/Posthaste: Why pipeline protests in Canada have taken an ugly turn and could disrupt the wider economy — at the worst possible time

Posthaste: Why pipeline protests in Canada have taken an ugly turn and could disrupt the wider economy — at the worst possible time

Good Morning!

Groups opposed to fossil fuel development in Canada have taken their outrage to a new level. In Vancouver, The Canadian Press is reporting a possible showdown between police and anti-pipeline protesters blocking access to four ports in the Vancouver area.

On Sunday, the protesters — which are opposed to the Coastal Gas Pipeline in B.C. and the arrest of several activists by RCMP at the project site — were served with a court injunction ordering them to stop blocking access to the four ports, but the protesters say they intend to stand their ground. The gas project links Canadian natural gas resources to a $40-billion export liquefied natural gas project on the B.C. coast.

The court injunction, sought by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, orders protesters to leave the authority’s lands and stop blockading access points to ports in Vancouver and Delta, B.C. — or face arrest.

Elsewhere, Ontario commuters scrambled to make last-minute changes to their travel plans on Sunday as protesters continued their blockade of two crucial VIA Rail routes, part of a demonstration against the Coastal Gas Pipeline being built more than 4,000 kilometres away, reports Jesse Snyder.

There are likely going to be more developments today.

A Coastal GasLink pipeline opponent Joseph Choken is set to appear in court in Houston, B.C. today, to face criminal charges after he was arrested last year in Wet’suwet’en territory.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will also be in Calgary speaking about, among other things, reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and he will be facing oil executives who are concerned about the lack of pipeline development. They will also likely quiz the minister about the government’s plans for Teck Resources Ltd.’s Frontier oilsands mine.

It appears that while the Canadian government and pipeline companies may be winning the legal argument, local opposition is showing no signs of backing down.

The disruptions could not have come at a worse time for the Canadian economy, which has barely recovered from an awful fourth quarter, just averting a contraction.

In addition, the coronavirus is spreading fast with China reporting that the epidemic has killed more people than the SARS virus. Capital Economics cut its forecast for first quarter growth in China from 5 per cent year-on-year to 3 per cent.

“The inherent uncertainty surrounding the spread of the virus makes it virtually impossible to quantify the wider impact on the world economy,” wrote Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics. “But China’s role at the centre of global supply chains increases the likelihood that the disruption spreads to other countries.”

CIBC Capital Markets believe the virus may hit Canadian tourism and commodity prices may be hit, apart from manufacturing.

“According to figures from the OECD’s value-added database, Chinese content in Canadian transportation manufacturing almost tripled between 2005 and 2015. Other important manufacturing industries, such as machinery, saw similar increases,” wrote Andrew Grantham, analyst at CIBC. “As such, delays in sourcing parts could have a significant impact on Canadian production and export growth in the months ahead.”

Here’s what you need to know this morning:

  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reports preliminary housing start data for January
  • Finance Minister Bill Morneau will give a speech in Calgary about the government’s plan to strengthen the middle class, build a more sustainable economy, and Canada’s ongoing commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples
  • Transport Minister Marc Garneau will make a funding announcement for a terminal in Sturgeon County at Morinville, Alta.
  • Coastal GasLink pipeline opponent Joseph Choken appears in court to face criminal charges after he was arrested last year in Wet’suwet’en territory in B.C.
  • Dwight Ball, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Canada, will make a significant announcement at St. John’s, N.L.
  • Corporate Earnings: Restaurant Brands International Inc., PrairieSky Royalty Ltd., TMX Group

Canada added more than twice the number of jobs than expected in January, the latest indication that the economy could be strong enough to persuade the Bank of Canada not to cut rates next month.

Statistics Canada said on Friday that 34,500 jobs had been created in January, the second straight month of healthy gains after a record loss in November. The unemployment rate dipped to a near record low 5.5 per cent. Read more here.



— Please send your news, comments and stories to [email protected]. — Yadullah Hussain @Yad_Fpenergy

With files from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg


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