Sandra Finley

Jun 172018


Critics call Brad Wall’s actions in Alberta undemocratic and unethical

Drew Anderson, Robson Fletcher · CBC News ·

Brad Wall said he’s not considering changes to Saskatchewan’s political donation rules. (Adam Hunter/CBC)



Oil and gas money

After compiling the data, using publicly available political donation records dating back to 2006, Kinney noted Wall is “an extremely successful out-of-province fundraiser.”

Over the past 10 years, the party received $12.61 million from nearly 9,000 separate corporate donations, according to the database.

Of that, $2.87 million came from companies outside Saskatchewan, and $2.02 million came from Alberta-based companies, specifically.

Kinney noted Alberta-based donations included hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies in the oil and gas sector — an industry that Wall has enthusiastically aligned himself with.

In his June speech to the Calgary Petroleum Club, the Saskatchewan premier referred to himself and the industry as “we” and “us” and said the sector needed to be defended from what he deemed an “existential threat” from the likes of Hollywood stars, proponents of the Leap Manifesto and universities, churches and public pension funds looking to divest from fossil fuels.

“We are in the middle of a battle and, frankly, we haven’t been winning very many battles,” Wall told the industry crowd. “When I say ‘we,’ I mean this sector and the resource importance of Western Canada.”

‘Undemocratic and unethical’

Duff Conacher with Democracy Watch said he’s concerned about possible political interference.

“When you look at who’s been funding the Saskatchewan Party, it’s, I think, an undemocratic and unethical vicious circle of Alberta oil and gas companies supporting a party that’s outside the jurisdiction so that the leader of that party can come to Alberta and make speeches that push their oil and gas company agenda forward, which is just not something that should be happening in any jurisdiction that should be calling itself a democracy,” he said.

Conacher thinks corporate donations should be banned in Saskatchewan — as they are in Alberta — and that individual limits should be lowered.

There is no cap on donations in Saskatchewan.

“Every voter in Alberta should be concerned about anyone coming from outside the jurisdiction and trying to influence the political decisions of their government,” said Conacher.

“Especially a premier that’s coming, in part paid for by money raised from corporations in Alberta that don’t necessarily have the overall public interest in mind, and a premier from another jurisdiction who likely also doesn’t have the overall public interest of Albertans in mind in terms of what he says when he’s there.”

Wall responds

Brad Wall, speaking to reporters in Saskatchewan, said he’s not concerned about the province’s political donation rules and said there are no plans to make changes.

He said a new lobbyist registry is the best way to ensure accountability in the government.

“You know, we just came through an election campaign, and I can honestly say I didn’t have one voter raise it, so probably not. No plans right now for any changes,” said Wall.

He said resource companies “that are employing thousands of people in Saskatchewan may want to participate in democracy” and that unions may want to as well.

Donations from Alberta companies to the Saskatchewan Party, by year:

  • 2015:     $109,487.12
  • 2014:     $133,086.01
  • 2013:     $178,651.49
  • 2012:     $160,155.00
  • 2011:     $328,385.00
  • 2010:     $173,970.50
  • 2009:     $112,180.74
  • 2008:     $168,496.11
  • 2007:     $518,634.12
  • 2006:     $140,098.07

— Source: Progress Alberta database

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Saskatchewan the ‘wild west’ for campaign finance laws, says Alberta group

Alberta companies have donated $2M to Saskatchewan Party since 2006

In June, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall spoke at the Calgary Petroleum Club. The speech motivated Progress Alberta to look into Saskatchewan Party donations from Alberta. (CBC)

Since 2006, the Saskatchewan Party has accepted more than $3 million in out-of-province corporate donations, with more than $2 million coming from Alberta companies alone, according to a new database.

“I don’t think anyone would be cool with a Calgary Stampeder putting on a Roughrider jersey, showing up in the huddle and then participating in the plays,” said Duncan Kinney, executive director of Progress Alberta, an Edmonton-based non-profit advocacy group that compiled the database.

Duncan Kinney is the executive director of Progress Alberta. He recently tabulated the campaign donations to the Saskatchewan Party from corporations. (Submitted by Duncan Kinney)

Kinney said he was motivated to look into donations to the Saskatchewan Party coming from Alberta after a speech Premier Brad Wall made at Calgary’s Petroleum Club in June.

“I think people who live in Saskatchewan should know that millions of dollars of out-of-province money have flowed into their politics since 2006,” said Kinney.

Who is behind the donations

Kinney said the major contributions came from oil and gas, banks and construction companies.

Here’s a sample of some of the Alberta-based companies and their donation totals from Progress Alberta:

  • Crescent Point: $126,924.
  • PCL: $88,817.
  • Penn West: $83,348.
  • Cenovus: $68,108.
  • Encana: $50,557.

In 2007 alone, Canadian Western Bank donated $200,000 to the Saskatchewan Party.

Progress Alberta also took issue with donations from charities, universities, and cities and municipalities.

  • Over a three year period, the Regina Public Library gave $3,304.
  • Between 2006 and 2011, the University of Regina donated $7,848.
  • Between 2006 and 2015, the City of Regina donated $7,499.

The 2016 donation numbers will not be posted by Elections Saskatchewan until 2017.

Kinney said the majority of the money was donated between 2006 and 2008. He said the party has done a good job at diversifying donations and receiving money from individual donors.

Saskatchewan the ‘wild west’

“Saskatchewan is the wild west when it comes to campaign finance laws. It has the worst campaign finance laws in the country and it beats out British Columbia by a nose simply by fact that Saskatchewan allows registered charities to donate and B.C. does not,” Kinney said.

