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Trudeau Government- Changes in Energy Policies

By: Sussex Strategy Group

During the recent esussexxlection campaign Prime Minister Trudeau created a clear differentiation between himself and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, particularly when he committed to a significant set of policies that focused on clean, green, and renewable energy. For provinces that are already heavily invested in these areas, it is validation of their approach by the new federal government and support to stay the course despite mounting pressure due to increased electricity prices and volatility in the oil patch. It also opens up the possibility of new funding supports for projects that provinces and municipalities were already planning to pursue, or may now put on their radar. New clean power generation, new transmission lines, efforts to help First Nation communities free themselves from reliance on diesel generation, development of new energy efficiency technologies – these projects will now have new opportunities for federal support that did not necessarily exist a month ago.

Position of the Trudeau Government

In an important shift, Prime Minister Trudeau has promised to end subsidies to oil companies. However, he offered $200 million a year to support innovation and clean technologies in forestry, energy and agriculture and $100 million to clean technology companies. Prime Minister Trudeau had also gone on record to support the Keystone XL pipeline to the United States and he conditional supports the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. But he is opposed to the Northern Gateway project in British Columbia and has been vague on Energy East to New Brunswick.

One of the new Prime Minister’s first forays onto the international stage will be his attendance at the United Nation’s climate change summit (COP21) in Paris that will be held early in December. In February 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau said he would set ‘pragmatic’ targets on greenhouse gas emissions and allow the provinces to develop their own policies to meet the obligations, but was not specific on a target. He also committed to meeting with the provinces within 90 days of this year’s UN climate summit and to work with them to set national emissions-reduction targets.


Natural Resources Minister- James Carrjames carr

The new Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable James (Jim) Carr, is the former Deputy Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party from 1988-1992, and has served as a critic in the portfolio of Energy.

While he has had exposure to the electricity sector previously, his involvement in the oil and gas sector is very limited. Hailing from the riding of Winnipeg South Centre, this first-time MP is a former journalist, musician and administrator. Before entering provincial politics he was Executive Director of the Manitoba Arts Council, and also worked as a reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press. From 1992 to 1997, Carr was on the editorial board of the Winnipeg Free Press. In 1998, he became President and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba, an organization which he co-founded. In his role as the President of the Business Council of Manitoba, Carr advocated for a temporary increase to the PST by 1% to assist municipalities with their infrastructure deficits.


Minister of the Environment and Climate Change- Catherine McKenna catherina mckenna

The new Minister of the Environment is the Honourable Catherine McKenna, a former legal advisor and negotiator for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor. The Minister laterco-founded Level (previously known as Canadian Lawyers Abroad) and might be considered to be an international and social activist. She was the Executive Director of the Banff Forum, a prominent national organization that brings together young Canadian leaders to debate public policy issues with the objective of building a better Canada. The Minister also lectured at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and is a board member at the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Based on the description of her Portfolio, and the Liberal Party platform, it looks like the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change will have some program spending power and not just be a policy department.

We believe that a major part of her role will be as a prominent salesperson of Canada’s activism on climate change on the world stage. The Prime Minister has a great deal riding on the Paris Climate Change Summit (COP21) in December, and her knowledge of the international realm is key in her new job.


Analysis and Advice

The new energy focus has interesting and varying implications for different provinces. The old government had great alignment on energy with Alberta for many years. Support for Canada’s oil sands development was a hallmark of both former Conservative governments. The new Liberal government has alignment with Alberta too – except it aligns with the new NDP government of Rachel Notley which shares many fundamental goals with the Trudeau’s Liberals. They share similar views with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, interest in clean and green energy and a more activist stance with regard to the environment.

  • What will be interesting to see will be the influence of each government on the other with regards to support of nuclear in Canada and refurbishment projects in Ontario, as well as the future of fossil fuel use for power generation.
  • Ontario also continues to seek to develop its Ring of Fire resources. Part of the energy solution for mining through infrastructure development and new transmission lines also provides assistance to bring clean energy to remote and First Nations communities.
  • We believe provinces that are already pursuing carbon pricing and trading will find an active participant and supporter in this government.
  • examine the supports for clean and green energy-related technologies as well as renewable green energy production in order to position themselves for greater access to government program funds that will be made available in the near to medium term.
  • examine the supports for clean and green energy-related technologies as well as renewable green energy production in order to position themselves for greater access to government program funds that will be made available in the near to medium term.  Projects to support Aboriginal communities, projects in key electoral areas (heavy major urban emphasis), transit, health and social infrastructure, and projects that help to achieve climate change goals are most likely to have a greater chance of approval.


Federal Liberal Government’s Environmental Platform

Below is a list of the commitments listed in Trudeau’s Environmental Plan along with some excerpts:


Creating Green Jobs to Grow Economy

Taking Action on Climate Change 

We will provide national leadership and join with the provinces and territories to take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution

Investing in Clean Technologies 

We will deliver more support to emerging clean tech manufacturing companies, making it easier for them to conduct research and bring new products to market;

Creating Clean Jobs and Investment 

We will also invest $200 million more each year to support innovation and the use of clean technologies in our natural resource sectors, including the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy, and agricultural sectors;


Protecting Our Environment While Growing Our Economy

Restoring Credibility to Environmental Assessments

We will make environmental assessments credible again;  Launch an immediate, public review of Canada’s environmental assessment processes;

Preserving and Promoting Our National Parks

To protect ecosystems and species at risk, we will invest $25 million each year to develop Canada’s National Parks system, as well as manage and expand National oceansWildlife Areas and Migratory Bird  Sanctuaries. We will protect our National Parks by limiting development within them, and where possible, we will work with nearby communities to help grow local ecotourism industries and create jobs and;  We will preserve and promote Canada’s National Parks.

Protecting our Freshwater and Oceans

We will protect our freshwater and oceans;  Review changes to the Fisheries Act, and the Harper Government’s elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, restore lost protections, and incorporate more modern safeguards;


liberalClick here to read the full environmental platform –> Real Change:  A New Plan for Canada’s Environment and Economy

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