Court rules B.C. can’t limit oil shipments in major blow for pipeline fight

By Laura Kane

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER _ British Columbia lost the largest tool in its toolbox to halt the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion with a court decision Friday that concluded it can’t restrict oil shipments through its borders.

The unanimous ruling from the B.C. Court of Appeal represented a major win for the project, which the federal government and Alberta see as crucial to getting more oilsands crude to overseas markets.

B.C.’s minority NDP government, which took power on a promise to use every tool available to stop the expansion, swiftly announced plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Our government said from the outset that we would stand up for British Columbia’s environment, our economy and our coast,” said Attorney General David Eby.  “Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity would be put at risk by a diluted bitumen spill.”

The province filed a constitutional reference question to the Appeal Court that asked whether it had the authority to create a permitting regime for companies that wished to increase their flow of diluted bitumen.

A five-judge panel agreed that the amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act were not constitutional because they would interfere with the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.

Justice Mary Newbury wrote on behalf of the panel that the overall aim of the proposed amendments was to place conditions on and, if necessary, prohibit the movement of heavy oil through a federal undertaking.

Newbury also wrote that the legislation is not just a general environmental law, but is targeted at one substance in one interprovincial pipeline: the Trans Mountain expansion project.

“Immediately upon coming into force, it would prohibit the operation of the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline in the province until such time as a provincially appointed official decided otherwise,” she said.

“This alone threatens to usurp the role of the (National Energy Board), which has made many rulings and imposed many conditions to be complied with by Trans Mountain for the protection of the environment.”

The energy board is the body entrusted with regulating the flow of resources across Canada to export markets, Newbury wrote.

B.C. argued that the proposed amendments were meant to protect its environment from a hazardous substance, while the federal government and Alberta said the goal was to block Trans Mountain.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the decision is an occasion for “real hope” for hard-working people and the project will allow his province to realize a fair price for its resources and create new jobs.

“In light of the court’s decision, we hope that the B.C. government will respect the rule of law and end its campaign of obstruction,” he said.

Kenney also said the expansion could provide much-needed relief at B.C. pumps. Premier John Horgan has disputed that the project would ease sky-high gas prices, noting its purpose is to transport heavy oil for shipment overseas.

Trans Mountain Corp. said it agreed that the legislation was unconstitutional and it shares the value that Canadians and B.C. residents place on the environment.

Eby said his government originally asked Canada to join it in a reference case before the Supreme Court. The federal government declined, so B.C. had to first file its case with the provincial Appeal Court, he said.

The Supreme Court of Canada automatically hears provincial reference questions. Eby said the top court has overturned unanimous B.C. Appeal Court judgments in the past and the cost of pursuing the case was worth it.

“It is a fraction of a fraction of the cost of a diluted bitumen spill,” he said.

Saskatchewan, Enbridge Inc. and the Canadian Association of Oil Producers argued in court against B.C.’s proposed permit regime, while some First Nations, cities and environmental groups supported it.

The Haida and Heiltsuk Nations said the decision was a missed opportunity for reconciliation because it failed to acknowledge their arguments about the role of Indigenous governments in environmental protection.

Heiltsuk Chief Coun. Marilyn Slett called the ruling  “offensive and irresponsible.”

“It is unacceptable that despite being granted interested party status, the court failed to even acknowledge ours or any other Indigenous governments’ arguments in its decision. They invited us into the room, but they completely ignored us,” she said in a statement.

Lawyer Kegan Pepper-Smith represented Ecojustice in the case and said the decision leaves B.C., its communities and environment exposed to a potentially disastrous spill.

There is still plenty the B.C. government could do to stop the Trans Mountain expansion, such as adding conditions to its provincial environmental certificate, said Peter McCartney, a climate campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.

The proposed amendments would have meant that Trans Mountain Corp. and any other company wishing to increase the amount of heavy oil it transported through B.C. would have had to apply for a “hazardous substance permit.”

The permit application would have had to detail the risks to human health and the environment from a spill plans to mitigate those risks and financial measures, including insurance, that ensured payment of cleanup costs.

A provincial public servant would have had the authority to impose conditions on a hazardous substance permit and cancel or suspend the permit if the company did not comply.

