Halloween demonstration links tar sands with democracy

PipeUp Network

Halloween demonstration links tar sands with democracy

Local constituents raise concerns with Conservative MP Mark Strahl about the Harper government’s undemocratic, back room, pro-tar sands policies and agreements.

Chilliwack, BC—Following a week of epoch-making demonstrations against tar sands pipelines in BC, local residents have taken to the streets again. Chilliwack community members gathered at Conservative MP Mark Strahl’s office on Halloween to raise questions about his party’s support for tar sands expansion, the Harper government’s recent use of omnibus legislation to dismantle environmental laws and support foreign corporate interests.

At issue are changes to environmental legislation such as the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Act, and the government’s ongoing support of foreign corporate interests through agreements such as the China-Canada Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA). This agreement gives corporations the right to sue Canadian governments if they impose regulations that undermine the ability to make a profit. Mark Strahl was invited to speak to the crowd and share his personal opinion on the agreement and its link to Kinder Morgan’s transport of tar sands bitumen through Chilliwack. He declined.

“This is a fun event, but the issues we raise are very serious,” asserts Sheila Muxlow, event co-coordinator. “Members of the Harper government continue to support the implementation of policies that enable the rights of tar sands corporations over the rights of their constituents. We are a growing local movement to stop the export of tar sands through the Kinder Morgan pipeline. PIPE UP members want to ensure the protection of our local drinking water sources, better economic choices and preservation of property values. We want to put Mark Strahl on notice that he must be accountable to our local interests and not to just his party’s policies.”

Along with moves like removing the power of the National Energy Board to deny pipeline proposals, and exempting pipeline projects from environmental review of their impact on Canada’s waterways, the Harper government will ratify the China-Canada Foreign Investor Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA) on November 1. This is another drastic new law enacted without any public discussion or debate.

FIPA is an investor rights agreement that strengthens the corporate interests of companies in both China and Canada. The treaty is similar to the investment chapter (Chapter 11) in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has resulted in almost $170 million in payouts to U.S. corporations. FIPA is also similar to several free trade deals and investment treaties Canada has signed with developing countries, including Colombia and Peru, where the Harper government wants Canadian mining companies to be able to challenge provincial governments for any delays to their own projects.

Unlike existing deals, the China FIPA guarantees excessive investment protections to Chinese firms for fifteen years plus another fifteen should the treaty be cancelled. These treaties bind the country regardless of changes in federal or provincial governments. Any province or First Nation with Chinese investment in natural assets has the right and responsibility to challenge the constitutionality of FIPA, according to legal experts. This trade agreement threatens to undermine Canadian & First Nations’ sovereignty and seriously compromises the constitutional rights of the First Nations and the province under Section 35 and Section 92 of the Constitution Act (1982), respectively.

“We need debate of this agreement” says Eddie Gardner, a representative of the PIPE UP Network and member of the Skwah First Nation. “First Nations and the province must be consulted and there should be an open public debate on an agreement this significant. We really hope that politicians can move past their party affiliations and recognize that more than ever they need to speak for the interests of local residents to ensure our democratic rights to say no to destructive industrial developments and the corporations who want to push them through.”


For more information or to arrange interviews:

Contact: Sheila Muxlow, 604-751-0172; email: sheila.muxlow@gmail.com

Eddie Gardner, 604-792-0867; email: singingbear@shaw.ca

Website: http://pipe-up.net/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stoptheflow

Background information

The PIPE UP Network is made up of residents of southwestern BC who have joined together over concerns about the safety, environmental, and financial implications, of shipping tar sands along Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline, which runs from Edmonton, AB to Vancouver, BC.

PIPE UP members are dedicated to informing themselves and their communities about the realities of tar sands. We agree that: 1) Great harm is being done to the planet through current levels of tar sands extraction, 2) the risks of transporting bitumen are evident, 3) there is no net economic benefit in tar sands exports for British Columbians, and 4) there are alternatives, such as renewable energy and electric transportation.

