More hot air from PM?

The House of Commons is sitting in Ottawa in a hybrid format, this week.

One of the Liberal governments signature bills — Bill C-12 — has come before the House for debate.

Bill C-12 is the “Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act” that the Liberals say will respect “transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.”

Here is some history on where Canada stands with GHG emission reductions.

In 1993, former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien promised to reduce our GHG emissions to 20% of 1988 levels by 2005.

That promise was broken.

In 1997, Chretien signed the Kyoto Accord that promised to reduce our emissions by a smaller amount of six per cent below 1990 levels that would be achieved by 2012.

In 2006, when the Liberals were voted out of office, Canada was 30% over that target and as a result, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper withdrew Canada from the Kyoto agreement.

In 2009, at the Copenhagen climate conference, Harper matched the U.S. target to cut GHG emissions by 17% of 2005 levels by 2020 and 30% by 2013, in what was a non-binding agreement.

In 2015, shortly after the election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent the largest Canadian delegation in history to attend the Paris Climate Change Conference, at a cost in excess of $1 million.

While in Paris, despite often criticizing the former Harper government, this Liberal government adopted those exact same targets.

The targets the Liberals adopted in 2015 are reported as being astray by 123 million tonnes in 2020, meaning that, once again, we are failing to meet our GHG emissions target reductions.

In Bill C-12, the Liberal government has taken a different approach.

Rather then announcing a new plan for today, the Prime Minister has announced that Canada will achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

How does that happen?

The legislation is silent on that.

Rather than providing a roadmap on how to achieve that goal, this bill instead proposes that it will be to some extent the current government, but mostly future governments to set binding climate targets to figure out a solution by 2050.

This would be accomplished by requiring future federal governments to set five-year interim emissions reduction targets over the next 30 years but that process would not begin until 2030.  

Critics have pointed out this means that there will not be any binding target for the current Trudeau Liberal government.

Many have also asked what happens under Bill C-12 if a future federal government fails to reach its emissions targets, as in the past and present, with our current Liberal government. 

The answer is that there is no formal penalty built into this bill.

This fact has drawn a strong rebuke from many critics.

The bill also calls for the creation of a 15-person panel who will make recommendations to the Minister of the Environment.

What is most interesting about this bill is that it will not hold the current government accountable for it’s many climate related promises made since 2015. 

It is largely focused on future governments, that the current government does not need to be accountable for.

My question for you this week:

  • What are your thoughts on Bill C-12? 

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

We should ban Huawei

I last referred to the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in January 2019.

In that weekly report, I mentioned that this technology company, aside from wireless devices, also produces hardware such as servers and other technologies that enable 5G wireless networks. 

5G networks empower autonomous vehicles and other automated machinery to operate and is widely considered to be essential for the emerging new digital economy.

Huawei is frequently referenced because many of Canada’s allies, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, have all banned Huawei 5G technology citing security concerns. 

The Conservative Opposition believes that Canada, as a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence network, should stand with them in banning Huawei from participating in our 5G rollout in Canada.

After my January 2019 report, Ralph Goodale, the former Liberal Public Safety Minister, stated his Liberal government would make a decision on Huawei before the 2019 federal election. 

That was May 1, 2019.

Then on July 30, 2019, the Trudeau Liberal government broke that promise and said the decision would not be made until after the 2019 election.

Fast forward to present day and it has been more than a year since the federal election and still Canadians cannot get a clear answer from this Liberal government on whether they stand with our 5G allies when it comes Huawei.

This week the Conservative Opposition in the House of Commons tabled the following motion:

That, given that (i) the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, is threatening Canada’s national interest and our values, including Canadians of Chinese origin within Canada’s borders, (ii) it is essential that Canada have a strong and principled foreign policy backed by action in concert with its allies, the House call upon the government to:
(a) make a decision on Huawei’s involvement in Canada’s 5G network within 30 days of the adoption of this motion; ?and 
b) develop a robust plan, as Australia has done, to combat China’s growing foreign operations here in Canada and its increasing intimidation of Canadians living in Canada, and table it within 30 days of the adoption of this motion.”

