Record heat hits southern Alberta

By Jodi Hughes
Weather Anchor
Global News

Many Albertans have been enjoying an unusually warm start to December, with some locations 15 degrees above average.

Lethbridge and Grande Prairie both set new record highs Friday, with temperatures above 14C, while Calgary, Sundre and Claresholm were all notably close to new records.

On Saturday, Calgary officially broke a 127 year record by reaching 15.4C. The old record of 14.4C was set in 1890, just nine years after Environment Canada starting tracking temperatures.

The month of December is typically the second coldest month in Calgary, with temperatures ranging between -1C and -13C.

Seven different cities and towns in southern Alberta set new record highs Saturday, including Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Cold Lake, Sundre, Claresholm and High Level.

According to the Environment Canada Climate Normals, December is the fifth snowiest month of the year for Calgary, with at least eight days of snow.

As of Saturday, the city of Calgary had not had any snow in December 2017 and it is unlikely that will change in the immediate forecast.

The heat is expected to continue for most of southern Alberta. Overnight temperatures next week will actually be closer to the average daytime high, with some lows remaining above 0C.


 

Alberta man with vision loss auctions off rare collection of farm equipment he’s repaired over 50 years

By Katelyn Wilson

WATCH: A rare auction over the weekend in Enchant saw a lifetime collection of vintage farm equipment, over 400 items sold off. Interesting the collector lost his sight 40 years ago but still does all of the restoration work himself. Katelyn Wilson reports.

A rare auction over the weekend in Enchant, Alta., saw a lifetime collection of vintage farm equipment sold off piece by piece.

For Don Skretting, the collection of hundreds of items has been 50 years in the making, a life-long passion that began when he was just 16 years old.

“I was always interested in the pioneer, how they farmed and what they used,” Skretting said. “The machinery was so unique and when you came across something you wondered what it is and it looks so good, you wanted to bring it home.”

Over the years he’s collected everything from vintage farm equipment, to horse-drawn vehicles and even toys, most of it John Deere.

READ MORE: Big list of wild and weird celebrity items going on the auction block

Despite loosing his sight decades ago, it’s a love he doesn’t have to see to enjoy.

“I had real good vision up until I was 20 years old, so I can picture everything that I have,” Skretting said. “I’ve been legally blind for 40 years and totally blind for 10 years.”

But not seeing doesn’t mean not doing. Skretting does most of the repairs and restoration work on the pieces himself.

“As soon as my fingers touch it, it’s like I can see,” he said. “There’s times that I’m working on this old stuff and it’s like I’m looking at it.”

Now 67, Skretting has another vision for his collection. By auctioning it off piece by piece, he’s giving others a chance to own a piece of history.

“This is a truly magnificent collection that you’d go a long way to find something like this again,” collector John Scott said.

“Once in a while someone will have a few antique tractors or a couple of rare pieces like that, but it’s not very often you get to sell a lifetime collection of it all,” Stacey McInenly with Frank McInenly Auctions said.

One of the highlights of the auction was a wagon lift from the early 1900s, one of the last remaining of its kind.

“You’ll probably never see that again anywhere else,” Scott said. “It really should be in a museum because that’s really a piece of heritage from the early days.”

While Skretting is saying goodbye to a lifetime of memories, a new chapter is just beginning.

“It’s just that time in my life,” he said. “But I’ll probably start over again collecting old stuff.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


 

Alberta urged to compensate farmers to make up costs of health and safety rules

By Dean Bennett
The Canadian Press

An Alberta government panel is recommending the province subsidize farmers and ranchers to offset costs of new occupational health and safety rules.

The panel said the long list of requirements in the occupational health and safety code, “when added up, may be significant for some and may be perceived as overwhelming or unrealistic.”

It recommends several suggestions including GST rebates, and government grants.

Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier and Labour Minister Christina Gray released the panel’s report on Thursday, but they aren’t responding to the recommendations yet.

Carlier was asked if such a subsidy would be fair if it is not offered to other industries.

“Every industry is different,” said Carlier. “Even the crop insurance, the farming insurance, right now is subsidized in Alberta. That could be a fairness issue as well.”

Gray said the government has been reviewing the reports for almost seven months and is now seeking public input for the next 11 weeks, with regulations to be drafted after that.

