Thursday, October 23, 2014

Read a newspaper "Jaws" Glover!

"Jaws Glover is a true Harper sycophant. Kept in the dark about delays eh? Pick up a newspaper." ..... Winnipeg Free Press reader

Good Day Readers:

Shelly Glover must think all non-Tory taxpaying voters are deaf, dumb,blind and stupid if she believes they'll accept her feeble/lame beyond asinine explanation of Stuart Murray's firing.

Notice how "Jaws" claims the museum needs someone with a different skills set to take it into its next phase but can't or won't (likely a bit of both) elaborate on just what those new skills are - Mr. Murray should now jump to the NDP and run against her given that party has yet to announce their candidate in the Saint Boniface riding. Wouldn't that be sweet revenge if he won?

Presumably, among these special skills will be the ability to kiss Tory ass lots and lots of it! Assuming "Wikipedia" Glover runs in 2015, and hopefully she won't, she'll  have those new special skills beyond being a temporarily former Winnipeg gumshoe.

Then there's her malarkey she wasn't aware that several of the exhibits might not be ready for the official opening. The Winnipeg Free Press reader quoted above said it best. It seems the Winnipeg media kept everyone apprised so it came as no surprise to everyone save her.

The Last criticism goes to the Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun. "Jaws" Glover is unhappy because you didn't give more credit to the Harper government for the CMHR so smarten up and give her all the credit. She's going to need all the publicity she can get to win St. Boniface again..

Clare L. Pieuk
Murray's Exit not payback: Glover
Denies dismissal due to delays, spat with Aspers

Mia Rabson
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shelly Glover with Stuart Murray in August. She says this phase of the museum's life requires a unique skill set. (Joe Bryksa/Winnipeg Free Press)

OTTAWA -- Heritage Minister Shelly Glover says she is disappointed the Canadian Museum for Human Rights wasn't entirely ready for its grand opening but denies that or any disputes with the Asper family led to the dismissal of CEO Stuart Murray.

Murray's term as the head of the new national museum will come to an end November 1 after the government decided not to renew his five-year-contract. The decision, made public last week, shocked many, including Murray himself who said the "end came sooner than I expected."

Glover said Murray was hired for the "creation and construction phase," and now the museum is open, it needs someone else to take the helm.

"We're now going into the next phase, which is the operation of the museum, which really requires a completely different skill set," Glover told the Free Press in an interview.

'... Were it not for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's commitment to making it a national museum, it would never have happened. But you would never know that from the articles that have been written' - Heritage Minister Shelly Glover

Glover did not elaborate about what skills Murray may have been lacking, but said she wants to thank him for what he did in the five years he was there.

"Really, I want to thank him for all that he's done because this museum would not be the success that it is," said Glover.
Sources told the Free Press Murray's ouster came despite a recommendation by the museum Board to keep him on, which means the decision was made in Ottawa. The sources said Murray's departure comes in part due to construction delays that meant only four of the museum's 11 galleries were ready for the September 19 opening ceremonies.

They also suggested, however, it was because Glover and other Tories were upset after former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien delivered a speech at a donors' gala the night of the museum opening, which championed his own role in the museum's history. The Chrétien government agreed to put capital dollars toward the project but never agreed to make it a national museum, which meant taking on operating funding.

That didn't come until 2007, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper made that call, saving the project most knew could not survive as a private operation.

Glover called such speculation "completely inappropriate." She did, however, complain Harper and the Conservative government's role in making the museum a reality has largely been overlooked by the Free Press and other media.

"The fact that it's a national museum, Gail Asper has said it a million times and I agree wholeheartedly, were it not for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's commitment to making it a national museum, it would never have happened," Glover said. "But you would never know that from the articles that have been written."

Glover said she is upset she was kept in the dark about the delays in gallery construction by museum staff. She said she visited the museum regularly over the summer and became concerned the closer the opening got.

"There is no secret to this. Are you going to be ready or aren't you going to be ready? The fact that I had to actually go there and see it for myself to figure out that what they were telling me wasn't exactly what I was seeing, that was disappointing."

Glover said the Board will oversee the process of finding a replacement for Murray but she will be invited to make some suggestions.

"I think we ought to take a really good look at who has the best skills," she said.

Once the museum opens the rest of its galleries next month, it will have to start taking stock of its finances in preparation for negotiating its future operating funds from Ottawa. It is guaranteed $21.7 million in annual federal funding through to the end of 2015-16, but beyond that it has to negotiate. Among its future concerns are the still-undetermined payment in lieu of taxes to the city, which could be as high as $8 million.