When it comes to political donations, Alberta outlawed corporate and union contributions in 2015. And in 1977, Alberta made out-of-province donations illegal.

Progress Alberta did not calculate the total of individual donations or examine donations to other parties in the province.

“The Saskatchewan Party, because of its advantages, could very well get rid of corporate money and still out-fundraise its opponents, and it would be the right thing to do,” said Kinney.

Saskatchewan one of the ‘worst’ provinces for donation laws: Democracy Watch

Duff Conacher, the founder of Democracy Watch, agreed with Kinney’s assessment that Saskatchewan is the “wild west” when it comes to party donations because of its limited laws.

“Saskatchewan is one of the worst — if not the worst — in Canada for political finance system,” said Conacher.

Under the current rules, Conacher said there is nothing stopping a foreign-owned company based in Canada from paying for political influence in Saskatchewan.

“They don’t have the same interests as people who live in the province,” he said.

“It amounts to the best government money can buy instead of the best government that voters want.”

He pointed to Quebec as having the world’s best party donation laws, as it allows individual donations to a maximum of $100.

Government response

A government spokesperson told CBC in an email it has received nearly $30 million in donations, the vast majority of which came from Saskatchewan. It says 10 per cent of that amount is from corporations headquartered outside of Saskatchewan but many have operations or employees living here.

In 2012, the Saskatchewan Party changed its policy to no longer accept money from event tickets from government-funded educational institutions or crown corporations.

Premier Brad Wall said on Tuesday the government had no plans to attempt to change campaign finance laws, describing the current system as “robust.”

“I think resource companies that are employing thousands of people in Saskatchewan may want to participate in democracy, either way. Unions might also,” he said.

“And so I think it’s reasonable as long as we’re watching the numbers and they’re not huge numbers.”

Wall pointed to a new lobbyist registry as a means to ensure the government is held accountable, by disclosing its meetings with the business world.

NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon says his party wants to see changes to Saskatchewan’s campaign finance laws. (CBC News )

But NDP interim leader Trent Wotherspoon said his party was looking at options to reform electoral finance in Saskatchewan.

“We’d like to get big money out of politics and that would mean corporate and union donations,” he said.

“Let’s make sure that democracy is there for the people of the province and any questions of influence, or any perception of influence, should be addressed.”

Jun 172018

June 17, 2018


In this week’s report from the Hill, Elizabeth May’s staff wrote: “Midnight sittings in the House continued this week. Seizing every opportunity to speak before the summer recess, Elizabeth made almost three dozen interventions on climate change, pipelines, carbon pricing, the Fisheries Act, the Environmental Protections bill, and cannabis legalization.”

In one of them Elizabeth said this: “It has been a while since we remembered in this chamber the cost of inaction. Just to fill out some details, Sir Nicholas Stern is not only a British economist, he was the chief economist for the World Bank and was commissioned by the chancellor of the exchequer in the U.K. to estimate the cost of the failure to take action on climate change. He estimated it as being an economic hit globally that would be the equivalent of the Great Depression and the world wars put together. That was in 2006. In 2016, he said, ‘I should have been much stronger… I underplayed the dangers.’ We are at a cusp right now. We need to do the right thing for the climate before 2020. We cannot wait until 2030. Our current target is the leftover one from Stephen Harper. We have to actually ramp up and do much more.”

We can not wait until 2030 because we are confronting a double peril. Not only will we face the devastating impact of climate change on our economy but the realization of what we have done will cause a collapse in the oil sector and perhaps the auto industry. The government we elect in 2019 needs to get it right.

Crawford Kilian, contributing editor of the Tyee, reported about the projected impact of the coming implosion of the world oil industry, with a loss to the global economy of between $1 trillion and $4 trillion. He cites a report in Nature Climate Change, whose lead author is Jean-Francois Mercure of Radboud University in the Netherlands, that uses several models to track oil production to 2035 and 2050. All the models end up with a “sellout” by 2035 or earlier, in which oil-producing nations put on history’s greatest bargain sale, dropping oil prices as low as possible just to get it out of the ground before demand falls to zero.

“The Mercure report includes some supplementary material that estimates the consequences of stranded fossil fuel assets for various regions and countries, and Canada does not fare well. By 2035, Mercure predicts, the U.S. extraction sector (including oil and gas) will produce 50 per cent less than it does today, while losing 16 per cent of its workers. Our own extraction sector’s production of oil and gas will fall by 81 per cent, and the sector will lose 74 per cent of its workers.

“Let’s see how that applies to Alberta. Its extraction-sector workforce in 2017 was 140,300, with some in mining and quarrying as well as in oil and gas. The loss of perhaps 100,000 of those extractive workers will mean far less revenue from income taxes and royalties to pay for health and education. If a sellout occurred this year, and Canada-wide employment fell by 9.4 per cent from its March 2018 total of 18.6 million, that would mean 1,748,870 Canadians out of work.”

And for those who are happy to ignore the downstream consequences as long as we hustle to export as many jobs as possible before the collapse, the article links to another piece that explores the fatal cost of Kinder Morgan.

“If we think about the consequences for countries like China, where air-pollution deaths rose from 800,000 in 2004 to over 1.2 million in 2012, we might be inclined to shrug it off: hey, it’s an authoritarian country grimly determined to build its economy at any human cost. And as Stalin is supposed to have said, ‘One death is a tragedy. A millions deaths is a statistic.’

“But if we think we can sell China fossil fuels that will kill their own people,” the article continues, “we’re not morally any different from the Chinese drug makers who ship fentanyl to Canada. After all, there’s a market for it, right? Whether it’s dilbit to China or opioids to Canada, it grows the economy. If some people die, well, too bad. They were going to die anyway.”