Australia’s Resource Boom: From Blessing To Curse — Just Like Canada

Over the last decade, the Australian economy has experienced a boom on the back of the rise of Asia – with Chinese demand for Australian commodities in particular spurring economic growth. Yet, with emerging market growth in Asia having now slowed down, Australia’s abundance of resources is transforming from being a blessing to a curse.
Australia’s Resource Boom: From Blessing To Curse

Are Australia’s Economic Prospects Murky?
Photo Credit: angusf – flickr

The Paradox of Plenty, or the Resource Curse, as it is also known, refers to the conundrum posed by the fact that historically, countries blessed with abundant natural non-renewable resources such as mineral wealth or oil, tend to have stunted economic growth and to lag behind in value added production.

There are any number of reasons given for this depressing outcome from what should have been beneficial beginnings: There is the difficulty other sectors have in competing with the resource sector, which tends to be privileged and which soaks up the lion’s share of inward investment; There is the fact that resource exporting countries tend to see a marked appreciation of their currencies, which sucks in imports and makes value added exports uncompetitive; and of course there is the swings and roundabouts that characterize commodity markets, with price volatility being part of the course.

Australia’s economy has boomed on the back of the rise of China over the last decade or so. In a recent paper, three members of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Michael Plumb, Christoper Kent and James Bishop, state unreservedly that growth in Asia has been very positive for the Australian economy. By driving up commodity prices, investment demand from Asia has supported a very significant increase in the considerable productive capacity and export capabilities of the resource sector. Asia has also boosted jobs, income, tax revenues and wealth generally in Australia, the three admit.

Australian citizens have also benefited from the lifestyle effects that come from having a strong currency and being able to import manufactured goods from elsewhere. As the paper puts it, “the purchasing power of the average wage has risen in all major indices since the terms of trade begun to rise in 2003/4”.

Growth in household disposable income was even stronger that wage growth since the government has been able to make tax cuts thanks to stronger tax receipts from the resource sector.

Australia has also seen a huge influx of FDI (foreign direct investment) with some estimates now putting the foreign ownership of Australia’s resource sector as high as 80 percent.

“The combination of the high exchange rate, a record of low and stable inflation and a relatively flexible labour market means that while demand for labour, and the growth of wages, has been higher in the resource and resource-related sectors, this has not led to a significant increase in wages in Australian dollar terms across the economy as a whole.”

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The Resource Curse

On the down side, industries outside the favoured resource group have seen their costs go up, unless they happen to be importing from overseas suppliers in which case a strengthened currency would have helped them. And there has indeed been a steady drain of people away from jobs in the other sectors and towards the resource intensive section. Moreover, the boom in emerging market growth across Asia has now slowed and there is continued talk of a possible hard landing for the Chinese economy. Many sectors in the Australian economy are now performing under their potential and on October 2, the Reserve Bank took the decision to cut rates.

Announcing the rate cut RBA Governor, Glenn Stevens sounded a warning for companies relying on China.

“Growth in China has … slowed and uncertainty about near-term prospects is greater than it was some months ago. Around Asia generally, growth is being dampened by the more moderate Chinese expansion and the weakness in Europe,” he warned.

Already this slowdown is impacting the Australian economy. The country’s terms of trade with the rest of the world declined by over 10 percent through 2012, by comparison with the peak in 2011 and further declines are anticipated. The RBA rate cut also saw the Australian dollar pull back sharply against the US dollar, from over US$1.06 to the Australian dollar to US$1.01 five days later, with parity with the US dollar briefly seeming like a real possibility (the Australian dollar has since improved somewhat).

Related: Australia Economy

Related: Australia Economic Structure

Any weakening of the Australian dollar though still has its up side for Australian exporters, who are also being helped by the fact that inflation is currently down around 2 percent. The economy too, should benefit from a slightly more accommodative monetary policy. Until the recent rate cut, the RBA had been trying to damp down the potential for the recent commodity price boom to ripple through into spiraling inflation, by raising interest rates.

This seems largely to have succeeded and the risk now is that a mild slowdown in Asia could cause the Australian economy to catch a severe cold, hence the shift back to a more accommodative rate policy. By mid October inflation in Australia was down below the RBA’s target rate of 2-3 percent, again signalling that a looser economic policy would not be likely to stoke inflation in the short to medium term.

