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Deep freeze offers only cold comfort for natural gas producing firms

CALGARY — Analysts say the cold snap that continues to blanket many parts of North America is driving short-term natural gas prices higher but the trend is unlikely to significantly affect either Canadian consumer bills or producer profits. Cold weather typically increases demand for the home heating fuel, which draws down storage levels and pushes prices higher, but the affect...

Crude awakenings: stabilizing oil unlikely to improve the TSX’s performance in 2018

TORONTO — While stabilizing oil prices helped Canadian equities break out of their doldrums in the second half of 2017, investors expecting the Toronto Stock Exchange to catch up with its outperforming global peers in the new year should instead anticipate more modest returns with the add-on of greater market volatility. "Despite being flat in the early part of the...

Crude awakenings: stabilizing oil unlikely to improve the TSX’s performance in 2018

TORONTO — While stabilizing oil prices helped Canadian equities break out of their doldrums in the second half of 2017, investors expecting the Toronto Stock Exchange to catch up with its outperforming global peers in the new year should instead anticipate more modest returns with the add-on of greater market volatility. "Despite being flat in the early part of the...

Alberta carbon tax jumps, but NDP says it’s connected to improving economy

EDMONTON — Alberta's carbon tax jumped on New Year's Day, but the province's NDP government maintains the tax played a vital role in Alberta's improving economic outlook. Deputy premier Sarah Hoffman told reporters there was a clear link between the approval of several pipelines last year and the tax that Alberta first introduced on carbon on January 1, 2017. Hoffman noted...

Canadian IPOs rebounded in 2017, generating $5.1 billion in proceeds, PwC says

MONTREAL — PricewaterhouseCoopers says a resurgence in the mining sector in the final months of 2017 pushed total proceeds from initial public offerings in Canada to $5.1 billion last year, up from $466.7 million in 2016. There were 38 issues from Canadian companies or companies listing on Canadian exchanges in 2017. That included 13 in the fourth quarter, which raised a total...

Suncor operations cease at base plant after ‘process upset’ knocks out power

CALGARY — Suncor Energy Inc. says operations have ceased at its oilsands base plant near Fort McMurray, Alta., after a temporary power loss Wednesday afternoon. Company spokesperson Erin Rees would only describe the cause of the power loss as a "process upset" but says power was restored as of Wednesday night. Rees says she cannot provide more detail because it's a "day to day operational issue." She says the incident does not...

Federal Court judge finds Packers Plus fracking technology patent is invalid

CALGARY — A Canadian court is declaring invalid the patent for a fracking technology held by Calgary-based Packers Plus Energy Services Inc. The Federal Court of Canada says the company's patent granted in 2002 isn't valid because it was an "obvious" improvement on existing systems which had been publicly disclosed before the patent application was filed.  The decision has sweeping implications for the oil and gas industry because variations of the technology...

Draft policy: Alberta United Conservatives eye flat tax, private health delivery

EDMONTON — Alberta's governing NDP says draft policy ideas put forward by the Opposition United Conservatives are risky and would benefit the wealthy — but the new party calls that baseless fearmongering. Finance Minister Joe Ceci says a proposal to return to a flat personal income tax rate would take $700 million out of revenue for the benefit of the highest-income earners. "This is a...

New U.S. refining demand expected to spur Canadian heavy oil demand in 2018

CALGARY — A new forecast from Deloitte says demand for Canadian heavy oil will likely rise this year as shrinking volumes from Mexico and Venezuela open new opportunities to sell to U.S. refineries. The accounting and consulting firm says the demand surge will work to overcome recently steeper price discounts received by Canadian producers due to pipeline outages that have stretched tight export transportation capacity. The report forecasts the...

Supporters of controversial sunken B.C. ship bouyed by fishy visitors

VANCOUVER — Officials with the Artificial Reef Society of B.C. say the sea floor is adapting well six months after the sinking of a decommissioned Canadian warship in Howe Sound, north of Vancouver.

HMCS Annapolis went down amid controversy in Halkett Bay off Gambier Island in April, ending years of legal battles from critics who argued paint on the ship's hull contained toxic chemicals.

Howard Robbins, the president of the artificial reef society, says those worries appear unfounded and the ship is living up to its environmental goal.

Rockfish stocks have been declining in Georgia Strait, but Robbins says some of the small, spiny fish have already been spotted nosing around the Annapolis. 

He says the old ship is also becoming increasingly popular with divers, closing the loop on a circle route for scuba fans that includes the HMCS Chaudiere in Sechelt Inlet, and several ships near Nanaimo.

In all, the artificial reef society has sunk seven vessels in B.C. waters. (CKAY)

The Canadian Press

Pacquiao could face disciplinary action for not disclosing shoulder injury

LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao could face disciplinary action from Nevada boxing officials for failing to disclose a shoulder injury before his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Nevada Athletic Commission chairman Francisco Aguilar said Monday that the state attorney general's office will look at why Pacquiao checked "no" a day before the fight on a commission questionnaire asking if he...

