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Federal minister Sohi asks NEB for pipeline inventory in order to find more capacity

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Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi told a business audience Friday morning that he has asked the National Energy Board to report back on how much oil is flowing through Canada’s pipelines. He wants to find out if they can handle more capacity.

“That’s a question that I’m raising with the NEB and I’m hoping that they’ll be able to provide me with an answer as quickly as possible,” Sohi later told reporters.

READ MORE: Study says lack of pipeline capacity costing Canada billions in lost revenue

“Is there room for us to ship more oil through pipelines that already exist? And is there a way to optimize that capacity?”

The potential increase in pipeline capacity would coincide with the ability to send more oil by rail. Sohi reported that moving oil by rail has increased this year to where 270,000 barrels per day are being transported. His hope is to gain more capacity through both means.

READ MORE: Alberta to purchase rail cars to move oil without feds: Notley

He made the remarks inside the World Trade Centre to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, while outside on Jasper Avenue, protesters were chanting: “Pipelines now” and “Build that pipe,” as they urged for completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. They were also protesting against Bill C-69, which looks at how projects are regulated.

Sohi said he sympathizes with those who are out of work.

“What I would say to the people out there, showing their support for the energy sector is, we agree with them.

“We share the frustration. I have family members who have been laid off. I have family members who worry for the future. We’re in this together and we will pull together out of this.”

Sohi took pointed questions from the audience, who didn’t agree with the government’s actions that include a tanker ban in Northern B.C. waters, the importation of Saudi oil to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick, and the cancellation of the Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines. They see over-regulation hampering the industry.

READ MORE: Premier Notley disappointed with Ottawa’s response to Alberta oil bottleneck

Sohi pointed out that the Enbridge Line-3 pipeline will be up and running next year, originating in Hardisty, Alta.

He also said he’s met with more than 40 First Nation leaders, listening to their concerns on the environment. Sohi insists rushing through the process is the mistake that started this mess, and that mistake won’t be made again.

Chamber President Janet Riopel said there is clear frustration that we’re seeing a lot of talk and no action.

“We need to understand keenly why we don’t see more movement in this pipeline construction. I mean Canadians are losing out.”

Sohi told reporters the review of the NEB on the impact of tanker traffic will be concluded by the end of February.

Answers to his question on pipeline capacity he hopes will be back to him as soon as possible.


© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Anglais

‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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