By Anthony Harrington

Anthony Harrington is an award-winning business and energy journalist, writing regularly for the Scotsman newspaper, the Glasgow Herald newspaper, Financial Director magazine, Pensions Insight magazine, CA Magazine, and a number of other publications. He won Business Finance Journalist of the Year 2006, Institute of Financial Accountants, and Journalist of the Year, State Street 2006 Institutional Press Awards, and was runner up in 2007 and 2008.

The “Resource Curse”, the Australian Economy and the growth of Asia is republished with permission from the QFinance Blog. Get the QFinance Dictionary of Business and Finance iOS app for a comprehensive guide to financial terms and expressions.

Clean energy ‘mega-trend’ sweeping globe: Canada vulnerable

Canadian economy left vulnerable, Harper government told in briefings: Canada is becoming vulnerable to a planetary “mega trend” toward low-carbon energy, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was told in newly released internal briefing notes.


OTTAWA — A dependence on fossil fuel resources is making the country vulnerable to a planetary “mega trend” toward low-carbon energy that “will affect the whole of Canada’s economy,” Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was told in newly released internal briefing notes.

“While Canada has an enviable energy resource advantage, its future success cannot be taken for granted,” said the briefing notes. “It must make smart decisions now in order to get ahead of emerging challenges. The country will need to further diversify its energy sources, ensure that it has secure access to global markets and find ways to meet the growing demand for energy at home in ways that are environmentally sustainable and publicly acceptable.”

Noting that Canada was last among G8 nations in terms of clean energy investments, the briefing notes prepared by bureaucrats at Natural Resources Canada for Oliver after he was appointed to cabinet in May 2011, explained that the growth of emerging economies such as China and India was one “mega trend” influencing the economy and demand for resources and energy.

But the documents also suggested that other countries were getting ahead of Canada in a new market, estimated to be worth $6.5 trillion in 2007-2008, for green products and services aimed at lowering carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

“Over the medium term, the world is being shaped by another mega trend — the beginning of a transition towards a lower-carbon economy,” said the briefing notes, marked secret but declassified for release to Postmedia News under access to information legislation. “While fossil fuels will remain a dominant source of global energy for decades to come, leading economies, including the US and China are making major investments to position themselves as low-carbon leaders.”

Oliver was also told that some countries were using “protectionist policies” to “provide a competitive boost to their manufacturers” of clean technologies versus foreign competitors through standards, tariffs and some “buy local” rules.

In a statement, Oliver told Postmedia News that the Harper government has invested more than $10 billion since 2006 in programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more sustainable environment through green infrastructure, energy efficiency, clean energy technology and cleaner fuels.

“Our government has a strong record on clean energy and a cleaner environment,” said Oliver. “We will continue research and development with governments, industry and academia in these areas.”

Following Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s election in 2006, his minority government actually cancelled billions of dollars in climate change and clean energy programs prompting public criticism. One year later, it started announcing the billions of dollars worth of new investment programs with similar features but different names.

But it ended most of the programs, such as stimulus funding in support of wind, solar and other renewable energy, after forming a majority government in 2011.

The briefing notes — which described Oliver’s department as the lead federal investor and performer of clean energy research, development and technology demonstration — also said that the decisions made today would “shape Canada’s energy future and carbon footprint for decades to come.”

“Growing demand for natural resources and the long-term transition towards a low-carbon economy will affect the whole of Canada’s economy, especially given energy’s role as a key input,” said the briefing notes.

“How Canada develops and uses its assets, from its resource base through to its skilled workforce and emerging clean tech sector, will be a deciding factor in strengthening its overall competitiveness in today’s uncertain world.”

The briefing notes explained that public opinion polls demonstrated Canadians wanted the government to increase its investments in new technologies, but that it was facing criticism for not keeping up with other countries, ranking 13th in the world and “last among the G8 in low carbon market investments.”

The briefing notes also highlighted the value of promoting energy efficiency through policies such as a home renovations subsidy program, cancelled in 2012, to help households reduce energy consumption.

“There is a large body of evidence that suggests energy efficiency can make a significant contribution to economic competitiveness, cost savings and GHG reductions,” said the documents, which also said that Canadians had spent about $189 billion to heat and cool their homes in 2008.



© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

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First Nations shut out of Jackpine oil sands hearing

A government review panel has denied dozens of First Nations people who live downstream from Shell Canada Ltd.’s Jackpine oil sands mine in Alberta the right to participate in environmental assessment hearings for the mine’s expansion, apparently due to problems with their applications.

At the same time, the panel overlooked the same problem in the application of the Canadian unit of a large French oil company and granted it standing to appear. Among those who were denied standing was Bill Erasmus, Dene National chief and Assembly of First Nations regional chief.

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In a decision released last week, the federal-provincial panel established to review the Jackpine expansion ruled on who would be considered an “interested party,” which is now a prerequisite in order to participate at federal environmental assessment hearings.

FilesBill Erasmus (left), Dene National chief and Assembly of First Nations regional chief, was among those denied the right to participate in the hearing.
The interested-party test is part of a new law passed by Parliament earlier this year that, many lawyers say, seems intended to limit public participation in environmental assessments of controversial projects. At the time the law was introduced, the government said such focus was necessary in order to limit lengthy hearings and bring greater certainty to the regulatory process.

The hearings, which begin in Fort McMurray Monday, will assess the environmental impacts of expanding the Jackpine mine’s production by 100,000 barrels per day — bringing total production capacity to 300,000 barrels per day.

Mr. Erasmus was surprised not to have made the cut. “We have a right to speak on anything that affects our land,” he said.

Many of the individuals who had applied for interested-party status claimed the project would directly affect the air, water and wildlife in their region. They also felt that their traditional knowledge of the area could help the panel in assessing the project.

But, according to the panel’s decision letter, “a large number of individuals or groups that filed written comments with the registry did not provide all (or any) of the information required in a hearing submission.”

We made the deadline. We went through the process of applying. It seems like they’re looking for a technicality to not hear us
Mr. Erasmus says he was not aware of these additional application requirements, which were not listed in the notice of hearing.

“We made the deadline. We went through the process of applying. It seems like they’re looking for a technicality to not hear us,” he said.

Eriel Deranger, a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, was also one of those denied standing. She said many of those who had signed up did not attach detailed hearing submissions to their emailed applications not only because they did not know it was required, but also because they just wanted to make oral statements and give oral evidence. “A lot of them were elders, so this is very concerning,” she says.

Ms. Deranger says she emailed the panel specifically asking for details on how she and other aboriginal people who were planning on making oral presentations at the hearings should apply, but the panel responded to her after the deadline.

“The process wasn’t clear,” she said. “Instead of dealing with the issues at hand, they just make the process so complicated, that they can axe people from participating based on procedural reasons.”

First Nations people were not the only ones who were apparently unaware of the detailed hearing submission requirements. In the panel’s decision letter, the panel noted that Total E&P Canada Ltd., an oil sands company operating in the region and the wholly owned subsidiary of French oil-giant Total SA, did not comply with the application requirements.

The panel, however, decided to grant Total interested-party status despite this.

A spokesperson for the joint review panel said it had determined a hearing submission was not required in Total’s circumstances.

While Mr. Erasmus plans to follow up with the panel to ensure he will be given an opportunity to participate, Ms. Deranger says she cannot afford to put any more energy into it. “I could counter all of this, but it’s a lot of time, a lot of resources,” she says, “and I have a full-time job. It just seems like butting your head up against a brick wall.”

A spokesperson for the joint review panel said that those affected could ask the panel to reconsider.


Clayton Ruby, C.M.
Please sign and share:


Original letter from Clayton Ruby, C.M.
Board Chair, ForestEthics Advocacy
B.A., LL.B, LL.M., LL.D. (honoris causa)

We’re getting through to Conservative MPs who could help us secure
debate on the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection
Act (FIPA). Now we’re taking our request to the top—to Prime Minister

Stand with me, fellow Canadians, and sign my Open Letter to Harper.
Together, we demand that he preserve Canadian rights and sovereignty
and protect Canada’s prosperity.

This treaty must not be enacted without proper public debate and
discourse. Help me gather 30,000 signatures on this letter, which I
will deliver to Harper on or before November 1st—the day the treaty
will become law if we don’t speak up now.


