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Canada Report: Oil, gas pipeline to be pitched to China

Canada is now looking to Asian countries to market its abundance of oil, natural gas and minerals as plans to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have stalled with the U.S. administration.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will travel to China next month to discuss selling Canada's bounty to the rapidly growing nation.

The preferred initial plan was to build the $7 billion Keystone pipeline to deliver Alberta's oil-sands crude to refineries in Texas on the Gulf of Mexico.

Harper reasoned that the U.S. government would prefer to deal with a friendly neighbor to help meet its energy needs while creating thousands of jobs.

With widespread opposition by U.S. environmentalists, the Obama administration has delayed its decision on the project proposed by energy giant TransCanada Pipelines.

The new plan would market to China and other Asian countries through the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would transport Alberta's oil and natural gas to British Columbia for shipment by tankers.

Environmentalists' concerns about the Gateway project, proposed by Enbridge, are being reviewed at National Energy Board hearings under way in Kitimat, British Columbia.

Pensions to be pared?

The Canadian government is considering spending cuts in public-sector pensions along with reducing department budgets.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said pension reform and other benefits for government workers are being reviewed in preparing the federal budget.

As well, the budgets of some departments could be cut by more than 10 percent, he said during cross-country prebudget consultations.

Economic stimulus initiatives have ended. This is "not the time for dangerous and risky new spending schemes that will increase deficits and raise taxes," Flaherty said.

News in brief

• Not wanting to spend a king's ransom, the government has cut back on the cost to mark Queen Elizabeth II's 60th year on the throne. Diamond Jubilee spending has been trimmed by $1.3 million to $7.5 million, official documents show. Celebrations are to begin across Canada next month. The queen has not announced plans to visit, but Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, will tour the country.

• Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, 29, is in a coma with head injuries in a Salt Lake City hospital after falling while training. Burke, who lobbied to get her sport into the Winter Olympics, was training in Utah for the Winter X Games. Her fall was on the same halfpipe where snowboarder Kevin Pearce of Vermont was critically injured in 2009.

• The Superior Court is allowing a lawsuit by the Ontario government to proceed against tobacco companies. The government wants to recoup $50 billion in health care costs from 14 Canadian, U.S. and British tobacco companies. The suit claims the companies knew about the addictiveness of cigarettes and their health issues and misrepresented the risks.

Facts and figures:

The Canadian dollar is higher at 98.11 cents U.S., while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0193 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 1 percent, while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.

Stock markets are higher with the Toronto exchange index at 12,240 points and the TSX Venture Exchange index at 1,534 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 9, 10, 11, 18, 39 and 45; bonus 23. (Jan. 7) 6, 8, 11, 25, 28 and 45; bonus 7. Lotto Max: (Jan. 6) 1, 2, 8, 13, 22, 45 and 46; bonus 48.

Regional briefs

• Seven Conservatives have been named to the Senate by Harper. This boosted the government party's majority in the nonelected Senate to 61 members, 20 more than the Liberals. It brings the total number of senators appointed by Harper to 48. Appointees are Ottawa police Chief Vern White, Betty Unger of Alberta, Norman Doyle of Newfoundland and Labrador, JoAnne Buth of Manitoba, Ghislain Maltais of Quebec, Dr. Asha Seth of Ontario and Jean-Guy Dagenais of Quebec.

• Ontario's cash-strapped Liberal government has scrapped $42 million in university research grants. That happened days before it enacted an election promise — a 30 percent tuition rebate for undergraduate university and college students. Citing "current fiscal challenges," the province killed key parts of the Ontario Research Fund aimed at "supporting scientific excellence to boost economic growth."

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Canada Report: Oil, gas pipeline to be pitched to China 01/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 14, 2012 7:35pm]

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