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Force airlines to automatically compensate travellers, passengers’ advocate says


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By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa

Canada should make it so air travellers are automatically entitled to compensation from airlines when their flights are disrupted, rather than having to make claims on their own, a passenger advocate said Tuesday.

Gabor Lukacs serves as president of Air Passenger Rights, a non-profit group that made recommendations to a parliamentary committee studying transportation issues last month.

Beginning Thursday, that same group of MPs will begin an emergency study into the chaos that erupted across the country’s airports and airlines over the holidays, including what is likely to be a grilling of Transport Minister Omar Alghabra from Opposition members about how the government plans to address the problem.

“The airlines are taking advantage of the regulatory environment, where enforcement is basically non-existent,” Lukacs said in an interview Tuesday. “That is where the problem lies.”

A winter storm that swept parts of the country before Christmas Day brought trouble to what was an already hectic travel season. The air industry is still recovering after travel ground to a halt during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to widespread layoffs in the sector.

Thousands of passengers saw their flights cancelled or delayed to due to the poor weather. But what has troubled political leaders most is how passengers say they were treated.

Hundreds of Sunwing customers were stranded in Mexico after the vacation destination airline cancelled their trips. Thousands more were left scrambling after the airline cancelled flights departing from Saskatchewan until Feb. 3 due to what it called “extenuating circumstances.”

Other passengers described improper communication — or lack thereof — from airlines, and having to sleep on airport floors as they waited for answers.

Alghabra has called what happened over the holidays “unacceptable.”

His office said Tuesday that he was unavailable for an interview, but provided a statement outlining potential changes to the regulations that offer protection to airline passengers.

The rules introduced in 2019 impose what the Canadian Transportation Agency, the federal regulator, calls the “minimum airline requirements.” They outline when travellers are eligible for compensation for hiccups such as lost baggage, delays on the tarmac and cancellations.

Nadine Ramadan, a spokeswoman for Alghabra, said work has been underway since before the holidays on how to strengthen the existing regime. She said the government’s intention is to introduce legislation sometime in the spring.

“These changes will help increase efficiency and put the onus on airlines to reimburse passengers,” she said in a statement.

“All options are on the table to ensure that what happened over the holidays does not happen again.”

In a report presented to MPs last month, Lukacs’s group recommended legislative changes be made so that airlines must provide compensation “promptly and without the passenger having to request payment” when it comes to delays and cancellations.

He said that the way it works right now, a passenger who feels they are entitled for compensation has to send a letter to the company requesting payment.

From there, he says, the airline is supposed to reply within 30 days, either agreeing to provide the compensation that was requested or explaining why it doesn’t think the traveller is owed money.

“(The) mere fact that you as a passenger have to approach the airline and say, ‘Hey, I want my compensation,’ is a problem,” Lukacs said, because many passengers don’t know their rights.

He said what often happens is that travellers don’t accept the rationale provided by an airline to avoid paying up, so they take their claims to the Canadian Transportation Agency instead in the hopes of seeking compensation.

That’s where another problem lies, according to MPs: The regulator is facing a backlog of more than 30,000 complaints.

A spokesperson for the agency said that as of Dec. 20, 2022, it had 31,000 pending complaints. In the time since then, which included the holiday travel chaos, it received another 2,800.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 10, 2023.

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Budget measures unlikely enough to spur major carbon capture investments: Experts

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 28, 2023. Industry watchers say Tuesday’s federal budget likely won’t be enough to convince Canadian oil and gas companies to pull the trigger on expensive, emissions-reducing carbon capture and storage projects. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

By Amanda Stephenson in Calgary

A question mark continues to hang over the future of carbon capture and storage projects in Canada, in spite of a pledge in Tuesday’s federal budget to deliver more investment certainty for major emissions-reducing projects.

“Look, we have set some very aggressive climate targets in Canada. You can’t kick the can down the road,” said carbon capture advocate James Millar, arguing that’s exactly what the federal government did Tuesday when it provided no additional details around its previously stated intention to reduce the risk of investing in pricey emissions-reduction projects by essentially guaranteeing the future price of carbon.

“The difference comes down to investment certainty in the U.S., versus the promise of investment certainty in Canada.”

As president and CEO of the International CCS (carbon capture and storage) Knowledge Centre, a non-profit organization based in Regina, Millar had been closely watching Tuesday’s budget in hopes of obtaining more federal support for the expensive technology that can be used to trap harmful greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes and store them safely underground.

Heavy emitters — in particular, the oil and gas sector — have identified carbon capture and storage technology as key to helping the sector meet its emissions reduction targets and have been looking for government incentives akin to what is being offered south of the border, where the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act promises to pay companies a guaranteed US$85 price for each tonne of injected carbon.

While Canada has already announced an investment tax credit that will help to offset some of the up-front capital costs of carbon capture projects, companies have so far been hesitant to pull the trigger and go ahead with proposed large-scale projects.

