As 2018 finally rings in, so do new opportunities for the federal government to begin implementing influential changes in climate change policy and the North American Free Trade Agreement. These topics have been a major talking point both in Canada and internationally this past year, and with 2018 rolling in now is the time for these topics to switch from just discussions to action.
Photo 1: Carbon pollution in an industrial factory
Climate change policy has been a huge topic discussed for 2018, especially with the release of the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. One of the major legislations part of the framework include the federal government imposing a carbon price as part of their zero-emission strategy to phase out coal-fueled energy by 2030 (Rabson, 2017). The federal government plans on imposing this tax on the provinces not able to fulfil their standards on their own. The plan looks to price carbon at $10/tonne this year and then phase to rise $10 each year after until 2022 where it will be $50/tonne (Rabson, 2017).
Manitoba and Saskatchewan decided to not join the climate change framework, however they did release their own climate change plans this past fall. Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, publically stated that it was a good sign that these provinces were at least recognizing climate change issues, but their current plans will not be able to meet the federal governments goals and standards if not improved (Rabson, 2017). With climate change expected to be the main topic in the G7 leader’s summit in Quebec, the federal government needs to start implementing the legislations found in the Pan Canadian Framework, including carbon tax, across all provinces as quickly as possible in order for Canada to be seen as a top international leader in climate change and sustainability among its other G7 peers (Rabson, 2017).
Photo 2: U.S President Donald Trump speaking with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
This year is also an important year for determining the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, with Trump and his government being very vocal towards their attitudes of its current state. Despite the fact that Trump’s issues of the NAFTA Agreement may stem from his views of Mexico, Canada is at risk of dangerous consequences with this agreement being changed for the worst. The benefits of this agreement has allowed for the free trade of goods between the US, Canada, and Mexico since its implementation in the 90’s, providing economic benefits for all three countries (Simpson, 2018).
This past week cabinet ministers headed to the United States in efforts to promote NAFTA negotiations. In the previous year there have been minimum movements towards NAFTA from past negotiations, so Canadian trade negotiators are under pressure to make sure that this new round of talks start to go towards Canada’s favor (Simpson, 2018). It is important that Canada not only makes sure that the NAFTA agreement stays implemented, but also reiterate their goals of increased environmental and sustainability provisions and regulations to combat climate change issues. Although this will most likely be a difficult task considering the current US government’s stance on environmental issues at this point, it will be necessary that Canadian representatives focus on the economic advantages long-term of implementing environmental and climate change policies (Simpson, 2018).
I think it’s safe to say that the federal government has a lot of work ahead of them this year. While 2017 was the year of discussion on the issues of climate change and NAFTA, 2018 needs to be the year of the implementation of their targets. However, with the Trump era not making it easy, Canada needs to push now more than ever to make their environmental goals become a reality.
Rabson, M. (2017, December 08). Ottawa is Dragging its Feet on Climate Change Plan, Critics Say. Retrieved January 07, 2018, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/federal-climate-framework-1.4439184
Simpson, K. (2018, January 05). Canada’s NAFTA Charm Offensive Kicks into High Gear. Retrived January 07, 2018, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cabinet-ministers-visit-us-to-promote-trade-1.4472822