B.C. announced the amendments last year, prompting then-Alberta premier Rachel Notley to ban B.C. wines. After Horgan promised to file a reference case asking whether the amendments were constitutional, Notley cancelled the wine ban.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion. Construction was paused last August after the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the federal permits.

The project would triple the pipeline’s capacity to carry diluted bitumen from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver and increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

New Data Highlighting the Behavioural Impact of the #MeToo Movement

Press Release:

To mark International Women’s Day, Plan International Canada today released new survey data highlighting the significant impact of the #MeToo movement on changing behaviours and perceptions related to gender in Canada.

Of 3,000 respondents surveyed from across the country, nearly half said they believe social movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up are paving the way for real gender equality. Two-thirds of men and women agree that these movements are empowering females and that they are causing men to re-evaluate how they interact with women. Thirty-one percent of respondents say the movements have changed how they think about sexual assault.

“These findings demonstrate the powerful force that women’s and girls’ voices are for creating meaningful change in attitudes towards gender here in Canada,” says Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO of Plan International Canada. “We must persist so that this momentum can continue and the impact can be felt far beyond our borders. Women and girls are the world’s most vulnerable population; globally we must help amplify their voices and, importantly, listen to their stories.”

On March 8, Plan International Canada is asking people to mark International Women’s Day by using #WeMust on social media to share what #WeMust do collectively and as individuals in Canada and around the world to strengthen the gender movement and propel it forward.

Key Findings

The survey results found that recent social movements, including #MeToo, are changing attitudes and behaviours around gender relations rapidly.

  • Two-thirds of men (64 per cent) and women (70 per cent) in Canada agree that #MeToo and Time’s Up are empowering women and girls to share their experiences;
  • Sixty-seven per cent of men and 69 per cent of women believe the movements are causing men to re-evaluate how they interact with women;
  • Nearly half (47 per cent) of survey respondents say the movements have created a positive impact on workplaces and schools, with 46 per cent saying this is paving the way for real gender equality;
  • One-third of Canadians (32 per cent) say the way they think about male-female power relations has changed because of the movements;
  • Thirty-one per cent say the movements have changed how they think about sexual assault.

Riseboro points to some of the survey’s other findings, which show the size of the gender gap in Canada. Women are twice as likely as men (29 per cent versus 16 per cent) to have felt discouraged from applying for a job or a promotion because of their gender, and four in 10 women (44 per cent) say that they have had to change their behaviour to appear more authoritative in the workplace. She also cites the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap report that ranks Canada behind 15 other countries when it comes to gender equality.

Plan International Canada has applauded the federal government for the gender responsive budget it tabled last week, but Riseboro says it will take more than policies and regulations to truly make a difference.

“Gender equality and inclusion policies are important, but they are focused on the symptoms of the issue. At the root of the problem is the culture we live in, where power, silence and inequality are deeply intertwined. We will not move the needle significantly on gender equality until we examine our culture and our deeply held beliefs,” she says.

That fundamental cultural and behavioural change must be a shared global effort. In its domestic and international work, Plan International Canada engages all genders in the work of girls’ rights and gender equality.

“We must work together to tackle cultural obstacles and defeat harmful stereotypes, especially those that affect girls,” says Riseboro. “So many of the important decisions and experiences that will shape a girl’s adulthood can happen before her 18th birthday, whether it’s what she studies or being forced into early marriage.”

About the Plan International Canada Survey
Plan International Canada partnered with Hill+Knowlton Strategies to conduct an online survey among a total of 3,000 adults from February 16-23, 2018. Of those, two-thirds of respondents were women and one-third were men. All respondents resided in Canada.

About Plan International Canada and the Because I am a Girl initiative
Founded in 1937, Plan International is one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan International strives for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Because I am a Girl is Plan International’s global movement to transform power relations so that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.

Visit plancanada.ca and becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.

SOURCE Plan International Canada

The not so golden years – 1 in 4 Canadian retirees living with debt

A worry-free retirement may be a thing of the past as Canadians struggle to manage debt. From living with a mortgage to unpaid credit cards, retirees can find themselves facing financial challenges in their golden years.The Sun Life Financial Barometer, a new national survey, found that one-in-four (25%) retirees are facing such challenges and living with debt.

