Is PM's 'promise' a promise?

As the Official Opposition, it is our job to hold the government accountable and at the same time to provide information to citizens that the government may not widely share or present in great detail.

An example of this can be found in the recent media headline “Trudeau announces ban on single-use plastics by 2021.”

This was an actual media headline quoted directly from a Global news story.

I believe most Canadians are supportive of the idea of taking action on the growing problem of plastic pollution that can have devastating impacts, particularly in sensitive marine habitats.

Often these sensitive marine habitats are polluted by developing countries that do not have proper waste disposal and recycling systems or rogue fishing operations that break maritime waste management protocols.

However, as Canadians, we should always look to make improvements to ensure a clean environment.

The idea of taking action on this front requires a credible plan to be successful and the Prime Minister’s plan to ban single use plastics is deserving of scrutiny.

For starters, the Prime Minister actually made no promise to ban single use plastics by 2021.

The date of 2021 is an interesting one as the leader of the NDP made a similar promise recently, only setting their date at 2022.

So what did the Prime Minister actually say?

The promise was to “ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021.”

Note the word "early.”

So the actual promise has no firm deadline whatsoever.

One may also ask what is exactly meant by a “harmful single use plastic?”

In this case the promise suggests this will be determined by “scientific evidence” and where ”warranted.”

In other words, there is no clear definition.

What we do know about the Canadian plastic sector is that it has estimated annual sales of $10 billion in plastic resin and a further $25 billion in products for a total value of $35 billion, roughly five per cent of sales in our domestic manufacturing sector.

From a waste perspective, some of the most common forms of plastic waste are found in plastic packaging that comprises 43% of total plastic waste.

Automotive plastic waste is nine per cent, textiles seven per cent and electronic equipment is seven per cent. Other uses make up the remainder.

A few more important questions remain unanswered.

What is the specific timeline?

What happens when there is not an alternative replacement product to a single use plastic, such as in the medical field?

What would be the total costs to achieve this plan and who would pay for it?

Since provinces have jurisdiction over waste management and recycling, have they been consulted and are all provinces supportive?

If I sound sceptical, it is largely because I am.

It appears this plan to reduce single use plastics is well meaning but short on details — more so with a fall election in the offing.

This Prime Minister has a habit of making promises.

For example:

  • A balanced budget in 2019.
  • The 2015 election was to be the last to use first past the post.
  • A Liberal government would not use omnibus budget bills that he makes no effort to fulfil.

My question this week:

  • Do you believe this is a credible plan to reduce single use plastics?


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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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