TransCanada Corp put “substandard materials” - made by Quebec manufacturing company, Ezeflow - in an Alberta natural gas pipeline that blew up in 2013, Canada’s pipeline regulator said on Friday as it finally responded to a four-year old warning from a whistleblower with a new industry-wide safety order.
The order gives all Canadian pipeline companies under federal jurisdiction 60 days to identify whether any of their pipelines are using specific types of pipeline fittings, made by Ezeflow in Quebec as well as fittings by Canadoil Asia produced in Thailand, that were flagged for safety reasons. The order also requires the companies to submit mitigation plans to address potential weaknesses.
With the order, the regulator, the Calgary-based National Energy Board, confirmed that the whistleblower, former TransCanada engineer Evan Vokes, had correctly identified a safety issue that contributed to a rupture within a few hundred metres of a hunting cabin owned by a Cree family in northern Alberta.
“This isn't anything that we sat on," said NEB spokesman Darin Barter. "These are complex matters and we’re taking action now."
Sixty-four years ago, a tiny B.C. Aboriginal community was paid $1,292 for a corporation's right to forever pump oil through its reserve.
Now the Coldwater Indian Band is suing to kill that deal -- a challenge that threatens to derail the $6.8-billion expansion of that pipeline proposed by current owner Kinder Morgan.
The latest step in the fight came last week, when Coldwater representatives testified at the National Energy Board hearing, urging a rejection of the expansion pipeline.
$1,292 AND BILLIONS OF BARRELS OF OIL LATER... Read the Coldwater Indian Band's legal brief filed against the federal government and Kinder Morgan by clicking here.
On the surface, the band's immediate grievance, it told the board, is with the route being pursued by Kinder Morgan to twin its expansion pipeline just outside the reserve's boundary. They say it represents an oil contamination risk to the reserve's drinking-water-glacial aquifer that flows beneath their mountain village, west of Merritt.
Picture this scene: It's a bright spring morning. A light breeze scented with sea salt sets wildflowers nodding. Overhead, a pair of cappuccino-coloured butterflies the size of quarters flicker and pirouette around gnarled trees freshly dressed in green. In the deeper shade, a keen eye might pick out, like a fat comma in bright blue, the slow advance of a slug across a rotting leaf. Suddenly a small bird bursts up into the spring air, the sun catching its lemon-yellow face and black raccoon-mask, a sharp musical trill following its rise.
You or I might describe this as paradise. Indeed, Victorian-era fur-trader and later the first Governor of British Columbia, James Douglas, did just that on first sight of the open woodland meadows he found covering much of southern Vancouver Island, calling them a "perfect Eden."
The hum of midday traffic penetrates the August foliage, adding to the dense buzz of insect life filling the air above a pond. Green discs of lily pads make geometric art on its sheltered surface; darting, electric blue dragonflies dance along it. On a fallen tree acting as a grey ramp from the water, short legs propel a high-domed brown shell into the sun. There it settles, and an ancient-looking head emerges, stretching to expose a long, lemon-yellow throat. For this Blanding's Turtle, barely middle-aged at 30, death row is a bright clearing in the woods not far from the Detroit River.
Viewed from the air or on a map, the turtle's prison appears as one of five patches of green squeezed between expressways and the former Windsor, Ontario, raceway, a few kilometres from Canada's busiest truck crossing into the United States at the Ambassador Bridge and adjacent to a second crossing being built at a cost of $1 billion.
LANSING, MI — Michigan officials are seeking environmental and engineering experts who could analyze the risk posed by, and alternatives to the controversial twin 63-year-old oil pipeline crossing underneath the Straits of Mackinac.
On Monday, Feb. 1, state Attorney General Bill Schuette reiterated some strong rhetoric in the announcement, in which he declared, again, that the days are "numbered" for Line 5, owned by Enbridge Inc. of Canada.
"We would not allow this pipeline to be placed in the Great Lakes today and its days are certainly numbered," said Schuette. "The Great Lakes are Michigan's crown jewel and we cannot tolerate an environmental disaster that would forever change them, so I am glad to have this process underway."
The Wildlife Defence League stepped up pressure Wednesday against British Columbia’s Liberal government and Bighorn helicopters over the province’s controversial wolf cull.
Members of the B.C.-based conservation organization dropped a banner in a forest clearcut in B.C.’s South Selkirk region. Read from the air, the banner demands that the government and Bighorn Helicopters “stop killing wolves.”
“Bighorn Helicopters is responsible for the slaughter of over 1,000 wolves in the last decade,” said Tommy Knowles, campaign director for the Wildlife Defence League.
“They continue this despicable legacy of killing wolves, including mothers and pups, through their role in the government-sponsored, taxpayer-funded wolf cull.”
Bob Rae teaches at the University of Toronto and is the author of What’s Happened to Politics? He is a partner at Olthuis Kleer Townshend, a law firm that acts for First Nations across Canada.
