Category Archives: Environment

Federal and Ontario News Round-up for Oct. 5

Federal News Round-up

The federal government has thrown down the gauntlet to provinces without some form of carbon pricing.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a federal carbon pricing deadline all provinces must comply with by 2018 — or the federal government will impose a price.

The federal government’s direct-pricing plan means polluters in provinces without a carbon pricing scheme will pay $10 per tonne starting in 2018, increasing to $50 per tonne by 2022.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is leading the provincial opposition to the move. According to the Saskatchewan government, the carbon tax will draw more than $2.5 billion out of the provincial economy (even though Trudeau promised to return funds related to any federal carbon levy to the provinces) and make it a less competitive place to do business. Wall also said the government estimates the carbon tax will cost the average family $1,250 a year. Wall is joined by a number of Maritime provinces in opposition to the move.

British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec all have implemented (or will soon implement) carbon pricing schemes that will exceed the floor price announced by Trudeau. However, Alberta appears to making its support for the measure conditional on federal approval of proposed pipelines.

Ontario News Round-up

The Liberal government’s election financing legislation, Bill 2,  passed second reading unanimously Tuesday – but the opposition parties still have complaints about the government’s reform efforts.

Both opposition parties object to the proposed ban on backbench MPP’s attending fundraising events and the limits placed on the Auditor-General’s ability to monitor government advertising it considers partisan.

Bill 2 has been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government and committee hearings are likely to be held shortly.

The key changes in the province’s election financing rules included in Bill 2 are as follows:

  • Reducing the total amount individuals can donate by almost 90 per cent (from $33,250 to $3,600 per year) — to a maximum of $1,200 to a political party, $1,200 to its candidates and $1,200 to its constituency associations or nomination contestants in an election year;
  • Strengthening the rules to address coordination between political actors and third parties;
  • Limits on third party, election-related  advertising; and
  • New rules capping spending on party leadership campaigns.

The government has also proposed further amendment to ban MPPs, candidates, party leaders, nomination contestants and leadership contestants from attending political fundraising events. That amendment was not included in the version of Bill 2 approved Tuesday and will be tabled in committee.


Climate change policies hit corporate push back

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Addresses Paris Climate Change Conference

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Addresses Paris Climate Change Conference. Despite Trudeau’s high profile Paris claim that “Canada is back”, almost all the heavy lifting on the climate change file is being done at the provincial level.

Prime Minister Trudeau received considerable media attention earlier this week in his appearances at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

But beyond the photo-ops starring our telegenic PM, the question still remains as to what exactly Canada is bringing to the table in Paris?

The context

The purpose of the Paris UN conference is to somehow reach an agreement covering the post-2020 period that would require participating countries to set carbon-reduction targets that, while not legally binding on individual countries, will be considered “moral” obligations.

What then is Canada proposing to contribute to the fight against global warming?

On the international front, Trudeau has already announced that Canada will contribute $2.65 billion over five years to help developing countries reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, doubling Canada’s current contribution. And in Paris he also reaffirmed a campaign pledge to invest $300 million in research and development on clean technology.

But the far trickier issue is how to reach the domestic emissions targets already established here at home.

Trudeau has committed to reducing Canada’s carbon emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. That’s the same target set by the Conservatives, the difference being that the Liberals regard it as “a floor, not a ceiling.” Most importantly, within 90 days of Paris he plans to host a meeting with the premiers to firm up the specific carbon-pricing policies and investments that will be required to make good on that pledge. Continue reading