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Pro-pipeline First Nations spar with environmental activists over ‘devastating’ tanker ban bill

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First Nations chiefs and leaders who say they represent over 200 Indigenous communities in B.C. and Alberta are fighting back against the federal government’s plan to ban all oil tanker traffic off the coast of northern B.C., calling it an “attack” on the energy industry that will impoverish remote First Nations.

Chief Roy Jones Jr. of the National Coalition of Chiefs, a group that supports energy projects as a solution to rampant poverty on First Nations reserves, said the federal Liberal government is “arbitrarily denying Indigenous communities … investments” by curtailing development through the northern reaches of the province.

“We’re trying to lessen our dependency on federal [welfare] dollars. Bill C-48 will just set us back,” Jones said.

Calvin Helin, a member of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation near Prince Rupert, B.C. and an executive with the Eagle Spirit pipeline project, said “elites” from Central Canada are ignoring the pleas of pro-pipeline Indigenous communities who see this sort of development as a solution to unemployment rates as high as 80 per cent, and living standards on a par with sub-Saharan Africa.

“There’s no question the energy industry will be completely savaged,” Helin said. “Canada has become the laughing stock of the energy world.”

Helin said Ottawa brought about this proposed oil tanker ban in part because it is kowtowing to self-described anti-pipeline “leaders” who are “on the payroll of environmental groups.”

“Unfortunately, because there’s literally no employment in our community, that’s how some people remain employed,” Helin said, referring to individuals he claims are falsely presenting themselves as First Nations leaders to politicians and the media to advocate against natural resources development.

Helin said the Nine Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Gary Reece, a former community leader who claims to be a hereditary chief, to stop presenting himself as the voice of the Lax Kw’alaams on energy issues.

Helin accused Reece and others like him of being “absolutely” influenced by U.S.-based environmentalist organizations that are bankrolling anti-oil campaigns, calling them “puppets and props” for the green lobby.

“The chiefs feel that there is foreign interference in their traditional territories, territories they know better than anybody else,” Helin said.

The House of Commons has passed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promised bill banning oil tanker traffic along a stretch of the northern B.C. coast. It is now before the Senate. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

CBC News has asked for comment on Helin’s assertions and will update this story accordingly.

Reece met with senators last week urging them to pass Bill C-48, the legislation that will prohibit tankers carrying crude oil from loading or unloading at ports in northern B.C.

Eagle Spirit claims ‘100 per cent’ support from local chiefs

The bill would block Helin’s quest to build Eagle Spirit, a $16-billion pipeline project to carry medium and heavy crude from Fort McMurray to the Grassy Point port near Prince Rupert, B.C.

Helin has pitched the project as an alternative to the now-defunct Northern Gateway project — which was cancelled by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet — and the long-delayed Trans Mountain expansion project. Helin has the support of 35 First Nations in the area, including every chief along the proposed pipeline’s route.

Tanker ban supporters — including Marilyn Slett, the chief of the Heiltsuk Nation — say they worry that a spill of a crude oil product in coastal waters could threaten the viability of a diverse fishing industry that sustains well over 1,000 jobs in the area, from the fishermen themselves to processing plants along the region’s shores.

The proposed route for the Eagle Spirit Energy Pipeline would run about 1,562 kilometres from Fort McMurray to a terminal at either Grassy Point, B.C. or Hyder, Alaska. (Eagle Spirit Energy)

However, the elected mayor of the Lax Kw’alaams Band — John Helin, the brother of Calvin — has filed a legal challenge against Canada and B.C., hoping to get a court to rule that the tanker moratorium infringes on Indigenous and treaty rights by blocking a plan to build an export port on their territory.

The band asserts it was not adequately consulted or accommodated by the federal government ahead of the introduction of Bill C-48 in Parliament.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau, who introduced the legislation in the Commons, has said he met with representatives from the Lax Kw’alaams Band.

The pro-pipeline group of chiefs said Tuesday they are prepared to file a formal complaint against Canada before the United Nations over an alleged breach of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which asserts Indigenous groups have “the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.”

A competing group — the Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams, which counts hereditary leaders among its members — also claims to represent the “true owners” of the land in question and said Helin and his allies have hijacked the original intent of UNDRIP.

“The federal oil tanker ban is in line with their stewardship obligations to protect the land and waters for future generations from oil spills,” the group said.

Bill C-48 would ban tankers capable of carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of oil from an area that stretches from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border. The legislation formalizes a similar, voluntary ban that has been in place in the region for the last 20 years.

