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Canada ‘extremely concerned’ about fate of Line 5 pipeline in Wisconsin, embassy says


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Canada’s embassy in Washington says it is “extremely concerned” about the fate of the Line 5 cross-border pipeline. This photo taken in October 2016 shows an aboveground section of Enbridge’s Line 5 at the Mackinaw City, Mich., pump station. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Flesher

By James McCarten in Washington

Canada’s embassy in Washington says it is “extremely concerned” about the fate of the Line 5 cross-border pipeline.

A court hearing Thursday in Wisconsin could determine whether the pipeline, owned and operated by Enbridge Inc., is allowed to continue operating.

“The energy security of both Canada and the United States would be directly impacted by a Line 5 closure,” the embassy said in a statement.

“At a time of heightened concern over energy security and supply, including during the energy transition, maintaining and protecting existing infrastructure should be a top priority.”

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa says spring flooding has heightened the risk of a rupture and it wants a federal judge to shut the line down.

A strongly worded statement from the embassy says doing so would endanger more than 33,000 U.S. jobs and US$20 billion in economic activity.

Canada argues that Line 5 is a vital energy conduit across the U.S. Midwest and an economic lifeline for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

The Indigenous band fears a rupture would foul not only a key watershed on its territory, but also the waters of Lake Superior.

Canada has already invoked a 1977 pipelines treaty with the U.S. in both Wisconsin and Michigan, where Michigan’s attorney general is also in court trying to get the pipeline shut down.

Talks under that treaty have been ongoing for months, with the latest session taking place last month in Washington.

“Canada invoked the treaty’s dispute settlement provisions because actions to close Line 5 represent a violation of Canada’s rights under the treaty to an uninterrupted flow of hydrocarbons in transit,” the embassy said.

“If a shutdown were ordered because of this specific, temporary flood situation, Canada expects the United States to comply with its obligations under the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty, including the expeditious restoration of normal pipeline operations.”

Spring flooding has washed away significant portions of the riverbank where Line 5 intersects Wisconsin’s Bad River, a meandering, 120-kilometre course through Indigenous territory that feeds Lake Superior and a complex network of ecologically delicate wetlands.

The band has been in court with Enbridge since 2019 in an effort to compel the pipeline’s owner and operator to reroute Line 5 around its traditional territory — something the company has already agreed to do.

But the flooding has turned a theoretical risk into a very real one, the band argued in an emergency motion last week, and wants the pipeline closed off immediately to prevent catastrophe.

“There can be little doubt now that the small amount of remaining bank could be eroded and the pipeline undermined and breached in short order,” the band’s lawyers argued.

“Very little margin for error remains.”

Line 5 meets the river on Indigenous territory just past a location the court has come to know as the “meander,” where the riverbed snakes back and forth multiple times, separated from itself only by several metres of forest and the pipeline.

At four locations, the river was less than 4.6 metres from the pipeline — just 3.4 metres in one particular spot — and the erosion has continued in recent days at an “alarming” rate, the motion said.

In one case, so-called “monuments” installed to measure the losses show that where there was more than 10 metres of riverbank in early April before the flooding began, only 3.7 metres remained as of last Tuesday.

“Significant erosion is continuing as of the filing of this motion, and the evidence strongly suggests that further bank loss could be substantial and result in exposure and rupture of the pipeline.”

Wisconsin district court Judge William Conley will hear oral arguments on the motion Thursday. It’s not clear when he’ll decide whether to grant an injunction that would require Enbridge to shut down the pipeline and purge its contents.

Enbridge has described the motion as “truly outrageous” and unnecessary: “There is no pipeline safety issue and certainly no cause for alarm.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2023.

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Moneris confirms credit and debit card processing outage, but offers few details

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The Canadian payment processing firm Moneris confirmed Saturday that credit and debit card transactions were interrupted by a network outage earlier in the day.

The Toronto-based technology company issued a statement saying there was nothing to suggest the outage was related to a cyber attack.

Complaints about outages started rolling in to the website before noon eastern time, but Moneris did not say when the outage started.

About three hours later, Moneris posted a message on X — the  social media site formerly known as Twitter — saying it had resolved the network problem.

It remains unclear how many businesses and transactions were affected, but data provided by indicated complaints had come in from across the country.

In a statement provided to The Canadian Press, the company said the outage lasted about 90 minutes.

“We have resolved the network outage and returned transaction processing to normal,” the statement said. “We continue to investigate the root cause of the issue. There are no indications this appears to be cyber-attack related and all transaction systems are functioning normally again.”

The company, a joint venture between  Royal Bank and BMO Bank of Montreal, said transaction processing could be slow as its systems catch up with the backlog.

Moneris says it supports more than 325,000 merchant locations across Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2024.

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Smith says despite difficulty with Ottawa, Alberta has allies in Trudeau cabinet

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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks to business leaders at the Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Smith told the conference that despite her concerns with the federal Liberal government there was some cabinet ministers she can work with. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

By Bill Graveland in Banff

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told a business conference on Friday that despite her concerns with the federal Liberal government, there are some cabinet ministers she can work with.

Smith has been at odds with federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson amid concerns over Ottawa’s climate-change policies and transition plan for a net-zero emissions economy.

Guilbeault intends to publish draft regulations this fall to cap emissions from oil and gas, then force them downward overtime. Ottawa has also set a target to have the electricity grid be net-zero by 2035, but Alberta says it’s unrealistic.

Smith says Alberta won’t implement the emissions cap, nor will it follow the 2035 target.

The premier told delegates at the Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., that Wilkinson needs to answer for comments he made earlier this week at the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary.

Wilkinson’s call for the industry to work aggressively to get to net-zero was basically telling them to “pack it up, because the oil and gas industry is winding down,” said Smith.

“You could just feel the energy leave the room and you could just feel the investment dollars leave the room.”

Smith said energy producing provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, can’t trust the Trudeau government to look out for their interests at international conferences.

“After hearing how the natural resources minister talks about our industry, after hearing how the federal environment minister talks about our industry, we can’t afford to let them carry our message,” Smith said.

“We can’t afford not to be there.”

Smith said she has been in discussions with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and intends to talk to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey about joint presentations at conferences in the future.

Despite her disappointment with Wilkinson and Guilbeault, Smith said it’s not all bad.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland among the top allies, she said.

“Let’s give her credit for shepherding through all of the constant need to give more debt financing to Trans Mountain pipeline to get that to the finish line. That has not been easy,” Smith said.

She also praised Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault.

“I would say it’s not uniformly negative in the Liberal caucus. But for some reason they’re allowing Stephen Guilbeault to be a maverick and a renegade and quite offensive to those of who are trying to be reasonable and adult about this,” Smith said.

Smith said it’s time for the federal government to back away from setting “aggressive targets” in dealing with the provinces.

“Aggressive targets are not helpful. They’re not helpful to us. They’re not helpful to investors.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.

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