Alberta: unpaid taxes from oil and gas leaving municipalities unsettled
Albertan oil and gas companies owe the province’s rural municipalities unpaid property tax, and the amount has doubled since the beginning of last year. Some people are referring to this trend as a tax revolt according to CTV News.
“If Alberta’s property tax system is not amended to prevent oil and gas companies from refusing to pay property taxes, many rural municipalities will struggle to remain viable,” association president Al Kemmere said in a release.
A new motion will soon be introduced to Parliament by the Bloc Quebecois asking the government to call off the Frontier Teck mine that has been proposed in northern Alberta, according to the Western Standard.
The motion will be introduced by Bloc leader Yves-Francois Blanchet. The motion suggests, “That the House call on the government to not authorize the Teck Frontier mine development, as this project can not be reconciled with the Paris Agreement targets.”
Bloc MP Alain Therrien has also supported the motion.
Two more motions will be brought forward by the Bloc, though only one will be chosen to be put up for debate in the House of Commons. The Bloc has not yet specified the motion that will move ahead.
Non-political regulators have already given their approval for the $20.6-billion northern Alberta project. The Liberal natural resources minister noted that their approval of the project may be delayed if Alberta continues to oppose Ottawa’s carbon tax. Many eastern Liberal MPs do not want the project to go through it all.
The federal government has indicated it may be abandoning the project, though Teck claims that it will help the GDP of the province and create approximately 7,000 jobs.
A statement was just released by Teck noting that by 2050 it plans to be a net-zero emitter.
The statement on the company’s website says the project, “will consist of surface mining operations, a processing plant, tailings management facilities, water management facilities, and associated infrastructure and support facilities.”
The project is estimated to generate around 260,000 oil barrels in a single day.
All of the 14 Indigenous communities in the project area have come to agreements with Teck.
According to the federal government, they will not be giving an answer any time before late February.
Federal Environment Minister Johnathan Wilkinson said that environmental impacts would be taken into account before the project is approved.
“With respect to (Frontier), we need to look at all the environmental impacts, we obviously need to look at the economic opportunities, and we need to ensure we’re taking both into account,” said Wilkinson.
“Certainly, one of those issues is how does this project fit with Canada’s commitments to achieving the reductions we are committing to (for) 2030, and the net zero commitment to 2050? I would just say again that it’s important that all provinces are working to help Canada to achieve its targets.”
Wilkinson noted that every province should be expected to help the country achieve those goals.
The industrial emitter plan, TIER (Technology, Innovation and Emissions Reduction) was revealed by the UCP government in bill 19.
This plan came in place of the NDP’s climate Leadership Plan by revoking carbon tax on residents and some businesses while keeping the tax on the big emitters.
The TIER plan gives facilities a number of options such as reducing emissions or paying $30 per tonne in a TIER fund.
The federal carbon tax challenge was brought forward by the Alberta government in 2019. Arguments went ahead in Alberta’s Court of Appeal on Dec. 16-18.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s answers, when asked about what he was doing to deal with anti-pipeline protestors, has barely updated—despite Monday being the 12th day of the #ShutDownCanada protests.
Across the country, “Wet’suwet’en solidarity protests” have halted Canadian cargo and passenger trains, and have frequently blocked streets and highways, throwing a major wrench into Canada’s economy.
On Feb. 13, Trudeau told media in Munich that the protests would be dealt with promptly.
“We’re following very closely, I had a long and constructive conversation with Premier Horgan… Obviously, we’re a country of the rule of law, and we need to make sure those laws are followed.”
Now, after arriving from his week-long tour of several African nations, Trudeau re-appeared with a new, familiar message—one that gives no insight as to when or how these problems will be taken care of.
“We had a good meeting with morning with the incident response group, discussions with ministers, I made some phone calls to Indigenous leadership as well as a number of premiers. I understand how worrisome this is for so many Canadians and difficult for many families across the country. We’re going to continue to focus on resolving the situation quickly and peacefully, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Since Trudeau’s first response, CN Rail has been put in a situation where they have to temporarily lay off employees after ceasing operations of its whole network east of Toronto due to protests. VIA Rail has since cancelled over 400 trains nationwide, and these protests, in a country where ‘we need to make sure [the] laws are followed,” has affected over 83,000 passengers.
A number of demonstrations continue to take place important bridges as well, including the International Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.
Videos have also emerged of street blockades becoming potentially dangerous, as frustrated commuters have been seen keeping their foot on the gas pedal amidst a crowd.
Blockades have continued to cut off trains to the Maritimes, who are now feeling the serious effects.