The panel recommendations include:

Employers must establish emergency evacuation plans.
Employers must apply a reasonably predictable standard for safeguards to prevent a worker from falling into bins or hoppers.
If a hazard assessment indicates that personal protective equipment is required, the employer must ensure that the worker is trained to use it.
Employers are to provide appropriate equipment that will help workers lift, push, pull, carry, handle or transport heavy or awkward loads.
Any machine that may cause injury must have protective barriers.
Scaffolds must comply with industry safety standards.
There must be written policy and procedures on potential workplace violence.
A worker must not ride on a tongue or drawbar connected to equipment in tandem, or a bucket, forks or other equipment that pose a risk of injury.

There is also a proposal on washrooms for those working in the fields. The recommendation is to let nature take its course, as it has for generations.

“The norm in such instances is to perform functions otherwise appropriate for toilet facilities in the great outdoors,” read the report.

The panels could not come to a consensus on whether seatbelts are necessary, given the need for safety versus the needs of multitasking.

They also couldn’t agree on whether farmers and ranchers need to wear safety vests or whether roll bars or other safety devices should be mandatory on ATVs.

The proposed changes are embedded in almost 200 pages of technical and legal detail that Gray herself says requires cross-referencing with occupational health and safety codes and legislation in order to fully comprehend.

Gray said while those documents are available, her department will soon be coming out with a summary for Albertans that will make all the changes and implications crystal clear.

“I’m committed to making sure that Albertans are able to fully participate in this and provide feedback because that is why we’re here today, to engage with Albertans,” she said.

Carlier admitted that past government communication and outreach on the farm safety legislation have been problematic.

There were protest rallies at the legislature when the legislation was passed in late 2015, with critics saying the rules would prevent family members from helping on the farm and would leave the farm way of life flailing in red ink and red tape.

“Our new government learned some tough lessons,” said Carlier.

© 2017 The Canadian Press


 

Threat of NAFTA collapse, weak inflation put Bank of Canada on hold

FRED CHARTRAND
THE CANADIAN PRESS
October 25, 2017

Canada’s central bank is hitting the pause button on hiking interest rates in the face of surprisingly weak inflation and the threat of NAFTA’s demise.

The Bank of Canada kept its key overnight rate unchanged at 1 per cent Wednesday and appeared to push further down the road any future rate hikes.

The bank says that while the economy is now running close to capacity, inflation won’t get back to its two per cent target until the second half of next year because of the recent strength of the Canadian dollar.

The Canadian dollar sank immediately after the announcement, touching its lowest level against its U.S. counterpart since July. By midday, the loonie was trading at 78.17 cents (U.S.). It had been trading at 78.80 cents ahead of the rate decision.

Already pinched, many Canadians anxious about higher rates

“While less monetary stimulus will likely be required over time, [The Bank of Canada] will be cautious in making future adjustments to the policy rate,” the bank said in a statement accompanying its rate decision.

The bank had previously suggested inflation would get back to 2 per cent in mid-2018.

The guarded tone of the statement suggests the Bank of Canada could delay its next move, which many economists had expected would come in December or January. The bank has already raised its key rate twice this year, from 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent.

“This reinforces our view that rates aren’t likely to go any higher in the near term,” economist David Madani of Capital Economics said in a research note.

The Bank of Montreal said it now expects the central bank’s next rate increase to come in March, rather than January, and that it will hike just three times in 2018, instead of four.

“We now believe that the bank will pause for longer, given the greater uncertainty over NAFTA, as well as the recent steps taken by [regulators] to cool the housing market,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said.

The bank pointed out that it will be closely watching several key pieces of incoming data, including wage growth and the response of consumers and businesses to recent rate hikes.

Meanwhile, the bank is ratcheting up its concern about the Trump effect on Canada’s export-dependent economy. Rising protectionism in the U.S. is now “the greatest source of uncertainty” clouding Canada’s economic outlook, the bank warns in its latest monetary policy report, also released Wednesday.

But the bank said it has chosen not to fully quantify the potential damage to Canada’s economy and export prospects until it has more clarity about what will happen.

The bank cited both the uncertainty over NAFTA and “targeted discretionary” protectionist measures, such as the massive tariffs imposed recently on Bombardier Inc.’s new C Series commercial jets.

