reported this afternoon. “Last night he testified that he deplored this attack on environmental protection and that rushing these changes through is ‘not becoming of a Conservative government.’ His message to the Prime Minister was clear, ‘Take your time, get it right.’ Will the Prime Minister take the advice of his Conservative colleague? Will he split this reckless bill and allow for proper study?”
The government would eventually take to quoting something Mr. Siddon had said in 1986 in an attempt to cancel out what Mr. Siddon said last night, but the Prime Minister opted here to boast only of his own government’s magnanimousness. “Mr. Speaker, in fact, the particular set of changes in the economic action plan will have more committee study than any budget bill in recent history by quite a magnitude,” Mr. Harper claimed.
This much would likely not have satisfied the a certain former Reform MP and it did not seem to satisfy the current New Democrat MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley. ”Mr. Speaker, it is somewhat ironic for New Democrats to have to defend the environmental record of a former Mulroney Conservative government against this very new and different breed of Conservatives,” Mr. Cullen sighed while wagging his finger at the government side. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:34 AM - 0 Comments
And later, on CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, Oliver said tailings ponds created through oilsands development are being cleaned up. ”The fact is the tailings ponds are being cleaned up and you’ll be able to drink from them, you’ll be able to fish from them,” Oliver said. “The land will be brought back to its original state.”
Meanwhile, an oil spill has been discovered in northwest Alberta.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
During the 2008 campaign, Stephen Harper promised to ban the export of raw bitumen to countries with weaker emissions targets.
“We will not permit the export of bitumen to any country that does not have the same greenhouse gas regulations that we are imposing,” Harper said in Calgary, where he was campaigning for re-election in an Oct. 14 vote.
Harper’s promise is likely to have no impact on bitumen exports to the United States, said Environment Minister John Baird, but could affect the construction of a major pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific coast to feed the Asian market. Questioned on whether the emission target proposal would have an impact on future bitumen exports to Asian countries, Harper replied: “Well, it could. It absolutely could.”
Nearly four years later, the Harper government is quite keen to sell this country’s oil to Asia. But for all the discussion in recent months about resource development and oil exports, Mr. Harper’s pledge has gone unmentioned. What happened to promised ban? I sent the following query to the Prime Minister’s Office.
During the 2008 campaign, the Prime Minister promised to ban the export of raw bitumen to countries with environmental standards that were more lenient than Canada’s. Does the Prime Minister still intend to fulfill that promise? And, if so, how does he square it with the government’s desire to export oil to countries like China and India?
That question was forwarded to the office of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. Mr. Oliver’s spokeswoman sent along the following statement by way of response (emphasis mine). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 9:10 AM - 0 Comments
After last week’s attempt at money-laundering humour, Peter Kent was mostly silent in Question Period yesterday, responding only to a question about Parks Canada. Three times the opposition asked about the Environment Minister’s use of the term “laundering” and three times it was National Revenue Minister Gail Shea who stood to respond.
Shortly before QP, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver pleaded innocence when asked about Mr. Kent’s comments.
“I haven’t used that term,” he said when asked whether he believes charities are essentially laundering money, “and I don’t believe people are being accused of criminal activity.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 10:13 AM - 0 Comments
The Harper government is using the budget implementation act to give itself new, unexplained powers to regulate employment insurance.
The measure is contained inside the budget implementation bill and would give cabinet the power to change employment insurance rules later through regulation without the approval of Parliament. Yet, even though the provision is currently before MPs, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley is refusing to explain its purpose other than to say further details will be announced over the coming months.
The budget bill reached the floor of the House yesterday, with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver leading the debate. Peggy Nash offered the response for the NDP. Scott Brison responded for the Liberals. Shortly thereafter, Peter Van Loan rose and gave notice of a motion of time allocation that will see the bill come to a second reading vote on May 14.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 1:56 PM - 0 Comments
Under the current system, the government can stop a pipeline plan that the National Energy Board – the federal energy regulator – has approved but it cannot overrule a decision by the NEB to veto a project. That will now change.
