More bad news about Trans Mountain Pipeline

Pipeline costs growing

With the House of Commons adjourned until late September, I will once again be starting one of my favourite activities of the year, my summer listening tour.

This is an extremely important process for me as our Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding is geographically large with a diverse population. Travelling to all areas within this riding and hearing the concerns from local citizens is critically important to the work I do as an MP.

One request I received recently was for an update on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. Since that time, I have had a few other constituents express similar requests, so, as a result I will share that update.

As you may recall, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his government purchased the Trans Mountain Pipeline in 2016 for $4.5 billion from U.S.—based Kinder Morgan. The reason for the purchase was to spend an additional $ 7.4 billion to build the expanded Trans Mountain Pipeline.

The decision was controversial, however, aside from the economic benefits and job creation, Trudeau also promised that “every dollar the federal government earns from this project will be invested in Canada’s clean energy transition.”

Since then, the project has faced several challenges and the construction costs—as well as the estimated timeline for completion—have increased significantly. How significant? Recently the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) reviewed the project and found the construction budget has now ballooned to $21.4 billion and the estimated completion date is not until late in 2023.

The more alarming conclusion from the PBO was, due to the significant increase in costs and increased construction timeline, the Trans Mountain Pipeline is no longer expected to produce any profit for the Government of Canada. In fact, the PBO says that Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project has a net current value of negative $600 million.

In other words, this investment is forecast to lose money for Canadian taxpayers. It also means the promise by Trudeau that every dollar the federal government earns from this project will be invested in Canada’s clean energy transition will not generate (the expected) dollars to fund those projects. It will have the opposite effect, as fewer tax dollars will be available.

My question this week is:

Are you satisfied with how the government has handled the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Troubling allegation in N.S. shooting inquiry

Interference in investigation?

On Wednesday morning of this week many, Canadians awoke to breaking news under the headline: “Top Mountie denies claim she interfered in N.S. shooting investigation".

This, by many accounts, is an alarming news story.

Currently, in Nova Scotia, the Mass Casualty Commission is independently reviewing the events related to the horrific mass shooting in 2020 that claimed the lives of 22 people. As documents are now being released, a particularly noteworthy disclosure was from a Nova Scotia RCMP superintendent.

According to the claim, as reported by the Halifax Examiner, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki “made a promise” to (then) public safety minister Bill Blair and the Prime Minister’s Office to leverage the mass murders of April 18 and 19, 2020 to get a gun control law passed.

That is a very serious allegation that has already resulted in denials from Blair, (now the minister for emergency preparedness), as well as Lucki. Unfortunately, these denials do not explain how the RCMP superintendent would have otherwise been aware the federal government was working on such a political announcement, that was subsequently released 10 days later, using information not publicly available at the time.

What is also interesting is, while the RCMP commissioner denied interfering in the investigation, she did not deny the conversation occurred, nor that she confided to her RCMP colleagues in having made such a promise to the Prime Minister’s Office and the minister of public safety.

That raises the obvious questions of how the promise came to be and why does it matter?

It matters because the police must always be independent of government to secure the public trust. It is critically important that law enforcement cannot be manipulated politically or used in a manner to achieve the political agenda of the prime minister.

In this case it is not a secret that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on changing Canada’s gun laws.

The RCMP commissioner does not deny requesting confidential information at the time (information was being withheld to protect the integrity of the investigation) that ultimately appeared to have been used by Trudeau within 10 days of the troubling events.

I believe this raises some serious questions and concerns and deserves further investigation so Canadians can learn the truth of what happened.

My question this week:

Is this something that concerns you or do you believe the Opposition should move on and focus on other pressing concerns, such as the lack of affordability and rising inflation here in Canada?

That is not to suggest that Opposition parties cannot focus on different topics at one time, but rather how seriously do you see this situation.

I can be reached via email at [email protected]or at 1-800-665-8711.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Proposed federal online streaming act raises concern

Online censorship?

One of the more alarming bills the Liberal/NDP partnership is trying to push through Parliament is Bill C-11, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act and make related and consequential amendments to other acts, also known as the “Online Streaming Act”.

The intent of this bill is to amend the Broadcasting Act so it will also have jurisdiction to regulate online streaming service content.

In practice this sounds simple enough, however in reality defining what is and what is not subject to this bill has raised significant concern.

Industry stakeholders, those who generate online internet content that is both audio and visual in nature, legal and academic experts and many Canadians have all pointed out, quite correctly, almost anything online that has audio and video content could be subject to these new regulations if the bill is passed.

So, what are the proposed rules?

One of the concerns is “legacy” broadcasters have long been required to provide a certain amount of content that is deemed “Canadian” by the CRTC. This is often referred to as "CanCon" and does not currently apply to online service providers. Proposed regulations in Bill C-11 would change that.