The NAFTA negotiations hit a major roadblock last week after the U.S. put tough demands on the table last week, including a minimum U.S. content threshold for manufactured goods, an end to the deal’s dispute settlement regime and a phase out of Canada’s protected dairy and poultry markets.

The bank said that while Canada’s economy has been gaining strength this year, U.S. protectionism had cast a pall on the outlook.

“This outlook remains subject to substantial uncertainty about geopolitical developments and fiscal and trade policies, notably the renegotiation of the North American free trade agreement,” the bank said.

Nonetheless, the Bank of Canada raised its forecast for growth this year to 3.1 per cent, or roughly in line with many private-sector forecasters. That’s up from its July forecast of 2.8 per cent. Its GDP forecast for 2018 and 2019 remain largely unchanged, at 2.1 per cent (versus 2 per cent) and 1.5 per cent (versus 1.6 per cent) respectively.

The improvement in 2017 is largely due to a blistering first half, in which annual growth averaged 4 per cent.

The bank said it expects growth to “moderate to a more sustainable pace” in the second half – with annual GDP growth of 1.8 per cent in the third quarter and 2.5 per cent in the fourth quarter – due to weaker consumer spending and housing activity.

The bank blamed the pull-back on higher interest rates, tighter mortgage rules and measures in Ontario aimed at stemming the influx of foreign speculators in the housing market. Exports and business will continue to make a “solid contribution” to growth, the bank said.

The bank has also adjusted its main forecasting model because it now believes that record-high debt levels of Canadians have made “household spending more sensitive to interest rates than in the past.”

Another growing concern for the central bank is the “unexplained softness” of Canadian inflation. The bank pointed out that while the unemployment rate has continued to fall, other labour market indicators are still lagging, including wage growth and average hours-worked, both of which remain below historical averages.

The bank released two research reports Wednesday, exploring the inflation puzzle, in Canada and globally. ​


 

What if NAFTA ended? These would be Canada’s hardest-hit provinces, industries

By Jesse Ferreras National Online Journalist Global News

After four rounds of talks, negotiations around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) aren’t exactly going smoothly, with proposals that could have serious implications for certain Canadian provinces.

On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized a series of proposals that the United States has advanced as part of negotiations.

They are as follows:

All vehicles must have 50 per cent U.S. content to duck any tariffs, a policy that America wants to see implemented within a year
End supply management for dairy and poultry, an issue that Canada has no intention of discussing
Change the enforcement system for NAFTA’s dispute-resolution process, to make certain chapters voluntary or non-binding
Limit the ability of other countries to bid on U.S. public works contracts
Include sunset clause that could end the agreement after five years

Freeland didn’t mince words at a Tuesday news conference: “In rounds three and four, we have seen proposals that would turn back the clock on 23 years of predictability, openness and collaboration under NAFTA.”

“In some cases, these proposals run counter to WTO rules. This is troubling.”

She went on: “At the beginning of this summer, Vice-President Mike Pence told the governors gathered in Rhode Island that he believed a win-win-win outcome would be achieved in these negotiations. Canada believes that too.

“But that cannot be achieved with a winner-take-all mindset, or an approach that seeks to undermine NAFTA rather than modernize it.”

Tuesday’s press conference was an indication that it was “pretty ridiculous” to think NAFTA could be renegotiated in a month or a few sessions, when some agreements take as long as 15 years to put together, John Ries, a UBC Sauder School of Business professor who focuses on international trade, told Global News.

“This could drag on for a long time,” he said.

Of the proposals, he said the one about auto parts carries the strongest implications — particularly as these products play a major role in Ontario’s exports to the U.S.
Production of the General Motors’ CAMI Automotive facility in Ingersoll, Ontario, in 2006.

Ries estimated that auto exports make up about 65 per cent of Ontario’s exports to the U.S. — to say nothing of any other car-related products.

America’s proposal for vehicles to be made with 50 per cent U.S. parts to avoid tariffs could mean that auto companies decide to produce their vehicles south of the border instead of the Great White North, he said.

“If you opened up a new production plant or parts facility with the U.S. content requirements, a Japanese company or any company might say, Canada may be slightly better but I’m going to play it safe and open a plant in the U.S.,” Ries said.

And there could be implications for auto-dependent economies even without the rule being implemented in the first place, he added.

“There might be effects on investment, given the uncertainty of this,” Ries said.

