Jason Kenney Is Now Premier-Designate Of Alberta. What Does That Mean For The Trans Mountain Pipeline? (ANALYSIS)

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lost an ally in Rachel Notley Tuesday evening, but he gained an opportunity to rebrand himself on a file on which he’s lost much credibility.

Over the past year, Trudeau has been pummelled by critics who feel his mantra of the environment and the economy going hand in hand is a slogan and nothing more.

The Liberal government’s decision to spend $4.5 billion on a pipeline and another $7.4 billion to triple the flow of bitumen to the West Coast enraged progressives and environmentalists last summer.

In the fall, a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested Canada’s objectives are far from what’s needed to stop the planet from catastrophically heating up, bringing along with it deaths, migration challenges, and species extinction. And earlier this month, Canada’s environment commissioner, Julie Gelfand, made it clear that the Trudeau government is not doing enough to even meet its unambitious Stephen Harper-era targets and greater action is needed.

On the other side of the issue, Conservative premiers are fighting Trudeau’s carbon price, and their supporters are enraged by what they perceive to be federal action aimed at limiting future oil and gas projects through measures such as Bill C-69.

In short, nobody is happy with Trudeau’s climate compromise.

Back in 2016, when the prime minister personally announced that the government was giving the Trans Mountain project the green light, Trudeau went out of his way to credit Notley for his decision.

“Let me say this definitively. We could not have approved this project without the leadership of Premier Notley and Alberta’s climate leadership plan, a plan that commits to pricing carbon and capping oil sands emissions at 100 megatonnes per year.”

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna also noted the “leadership of the Notley government” and stressed that the 100 megatonne cap was built into the federal Liberals’ climate plan and would lead to the “right approach to manage the growth of the oil sands.”

On the campaign trail, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney has attacked his political rival for her close relationship with Trudeau.

“I think the biggest mistake that Premier Notley made was her alliance with Justin Trudeau. We are paying the price for that, for this job crisis and the failure of getting the pipeline built,” the UCP leader said.

The feud between Notley and British Columbia Premier John Horgan over the Trans Mountain expansion project is what led the federal Liberals to buy the pipeline.

Last April, when the two NDP premiers were threatening each other with ultimatums and the federal government was exploring its options, Trudeau held a press conference to declare the pipeline to be in the national interest. Having, in his words, put in place “the most rigorous set of environmental standards, ocean protection and coastline protection in the world,” Trudeau pledged of the pipeline: “It will be built.”

“… My commitment was to demonstrate to Canadians that we can grow the economy and protect the environment together. That’s exactly what we’re doing, and we’re simply demonstrating the resolve to actually deliver on that promise to Canadians,” he said.

Since then, Trudeau bought a pipeline. He saw his (and Notley’s) plan take a setback with what sources say was an unexpected decision by the Federal Court of Appeal to quash the project’s approval. But the National Energy Board’s reconsidered report, released in February, once again gave the project the OK. It also gave the Trudeau cabinet 90 days to make a decision.

Watch: Trudeau says Canadians should look at the big picture on Trans Mountain

Notley has been adamant she believes her partners in Ottawa will give the project the green light in May and that shovels will be in the ground this fall.

“I’m willing to bet my political future on it,” the NDP leader has said.

While the NDP premier’s rhetoric hasn’t shown it in recent months, Notley’s and Trudeau’s offices worked well with each other, and their interests were aligned on multiple fronts. On climate change mitigation and pipeline expansion, they sang from the same song book. Her willingness to act — albeit, perhaps, far from what some environmentalists desired — gave Trudeau political cover to say ‘yes’ to the Trans Mountain project.

With Kenney, Trudeau doesn’t have that luxury. The UCP leader has said he will scrap Notley’s 100-megatonne cap on oil sands emissions, let coal power plants operate past 2030, and rollback much of Notley’s carbon emission pricing plan.

Trudeau now has the opportunity to walk his talk. He can say no to Kenney.

No strict environmental plan, no pipeline. That was the bargain Trudeau sold to Canadians.

