Policy

Where Are Canada's Missing Electric Cars?

Canada's missing electric vehicles

The race is on for electric vehicle supremacy.

Last week, China — the world’s second largest economy and consumer of about one-third of new cars — announced it will set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, in a move that is expected to accelerate the global push into the electric car market.

China joins Norway, France and the U.K. in announcing plans to phase out vehicles with internal combustion engines.

Goldman Sachs recently estimated that electric vehicles will make up 32 per cent of global auto sales by 2040.

So, as the world moves toward the rapid adoption of electric vehicles, where is Canada in all of this?

Is Trudeau Quietly Turning His Back On Fixing Canada’s Environmental Laws?

Justin Trudeau Environmental Reform DeSmog Canada

Scientists and environmental groups breathed a sigh of relief when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly followed through on a campaign promise to modernize Canada’s environmental laws.

Within a year of being elected, the Liberals initiated four parallel reviews of key environmental legislation weakened or eliminated under former prime minister Stephen Harper.

But now, as that review process is coming to a close, experts are back to holding their breath.

Amid Closure of B.C. Salmon Fisheries, Study Finds Feds Failed to Monitor Stocks

Adams River sockeye, A.S. Wright

Canada has failed to monitor and gather data on 50 per cent of all managed salmon populations on B.C.’s north and central coasts, according to a study released Monday in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Researchers from Simon Fraser University found the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is monitoring fewer streams now than before the introduction of a wild salmon policy in 2005 that was designed to assess the health of wild salmon populations and aid those deemed at risk.

Our knowledge of salmon populations in B.C. is eroding,” study co-author and Simon Fraser University researcher Michael Price told DeSmog Canada. “And it’s really frustrating.”

A number of salmon fisheries, including the Fraser and Skeena River sockeye fisheries, closed due to low salmon runs this summer.

Price and co-researcher John Reynolds found that since the 1980s, annual counts of spawning streams have declined by 70 per cent.

Regulations, Not Carbon Pricing, Are Key to Reducing Emissions, Expert Says

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna earlier this month said the federal government does not have a preferred carbon pricing system. Whether the provinces and territories go with cap and trade or a carbon tax, McKenna simply wants to see Canada produce less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“I just care about how do we reduce emissions at the end of the day,” McKenna said during a panel discussion on Canadian climate action in Ottawa. “That is the most important piece.”

Unlike the previous federal government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has made putting a price on carbon pollution a priority. A recent meeting between premiers and the federal government on a national climate strategy nearly broke down last March because of the Trudeau government’s insistence on a national minimum carbon price.

“The carbon pricing lobby sucked all the air out of the room,” leading Canadian energy economist Mark Jaccard told DeSmog Canada. “What we should be doing is looking at those jurisdictions that have made progress and learn from them instead of closing our eyes saying ‘I want a carbon price and don’t bother me with the evidence.'”

Shady Corporate and Foreign Donations Don’t Belong in B.C. Elections: New Poll

Christy Clark recently turned down the opportunity to limit foreign and corporate donations to political parties in campaigns. She justified her position by simply stating, “I represent everyone.”
 
Yet a new poll conducted by Insights West found the vast majority of British Columbians — 86 per cent — support a ban on both corporate and union political donations.
 
The poll, conducted on behalf of the Dogwood Initiative, a democracy advocacy organization, suggests Clark’s cozy relationship with major foreign and corporate donors could put her in the hot seat leading into the province’s next election.
 
That seat is likely to be even hotter after revelations Clark takes a cut of funds donated to the B.C. Liberal party through exclusive cash-for-access events that can cost up to $20,000 dollars to attend.
 
A high percentage of B.C. Liberal donors, 81 per cent, and an even higher number of B.C. NDP voters, 91 per cent, support putting a ban on corporate and union donations before the next election.

Trudeau Instructs Minister of National Revenue to Free Charities from Political Harassment

Environmental and left-leaning charities can breath a sigh of relief now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has instructed Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier to modernize Canada’s archaic charity law and clarify rules around allowable “political activity.”

The ministry should “allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment,” Trudeau wrote in a ministerial mandate letter Friday, “with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy.”

The new mandate signals a remarkable change in tone from the at times aggressive stance of the former government.

In 2012 the Harper government allocated $13.4 million to the Canada Revenue Agency for the audit of charities to determine if groups were in violation of rules that limit their spending on “political activity” to 10 per cent of resources. The program also instituted new reporting for charities receiving foreign funding.

7 Ways Trudeau Can Make Our Cities More Resilient

Perhaps the most appealing environmental policy change proposed by the federal Liberals — besides acknowledging climate change is a real and destructive force, of course — is its commitment to invest in green infrastructure and public transit.

During the election, the Liberal government promised to put $125 billion on the table for infrastructure investments in the next decade — representing a doubling of the $65 billion pledged by the previous government. Of that, some $20 billion has been earmarked for public transit funding, with another $20 billion promised for other green infrastructure projects.

Light-rail transit, wastewater facilities, electric vehicle charging stations, wildfire protection, renewable energy projects, climate impact analysis — you name it, and it was probably on the list of ideas forwarded by the party during the marathon 78-day election that eventually crowned party leader Justin Trudeau as the next prime minister of Canada.

But now comes the very tricky part: translating very lofty rhetoric about greening the country into reality.

We asked experts across Canada to break down where the funds are needed and how Trudeau and his cabinet can get the best bang for their buck in terms of mitigating climate change.

Feds Reviewing Arctic Drilling Rules At Industry’s Request, Internal Memos Show

The federal government is currently reviewing Arctic drilling laws at the request of the petroleum industry, according to information released through Access to Information legislation.

The memos show a review of the Canada Petroleum Resources Act is underway after Imperial Oil, ExxonMobil, BP and Chevron “requested the [Act] be amended to increase the maximum term of exploration licences to 16 years.”

Licences are currently granted for nine years but the memo, prepared by ministerial staff for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt, notes companies want longer licences because “industry’s interest today is in much deeper water and in areas not previously explored.” 

A second memo states industry identified preferred changes to existing law: “Industry stakeholders have identified changes to the regime, which merit consideration, the implementation of which would require either legislative amendment or changes in federal policy.”

Fraser Institute and Other Right-Wing Charities Underreporting Political Activities to CRA: Broadbent Institute Report

A new report from the Broadbent Institute is raising questions once again about the political activity audits conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and whether or not the agency has unfairly focused on charities with missions that don’t align with the interests of the federal government.

The report finds nine out of 10 prominent right-wing charities claimed zero per cent of their budgets were used for political activity in the most recent fiscal year. The final filing for the tenth organization has yet to be submitted or made public by the CRA.

The report is an update of a similar October 2014 investigation, which discovered all 10 charitable organizations reported zero political activities between 2011 and 2013. That investigation led the Broadbent Institute to call for an independent inquiry into the CRA’s audits to ensure charities under investigation aren’t the target of political attack.

The new report, which reviews the 2014 filings of the 10 organizations in light of their public activities, renews calls for an independent inquiry “to ensure transparency and fairness in the CRA’s decision-making.”

Wall Street Warns About Cost Of Doing Nothing On Climate Change

As President Obama heads to the Arctic to discuss climate change, just mere weeks after approving Shell Oil’s bid to drill for oil in the treacherous Chukchi Sea, a very different group is sounding the alarm over the dangers of a warming climate. That group, surprisingly, is Wall Street bankers.

Citibank has released a new report showing that taking action now against the growing threat of climate change would save an astonishing $1.8 trillion by the year 2040. Conversely, the report says that if no action is taken, the economy will lose as much as $44 trillion during that same time period.

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