Another U.S. proposal — the sunset clause — has raised the spectre of NAFTA falling apart completely. So did President Donald Trump two months ago, when he threatened to cancel the agreement.

It’s a matter of debate as to whether Trump, who made anti-free trade rhetoric a key focus of his campaign rhetoric, can terminate NAFTA, BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said last month.

He said there’s little question that the U.S. can leave NAFTA after giving six months notice, but it’s less clear whether Trump can make that happen on his own — members of Congress could challenge such an action, and it could be held up in lawsuits.

Nevertheless, there are potential consequences for the economies of certain provinces and industries if NAFTA is disrupted, Porter wrote.

Like Ries, he believes Ontario could be most exposed, but he said Alberta and New Brunswick could also be at a higher risk than other provinces.

The value of Alberta’s exports to the U.S. was $68.064 billion in 2016, second only to Ontario, according to Industry Canada.

Meanwhile, New Brunswick sent $9.75 billion in exports to the U.S. that year.

These economies, however, are heavily tied into oil and refined products, and it’s not certain how they’ll be affected by NAFTA negotiations.

Ries sees it as unlikely that oil could be affected.

“I don’t think the U.S. wants tariffs on oil,” he said. “They want to get their oil down to Houston.”

WATCH: Freeland addresses aggressive vs. bad faith NAFTA bargaining by U.S.

As for industries, Porter sees sectors such as auto parts and assembly, pulp and paper, chemicals, mining, aerospace and, possibly, oil and gas being most affected by any NAFTA disruption.

Exports of goods and services took up a 23.5 per cent share of Canada’s economy over the past year, up from just under 20 per cent prior to the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) taking effect in 1989, he added.

All in all, Porter said a “full termination of NAFTA would not be disastrous for Canada, but it certainly wouldn’t be positive.”


 

As U.S. shocks with NAFTA demands, Canada and Mexico ask: What does Trump want?

News 07:07 PM by Alexander Panetta The Canadian Press Hamilton Spectator

ARLINGTON, United States — The chief U.S. negotiator shrugged his shoulders when asked about signs of trouble in the NAFTA talks on Sunday. John Melle pulled open a door, entered a work room, and offered a one-word reply about how it’s going.

“Fabulous,” he said.

Upon leaving those rooms, people are saying the exact opposite. The No. 1 discussion topic at this current round is whether Melle’s team is being ordered to sabotage the talks, so President Donald Trump can declare NAFTA has failed.

That’s because the U.S. team has unfurled a half-dozen bombshells so far beyond the realm of what’s palatable to the other parties that it’s all but exploded earlier hopes of a quick, easy negotiation.

The other countries are scrutinizing the body language of U.S. negotiators as they present ideas like a sunset clause that could end NAFTA after five years; ask to gut the deal’s enforcement mechanisms; and pursue non-starter ideas on dairy, textiles, automobiles and Buy American rules.

Some of these American negotiators built the very agreement they’re now proposing to strip down. Melle has even praised NAFTA’s successes. One non-U.S. official described the body language of American negotiators as: “Kind of sheepish. They say, ‘We don’t have any flexibility on this.'”

Another used an analogy: “The (U.S.) negotiators are like lawyers who hate their clients.”

Everyone is now watching Donald Trump.

The president has repeatedly stated his desire to invoke NAFTA’s termination clause, allowing him to cancel the deal on six months’ notice, in order to scare other countries into making concessions.

It would fit a tactic Trump has been accused of: Break now, fix later.

Critics have said Trump used this strategy on health care, undocumented young migrants, and the Iran nuclear deal — breaking an existing policy, then ordering others to put together a replacement, in a hurry, before a deadline hits, and chaos ensues.

Could he try it on NAFTA?

A front-page New York Times article on Sunday on Trump’s approach concludes with an analyst comparing Iran and NAFTA.

Iran’s foreign minister sees parallels himself.

Javad Zarif linked the NAFTA scrap to the one involving his country in an interview that aired Sunday: “This administration is withdrawing from everything. Somebody called it the, ‘Withdrawal Doctrine,’ for this administration. It’s withdrawing from NAFTA. It’s withdrawing from Trans Pacific Partnership. It’s withdrawing from UNESCO,” Zarif said in a CBS interview.

“So people cannot trust anymore the word of the United States. You see, in order to bring United States on board for many of these international agreements, a lot of people make a lot of concessions. Now nobody is going to make any concessions to the United States because they know that the next U.S. president will come back and say, ‘It wasn’t enough.'”

