Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
Prime Minister Trudeau announced a series of measures aimed at lowering Atlantic Canadians’ energy bills, including:
- Temporarily pausing the fuel charge on deliveries of heating oil in all provinces and territories where it currently applies, effective November 9, 2023;
- Doubling the rural top-up for pollution pricing rebates (Climate Action Incentive payments) from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, with increased payments to rural residents starting in April 2024;
- Making the average heat pump free for low- to median-income Canadians in provinces and territories that have agreed to support the delivery of enhanced federal heat pump grants; and,
- Incentivizing the switch to heat pumps with $250 upfront payments for low- to median-income Canadians.
The changes come after increasing opposition to the federal Liberal carbon tax, including from Atlantic Premiers and Liberal MPs, which began applying to home heating oil in July of this year. Speaking in St. John’s, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre warned voters not to be fooled by the Prime Minister’s ‘flip-flop’ arguing the announcement ‘is a scam designed to trick oil-heated households into voting for him one more time before he can hit them with his big tax hike.’ Rural Economic Development Minister Gudie Hutchings has also come under fire for comments she made telling Western and Prairie provinces to elect more Liberal ministers if want to secure carve-outs in the federal government’s carbon pricing policy.
Alberta digs in on $334 billion CPP claim
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith shows no signs of relenting on her claim that Alberta is entitled to $334 billion, or more than half, of the Canada Pension Plan’s investment assets if the province were to exit. Smith acknowledged last week that determining Alberta’s entitlement will likely end up in the court system, and clarified that she does not intend to pursue a referendum until that number is clearly defined.
Nonetheless, Smith has continued with her $7.5 million advertising campaign.
Opposition Leader Rachel Notley characterized the campaign as ‘full of misinformation.’ The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board notes Alberta’s share of the CPP is 16 percent and has already raised questions about Smith’s assertions. Both Justin Trudeau and Pierre Poilievre have also voiced concerns over Alberta’s possible exit. Canada’s finance minister Chrystia Freeland announced last week that she will hold a meeting with her provincial and territorial counterparts to discuss Alberta’s pension plan proposal.
Landmark agreement supports First Nations participation in forestry
A landmark agreement has been forged between the Tlowitsis, We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, K’ómoks First Nations and Western Forest Products Inc., in which the Nations will acquire a 34% interest in a newly established limited partnership. This acquisition, valued at $35.9 million, has been facilitated by the Province of British Columbia through Incremental Treaty Agreements, recognizing the Nations’ progress in the British Columbia Treaty Process.
Closing of this historic deal is slated for the first quarter of 2024, contingent upon various closing conditions including approvals from the British Columbia Ministry of Forests.
The partnership is set to manage significant assets from Western’s Mid Island Forest Operation, notably Block 2 of Tree Farm Licence 39. This will translate to operational management over roughly 157,000 hectares of forest land near Campbell River and Sayward. Additionally, the partnership is geared to manage an annual cut of over 904,000 cubic meters of timber.
Dallas Smith, president of Na̲nwak̲olas Council, highlighted the significance of this partnership, praising the nations’ enduring stewardship over these forests. He remarked, “Today, we celebrate a significant step forward… I applaud the Nations for taking this step.”
Key figures from the involved Nations voiced their support for the agreement, underscoring its economic, cultural, and historical significance.
Wei Wai Kum Chief Councillor Christopher Roberts emphasized, “When we speak of reconciliation, here is a living, practical example of it.”
Premier David Eby, Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and Steven Hofer, CEO of Western Forest Products, also expressed their support for the venture, emphasizing its role in fostering reconciliation, trust, and sustainable development.
Minister Calandra announces official plan revisions in housing initiative
Paul Calandra, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, is reviewing and may reverse official plans in multiple municipalities. These reversals aim to better align current efforts with Ontario’s goal of building 1.5 million homes and maintaining public trust. The affected areas include several cities and regional municipalities. Proposed legislation will roll back plan changes, with exceptions for ongoing construction and compliance with existing laws. The affected municipalities must update their plans in line with housing commitments. The province will assist with planning and staffing costs arising from these changes.
Deputy Prime Minister announces first investment by the Canada Growth Fund – October 25, 2023
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, announced the first investment by the Canada Growth Fund—the new flagship investment fund which is a pillar of Canada’s clean economy jobs plan. With a $90 million investment in a groundbreaking geothermal energy company, Calgary’s Eavor Technologies Inc., the Canada Growth Fund is creating good jobs for Albertans and securing the Canadian future of a company at the leading-edge of the global clean economy.
Doug Ford government open to taking over Gardiner, DVP to help fix Toronto’s finances, sources say – October 27, 2023
Premier Ford’s government is exploring the possibility of transferring ownership of Toronto’s highways to the province in a deal to address the city’s financial challenges. Sources reveal that in discussions within a city-provincial working group, the province has shown a willingness to take control of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway. Other potential options include the province assuming a larger portion of TTC operating and capital expenses and assisting in funding the city’s escalating costs for homeless shelters.