Glover hinted last week there will not be a lot more money on offer.

"We committed the operational funding, which isn't going to change," she said. "The fact remains they've got a budget and they've got to stay within their budget. It's part of their mandate."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2014 A4

CyberSmokeBlog would politely tell the man behind the counter under Canada's Constitutional and Charter freedom of speech provisions he should go .... himself!


What if you picked up a cup of coffee on your way to work and paid $2.00 in cash, only to have the man behind the counter request your home address?

"My home address?" you might ask.

"Yes," he might reply. "And your full legal name. I'm keeping it in a file for the next 10 years, just in case the government wants it."

Sound ridiculous? Substitute bitcoins for cash, and that's what might happen in the near future at businesses that accept digital currency in New York and elsewhere.

The State of New York has proposed BitLicense, a sprawling regulatory framework that would mandate licenses for a wide range of companies that interact with digital currencies. The proposal creates expensive and vague new obligations for startups and infringes on the privacy rights of both Bitcoin businesses and casual users. And we have only four days before public comments on the proposal close.

Speak out now

This isn't just about Bitcoin. Any future digital currency protocol would be affected, even if it's not being used for financial services. As the proposal is currently drafted, innovators who want to use these protocols for smart contracts, to track digital assets, or for any other purpose would still be affected.

BitLicense extends well beyond the state of New York. The regulations impact any business "involving" New York or a resident of New York, which is pretty much any online service. And the proposal as written wouldn't just affect big digital currency exchanges; it would sweep up software developers and other entrepreneurs designing creative services for the digital currency environment.

There are also no carve-outs for academics or security researchers.

What the proposal would do:
  • BitLicense requires digital currency innovators to get a license. They would need to undergo a background check and submit their fingerprints to state and federal law enforcement.
  • Even technology users just dabbling in Bitcoin could be affected. All the companies who obtain a BitLicense may be forced to collect personal data on consumers—including full name and physical address—and keep that data for 10 years, no matter how small the transaction.
Think back to the coffee shop at the beginning of this article. If this coffee shop were using a Bitcoin payment provider to process transactions, that payment provider would need to obtain a BitLicense from New York. While the coffee shop and its customers would not need to get a license, every digital transaction processed by the payment provider would have to follow the BitLicense record-keeping requirements, including identity information about all parties to a transaction.

Virtual currencies like Bitcoin have the potential to be privacy-protective and censorship-resistant, but the proposal from New York could undermine all of that. Perhaps worst of all, it could stifle a fledgling privacy-enhancing industry before we even know what potential societal benefits may develop.

We have until October 21 to submit comments to the state of New York about their proposal. Please help us educate New York about how BitLicense would affect privacy and innovation. Send in comments today using this suggested text or by emailing

Defending your digital rights,

Imagine had Sarah Palin made it into the White House there'd have been a brawl on the front lawn every week!

Palin Family Brawl
Bristal: He called me a c..t and a slut!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bristol Palin hysterically told cops during the epic drunkin Palin family brawl in Alaska last month some guy knocked her down and called her a f..king c..t.

Bristol's conversation with cops outside the party in Anchorage was recorded by the officer and TMZ obtained a copy. During the conversation Bristol explains the fight was triggered by an 'old lady" who shoved her younger sister Willow.

Listen carefully ... you can hear Sarah Palin in the background telling Bristol not to cuss during her statement.

As we reported, police broke up the massive melee, but no one wanted to press charges.


Police officer's likely reaction? "Too bad you little ..... "

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The best scandal to hit Winnipeg since Douglas-king-Chapman?

Good Day Readers:

The first question that jumped out at CyberSmokeBlog upon reading veteran Winnipeg Free Press crime-court reporter Mike McIntyre's article (below) is why didn't he identify those named in the lawsuit? So you're left to speculate. Here goes:
(1) Statements of claim once registered and filed become public domain. Since Mr. McIntyre obviously had access to said document it hadn't been sealed which in and of itself would be extraordinary. The other option is redacted names which again would be beyond unusual to say the least. Best guess? Prior to breaking the story extensive talks took place between senior WFP management and it's legal department. IF the case makes it to trial and the allegations were shown to be false, the newspaper could potentially be sued for defamation

(2) Since the actions of the three officers named in the suit are currently under internal investigation is there something in the department's regulations preventing their identification unless or until they're found guilty?

Either way the Winnipeg Free Press should have explained its reason(s) for not naming those in the statement of claim otherwise rightly or wrongly it leaves the impression the officers are receiving preferential treatment.