The Canadian and Mexican governments intend to sit through the storm.

They say there are no plans to walk out, or make aggressive counterdemands, like pushing their own non-starters — such as free trade in softwood lumber. They say they’re better off working patiently.

Officials do profess to being perplexed about Trump’s goal.

Several Canadians said it’s unclear: Is Trump trying to get other countries to leave the table, declare talks have failed, and invoke NAFTA’s six-month termination clause? Or is this just overly dramatic early bargaining — a la, “Art of the Deal”?

But one thing is increasingly clear, they say: hopes are fading for a quick deal by Christmas.

“Do we want a deal? Yes. Do we want a quick deal? Yes,” one official said. “But are we gonna take any deal just to wrap up quickly? Obviously not. If it takes more time, it takes more time.”

The initial rush for an agreement was prompted by the political calendar, as some worried that if a deal wasn’t completed by the time national election campaigns start in Mexico and the U.S. next year, it won’t happen before 2019.

And that would mean an extra year of uncertainty watching Trump — scrutinizing whether he’s readying to pull the plug on NAFTA.

That lingering uncertainty over NAFTA, coupled with homeowners’ concerns about possible interest hikes, are acting as drags on an otherwise strong economy, the Bank of Canada governor said last weekend.

“These are sources of angst,” Stephen Poloz told reporters.

He said it’s hard to predict the economic impact of a NAFTA termination. He said the bank’s own models rely on research from people like Dan Ciuriak, who assesses the impact of different tariffs on business decision-making.

Ciuriak used to run the computer-modelling unit at Canada’s foreign-affairs ministry. Now a private consultant, he happens to be working on such a study about what would happen under different scenarios — ranging from the end of NAFTA, to the end of all trade deals with the U.S.

He’s still crunching the numbers, and won’t publish for another couple of weeks.

But his early estimate is that ending free trade would slice 2.5 per cent from the Canadian economy. He says the initial shock might be more severe.

“That’s the ballpark,” said Ciuriak, who will publish his study with the C.D. Howe Institute.

“That actual pathway to that (eventual) figure may be worse.”


 

U.S. slow to present specifics on key NAFTA demands Canada still optimistic deal can be renegotiated by the end of the year

By Katie Simpson
CBC News Posted: Sep 22, 2017 5:00 AM ET
Last Updated: Sep 22, 2017 4:27 PM ET

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to terminate NAFTA unless his country gets what it wants. A source says Canadian officials are anticipating a change in tone from U.S. negotiators, given these negative statements.

The United States has made a big fuss over using NAFTA talks to demand better labour standards in Mexico, but after two rounds of discussions, U.S. negotiators have still not presented any specifics about what they would like to see changed.

A source close to negotiations says this is just one example of how the U.S. team is lagging when it comes to presenting NAFTA proposals, or what negotiators call text.

The source says the U.S. had been expected to present its text on labour standards before the third round of talks, which begin Saturday in Ottawa, but that has not yet happened.

Despite the lack of specifics, the source remains hopeful a deal can be reached by the end of the year.

What Canada hopes to get out of NAFTA talks
Provincial elections a reason to speed NAFTA talks

The optimism is not shared by trade experts or stakeholders, who have suggested it is not possible to overhaul a complex trade agreement in such a short period.

The U.S. and Mexico want NAFTA dealt with before both countries hold elections next year — U.S. voters go to the polls in November for their midterm elections, while the Mexican federal election will be held next summer.

Talks have been scheduled roughly over two-week intervals, and are expected to continue at that pace for months.

Tone change expected

Behind the scenes, talks between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have been described as professional and broad, since negotiators have mostly been focusing on areas of agreement.

But the source says Canadian officials are anticipating a change in tone from U.S. negotiators, given the negative statements made by U.S. President Donald Trump about the deal.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to terminate the agreement if the U.S. does not get what it wants.

The source says Canadian negotiators are expecting their U.S. counterparts to adopt a more aggressive approach to negotiations, to match the mood of the White House.

Digital trade, telecom, small business

A second government official, speaking on background, says talks at this point are where Canadian negotiators had anticipated.