During a visit to Kitchener, Ont., on Tuesday, Trudeau was asked whether he worries about the future of his climate plan with a likely UCP victory. The prime minister left the door open to two possible courses of action.

When Albertans face difficult times, he said, “all of Canada will be there for them. That is going to continue.” But almost in the same breath, he also said he thinks it is “impossible in the 21st century, to have a plan for the economy, without having a plan for the environment. It just can’t happen.”

As the federal Liberals head towards the federal election campaign, there are two serious knocks against the prime minister in constituencies he plans to court again for support.

Many New Democrats, Greens, progressive voters, B.C. voters, Quebec voters, younger voters, chose to cast a ballot in 2015 for a leader they thought would act on climate change and someone they believed would keep his word.

Many now believe, however, that Trudeau has turned out to be the same type of opportunistic politician they were used to. Yes, he put a price on carbon but he approved, bought, and plans to build a pipeline. He lied about electoral reform, although he had enough honesty to admit later that he made the promise planning to support only one recommendation (a preferential ballot). The prime minister may also have lied about his office’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin file (time will tell, perhaps).

So, as Trudeau tries to rebuild the coalition that gave him a majority government, he needs to convince voters that he’s not a liar, that he means what he says, and that he’s not a fake environmentalist.

Here’s his opportunity to plant his flag.

Federal Government Extends Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Deadline To June

OTTAWA — The federal government says it is delaying its decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project until June 18 in order to wrap up consultations with Indigenous groups.

The deadline is being pushed back by almost a month on the recommendation of both Indigenous communities and former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci, who is advising the government on the consultation process, Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Thursday.

“The government has consistently said that a decision would only be made on the project once we are satisfied that the duty to consult has been met,” Sohi said in a statement.

The proposal to twin the existing Trans Mountain pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C., was first approved by cabinet in 2016. The Federal Court of Appeal rescinded that decision last August, however, declaring that neither the environmental review nor the Indigenous consultations had been properly completed.

After taking into consideration the impact of more oil tankers on marine life off the coast of B.C., the National Energy Board (NEB) said on Feb. 22 that it still believed the project was in the public interest and should go ahead, subject to 156 conditions and 16 new non-binding recommendations for Ottawa.

That decision gave cabinet 90 days to make its call, setting May 22 as the expected deadline. But even as that report was being finalized, officials in Sohi’s office were signalling that more time would likely be required.

It was not lost on some critics that Thursday’s decision came two days after an Alberta election in which the lack of new pipelines played a significant role.

Conservative natural resources critic Shannon Stubbs also pointed out on Twitter the Liberals were announcing the deadline extension one month before the deadline and on the last day before the four-day Easter long weekend.

“Clearly never was a plan to decide in time for summer construction,” she said.

Sohi said consultation teams are continuing to meet with Indigenous communities potentially impacted by the project.

“This process includes engaging in meaningful, two-way dialogue — to discuss and understand priorities of the groups our teams meet and to offer responsive accommodations, where appropriate,” he said.

He said the government remains committed to doing “things differently” on the project.

The Liberals are under intense pressure to make progress on Trans Mountain, the only pipeline project the government has approved. Ottawa spent $4.5 billion to buy the existing pipeline last year in a bid to overcome political hurdles holding up construction.

Kinder Morgan investors got skittish in the wake of a B.C. court challenge, which aims to determine whether the province can prevent more diluted bitumen from flowing through B.C. given the limited understanding of how the product behaves when spilled in water.

The company halted work last spring, and warned it would cancel the project altogether unless Ottawa could convince it that the delays would not continue. Ottawa bought the pipeline instead, planning to expand it and sell it back to the private sector or Indigenous-owned companies once complete.

Alberta premier-designate Jason Kenney, whose United Conservative Party defeated the Rachel Notley’s NDP government Tuesday, has threatened to turn off the oil taps to B.C. unless opposition to the pipeline is removed. He also says he plans to hold a referendum in Alberta on equalization if there are no new pipelines built by 2021.