Chief Clunis on the hot seat

It stands to reason it would be in the best interests of the police department's senior administration to settle the lawsuit out-of-court because once the subpoenas starting flying the dirty laundry gets washed in public. Since the plaintiff, a sergeant/supervisor, is asking for "unspecified financial damages" one would think an attempt to do just that will happen. Besides, it would come out of taxpayers pockets. Should the trial go forward, here's a sampling of some of the interesting questions that could be asked in court:

(a) What did you know, when did you know it and what did you do about Chief Clunis and your senior administrators?

(b) Are officers able to freely roam police and Manitoba Public Insurance data bases willy-nilly for personal information on other offices or is there a tracking system in place?

(c) Who was the real estate agent who gave the supervisor and lower level officer with whom he was having an affair use of a high profile local official's home? Who's home was it?

(d) What were those "explicit photos" found on the female officers phone (shades of the Douglas Inquiry)?

(e) Are there any checks and balances so an officer can't go AWOL while on duty?

(f) The actions (decision making) of the plaintiff-sergeant the evening Tina Fontain was apprehended within days of her murder?

(g) Plus God knows what else would emerge if there's a trial!.

The Winnipeg Police Service brass had better hope it can contain the damage by finding a way to make the lawsuit go away. Failure to do so will take what is alleged to have happened out of their control and the realm of an internal investigation they'd be much better positioned to control. It could really rock their new over-priced police headquarters the cost of renovations to which are already under RCMP investigation.

Clare . Pieuk

Investigated cop suing police, fellow officer

Mike McIntyre
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A veteran Winnipeg police officer who is the central figure in an internal professional-standards investigation is now suing his employer along with the husband of a female officer he got caught having an affair with - who also happens to be a cop.

Court records show the supervisor has filed a statement of claim in Court of Queen's Bench, seeking unspecified financial damages from the Winnipeg Police Service, the City of Winnipeg and his male co-worker. None of his allegations has been proven, and no statements of defence have been filed.

The supervisor is claiming he was repeatedly harassed after the female officer's husband found out about the affair, which began in early 2012 and ended in late 2013. He claims the co-worker had others follow him and used police computers to search out personal information about him. He is suing the police service and the city, claiming they are liable for the actions that happened under their watch.

As the Free Press reported last week, the supervisor is currently the subject of an ongoing police probe surrounding his relationship with the female co-worker. Sources told the Free Press he has been warned he could face dozens of internal charges.

The supervisor was initially accused of sexually harassing the lower-ranked female officer over a lengthy period of time. But he has apparently taken the position it was a consensual affair.

Still, investigators are probing whether the sexual relationship occurred when the two were on duty. There are also allegations the pair left work early, without authorization, and that they failed in their duty to disclose particulars of their affair, especially when they began working together in the same unit in early 2013.

As a result, another supervising officer who oversaw the time sheets is also being investigated. That patrol sergeant may also face internal charges.

There are also claims the pair may have been allowed into the home of a high-profile local public figure - through a mutual friend who works in real estate - and that explicit photos of the woman were taken inside. The public figure would have had no knowledge of his residence being used. Those photos apparently surfaced during a forensic examination of the woman's phone as part of the harassment review.

Winnipeg police Chief Devon Clunis held a news conference following last week's Free Press story but wouldn't make specific comments about the internal investigation. He called it a "human resources issue."

"I will also say that with any organization with over 1,900 human beings, there will be human resource issues that are investigated or addressed appropriately," said Clunis.

Clunis also disputed links to the ongoing Tina Fontaine homicide investigation.

The same police supervisor who has now taken legal action was also on duty the night two officers had contact with Tina just hours before the at-risk missing teen was last seen alive.

Last month, Clunis announced he'd launched a formal investigation after discovering the pair - a field trainer and a recruit - had contact with the teen in the early-morning hours of August 8. Clunis said the pair had stopped a vehicle driven by a man, but Tina was allowed to go on her way despite being listed as a high-risk missing person.

Clunis said the two officers were on administrative leave. He wouldn't say whether they searched Tina's name in the computer system or knew who she was. He gave no other details.

Sources have told the Free Press the two officers identified Tina at the scene but took no action.

The implication is if they had taken her off the streets that night and returned her to a safe place, perhaps the deadly chain of events that followed might have been prevented.

As well, their only action against the driver was to ticket him for suspended driving and detain him in the drunk tank. He was not charged with impaired driving, which is viewed as another breach of procedure.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2014 A3

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

See Manitoba Law Courts what could happen if you insist on keeping cameras out of the courtroom?