Although the vote has not yet occurred in the House of Commons at the time of my writing, early indications are that this motion will also be supported by the NDP and Bloc Québécois.

My question this week:

  • How would you vote on the Conservative opposition day motion?

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

Liberals actions troubling

Last week, with so much Canadian media attention focused on the American election, many events in Ottawa did not receive the headlines they might have.

The increasing lack of transparency we are experiencing from this Trudeau Liberal government, that promised it would be “open by default," is a growing concern of mine.

I will provide some examples.

Last week, Yves Giroux, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), released several reports. One of these reports was an assessment on how much the Liberal Government's pay equity program would actually cost.

This program aims to level out pay disparities between men and women in the public service.

I will quote directly from the PBO:

"The PBO requested the Government’s fiscal analysis of how much more money is expected to be spent to comply with the legislation. However, the Government refused to share this data."

This is alarming.

The PBO has suggested the federal wage bill costs could rise by $477 million starting in 2023-24.

The PBO also reported that the Finance Department had provided a:

 thorough public accounting every other week until August, but that practice ended when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament.”

Since the PM appointed a new Finance Minister, there have been no financial reports made available to the PBO, or to Canadians for that matter.

Yet another example occurred back on June 3, 2020.

In my former portfolio, as the shadow cabinet critic for employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, I asked if the minister could please tell us the current balance of the EI account.

Despite the minister promising this information as of this week, it has still not been made available.

This is very troubling as the EI account belongs to workers and the EI premiums paid must be sustainable. 

Considering so many Canadians pay into the EI fund with every pay cheque, why will this government not tell Canadians the balance of the EI account?

When this Prime Minister was elected, he wrote an open letter to Canadians where he:

“committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in Ottawa. Government and its information must be open by default. Simply put, it is time to shine more light on government to make sure it remains focused on the people it was created to serve.”

In reality, we are witnessing a Liberal government that refuses to provide critical information to the Parliamentary Budget Officer and to other Members of Parliament.  

To this day, several parliamentary committees continue to be filibustered by Liberal MPs.

We gone through the longest period in Canadian history without a federal budget being presented, a budget that is a necessary economic plan to get us through these challenging times.

My question this week: 

  • Are you concerned by this growing lack of transparency from this Liberal government?

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

Do you stream?

One of the oldest tactics of government is to release potentially unpopular or embarrassing information late on a Friday afternoon. 

This was a tactic to attempt to avoid the daily Monday-Friday print media cycle in the hopes that by Monday, different stories might be in the headlines.

In the days of social media, and the widespread use of the internet, governments have had to become more innovative in how they release information that may be unpopular or embarrassing.

Case in point on Tuesday, when many Canadians were closely watching the U.S. election unfold, the Trudeau Liberal government released the details of their proposed Bill C-10: “An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act.”

For those who subscribe to streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and other non-Canadian based streaming services, this bill may be of interest to you.

Bill C-10 proposes that these non-Canadian online streaming services be forced to “contribute to the creation, production, and distribution of Canadian music and stories.”

The Liberal Government has suggested this could result in these streaming companies paying as much as $880 million into what the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decides is "approved content" within this mandate.

For critics, this raises a few notable concerns.

Many believe that consumers should have the choice to decide what shows and music they subscribe to and download, not content forced onto them by the CRTC.

Many have also predicted any costs, above and beyond what is already invested into creating Canadian content, will simply be passed onto to consumers in the form of higher fees.

Another path streaming companies could take, instead of charging more, is to offer less content.

Rather than fund newly mandated Canadian content, some platforms may respond to new regulations by simply dropping their amount of total content available to stream, in order to artificially raise their amount of Canadian content. 

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is reported as saying he does not expect that forcing streaming services to pay as much as $880 million annually to support this mandatory content will lead to higher subscription costs or potentially less content for customers.

So who does the minister believe will pay?

Supporters of this bill point out that Canadian based companies providing these types of services are already forced to comply with this Canadian content requirement, as dictated by the CRTC, and argue this simply levels the playing field.

My question this week:

  • Do you support the CRTC dictating to online streaming companies, such as Netflix, how much mandatory Canadian content they must offer at the expense of Canadian consumers?

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

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

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.

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

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

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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