Showing posts from July, 2012

SaskOil from Saskatchewan government owned to Chinese government owned

SaskOil began as a provincially owned Saskatchewan corporation in 1973. Privatization began in 1986. Eventually SaskOil assets became Canadian Occidental Energy (CanOxy) and finally Nexen in 2000. Chinese state owned CNOOC bought Nexen in July 2012.

 Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Corporation or SaskOIl as it was commonly called was created by the New Democratic provincial government of Allan Blakeney in 1973. Blakeney also created a crown corporation in the potash industry. In spite of Blakeney's pursuit of government ownership in oil and potash development Blakeney's leadership of the party was regarded as a victory for the establishment against the Waffle Group within the NDP who were campaigning for an independent socialist Canada. The Waffle group even had their own manifesto the Waffle Manifesto.

 The Blakeney government saw SaskOil as a means to facilitate government investment in Saskatchewan's oil and gas resources. The increase in oil prices in the period also encourag…

Canadian oil firm Nexen accepts takeover bid of over 15 billion U.S. from Chinese oil firm

Calgary based oil producer Nexen approved a takeover bid of $15.1 billion U.S. by Chinese state-owned oil producer CNOOC Ltd. The price per share would be $27.50 a full two thirds higher than the average price over the last twenty days. Nexen is the 12th largest energy producer in Canada with an output of about 213,000 a barrel oil equivalent per day. Nevertheless the company has not been doing that well of late. 
The company has a global presence. North Sea production has just been hit by a new UK tax. Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was delayed by the huge BP oil leak. It was also forced to abandon a project in Yemen. Even in Canada at Long Lake planned output has not been reached. In the second quarter net income for Nexen fell to only $109 million, a decline larger than analysts predicted. The company earned just 20 cents a share in the second quarter down form a year earlier. Never mind the gloom, China needs oil and is willing to pay a premium price to guarantee a secure source o…

As demand for ice cream increases Baskin-Robbins closes Ontario factory

Because of the hot summer in parts of  Canada and the U.S Baskin Robbins ice cream sales have been soaring. However the company has decided it will lay off 80 workers in spite of the increased demand.
    Baskin-Robbins had $1.8 billion sales from 6,777 outlets spread around the world. In this first quarter of this year sales before the heat wave sales jumped by 9.4 per cent.
    The factory to be closed in Peterborough is the last place in North America at least where the company actually makes what it sells. The 80 workers at the plant provided products for about 1400 outlets outside of the U.S. including 113 stores in Canada.
    Production will now be moved to third party suppliers. Canadian supplies will come from Scotsburn Dairy  in the province of  Nova Scotia. However, much of what was produced in Peterborough will be produced in El Paso Texas. The Peterborough plant was unionized but only 5.3 per cent of worker in Texas are unionized. Texas is a right to work state with…

Protecting the U.S. from a Canadian Kinder Surprise

Kinder Surprise eggs are a chocolate-coated egg confection but inside they also contain a toy, the surprise. The eggs are banned from the U.S. The U.S. bans the eggs because of the "non-nutritive object" in the center. This is regarded as a choking hazard.
      Brandon Loo and Christopher Sweeney were bringing back the eggs for Canadian friends in the U.S. since they were not on sale in the U.S. Not only are they not on sale, there is a fine of up to $2,500 for bringing them into the U.S.
      The two were detained for two and a half hours explaining that they were not engaged in running illegal chocolate across the border for gain. In 2011 alone the U.S. Customs and Border control had confiscated 60,000 Kinder Surprise eggs.
       Surely they should ship these back to Canada to be distributed to under-privileged children. Most likely their destination is the dump or they are destroyed in some manner.
   The eggs were invented in Italy but are quite popular in Germ…

Parts of Central and Eastern Canada suffering drought conditions

As in the U.S. there are parts of  Canada that are experiencing drought conditions. David Philips a Canadian climatologist said that there no question it was a drought and on top of  that in many places there is a heat wave as well.  Record temperatures have been set in Ontario, Quebec as well as the Atlantic provinces.
    A farmer in Simcoe Ontario said that his yields would be half of normal. He said that not only will he feel the pain but as supplies dwindle prices we increase and hurt the consumer as well.
   Quebec apple farmers are also expecting reduced yields, about a 15 per cent decrease from last year. As in the U.S. corn is also hard hit by the lack of rain. During the past few weeks the price of corn has gone about 30 per cent. However if good rains come within the next two weeks the situation will be much improved.
  Apple growers in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia have been dealing with 30 degree temperatures (Celsius) for almost a week. Irrigation ponds are becomi…