While major breakthroughs have not taken place, the official says progress is being made in several areas including digital trade, telecom rules, and rules for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Analysis: Mexican rush to get a deal has altered NAFTA negotiating strategy

Analysis: Trump is the elephant in the room at NAFTA talks

Detailed discussions on the more contentious issues, including trade dispute mechanisms and rules of origin, have not yet taken place.

The second official expects those conversations to happen later in the renegotiating process, but would not eliminate the possibility both could come up this time.
Mexico Renegotiating NAFTA

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will hold a series of meetings and carefully staged photo ops leading up to the third round of talks.

She will be in Toronto on Friday to sit down with members of Canada’s original NAFTA negotiation team, including former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

They will talk trade over lunch alongside Derek Burney, Allan Gotlieb, and Michael Wilson, three former Canadian ambassadors to the U.S.

Earlier in the day, Freeland will meet with members of her NAFTA advisory council. That team includes industry experts, stakeholders and elected officials from across the political spectrum.


 

U.S. wants 5-year ‘sunset clause’ in NAFTA: Ross NAFTA

NAFTA

In this April 21, 2008 file photo, national flags representing the United States, Canada, and Mexico fly in the breeze in New Orleans where leaders of the North American Free Trade Agreement met. (A

P Photo/Judi Bottoni, File)

Alexander P

anetta, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, September 14, 2017 1:20PM EDT

WASHINGTON — The United States is seeking to insert a so-called sunset clause into a new NAFTA, which would terminate the agreement after five years unless the three member countries agree to extend it.

Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, confirmed the news Thursday, saying the constant threat of termination would force a permanent re-evaluation of the agreement and require countries to keep improving it.

“(It) would force a systematic re-examination,” Ross told a forum organized by the website Politico.
Related Stories

The story of NAFTA, as told from a Canadian auto plant in Mexico
U.S. lawmakers express optimism over NAFTA negotiations

“You’d have a forum for trying to fix things.”

He said he and the U.S. trade czar, Robert Lighthizer, agree on the idea. Ross made his remarks after being asked about a report on the idea by Politico and he publicly confirmed the report.

But he said it’s unclear whether Canada and Mexico, the other NAFTA countries, would accept the proposal.

He said he wants a deal by the end of the year and would rather not terminate the agreement as Trump has threatened.

Ross said it will become harder to get a deal after this year for four reasons: Next year, the U.S. fast-track law needs to be re-affirmed in Congress, the U.S. has congressional elections, Mexico has presidential elections and Canada has provincial elections.

Ross said the president is serious when he threatens to cancel NAFTA.

“It’s a very real thing,” he said.

“But it is not the preferred option.”


 

Alberta blasts NEB ‘overreach’ – ENERGY EAST DECISION COULD AFFECT FUTURE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

9 Sep 2017
Lethbridge Herald
THE CANADIAN PRESS – CALGARY

Alberta’s energy minister is calling a decision by Canada’s national energy regulator to consider indirect greenhouse gas emissions in evaluating a multi-billion-dollar pipeline an “historic overreach” that could cast a chill over the future of energy development. Margaret McCuaig-Boyd said it’s inappropriate for the National Energy Board to consider the $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline’s contribution to upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions.

“Deciding the merits of a pipeline on downstream emissions is like judging transmission lines based on how its electricity will be used,” she said in a statement Friday, a day after TransCanada Corp. announced plans to temporarily suspend its application to build the proposed 4,500-kilometre pipeline to carry western crude to Saint John, N.B.

“This is not an appropriate issue to include in the review,” McCuaig-Boyd said. “We believe it would be a historic overreach and has potential to impact the future of energy development across Canada.”

NEB spokeswoman Sarah Kiley said typically the board considers direct emissions that result from the construction and operation of a pipeline.

However, she said the board broadened the scope of its review of the Energy East and Eastern Mainline projects due to “increasing public interest” in greenhouse gas emissions and the federal government’s interest in assessing upstream emissions associated with major pipelines.

McCuaig-Boyd said Alberta’s climate plan, cited by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his approval of two new pipelines last fall, should satisfy concerns about upstream emissions.

TransCanada said it has filed a letter to the NEB asking for a 30-day suspension for the project so it can study how the NEB’s decision on greenhouse gas emissions will affect “costs, schedules and viability.”

The Calgary-based company is calling the changes to the regulatory process “significant,” and warns that the entire project and related Eastern Mainline pipeline project could be cancelled.