The NEB told Sohi a few weeks ago that existing pipeline capacity is both full and running at near-maximum efficiency, meaning the only way for Alberta oil producers to get more product to market is to build new pipelines. Additional rail capacity is possible but not the most efficient way to move oil, the NEB said.

Also On HuffPost:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated the previous deadline for a decision was May 23. In fact, the original deadline was set for May 22.

Feds Could ‘Regulate Where You Live’ If Carbon Law Stands, Ontario Lawyer Argues

TORONTO — The federal government will end up with the power to regulate almost every facet of life — such as when you can drive or where you can live — if its law aimed at curbing harmful greenhouse gas emissions is allowed to stand, Ontario’s top court heard Monday.

Ottawa’s climate-change law is so broad, a lawyer for the province told the start of a four-day Appeal Court hearing, that it would give the federal government powers that would be destabilizing to Canada in the name of curbing the cumulative effects of global-warming emissions.

“They could regulate where you live. How often you drive your car,” Josh Hunter told the five-justice panel. “It would unbalance the federation.”

Watch: Doug Ford hammers federal carbon tax

In his submissions, Hunter was categorical that Ontario’s constitutional challenge to the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was not intended to be a debate on the realities or dangers of global warming. What’s at stake, he said, is which level of government has the power to deal with the problem.

“Which measure is the best measure — the most efficient measure — is best left for legislatures to decide,” Hunter said. “Which legislature? That’s what we’re here to decide.”

The federal government law that kicked in on April 1 imposed a charge on gasoline and other fossil fuels as well as on industrial polluters. The law applies only in those provinces that have no carbon-pricing regime of their own that meets national standards — Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

The Liberal government, which is due to make its submissions on Tuesday, insists its law is an appropriate response to the nationally important issue of climate change. It maintains the legislation was designed to “fill in the gaps” where provincial measures aren’t up to snuff. The aim, the government says, is to cajole people into changing their behaviour.

The federal law, Hunter also said, puts a “tax” on ordinary people every time they drive to work or heat their homes, which he said was too much of a burden.

As the justices pointed out, Ottawa is promising to return the money it collects to people in the affected provinces to offset the charge.

Hunter, however, said the rebates — via the federal climate action incentive — flow to everyone in the impacted province regardless of whether they drive at all, for example.

“It’s not just that you get back what you give,” he said.

Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford insists Ontario can curb greenhouse gas emissions on its own and has already taken significant steps to do so.

Those steps, Hunter told the court, include shutting down coal-fired power plants — a measure in fact taken by the previous Liberal government — which has sharply reduced the province’s harmful emissions.

“Ontario is further ahead than all the other provinces,” Hunter said. “(But) none of those (steps) count towards determining whether Ontario has a stringent plan.”

In addition, he said, the province is developing a “made in Ontario environmental plan” that is still under consideration.

Fourteen interveners, including provinces such as Saskatchewan and British Columbia, Alberta Conservatives, Indigenous organizations who point out they are acutely vulnerable to global warming, as well as business and environmental groups, will get their say over the course of the hearing.

Metro Customers In Quebec Will Be Able To Shop With Reusable Containers, Zipper Bags

MONTREAL — Grocery chain Metro Inc. will allow customers to use reusable containers and zipper bags to purchase fresh products in stores across Quebec.

The grocery and drug store company says in a statement today it wants to reduce the amount of single-use packaging it sells.

Metro Inc. senior vice-president Marc Giroux says the plan is a simple one and allows for customers to bring clean resealable containers and bags from home without compromising product safety or quality.

Practice being tested in three cities

Beginning April 22, customers across the province will be able to use their own packaging at the deli, meat, fish, seafood, pastry and ready-to-eat meal counters.

The practice is already being tested in stores in three Quebec cities: Drummondville, L’Ancienne-Lorette and Saint-Eustache.

The company says it has set objectives to reduce its environmental impact and is finalizing a packaging and printed materials policy to be introduced this year.