The tragedy last week at Laloche was followed by the legal victory of Cindy Blackstock at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, and then some commentary, notably in Maclean's magazine by Scott Gilmore, that the Canadian North is an irredeemably violent place. The best thing we can do, he writes, is help aboriginal people abandon their communities and move south. The sooner the better.
No doubt there are many Canadians who agree with Mr Gilmore. But in the end it is an argument that ignores reality, disrespects indigenous people and their lived experience, and puts forward a spectacularly thoughtless "solution" that looks a lot like residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, and every failed policy of the past. From Sir John A to the present day there have been many efforts to hasten the disappearance of aboriginal peoples and communities. They are an affront to our humanity.
Generations of indigenous people were taught to be quiet.
In residential school, staffers would stick needles in the tongues of students who spoke their language, or who opened up about abuse. And that pain lingers with former students who, even today, can't speak up about their experiences.
But Mary Black is sick of the silence. The 23-year-old Ojibwe actress and resource worker from Winnipeg has penned a slam poem, "Quiet," in which she refuses to remain mute about the struggles of indigenous women.
It was posted to her account in October, but its reach has grown to more than 100,000 views in recent days.
OTTAWA — The Trudeau government has promised to get Canada back into the peacekeeping business, but a new report from two independent think tanks says the military is ill-prepared for the task.
The study by the Rideau Institute and the Centre for Policy Alternatives was penned by Walter Dorn, a professor at the Canadian Forces Staff College and one of Canada's leading experts in peacekeeping.
For the last decade, he says, the army has specialized in counter-insurgency warfare because of the combat mission in Kandahar and other skill sets — once second nature to Canadian training — were relegated to the back burner.
Indigenous leaders, stakeholders, and the B.C. government celebrated victory today in an unprecedented collaborative agreement protecting 85 per cent of Canada's Great Bear Rainforest from commercial logging. According to the new arrangement, timber harvesting will be banned from 3.1 million hectares of rare coastal rainforest, with new legislation on its way to enforce it.
While the trees may be safe in this pristine wilderness area, it turns out that the wildlife — grizzly bears in particular — may not be. Despite the sweeping conservation agreement, trophy hunting grizzly bears will still be permitted in the southern parts of the Great Bear Rainforest according to the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
A four-year old super Information Technology department created by the former Harper government has been plagued by hidden costs, delays, security risks, incomplete accounting, and at least one critical system failure that call into question whether it will actually save taxpayer money, said a new report tabled Tuesday in Parliament.
The report by the office of auditor general Michael Ferguson said that Shared Services Canada is making “limited progress” in its attempt to transform the computer networks and servers of 43 departments and agencies into a single service.
The report said the federal agency was also providing “inaccurate and incomplete” reports for at least one of its projects to transform government-wide email systems, failing to account for all costs incurred by departments as part of joining the new network.
The agency, which spends about $1.9 billion per year, said it agreed with the audit’s recommendations and was working to address all issues in the coming months.
By now, any scenarios in which Canada's battered economy is rescued by a sudden upturn in oil prices have largely disappeared from the conversation. All save one.
A hope that one sunny morning Saudi Arabia may wake up, realize the error of its ways, and decide to curtail production remains alive for the oil industry.
And why not?
A change of heart by the Saudis could send crude prices higher by $15 to $20 US a barrel in short order, offering some desperately needed breathing room to global oil producers groaning under the strain of job cuts and, for some, the threat of bankruptcy. At the same time, a rush of petro-dollars would transform the math on budget deficits currently being prepped by governments from Ottawa to Alberta and beyond.
A federal government audit has slammed the National Energy Board, the agency responsible for policing 70,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada, for not doing its job and properly protecting public safety.
In an extensive 31-page report, Julie Gelfand, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, found that the controversial NEB "did not adequately track company implementation of pipeline approval conditions, or consistently follow up on deficiencies in company compliance with regulatory requirements."*
The head of the country's leading labour association says he still has no idea how a major Pacific Rim trade deal will help Canadian workers, despite recent meetings with the minister responsible for the deal.
Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, added that he doesn't understand why Canada is signing on to the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership when there are still unanswered questions about how it will benefit Canada economically.
Canada will sign the TPP next week, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Monday, though she stressed that signing the deal does not mean it will be "ratified."
Fresh from victory at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Cindy Blackstock said she persisted with her landmark child welfare case for nine years because, "It's our job as adults to stand up for kids."
That, despite spending nine years feeling "tired and sometimes scared because of what the government was doing to me personally," she told The Tyee.
That treatment, according to Canada's privacy commissioner, included spying on her online activities and "surreptitious monitoring" of her public appearances -- though the commissioner didn't find the latter actions inappropriate.
On Tuesday, the tribunal ruled in favour of Blackstock's First Nations Child and Family Caring Society -- concluding the federal government racially discriminated against 163,000 First Nations children by denying them the same funding for child protection, education and health as Canadian kids.
