Harper government gives Sudbury mining centre $15M to help frac companies while closing embassies, libraries and veteran affairs offices, and eliminating 19,000 jobs

Sudbury mining centre gets $15M for deep mines research by CBC News, January 23, 2014
The head of the Centre of Excellence in Mining and Innovation in Sudbury says deep underground mining research could change how oil and gas companies approach fracking in the future. On Wednesday, the federal government announced CEMI will receive $15 million for research in ultra-deep mining. The government said the research could assist the oil and gas industry to improve its ability when extracting deep shale deposits. The federal government has announced Sudbury’s Centre of Excellence in Mining and Innovation is receiving $15 million for research in ultra deep mining.

The president and CEO of CEMI said deep mining research could allow those companies to have a better understanding of the impact of fracking. “It will make it much better understood so they will be able to manage and control what they do and the affect that they have,” Douglas Morrison said. “So it should certainly have a better effect on what they do because it just gives them more information and more control over the process. It’s not really a large part of what we want to do, it’s just we have the kinds of facilities that they can use also to improve their operations.” Mining in deep conditions often means working in high temperatures, Morrison noted. He said the research will also look at how to deal with those conditions, while still able to extract the ore safely. [Emphasis added]

Billions, Maybe Trillions, in Fossil Fuel Subsidies, New Worldwatch Institute report reviews extent of global energy subsidies Watershed Sentinel, January 23, 2014

2013 Canadian Budget: Tories target embassies, libraries, public sector jobs in deficit-reduction measures by Jason Fekete, January 24, 2014, Postmedia News
Embassies are being sold, government libraries closed, thousands of public sector jobs eliminated and billions of dollars are going unspent in the name of one broader Harper government goal: eliminating the deficit. The Conservative government’s unflinching efforts to balance the books and eliminate a deficit estimated at $17.9 billion will drive a federal budget many believe is likely to be delivered in mid-February — when public attention is focused on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The government’s annual fiscal blueprint will be a main theme of the parliamentary session that resumes Monday, when MPs return to the House of Commons following their holiday break.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is scheduled to meet Monday with private-sector economists to discuss the state of the Canadian economy, and it’s possible he could announce the budget date following their meeting. … The Harper government initially announced in the 2012 budget it would cut more than $5 billion in spending and 19,000 jobs over three years to help balance the books. Those reductions are now firmly taking hold. “There’s no necessity to balance it by 2015,” said Ian Lee, assistant professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business in Ottawa. “It’s more political than economic, that is to say the Canadian economy is not going to blow up if they don’t balance the books by 2015.” However, Lee notes Canada and other G20 nations have vowed to gradually eliminate deficits.

Flaherty explained the government’s approach to the upcoming budget in a recent letter to opposition MPs asking for “low- to no-cost ideas to grow the economy.” “Rest assured that Budget 2014 will continue to focus on creating jobs [???] and economic growth, while keeping taxes low and returning to balanced budgets in 2015,” Flaherty said in the letter. Significant tax breaks are contingent on Ottawa returning to surplus. The Conservatives have promised income-splitting for couples with children under age 18 — a measure expected to cost $2.5 billion annually — but only once the budget is balanced.

A two-year departmental operating budget freeze is expected to save the government $550 million in 2014-15 and $1.1 billion in 2015-16, the year the books are to be balanced with a $3.7 billion surplus. [With the Harper government’s anti-terrorist $3.1 billion that went missing and remains unaccounted for? ]

The government has also started selling off billions of dollars worth of federal assets, such as land and embassies. Ottawa expects to collect at least $2.7 billion in asset sales over the next few years, including $700 million this fiscal year from its sale of 30 million General Motors shares last September. Another $500 million in asset sales is expected in 2014-15 and $1.5 billion in 2015-16, including the expected sale of Ridley Terminals (a bulk coal terminal in British Columbia) and the government’s remaining GM shares. The federal government has just closed the sale of Macdonald House — home to the Canadian High Commission offices and residence in central London — to an India-based developer for $530 million.

The Conservative government is also planning to sell the Canadian Embassy in Paris as well as a separate building where Canada’s mission to UNESCO is based. Official residences in other cities across Europe are also on the block. “It has the feel of selling off the furniture,” Nash said. The cost-cutting Canadian military, which is facing billions of dollars in budget reductions, recently cancelled a $2 billion order for 108 close-combat vehicles. The deficit-reduction fallout is also spreading to Canadian war veterans and other seniors. The federal government is planning to close Veterans Affairs offices across Canada, while Canada Post is eliminating door-to-door delivery in urban areas, a worry for seniors who will have to walk to community mailboxes.

Even books aren’t safe from the deficit-reduction measures. More than a dozen federal government departments and agencies are closing at least 37 libraries by the end of 2014.

“They’re setting themselves up for the election,” Benson added. “They think that Canadians will forget everything that they’ve done because they will infuse some money somewhere to say how good they are.” [Emphasis added]

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