Also On HuffPost:

Vancouver Houses Are For Sale At Huge Discounts, All Chronicled With Glee On Social Media

Vancouver’s epic housing meltdown has made news around the world, and with sales down by 31.6 per cent over the past year, people listing their homes are turning motivated. After years of what can only be described as a ludicrously strong seller’s market, buyers are in the driver’s seat today.

And to chronicle this turnaround, a number of Twitter accounts have popped up, gleefully displaying homes sold for way below asking, or listed for well below their last sold or assessed price. Chief among them are Mortimer_1 and Vancouver Real Estate Flip Flops, where new examples of house resale flops appear constantly, to the chagrin of realtors.

To be sure, these sorts of massive discounts are limited mostly to the top end of the market, the million-plus homes — which today includes just about any detached home in Greater Vancouver, although that is changing as house prices come down.

Watch: Average home prices across Canada. Story continues below.

In the rest of the market, prices have been somewhat more stable. According to data released Monday by the Canadian Real Estate Association, the benchmark price for a property in Greater Vancouver is down 7.65 per cent over the past year, to $1.011 million.

Those of us who aren’t in Vancouver may have noticed that a million dollars is still pretty pricey for a bungalow. So still not exactly a cheap market, as these Twitter feeds prove.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association reported numbers showing the slowdown in Vancouver’s market is now spreading to other parts of the province.

Sales are down steeply, when compared to a year ago, at real estate boards in Chilliwack, the Fraser Valley and the Kooteny and Okanagan regions, as well as on Vancouver Island, including Victoria. Province-wide, the benchmark house price is down 5.4 per cent over the past year, to $687,720.

‘Near recession-level’ housing demand

“B.C. home sales continue to be adversely impacted by federal mortgage policy,” BCREA chief economist Cameron Muir said in a statement. “The erosion of affordability caused by the B-20 stress test has created near recession-level housing demand despite the province boasting the lowest unemployment rates in a decade.”

“The sharp erosion of affordability caused by the B-20 stress test is now creating pent-up demand, as many would-be home buyers are forced to wait on the sidelines. Unfortunately, new home construction is slowing as well, which will likely lead to another housing supply crunch down the road.”

Work In Canada's Gig Economy? Here's What You Need To Know To Avoid A Huge Tax Bill

The traditional, permanent full-time job is dying a slow death in Canada, and precarious work in the new “gig economy” is taking its place. This story is part of Precariously Taxed, a HuffPost Canada series that looks at how gig economy and contract workers can optimize their finances when it comes to tax time.

Life in the gig economy is often a matter of perspective. For some, the rise of these pay-per-gig jobs is a sign that life is getting harder and more unstable in our economy. For others, it’s a symbol of economic freedom, the ability to choose where and when you work, and how much.

Either way, there’s probably one part no one likes: The part where you have to keep track of, and pay, your own taxes.

If you’re in the gig economy, for example as an Uber driver or an Airbnb host, you are effectively self-employed. Unlike a traditional employer, the app you do business with won’t deduct taxes from your paycheque and send the money to the government; you’re responsible for all that yourself.

Below are some of the essential things you should know at (and before) tax time if you’re in the gig economy. But first, a reminder that the tax-filing deadline is April 30. For self-employed people, it’s June 15. But if you owe any money, that money is due April 30 — so don’t wait till June to crunch the numbers.

Keep track of income

This is the easy part. If your gig is through an app, that app will have records of all your transactions, and the money that exchanged hands.

Apps like Airbnb, HomeAway, Lyft and Uber give you access to records of your earnings. If you earn money outside those apps, you’ll have to keep track of that yourself. In most cases, an Excel spreadsheet will do the trick.

But it’s still up to you to pay your taxes on the income you earned. Which means that unless you want to pay the absolute maximum in tax the government can legally squeeze out of you, you will need to…

Keep track of expenses

If you’re a salaried employee, there are very few business expenses you can legitimately claim to reduce your taxes. Your employer is covering those costs, so they get the tax break.

In the gig economy no one covers these costs for you, so you can claim them to reduce the income on which you owe taxes.

