The Liberal cabinet’s approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will not make it harder for Canada to meet the emission reduction targets it agreed to in Paris, says Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
Adding another line to the existing TMX would triple the line’s capacity to 900 barrels a day, significantly adding to Canada’s overall emissions.
Wilkinson told CBC News’ The House that increase of 13 to 15 megatonnes in annual emissions is a big number, but it was already accounted for when Canada agreed in Paris to reduce its emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
“So our focus is on the implementation of that plan, to ensure that we meet the Paris targets and obviously, beyond 2030, to go much farther,” he said.
But many environmentalists and climate scientists insist Canada is not on track to meet even the 2030 target, and question the government’s commitment to the goal.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer reached a similar conclusion this week — that, based on the government’s current emissions projections, Canada would still fall well short of its emissions target of 513 megatonnes.
Wilkinson said Liberals have made enormous progress on environmental files while still balancing the interests of this country’s oil and gas sector.
“I do think that people need to understand that it is a transition … that will happen over the coming decades,” he said. “And in the context of that transition, Canada obviously needs to ensure that it is continuing to extract value for the resources it has.”
Wilkinson also said the decision to approve the project took into account the concerns of Indigenous groups in British Columbia, including those who oppose it.
“The test in terms of consultation is that you go out and listen and seek to accommodate and we did that through a range of initiatives we announced when the project was approved,” he said.
The Conservatives’ no-tax climate plan
While the Liberals approved a pipeline expansion, the Conservatives were looking for approval for their own climate plan, released this week after months of anticipation.
Andrew Scheer’s “A Real Plan To Protect our Environment” doesn’t include a carbon tax. Instead, it would require companies to pay into a green technology fund if they exceed a set cap on emissions, and restore a tax credit for people who renovate their homes to make them more energy efficient.
Deputy Conservative leader Lisa Raitt told The House her party believes these measures would have a greater impact on emissions than the Liberal carbon tax, and represent the best chance to meet Canada’s emissions targets by 2030.
But the plan doesn’t say how much emissions would be reduced, or how much money the Conservatives expect to collect from large emitters who exceed the cap.
“We put a plan together that’s going to go after emissions and put tools in the hands of people and industry to get it done,” Raitt said.
Raitt said the plan was put together after consulting with people from all walks of life.
“We’ve done our homework on this and we believe this is a combination of 55 different policies and investments that will work at the end of the day,” she said.
Raitt, who represents the Ontario riding of Milton, addressed questions about the upcoming fall election, and the impact budget cuts brought in by the Ontario government of Conservative Premier Doug Ford might have on her and other party candidates in the province.
Liberals announce national dementia strategy
While it didn’t get much attention, the federal government this week announced a new national strategy to combat dementia.
The federal government plans to spend $50 million over five years to help combat the condition, which affects nearly 420,000 Canadians over the age of 65 — two-thirds of them women.
The goal is to prevent dementia, find a cure and improve the lives of those living with it — and not just those stricken by it.
Right now, families and caregivers spend an average of 26 hours per week supporting a person with dementia. Health Canada says the costs and out-of-pocket expenses for those caregivers will top $16 billion by 2031.
“We want to make sure that we can provide people living with dementia the treatment and support that they need, but also providing the support for their loved ones as well, because we know that many times its loved ones that take care of their family members,” said Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor when announcing the strategy.
Keith Barrett lives in Ottawa’s east end with his wife Robin Meyers and their dog, Brooklyn.
Barett was diagnosed with young onset dementia two years ago. He was just 57 years old and his life has changed a lot since then.
He keeps a notebook with him to remind of his thoughts on everything, including the national dementia strategy. He said that being unable to remember basic things has sapped his confidence.
“It was a relief that it’s finally here,” he told The House, speaking of the announcement. “It gives a sense of optimism and structure to try and figure this out. It’s an incurable disease, as I believe most people know. Diagnosis is a challenge. Testing is a challenge and treatment … there’s nothing, really.
“I am hoping this will kind of align the forces in essence, to get this under control, because I do believe it is out of control. There are just under half a million people living with dementia now and I believe that that number is even low, and that’s not even involving all the care partners and families that are also impacted.”
Elections Canada drops plan to use ‘influencers’
Elections Canada has abandoned a plan to use social “influencers” to encourage young people to register to vote in the upcoming federal election.
The agency had been planning to release two videos (one in English, one in French) featuring 13 high-profile online personalities — Olympians, TV stars and music icons — to spread information about how young voters can register.
But after four rounds of vetting, Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault said the “past activities” of some of the influencers could be perceived as partisan — and decided to drop the project.
“It was clear from the outset that it had to be beyond any reproach, beyond any possible interpretation that, whether for lifestyle choices, or comments, or pictures, that these could be tied to a particular partisan point of view,” Perrault said in an interview airing today on The House.
Perrault did not go into detail about the “past activities” that came up during the vetting process, or say which influencers were causing concerns for Elections Canada.
“If I use examples, then it will start pointing fingers at some of them and I think that’s not fair. I think these people were in good faith and they wanted to support the election,” Perrault said.
Elections Canada budgeted $650,000 for the videos. Most of that money has been spent already; the agency said it is working to recover some of it.
The decision to drop the project comes weeks after it was harshly criticized by Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, who called the move “gross” and tweeted that it was “hard to trust the Liberal lapdogs at Elections Canada.”