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Cancelling wind project could cost over $100 million, company warns

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  • TORONTO — Cancelling an eastern Ontario green energy project that has been under development for nearly a decade could cost more than 0 million, the president of the company said Wednesday, warning that the dispute could be headed to the courts.

    Ontario’s governing Progressive Conservatives said this week that one of their first priorities during the legislature’s summer sitting would be to cancel the contract for the White Pines Project in Prince Edward County.

    Ian MacRae, president of WPD Canada, the company behind the project, said he was stunned by the news given that the project is weeks away from completion.

    “What our lawyers are telling us is we have a completely valid contract that we’ve had since 2009 with the (Independent Electricity System Operator). … There’s no good reason for the government to breach that contract,” he said.

    The government has also not reached out to discuss the cancellation, he said. Meanwhile, construction on the site is in full swing, he said.

    “Over the last couple weeks we’ve had an average of 100 people on site every day,” he said. “The footprint of the project is 100 per cent in. So, all the access roads, the concrete for the base foundations, much of the electrical infrastructure. The sub-station is nearing completion.”

    The project includes nine wind turbines meant to produce enough electricity to power just over 3,000 homes annually. All of the turbines are expected to be installed over the next three weeks, with testing scheduled for the following month.

    MacRae couldn’t say for certain who would have to pay for the cancellation, electricity ratepayers or taxpayers.

    “Somehow that money would come from IESO and it would be my assumption that would end up somehow on the ratepayers,” he said. “We just need to see what the government has in mind and who will foot the bill.”

    Progressive Conservative house leader Todd Smith, who represents the riding where the project is being built, said the legislation to cancel the project will also insulate taxpayers from domestic litigation over the dismantling of green energy projects.

    “This is something that the people of Prince Edward County have been fighting … for seven years,” he said. “This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anybody that this was at the top of the agenda for the incoming government.”

    Smith questioned why Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator gave the final approval for the project during the spring election campaign.

    “There’s a lot of questions about how this ever got greenlighted in the first place,” he said. “This project was granted its notice to proceed two days into the election campaign … when (the IESO) should have been in the caretaker mode.”

    Terry Young, the IESO’s vice president of policy, engagement and innovation, said the agency could not comment because of the pending introduction of legislation to cancel the deal.

    NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the new Tory government is behaving like the previous Liberal government by cancelling energy projects and tearing up contracts. She likened the Tory plan to the Liberal gas plant scandal that saw the government relocate two plants at a substantial cost to taxpayers.

    Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press


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    National

    Freeland says Khashoggi case not closed; but Trump says facts may never be known

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  • OTTAWA — Canada will use the upcoming G20 summit to push for answers in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says.

    Freeland said Tuesday Canada considers his murder to be very much an open case, a contrast to a statement by U.S. President Donald Trump that the facts surrounding Khashoggi’s death might just never be known.

    “Canada very much does not consider the Khashoggi affair to be closed,” Freeland said, hours after Trump released a statement that attempted to bring the controversy to a close for the U.S.

    Freeland said she expects the Khashoggi case to be an issue during the talks among leaders of the world’s 20 top economies in early December in Argentina, and says Canada will persist with its push for a transparent international investigation.

    “It is very clearly Canada’s position that those responsible for this horrendous murder must face full responsibility for it,” she said.

    “We certainly imagine that the Khashoggi murder will be an issue, which we discuss with many of the partners who we will be meeting with.”

    The kingdom is a member of the G20, and the Saudi-owned television station Al-Arabiya says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader, will attend the summit.

    U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that bin Salman ordered the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

    “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in a written statement.

    “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.”

    Regardless, Saudi Arabia remains a “steadfast” partner of the U.S. and has helped keep oil prices stable, Trump said. He also said he doesn’t want to jeopardize US$450 billion in Saudi investment in the U.S., including $110 billion to buy American-made military hardware.

    Trump said the U.S. has already sanctioned 17 Saudi individuals under its Magnitsky Act, and isn’t planning any further action.

    Freeland, meanwhile, has said Canada is contemplating similar sanctions, but she gave no indication why that has yet to happen or what is taking so long.

    A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deliberations, said any decision on sanctions will be made by federal cabinet, and will be part of a larger process that will see Canada working in co-ordination with its allies.

    The process includes a consideration of sanctions, a co-ordinated push for an international investigation and an assessment of the Turkish recording of Khashoggi’s death, the official said.

    Freeland has not heard the recording, but has been briefed on its contents by the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who travelled to Turkey to hear it, said the official.

    Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press



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    National

    Ride-hailing group says B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry

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  • VANCOUVER — A coalition of businesses and interest groups advocating for ride-hailing in British Columbia says legislation introduced yesterday will just create an expanded taxi industry, not the ride-hailing services that customers expect.

    Ian Tostenson of Ridesharing Now for BC says members are “bewildered” that the future of ride-hailing in the province remains uncertain and the government hasn’t committed to a start date for the service.

    Tostenson, who also represents the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says the coalition is especially concerned that the Passenger Transportation Board would have power to limit the number of drivers on the road, where they can drive, and also set rates.

    He says the organization was expecting to see legislation that more closely matched the customer-driven supply and demand model that exists in other jurisdictions.

    Tim Burr of ride-hailing company Lyft says the company sees legislation introduced Monday as a “procedural step forward” but the regulation and rule-making process will come next.

    He says the company is used to rolling up its sleeves to work with legislators and regulators in many jurisdictions and remains committed to working with the B.C. government to bring the service to the province.

    The Canadian Press


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