It indicated that it may need to record a writedown of its investment in the project, if it is discontinued.

“Should TransCanada decide not to proceed with the projects after a thorough review of the impact of the NEB’s amendments, the carrying value of its investment in the projects as well as its ability to recover development costs incurred to date would be negatively impacted,” the company said in a statement.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said he will do whatever necessary to make sure the pipeline proceeds and delivers crude — and jobs — to his province.

In a statement late Thursday, Gallant said he spoke with TransCanada CEO Russ Girling and was reassured that the company is still considering going ahead with the NEB process.

But a dour-sounding Gallant said the possible cancellation of the project would be a big blow to a province that hoped to see the creation of thousands of jobs linked to the pipeline.

“There’s no sugar coating it, TransCanada suspending its application in order to re-evaluate the viability of the Energy East pipeline project is not good news for those who want to see that pipeline built,” he stated.

“We will do everything we can to have TransCanada continue the process, but there’s no doubt that it is possible they won’t.”


 

Farmers turning to specialized forecasting – Service plants weather stations throughout property

Lethbridge Herald
12 Aug 2017
Ian Bickis
THE CANADIAN PRESS — CALGARY

In an industry that lives and dies by the weather, farmers like Dwight Foster are looking for all the help they can get to know what’s coming. “We use every tool in the toolbox we can get our hands on to try and figure out what’s going on,” said Foster, co-owner of North Gower Grains south of Ottawa.

With about 25 farms to manage, he has signed up with a service that plants weather stations throughout his properties that tell him whether the wind is calm enough to spray his fields or if it’s dry enough to till the earth.

“It’s more high-tech than ever. We have weather stations on our farms, they’re telling us wind speed, wind direction, temperatures high and low, rainfall amounts on almost every one of our farms.”

Farmers like Foster are on a never-ending quest for more detailed weather forecasts as they try to increase yields on larger plots while contending with more extreme weather, such as the record rains that have drenched parts of southern Ontario this year, or the droughts that have left vast fields bone dry in Saskatchewan.

Foster said he installed the weather station system upon the encouragement of seed companies, since knowing exactly how much rain has fallen allows him to buy specific seeds, depending on the conditions.

That kind of data could prove especially useful this year, with some of Foster’s farms soaked with triple the rainfall compared with last year. Environment Canada says the Ottawa area is on track for its wettest year.

In Saskatchewan, Todd Lewis is dealing with the opposite problem. The area south of Regina where he farms has been struggling with some of the driest months on record.

Lewis uses a service that sets up personalized weather stations to better manage the grains and pulses on his family farm. At roughly 4,500 hectares, the operation is part of an overall trend that saw the average farm size increase almost 13 per cent between 2006 and 2016.

He said field-level information helps him make decisions around harvest time, like whether to keep working a few extra hours before an oncoming rainfall or assessing if weaker crops were caused by parched soil.

He said he has noticed improvements in both the short- and long-term forecasts — even if he doesn’t like what they predict.

“The long-range forecasting, unfortunately this year they’ve been kind of correct,” he said.

“They predicted dry and it’s been dry. So sometimes you wish they were wrong.”

Despite the better data, Lewis said there is still a degree of uncertainty when it comes to knowing what Mother Nature will bring.

“Anything outside of a week, you’re going to be pretty skeptical about it.”

Precision agriculture companies are, however, hoping to reduce that gap with the reams of information they’re collecting.

“I think every farmer, at the top of their wish list, would be better seasonal forecasts so they can know what to expect,” said Andy Nadler, product manager at Farmers Edge.

The company, along with Canadian competitors like Weather Innovations Consulting and a growing field of international rivals, are trying to use new ways to crunch data to help guide farmers.

Nadler said Farmers Edge is learning from the more than 3,000 weather stations it has installed since starting to offer them about three years ago. It charges about $2 an acre (0.4 hectares) for its data management service.

Farmers shouldn’t expect any breakthrough, however, on longterm weather forecasting, said Drew Lerner, president of Kansas-based World Weather Inc. and a practising meteorologist for 38 years.

“Long-range forecasting is an art, and it is a very risky thing to do,” said Lerner. “It really does come down to a great deal of prayer.

“There’s too much going on, too much chaos in the atmosphere — it is not a solvable equation. All we can do is get better at estimating.”