Good Day Readers:

Seem to recall a case in Cleveland a couple years ago where cameras were excluded in a big, fat, juicy, salacious trial involving misappropriation of municipal funds. An enterprising court reporter obtained daily electronic transcripts and made a set of puppets to represents those appearing in court. Needless to say it was hilariously popular.

Clare L. Pieuk

Monday, October 20, 2014

Don't miss "The Great Canadian Judicial Travelling Sideshow" returning to Winnipeg October 27-29 2014!

Canadian Judicial Council provides an update regarding the work of the Inquiry Committee into the conduct of the Honourable Lori Douglas

Ottawa, 20 October 2014 –The Inquiry Committee into the conduct of the Honourable Lori Douglas has scheduled two weeks of hearings beginning 24 November 2014. In preparation, the Committee comprised of the Honourable Francois Rolland (Chair), the Honourable Austin F. Cullen and Me Christa Brothers will hear preliminary motions and procedural questions on 27, 28 and 29 October 2014. These proceedings will be held at 363 Broadway, Suite 400, Winnipeg, Manitoba, starting at 9:30 a.m. The proceedings of the Committee are held in public, however, space is limited and the Committee may, in some circumstances, order than portions be held in camera.

The Inquiry Committee expects to hear submissions from Independent Counsel, Ms Suzanne Côté and from counsel for Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas, Ms Sheila Block.

As directed by the Committee, submissions and other relevant information will continue to be made available to the public on the Council's website.

The mandate of Council in all judicial conduct matters, is to ensure that allegations of misconduct against any judge are reviewed in a fair and transparent manner

Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
(613) 288-1566 ext 302

Good Day Readers:

Norman Sabourin stole CyberSmokeBlog's thunder! Just as it was prepared to publish an update on the Douglas Inquiry he issued this press release. If you visit the CJC's website:

the top two links provide the latest taxpayer wrangling between Sheila Block of Team Douglas
and Independent Counsel Suzanne Cote.

Long story short

Team Douglas has filed four motions:

(1) Allegation #1 (Alleged Sexual Harassment of Alex Chapman) and Allegation #2 (Alleged Failure to Disclose in the Applications Process) be summarily dismissed

(2) Allegation #3 (Alleged Incapacity as a Result of the Public Availability of the Photos) be struck from the Notice of Allegations for a lack of jurisdiction, or in the alternative summarily dismissing Allegation #3

(3) Returning Douglas ACJ's photographs and if necessary, declaring that the photographs are inadmissible

(4) Sealing the confidential private medical evidence filed by Lori Douglas in support of this motion

Previously, Team Douglas had requested a change of venue so the upcoming preliminary motions hearing take place outside Manitoba but lost. Earlier Independent Counsel was unsuccessful in her attempt to have a fifth Allegation added to the list - misuse of a Representational Allowance available to federally appointed judges.

The Inquiry per se is "supposed" to re-convene November 24 but will it? If Team Douglas loses any of its motions it could appeal the Inquiry Committee's decision(s) to the Federal Court of Appeal and you know what that could mean - more delay, delay, delay .....

So that's - and God knows what else - is what "The Taxpayers' Looney Toons Inquiry" will be arguing come October 27.

Clare L. Pieuk


You know, it's really too bad a debt clock like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation uses couldn't be installed in the courtroom so you could watch the cost of this "Inquiry from Hell" mount by the second - you'd likely be blown away!

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Hi there boys and girls it's your uncle Stephen here with all kinds of Halloween goodies for your parents if they vote for me!"

Your kids are being used as campaign props, Canada

It's positively eerie, Just in time for Halloween, the Tories appear prepared to treat voters to a pre-surplus basket of goodies. Chief among these is an extension of the age range for children receiving the $100 monthly child care tax.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights ..... a kiss on the cheek a knife in the back!

Good Day Readers:

After reading the Winnipeg Free Press article below one is reminded of the late Jacqueline Kennedy's comment, "Politics is a game of knives."

Perhaps a wing of the CMHR should be dedicated and renamed the Stephen J. Harper Centre for Ethics, Honesty and Integrity in Canadian Politics with its annual award The Golden Arse given to the Conservative who best displays these attributes - that is, if you can find one.