An official document said Ottawa would “establish clearer accountability for decisions on major pipeline projects in the national interest by giving government authority to make the ‘go/no go’ decisions.”
By Paul Wells - Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 4:21 PM - 0 Comments
Revolution, ladies and gents! Light the torches! In his December year-end interviews, Stephen Harper used the term “major transformations” a half-dozen times. He made fun of earlier majority prime ministers. They let the bureaucrats put them to sleep! For years! No chance of that happening to Harper. Major transformations, coming right up.
Fast forward to this afternoon. “We will eliminate the penny,” Jim Flaherty told the Commons. It was literally the first new policy measure he announced. “Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home.”
Now you know why Trudeau and Mulroney and Chrétien were such snoozers. It was the pennies. Weighing them down all day. Cluttering their dressers at night. Pennies wear a guy down. Harper, the Interac Prime Minister, will be fleet of foot, full of vim, and ready for —
— major transformations? No. I don’t have a searchable electronic text of Flaherty’s speech, but I do not see the word “transformation” anywhere in it. The rhetoric is altogether more reassuring. “The reforms we present today are substantial, responsible, and necessary,” he said, and “We will stay on course,” and “We will maintain our consistent, pragmatic, and responsible approach to the economy,” and “We will implement moderate restraint in government spending.”
A decade ago at the National Post, we’d have squeezed a month’s headlines out of the spin war between the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister over how to characterize this budget, because I am here to tell you there is one. “Some of the stuff that’s been out there about ‘major transformations’ may have been a bit off,” a government staffer who does not work at Langevin Block said to me.
Diverging motivation has led to diverging rhetoric. Flaherty needs to calm markets, so he speaks a language of continuity and reassurance. Harper needs to persuade movement conservatives a decade’s work was worth it, so he has become his own loudest cheerleader.
Which one of them is right on the substance of the thing? Both of them. There is no revolution in this budget. Most of the changes it announces have been coming for years and will take years to implement. Some of them are prudent and some less so, but together they add up to a few significant course adjustments. Advantage Flaherty.
Under the surface, however, this is an intensely political budget, perhaps the most interesting since Flaherty’s first in 2006.
By Paul Wells - Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 11:15 PM - 0 Comments
“It would be senseless,” Tom Mulcair said Sunday at the NDP debate in Montreal, “to stop developing the oil sands, but we should stop subsidizing them and we should internalize the carbon cost,” that last bit a slightly insiderish way of saying some sort of carbon-emission pricing mechanism should attach to oil sands products. This falls well short of wild-eyed extremism; as Mulcair likes to point out, the Conservatives have considered, but not implemented, ending subsidies to oil-sands development that were implemented under Jean Chrétien, and Stephen Harper spent the 2008 campaign pretending to offer a carbon cap-and-trade scheme, which it later took three successive Conservative environment ministers to bury without a trace.
But Mulcair’s rhetoric, like most politicians’, often jumps ahead of his substantive positions. In Montreal he mentioned that in 2010 he wrote the foreword to a book by veteran journalist Andrew Nikiforuk whose French title translates to English as “Oil Sands: Canada’s Shame — How Dirty Oil is Destroying the Planet.” (Skipping slightly off topic, one notes that Nikiforuk’s next opus is titled “The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude.”)
During the debate, Mulcair allowed as how he could be talked into considering either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade mechanism for, well, internalizing carbon costs, depending on circumstances. He can expect the Conservatives to start claiming he would do both. It’s important to note that Mulcair is hardly alone. A strong consensus unites the opposition parties’ leadership candidates to the effect that the oil sands’ environmental cost is unacceptable and that oil exports must be sharply curtailed. Nathan Cullen, whose riding includes Kitimat where the Northern Gateway pipeline would wind up, can hardly believe his luck. He’s calling on New Democrats to help him stop Gateway.