The point is that we are collectively culpable if we are prepared to accept propaganda as fact. Whether that is the propaganda of corporate interests or the propaganda of authoritarian despots intent on undermining our liberal democracies. Perhaps somewhat ironically, Christa Freeland had this to say in Washington DC last week: “Facts matter. Truth matters. Competence and honesty, among elected leaders and in our public service, matter.”

At the 11:28 minute mark she goes on to say that admitting our mistakes, doesn’t discredit us. On the contrary, it’s one of the things that makes us who we are. In fact, as Daniel Coyle, author of the new book The Culture Code, points out in this interview it also helps to build trust. “The most important words a leader can say are, ‘I screwed that up.’” Admittedly the interview focuses on organizational behavior but the same can be said about governments.

While the Liberals continue to promote their wish list as a climate plan, the consensus is quickly emerging that Justin Trudeau’s government screwed up the Kinder Morgan file. They have dug themselves into a hole and seemingly can’t stop digging. There is more to the story than their spin can hide. Last weekend, while speaking at this Salt Spring fundraiser, Elizabeth reiterated that facts do indeed matter.

Stephen Leahy muses in The Guardian what would have happened if instead of subsidizing fossil fuels to the tune of $200 billion since 1999 we had spent an equivalent amount on wind energy. Of course the comparison is a bit unfair since wind was not nearly as competitive in 1999 as it is now, but his info-graphic sure makes the point that in today’s energy market it makes no sense to invest in a pipeline or other dirty carbon infrastructure.

And this Mother Jones review of an Aaron Sorkin clip on the TV series “Newsroom” offers us a dramatized but factually pretty accurate reminder of the urgency we face while we complain about rising gas prices. The climate crisis is a global phenomena and while we can export our jobs via tankers and pipelines we can not export our impact. Global ocean acidification is such an impact. It affects our coveted friends here at home, the salmon people. Adam Olsen, on his Public Circle Live this week, talks about the latest effort here in BC to protect this species; the Wild Salmon Advisory Council.

Finally a couple of events for your calendar. If you are a member of the Green Party of Canada and live in the federal riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands, you have been invited to attend the AGM of our Electoral District Association, today at 12:30 in Sidney. On Thursday June 21st, join Elizabeth at this Stream of Consciousness Livestream Event entitled 20/20 Vision. Sponsored by Fair Vote Canada, you can stream this event to your computer or attend in person. But you must register. And our June Sustainable Living Series event will be held on Thursday June the 28th. This month we will explore food security and food self- sufficiency.

Happy Father’s Day,

“It is our job to work tirelessly for justice, for peace, and for a planet that can survive with a human civilization that thrives. This is the challenge that we take on as Greens.” Elizabeth May, October 19th, 2015

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This weekly missive is authored by Thomas Teuwen, our SGI EDA Coordinator. Opinions expressed are his own. We welcome your comments and feedback. If you were forwarded this email by a friend and would like to subscribe, simply click here. You can also go to the archives section of our SGI website to read back issues.

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Jun 152018

The total number of inactive wells in Saskatchewan has increased by almost 90% between 2005 and 2017 to about 30,000.

– – – – – –

Tax-payers across Canada – – maybe we should start tightening our belts ?


  • The SK Provincial Auditor is talking potential $4 billion cleanup costs for abandoned wells
  • Alberta has many times more wells than Saskatchewan, wonder how much they’re adding to the tab?
  • We are also supposed to pony up $4.5 billion to buy a 50-year-old pipeline, and
  • Then add more billions to build a pipeline
  • While, 2018-06-01,  Every Canadian Already Gives $100 a Year to Big Oil, Study Reveals


2018-05-26  Five minute Video shows Canadian banks, how much each one has in loans & commitments for tar sands & pipeline expansion      And

2016-01-29  How TD banked the 2nd-largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.  And they’re the largest banker for the tar sands and pipeline expansions.    (The posting includes information regarding the lawsuit brought against the TD Bank for its failures.)



– – – – – – – –

The Petro-State
From 15 years ago,   a  Related Posting (Sask),   same story: 
  • Sweet contributions to political parties,  then
  • Sweet deals for the industry, and
  • Sweet deals for selected government officials when they retire or change jobs.

– – – – – – – – – – –

People from Saskatchewan and Alberta,  currently the major oil and gas provinces,  have a reputation for being tough people.   As far as I can see, they are getting fleeced by Government officials they adore, AND by the industry millionaires and billionaires.   After the money has been siphoned off, to people who are paid millions of dollars a year, and to “shareholders”,  Citizens across the country  are on the hook to pay billions upon billions of dollars for cleanups (and bailouts, if I’m right).

Four items (below) tie things together:

  1.   Excerpt, 2018 Auditor General Saskatchewan Report:   future cleanup costs of oil & gas (o&g) wells could exceed $4 billion
  2.   Brad Wall, 2017,  starts work for Osler Law Firm (oil & gas, Kinder Morgan one of its clients) – 3 months after stepping down from Premier’s role.   (Wall is not a lawyer.)
  3.   The 2016 request from Brad Wall to the Federal Government, for $156 million to help with cleanup costs of estimated 1,000 abandoned wells  (2 years later the Provincial Auditor:  30,000 abandoned wells and potentially $4 billion).   (Not to mention the cost of cleanup related to the uranium industry in northern Saskatchewan.  In 2017 the costs for one mine were 10 times higher than the original $25M estimate.   No one pretends that these newspaper reports represent a comprehensive list of the cleanups to be done in northern Sask.      (also

But back to oil and gas:

4.   GOVT WEB PAGE.   DRILLING INCENTIVES.  Looks to me like the ROYALTY RATE is 2.5%

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2016-11-01   Saskatchewan Party received millions in donations from Alberta companies (Oil and Gas in particular). CBC    (Read the details.  You would have thought that Brad Wall was the Premier of Alberta.)

