The News Rundown
- The Alberta government is investing $3.7b to send oil to the US by rail.
- This will fetch Alberta 4,400 leased rail cars to move up to 120,000 barrels of oil per day by 2020.
- Initially the province was supposed to buy 7,000 rail cars for $3b.
- Shipments begin in July with 20,000 barrels per day
- How this oil by rail plan works
- The government finance department estimates that the rail plan will lead to a $5.9b increase in royalties, tax revenues, and profits. This means a net gain of $2.2b.
- Alberta is spending $3.7b to make $2.2b.
- Premier Notley says that there is “Absolutely no risk” in finding markets for the oil.
- Imperial Oil criticized the move saying that the curtailment of oil production that the government brought in caused the price difference between Canadian oil prices and competing product elsewhere to narrow to the point of making rail shipping no longer economically feasible.
- At its lowest point the differential shrank to $7USD
- This caused the government to reduce its curtailment to 250,000 barrels per day from 325,000 barrels a day and the price discount has since widened to $15/barrel.
- Controlled economy
- CP rail head Keith Creel said, "So the government steps in, we didn’t like it at all, I don’t think that’s healthy in a commercial space. You can let the commercial deals work and let commerce take place and the deals will drive right good business decisions and investment decisions.”
- CP has a record of transporting oil by rail in the past, and cautioned that fluctuating demand can cause problems for those who sign contracts.
- The government is hopeful that the economy will soon turn so that oil by rail is economical.
- In a final note, grain farmers are worried that the plan could affect their output.
- Rail cars have only been delivered to 60% of the country’s grain elevators that have requested them in the last 2 weeks.
- This comes with assurances from the government that agriculture would not be affected.
- CN and CP announced new investments last year for increasing grain capacity but most of these investments were to catch up to investments that should have been made sooner to maintain the current level of service.
- The general consensus from the Alberta Canola Producers Commission is that, “the railways have provided assurances to the government of Alberta and that’s nice, But they’ve provided assurances to lots of people over time and those things don’t always happen."
- Complicating matters, Jason Kenney tweeted on Wednesday, “Just got off the phone with a major rail shipper of oil, who tells me the NDP’s $4 billion rail boondoggle appears to be twice the current market rate for oil by rail. I call on the NDP to release the terms of its secret $4 billion deal immediately. What do they have to hide?”
- He later said that a UCP government would cancel the contracts.
- Industry experts caution saying cancellation cost upwards of $1b.
- This past week there has been lots of news in BC. There's been more legislature spending scandal reports from BC's speaker, the budget was passed by the BC government, but probably the biggest story this week in BC is that there has been a measles outbreak in Vancouver, with yesterday a total of 10 confirmed cases, with hundreds more possibly exposed to the highly infectious and deadly virus.
- Measles is an airborne disease which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of infected people. It may also be spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Nine out of ten people who are not immune and share living space with an infected person will be infected. People are infectious to others from four days before to four days after the start of the rash. Most of those who die from the infection are less than five years old.
- Vancouver Coastal medical health officer Dr. Althea Hayden says 9 of the 10 cases are clearly associated with schools that were at the centre of the original outbreak this month, but they don't know where the other person contracted the disease.
- The health authority has also released a list of locations where one of the infected people travelled over three days from Feb. 15 to Feb. 18, including restaurants, on a Canada Line commuter train and Langara College.
- Hundreds of people are now in the queue for measles immunization appointments at the Fraser Health Authority, with many more expected to arrive as fears of the measles virus are panicking people living near the affected areas.
- The father of patient zero said that he didn't vaccinate his children because he distrusted the science at the time: "We worried 10-12 years ago because there was a lot of debate around the MMR vaccine. Doctors were coming out with research connecting the MMR vaccine with autism. So we were a little concerned." He says that he's not anti-vaccination now, but still did not get his children immunizations.
- Emmanuel Bilodeau believes one of his three sons contracted measles during a family trip to Vietnam earlier this year and that it has since spread at the French-language schools his children attend. His other two sons started showing symptoms soon after.
- Measles is one of the leading vaccine-preventable disease causes of death. In 1980, 2.6 million people died of it, and in 1990, 545,000 died; by 2014, global vaccination programs had reduced the number of deaths from measles to 73,000. Since then, there has been a rise of the disease and deaths caused by it due to a lack of immunization.
- Some people - infants, people with certain underlying health conditions and those undergoing chemotherapy - cannot be vaccinated and must rely on high vaccination levels within their community in order to be protected from infection by so-called "herd immunity."
- In the wave of this measles outbreak, the BC government is now considering mandatory vaccination registration program, similar to Ontario and New Brunswick. Proof of immunization has been a requirement for children entering New Brunswick schools since 1982. Ontario's model is similar to New Brunswick's where every child has an immunization card that shows a record of their vaccinations. Parents update the card with each vaccination or booster and report those to the provincial health care unit either in person or online.
- Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday: "While there are some people who are expressing opposition to immunization, and others who can't be immunized for medical reasons, some people simply fall through the cracks of the system. We want to make it harder for that to happen. So action is coming." Dix did not say if plans were already in place, or when anything might be announced.
