The Throne Speech and the Environment

The good news is that yesterday’s Speech from the Throne, laying out the Federal Government’s policy agenda, contained a number of references to environmental policy. However, the value of the commitments seems to GallonDaily to be somewhat less than that which environmentally concerned Canadians might be seeking. Significantly, there is no reference in the Throne Speech to climate change, suggesting that the centre of government may not have got over its aversion to using those two words. However, the government does state that it will build on its record as the first government to achieve an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions [see EUROPE WILL MEET CARBON EMISSION TARGETS: NEW SCIENCE-BASED REPORT below for an alternate perspective on this theme] by working with provinces to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sectors while ensuring Canadian companies remain competitive.

The Throne Speech also contains the following statements of intent related to environment and sustainable development:

  • Canada’s energy reserves are vast—sufficient to fuel our growing economy and supply international customers for generations to come. However, for Canadians to benefit fully from our natural resources we must be able to sell them. A lack of key infrastructure threatens to strand these resources at a time when global demand for Canadian energy is soaring. We must seize this moment. The window for gaining access to new markets will not remain open indefinitely. Now more than ever, our future prosperity depends on responsible development of these resources.
  • Our Government believes, and Canadians expect, that resource development must respect the environment. Our Government’s plan for responsible resource development includes measures to protect against spills and other risks to the environment and local communities. Our Government will:
    • Enshrine the polluter-pay system into law;
    • Set higher safety standards for companies operating offshore as well as those operating pipelines, and increase the required liability insurance;
    • Re-introduce the Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act, to protect our oceans and coasts; and
    • Act on advice from the Expert Panel on Tanker Safety, to create a world-class tanker safety system in Canada.
  • Our Government has supported fishermen by ensuring proper management of fish stocks and by opening new markets worldwide. It will continue to be open to solutions, supported by fishermen, that strengthen the economic competitiveness of this traditional pillar of our coastal economy.
  • Forestry remains essential to Canada’s rural economy, supporting almost 200,000 jobs across the country. Our Government secured and extended the softwood lumber agreement with the United States. And our Government will continue to support innovation and pursue new export opportunities for Canadian companies.
  • Over the next decade, our Government will invest 70 billion dollars in federal, provincial, territorial and community infrastructure. Projects such as building subways in the Greater Toronto Area, replacing Montréal’s Champlain Bridge, building a new Windsor-Detroit crossing and constructing Vancouver’s Evergreen Line will create jobs across our country.
  • To foster Canadian productivity and global competitiveness, our Government provided 1.4 billion dollars in tax relief to manufacturing companies investing in modern machinery and equipment. And our new Advanced Manufacturing Fund will support new products and production methods.
  • Transformation of the National Research Council, doubling the Industrial Research Assistance Program, and the new Venture Capital Action Plan are all helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development.
  • Building on this strong foundation, our Government will release an updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy.
  • Our Government will continue making targeted investments in science and innovation chains from laboratory to market in order to position Canada as a leader in the knowledge economy.
  • Our Government will work with the provinces and territories to further strengthen food inspection regimes.
  • Our Government will consult with Canadian parents to improve the way nutritional information is presented on food labels.
  • Protect Canada’s rich natural heritage by unveiling a new National Conservation Plan to further increase protected areas, focusing on stronger marine and coastal conservation.
  • Complete, by 2015, its work to protect wilderness lands in Nááts’ihch’oh, Bathurst Island and the Mealy Mountains.
  • Work with communities, non-profit organizations, and businesses to create and protect more green space in our urban and suburban areas.
  • Take further action to improve air quality nationwide.
  • We will take targeted action to increase the safety of the transportation of dangerous goods.
  • Building community resilience can mitigate the worst impacts of natural disasters and other emergencies before they happen. Our Government will work with provinces and territories to develop a National Disaster Mitigation Program, focused on reducing the impact of natural disasters.
  • Our Government will help the world’s neediest by partnering with the private sector to create economic growth in the developing world.

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