Canada: Toronto Dominion Bank closes accounts of some Iranian-Canadians

A number of  Iranian-Canadians are distressed that the Toronto Dominion bank closed their accounts with little notice or explanation. The bank began sending letters to some of its clients last May indicating that because of  changes to the Special Economic Measures (Iran) the bank would no longer offer them banking services.
   In one letter the bank wrote: "A recent review has identified you as a person TD is restricted from providing financial services to, from, or for the benefit of under these new regulations," Recipient of the letter Soudeh Ghassemi of Toronto said she was shocked when she received the letter. She says she does not send any money to Iran at all. Her father also received a similar letter with respect to his mortgage and his line of credit. Her father did receive some money for a down payment on a house before the sanctions came into place.
    The Iranian Canadian Congress held a meeting in Toronto to discuss the issue. Sixty to seventy people attended…

Wheel-chair bound man wins case against Montreal restaurant

Montreal - Michel Larochelle filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal after a waiter told him his service dog must leave the restaurant. The dog helps Larochelle to push his wheelchair up ramps and hills.
 In August 2009 Michelle Larochette went with a friend and Larochette's service dog Cici to the Caverne Grecque restaurant in Montreal. The waiter said that Cici could not enter the restaurant but must stay on the sidewalk. Cici helps Larochette negotiate hills and ramps as he has a manual wheel chair. Larochelle has been using the services of dogs from the MIRA foundation in Montreal since 1992.
 According to Larochelle the waiter argued that Cici would disturb other clients even though Cici was lying under the table where they were sitting and there were few clients on the terrace. Larochelle threatened to file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission but the waiter still would not serve them while Cici was under the table.
 The Quebec Human Rights Co…

Canada silences short wave broadcasting

For 67 years Radio Canada International broadcast short wave programming around the world. The transmission  from Sackville New Brunswick has now been shut down. Radio Canada International has had its budget cut by 80 per cent and has been reduced to a few staff and a weak web presence.
 As with vinyl records no doubt many think shortwave radio a thing of the past. Yet there are still many strong stations. It is not expensive to provide. Many church groups use it.
 Unlike the Internet which can often be disrupted short wave signals cannot easily be jammed. Many in the world just have no access to phones or electricity let alone the Internet. However battery and hand-cranked short wave radios are ubiquitous.
  In spite of  the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation being a prominent presence in Canada, Canada is just
16th of 18 countries in per capita spending on public broadcasting. Only the U.S. and New Zealand spend less. Conservatives are supposed to respect and encourage tradition. Ho…

Harper seems to be stalling on repatriating Omar Khadr

The Khadr family have long been associated with Al Qaeda and the Canadian family are far from popular in Canada. Unlike other countries the Canadian government has done nothing to have Omar Khadr repatriated from Guantanamo. They sat back and let someone who was a child soldier when captured by the U.S. in 20002 in a firefight in Afghanistan stay in Guantanamo for a decade now. In fact the Canadian government said nothing about his treatment that included what amounted to torture nor the fact that he was tried by a military tribunal.
   Although he and his comrades were under attack Khadr was charged with throwing a grenade and killing an American soldier, The U.S. justifies holding Khadr and others indefinitely because there is a state of active hostilities between the U.S. and terrorist linked groups. Of course Obama does not call this the war on terror as Bush did but the legal justification is the same. Usually in such armed conflicts fighters on both sides would not be charged w…

Canada: Manitoba Highway closed by giant sinkhole

A sinkhole 200 meters wide and more than five meters deep has closed Manitoba Highway 83 near Asessippi Provincial Park. Recent heavy rainfall may be responsible for the hole caused by an underground slide.
    The area has had problems for some time however from underground springs  that cause erosion. The highway is constantly being repaired. A dip will be filled in paved and then it starts to sink again. However this time the huge hole made the highway impassable.
   The hole was continuing to sink as of  Tuesday. Infrastructure and Transportation Department geotechnical experts are on site to determine the extent of the slide. The highway is closed from the park valley to the town of Roblin. However there is a detour and local traffic can still use other parts of the highway. No one knows when the highway can be reopened. For more see this article. The site if a little more than a half hour drive from where we live.


Ontario Hydro crews help out restore power in U.S.

200 Hydro One crews members from Ontario Canada will help restore power in Baltimore,, Virginia, and the Washington DC area. The disastrous storms killed 22 people and power to three million homes is knocked out.

There are still almost 1.8 million people who do not have electricity as crews battle to clear downed trees and restore lines. Hydro One has an agreement with North American utilities to help out when there are emergencies of this type. In February of 2010 Hydro One helped out in Vermont and int Sept. 2008 in Ohio. U.S. officials fear that the death toll could climb as citizens face hearing heat without power for air conditioners.

Body of Nunavut community mayor finally found

Nunavut is a far northern area of Canada formed in 1999 from part of the Northwest Territories. It is about the size of western Europe but has a population of less than 32,000 people.

Jamesie Kootoo was the mayor of the small village of Kimmirut. Last November 26 he went hunting for a day but never returned. Community members started an exhaustive search but in the winter the weather often prevents searches and after several weeks search efforts were stopped until Spring.

The body was finally found about 50 kilometers north of the village near a large lake. He will be buried next week. Cause of death was not listed but I expect he froze to death. For more see this article. Some traditionalists have noted that snowmobiles can break down and leave a rider stranded while sled dogs are more reliable.