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Federal Government Announces $1.65 Billion in Aid for Oil and Gas Industry

With the Alberta energy sector reeling from a supply glut and low crude prices, the federal government announced $1.5 billion in loans for the oil and gas sector. The government also provided $100 million in funding related to economic diversification and $50 million in funding for “clean growth” projects. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was critical of the decision, saying “There’s very little money in this, it’s mostly loans. We didn’t ask for the opportunity to go further into debt… The issue is not finding a market for our product. This does not reflect the kind of responsiveness that we need to see.”

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Pipelines in Canada

Pipelines are systems of connected pipes used to transport liquids and gases — namely oil and natural gas — across long distances from source to market. More than 840,000 km of pipelines criss-cross the country, part of a larger oil and gas sector that employs between 100,000 and 200,000 Canadians. According to Natural Resources Canada, the sector earns the government an average of $19 billion in royalties, fees and taxes each year. It also contributes nearly 8 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product.

Yet pipelines have also been controversial in Canada over fears that the fossil fuel use they facilitate could be significantly contributing to climate change. In recent years, Indigenous groups, environmentalists, municipalities, mayors and labour unions have opposed numerous pipeline projects they believe could contaminate local waterways through spills and leaks.

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Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster

In the early morning of 6 July 2013, a runaway train hauling 72 tankers filled with crude oil derailed as it approached the centre of the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The tanker cars exploded and the oil caught fire, killing 47 people and destroying many buildings and other infrastructure in the town centre. The fourth deadliest railway disaster in Canadian history, the derailment led to changes in rail transport safety rules as well as legal action against the company and employees involved in the incident. Years after the derailment, re-building was still ongoing and many of the town’s residents continued to suffer from post-traumatic stress.