Supporters of Alberta’s oilsands fear the ban, when combined with scarce pipeline capacity and cratering oil prices, could spell the end of one of the country’s largest export industries. During her swing through Ottawa last week, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the bill should be tossed “into the dustbin.”

Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom of the Woodland Cree First Nation in Alberta, which has considerable interests in the oilsands, said Tuesday the tanker ban would be “devastating.”

“Without economic resources, we are all in jeopardy. So many jobs are being lost,” he said.

Bill C-48 was passed by the House of Commons last spring. The bill hasn’t moved beyond the second reading legislative stage in the Senate because a number of senators fear the bill would kill off an international shipping route for Canada’s energy products at a time of constrained pipeline capacity for Alberta oil.

“Without the Trans Mountain pipeline and with the tanker moratorium, there is absolutely no possibility for Alberta to get its product to tidewater. We will have closed the gate and made any alternative solution, if Trans Mountain fails, impossible,” Conservative Alberta Sen. Scott Tannas said in a recent speech in the chamber.

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Top 5 Analytics Trends That Are Shaping The Future

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Digital transformation is increasingly becoming the focus for many CIOs around the world today—with analytics playing a fundamental role in driving the future of the digital economy.

While data is important to every business, it is necessary for businesses to have a firm grip on data analytics to allow them transform raw pieces of data into important insights. However, unlike the current trends in business intelligence—which is centred around data visualization—the future of data analytics would encompass a more contextual experience.

“The known data analytics development cycle is described in stages: from descriptive (what happened) to diagnostic (why did it happen), to discovery (what can we learn from it), to predictive (what is likely to happen), and, finally, to prescriptive analytics (what action is the best to take),” said Maurice op het Veld is a partner at KPMG Advisory in a report.

“Another way of looking at this is that data analytics initially “supported” the decision-making process but is now enabling “better” decisions than we can make on our own.”

Here are some of the current trends that arealready shaping the future of data analytics in individuals and businesses.

  1. Growth in mobile devices

With the number of mobile devices expanding to include watches, digital personal assistants, smartphones, smart glasses, in-car displays, to even video gaming systems, the final consumption plays a key role on the level of impact analytics can deliver.

Previously, most information consumers accessed were on a computer with sufficient room to view tables, charts and graphs filled with data, now, most consumers require information delivered in a format well optimized for whatever device they are currently viewing it on.

Therefore, the content must be personalized to fit the features of the user’s device and not just the user alone.

  1. Continuous Analytics

More and more businesses are relying on the Internet of Things (IoT) and their respective streaming data—which in turn shortens the time it takes to capture, analyze and react to the information gathered. Therefore, while analytics programspreviously were termed successful when results were delivered within days or weeks of processing, the future of analytics is bound to drastically reduce this benchmark to hours, minutes, seconds—and even milliseconds.

“All devices will be connected and exchange data within the “Internet of Things” and deliver enormous sets of data. Sensor data like location, weather, health, error messages, machine data, etc. will enable diagnostic and predictive analytics capabilities,” noted Maurice.

“We will be able to predict when machines will break down and plan maintenance repairs before it happens. Not only will this be cheaper, as you do not have to exchange supplies when it is not yet needed, but you can also increase uptime.”

  1. Augmented Data Preparation

During the process of data preparation, machine learning automation will begin to augment data profiling and data quality, enrichment, modelling, cataloguing and metadata development.

Newer techniques would include supervised, unsupervised and reinforcement learning which is bound to enhance the entire data preparation process. In contrast to previous processes—which depended on rule-based approach to data transformation—this current trend would involve advanced machine learning processes that would evolve based on recent data to become more precise at responding to changes in data.

  1. Augmented Data Discovery

Combined with the advancement in data preparation, a lot of these newer algorithms now allow information consumers to visualize and obtain relevant information within the data with more ease. Enhancements such as automatically revealing clusters, links, exceptions, correlation and predictions with pieces of data, eliminate the need for end users to build data models or write algorithms themselves.

This new form of augmented data discovery will lead to an increase in the number of citizen data scientist—which include information users who, with the aid of augmented assistance can now identify and respond to various patterns in data faster and a more distributed model.

  1. AugmentedData Science

It is important to note that the rise of citizen data scientist will not in any way eliminate the need for a data scientist who gathers and analyze data to discover profitable opportunities for the growth of a business. However, as these data scientists give room for citizen data scientists to perform the easier tasks, their overall analysis becomes more challenging and equally valuable to the business.