  • 66% have unpaid credit cards;
  • 26% are making car payments;
  • 7% have unpaid health expenses;
  • 7% owe money on holiday expenses or vacation property; and
  • 6% haven’t paid off home renovations.

“Through our national survey, we took a moment to check-in with Canadians and gauge how they are stacking up when it comes to their finances,” said Jacques Goulet, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. “From credit card debt to a mortgage, retirees are faced with a list of expenses in life after work. We recognize that managing finances can be overwhelming, particularly for those who are no longer working. Seeking sound advice and working with a financial advisor can help you reach your goals.”

At the same time retirees face lingering debt, almost one-quarter (24%) of working Canadians are dipping into their retirement savings. Canadians pulled cash for the following reasons:

  • 63% did so because they needed to (e.g., health expenses, debt repayment);
  • 24% as part of the First Time Home Buyers’ Plan; and
  • 13% because they wanted to (e.g., vacation, car purchase).

“Our survey results highlight the importance of getting ready for retirement,” explains Tom Reid, Senior Vice-President, Group Retirement Services, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Although it can seem far away, retirement creeps up faster than you think – building a financial plan and making meaningful contributions will pay off in the long run. There are helpful tools and resources you can tap into to get on the right track to building the income you want and need to retire.”

The following tips can help Canadians save for a bright retirement:

  1. Start now. Begin saving and investing as early as possible to set yourself up for success.
  2. Don’t leave money on the table. If your employer offers a pension plan and will match your contributions, contribute the maximum amount possible.
  3. Invest wisely. If you do not have access to a defined contribution plan, RRSPs and TFSAs are other great vehicles to consider.
  4. Have a plan and stick to it. It’s never too late to build a financial plan that will get you where you want to be.
  5. Seek valuable advice. A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan, set achievable goals, and guide you through each life stage.

Ready to get started? Find a Sun Life Financial advisor who can support you on your journey to achieve a lifetime of financial security and well-being.

Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies.

About the survey
The Sun Life Financial Barometer is based on findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between October 13 and October 19, 2017. A sample of 2,900 Canadians was drawn from the Ipsos I-Say online panel: 2,900 Canadians from 20 to 80 years of age. The data for Canadians surveyed was weighted to ensure the sample’s regional, age, and gender composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population.

The precision of Ipsos online poll is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 2.1% at 95% confidence level had all Canadian adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to methodological change, coverage error and measurement error.

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life Financial has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canadathe United States, the United KingdomIrelandHong Kongthe PhilippinesJapanIndonesiaIndiaChinaAustraliaSingaporeVietnamMalaysia and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2017, Sun Life Financial had total assets under management (“AUM”) of $975 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Note to Editors: All figures in Canadian dollars except as otherwise noted. 

Media Relations Contact:
Kim Armstrong
Manager, Media & PR
Corporate Communications
T. 416-979-6207
kim.armstrong@sunlife.com

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Canada

Manulife posts $1.6 billion fourth quarter net loss on $2.8 billion in charges

TORONTO _ Manulife Financial Corp. says a $2.8-billion post-tax charge related to U.S. tax reform and a decision to change its portfolio asset mix resulted in a $1.6 billion or 83 cents per diluted share net loss in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The company earned a net profit of $63 million or a penny per share in the year-earlier period, in which it declared a $1.2-billion charge related to the direct impact of markets.

Manulife CEO Roy Gori says the tax change that hit net income in the most recent quarter will benefit the company in the future, adding Manulife is “fully committed” to transforming its business to become a digital leader with stronger customer focus.

The financial services and insurance company says its quarterly dividend is being increased by seven per cent to 22 cents per common share from 20.5 cents.

It says earnings before special charges in the fourth quarter were $1.20 billion or 59 cents per share, down six per cent from $1.29 billion or 63 cents per share in the same period of 2016, due to lower investment gains, offset by strong growth in Asia business.

For the year, Manulife says it had net earnings of $2.1 billion or 98 cents per share, compared with $2.9 billion or $1.41 per share in 2016.

It says its core earnings before charges for 2017 were $4.56 billion or $2.22 per share, up from $4.02 billion or $1.96 per share in 2016.

Because you won’t live forever.

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