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September Throne Speech Will Include ‘Ambitious Green Agenda’, Trudeau Says

The federal government’s Speech from the Throne will lay out an “ambitious green agenda” that sets the stage for a “long-term recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic, leads the way on Canada’s shift to renewable energy and response to the climate crisis, and looks out for people working in industries affected by the transition, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Global News Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the PM conducted a virtual meeting with business leaders in British Columbia, “focusing on green economic recovery efforts as the country continues to grapple with fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic,” Global reports.

“We know the world is going towards greater energy efficiency. We know the world is going towards lower carbon. We know that the world is moving towards more renewable energy,” Trudeau said. “This is the way the world is going,” and Canada can seize the moment of opportunity created by the pandemic.

“We have an opportunity to go green. We have an opportunity to be fairer, to reduce barriers for women’s participation (and) Indigenous participation in the work force,” he told Global’s Sophie Lui. “There are so many things that we can look at as an opportunity through this tragedy of COVID to do bigger things.”

The current dynamics in Parliament mean that “parliamentarians can decide, because we’re in a minority situation, whether this government has the support to move forward on this new agenda that, quite frankly, nobody ran an election on a year ago because we didn’t know about COVID,” Trudeau added.

Global News has the full interview with Trudeau here

In a media interview earlier in the week, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said Ottawa is planning to use lessons learned from the pandemic to kick-start the economy.

“Canada’s success in turning on a dime to manufacture all the masks, respirators, ventilators, and pandemic gear Canadians need is an experience that can be replicated in other areas and turned into a national recovery strategy,” the Hamilton Spectator writes. “Bains said it showed how companies and government investments could combine to deliver domestically-sourced products, and put Canadian companies in a good position to supply not only domestic, but also global markets, while also creating jobs.”

After the government issued a COVID-19 “call to action” in March, the Spec says more than 6,000 Canadian companies stepped up with offers of expertise and capacity, and more than 1,000 “retooled or scaled up” to produce critical personal protective equipment. Six months later, half the dollar value of the PPE supplies Ottawa is purchasing is made-in-Canada, Bains told the paper. At the beginning of the pandemic, 100% of those supplies had to be sourced from other countries.

Building on the pandemic experience, he said the government is looking at how to “de-risk” business investments in equipment, research and development, and technology, citing battery storage as an area where Canada could become a “manufacturing powerhouse”.

“This is an example where the opportunity exists because that’s where consumer trends are going, and that’s where investments are being made by the large automotive companies,” he said. “If we look at our ability to pivot so quickly in this made-in-Canada (strategy) with regards to PPE, we can also do so, for example, when it comes to creating sustainable value for battery materials, and become a world leader in EV battery manufacturing.”

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3 Comments To "September Throne Speech Will Include ‘Ambitious Green Agenda’, Trudeau Says"

#1 Comment By Marc Lemieux On September 16, 2020 @ 9:13 PM

If the federal government is truly serious about taking positive steps in order to deal with climate change, it should provide Canadians with an effective transportation alternative to the automobile and the airplane, that of a modernized passenger rail system, beginning with the immediate approval of Via Rail’s high frequency rail project.

Sadly, while other advanced countries throughout the world are at least fifty years ahead of us in terms of offering their citizens affordable, fast, frequent and reliable passenger rail, successive federal governments in this country have instead chosen to provide only minimal, skeletal funding, resulting in the almost complete erosion of any semblance of an effective national passenger rail system.

In light of the fact that the population in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor numbers at least 18 million, this is more than sufficient so as to support a truly modernized passenger rail system such as provided by the approval and subsequent implementation of Via Rail’s HFR project.

Increasingly environmentally-conscious Canadians, who wish to do their part in reducing carbon emissions, are presently unable to do so as no effective alternative to the automobile and airplane presently exists, even though modern, Siemens Charger train sets, recently ordered by Via Rail, are at least 4 to 5 times more efficient than driving in diesel mode and up to 30 times or more in electric mode.

So, let’s take the above-mentioned into proper perspective. 30 passengers can travel faster in a modern, electric passenger train while creating the same amount of carbon emissions as a lone driver in an automobile!

One has to wonder as to why our present federal government has been sitting on this Via Rail HFR project for about 5 years now rather than expediting its construction as soon as possible!

The approval of Via Rail’s HFR project has numerous benefits such as delivering:

– a convenient, effective, efficient and safer choice for intercity travel compared with driving for short- to medium-distances up to 800 km.
– vastly-improved mobility and accessibility
– an extended geographical reach to and from large cities for education, employment, housing, medical services, etc.
– all season, all-weather capability
– improved economic growth for towns and cities located along HFR route
– a vastly more comfortable and productive form of travel compared with driving or flying
– increased tourism emanating from train-friendly countries. Travelers from overseas overwhelmingly prefer to take the train in order to visit culturally, geographically and historically interesting locations in this country rather than being left with no other alternative than to drive or fly hundreds of kilometres.
– considerably-reduced carbon emissions in order to protect our planet

Several countries throughout the world, as opposed to Canada, are actually taking concrete steps to deal with climate change by dramatically expanding their passenger rail fleets for both short- and medium-distance travel, and, surprisingly, by also substantially increasing night trains so as to provide an effective alternative to airplanes for long-distance trips.

Based on the latest scientific evidence, we have very little time left, as little as ten years, to mitigate climate change for the benefit of future generations or its effects will be irreversible!

The time to act is now, Mr. Trudeau!

#2 Comment By Mitchell Beer On September 17, 2020 @ 9:14 AM

This is fascinating, Marc, thank you! Anyone reading this please correct me, but I don’t remember seeing anything about high-speed rail in any of the discussions around green stimulus or green recovery.

#3 Comment By Marc Lemieux On September 17, 2020 @ 5:35 PM

Via Rail’s high frequency rail project involves faster than conventional speed trains, operating to and from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City, or what’s called either higher speed or high performance rail, for trains traveling at up to 125 mph or 200 kph, as opposed to high speed rail which encompasses top speeds starting from 200 kph or 125 mph to 300 kph or higher.

Contrary to popular belief, effective passenger rail in European countries, for instance, is not limited to high speed trains running exclusively on dedicated tracks, but rather mostly with shared rail infrastructure owned by the state which accommodates both fast freight trains operating at up to 160 kph and regular intercity and regional passenger trains running at up to 125 mph or 200 kph.

And get this! The passenger usage ratio pertaining to high speed rail vs higher-speed rail is 10 percent and 90 percent respectively!

Unfortunately, Canadians are under the false impression that only high speed rail running at top speeds of 200 to 300 kph or more will do in order to dissuade Canadians from using their cars!

Via Rail’s high frequency rail project will tick all of the boxes pertaining to the outstanding benefits of modernized passenger rail, the only exception being top speeds of 250 to 300 kph or more.

But we must have a federal government willing to make the bold decision to move this project forward for the benefit of our planet and future generations!

Once approved, Via Rail’s highly-anticipated HFR project will most likely be completed in 4 to 5 years.