2008-12-22  Great Sand Hills (O&G): A short letter to Premier Wall, conflicts-of-interest.  National, serious issues.

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    2018 REPORT,  VOLUME 1,   CHAPTER 17,  PAGE 220
The Ministry of Energy and Resources is responsible for regulating the oil and gas industry under The Oil and Gas Conservation Act.   The responsibilities of the Ministry include regulating the future cleanup of oil and gas wells.
The Ministry estimates that industry’s overall future environmental cleanup costs of existing oil and gas well and facilities located in Saskatchewan could exceed $4 billion.
This chapter describes our second follow-up of the Ministry’s actions on the recommendations we first made in 2012.
2.3.5   PAGE  226
. . .    As of February 2018, the Ministry was in the midst of assessing the implications on its liability management programs of increases in the number of inactive wells in Saskatchewan as well as recent changes in the oil and gas industry.  It was determining whether its liability management programs are doing enough to mitigate the risk of licensees (including those with inactive wells) not paying for cleanup of the wells they own, thereby passing the costs of cleanup onto the rest of the industry and potentially to taxpayers.
Since our 2015 follow-up, the oil and gas industry has faced two key challenges that have resulted in the number of inactive wells increasing, and potentially may impact who pays for their cleanup.
First, the level of activity in Saskatchewan’s oil and gas sector declined significantly in 2015 resulting from significant declines in the global prices of oil and gas. While the sectorhas partially recovered, the number of inactive wells in Saskatchewan has increased.
As shown in  Figure 3,  the total number of inactive wells in Saskatchewan has increased by almost 90% between 2005 and 2017 to about 30,000.
Figure 3 —  (SORRY – – I  can’t copy it – -)
Number of Inactive Wells by How Long They Have Been Inactive
Source: Ministry of Energy and Resources records.
Second, as noted in Section 3.2, the Alberta Redwater court decisions could have significant implications on who pays for the cleanup of abandoned wells. This decision allows receivers in Alberta to renounce uneconomic wells of insolvent companies, resulting in an increased number of orphaned wells and facilities. It pushes the liability for cleanup on the rest of the industry through orphan abandonment programs.
The Government of Saskatchewan disagrees with this decision and have intervened in the court proceedings.  At February 2018, this matter was before the Supreme Court of Canada.
In response, the Ministry has been monitoring the financial viability of the industry, and the implications on inactive wells. In late 2017, the Ministry analyzed inactive wells and facilities in Saskatchewan. Its analysis shows that licensees having a high percentage of inactive wells are more likely to fail (e.g., declare bankruptcy).  It found, on average, 60% of those licensees’ wells were inactive at least two years prior to failure. Its analysis indicates the risk of more licensees failing increases the risk of the number of orphaned wells increasing.  The Ministry is aware that as more licensees fail, the Oil and Gas Orphan Fund levy required from the remaining licensees may need to proportionally increase.
Further to this, its analysis identified that as the percentage of inactive wells a licensee holds increases, the ability of the Ministry to collect security deposits under its Licensee Liability Rating Program decreases.  There is an increased risk that these licensees may not sufficiently maintain the sites or have the financial means to clean them up.

. . .  As shown in Figure 3, at May 2017, about 16,000 wells were inactive for more than five years, compared to almost 10,000 in 2005—an increase of 60%.

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News Report about the Auditor General’S Report  ]

JUNE 10, 2018 ·  HERALD  STAFF

Cleanup of inactive oil and gas wells could cost Saskatchewan taxpayers four billion – an amount not costed into any budget by the governing Sask Party.

Last week, government Auditor Judy Ferguson brought down a report estimating cleanup cost of inactive wells at $4 billion. Saskatchewan law puts the responsibility for cleanup on the well operator company.

If an operator goes out of business, the province’s Orphan Well Fund is intended to cover the cleanup.  Industry operators pay into the fund every year – but the fund currently sits at $11.6 million – less than one percent of the total liability estimated by the Provincial auditor.

With the downturn in the oil industry, the number of orphan wells in Saskatchewan has grown by ninety percent.  Bankruptcies in the oil and gas industry have significantly increased, and with a global shift to green energy, those risks continue to increase.  Given the information in the auditor’s report, Saskatchewan taxpayers could be on the hook for a hefty price tag as oil companies leave the field.

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2.   EXCERPTS, Global News, May 1st, b,   and then the Regina Leader-Post article.
Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall is going back to work, three months after stepping down from office.   (INSERT:  3 months – – end of January to May 1, 2017)

“We are excited to be able to offer our clients his strategic insights, particularly in the energy and agri-food businesses where Brad has exceptional understanding of the inextricable links among the political, business and trade spheres.”

Osler is a Toronto-based firm, and Wall will be working out of their Calgary office.

“Our clients need passionate advocates who are dedicated to effecting a national energy policy that supports their long-term, capital intensive projects,” Osler’s energy/regulatory industry leader said.

“Brad is best known for taking an open door approach to identifying new opportunities and creating trusted relationships that have promoted his province on a global stage.  And now our clients and our people will get the benefit of that strategic insight and approach.”

Brad Wall joining Calgary-based law firm with ties to Kinder Morgan

Former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has a new job. 

Premier Brad Wall gives a speech during the Sask Party Leadership Convention in Saskatoon, SK on Saturday, January 27, 2018. Kayle Neis / Saskatoon StarPhoenix

The Saskatchewan government says it is not aware of any relationship between the province and the Kinder Morgan-linked law firm for which former premier Brad Wall is serving as an adviser, but it is something the province is examining.