This, of course, raises a secondary question: what is “Canadian content”?

A complicated points system is used to determine the answer to that question. For example, in a CanCon production, the producer must be Canadian and is responsible for monitoring and making decisions pertaining to the program. At least one of either the director or screenwriter, and at least one of the two lead performers, must be Canadian. A minimum of 75% of program expenses and 75% of post-production expenses for services must be provided by Canadians or Canadian companies.

The points system is related to all this and it is important to note many of the Hollywood movies and Netflix productions you see filmed in various parts of Canada do not qualify.

Forcing online streaming services to comply with the CanCon requirements could obviously have a severe impact on the B.C. and Canadian film industry.

But Bill C-11 does not end there.
It also proposes to include online streaming services such as YouTube and TikTok and the content posted on those sites.

As many have pointed out, that is content often posted by Canadians and many feel strongly it should not be part of this act.

The heritage minister, responsible for tabling Bill C-11, has denied that is the case. However, the CRTC has confirmed section 4.4 of the bill is clear and it allows it to “prescribe by regulation user uploaded content subject to very explicit criteria.” In other words, this bill gives the CRTC the power to regulate, and potentially censor, online programs or streaming services, as well as social media posts by Canadian users

For example, a Facebook post or a YouTube video may not be featured prominently, or be discoverable at all, under the potential government policy that will be enforced by the CRTC.

These CanCon requirements will be forced onto platforms and online streaming apps.

In response, the platforms will reorganize their algorithms to prioritize how content appears on your streaming app. What shows up on your feed will not necessarily be based on what you like or what your service thinks you will be interested in, but rather what the CanCon requirements decide is best for you.

This concept of the government, through the CRTC, telling your streaming app what is best for you and how content is displayed has many Canadians concerned. That is why this bill has been strongly opposed by many online content creators and others, as it's unknown how these new rules will impact their audiences’ ability to view their content and how it will affect their bottom line.

And it’s not just platforms and Canadian creators who will be affected. The chair of the CRTC has publicly acknowledged individual Canadians' social media posts would be included under the new rules.
A resulting algorithm may change how Canadians share their political views or advance social causes.

Worse, not only are the Liberals using time allocation, which severely limits debate of this legislation in the House of Commons, the NDP have voted for them to do it.

I am reminded of a B.C.-based NDP MP, who two years ago said it was profoundly undemocratic and not really showing respect for Parliament when the Liberals used the same tactics now being supported by the NDP.

For the record, I, and the Conservative Opposition, strongly oppose Bill C-11.

My question this week:

Do you support or oppose Bill C-11 and why?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Federal government could do more to curb inflation

Battling inflation

Almost daily, I hear serious concerns from local residents about the significant impact the current gas and diesel prices are having on many families.

As I reminded government MPs in Ottawa recently, during debate on the Budget Implementation Act, in many parts of our region driving a vehicle is the only way some people can access healthcare and medical appointments or the nearest school.

The high gas and diesel prices also have another negative impact. As I heard from many small and mid-sized business owners, the shipping and transport costs to receive goods have also increased significantly. That, in turn, means prices must be increased at a time when groceries and other items are already under cost pressure due to high inflation rates.

Ultimately, high gasoline and diesel prices have a negative impact on Canadian households and are causing economic harm.

This is why every other G7 nation has a government that is actively implementing measures to try and provide cost relief to their residents on fuel prices as a way to help increase affordability and mitigate inflation.

Unfortunately, here in Canada, the government, supported by the NDP, refuses to take similar action to help Canadians facing these devastating fuel prices.

This week, the Conservatives tabled a motion in the House of Commons that proposed the following measures:

• Temporarily suspending the GST collected on gasoline and diesel

• Suspending the carbon tax

• Eliminating tariffs on fertilizer

• Enabling the free flow of goods across the Canadian border

• Supporting the recovery of the tourism sector

• Protecting the jobs of federally regulated employees by immediately removing all federal COVID restrictions

• Curbing speculation in the housing market by immediately launching a national public inquiry into money laundering.

The motion proposed measures to help increase affordability and help combat inflation, much like other G7 nations are doing. Unfortunately, the government voted the motion down, with the support of the NDP.
I say unfortunately because it is estimated inflation alone will cost the average Canadian an extra $2,000 this year.

While these proposed measures would not address all of that additional cost, they would be a step in the right direction to ensure Canadians keep more of the money they earn in their households by sending less to Ottawa.

My question this week:

Do you believe the federal government should be playing a greater role in trying to increase affordability and at the same time make greater efforts to mitigate inflation?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the official Oppositions's finance critic.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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