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Studies under way on oil pipeline to west coast

Science, not politics, will decide the fate of a proposed $6 billion twin pipeline to deliver oil to a British Columbia port for shipment to Asia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

Canada is looking to supply China and Asian countries with some of its vast oil reserves now that the U.S. administration has rejected a proposed pipeline to move Alberta crude to Texas refineries.

The Northern Gateway project would have two pipelines transport Alberta oil sands bitumen about 700 miles to a tanker terminal on the west coast near Kitimat.

Scientific environmental reviews are under way with a deadline of Dec. 31 next year for the assessment to be complete.

The pipeline is "obviously in the vital interests of Canada," Harper said.

The future is "going to be based on commerce with the Asia-Pacific region," he added.

Environmentalists and aboriginal groups are opposed to the plan while British Columbia Premier Christy Clark wants strict environmental protections and a greater share of royalties for the province.

Fewest crimes reported in 40 years

The number of reported crimes in Canada is at the lowest level since 1972, Statistics Canada said.

Fewer crimes were reported to police last year than at any other time in the last 40 years, the government agency reported.

"Since peaking in 1991, the crime rate has generally been decreasing," although there were increases in homicides, sexual offenses against children, impaired driving and drug offenses, it said.

There were 598 murders, an increase of 44, last year in the country of about 35 million people.

News in brief:

• The student protest movement in Quebec is preparing to form picket lines to prevent the reopening of universities this month. Activists say they will receive help from students in other provinces and the United States as they fight the provincial government over plans to raise tuition fees. Riot police broke up a protest by 200 students Wednesday in Montreal.

• Canada's financial situation is improving as the federal budget deficit was cut in half in April and May. The deficit was $832 million compared with $2 billion a year ago, aided by higher revenues, continued economic growth and low borrowing costs.

• An off-duty Michigan police officer has complained to the Herald newspaper in Calgary that he was unable to carry his handgun while visiting the city because of Canada's strict laws. Walt Wawra of Kalamazoo said two men approached him and his wife in a "menacing manner" in a park but there was no trouble. Wawra, who has been mocked on social media over his comments, said everyone should have the right to protect himself with a gun.

Facts and figures:

Canada's jobless rate edged 0.01 percent higher in July to 7.3 percent with the "surprising" loss of 30,400 jobs while average wages rose 3.6 percent from a year ago.

The Canadian dollar remains higher at $1.0083 U.S. while the greenback is worth 99.17 cents Canadian.

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

Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,855 points and the TSX Venture index 1,193 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Aug. 8) 6, 8, 18, 20, 40 and 42; bonus 36. (Aug. 4) 3, 8, 23, 25, 29 and 47; bonus 32. Lotto Max: (Aug. 3) 1, 2, 18, 26, 27, 39 and 42; bonus 33.

Regional briefs:

• Polls show the separatist Parti Quebecois could win a slim majority in the Sept. 4 Quebec election. The Forum Research poll suggests Premier Jean Charest's Liberals could lose eight members with 46 elected. The Coalition Avenir Quebec party could elect 13 members aided by its star candidate, former Montreal police Chief Jacques Duchesneau.

• Demands by the Ontario government to force school teachers to accept a two-year wage freeze could lead to a fall election. Premier Dalton McGuinty threatened to recall the legislature to impose a new contract if an agreement isn't reached by Sept. 1. Should the minority government's bill be defeated by the opposition parties, it would force an election.

• Kavna, Vancouver Aquarium's matriarch beluga whale, which was the inspiration of Raffi Cavoukian's popular children's song Baby Beluga, has died. The white whale that was about 50 years old had been in declining health. She was captured in the wild near Churchill, Manitoba, in 1976.

Jim Fox can be reached at [email protected]

Studies under way on oil pipeline to west coast 08/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 11, 2012 6:13pm]
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