But to do this right might require a change in mindset. For one thing, you need to start keeping a record of anything you buy related to your paid gig.

Simply put, if you don’t keep track of expenses, you can and probably will face a higher tax bill than you would otherwise need to pay.

Watch: What you need to know before filing your federal taxes this year. Story continues below.

“Record-keeping is key,” says Aurèle Courcelles, assistant vice-president at IG Wealth Management and an accountant by trade.

“You want to be very meticulous in the record-keeping both on income side and expenses side, and that becomes maybe more work when you’re talking about ride-sharing or Airbnb hosts.”

The simplest thing you can do is keep a log book where you track your expenses. There are user-friendly accounting apps out there as well, but “in many cases … a simple spreadsheet on your phone or laptop is all you need,” he adds.

How do I declare income?

Most people in the gig economy — Uber drivers and couriers on contract, for example — would fill out the T-2125 form, the statement of professional or business activities.

Those renting out properties on HomeAway, Airbnb or similar sites would fill out a T-776 statement of real estate rentals. But if a host provides additional services for money, like meals or laundry, they have to declare that as business income, not rental income.

Plenty of things you can deduct

Essentially, anything you spend money on that is directly related to your gig is a legitimate expense.

Keep the little things in mind. As an Uber driver, you may remember to keep your gas receipts, but how about oil changes, tune-ups and windshield wiper fluid? Those are all deductible, as are your car insurance premiums and even those water bottles you offer riders so they give you a higher rating.

But only deduct the part of those expenses that actually went into your business. If you use your car for Uber and for personal use, you need to keep track of the kilometres driven, and calculate what percentage of use was for business. Only that percentage can be deducted.

Keeping track of kilometres is crucial because “that small piece of information can either validate all of (an Uber driver’s) claims or allow the CRA to deny them all,” said Lisa Gittens, a senior tax professional at H&R Block.

Airbnb hosts can deduct things such as linens and sheets, and the toiletries they buy for guests’ use. You can even deduct the Netflix or cable bill, but if you’re only renting out a portion of your property, then you can only claim a portion of that expense.

If you’re an independent construction contractor, you can deduct your steel-toed boots, hard hat, tools and other materials you need to work on site.

GST/HST: Another opportunity to get money back

In the gig economy, you have to remit sales taxes to the government — GST or HST, depending on the province. But you can also get a tax credit for the sales tax you yourself pay on business expenses.

Self-employed people have to register for a GST number if their earnings exceed $30,000, but as of 2017, ride-hailing drivers have to register for a GST number (and a QST number in Quebec) no matter how much or little they earn. You have to register for one about the time you drive your first paid gig.

Apps such as Airbnb and Uber keep track of the sales taxes they collect on your behalf, but you still have to remit those taxes to the government yourself. (The exception is Quebec, where Uber will remit those taxes to the government for you.) You can use the app’s records to know how much money to set aside for taxes.

But as an independent business, you can claim a tax credit for the GST/HST on your business expenses, in the form of an input tax credit. You can claim the GST on fuel costs, oil and tire changes — any legitimate business expense on which you paid sales tax.

But once again, keeping track of your expenses is crucial if you want to claim this credit.

Don’t guess, ask someone

Finally, if you’re not sure about some element of your taxes, seek help. If you can’t afford an accountant, there is free tax software out there, and their paid versions are typically less expensive than hiring a person to do your taxes, and typically come with online and phone assistance.

There are even free tax clinics, where volunteers can answer your questions.

“Always ask questions,” Gittens says. When it comes to taxes, “there are no embarrassing questions.”

Chrystia Freeland Says 'Improper' U.S. Tariffs On Metals No Longer Needed Now That Trade Deal Has Been Reached

OTTAWA — The “improper” American imposition of metals tariffs as leverage in the contentious NAFTA talks is no longer required because all three North American countries now have a deal, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says.

Freeland said Thursday the continued existence of the steel and aluminum duties makes ratifying the new continental trade pact unpalatable for many Canadians — remarks that cast further uncertainty over the fate of the new trade deal signed — but not yet ratified — by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico last fall.