So that’s the NDP. Meanwhile, over on the other side, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver will on Monday deliver a keynote address to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, on what a news release called “the government’s plan to streamline the approval process for major economic projects across Canada. In addition, Minister Oliver will highlight Canada’s leadership role in exploration, mining and processing, which alone employees [sic] more than 320,000 people across the county (not counting related support sectors).”
Note that the word “environmental” didn’t make it into that release before “approval.” I’m guessing Joe Oliver won’t be writing the foreword to The Energy of Slaves. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 4:25 PM - 0 Comments
Picking up where questions on Monday and Tuesday had failed to receive a straightforward answer, Megan Leslie tried again this afternoon to clarify Joe Oliver’s views on climate change. Here’s how that went.
Megan Leslie: Monsieur le Président, hier j’ai donné un break au ministre des Ressources naturelles afin qu’il prenne le temps de penser à ses réponses. On ne sait toujours pas si le ministre se range dans le camp des radicaux qui nient l’existence des changements climatiques ou s’il accepte le fait que la science explique les changements climatiques. Alors, qu’en est-il? Est-ce que le ministre croit à la science des changements climatiques, oui ou non?
Joe Oliver: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite gave me a break because I was not here. The science is clear that human beings cause global warming. Our government has shown its support with investments of over $10 billion to support a cleaner environment and fight climate change through innovation. What I do not believe in is the NDPs ideologically driven Luddite battle against thousands of jobs in Canada. Does the NDP want to deny Canadian families jobs and a secure future, yes or no?
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 12:25 PM - 0 Comments
After Megan Leslie tried once on Monday and three times on Tuesday to get Joe Oliver to explain his position on climate change, Evan Solomon gave it a shot on CBC’s Power & Politics yesterday evening. Here’s how that went.
Evan Solomon: She asked you three times, Do you believe in climate change, are you a climate change denier? She said she couldn’t get an answer. Could you give us an answer? She asked you, Do you believe in man-made or human-made climate change?
Joe Oliver: Look, I’m not a denier, but you know, this is a matter of science. It’s also a matter for my colleague, the Minister of the Environment, you know, and I don’t think we want to get into that. What I said to her and what I said to the House was we will not proceed with any project unless it is safe for the environment and safe for Canadians. That’s my responsibility.
Evan Solomon: So I just want to clarify one last time and then I want to ask you one last question. So you would say you do believe in the science of climate change?
Joe Oliver: Well, look, I’m not a scientist. Most scientists, overwhelmingly it seems, do believe, you know, do have that view. There are a number who do not. And I certainly take account of the fact that overwhelmingly, as I said, scientists appear to have that view.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 4:19 PM - 0 Comments
Megan Leslie didn’t get an answer from Joe Oliver yesterday, so she asked him again this afternoon to clarify his understanding of climate change. And then she asked him again. And then she asked him again. Here’s how that went.
Megan Leslie: Surely the minister knows the basics of his file and he must know that hydrocarbons are a leading cause of climate change. So can the minister tell us if he agrees with the scientific link between hydrocarbons and climate change, yes or no?
Joe Oliver: Mr. Speaker, what I said yesterday, as the government’s policy, is that we will only approve projects that are safe for Canadians and for the environment. We are in favour of projects which will create jobs and economic activity and which will be nation builders for Canadians right across this country, from coast to coast to coast.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Newt Gingrich, yesterday. “He recently vetoed the Keystone pipeline. Now, think about it! He did it to appease left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco.”
Joe Oliver, September 27. “The NDP has decided to stand against these jobs and ally itself with a few environmental extremists who want to shutter all oil sands development.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4:37 PM - 0 Comments
Megan Leslie’s second question for the Natural Resources Minister this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker, we really do have a minister for the 19th century because the Minister of Natural Resources fails to understand the impact of Conservative inaction on jobs, on the environment and on future generations. Instead, he attacks people who actually care about the environment. It makes me wonder if the minister actually believes in climate change. Is the minister a believer or a denier?
