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News and Opinion Highlights

  • US announces preliminary duties on Canadian softwood lumber – The US Department of Commerce announced preliminary countervailing duties (CVD) on softwood lumber imports from Canada. The determination places a CVD rate of 19.88 percent on typical Canadian producers, with specific rates for five named companies: Canfor (20.26 percent); Resolute (12.82 percent); Tolko (19.50 percent); West Fraser (24.12 percent); and J.D. Irving (3.02 percent). Duncan Davies, Chair of the BC Lumber Trade Council, said that there is not likely to be any immediate fallout since the tariff has already been absorbed in the 30 percent rise in the price of lumber over the past three months. No job losses have yet to be reported in BC, but this could change with the preliminary anti-dumping duties expected to be announced later in June.
     
  • Kinder Morgan issues IPO for its Trans Mountain Pipeline project – Kinder Morgan is moving ahead with its plan to begin construction on the Trans Mountain Pipeline in September, now that financing and a final investment decision have been completed. The company has begun to award initial contracts and to fulfill benefit agreements with Indigenous and local communities. Their resolution comes in spite of continued opposition from local citizens, environmental groups, First Nations, and the newly formed coalition between the BC NDP and Green party who are opposed to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Kinder Morgan Canada’s May 31st IPO raised the necessary $1.75 billion in the largest energy sector IPO on the TSX in two years.
     
  • Alberta’s cleantech sector reaches critical mass – The Alberta Clean Technology Industry Alliance (ACTia) released its Alberta Cleantech Sector industry survey, which finds that the sector is approaching critical mass. Over 90 percent of the surveyed companies plan to hire more staff this year, with companies paying an average salary of just under $100,000 per year. These companies brought $307 million in revenues into Alberta in 2015, with 65 percent coming from exports to the US. Companies identified public funding as a critical capital source and cited a lack of access to capital as a major barrier to growth. Additional barriers included a lack of opportunities to prove their technologies at a commercial scale and a lack of regulatory drivers for novel technology adoption.
     
  • Alberta’s planned coal phase-out is accelerating – Alberta’s two largest coal power producers, ATCO and TransAlta Corp., have announced plans to accelerate the conversion of their coal-fired power plants to natural gas. An early conversion has become financially feasible because of the oversupply of cheap natural gas in Western Canada. Both companies hope to convert the majority of their units by 2020 ahead of the provincial 2030 deadline.
     
  • Red River College unveils Innovation Centre – Winnipeg’s Red River College announced the construction of a $95 million Innovation Centre. The new facility will bring together science, research and development, entrepreneurship, and student learning.  Alongside its primary function as a teaching facility, local start-ups will bring in projects which will be turned into assignments for the students.
     
  • $20 million defence contract awarded to local company – Winnipeg-based Arne’s Welding Ltd. will produce 300 trailers for the Department of National Defence over the next two years and supply parts for the next 30. The $20 million contract could lead to another 270 unit order, worth an addition $18 million.
     
  • Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence receives federal funding – On May 26, 2017, the federal government announced $4.47 million contribution towards a new research centre at the University of Saskatchewan. The $37.5 million Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence will conduct research to improve beef quality, food safety, productivity, and environmental sustainability.
     
  • Vale Canada suspension of mine operations – Vale Canada announced it will be suspending operations at its Birchtree Mine located in Thompson, Manitoba. There are currently 200 people employed at the mine that will be affected by the closure. Vale Canada previously announced it would be closing their Thompson smelter and refinery in 2018. In total, 700 positions will be cut.
     
  • Cameco Corp. of Saskatchewan signs new deal with Ontario’s Bruce Power – On May 26, 2017, Bruce Power of Ontario and Cameco Corporation of Saskatchewan announced long-term arrangements in support of Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan. The two companies extended their exclusive fuel supply arrangement for an additional 10 years and entered an arrangement for Cameco to provide reactor components for all six of Bruce Power’s Major Component Replacement projects starting in 2020. The total value of the arrangements is estimated to be approximately $2 billion to 2030.