Donald Trump unleashed a section of U.S. trade law — section 232 — that gives the president the authority to impose tariffs on national security grounds because he was frustrated by the slow pace of the talks.

Watch: Finance Minister Bill Morneau says tariffs must be lifted before deal is signed

Even though it was improper for the U.S. to use 232 as a bargaining chip, Freeland argued that’s now a moot point because all three countries have finished negotiating the deal.

“Now 232 was never meant to be a tool to be used as any kind of leverage. That would be a very improper use of it,” Freeland said in Washington on Thursday ahead of a NATO meeting. But she added that the Americans “were quite explicit that that was the intention” when they were imposed.

“How can that be relevant today when it comes to Canada? The deal is done. No more leverage is needed,” Freeland said.

“So both on the national security grounds and when it comes to the notion that there could be some sort of negotiating purpose served by 232, we really think this is groundless.”

The minister made the remarks at the U.S. State Department, where she was attending the 70th anniversary of the NATO transatlantic military alliance.

Freeland discussed tariffs with Pompeo

“Standing here in the U.S. State Department, a few minutes before the NATO meeting celebrating the 70th anniversary of this great alliance, I think underscores the absurdity of those 232 steel and aluminium tariffs,” Freeland said.

“For Canadians, that absurdity is cast in even starker relief by the fact that we now have a trade agreement.”

Freeland met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday night, and officials said she brought the tariffs up in that conversation.

However, the discussion of tariffs did not warrant a mention in the readout of their conversation released Thursday by Pompeo’s office. The readout detailed a long list of pressing international security concerns from NATO burden sharing, to the imprisoned Canadians in China, the Venezuelan crisis, as well as Iran and North Korea.

Before departing Ottawa for Washington on Wednesday, Freeland said pushing the U.S. for tariff removal was a top of mind priority for she and her cabinet colleagues. Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Bill Blair, federal Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, pushed their U.S. counterparts on the issue in recent meetings.

Canada-Saudi Arabia Spat Saw Visas Denied, Shipments Halted In 1st Month Of Feud: Memo

OTTAWA — The fallout from Saudi Arabia’s move to punish Canadian companies was felt within a month of the countries’ sudden diplomatic feud last summer, leading to visa rejections, a government ban on food from Canada and a blockage of shipments at the kingdom’s ports.

A newly released federal document provides a close look at Saudi Arabia’s retaliation against Canada, following criticism by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on Twitter of the regime’s arrest of women’s rights activists.

Angered by the public condemnation, Saudi Arabia suspended diplomatic ties with Canada last August, expelled the Canadian ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Ottawa.

Watch: The Canada-Saudi Arabia spat, in 90 seconds

The kingdom also stopped future trade and investment deals, cancelled grain imports and said it would shut down lucrative scholarships for its citizens to study in Canada. The Saudi central bank and state pension funds started selling their Canadian holdings.

A briefing note to International Trade Minister Jim Carr offers more detail on how events were unfolding on the ground about a month after the start of the dispute.

“It is important to note that over the last few days Global Affairs Canada has been learning of concrete actions taken by Saudi Arabia against Canadian companies across various sectors,” reads the memo, released this week to The Canadian Press under access-to-information law.

The document went on to list numerous measures, including:

  • Requests for existing contracts to be replaced by new contracts with non-Canadian suppliers.
  • Denial of access to military bases.
  • Payment delays.
  • Re-routing of flights for product supplies.
  • Prevention of a Canadian company from importing and selling medication.
  • Government ministries issuing orders to ban food and medication from Canada.
  • Various shipments from Canada being completely stopped at Saudi ports.

The note was created last September for Carr in preparation for his meeting with members of the Canada Arab Business Council, who have interests in the kingdom.

The additional details of the dispute with Saudi Arabia emerge as Canada tries to manage other, bigger trade-related challenges with its two largest partners, the United States and China.