Canada’s Indigenous Affairs Minister has told her department to conduct an urgent review of a practice that denied compensation to some indigenous Canadians who were abused at Indian residential schools listed in a settlement agreement with survivors.
“I have asked my department to look into this and we are going to look into it in a very serious manner right now,” said Carolyn Bennett, who described the matter as “urgent.”
Dr. Bennett’s announcement in the House of Commons comes after The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday that Justice officials in the former Tory government used a technicality in the agreement that led to compensation being denied to more than 1,000 abuse victims.
VANCOUVER — The First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia has numerous problems with executive hiring, compensation and conflict of interest, a report by Canada's auditor general says.
Michael Ferguson's office was conducting a study of the health authority in the fall of 2014 when it received an anonymous letter outlining several allegations including workplace misconduct by senior officials.
A report released by the office Tuesday said the authority became the subject of an audit in the midst of the study that was launched in October 2013.
It said the country's only such health authority was not transparent about the amount of money it spent on professional and service contracts, hospitality and travel or senior executives' salaries.
It may be the prime minister's leadership style or his full mane of hair, but the 'Trudeau Effect' has vaulted Canadian businesses into the 'world's most trusted' category.
Currently sharing first place with Switzerland and Sweden, Canadian businesses have been bumped up from second place last year, according to an annual survey carried out by the Edelman public relations firm.
“We’re dubbing the rebound in trust and optimism the ‘Trudeau effect’ because the study was done in the immediate aftermath of the federal election and indicates a sense of exuberance among Canadians,” Lisa Kimmel, president of Edelman Canada, said in a statement.
The federal government used a technical argument to disqualify an estimated 1,000 claims for compensation made by indigenous Canadians who were abused at Indian residential schools listed in the agreement negotiated to award them for their suffering.
It is a move that the people who signed the deal on behalf of former students denounce as a cash-saving measure by Ottawa – one that has created unequal restitution for survivors, depending upon the date they filed their claims and the location on the school grounds where the assaults occurred.
“The government should reverse this unfair decision and agree to pay compensation to these people,” said Phil Fontaine, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who is himself a residential-school survivor and who launched the efforts to obtain redress.
Water toxicity experts estimate that roughly 10 per cent of Canadians are at risk of being exposed to lead through their drinking water as Americans in Flint, Mich., grapple with an ongoing drinking water scandal.
Research funded by the Canadian Water Network estimates that about 60,000 households in major cities across the country still have lead service lines connecting the home to the municipal water supply.
Senior researcher Graham Gagnon says each member of those households could find themselves consuming lead, which the study says is unsafe for human consumption in any quantity.
Gagnon, who serves as director for the Centre of Water Resources Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says lead service lines can also be present in smaller communities and in larger buildings such as schools.
OTTAWA — The management of military housing at the Department of National Defence is in disarray, with as many as 1,500 units sitting vacant and not enough consideration given to allowing soldiers to rent in the local market away from their bases, Canada's auditor general says.
Michael Ferguson's latest report, tabled Tuesday in Parliament, found the department has no idea how many private military quarters it needs, and in some instances is charging below-market rents for its 11,858 apartments, duplexes or row houses.
Roughly 15 per cent of full-time military members live on military bases in housing managed by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency.
OTTAWA — The Canada Border Services Agency is not keeping a close enough eye on exports, causing high-risk shipments — including illegal drugs and stolen cars — to leave the country undetected, auditor general Michael Ferguson says.
In his latest series of reports examining the efficiencies and failings of various government departments, the federal watchdog finds the border agency is not reviewing all export declarations and not examining many shipments flagged by its own internal system — or by warnings from other departments.
Up to 20 per cent of high-risk exports identified by the agency's centralized targeting units were allowed to pass without inspection.
The Harper government broke federal cabinet rules when it attempted to transfer a historic and culturally significant piece of land, said Ottawa’s environment watchdog, commenting on a mysterious 2014 proposal affecting a site used for important climate change research.
The controversial deal, now under review by the Liberal government, transferred a chunk of federal land for a new hospital at the site of the Central Experimental Farm, used for government agricultural, climate and other scientific research in Ottawa since 1886.
But federal environment commissioner Julie Gelfand said in an interview that the plan to transfer the land went against a directive introduced in 1990 by the Progressive Conservative government of former prime minister Brian Mulroney. This rule requires new federal programs or policies to undergo a strategic environmental assessment when considered by cabinet or when they may result in important environmental effects.
No one's saying much about what happened and who's been held accountable for several breaches of taxpayer privacy at the Canada Revenue Agency.
The privacy breaches came to light last week in the annual report of the watchdog for CSIS, Canada's spy agency. The report described how intelligence officers, repeatedly and without a warrant, improperly obtained taxpayers' information.
The Security Intelligence Review Committee found there were "multiple instances of a particular CSIS office obtaining information."
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