Feb. 21, 2020

CANADA

  • Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau is relaxing mortgage qualification rules to make it easier for home buyers to secure financing by setting up a new benchmark interest rate based on actual borrowing costs instead of advertised rates.
  • BC will now tax income above $220,000 at 20.5% up from 16.8% provincially to a combined rate of 49.8%.

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

  • Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said there is a ‘significant risk’ that Alberta’s emissions cap will be exceeded by 2030 because of oil sand emissions from projects that are approved but not yet built.
    • Pembina Institute warns that Alberta’s oil sands operators will need to face higher carbon taxes, stricter regulations and implement technologies that don’t yet exist for Canada to meet commitments.
  • Alberta government approved Suncor’s thermal oil sands ‘Meadow Creek West’ project however Suncor said they plan to delay the development of the project until at least 2023.
  • Taber, Alberta is running a pilot project to convert abandoned oil and gas wells into solar installations. Taber has about 3,000 inactive oil and gas wells.
  • Jeff Bezos is committing $10 billion of his $130 billion net worth to fight climate change.
  • Australia’s wine industry faces the ‘toughest year’ in memory, with some winemakers scrapping vintages because grapes were contaminated with smoke taint which gives wines a burnt, ashy or medicinal flavor.

RAIL BLOCKADE UPDATE

  • The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en oppose the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project while the elected chiefs (band councils) have signed agreements for the pipeline to proceed.
    • Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs met with Mohawk protestors today in Kingston, Ontario
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling for patience and dialog in the indigenous-rights protests that have brought rail traffic to a halt across Canada.
  • Via Rail has laid off nearly 1,000 workers this week while CN Rail laid off 450 workers so far. The ongoing blockades place an additional 6,000 CN workers at risk.
  • Demonstrators are now obstructing CP’s tracks near Kamloops, BC.
  • Canadian ports on both coasts are congested due to rail blockades.
  • Authorities served protestors in Montreal’s South Shore ordering them to stop blocking a commuter train line.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

  • Novel Coronavirus has been renamed COVID-19; currently more than 76,000 cases.
  • US firms in China are reporting staff shortages and are saying this is impacting their global operations.
  • Chinese companies say that they cannot afford to pay workers now because of the work stoppages.
  • NHL players are getting short on hockey sticks, players use between 40 and 80 sticks per year.
  • China car sales fell 92% during the first 2 weeks of February because of lock-down.

TIDBITS

  • Tim Horton’s is going digital with reusable cups for Roll Up the Rim, players will need to provide an email address and register a Tim Rewards card.
  • Venture capital crowdsourcing company, Kickstarter PBC, employees became first direct employees of a major US tech company to unionize.
  • US ambassador to Germany said that President Donald Trump has asked him to “make it clear that any nation who chooses to use an untrustworthy 5G vendor (ie: Hauwei) risks jeopardizing intelligence and information sharing with the US.