Two exhibits complete with annual scholarships should figure prominently. The Shelly Ann Glover Wikipedia Award recognizing innovative political biographical writing, as well as, The Glover Tupperwear Award for excellence in innovative home-based political fundraising,

Clare L. Pieuk


So what do you figure readers? Is that thumbs up in the photograph below by Stephen Harper trained seal Shelly Glover ("Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf!") her acknowledging she got his message to dump Stuart Murray and how do you figure the Asper family will react - pour a lot of money into the Trudeau campaign chest to dump Shelly Glover?
Murray caught up in political animosity
Conservatives, Asper family at odds over museum

By Dan Lett
Friday, October 17, 2014

Stuart Murray (left) and MP Shelly Glover in August unveiled a stamp commemorating the new rights museum, along with Canada Post official Bill Davidson. (Ken Gigliotti/Winnipeg Free Press)

Think of it as death by patronage.

Just a few weeks after a splashy official opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, politics finally caught up with Stuart Murray, the CMHR's president and CEO, a longtime Tory who was appointed to the job just five years ago.

Related Items

Without warning this week, federal Heritage Minister Shelly Glover informed Murray his contract -- which expires November 1 - would not be renewed. No replacement has been named. In fact, the process of finding a replacement has not really begun.

For his part, Murray admitted he was a bit shocked when Glover called and informed him of the decision. "The end certainly came sooner than I had expected," Murray said in an interview.

Murray would not discuss the details of his demise any further, only that he wanted to stay and had good reason to believe his contract would be renewed.

'The end certainly came sooner than I had expected' - Stuart Murray

Although Murray would not say it, sources confirmed the federally appointed board of the museum had in fact recommended his contract be renewed. The sources said the board was similarly given no warning by Ottawa its recommendation had been rejected.

The boards of Crown corporations can only recommend appointment of presidents and CEOs; the power to appoint start with, and remains with, the federal government. Specifically with the Government in Council, which means the federal cabinet. Which really means the decision can be traced back to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Why drop the axe on Murray now, just a few weeks after the opening?

Officially, the word from Eric Hughes, chairman of the museum's board, was that Murray's contract was up and it was decided to bring in someone new to take up "the next cycle of strategic planning." He would not elaborate.

Sources believe part of the decision was due to the fact nearly half of the museum's galleries will not open to the public until mid-November, nearly two months late.

However, when all factors are considered, it appears more likely Murray was a casualty of the increasingly bitter relationship between Harper's government and the Asper family, particularly Gail Asper, who championed the museum in the name of her late father, Israel Asper.

Federal Tories hold Murray largely responsible for not being able to keep a tighter rein on Gail, who privately and publicly pressured Harper to provide more money as the cost of the museum kept going up.

It appeared that in the lead-up to the opening last month, Murray would be spared as focus shifted to celebrating the launch of a new federal museum. However, conflict was building behind the scenes, ultimately boiling over on Sept. 18, the night before the official opening ceremonies.

Sources said tensions were already running high when Harper cancelled plans to attend the opening ceremonies. The tension only increased at a gala dinner that night for donors and dignitaries hosted by the Friends of the CMHR, the Asper-led fundraising foundation.

Emotions boiled over at that dinner after former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien delivered an impromptu speech that dealt in part with his own role in the making of the museum.

Chrétien had struck the original deal with Izzy Asper to provide $100 million for construction. However, Chrétien insisted the museum remain private and his government would not fund operations. It was Harper who made the museum a reality when he agreed to create a Crown corporation to help with construction and operation.

Sources confirmed federal Tories at the gala, including Glover, were enraged at Chrétien's speech, which they saw as an attempt by Gail Asper, a prominent Liberal, to punish Harper for skipping the opening ceremonies.

In a logic that only makes sense in the world of political patronage, Murray ended up wearing the blame for these and other perceived slights. This, despite the fact sources said he had the faith of the board and its chairman, Hughes, a close confidant of Harper.

Murray's role in the making of the museum -- which was primarily to occupy the uncertain ground between two powerful and petulant combatants -- should be seen as a great political accomplishment. Although the CMHR's success is still a matter of debate, it is open. Given all that has happened, that's a remarkable feat in itself.

Instead, Murray must suffer the indignity of being thrown under the bus by his political masters with the knowledge none of his supposed allies has the fortitude to pull him to safety.

It's a sad end to a remarkable accomplishment. But then again, it's hardly an unprecedented scenario.
Political appointees live by the good graces of their political benefactors. And just as often, they die by those same hands.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 16, 2014 A4

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Creepy, sneaky, greasy politicians need fans to disperse the hot air emanating from the back of their shorts ..... while perspiring like Richard Nixon!

BigOil will get it to market one way or another!