Saudi Arabia has previously been a key partner for Canada in the Middle East and, according to a separate internal briefing note, the countries had more than $4 billion worth of trade in 2017. That year, Saudi Arabia had $1.28 billion worth of direct investment in Canada, said the memo prepared for Finance Minister Bill Morneau after the crisis broke out.

Scott Jolliffe, the president of the Canada Arab Business Council, said in an interview that Saudi investment in Canada ground to a halt last August. He also said Canadian firms have been restricted from bidding on new projects in the kingdom.

‘Any country we lose, even if it’s temporary, hurts us’

On the other hand, he said things have mostly carried on as usual for those of his members who already had business in the country. Jolliffe also said he hadn’t heard of any visa refusals.

He said he would like to see the impasse resolved because Saudi Arabia and the region offer billions of dollars’ worth of potential business for Canadian companies — and possible alternatives to the U.S. There’s a deep need there, he added, for the expertise Canada offers in areas like infrastructure, telecommunications and engineering.

“At the moment, it doesn’t appear as if there is much going on to strengthen and rebuild the relationship,” said Jolliffe, who’s had meetings with Carr about the issue.

The feud has had an impact on agriculture. Feed-barley producers, for instance, have been shut out of the Saudi market.

“Any country we lose, even if it’s temporary, hurts us,” said Dave Bishop, a farmer and chair of Alberta Barley.

He said Canada had been shipping about 122,000 tonnes of feed barley to Saudi Arabia every year — amounts that can sometimes reach 10 per cent of all Canadian exports of the product.

This year, the industry has been lucky that feed barley is in short supply worldwide and extra demand from markets like China has helped make up for being shut out of Saudi Arabia, Bishop added.

Khashoggi explanations still inadequate, Freeland’s office says

The memo to Carr last September said Freeland and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, in an effort to resolve the conflict, “have been discussing ideas to de-escalate … including an incremental approach which could include a series of steps.”

Asked about the status of Saudi-Canadian relations now, Carr’s office provided a statement that said he’s still disappointed with the kingdom’s response to Canada’s human-rights concerns.

A few weeks after Carr received the memo, the kingdom’s relationship with Canada came under further strain — as did its relations with many countries — as details emerged about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Adam Austen, a spokesman for Freeland, said Thursday that Saudi Arabia’s explanations for the killing have been inadequate and that Canada has called for a thorough, credible and independent international investigation.

Gender Pay Gap Is A Serious Issue, Canadian Women Agree. Men See It Differently.

There is a yawning chasm in perceptions of the gender pay gap between men and women in Canada, but a majority of both genders agree that pay equality should be enshrined in law, a new survey has found.

It also found that, among women, political leanings make a big difference in perceptions of pay equity.

In a poll of 1,501 employed Canadians, the Angus Reid Institute found that eight in 10 women (79 per cent) say the gender pay gap is a “serious issue” in Canada, but barely more than half 51 per cent of men agree.

There were notable gaps in other related questions.

Across all age groups, male workers are at least twice as likely as their female peers to say that any gap in pay is based on the decisions that women make, rather than discrimination,” Angus Reid said in a report.

Watch: Iceland makes it illegal to pay women less than men. Story continues below.

Interestingly, younger men are more likely than older ones to believe the pay gap is the result of women’s own choices. Forty-seven per cent of employed men aged 18 to 34 feel this way, compared to 33 per cent of men aged 55 and over. Among women, 76 or 77 per cent in all age groups disagreed.

“These types of differences largely come down to the fact that one gender may be more aware of, alive to, or affected by the issue,” Angus Reid executive director Shachi Kurl said in an email to HuffPost Canada.

She noted that other studies have shown similar gender differences, on issues such as the #metoo movement and women in politics.

Among women, there’s a stark difference in perceptions of the gender gap based on political leanings. While only 16 or 17 per cent of women in any age group say that the gender gap is the result of women’s decisions, a full third of women who identify with the Progressive Conservatives agreed with that.

Fewer than 10 per cent of women who identify with the Liberals or the NDP agree.

