Readers could perhaps be forgiven for not taking as much notice any more when the words "GM recall" appear in a news story. But a CBC investigation this week has uncovered two distinct bits of news that readers and viewers should pay attention to.
According to an explosive episode of the fifth estate set to air tonight, CBC has unearthed evidence that Transport Canada knew about a defect with an ignition switch that's now been proven to be defective several months before a recall notice was issued.
Documents appear to show that Transport Canada investigated a deadly crash in Quebec eight months before the recall was formally issued by the company.
The part in question has now been linked to the recall of 28 million vehicles and counting, and has been linked to 29 deaths — a figure that some say is sadly also rising.
So far, only one Canadian death has been officially linked to the faulty switch — that of 23-year-old Dany Dubuc-Marquis from Granby, Quebec. But the fifth also unearthed a second Canadian victim of GM's faulty ignition switch — 55-year-old Danylo Kulish who lost control of his 2006 Saturn Ion in Montreal this March.
If you haven't already read it, our story previewing the fifth's story is well worth your time. And don't forget to watch the complete story when it airs at 9 p.m. on Halloween night.
How low can oil go?
Another story that dominated headlines this week is the slumping price of one of Canada's biggest exports — crude oil.
The price of oil has been in the doldrums for several weeks now, but the angst hit a fever pitch this week when Goldman Sachs said oil will soon be at $70 a barrel.
That's less than half of the highs we saw for the black stuff before the recession — but still double what it was going for in the aftermath.
Oil prices have always been famously unstable. But 20 per cent declines in barely more than a month have many people worried. The Bank of Canada says it's hindering growth and governments have been rushing to ratchet down expectations after basing their budgets on the tax windfall to be had from $100 oil.
Two places that surprisingly aren't in a panic? Calgary's oil patch, and the foreign oil cartel known as OPEC, we told you this week. Both have been in the game a long time, and are in it for the long haul — enough to ride out the current trough in oil prices.
Another pipeline pitch
You wouldn't think cheap oil would be a catalyst for moving forward with a $12-billion plan to build a pipeline across the country to pump the stuff, but that's exactly what TransCanada did this week.
The company officially applied to the National Energy Board to approve its Energy East pipeline this week, a 4,600-kilometre pipeline project that's going to pump Canadian oil from Alberta across six Canadian provinces to refineries on the East Coast to meet local demand and, more importantly, get exported to Europe, Africa and even parts of Asia.
Regardless of where oil prices stand now, TransCanada says there's going to be long-term demand to get the billions of barrels of oil sitting in Northern Alberta to market as quickly, safely, cheaply and efficiently as possible — and the best way to do that is by pipeline, it says.
The project faces the same regulatory, environmental and public opinion hurdles as TransCanada's other big-ticket pipeline, Keystone XL. But in Energy East's case, there's an added concern because it involves turning natural gas pipelines into oil ones. That's prompted fears of gas shortages in eastern Canada as a result.
TransCanada says the company will build new gas pipeline to make up for it, and make sure there are no gaps. "We will ensure that there is enough pipeline capacity, for any eastern Canadian customers," TransCanada's executive vice-president Alexander Pourbaix told Amanda Lang on Thursday. "We will not let anyone freeze in the dark."
TransCanada's a big believer in the project for obvious reasons. But given the history of that phrase with the NEB, we're not sure "freeze in the dark" is the best soundbite to have associated with a project with that much riding on it.
It pays to go green
It's clear not everyone is going long on fossil fuels. According to a report from Climatescope this week, switching from oil and coal-based energy to clean, green renewable energy is expensive, but it's an option that an increasing number of poor, developing countries are taking.
Climatescope's report found that while busy, growing economies like China, India and Brazil are still using a lot of fossil fuels, they're doing a lot more that most Europe and North American countries are doing in terms of investing in the energy of the future.
Solar plants and wind farms are cheaper and more nimble to build, which makes them actually a lower-cost option in the long run, a Bloomberg analyst told the CBC's Amanda Lang this week.
"For a long time, the conventional wisdom has been, well if you're a poor country you can't do clean energy, it's too expensive, whereas if you're a rich country you can do clean energy because you've got the means to do so," Ethan Zindler from Bloomberg New Energy Finance said. "But that's not really … in our view, that's a false dichotomy."
Air Canada cockpit
CBC was first to tell you about Air Canada pilots leaving pornographic materials in the cockpit. The airline said it was on top of the situation, but an update this week shows that not all the airline's pilots think the problem has been fixed.
One female pilot told the CBC's Diana Swain this week that the problem is much bigger than the airline is letting on.
"You could encounter it once or twice every month," said the pilot, whose identity is being concealed. "It would range from a 'sunshine girl' kind of image to clearly explicit images that would include genitals and full nudity."
Here's some more stuff we did this week that really resonated with out viewers. In case you missed it:
- Ottawa couple awarded no money in French language lawsuit with Air Canada
- Engineering and business grads tend to earn more, 20-year study shows
- How the lure of downtown living is driving the housing market
- Porn in the cockpit a bigger problem than Air Canada admits, pilot says
- Don Pittis: Looking for an economic recovery that speaks English
- Want Apple Pay in Canada? Don't hold your breath
- Faulty GM ignition switch linked to 2nd death in Canada
- Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out as a gay man
- Bell launches streaming service with HBO's entire back catalogue