As time goes by, machine learning would be applied in other areas such as feature and model selection. This would free up some of the tasks performed by data scientist and allow them focus on the most important part of their job, which is to identify specific patterns in the data that can potentially transform business operations and ultimately increase revenue.

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Waterloo drone-maker Aeryon Labs bought by U.S. company for $265M

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Waterloo’s Aeryon Labs has been bought by Oregon-based FLIR Systems Inc. for $256 million, or $200 million US.

The acquisition was announced Monday. 

Dave Kroetsch, co-founder and chief technology officer of Aeryon Labs, says not much will change in the foreseeable future.

“The Waterloo operations of Aeryon Labs will actually continue as they did yesterday with manufacturing, engineering and all the functions staying intact in Waterloo and ultimately, we see growing,” he said.

“The business here is very valuable to FLIR and our ability to sell internationally is a key piece of keeping these components of the business here in Canada.”

Aeroyn Labs builds high-performance drones that are sold to a variety of customers including military, police services and commercial businesses. The drones can provide high-resolution images for surveillance and reconnaissance.

The drones already include cameras and thermal technology from FLIR. Jim Cannon, president and CEO of FLIR Systems, said acquiring Aeryon Labs is part of the company’s strategy to move beyond sensors “to the development of complete solutions that save lives and livelihoods.”

‘A piece of a bigger solution’

Kroetsch said this is a good way for the company to grow into something bigger.

“We see the business evolving in much the direction our business has been headed over the last couple of years. And that’s moving beyond the drone as a product in and of itself as a drone as a piece of a bigger solution,” he said.

For example, FLIR bought a drone company that builds smaller drones that look like little helicopters.

“We can imagine integrating those with our drones, perhaps having ours carry their drones and drop them off,” he said.

FLIR also does border security systems, which Kroetsch says could use the drones to allow border agents to look over a hill where there have been issues.

“We see the opportunity there as something that we never could have done on our own but being involved with and part of a larger company that’s already providing these solutions today gives us access not only to these great applications, but also to some fantastic technologies,” he said.

Aeryon Labs has done a lot of work during emergency disasters, including in Philippines after Typhoon Hagupit in 2014, Ecuador after an earthquake in 2016 and the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016.

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Inuvik infrastructure may not be ready for climate change, says study

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The Arctic is expected to get warmer and wetter by the end of this century and new research says that could mean trouble for infrastructure in Inuvik.

The study from Global Water Futures looked at how climate change could impact Havipak Creek — which crosses the Dempster Highway in Inuvik, N.W.T. — and it predicts some major water changes.

“They were quite distressing,” John Pomeroy, director of Global Water Futures and the study’s lead author, said of the findings.

Researchers used a climate model and a hydrological model to predict future weather and climate patterns in the region. They also looked at data gathered from 1960 to the present. 

If greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate — which Pomeroy said they are on track to do — the study projects the region will be 6.1 C warmer by 2099 and precipitation, particularly rain, will increase by almost 40 per cent.

The study also found that the spring flood will be earlier and twice as large, and the permafrost will thaw an additional 25 centimetres. While the soil is expected to be wetter early in the summer, the study said it will be drier in late summer, meaning a higher risk of wildfires.

John Pomeroy is the director of Global Water Futures. (Erin Collins/CBC)

“The model’s painting kind of a different world than we’re living in right now for the Mackenzie Delta region,” Pomeroy said.

He noted these changes are not only expected for Havipak Creek, but also for “many, many creeks along the northern part of the Dempster [Highway].”

Pomeroy said the deeper permafrost thaw and a bigger spring flood could pose challenges for buildings, roads, culverts and crossings in the area that were designed with the 20th century climate in mind.

He said the projected growth of the snowpack and the spring flood are “of grave concern because that’s what washes out the Dempster [Highway] and damages infrastructure in the area.”

Culverts and bridges may have to be adjusted to allow room for greater stream flows, Pomeroy said. And building foundations that are dependent upon the ground staying frozen will have to be reinforced or redesigned.

Pomeroy said the ultimate solution is for humans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This study is the future we’re heading for, but it’s not the future we necessarily have if we can find a way to reduce those gases,” he said.  

“It’d be far smarter to get those emissions under control than to pay the terrible expenses for infrastructure and endangered safety of humans and destroyed ecosystems.”

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