Joe Oliver said—”since we are into theology”—that he wished to inform the House that he believed “no project in Canada should go ahead unless it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. He proceeded with his complaints about “radicals” who are “are opposed to any development of hydrocarbons,” none of which seemed to answer Ms. Leslie’s question.
See previously: Pop quiz
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 11:53 AM - 0 Comments
(This post last updated at 6:57pm.)
So reports the Washington Post. With an asterisk.
The Obama administration will announce this afternoon it is rejecting a Canadian firm’s application for a permit to build and operate a massive oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border, according to sources who have been briefed on the matter. However the administration will allow TransCanada to reapply after it develops an alternate route through the sensitive habitat of Nebraska’s Sandhills.
The Prime Minister’s last comments on Keystone came Monday in his interview with the CBC.
I think what’s happened around the Keystone is a wakeup call, the degree to which we are dependent or possibly held hostage to decisions in the United States, and especially decisions that may be made for very bad political reasons. So I think that just … it puts an emphasis on the fact that we must perform our regulatory processes to get timely decisions on diversification of our markets.
Update 2:03pm. Maybe “rejected” is too simplistic a characterization. The New York Times has the project “on hold.”
The administration has until Feb. 21 to decide the fate of the 1,700-mile pipeline to carry heavy crude oil from formations in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Officials are expected to announce that they cannot meet that deadline and that they are looking for ways to complete a thorough environmental review before making a final decision on the project … The State Department is expected to say that routing, environmental and safety concerns raised by the project are too complex to be decided on that abbreviated timetable and is recommending that President Obama reject it for the time being.
Update 3:17pm. And here is the official statement from the U.S. State Department.
Today, the Department of State recommended to President Obama that the presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline be denied and, that at this time, the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline be determined not to serve the national interest. The President concurred with the Department’s recommendation, which was predicated on the fact that the Department does not have sufficient time to obtain the information necessary to assess whether the project, in its current state, is in the national interest.
Update 3:28pm. A note from the Prime Minister’s Office on Mr. Harper’s conversation with Mr. Obama. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 8:29 AM - 0 Comments
To clarify its concerns about “foreign special interest groups” and “jet-setting celebrities,” the Harper government points to the National Resources Defense Council. Joe Oliver singles out Tides Canada. Tides Canada is unimpressed.
But a Tides Canada official says support for energy-related issues like the Gateway pipeline amounts to less than 5 per cent of its funds devoted to overall charitable and environmental work in Canada. Often, the group works with governments on conservation, clean water and sustainable agriculture, and was involved in a sustainable aquaculture project announced by federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield in Campbell River, B.C., on Monday.
“I think this whole funding controversy is a diversion. it’s like creating a fireworks show to distract people and stop them from focusing on things that Canadians are really concerned about,” Tides Canada associate Merran Smith said.
Here is the Harper government partnering with Tides Canada Initiatives Society in 2010. Here is the Harper government partnering with Tides in 2009. And here is John Baird, as environment minister at the time, appearing alongside Tides Canada CEO Ross McMillan at an announcement in 2007.
By Paul Wells - Monday, January 9, 2012 at 6:47 PM - 0 Comments
The Natural Resources Department was always where you worked if you thought environmentalists were a bunch of kooks. In the late 1990s, when the world was young and Kyoto was fresh and new, Natural Resources used to leak like a firehose right into the notebook of a colleague of mine at the National Post. Herb Dhaliwal, then the minister in charge, made a great show of driving an SUV the size of a hockey rink.
But the leaks were always anonymous and Herb’s SUV was a bit of an inside joke. Times change, and now we have Joe Oliver, who’s written (well, whose signature appears under) an open letter as significant in the annals of Conservative government as the ones Stéphane Dion used to write for Jean Chrétien.
There’s nothing subtle about it. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 9, 2012 at 12:51 PM - 0 Comments
The Natural Resources Minister takes on the environmental regulatory system, environmentalists, celebrity, air travel, foreigners, America and civil law.
Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade. Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.
These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources. Finally, if all other avenues have failed, they will take a quintessential American approach: sue everyone and anyone to delay the project even further.