Men and women’s views are more aligned when it comes to legislation on the gender gap, with a majority of both 82 per cent of women and 58 per cent of men supporting a law that would require businesses with more than 25 employees to obtain equal pay certification.

The survey found that 21 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men see a pay gap in their own workplace.

“Canadians see this as a broader issue beyond their own take home pay,” Kurl said.

“They may not be personally affected (or not realize they are personally affected), but it represents a greater issue of fairness and parity, which you don’t have to be personally impacted by to carry a belief in.”

Suing A Neighbour Over A Tree? Be Prepared For Courts To Side With Nature

The poet Robert Frost wrote that good fences make good neighbours. He knew what he was talking about. When one person’s property is not clearly separated from the other’s, it creates opportunities for costly disputes.

Trees at or near a property line can create conflicts that end up with neighbours facing off against each other in court.

Sometimes a tree will break in a windstorm, damaging the neighbour’s house or car. The owner of the tree may or not be responsible. It will depend on the condition the tree was in. If it was known to have rotted, the owner may be liable for not having dealt with it earlier.

These disputes fall under the law of “nuisance.” That’s a common word, but also the legal term used when something on one property harms its neighbours. Nuisance is an area in which the judge has a lot of discretion.

Every claim of nuisance has its own unique facts. The judge has to use her own personal wisdom to determine what is fair and reasonable. One of the legal tests is “substantial interference.” Whether something is substantial is in the eye of the beholder. Going to court with such a claim carries risks. The outcome is seldom predictable.

A few years ago, an Ottawa homeowner installed a backyard swimming pool. To her misfortune, she soon found that the neighbour’s tree roots were encroaching on her property. They caused her pool to crack.

She sued her neighbour to have the tree removed, on the grounds that it was creating a nuisance on her property. The judge was not very sympathetic. He observed that modern society places a high value on the preservation of the “urban forest.” He told the pool owner that she would have to come back with a stronger argument, including showing that the problem could not have been anticipated before the pool was installed.

Another example of the respect given to trees was seen in a Toronto case decided in March of 2019, by Justice Ed Morgan of Ontario’s Superior Court.

A mature maple tree, with a diameter of more than a metre, was growing right smack dab in the middle of the property line. Who knew, when the wind dropped that seed all those years ago, the trouble this would cause?

The law says that a tree that is right on the lot line is the joint property of both neighbours. Ordinarily, it cannot be killed unless both neighbours have agreed to it.

This tree happened to be in Toronto’s leafy and upscale Moore Park neighborhood. One of the neighbours has a growing family. They wanted to build an addition to the back of the house to expand it — a not uncommon move in Toronto’s hot property market. The plans that their architect drew up would have required cutting down this big old maple tree.

Trees are protected by a Toronto by-law. However, if you make a strong enough case for it, the city will sometimes give its permission to chop down a tree. The city gave its assent, but the neighbours who were the joint owners of the tree did not.

Therefore, the builders went to court. They applied for the court’s permission to have the tree cut down. They said it was a nuisance because it substantially interferes with the use of their land.

The judge weighed the matter in the balance. One neighbour had a need for more rooms, while the other neighbour loved the tree and wanted to maintain the beauty of its shade. He looked at the plans for construction. In this case, it might have been possible to build the addition elsewhere on the lot.

The neighbours applying to cut down the tree had not provided any evidence that they had considered alternative construction plans that might have saved the tree. Based on that factor alone, the judge denied their application. He awarded legal costs to the neighbours who wanted to preserve the tree.

For the time being, the old maple tree is saved. Time will tell whether the builders will alter their design plans, or merely return to court with stronger arguments for cutting down the tree.

As this case shows, it’s vital to consider all the alternatives before making such an application. It’s important to keep in mind the high value of mature trees for the urban environment. They provide cooling shade and help clean the air of pollutants. Quite properly, the law gives them a significant amount of protection.

This is provided as general information, and should not be considered legal advice for your particular case. Peter Spiro is a Toronto lawyer who provides unbundled legal advisory services for self-represented litigants, www.peterspiro.com