Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
Canada’s Premiers are meeting in Halifax today to officially discuss innovations in healthcare aimed at improving delivery, as well as housing and infrastructure. Chair Tim Houston has said one of his priorities is a discussion on the recruitment of healthcare professionals to put an end to the practice of poaching domestic talent. Despite not being on the official agenda, the effect of federal carbon pricing measures on the rising cost of living will be top of mind. On Friday, Finance ministers from five provinces including New Brunswick and Nova Scotia issued a statement urging the federal government to ‘eliminate the carbon tax to ensure fairness and ease financial pressure on Canadians,’ noting removing the tax on home heating fuels in some provinces and not others was creating imbalances. Premier Blaine Higgs is exploring whether New Brunswick can legally stop collecting the carbon tax, after Saskatchewan made a similar suggestion. A news conference is expected at 2:00 p.m. (local).
Speech from the Throne
On Monday, the provincial government reconvened in Edmonton with the Speech from the Throne. In the speech, the government expressed concern over federal policies that could negatively impact Alberta’s economy and energy sector, pledging to protect the province’s interests. The government addressed key issues such as affordability, taxation, provincial population growth, housing, health care, electricity costs, public safety, and insurance premiums.
The content included reiterated messaging and policy from the UCP’s previous mandate, and from the recent provincial election campaign. The lack of discussion around pensions or the Alberta Pension Plan proposal is one omission of note, however the government later introduced Bill 2, the Alberta Pension Protection Act. Political watchers should expect an outsized influence of the “Fighting the Feds” narrative, which will feed into much of the government’s communications and policy in the months ahead.
Tahltan Nation, B.C. sign historic consent-based decision-making agreement
The Tahltan Central Government (TCG) and the British Columbia (B.C.) provincial government have achieved a landmark in co-governance with a consent-based decision-making agreement regarding the Red Chris gold and copper mine, situated in Tahltan Territory. Signed on November 1, 2023, this agreement is foundational in the evolving relationship between the two governments and is a step forward in reconciliation, recognizing Tahltan title, rights, and jurisdiction.
The signing ceremony was attended by TCG President Chad Norman Day, various B.C. ministers, and Tahltan Band Chiefs. The agreement was heralded as a milestone in acknowledging real consent for project changes and exemplifies the commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable development.
The agreement respects and recognizes Tahltan title, rights and inherent jurisdictional decision-making authority for land-management decisions for the Red Chris mine.
Under the agreement, Tahltan and the Environmental Assessment Office will collaboratively carry out their own assessment processes to inform their separate decisions on whether any proposed substantial change to the existing environmental-assessment certificate should be approved, including those required to transition Red Chris from open-pit to underground block cave mining. These amendments cannot proceed without Tahltan consent.
It also extends the collaborative decision-making precedent set by the TCG and B.C. for the Eskay Creek mine project, reinforcing the principle that respect for Indigenous self-determination promotes collective benefits in B.C. The process outlined in the agreement highlights the compatibility of reconciliation with economic growth, guided by stringent ESG standards.
The Ontario government will eliminate the eight percent provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on new purpose-built rental housing to accelerate rental constructions. The rebate will apply to qualifying projects beginning construction between September 14, 2023, and December 31, 2030, and completing construction by December 31, 2035. The province is working with the federal government to remove the full 13 percent HST. Ontario is also developing a modular home strategy to increase affordable housing supply.
Trudeau resignation ‘prudent course of action,’ says senator from P.E.I. – November 3, 2023
Senator Percy Downe, who was chief of staff to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, says it is time for the Liberal Party of Canada to have a discussion about who will lead them into the next election. In an opinion piece published in National Newswatch, the senator from Prince Edward Island said Liberals owed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a debt of gratitude for leading the party from third party status to government, but given declining support in each successive election and poor polling numbers, it may be time for someone else to lead.
Justin Trudeau government to join city-provincial talks on new deal for Toronto’s finances – October 31, 2023
In response to Mayor Olivia Chow and Premier Doug Ford’s urging, the federal government is joining the working group to address Toronto’s financial crisis. Finance Canada’s Deputy Minister, Chris Forbes, has been confirmed as a participant in the ongoing talks. Chow and Ford have touted “great progress” on hashing out a new deal for Toronto, with a working group of civil servants now tasked with “drilling down on a lot of the details” for a report at the end of November.