Canadians agree on the importance of protecting our environment and it is a critical issue for me personally. I worked on green energy issues and environmental policy as a lawyer. I wrote about environmental issues and raised funds for conservation efforts in my hometown all before I ever ran for Parliament. I did not discover the environment after my election, but have always tried to be conscious of the need to preserve our water, lands and air for the future while balancing the real needs of our economy and opportunity for a country rich in resources like Canada. My track record and real experience in the economy working with job creators allows me to bring practical balance to this important issue.
Despite what our political opponents and some special interest groups may claim, Conservative governments, both federally and provincially, have a long record of practical and successful environmental initiatives, including:
- Tackling Acid Rain with a coordinated Canada-US approach;
- Expanding our national parks;
- Preserving wetlands and conservation spaces;
- Implementing the Chemicals Management Plan to remove dangerous substances from our environment;
- Working on technological innovation including carbon sequestration technology; and
- The creation of a realistic plan to phase out coal-fired power plants.
These initiatives have given us a cleaner environment – without damaging our economy.
Unfortunately, the Trudeau Liberals have chosen a more ideological approach at the expense of our economy. Time after time, PM Trudeau and his Ministers choose platitudes over practicality. They prefer to travel abroad and make promises for the praise of others despite the fact they know their promises will hurt families here at home. This is a primary cause of the Liberal Jobs Crisis.
I know that it can be difficult to make choices that balance the needs of the economy and the environment. We must preserve our shared environment for future generations without sacrificing the jobs Canadians need today or damaging the private sector economy that helps fund our social programs.
To achieve our goal of preserving our shared environment without sacrificing the jobs Canadians need, an O’Toole government will apply the following core principles:
- Ensure that all decisions are free from bias against an industry and that policies will be based on peer-reviewed science alongside direct input from job creators, unions and other private sector stakeholders impacted by the policy;
- Focus on measurable results that have the least disruptive impact on economic activity and employment;
- Remember that the root of environment protection is prosperity – here at home and even more so in countries that Canada supports through our foreign aid programs. We do not serve the environment by implementing programs that impoverish Canadians. We hurt the planet by holding back the development of the developing world, keeping people in energy poverty;
- Stop using the precautionary principle in government decision-making and instead use risk analysis and cost-benefit analysis. The precautionary principle results in the misallocation of resources – meaning that we spend money in areas where it doesn’t achieve the environmental benefits that it could in other areas;
- Embrace environmentally friendly technology like carbon capture and sequestration and the work of innovators like the members of the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. Too often, technology and capitalism are portrayed as threats to the environment. This could not be further from the case. It is only through the work of innovators and entrepreneurs that we will be able to hand our children a cleaner planet than the one we inherited from our parents; and
- Focus on incentives via property rights. We should reward people for preserving ecosystems, instead of punishing them by blocking development on the land they own.
Guided by these principles, an Erin O’Toole government will take action in the following areas to create jobs while preserving our environment:
End the Trudeau Carbon Tax
Justin Trudeau is being advised by the same Ontario Liberal team that destroyed the reliable and cost-effective electricity system in Ontario with failed policies rushed through the legislature under the guise of “green” initiatives. They are now bringing the same misguided and damaging policies to our national economy.
The family that needs to commute from their homes in the suburbs to jobs in the city are not the cause of global warming. Nor is a single senior on a fixed income living in rural Canada who relies on home heating oil to heat her home. The Trudeau carbon tax is making these Canadians pay for the ill-considered promises he made abroad. Trudeau thinks that his carbon tax will force people to change their behaviour so they don’t have to pay higher costs, but this very premise shows how disconnected the Trudeau Liberals are from the reality facing Canadians.
The family commuting to their job cannot move or find a new job closer to home: they will just pay more.
The senior heating her home cannot put solar panels on her roof or wear a second sweater: she will just pay more.
Trudeau’s Carbon Tax will only plunge Canada deeper into a Jobs Crisis.
Canada has shared an integrated economy with the United States since the 1950s Auto Pact. Billions of dollars of trade and just-in-time manufacturing parts flow back and forth across the Canada-US border every day. The US is Canada’s largest customer, but it also represents our largest and closest competitor for jobs and investment. An input cost for carbon under the Trudeau carbon tax plan will put our economy at a competitive disadvantage to the US. It should be noted, that despite the so-called “bromance” between Trudeau and Obama, the previous US administration did not even consider implementing a national carbon tax. The new Trump administration has made it very clear that they certainly not implement a carbon tax either, so why are we doing it?
Will the next capital investment for an auto manufacturer go to Oshawa, Oakville or Windsor with the Trudeau/Wynne cap & trade carbon tax, or will investment go mere kilometres away to similar plants in Michigan without such input costs?
Will billions of capital investment go into Saskatchewan or Alberta to develop the Bakken shale deposit, or will the investment go just south to the United States, where the development of the same geological formation will not be subject to a Notley/Trudeau carbon tax?
Justin Trudeau is putting our entire economy at a competitive disadvantage. We need a better approach.