November 1, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

It is my privilege to deliver to you this letter signed by tens of
thousands of Canadian citizens. All of them are deeply concerned about
the direction in which this country is headed under your leadership.
It is not just the proposed sale of Nexen to CNOOC that is hugely
problematic but even more so, the passage of the Canada China Foreign
Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPA).

The signatories to this letter find FIPA unacceptable on a number of fronts:

1. It undermines Canada’s democracy and sovereignty and takes away our
right to make decisions or enact laws that protect our natural
resources and environment.
2. It allows Chinese corporate interests (both private and
state-owned) to sue us behind closed doors for limiting their right to
profit from investments they have made in our natural resources.
3. It exposes Canadian taxpayers to hundreds of millions of dollars in
damages—made payable to Chinese investors–without their knowledge.
4. It has been tabled quietly in the House of Commons without so much
as a press release. There has been no parliamentary debate or vote and
no public scrutiny.

With the foregoing in mind, I demand that you suspend passage of this
Act immediately and allow Canada’s citizens and their elected
representatives to review and debate this pact in full.

I await your response,

Comedy or Trajedy: Peter Kent Environment Minister

New Internationalis
Could it really be true? A prestigious climate change conference not only sponsored by arch-polluters Shell, but also featuring Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent, notorious cheerleader for the tar sands, as a keynote speaker?

See this item from the New Internationalist:


Deal with China triggers public concern, lawyer’s warning

Public concern appears to be mounting over a Canada-China investment agreement that was quietly signed in September and, despite almost no discussion in Parliament, could take effect as early as next Thursday.

The critics include MPs speaking out this week in the House of Commons and ordinary citizens flooding their MPs’ offices with many thousands of email messages.

The controversy comes as polls show growing concern about Chinese investment in Canada. One poll, a Nanos Research survey this week, found Canadians consider China this country’s greatest national security threat, even higher than Iran.

And concern in B.C. about China was even higher, where 24 per cent of respondents named China as the top threat compared to 17 per cent who named Iran.

Opponents of the Canada-China investment deal warn that Canadian taxpayers could be exposed to billions of dollars in potential damages if Chinese firms claim they were wronged by government actions in Canada.

The most provocative charge is that Chinese companies invested heavily in Enbridge Inc.’s proposed $6.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project could receive a huge payoff if the B.C. government blocked the megaproject.

The B.C. government was urged this week by a Toronto law professor to seek a court injunction preventing ratification of the investment deal, which would protect Chinese investors in Canada and Canadian investors in China for a minimum of 15 years.

“The B.C. government must take legal action if it is to defend its constitutional position from potential irreparable harm due to the ratification of the Canada-China treaty,” Osgoode Hall professor Gus Van Harten wrote in a letter to Premier Christy Clark. “If ratified, the treaty will change fundamentally the position of provincial legislative, executive and judicial powers in relation to any Chinese-owned asset in the country.”

The federal government argues the concern is overblown. The deal will enhance protection for Canadian investors in China and, in the words of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, “create jobs and economic growth in Canada.”

There are also complaints that Parliament is not getting enough time to debate the treaty, which will be locked in for a minimum 15 years once enacted, sometime after Nov. 1.

The truth, as usual, is somewhere between those two positions.

On the economic front, Harper’s promise of jobs and growth isn’t backed up by his government’s preliminary analysis, which says the economic effects in Canada will likely be “minimal.”

That same analysis, however, supports the argument of the government and some trade experts that the deal won’t have much effect for Canada and, because Chinese officials will still be able to make life difficult for investors there, only of modest benefit to Canadian firms.

Federal officials note Canada has a relatively open regime that treats foreigners the same as Canadian investors. China has a famously complex and corruption-prone system that is an enormous challenge for Canadian firms.

“Canada has had a situation with the People’s Republic of China for some years where its investment has been virtually unrestricted here, but we have had more difficulty with our investment there,” Harper told the House of Commons this week in defending the treaty.

Senior Canadian officials told the House of Commons trade committee this month that foreign investment promotion and protection agreements – better known as FIPAs – are designed to favour developed countries seeking better access to countries with systems “less developed or (which) may be subject to political influence.”

