Why won’t Canada set oil and gas regulations?

The government misses every self-imposed deadline it announces

Etienne de Malglaive/REA/Redux

Stephen Harper and Barack Obama may eventually disagree about the merits of building a pipeline, Keystone XL, that would deliver millions of barrels of bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to thirsty American consumers. Harper lobbied Obama directly at a G8 summit earlier this summer, and Obama recently responded by scoffing at the job-creation potential of the pipeline. Whether or not the pipeline receives the president’s approval is a mystery. Everything any American official says is parsed by proponents and opponents as helpful to their respective causes, and harmful to the other side.

Obama has hinted that Canada “could be doing more to mitigate carbon release.” Like what? Setting emissions regulations for oil and gas producers, for one. Despite continual promises to do so, Environment Canada keeps missing its own self-imposed deadlines to regulate the industry, as the Toronto Star reminds us this morning.

That lack of movement on such an important file is baffling. Harper has staked so much political capital on the success of the pipeline that he’d certainly be embarrassed if it failed. His government has promised regulations that are widely seen as essential to the pipeline’s approval. Yet, nothing doing. Canada’s new environment minister, Leona Aglukkaq, wasn’t available for an interview with the Star. The file continues to earn the government negative press, and the government responds that it “is continuing to work on” the much-vaunted regulations—leaving environmental groups and opposition MPs to fill the void, and bark about the feds’ inability to seal the deal. Each day brings a new communications defeat.

What’s happening at Environment Canada?

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with criticism of the American decision to close 19 embassies around the world based on terrorist threats centring on Yemen. The National Post fronts the mourning and confusion in Campbellton, N.B., after a python allegedly strangled two boys to death. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with a report that says Ontario’s largest youth superjail must move away from a corrections focus or risk having its effectiveness deteriorate. The Ottawa Citizen leads with an overloaded military rehab unit that had trouble tracking Howard Richmond, an Afghanistan veteran charged in the stabbing death of his wife. iPolitics fronts Conservative MP James Rajotte’s views about party discipline and the freedom of backbenchers to speak their minds. CBC.ca leads with a vigil for the New Brunswick boys apparently killed by the python. CTV News leads with the New Brunswick vigil. National Newswatch showcases a CBC News story about the completion of an audit that examines Senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Leadership. Former Liberal leadership candidate Ken Dryden, who never paid back $225,000 of a self-loan made during the 2006 race, has no plans to raise that money—and no can can force him. 2. Roma. New rules have seen refugee claimants from Hungary plummet in the last year, dropping from 724 between January and March 2012 to just 33 during the same period this year.
3. Egypt. Egypt’s ambassador to Canada, Wael Aboulmagd, publicly praised Canada’s response to the Egyptian crisis earlier this summer, calling it forward thinking and positive. 4. Railway. The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway at the heart of the Lac-Megantic disaster is continuing to operate its lines on either side of the devastated town, hoping to salvage business.
5. Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe’s invigorated government plans to force all foreign-owned mining companies to cede 51 per cent of their assets to government or black investors. 6. France. The High Council for Integration is recommending the banning of Muslim headscarves at French universities—a ban similar to those already in place in schools and the public service.

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