In a press release Tuesday, Calgary-based Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP announced Wall will be a special adviser to the firm and its clients.

The same company acted for Kinder Morgan Canada during its application to the National Energy Board expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Saskatchewan, stretching back to Wall’s tenure and continuing today, is a strong proponent of that project; last week the provincial government introduced legislation as part of an ongoing trade war with B.C., which is opposing the Trans Mountain expansion.

Minister of Export and Trade Development for Saskatchewan Jeremy Harrison said he was “very happy for Premier Wall” and that he “knew (Wall) would do very well post-politics.”

He dismissed any concerns of conflict of interest over Wall working for the company, telling reporters doing so was a “long bow to draw,” in part because the province is directly “working with Kinder Morgan” on the file.

Harrison said he spoke with a senior executive at the Texas-based company a few days ago.

It remains unclear what, if any, relationship the law firm and Saskatchewan’s government might have.

“We have no relationship with the law firm as far as a contractural relationship or anything like that,” said Harrison, before adding it is something the province is “looking into.”

Attorney General Don Morgan also said he has no knowledge of any contractural relationship between the province and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP; but said he would have concerns if there was one.

“It would depend on the nature of it,” he said. “If it was something directly involving something the former premier is doing, then I think I would be concerned.”

Wall could not be reached for comment, but he posted on social media he was “looking forward” to working with the law firm and their clients.

He said he will be based in Calgary but will be staying at his home in Swift Current.

As has been a somewhat common occurrence over the years, he then engaged in a back-and-forth with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

She publicly congratulated him before writing, “Don’t worry, we won’t check your licence plate when you’re parked at the office,” a lighthearted jab at a fierce exchange between the two over Wall’s government claiming Alberta was banning Saskatchewan licence plates from Alberta work sites.

In one of his last acts as premier, Wall announced Saskatchewan would stop allowing Alberta licence plates work on Saskatchewan highways projects. The government never followed through on the threat and there was never any evidence of a ban on Saskatchewan plates in Alberta.

On Tuesday, Wall replied by telling Notley to “drop by the office sometime” for a “great” Saskatchewan craft beer, a jab referencing a trade spat over beer sales between the two provinces.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP is not registered in Saskatchewan’s lobbyist registry.

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2016-02-09   Wall asks feds for $156 million to clean up abandoned oil wells

Premier Brad Wall is pitching an idea to the federal government to get Saskatchewan energy workers back on the job.

A few weeks ago, Wall said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about getting $156 million in federal funding to pay for the cleanup of abandoned oil and gas wells around the province.

“We just think this a good source of transition help,” said Wall, adding Trudeau and Regina MP Ralph Goodale were open-minded about the idea.

Wall’s number crunchers say the investment would create about 1,200 jobs in the energy sector and help clean up about 1,000 abandoned wells. Because of previous experience in the industry, many of those jobs would go to energy-sector employees struggling because of oil’s low price.

“It’s not perfect. No program is going to be perfect. Thirty-dollar oil isn’t perfect,” he said.

The premier said he appreciates Trudeau’s commitment to the Prairies in extending employment insurance and offering money for infrastructure during the hard economic times.

Those are, in Wall’s mind, only part of the solution.

“This particular initiative we think would have a more direct impact on those affected,” he said, adding many energy workers are being kept on the job at reduced hours rather than being laid off, or are private contractors not eligible for employment insurance.

Chairman of Weyburn based Valleyview Petroleums Ltd., Dan Cugnet (L) and his brother, Matt Cugnet (R) president, along with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (C) speak to the media during a scrum at the Saskatchewan legislative building rotunda in Regina on February 08, 2016.

Chairman of Weyburn based Valleyview Petroleums Ltd., Dan Cugnet (L) and his brother, Matt Cugnet (R) president, along with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (C) speak to the media during a scrum at the Saskatchewan legislative building rotunda in Regina on February 08, 2016.

Brothers Dan and Matt Cugnet from Weyburn-based Valleyview Petroleum first brought the idea of getting money to clean up abandoned wells to the premier’s office.

“We think it’s a great step for getting people back to work and continue the environmental initiatives that the industry wants to keep going with,” said Dan.

In 2012, then-auditor Bonnie Lysyk criticized the way Wall’s government was cleaning up orphan wells, or wells where there is no legally responsible or financially able company to do a proper abandonment.

She estimated there were potentially 700 orphan wells in the province.  At the time, then-energy minister Tim McMillan disputed that number. On Monday, Wall said there were about 100 orphan wells in the province.  According to the province, there are over 20,500 suspended wells in the province; many of which are waiting to be decommissioned and reclaimed.

Industry does pay a fee — essentially a tax — to the province to clean up orphan wells.

Wall said that if the price of oil remains low, there is a chance more wells will become orphaned as companies go out of business. Money from the federal government to potentially support those companies, he argues, could help prevent that.

The federal government doesn’t have a legal responsibly to clean up orphan wells, but Wall charged they do have a responsibility to help Saskatchewan’s busting economy.

“In terms of helping the energy sector, that’s their obligation,” he said.

= = = = = = = = = = = =


Drilling Incentives

Newly drilled oil wells in Saskatchewan qualify for “volume based” drilling incentives ranging from 0 to 16,000 cubic metres. Qualifying incentive volumes are subject to a maximum royalty rate of 2.5% for Crown production and a maximum production tax rate of 0% for freehold production. Refer to Information Circulars PR-IC03 (vertical wells) and PR-IC05 (horizontal wells) for further information.

