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Alberta

History, Controversy & Indigenous Involvement – Death of Keystone XL

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For many, few stories have been as captivating and as frustrating as that of the stop-and-start Keystone XL pipeline project, which appears to officially be reaching its end following the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. 

The Keystone XL pipeline extension was originally proposed by TC Energy in 2008 as the 4th phase of the existing Keystone Pipeline System, which traverses Canada and the United States. The 1,947 km pipeline would run from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Nebraska, dramatically increasing the transportation capacity of Alberta crude oil to 830,000 barrels per day. 

The National Energy Board first approved the Keystone XL application in March 2010, with a number of conditions in place to protect environmental and landowner interests.
Opposition towards the project developed quickly, largely on the basis of environmental concerns. Environmental assessments released by the U.S. State Department, which established the pipeline would have “limited environmental impact”, were met with public backlash and mass protests.
In 2011, the State Department required TC Energy (then TransCanada) to reroute the pipeline around an “ecologically sensitive” area in Nebraska, to which TC Energy agreed.

In January 2012, President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL, but invited TC to submit another application, which was done in May 2012.
Following another 3 years of legislative debate, protest and controversial back and forth, Obama vetoed the bill to build the Keystone XL on February 24, 2015.
On November 6, 2015, the Obama Administration once again rejected TC Energy’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

In this context, tensions continued to rise, as massive amounts of money and potential jobs hung in the balance with no end in sight. In 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump included the Keystone XL in his campaign, vowing to approve it if elected as President of the United States.

Following his election in November 2016, President Trump signed an executive order approving the Keystone XL pipeline, along with an order requiring American pipelines be built with American steel.
In late 2018, the pipeline’s construction was delayed once again by a U.S. federal judge, citing environmental impact.

Construction resumed in April 2020, following a pledge from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to invest CAD$1.5 billion in the project in March 2020. Outrage from environmental and Indigenous groups continued in the wake of the announcement.

In May 2020, then-presumed presidential nominee Joe Biden shared plans to shutdown the Keystone XL as a part of his campaign. (1)

It is January 2021, and Biden has indeed followed through on his claim to scrap the pipeline. To the outrage of many Albertans and their fellow Canadians, one of Biden’s first executive orders as President of the United States, just hours after his inauguration, was to revoke TC Energy’s permit for the Keystone XL. 

As of December 2020, more than 150 kilometres of pipeline had already been installed. According to Financial Post, the cancellation leaves behind approximately 48,000 tons of steel.

Biden’s decision has served to deepen the division between pro and anti-pipeline groups, including the opposing positions expressed by a number of Canadian Indigenous groups.
Over the course of the past decade, Indigenous opposition to the pipeline has been well documented through a series of protests and petitions, featuring countless Canadians who rallied in support of First Nations groups, environmental concerns and land rights. 

In 2016, Donald Trump’s renewed approval of the pipeline was met with equally renewed opposition by those groups determined to halt the project once and for all. “The fight to kill the Keystone XL pipeline begins anew,” said Dallas Goldtooth, lead organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network in 2017, “and Donald Trump should expect far greater resistance than ever before.” 

On the other side of this opposition, the historic formation of the Natural Law Energy coalition came as a shock to many. Natural Law Energy (NLE) is a coalition of First Nations groups who expressed their support for the Keystone XL pipeline by pursuing investment opportunities with TC Energy. Little Pine First Nation, Louis Bull Tribe, Nekaneet Cree First Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation and Akamihk Montana Cree First Nation came together to form the coalition with the ambition of providing First Nations groups with financial resources and opportunities.

For Chief Alvin Francis of Nekaneet First Nation in Saskatchewan, the pipeline presented an opportunity to secure funding for indigenous communities and aid indigenous youth in their schooling or business endeavors for years to come. “It’s about making life better for all of our youth,” he told the Globe and Mail in November 2020.
Just as Indigenous anti-pipeline groups celebrate the latest development, Biden’s executive order to cancel the pipeline once again has been met with disappointment from members of the NLE and its supporters. 

Recent developments over the multi-billion dollar Keystone XL have also led to heated discussions between the Kenney Administration and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Kenney’s response to the Canadian Federal Government as well as the Biden Administration was one of absolute disappointment and anger, as Alberta’s oil and gas industry sustained another massive hit. He went as far as to call upon Trudeau to impose economic sanctions on the United States. 

While many have echoed Kenney’s sentiments regarding the cancellation of the pipeline and the Biden Administrations early treatment of Canada and the province of Alberta, others have identified this development as an opportunity for Alberta to diversify. Under the current economic circumstances, can Alberta overcome the loss of the Keystone XL? Should Alberta focus on diversifying? Given the ongoing global shift towards renewable energy technology, can we afford not to? 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Alberta's new proof-of-vaccination cards can be easily edited, residents say

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EDMONTON — Albertans needing proof they’re vaccinated against COVID-19 were able to download cards from the province’s website on Sunday, but almost right away some residents said they were easily able to edit them.

Dan Shugar, who lives in Calgary, says the card was in a PDF file which he was able to edit to say his name was “Fakus McFakeFace” and that he’d received doses of “Ivermectin Horsey Paste” and “Bleach.”

He says all of the fields could be edited and making changes was “mindbogglingly easy.”

The government announced the availability of the cards in a news release on Sunday, a day before its “restrictions exemption program” launches.

The program allows businesses and venues to operate without capacity limits and other public health measures if they require proof of vaccination or a negative test result from anyone entering.

Health ministry spokeswoman Amanda Krumins acknowledges in an email that “a motivated individual” can edit the PDF, but that “work continues on a more secure QR code that will be available in the coming weeks.”

“It’s important to point out that falsifying a health record is an offense under (the) Health Information Act,” Krumins wrote.

“That said, we know the vast majority of Albertans will use the system properly and adhere to the legal requirements set out in the current public health orders.”

Premier Jason Kenney had opposed a vaccine passport over what he said were privacy concerns, but said last week it has become a necessary measure to protect Alberta’s hospitals that face the prospect of being overwhelmed in the pandemic’s fourth wave.

Kenney said in a Facebook live video on Thursday night that since he announced the passport system, COVID-19 vaccine bookings have nearly tripled in the province.

Many people, however, reported difficulty in obtaining the required proof they’d been vaccinated in the days that followed the announcement.

Prior to the cards becoming available on Sunday, Albertans had the option of either showing sheets of paper they’d received when they got their shots, or signing up for a system that would allow them to view their vaccine records online. 

The latter option required many people to sign up for a digital ID, and people who tried said they faced long, frustrating delays due to the system being overwhelmed.

The province says the new cards can be downloaded with an Alberta Health number, without the need for creating an online account and with minimal or no wait time.

It says Albertans will still be able to use their existing immunization records, including those received at their vaccination. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2021.

Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Edmonton Police Service investigating suspicious death case

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EDMONTON — The Edmonton Police Service says it is investigating a suspicious death that occurred Saturday evening.

Police say that just after 6 p.m. they received a report of an assault with a weapon in the area of 104 Avenue and 95 Street. 

Officers responding to the call found a man with serious injuries. 

Police say the officers rendered first-aid but the man died at the scene.

The name of the deceased was not immediately released, and cause of death has yet to be determined.

Investigators are asking anyone who may have witnessed an assault in the area to contact them.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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