“All we’re really doing is undertaking a legal obligation to do what we’re already doing,” said Ian Burney, the assistant deputy minister for trade policy.

The treaty’s imbalance in Canada’s favour is one reason why business groups – including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Vancouver-based Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada, and the Canada-China Business Council – have endorsed it.

The Canada-China FIPA is aimed at protecting investors from expropriation and other costly state interventions. It is one of more than 200 struck by various nations around the world and Canada’s 24th such bilateral deal.

The China agreement is more limited in scope compared to other FIPAs in that it applies only to companies after the investment has been made. Thus the foreign investment review processes of both countries – including Canada’s current review of the proposed $15.1-billion Nexen takeover by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co. – will not be changed.

“In other words, if the Chinese screw you when you’re trying to set up a company you can’t invoke the treaty. Once you set up you can invoke the treaty,” according to trade lawyer Milos Barutciski.

The deal prohibits signatories from expropriating or nationalizing foreign assets “except for a public purpose, under domestic due procedures of law (and) in a non-discriminatory manner.” Fair compensation is also required.

The most controversial feature, and by far the most useful for foreign investors, is a provision allowing investors to seek arbitration if they feel their rights are violated. An arbitration panel would be made up of one expert from the investing country, one from the host country, and a third chosen by the first two arbiters from a country that has diplomatic relations with both countries.

A majority in the three-member panel can assess damages if they deem the complainant’s rights have been violated. The national government is responsible for covering the costs of those penalties, Barutciski said.

The award must be made public, as long as “confidential information” is not released, but the hearings can be held in private.

The agreement excludes sensitive sectors such as culture and military equipment. Environmental and health measures are also exempt as long as there’s no evidence they’re disguised attempts to discriminate against foreign firms.

Both Barutciski and Michael Hart, founder of Carleton University’s Centre for Trade Policy and Law, said Canada is a winner in a deal that won’t have a dramatic overall impact.

“Most criticisms of FIPAs is that they don’t really do much. They’re relatively innocuous agreements,” Hart said.

While Van Harten argues the Chinese could launch a potentially costly claim if the Northern Gateway project doesn’t proceed, Hart and Barutciski say that is unlikely.

Governments are allowed under the agreement to protect the environment and all Northern Gateway investors knew – or should have known – that the project faced numerous roadblocks, Barutciski said.

Pitman Potter, chairman of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of B.C.’s law faculty, said the deal brings “important” benefits to Canadian firms in China but “does not appear” to increase Canada’s obligations beyond what is already provided under international trade law, including World Trade Organization provisions. “Nonetheless, I should think a robust public process of consultation and debate would be useful,” he said.

The lack of public debate was a burning issue in the House of Commons this week as MPs complained that the public concern about the treaty isn’t being matched by MP scrutiny. NDP MP Don Davies and Green leader Elizabeth May said roughly 60,000 emails have been sent to each of their offices complaining about the deal.

Poneil@postmedia.com Twitter.com/poneilinottawa
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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Ian Anderson and Kinder Morgan: Hard-won pipeline wisdom

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously coined the phrase “all politics is local.”

In the passionate national conversation about oilsands development and oil export plans, Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, can apply that same wisdom in observing that all pipelines are local, too. And few things are more political in Canada these days than pipelines.

The Calgary-based company has proposed a $5-billion twinning of its 53-year-old Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Edmonton to Washington state and suburban Vancouver that would more than double its capacity to 850,000 barrels per day. The line would carry more oil than the Northern Gateway pipeline through northern B.C. that has garnered such vocal opposition.

Unlike Northern Gateway, the Trans Mountain’s proposal isn’t even before regulators yet. But Anderson has already heard plenty of opposition. He can assure anyone in industry who wants to listen; economic lessons on the importance of diversified markets or well-documented talking points detailing the billions of dollars that will be added to the Canadian economy or government coffers simply don’t resonate.

“The ‘national interest’ doesn’t matter a damn to that person who is sitting in Chilliwack whose yard is potentially going to be dug up for a new pipeline,” Anderson said Friday. “It doesn’t matter a damn to that First Nation in the North Thompson Valley who is questioning the integrity of the pipeline that will cross the many streams and creeks on their traditional lands.”

