Throne Speech passes with support from NDP, promises to deliver climate action now

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OTTAWA – The Speech from the Throne passed last week with support from the NDP. While it focused heavily on the COVID-19 pandemic, climate action was named as a cornerstone of the Liberal government’s plan “to support and create a million jobs across the country” and included a commitment to immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal and legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

In the speech, read by The Right Honourable Julie Payette, governor general, the government promised to create thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings; to invest in reducing the impact of climate-related disasters like floods and wildfires; to help deliver more transit and active transit options, and to make zero-emission vehicles more affordable while investing in more charging stations across the country.

Climate change presents both a challenge and an opportunity for Canadians; the government wants Canada to be the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies and will launch a new fund to attract investments in making zero-emissions products, promising to cut the corporate tax rate in half for companies that create clean technology jobs. 

The NDP is waiting to see what the language from the Throne Speech looks like once it becomes pieces of legislation, said Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes. “Many of the items discussed were actually in the NDP platform last year. However, if the government delivers half-measures as it wants to do for pharmacare, the language in the speech will have no effect on the work that must be done if we are to make any headway on climate change.”

A good example of adapting to a carbon-neutral future is building zero emissions vehicles and batteries, the governor general said. Canada has the resources, from nickel to copper, needed for these clean technologies. 

The government reaffirmed its commitment to moving forward with the Clean Power Fund to transform how we power our economy and communities. It also indicated support for investments in renewable energy and next generation clean energy and technology solutions. “Canada cannot reach net zero without the knowhow of the energy sector and the innovative ideas of all Canadians, including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador,” the governor general said. 

The NDP is reserving comment on the government’s green energy plans also. “Given that the Liberals have missed every single climate target that they’ve set, we know that without real climate action, they will keep missing them,” said Ms. Hughes. “Given the current pandemic, it is imperative that the government must ensure that key investments are focused on the immediate creation of sustainable jobs, retrofits and building affordable, sustainable housing as well as investments in public transit to lower emissions.”

The government said it will continue its policy of putting a price on pollution while returning that money to Canadians. More plastic recycling is on its radar and a ban on single-use plastics will be implemented next year. The government will also modernize Canada’s Environmental Protection Act. 

The government will continue to develop and implement a new Canada Water Agency “to keep our water safe, clean and well-managed” and will look for ways to build more resilient water and irrigation infrastructure. The government will work to create opportunities for fishers and coastal communities while taking into consideration reconciliation and conservation. The government also committed to work with municipalities to expand urban parks and protect a quarter of Canada’s oceans and land within five years and will use nature-based solutions to fight climate change. 

Details of how the plan will be implemented and what it will cost will be released in a fiscal update later this fall.