The Pathways Alliance, for example, a consortium of oilsands companies, has proposed building a $16.5-billion carbon capture and storage transportation line to combat emissions from existing oilsands infrastructure in northern Alberta.

But the group has not yet made a final investment decision, saying it needs to know its project will be competitive with those in the U.S. before proceeding.

One thing the oil and gas sector has said will help with that is some kind of mechanism that would reduce the risk to companies that the federal price on carbon could be lowered or eliminated. If a new government were to be elected and remove or change Canada’s carbon pricing system, investing in expensive carbon-reducing technology could suddenly become uneconomical.

On Tuesday, the federal government reiterated that it intends to create such a mechanism through a so-called carbon contracts for difference system — but disappointed many who were hoping for details. Instead, the government announced it plans to begin consultations around the development of such a program.

Millar said while he doesn’t doubt the government’s good intentions, companies that have proposed large-scale projects need to get moving now if they have any hope of meeting Canada’s goal to reduce this country’s overall emissions by 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 looms.

“We’re already in 2023, we’re seven years out. The consultations that were announced yesterday will take months,” he said. “I think it will take at least a year because it’s going to take time to set up the process.”

The Pathways Alliance itself took a diplomatic tone Tuesday, issuing a statement after the tabling of the budget saying it was “encouraged” by the signal that more policy certainty is coming, and adding it looks forward to a “better understanding” of the government’s intentions.

But Greg Pardy of RBC Capital said in a research note that in spite of some enhancements to the previously announced investment tax credit, budgetary support for carbon capture and storage was “somewhat limited  — perhaps even disappointing.”

“In our view, Canada’s federal government needs to shift into much higher gear when it comes to incentivizing decarbonization investment if it is to achieve its bold climate change ambitions,” Pardy said.

A report from BMO Capital Markets published just before the release of Tuesday’s budget said Canada’s policy framework for large-scale deployment of carbon capture and storage disadvantages producers here compared to the U.S., “despite claims to the contrary from some proponents of the environmental lobby.”

Environmentalists have been critical of any additional federal support for carbon capture, calling it akin to a subsidy for oil and gas companies that enables them to increase production when the world should be scaling down fossil fuel usage.

But the BMO report said carbon capture is an essential part of the energy transition, and without offering improved incentives to keep up with the U.S., Canada risks not meeting its 2030 emissions reduction targets.

“Canada’s market-based carbon price systems are much too uncertain to act as ‘incentive’ for industry to invest in major decarbonization projects,” the BMO report stated.

“Emitters need financial supports that are tangible and recognized by financial institutions to underwrite bank financing.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2023.

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Jordan Peterson explains why Canadians should pay attention to the National Citizens Inquiry.

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Most Canadians may be unaware that a Citizen-Led Inquiry into Canada’s COVID-19 Response is underway.  The first hearing which took place in Truro, Nova Scotia has already provided the five Inquiry Commissioners with hours of evidence to consider.

Hearings are also scheduled for Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Red Deer, Vancouver, Quebec City, and finally Ottawa.  The second round of hearings starts Thursday, March 30 in Toronto.  On the eve of this, the National Citizens Inquiry has released a statement from renowned Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson.  Below in his message to the commissioners, Dr. Peterson outlines all the reasons this inquiry is so important.


A Citizen-Led Inquiry Into Canada’s COVID-19 Response

Canada’s federal and provincial governments’ COVID-19 policies were unprecedented. These interventions into Canadians’ lives, our families, businesses, and communities were, and to great extent remain, significant. In particular, these interventions impacted the physical and mental health, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms, jobs and livelihoods, and overall social and economic wellbeing of nearly all Canadians.

These circumstances demand a comprehensive, transparent, and objective national inquiry into the appropriateness and efficacy of these interventions, and to determine what lessons can be learned for the future. Such an inquiry cannot be commissioned or conducted impartially by our governments as it is their responses and actions to the COVID-19 which would be under investigation.

The National Citizen’s Inquiry (NCI) is a citizen-led and citizen-funded initiative that is completely independent from government. In early 2023, the NCI will hear from Canadians and experts and investigate governments’ COVID-19 policies in a fair and impartial manner.

The NCI’s purpose is to listen, to learn, and to recommend. What went right? What went wrong? How can Canadians and our governments better react to national crises in the future in a manner that balances the interests of all members of our society?

Canadian psychologist, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson who is also an author, online educator, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto spoke out about the Canadian response to COVID-19.

Dr. Peterson’s prerecorded testimony was directed to the five Commissioners at the National Citizens Inquiry in Truro, Nova Scotia.


Toronto, Ontario


Start:     March 30 @ 9:00 am
End:      April 1 @ 5:00 pm

The National Citizen’s Inquiry Hearings Event in the city of Toronto, Ontario Canada.

This event takes place starting March 30th to April 1st 2023.
Hearings go from 9:00am – 5:00pm Eastern Time.

You can register to attend the event here.

The hearing schedule is here.

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