The beneficiaries of Anderson’s hard-won wisdom were a few hundred delegates attending a Canadian Heavy Oil Association conference. His remarks sounded a lot like a report from the battlefield – and in some ways they were.

Kinder Morgan has said it will spend up to two years consulting with communities along the route, including First Nations and environmental groups. Anderson points out he has made dozens of trips to Vancouver, Victoria and other B.C. cities since the expansion project was announced in April, but none to Ottawa.

He told the story of being in a pub in Sidney, B.C., on Monday evening as thousands of people were holding sit-ins across the province to protest pipelines and oil tankers.

When it emerged he was in the pipeline business, the bartender jokingly responded: “That’s good … as long as you don’t plan on building a pipeline through B.C.”

Laughs ensued among his Calgary audience. Regrettably, the conversations haven’t always been so cordial.

In Chilliwack in August, Anderson was grilled at a chamber of commerce luncheon by members of PIPE UP Network over the safety of pumping diluted bitumen through the pipeline and about what Kinder Morgan would do if the expansion wasn’t supported by the communities it will cross along the 1,150-km route.

When he wrote an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun in September espousing the benefits of engaging communities in honest dialogue, Maryam Adrangi of the Council of Canadians wrote a scathing “open letter” in response, concluding: “I agree with you that the only way forward requires trust and confidence. But how can this ‘expansion’ move forward when we have been given so little in which we have any confidence or trust?”

Anderson made the point in Calgary that any proponent of a major industrial project these days must be prepared to engage in tough conversations. In fact, he urged his audience to seek out people whose views they’re not likely to see eye to eye with, at least initially.

While Anderson supports “the very necessary conversation around local interests versus national interest” in Canada over energy infrastructure he has little positive to offer about much of the political dialogue over the issue.

It often amounts to opportunistic rhetoric driven by a political calendar or agenda.

He suggested B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford have hardly been “a shining example of political alignment” in discussions over West Coast pipelines for growing oilsands production but saved his strongest rebuke for federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and comments last fall that vilified foreign opponents of the pipelines.

Apparently, branding pipeline opponents as part of an international conspiracy to undermine Canadian sovereignty didn’t help.

“It wasn’t very well timed for us,” Anderson said, pointing out he supported Oliver’s intent but not his comments. “What it did was further entrench that local opposition.

“That local opposition got more reinforced, more committed to standing in the way of this project whether it was because they don’t trust Ottawa and politicians and it made my job on the ground that much harder.”

After laying the groundwork until 2014, a two-year review by the National Energy Board will follow. If it is approved, construction could start in 2016 with the newly twinned line joining the company’s 60,000-km pipeline network in North America in 2017. Undoubtedly, Canadians haven’t heard the last on this subject.

Stephen Ewart is a Calgary Herald columnist sewart@calgaryherald.com
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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Petition: Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement

Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement

In two weeks, Prime Minister Harper could pass the most secretive and sweeping trade deal of a generation. Most Canadians have never heard of FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, because Prime Minister Harper is trying to sneak it through without a single vote or debate in Parliament.

This deal would pave the way for a massive natural resource buyout and allow foreign corporations to sue the Canadian government in secret tribunals, restricting Canadians from making democratic decisions about our economy, environment and energy.1

Most Canadians have never heard of FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, because Prime Minister Harper is trying to sneak it through without a single vote or debate in Parliament.2,3

Canadians have a right to determine our future, but this agreement will undermine our democratic rights and lock us into an inescapable path of foreign-ownership and resource extraction until at least 2040.

The Canada-China FIPA is set for automatic approval on October 31st unless we get the word out now that the Harper Conservatives are trying bypass Parliament and sneak this deal by Canadians. That’s why we partnered with SumOfUs.org on this campaign – if enough of us raise our voices now, we can create a massive public outcry to stop this devastating deal in its tracks.

Send a message to Prime Minister Harper and your MP: Canada is not for sale, stop the Canada-China FIPA and the Nexen takeover. When 30,000 sign, we will deliver your messages to Ottawa.