Newly drilled exploratory gas wells in Saskatchewan qualify for a 25,000,000 cubic metre “volume based” drilling incentive. The qualifying incentive volume is subject to a maximum royalty rate of 2.5% for Crown production and a maximum production tax rate of 0% for freehold production. Refer to Information Circular PR-IC04 for further information.

Jun 152018

And that’s before the Trudeau government blew $4.5 billion on the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Stephen Leahy

Stephen Leahy

Image: Shutterstock

While paying near record-high gasoline prices, Canadians will be thrilled to know every woman, man, and child in Canada also “donates” around $100 ($77 USD) to profitable, and often foreign-owned, oil and gas companies. That donation, in the form of federal and provincial subsidies, amounted to an average $3.67 billion ($2.84 billion USD) annually in 2015 and 2016. That makes Canadians the most generous among the G7 nations, a new study reveals.

The study documents how much support each G7 country doles out to oil, gas, and coal industries. Using this data Motherboard calculated that government support for oil and gas production averaged $100 per Canadian in 2015 and in 2016—or $400 ($308 USD) for a family of four. That’s far more generous than larger economies like the US and Japan that gave the industry $60 ($46 USD) and $50 ($39 USD) per person respectively.

Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Liberal government promised to be a leader in cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions driving climate change. But it still provides the most government support for oil and gas production per unit of GDP, according to the G7 Fossil Fuel Subsidy Scorecard study, released in advance of the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, on June 8 and 9.

“These subsidies are in fundamental conflict with Canada’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement,” study co-author Yanick Touchette, policy advisor at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), an independent think tank based in Canada, told me. Under the Paris climate agreement, Canada, and virtually every other nation in the world, agreed to dramatically cut CO2 emissions that result from using fossil fuels.

Two-thirds of Canadians disagree with oil and gas companies getting subsidies mainly because it worsens pollution and climate change, according to a new opinion poll released Monday. Virtually all Canadians want the federal government to disclose how much oil and gas companies receive in public money.

The Trudeau government’s recent $4.5 billion ($3.5 billion USD) purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline will likely involve yet more subsidies for the oil industry, Touchette said. After all, no other investor wanted to buy the controversial pipeline that pumps oil products from Alberta oil sands to the BC coast. “The government hasn’t released its economic analysis of the purchase so we don’t know how much of a subsidy it will involve,” said Touchette.

To put the $3.67 billion in oil and gas subsidies in perspective, the federal government and the four largest provinces in Canada spend about $29 billion ($22.4 billion USD) a year on subsidies to the business sector, which includes the oil and gas industry, according to a recent University of Calgary research paper. Alberta is by far the most generous, with each Albertan in effect donating $640 ($494 USD) to various business sectors in the fiscal year 2014-15. Alberta is also the least transparent in letting the public know about its subsidies, the paper noted.

“These subsidies are in fundamental conflict with Canada’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement.”

To be clear, subsidies are not usually cash handouts. They’re a mix of tax breaks, tax credits, and regulations that forgo government revenue, transfer liability, or provide services such as loan guarantees or equity infusions at below-market rates. These are often well hidden from public view. The study also found Canada to be a leader in its lack of transparency regarding subsidies, Touchette said.

Not all subsidies are bad. Some can help small business or support new industries. In 2009 Canada, under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, and other G7 nations promised to reform environmentally harmful subsidies and eliminate those supporting fossil fuels because they distort markets, impede investment in clean energy sources, and frustrate efforts to address climate change.

While Canada has eliminated support for coal, it continues to provide billions in support of oil and gas production amounted to paying $19 ($15 USD) for every ton of CO2 the industry emitted, Motherboard estimates.

Canada’s fossil fuel subsidies also undermine the purpose of carbon pricing, meant to discourage investments in producing more fossil fuel, according to Touchette. The Trudeau government has mandated a national carbon pricing system where oil and gas companies and other major CO2 emitters will have to pay $10 ($8 USD) per ton of CO2 emitted starting in September, and rising to $50 ($39 USD) a ton by 2022.

This week’s G7 meeting in Charlevoix is an opportunity for the Trudeau government to take the next logical step and produce a concrete plan to phase out its fossil fuel subsidies in the next few years, according tosaid Alex Doukas of Oil Change International, an organization focusing on showing the true costs of fossil fuels.

“Canada can use its G7 presidency as an opportunity to pressure its peers to do the same,” said Doukas in a release.

G7 Fossil Fuel Subsidy Scorecard ranks countries on their transparency, commitments, and progress made on ending support for the production and use of oil, gas, and coal despite repeated pledges to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. That support from G7 governments amounts to at least $100 billion USD each year, the study found.

The scorecard ranks Canada third best of the seven, giving it high marks for ending public financing of coal-fired power and not encouraging fossil fuel consumption by artificially keeping prices low. The US ranked last—for continuing to subsidize exploration and production and backtracking on previous pledges.

Jun 152018

With thanks to CBAN

June 15, 2018. Halifax – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced the discovery of unapproved genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) wheat near a farm in Alberta, but says the contamination is an isolated event.(1)

“We’re relieved this is an isolated contamination case but we’re concerned that the government couldn’t determine how it happened. Without knowing the cause, contamination could happen again,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN).

Monsanto’s glyphosate-tolerant GM trait was found in several wheat plants on a road in southern Alberta in 2017. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency was unable to identify the cause.

“A less isolated GM wheat contamination incident could be devastating to Canadian farmers and the future of our wheat exports,” Thibault Rehn of the Quebec network Vigilance OGM, “We can’t afford to be careless with GM crops because it’s difficult or impossible to reverse contamination once it occurs.”