Ryan McDonagh scores in overtime, Rangers beat Capitals 2-1 in Game 5 to stay alive

NEW YORK — Ryan McDonagh scored 9:37 into overtime and the New York Rangers kept their Stanley Cup hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal. Chris Kreider breathed life into the Presidents' Trophy winners by scoring with 1:41 left in regulation to force the overtime. The Capitals...

Don’t want extraordinary measures in end-of-life care? Do some advance planning

TORONTO — A family member or friend is drawing up a living will and asks you to be their substitute decision maker. If you watch TV medical dramas you may have only a partial picture of the decisions you could face should your loved one become unable to direct his or her medical care. Living wills often stipulate that...

One winning ticket for $35-million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 6-49

TORONTO — There was one winning ticket for the $35-million jackpot in Saturday's Lotto 6-49 draw. Officials say it was sold in Toronto. The next Lotto 6-49 draw on Wednesday will have a jackpot worth an estimated $5 million.

Many protesters flattering themselves if they think CSIS is watching: former spy

OTTAWA — Many demonstrators are flattering themselves when they publicly fret about coming under the scrutiny of security services, says a former spymaster. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service had the resources to monitor only those threats "in the red, high-risk, high-probability zone" when he served as the agency's assistant director of intelligence earlier this decade, Ray Boisvert said Thursday. "That meant...

Federal advisers slammed initial design for anti-communism monument

OTTAWA — A federal advisory panel lambasted an early, sombre design for a national memorial to the victims of communism as potentially "detrimental to the dignity" of nearby Parliament Hill, newly released documents show.

The National Capital Commission's advisory committee on planning, design and realty also had concerns last year about the project's price tag, "negative symbolism" and structural safety, particularly in the slippery Ottawa winters, the internal records reveal.

Other documents disclosed under the Access to Information Act say the projected cost of the memorial — to be covered by federal and private funds — had almost doubled to about $6 million by January of this year.

The records help explain why the commission unveiled plans in May for a redesigned and significantly smaller version of the memorial. The commission is expected to consider a final design in November, after the federal election.

The Conservative government has strongly backed the planned memorial as a means of recognizing the more than 100 million people around the globe who died or suffered under communist regimes. The government is managing the project on behalf of Tribute to Liberty, a charity established in 2008.

The initiative has drawn fierce criticism from critics who object to the memorial's stark design and location on a patch of green in the parliamentary precinct long reserved for a new Federal Court building.   

A lawsuit aimed at blocking the project has been placed on hold until after the final design has been approved.

It was well-known that the federal advisory committee, composed of leading architects and planners from across Canada, had concerns about the memorial. But the newly released minutes of the committee's Aug. 21 and 22, 2014, meetings reveal disdain for the entry that would later be selected as the winner by a jury.

The design by Toronto-based Abstrakt Studio Architecture features a series of angular peaks, or "memory folds," with more than 100 million pixel-like "memory squares" — each representing a person — covering the exterior face of the folds. The initial idea was to have the folds depict a mural of dead bodies when viewed from a distance. The design also includes a Bridge of Hope and elevated viewing platform.

The members praised the plan to depict individuals as "a strong gesture" and said the overall concept "makes a statement." But they also considered the design:

— Well over budget;

— Replete with negative symbolism that could be misinterpreted as offering no hope, and be detrimental to the dignity of Parliament Hill;

— A statement of negativity, since the images of corpses would be seen from many vantage points in the capital;

— Problematic to build in that subtleties would be lost in the execution;

— To pose safety and accessibility issues, including slippery surfaces in winter;  

— Too similar to a planned national Holocaust monument.

The committee also worried the Bridge of Hope would offer a less-than-inspiring view of a heating plant and felt a planned "aggressive lighting scheme" would alter the Parliament Hill landscape.

The National Capital Commission cited ongoing input from the advisory committee in late June when it outlined several changes to the winning design.

The memorial would now occupy just over one-third of the site — not 60 per cent — and its overall height had dropped by about half to approximately five metres.

The new plan also included more attention to landscaping, additional trees, nuanced lighting and better access for the disabled. In addition, it emphasized the theme of Canada "as a land of refuge" in the memorial’s imagery and message.

Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Two cases of illness in Canada possibly linked to Listeria outbreak in U.S.

OTTAWA — Canadian officials are investigating whether caramel apples potentially linked to a Listeria outbreak in the U.S. may have been imported into Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada says there are two cases of listeriosis — one in Ontario and one in Manitoba — with the same genetic fingerprint seen in the U.S. investigation. The agency says the status...

Report: Steelers safety Troy Polamalu retiring after stellar 12-year career

UNIONTOWN, Pa. — Troy Polamalu's iconic football career is over. The Uniontown Herald-Standard reported Thursday night that the eight-time Pro Bowl safety told Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney he will retire rather than return for a 13th season. "Maybe it was a sign for me to retire when I chase my kids around and couldn't catch them," Polamalu told the newspaper....
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