- The Trans Mountain pipeline remains in the public interest of Canada according to the NEB.
- The approval includes 16 new recommendations to better protect marine life.
- Some of these new recommendations include increasing marine spill response requirements and reducing emissions from marine vessels.
- Increase in tankers regardless of whether or not the pipeline is built.
- How thorough was the report? 689 pages. The NEB’s Chief Environment Officer Robert Steedman said in Calgary, "While these effects weighed heavily in the NEB’s reconsideration of project-related marine shipping, the NEB recommends that the government of Canada find that they can be justified in the circumstances, in light of the considerable benefits of the project and measures to mitigate the effects… The [NEB] panel feels strongly that if these recommendations are implemented, they will offset the relatively minor effects of the project-related marine traffic and, in fact, will benefit the entire Salish Sea ecosystem.”
- The federal government must also consult with Indigenous communities and this is being lead by Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi.
- The federal government has already met with 85 of the 117 communities.
- The ball is in the court of the federal government, by law they have 90 days to issue an approval or denial but this could be extended well past the fall election.
- Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was cautious to say that this was not a victory but an important step. She is ‘cautiously optimistic’ that shovels will be in the ground by fall.
- BC Environment Minister George Heyman said on Twitter, “This project is not in the best interests of the tens of thousands of people who depend on our coast for their livelihoods. We’re going to continue to assert our right to defend BC’s env’t in court & will continue to insist the federal gov’t take BC’s concerns seriously.”
- The future of this project depends on the government and they owe it to the taxpayers since the taxpayers own the pipeline.
- For a long while now, many Canadians views of the Canadian justice system is that it is too lenient on monsters who commit the most horrific of crimes. Murderers, rapists, and terrorists who should be locked up for a long time often get just a few years before they are released back into the general public.
- Such is the case of Kevin Omar Mohamed, a 26 year old man from Ontario, who in 2016 was attending the University of Waterloo when he was arrested on fears of terrorism, after counter terrorism experts found that a Twitter account linked to Mohamed underwent a dramatic change and in the summer of 2015 switched from following ISIS twitter accounts, and instead throwing his support behind the al-Qaeda affiliate group, Jabhat al-Nusra.
- Al-Nusra fighters have tended to celebrate attacks carried out against the West, but unlike ISIS, the group doesn't call for attacks abroad.
- The co-director of a study of foreign fighters at the University of Waterloo, Amarnath Amarasingam had this to say: "He wasn't concerning to me, because he seemed mostly to be engaged in a theological and intellectual engagement with issues of jihad and Syria,"
- On March 24 2016, two days after the attacks in Brussels, Belgium, Abu Jayyid posted a tweet asking "Where can I get the Brussels airport MOD on Call of Duty?"
- Two days later, Mohamed was arrested after being found sleeping in empty rooms on the University of Waterloo campus. He was found with what police said was a large hunting knife, work gloves, a large quantity of money and handwritten notes taken down from al-Qaeda publications on how to plan and carry out an attack.
- It's clear that he was radicalized and a potential terrorist threat, given his history. Mohamed travelled to Turkey in 2014 where he met members of Jabhat al-Nusra and was smuggled in the trunk of a car to Syria. Once there, Mohamed tweeted out invitations for others to join the cause, giving detailed instructions on how a person could cross from Turkey into Syria.
- His mother reached out to him in the hope of getting him to return to Canada and his brother travelled to Turkey to meet him to convince him to come back to Canada. After he came back to Canada, police said he used two separate Twitter accounts to post "comments supportive of terrorist activities, promote violence, and suggested that a person could create timed bombs to be put on planes or boats."
- Mohamed also urged people to "burn cars of 'non-believers'" and "commented on the beauty of attacking the West," police said.
- Mohamed remains in prison, upon his original terror that granted him just 4.5 years in prison. Mohamed will soon be out of prison, freed on mandatory release after serving two-thirds of his four-and-a half-year sentence for participating in the activities of a terror group.
- He is set to be released in October, despite fears that he may reoffend and that he has not changed his radical Islamic views. According to the parole board decision, the panel worries the Whitby man still harbours “dangerous radical religious beliefs” and “may continue to commit terrorist related offences.”
- Mohamed faced up to 10 years in prison, but in a sweetheart deal the Crown and defence agreed at his sentencing hearing in October 2017 that he should serve only four-and-a-half years due to his early guilty plea and agreement to enter a de-radicalization program.
- But now it seems the aspiring jihadist has refused to participate in anything like that program, and yet he’s being released anyway.
- Fear not, however. The parole board has imposed conditions on his release, including staying away from the Internet and taking “religious counselling”...the same counselling he’s rejected before.
- Is our justice system truly helping to keep Canadians safe?
Word of the Week
Radicalization - where an individual adopts increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals that reject or undermine the status quo or contemporary ideas.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: On the Rails
Teaser: The Alberta NDP has a $3.7B plan to move oil by rail, the BC government is considering mandatory measles vaccinations, and the NEB reapproves support of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Also, a radicalized terror sympathiser is set to be released from prison.
Recorded Date: February 23, 2019
Release Date: February 24, 2019
Edit Notes: Internet drop at AB end
Podcast Summary Notes