Liberals' burning issue

One challenge of being in government is having a core message overshadowed or buried by unintended events, sometimes of its own making.

Such was the case back in November when the Liberals announced plans to “speed up” the end of coal power in Canada by 2030.

Unfortunately for the Liberals, breaking news of the Prime Minister and his cabinet’s cash for access fundraising events quickly buried the coal announcement and as a result it received little public scrutiny.

I believe many Canadians support the idea of reducing the use of coal power in Canada and would embrace the Liberal Government announcement to accelerate its end in Canada.

As much as the government would like to be viewed as taking action against coal power, many of Canada’s coal power producing provinces have already either eliminated the use of coal power, such as Ontario, or are well on the way to doing so as is the case in Alberta.

Meanwhile B.C., Quebec and Manitoba do not generate any significant amounts of coal power. So what provinces are Canada’s largest generators of coal power?

The answer is Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

Interestingly enough the Liberal Government has quietly made side deals with both Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia that will allow them to continue to generate and use coal power beyond the 2030 deadline.

In other words, the announcement to accelerate the end of coal power by 2030 was really more for show than substance.

Fortunately, both of these provinces are taking other measures that will help reduce the GHG emissions from their respective coal power sectors.

Another somewhat overlooked government announcement was a new national agreement on carbon. What is interesting about this particular national agreement is that it is not truly national.

Both Manitoba and Saskatchewan have refused to join this agreement and British Columbia has secured what could be interpreted as a future veto.

Also of interest is the fact that the agreement is not a centralized national strategy and instead allows provinces to independently follow their own strategies. 

In British Columbia, a revenue neutral carbon tax is used while Ontario prefers a cap and trade system.

Why is this fact of interest?

In Ontario, under their Cap and Trade system already it has been quietly announced that some of Ontario’s largest polluters such as steel and smelter plants are being exempted from the regulations.

Likewise here in British Columbia, greenhouse growers have also been largely exempted from carbon tax while industries such as cement production also receive taxpayer provided relief to offset carbon tax expenses.

Ironically, one of Saskatchewan’s arguments against a carbon tax is that it is pointless to tax industries only to return that same money in the form of subsidies or other relief related exemptions. 

The point of my report today is not to debate the merits of a carbon tax or coal power production in Canada, but to illustrate the government efforts to tackle these GHG emissions related industries may be more for appearance than substance.

Considering that the United States is moving in a different direction, it will be critically important to keep a close eye on both Canada's competitiveness and the effectiveness of the Liberal Government policy.

I welcome your comments, questions and concerns on this or any topic before the House of Commons and can be reached at [email protected] or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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