Canada is a major wheat-producing nation. Wheat crops contribute $11 billion annually to Canada’s economy.

Genetically modified wheat is not approved by any government and is therefore illegal. No GM wheat has ever been commercially grown or sold in any country in the world. Monsanto last grew test plots of wheat with this GM trait in 2004 in Canada.

In 2004, Monsanto withdrew its request for approval of its GM herbicide-tolerant (glyphosate-tolerant) “Roundup Ready” wheat in Canada and the US due to pressure from farmers and consumers along with international market rejection.

There have been three contamination incidents in the US with Monsanto’s GM wheat – in 2016, 2014 and 2013. In 2013, several countries suspended wheat imports from the US after GM wheat plants were discovered in a farmer’s field. The US government was unable to determine the cause of that contamination. (2)

“Farmers should be consulted before GM crops are tested outside the lab. We need to determine if the economic risk is too high to field-test certain GM crops,” said Sharratt.

The exact locations of experimental GM crop field trials in Canada are not disclosed.

“We need to protect our bread basket from rogue GM traits,” said Sharratt.


For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 809 1103; Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, 514 582 1674.

(1)    The detection report and related documents from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are posted at
(2)    Media background on GM wheat is posted at

Jun 132018

LONDON (Reuters) – Europe’s largest bank HSBC said on Friday it would mostly stop funding new coal power plants, oil sands and arctic drilling, becoming the latest in a long line of investors to shun the fossil fuels.

Other large banks such as ING and BNP Paribas have made similar pledges in recent months as investors have mounted pressure to make sure bank’s actions align with the Paris Agreement, a global pact to limit greenhouse gas emissions and curb rising temperatures.

“We recognize the need to reduce emissions rapidly to achieve the target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement… and our responsibility to support the communities in which we operate,” Daniel Klier, group head of strategy and global head of sustainable finance, said in a statement.

HSBC said it would make an exception for coal-fired power plants in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“There’s a very significant number of people in those three countries who have no access to any electricity,” HSBC CEO John Flint told HSBC shareholders at the bank’s annual general meeting in London on Friday.

“The reasonable position for us is to allow a short window for us to continue to get involved in financing coal there… if we think there is not a reasonable alternative,” he said.

Aside from the coal exemptions environmental campaigners Greenpeace welcomed the move and said HSBC’s new energy strategy would prevent it from providing project finance for TransCanada Corp’s proposed $8 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline to Nebraska.

“This latest vote of no-confidence from a major financial institution shows that tar sands are becoming an increasingly toxic business proposition,” John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK said in a statement.


Reporting By Susanna Twidale; Additional reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Susan Fenton

Jun 112018        Common Ground,  June 2018

You need a gun to rob a bank,  but you need a bank to rob a country!

Recommend:  go to the link above.    There are a number of good articles re – –   What a joke! We bought a crappy pipeline with taxpayer’s money.

Related  (just so you know who we’re bailing out, and why):

5 minute Video shows Canadian banks, how much each one has in loans & commitments for tar sands & pipeline expansion

EXCERPT    from one of the articles,    How Trudeau’s lies differ from Trump’s lies

Big Bank Bails

HSBC is Europe’s biggest bank and one of the ten largest banks in the world. On April 21, 2018 it announced that it will no longer fund oil or gas projects in the Arctic, Alberta tar sands projects, and most coal projects.

This decision signals to Justin Trudeau that the era of fossil fuels is coming to a close.

Daniel Klier, global head of sustainable finance at HSBC, said that the bank recognizes “the need to reduce emissions rapidly to achieve the target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global temperatures rises to well below 2°C and our responsibility to support the communities in which we operate.”

Formerly, HSBC was one of the heaviest investors in fossil fuels. A report, entitled “Banking on Climate Change”, endorsed by dozens of environmental groups, ranked HSBC the seventh worst in the world for the financing of “extreme fossil fuels.” It also found that from 2016 to 2017, “Even as the impacts of climate change become increasingly apparent”, it made a $2.6 billion increase in such financing.

Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, advised Trudeau, who is about to invest taxpayers’ dollars to make sure the Kinder Morgan pipeline gets built, to take warning in HSBC’s shift.

“Before deciding to write a cheque to Kinder Morgan, Justin Trudeau should ask himself if he wants to rush in where HSBC fears to tread,” said Stewart.

Myth vs Truth

Myth – If we could get the Alberta bitumen to Asia, it would fetch a much higher price than it currently does in the U.S.

Truth – Alberta bitumen is already getting the best possible price through existing pipelines to the US, which access the largest heavy oil refineries in the world. Few refineries in Asia currently can refine it. No tankers of Alberta bitumen went to Asia from Westridge terminal in 2017.

Myth – There is widespread support of First Nations along the route for the KM pipeline project.

Truth – Fewer than 1/3 of the First Nations along the pipeline and tanker route have signed Mutual Benefit Agreements (MBAs) or a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOUs) which basically state that a First Nation, Community, college or university will receive money from the pipeline corporation … but only if the pipeline gets built. This has been bragged about as an endorsement by the pipeline promoters. Support seems to be waning. The company boasts of having 43 agreements. A year ago it was reported there were 51. More significantly, the Tsleil-Waututh, in whose territory Kinder Morgan’s Westridge terminal is located, and the Secwepemc whose territories encompass more than half the pipeline’s length, are adamantly opposed.

Myth – Bitumen sinks in fresh water but not in salt water.

Truth – Bitumen sinks (and stinks) when toxic diluents evaporate in both fresh and salt waters. Sinking happens fast when bitumen comes in contact with sediments. Sediments are abundant in the Fraser River’s brown coloured outflow around Vancouver and into the Salilsh Sea.