On Sunday, Nathalie St-Pierre, the Canadian Propane Association president and CEO, told CBC that propane shortages will start to be seen in days, if things do not return to normal promptly.
“This is an emergency. People have to understand that, and those that are protesting have to understand that there needs to be a resumption of the services,” She said.
“We haven’t seen any progress in terms of finding solutions now for the issues of getting the transportation to be back to normal. So it’s very troublesome.”
“Some industries can switch back to oil or other sources, but that’s also going to run out eventually.”
Bombardier Inc. has announced that it will be selling its rail-building unit to the French-based Alstom SA. The sale marks Bombardier’s departure from the rail business.
Alstom announced plans to secure the deal with Bombardier and major shareholder Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec—a deal worth roughly $9 billion in stock and cash.
“I’m very proud to announce the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation, which is a unique opportunity to strengthen our global position on the booming mobility market,” Henri Poupart-Lafarge, chairman and CEO of Alstom, said in a news release.
“This acquisition will improve our global reach and our ability to respond to the ever-increasing need for sustainable mobility.”
The purchase is an important one for Alstom. In a market with competitors such as the Chinese-government owned CRRC, Alstom say they will be focusing on “further develop[ing] its presence in Quebec, Canada,” with plans for Montreal to become the headquarters for Alstom in North and South America.
Alstom also plans on establishing a centre of excellence for design and engineering, along with other high-tech research and development facilities.
“Alstom is committed to recovering Bombardier Transportation’s full operational and profitability potential with the objective of restoring project execution and margin towards standard level,” the press release reads.
This comes less than a week after Bombardier announced it was exiting the commercial plane business as well. The Trudeau government is not trying to retrieve a $372 million interest-free loan given to Bombardier in 2017, despite the company selling of core parts of its business.
Kristina Shramko has decided to remain in Wuhan in order to stay with her cat, Kitya. Wuhan has been under lockdown since Jan. 23 in the wake of the coronavirus that began there and has now infected at least 67,000 people and killed more than 1,500. The majority of cases have been in the Hubei province, where the city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is located.
China has so far quarantined more than 50 million people in the Hubei province and all transportation in and out has been shut down.
Shramko can leave her loft in Wuhan, although officers will check her temperature and she is required to wear a mask. Officers patrol the street and and shops to make sure that people comply with the precautions.
Shramko was born and raised in Vancouver and met her boyfriend in Wuhan during a month-long trip to the city. She moved there to be with him about a year prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Shramko’s boyfriend was not in Wuhan at the time of the shutdown due to a business trip. He isn’t allowed to return as per the quarantine rules, so he is currently staying with his family in another province.
Shramko had initially registered herself to be on an evacuation flight when Canadian authorities began chartering flights to get citizens back to Canada, however the strict no-pet policy forced Shramko to make the tough decision to remain in Wuhan to take care of her cat.
“I don’t know when the epidemic will be over so it’s kind of abandoning her in a way, even if I give her to a friend,” Shramko told Business Insider.
Shramko went on to describe the mental conditions of living in quarantine.
“After a month of just being alone and not having that much human interaction, it really takes its toll mentally,” Shramko said
“It’s pretty much a ghost town outside,” she said. “I live directly across from a huge mall and this mall was always packed with people. Even the street to get into the mall’s parking lot was always busy. Now, there are no cars at all and nobody outside.”
Shramko described many of the grocery stores shelves as being barren. She spends her time working on her YouTube channel, watching a Chinese version of Netflix, reading books and playing with Kitya.
She communicates often with her boyfriend and family back in Canada.
“They update me on what they’re hearing about the coronavirus in Canada and I let them know what’s going on in China,” she said.
The Chinese government has extended foreigner visas as a result of the epidemic, however money is getting tight for those forced to stay in quarantine.
“Nobody is working right now so there is no income,” Shramko said. “I’m trying to save as much money as possible since we don’t know when all of this will be over.”
Shramko was initially unphased by the coronavirus lockdown.
“In my mind, a super contagious and deadly virus just didn’t seem real,” she said. “It seemed like something you only saw in movies. After a few weeks, it really kicked in that this was a serious matter.”
Shramko said she understands the circumstances she’s in and doesn’t resent the Chinese government’s handling of the virus.
“I can’t say that I’ve put all my faith in the Chinese government, but I can say that they are doing their best,” she said. “It’s a highly contagious virus, so it’s hard to control.”
Shramko is getting restless to return to Canada now and wishes the government would allow her to take her cat on the plane.
“She’s been there for me throughout this whole quarantine,” Shramko said of her cat. “I should be there for her, too.”