Alongside this deal, the Harper government is trying to speed through the sale of Nexen, a major Canadian oil and gas company, to the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), one of China’s massive state-owned oil companies.4 The $15 billion-dollar Nexen takeover will open the floodgates to a wave of foreign buyouts of Canada’s natural resources.

If FIPA passes, a Chinese company can take over Canadian resources and then sue Canadian governments – provincial or federal – in secret, if the government does anything that threatens the company’s profits.

Any Canadian law or government decision – even ones that protect Canadian jobs, our environment, our economy and our families – could be fought in secret tribunals outside of our legal system. Arbitrators unaccountable to the Canadian public would have the power to award billions in damages to foreign corporations if we do anything that hurts corporate profits, like improve environmental standards or slow down the export of cheap, unprocessed resources.1,5,6

Time is running out. We have two weeks before FIPA is set to pass into law, and the Nexen takeover could be approved at any time. Canadians, including many Conservative MPs, oppose the Nexen takeover, and Prime Minister Harper has just asked for a 30 day extension to regroup. We need a massive public outcry now.
Additional Information

The ability for corporations to sue foreign governments in private courts, called “investor-state arbitration,” is a controversial practice built into many trade deals like NAFTA that has cost Canada millions and over-ruled democratic decisions, but none impose the level of secrecy in the Canada-China FIPA.

Incredibly, if BC tries to regulate or block Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, Sinopec, another Chinese state-owned oil company with investments in Canada’s natural resource infrastructure, could sue the BC government for damages, and we may never even hear about it the case or its results.5,6

Other countries like India, South Africa and Australia are moving away from this kind of trade deal. Last year Australia rejected investor-state arbitration due to concerns that it would “constrain the ability of Australian governments to make laws on social, environmental and economic matters”.7,8

Why is Canada moving backwards?

Canada-China Investment Deal Allows for Confidential Lawsuits Against Canada (Toronto Star)

Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)

Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen Takeover Heats Up In Ottawa (Financial Post)
Battle over CNOOC’s proposed Nexen takeover heats up in Ottawa

Ottawa extends it review of CNOOC’s nexen bid (The Globe and Mail)

Chinese Companies Can Sue BC for Changing Course on Northern Gateway, says Policy Expert

Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out (The Tyee)

Trading our way to more jobs and prosperity (Government of Australia)

Multiple Countries Rejecting Investor State Dispute Settlement (Janet M Eaton, PhD)

NEB denies BROKE status at Trans Mountain Toll Application

Just received this from Ecojustice:

Hi All,

Yesterday afternoon, the National Energy Board released it’s decision regarding the List of Parties at the Trans Mountain Toll Application. The Board decided that only commercial parties and governments who had sought to intervene will be parties at the hearing in February in Calgary.

This is disappointing, but not shocking. The Board is carefully guarding it’s mandate likely because pipeline issues are so very controversial now. Interestingly, the Board not only denied intervenor status to landowners and landowner groups, they also denied this status to the MPs who sought to intervene, the Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union, and to the Tsleil Waututh First Nation.

Here is an excerpt from the ruling:

“As for the other intervention requests, the Board is of the view that they have not sufficiently justified their interest in the issues to be tried in this case. The issues to be decided in this case relate only and exclusively to the commercial aspects of a potential future expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline system, that include the toll methodology, the terms and conditions for oil transportation service, the allocation of capacity on the system, the appropriateness of the Open Season and specific filing requirement exemptions related to financial regulation.

As well, in the Board’s view, these other persons and groups have not sufficiently demonstrated how the Board’s decision could impact their rights and interests.

For these reasons, the Board does not grant Intervenor status to Mr. Kennedy Stewart M.P., Mr. Peter Julian M.P., The Communication, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Ms. Lynn Perrin/Pipe Up Network, Mr. Mohammed Janief, Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion, Burnaby Residents Along the Pipeline Route, and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.”

This entire decision can be viewed at:

Ecojustice has been representing the Burnaby Residents along the Pipeline Route. I expect that we will be filing a Letter of Comment by the November 8th deadline on behalf of this group, but I will be checking with them. My own sense is that this process is a reminder that Kinder Morgan will always put its corporate interest ahead of the public interest wherever it can.