Canada-wide Update | Highlights

July 2, 2024


Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly Canada-wide newsletter:


Alberta Ends Fiscal Year With $4.3B Surplus

Alberta ended its fiscal year on March 31 with a $4.3 billion surplus, despite the worst fire season on record. Even after the need to spend $3 billion on firefighting expenses and crop losses due to extreme drought, Finance Minister Nate Horner reported total revenue of $74.7 billion, $4.1 billion above estimates. This surplus will be split between debt repayment and the Alberta Fund, with $2 billion going to the Heritage Savings Trust Fund. While the UCP government sees this as a success, opposition critic Samir Kayande argues it doesn’t reflect the struggles many Albertans face with affordability, housing, and access to education and health care. 

Atlantic Canada

Government Regulations Require N.B. Power to Subsidize Pulp and Paper Mills, While Customers See Rate Increases 

N.B. Power has applied to raise power rates by an average of 9.25% per year over the next two years. If the rate hike is permitted by the N.B. Energy and Utilities Board, N.B. Power says it will be required by regulations enacted by the N.B. government to spend $26.3 million over the next two years to subsidize pulp and paper mills, despite being unable to provide similar relief to customers. Through the Large Industrial Renewable Energy Purchase Program, the utility buys renewable electricity generated by the mills and sells it back at lower prices. As announced earlier in June, Irving Pulp and Paper is currently seeking approval of a $1.1 billion upgrade to its west side pulp mill, including a new boiler building, which it says will increase pulp outputs by 65% and generate enough energy to operate without buying off-plant power.

British Columbia

BC NDP Maintains Lead While BC United Slides to Fourth Place

The NDP has seen a slight dip in support, now at 40% among decided voters, down a couple of points from May. Meanwhile, the BC Conservatives are moving up to 33% and the Greens have climbed to 15%, surpassing BC United, which has 11% support. The NDP’s strongholds appear to be Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and southern B.C. On the other hand, Conservatives are gaining support in the Fraser Valley and dominating in the north. When it comes to party leaders, Premier David Eby is still the most popular with a 53% approval rating, although recent polls suggest his approval has slipped to 43%. John Rustad of the Conservatives and the Greens’ Sonia Furstenau are nearly tied at around 40%, while Kevin Falcon of BC United is lagging behind at 32%. For 40% of the participants, top issues are housing, homelessness, and poverty. The environment is the only area where Eby faces real competition, tying with Furstenau. As we head into the final stretch before the October 19 election, it’s clear this race is far from over as each party shows room for growth.


Ontario Power Generation Spending $1 Billion to Refurbish Hydroelectric Generating Stations 

In light of a new report revealing significant structural issues with the Ontario Science Centre building, the Board of Trustees has decided to close the facility effective immediately. Members and summer camp participants will be reimbursed, with alternative summer camp programming provided at a nearby school. Infrastructure Ontario plans to release a Request for Proposals to find a temporary location for the Science Centre and aims to open a new permanent facility at Ontario Place by 2028.


Liberal Backbencher Calls for Trudeau to Resign in Email to Caucus

Liberal backbencher Wayne Long has called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign as party leader following the party’s unexpected loss in the Toronto-St. Paul’s by-election. In an email to caucus, Long stressed that new leadership is necessary for the future of the party and the country. This is the first open call from a Liberal caucus member for Trudeau’s resignation since the by-election upset. In the email chain, MP Ken McDonald agreed with Long’s sentiments but did not explicitly call for Trudeau to step down. McDonald emphasized the need for an urgent caucus meeting with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister continues to state his intention to stay on as leader for the 2025 election.


Toronto City Council Declares Ward 15 Vacancy, Schedules By-Election

On June 26, 2024, Toronto City Council declared the Ward 15, Don Valley West office vacant following Councillor Jaye Robinson’s passing. A by-election is scheduled, with the by-law taking effect on July 21 and nominations opening on July 22. The City Clerk will determine voting dates, considering holidays and preparation time. Councillor Robinson’s staff will continue managing constituency matters until the vacancy is filled.


Retailers Face Tight Deadlines for New French Signage Rules in Quebec

The new Quebec regulation on commercial signage mandates that French must be “markedly predominant” on storefronts by June 1, 2025. This requires French text to be twice as large as any other language used. The Retail Council of Canada argues that the one-year timeline is too short, especially considering the summer slowdown and the complexity of changes required, such as obtaining permissions and bearing costs. Originally, businesses were promised a three-year adjustment period under Bill 96. The regulation aims to counter the decline of French, with the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) increasing enforcement. Concerns include potential burdens on businesses and the unique challenges posed to multinational companies, which might shift focus away from Quebec due to these stringent requirements. The regulation’s impact extends to product labeling and broader market implications, emphasizing Quebec’s distinct economic environment.

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