Good Day Readers:

A good article to explain the differential in oil prices which have cost the Alberta and Canadian governments so much in lost revenues - an estimated $20 billion last year..

With a global recession looming on the horizon, the best option still appears to be an Energy East Pipeline because it will open Canadian crude to world markets while making the country completely oil self-sufficient. Recessions come and go and there's no reason to believe the next will be any different.which is a reason to proceed with the project.

It also avails the country of the opportunity to diversify away from such heavy economic dependence on the United States. While they may be our best neighbours and friends, time and time again they've shown when economics gets tough they get protectionist.

Clare L. Pieuk
The plunging oil prices a game changer for major pipeline projects

Jeff Rubin
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A worker is reflected in a puddle at Sydney's Caltex Oil refinery in Kurnell, October 14, 2014, after the completion of shutting down the refinery and its transition to a storage facility. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

A sharp correction in oil prices is putting the debate around major pipeline projects, such as Keystone XL, into a more nuanced light.

Part of the impetus behind constructing new pipelines to carry bitumen from northern Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast, Kitimat on the Pacific, or even all the way across the country to Saint John, New Brunswick was to help close the substantial discount between Canadian oil and world prices. Well, crude’s recent drop into the $85-a-barrel range has basically collapsed the once wide-open spread that had existed between West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude with hardly any new lengths of pipe being laid into the ground at all...

It’s quite a turnaround considering that not that long ago WTI had traded as much as $40 a barrel lower than Brent. The difference between Brent and a barrel of Western Canadian Select, the benchmark price for oil sands product, was even more significant, a fact that had caused considerable hand-wringing in downtown Calgary as well as on Parliament Hill.

Oil sands players, as well as U.S. producers in North Dakota, have been clamouring for pipeline approvals, claiming that all of the political foot-dragging around pipeline projects weakened pricing power and critically hampered their operations. While those producers are still waiting for new pipelines to be built, the price of a barrel of WTI and Brent crude are now trading within a few dollars of each other (in part due to the rapid emergence of oil by rail).

It’s a development, however, that won’t be causing any champagne corks to be popped in the boardrooms of Suncor or Canadian Natural Resources. Canada’s oil patch suddenly has bigger fish to fry than figuring out how to get its oil to tidewater. The worry now is what’s happening to the global oil prices, which they’ve been coveting.

The world looks much different from the days since multibillion-dollar pipeline projects such as Northern Gateway and Keystone XL were first proposed. Both Brent and WTI are trading below $100 a barrel and it won’t be long before they fall below $80. If you doubt that outlook just note what Saudi Aramco did earlier this month. Instead of cutting back production by several million barrels a day to support prices like they did in 2008 and 2009, the Saudis instead chose to protect their market share by slashing prices.

For those wondering about the future direction of oil prices, the behaviour of the world’s most important oil supplier and lead member of OPEC is instructive. Saudi Aramco has now cut all of its export prices, reducing prices to Asian markets to their lowest levels since the 2008 recession.

It’s not hard to figure out where this is going for oil sands producers. When commodity prices fall, whether it’s coal, iron ore, copper or otherwise, the effect on supply is the same. Falling prices hit high-cost producers first and hardest. Guess what’s happening in the oil sands right now?

In the last several months alone we’ve seen two major announcements of shelved or cancelled projects. Total SA is walking away from its Pierre River project, while Norway’s Statoil is doing the same from the Corner mine. In light of the current outlook for oil prices, such decisions aren’t a surprise.

Even production from prolific shale plays like the Bakken, which straddles North Dakota and southeast Saskatchewan, are at risk. At price levels below $80 a barrel, you can expect to see the current frantic pace of drilling in the region start to gear down.

For pipeline companies with major proposals on the table, such as TransCanada and Enbridge, falling oil prices are a game-changer of the same magnitude that rising prices were a decade ago. Back then, soaring prices created an urgent need to build new pipelines to connect North America’s burgeoning supply to coastal refineries and world markets.

We’re now in a different world. At the root of today’s problem is global demand that is no longer growing quickly enough to support the prices necessary to keep expanding expensive unconventional sources of supply such as the oil sands. Lower prices will effectively strand those reserves regardless of the transportation options that may become available. Even if President Obama approved Keystone XL or the National Energy Board gave the green light to Energy East, falling commodity prices mean that soon there might not be enough oil flowing out of northern Alberta to fill those new pipelines.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly said Norway’s Statoil is walking away from the Joslyn mine. In fact, it is the Corner mine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014