Myth – A world-class spill response team can clean up most of the oil in an oil spill.

Truth – A recovery of 10 – 20% of the oil is considered a good clean up job by industry and government. 80% or more cannot be recovered. It disperses and pollutes the beaches, intertidal zones and ocean bottom for decades. Other difficulties make land based spills, except the smallest, impossible to completely clean up.

Myth – The Alberta oil patch drives the Canadian economy.

Truth – The Alberta oil patch generates only 2% of Canada’s GDP.

A Twisted “Carbon Tax”

If diluted bitumen starts flowing down the x-KM new pipeline, gas prices at the pumps in B.C. will go up. No lie.

They figured out a clever way to fund their new pipeline. Make British Columbians pay for it.

Here’s how it was supposed to work. Kinder Morgan got the National Energy Board (NEB) to approve an increase in toll rates of $5 a barrel on all refined products pumped down the old KM pipeline after the new pipeline is completed and in operation.

This little reported NEB decision will more than double the charge KM now levies to deliver a barrel of gasoline or diesel to B.C.

One economist has calculated that it would have delivered enough extra revenue to KM over the 35 year life of the pipeline to pay for the whole expansion project and would cost B.C. motorists 10 to 15 cents more per litre of gas.

Another little-known fact. The new pipeline will be exclusively dedicated to transporting unrefined bitumen for export. B.C. gets no benefits, except for 50 more long-term jobs (an estimate provided by Kinder Morgan to the NEB during the hearings) after it is built.

When a prominent pipeline supporter discovered this, nearly speechless, he muttered “Well, I’ve been duped!” and instantly became a pipeline opponent.



Jun 112018

Follow the money” starts at about the 4:10 minute marker in this 5 minute video.

– — – – – – – – – – –

Kinder Morgan Expansion: A Doomed Project

Kinder Morgan, Video

Video by Action in Time. The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion plan is doomed. In the words of Mitchell Anderson, “No amount of cheerleading, or demonizing or pixie dust will change the raw laws of global oil economics. Devised in days of high prices, the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is obsolete.”


Jun 112018

The links and background for both segments of the discussion are in this one posting.

CBC Radio ·

Exploring the root causes of inequality   (Segment 1)

The Death of Homo Economicus: Work, Debt and the Myth of Endless Accumulation by Peter Fleming.

 Listen   39:06

This is the first of two interviews with Professor Peter Fleming. In this episode, Fleming gives his analysis of an economy in which the public sphere has been plundered by the billionaire class. In Part 2, he will discuss possible escape routes from this version of economic dystopia.

The philosopher John Stuart Mill pondered the evolution of our species under capitalism in the 19th Century when he coined the term homo economicus. Humans were defined as economic creatures, making rational decisions based on their own economic self-interest.

Homo economicus really found a niche in the industrialized West from the Second World War to the 1980s. Good-paying jobs were plentiful. Living standards, life expectancy and real income improved dramatically.

However, the past four decades have meant a slow strangulation of homo economicus. 

In the decade since the financial crisis of 2008, we’ve seen the decline and fall of good paying jobs with benefits and the rise of inequality and the precariat. Now we’re being warned about a future without jobs as we have come to know and depend upon them.

Robots install rivets on a 2015 Ford F-150 truck at the Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich. Cheaper, better robots will replace human workers in the world’s factories at a faster pace over the next decade, pushing manufacturing labor costs down 16 per cent, a report from the Boston Consulting Group said on Feb. 10, 2015. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

And the millionaire and billionaire bankers who brought the global economy to the brink of collapse and who were subsequently bailed out by taxpayers? They’re doing just great, thank you.

For all too many people facing uncertain futures in Western societies, the economy just isn’t working for them. Or just not working, period.

But if you read Peter Fleming, you might come away convinced that the problem is that the economy is working precisely the way the very wealthy and their agents in government want it to.

Peter Fleming is Professor of Business and Society at the Cass Business School at City University London. He’s the author of The Mythology of Work, and his new book is The Death of Homo Economicus: Work, Debt and the Myth of Endless Accumulation.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

CBC Radio ·

Changing the way we work to build a more livable society    (Segment 2)

A rider for the food delivery service Deliveroo makes a food delivery in London, England. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Listen  32:44

This is the second part of an interview with Professor Peter Fleming, the author of ‘The Death of Homo Economicus: Work, Debt and the Myth of Endless Accumulation’. In part one, Fleming discusses the root causes of economic inequality.

Philosopher John Stuart Mill defined human beings as ‘homo economicus’, economic creatures making rational decisions based on their own economic self-interest.

For a few decades in the postwar era, there was a tacit, informal contract between the state, the business world and the homo economicus. The average person would vote for a mainstream political party, obey the law, pay taxes, buy a car and a house. In return, they would get a decent paying job with benefits to pay for it all.

But according to Professor Peter Fleming, decades of neoliberal economic policy in western democracies have reduced everything to the logic and needs of free markets, including governments and the services they provide. Fleming believes the public sphere has been denuded and captured by corporations and the wealthy while the average person is left anxious and precariously employed.

Fleming says the homo economicus are no longer economic actors. Rather, they’re being acted on and determined by economic forces beyond their control. Their humanity has been eclipsed by their economic value or cost and they’re seen by governments and business alike simply as assets or liabilities.

Peter Fleming is Professor of Business and Society at the Cass Business School at City University London. In the second part of his interview with Michael Enright, he speaks about the nature of work today and how he thinks a better way of life might be possible.

Click ‘listen’ at the top of the page to hear Michael Enright’s conversation with Professor Peter Fleming.