The world will not move away from fossil fuels until non-emitting sources of energy can compete on cost. As true as this is for Canadians struggling to pay the bills, it is even more the case in the developing world. We simply cannot ask leaders to condemn their people to energy poverty nor hold back development and the hope and opportunity that it brings. Instead, Canada can show leadership by helping to create a future where zero emission energy can compete. We won’t get there by forcing Canadians to adopt it today, particularly when our major competitors and trade partners are not advancing these policies.
Instead, an O’Toole government will make real strides to reduce GHG emissions through a practical approach. I will:
- Fund research to advance non-GHG emitting energy technology and cut its cost;
- Provide accelerated capital cost allowance incentives for investments in carbon footprint reducing technologies for the largest emitters of GHG to encourage these investments by allow them to be depreciated faster; and
- Establish a 10, 15 and 20 year corporate tax reduction schedule for the largest GHG emitters who can step down their emissions over these timelines without any large production or employment decreases.
Average Canadians paying more in tax without reducing any paltry impact they have on our national GHG emissions is not a solution, but dealing in a practical and predictable fashion with out largest emitters is. Instead of hitting Canadians with the carbon tax stick hoping they will change their behaviour like the Trudeau government is intent to do, an O’Toole government will use a tax reduction carrot to push the largest emitters to reduce their emissions over time. This will deal in real results and will not raise taxes and the costs for goods for Canadians.
An O’Toole government will also put a major focus on conservation including scientific research needed to understand how much carbon Canada sequesters and how much that capacity could be increased. The knowledge gained will be used to develop incentives to increase carbon sequestration in Canada through methods like improved forest management practices, advances in soil management and other farm practices as well as the protection, enhancement and expansion of wetlands. Wetland enhancement, for example, not only sequesters carbon, but it can have the additional benefits of flood mitigation and biodiversity enhancement.
Conservation efforts will also include the excellent work done by the Harper government to expand Canada’s system of national parks and protected areas. I was very proud to be part of a government that created the Rouge National Urban Park – the first of its kind in my area of Ontario. I was also proud that we worked towards the protection of the gem that is Sable Island off the coast of Nova Scotia. I had the privilege of visiting this special place and seeing its wild horses up close on one of my RCAF missions to the island.
We will also work to better protect the southern working landscape, conserving habitats, protecting biodiversity, improving water quality and management, and improving air quality. Canada is a vast land of lakes, rivers and forests that together sequester carbon and provide us the clean air and water that are critical to our lives.
An O’Toole government will take action to protect these lands – the lungs of Canada. One way this will be done will be through incentives based around property rights – incenting farmers and other landowners for providing ecological services – as mentioned in my policy paper on Agriculture. We will work with direct input from the frontline conservation community – hunters, anglers, trappers, and farmers – the people who actually live and care for the land. They are the people that place conservation at the centre of everything they do.
Ending the Practice of Exempting Favoured Projects from Environmental Rules: Rigorous environmental assessments and enforcement of protections like Migratory birds should apply to all energy projects – including renewables.
Harnessing the Enthusiasm of Canada’s Outdoor Communities: Canada’s outdoor communities, including hunters and anglers, take practical actions to restore wildlife habitats, enhance wetlands, preserve biodiversity, and conserve ecologically important lands. An O’Toole government will create a program to help fund the materials costs of these volunteer-led projects. The program will be funded with money repurposed from funds the Trudeau government has committed abroad for environmental initiatives that will be difficult to monitor effectively for impact.
Harnessing the Enthusiasm of Young Canadians: Young Canadians are passionate about the environment and want to do their part to preserve our planet. An O’Toole government will help them do so in multiple ways, including funding programs to teach youth about the environment (such as Earth Rangers, a great organization that receives federal funding thanks to the last Conservative government). An O’Toole government will also dedicate specific summer job funding to create the Local Green Team concept, where students advance and work on local and regional environmental and conservation initiatives in their communities. This initiative will also have dedicated funding for a specialized Northern Green Team, where youth from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities re-locate for the summer to help remediate contaminated sites across the North under the supervision of the project and science teams from the Department of National Defence, Parks Canada and Natural Resources.
The Brian Mulroney Prize for Green Technology Innovation: An O’Toole government will create an annual innovation award valued at $5 million awarded to a university, research nstitution or Canadian company that has advanced green technology innovation or process improvements in one of the following priority areas: Water Reduction in Resource Development, Water Remediation technologies including any specialized advancements for the improvement of water quality on remote aboriginal reserves, Carbon Reduction or Sequestration, re-cycling of spent nuclear fuel, or any innovation that allows for a significant cost savings for the use of Nuclear, Solar, Wind or Bio-gas technology. The prize will be named for the Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney, the former Conservative Prime Minister who was recognized as Canada’s Greenest Prime Minister.
Other Environmental Initiatives: An O’Toole government will look for other ways to keep our environment cleaner for our children. Each initiative will be evaluated according to the core principles outlined in this paper to ensure that the balance between the environment and the economy is real and not the politicized platitudes of the Trudeau government.