With the Liberals clinching a third term in office, Electric Autonomy Canada canvased 15 clean transportation sector stakeholders for their perspectives on what policies and next steps will flow from Canada’s decision
After an intense and brief campaign, Canada has a new, old government: the Liberal Party’s minority government has been upheld and now the clean transport industry is ready to hold all the parties to their climate-crisis and emission-reducing pledges.
By most accounts it’s a good news turn of events, with the zero-emission sector looking to maintain its momentum without the interruption of a change in government. But there is still a long way to go before meaningful impact on the climate crisis is seen.
In order to understand the implications, Electric Autonomy Canada reached out to a range of experts, stakeholders and activists. Here is what the leaders in clean transportation had to say about their opinion on the outcome of Election 2021.
Some responses have been edited for clarity and stakeholders have been listed in alphabetical order.
Thoughts from the thought leaders
David Adams, president, Global Automakers of Canada: “The Liberal platform highlights a number of initiatives that will facilitate the transition to battery electrification and clean transportation. There is the re-funding of the iZEV program of $1.5 billion along with the $700 million for the charging infrastructure and $100 million for the install of infrastructure in existing buildings. Additionally the commitment to electrify the federal fleet will assist in leading by example. The Liberals had previously committed to a regulated target of 100 per cent ZEV sales by 2035, however the platform has committed to a ZEV mandate of 50 per cent ZEV sales by 2030. With both targets the devil is going to be In the details in terms of how the mandate is structured and how a federal mandate will interface with the B.C. and Quebec mandates. There are both supply and demand levers to grow ZEVs but in our view the incentives and the infrastructure funding are inadequate to facilitate the targets outlined especially when compared to what is being proposed in the U.S. The Liberal platform has also highlighted the desire to have an end-to-end battery supply chain as well as becoming a leader in battery reuse and recycling. From our perspective, federal guidance and leadership in this space would be helpful.”
Travis Allan, vice-president of public affairs and general counsel at AddÉnergie Technologies Inc./FLO: “Considering that all majors parties recognized the need to take action on climate change, the last campaign suggests a positive evolution of the Canadian consensus towards increasingly ambitious climate initiatives and policy proposals. Whether this third term is considered a success will depend in large part on the government’s ability to deliver on its ambitious climate agenda for building jobs and reducing emissions from the transportation sector, which is Canada’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Critical policies that Canadian clean transportation job creators like FLO will be watching include a ZEV mandate to achieve 100 per cent EV sales, bold investments in vehicle and charging station incentives, education, and implementation of the long-awaited clean fuel standard, which has the potential to be tremendously impactful by decarbonizing Canada’s emissions associated with importing and refining fuels. This election also shows the critical importance of groups like Electric Mobility Canada, Canada’s EV societies, and publications like Electric Autonomy Canada, which have worked tirelessly to share good policy ideas and ensure that their members knew where the major parties stood on issues relevant to the EV industry.”
Daniel Breton, president and CEO, Electric Mobility Canada: “When we looked at what the Liberal government’s party proposed in this election and what the NDP and the Bloc have proposed, we say that it’s promising. All parties want to go ahead with electric mobility strategy and a supply chain strategy. So, honestly, we think we can work very well with that kind of government. It’s going to be a marathon for the weeks and months and years to come. We have to make sure that what the government implements will stay the course so that we do reach our targets.”
Cara Clairman, president and CEO, Plug’n Drive: “It’s good news for clean transportation, because we heard a lot of positive statements coming out of the Liberals pre-election. I’m hopeful that those will come through and that we’re going to see even more emphasis on it. So, I’m optimistic. I’m not too concerned about a minority government because the NDP platform had similar statements in it and even the Conservative platform had quite a few statements that were, maybe not quite as ambitious as the Liberals, but decent on clean transportation. It’s exciting times, really. In a way the different parties were kind of tripping over each other to be more ambitious on electrified transportation, which is certainly a switch.”
Ted Dowling, vice-president, BYD Canada: “The end of the election and the return of the Trudeau government will see the continuation of policy and funding for municipalities to transition their transit fleets to zero emissions. Right now there are transits in Canada operating 6,500 buses with 2007/2004 engines that are emitting heavily. We need to get the heavy emitters off the road as soon as possible. We at BYD Canada also look forward to working with the government on the medium- and heavy-duty conversion and feel we have a lot of experience from around the world to share.”
Sarah Houde, CEO, Propulsion Québec: “Regardless of the government elected by Canadians, Propulsion Québec is confident that electrification will remain a priority issue for federal officials. We will continue to work with the government to ensure that our ecosystem advances and financial support to the industry continue, leading to a greener, healthier, and more prosperous Quebec for all citizens.”
Carolyn Kim, Ontario regional director, Pembina Institute: “In this campaign, we saw that all major parties propose strong climate platforms, compared to 2019. It’s really important now, to focus on implementation and to get the details right…now is the time to really drill down into focus on the kinds of policy tools and programs that will help get us there and there’s a mix of both demand side and supply side policies. From a public policy perspective, we would want to see those targets become legislated so that these are commitments that are going to be carried over year over year and beyond the election cycle. That’s the the number one way in which we can ensure accountability. There are a number of programs available to consumers to bridge that high upfront purchase price, but more can be done there. To some consumers there isn’t that price equity right now, but we know that will come soon. Continuing to ensure that all Canadians in all regions can have access to electric vehicles and the incentive programs are inclusive of these different groups will also be important.”
Brian Kingston, president and CEO, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association: “The election clearly shows that the Liberals have a renewed mandate now to execute on their climate plan, which was detailed, both in their their plans prior to the election as well as the platform. We know from all of the polling that we do of Canadian consumers, as well as the government’s own polling, what the barriers to ZEV adoption are. We are going to have to overcome those barriers if we want to get to the 50 per cent new ZEV sales by 2030 on the track to 100 per cent by 2035. I think the the election gives some some clarity with respect to what the target is and how we all move there together to achieve it.”
Josh Nye, senior economist, RBC: “Canada is uniquely positioned to capitalize on growth and trade opportunities throughout the electric vehicle supply chain, from critical minerals and battery production to research, design and vehicle assembly. With what appears to be a status quo election result, the federal government looks set to continue with and potentially enhance a number of demand-side policies, including EV purchase incentives, sales targets, investment in charging infrastructure and government procurement — measures that should spur greater EV adoption. That demand will help make the case for more Canadian EV production, but supply-side policies are also needed for Canada to take advantage of its opportunities throughout the EV and battery supply chain. Measures like coordinating critical minerals policy across levels of government and with international partners, and leveraging Net Zero Accelerator funding to attract key investments, should help Canada take advantage of its potential in this space. We’re also seeing a need for greater urgency around preparing Canada’s skilled trades workforce for EV battery and auto production as well as the broader green infrastructure boom that may reshape Canada in the years and decades ahead.”
Sarah Petrevan, policy director, Clean Energy Canada: “The Liberals have presented a robust package of policies to get Canadians into electric vehicles. From rebates to investments in charging to an ambitious ZEV mandate that takes us to 100 per cent EV sales by 2035 with interim requirements along the way. And crucially for the future of Canada’s auto manufacturing industry, the plan also includes a detailed list of commitments to support an EV and battery industry, from mining to cell manufacturing and assembly. If implemented as laid out in their platform, these policies will substantially reduce Canada’s emissions while building economic competitiveness.”
Simon-Pierre Rioux, president, Association des Véhicules Électriques du Québec: “It’s business as usual. We know that the Liberal government is going to put a bit more emphasis on the charging infrastructure, but there [were] no other major changes. It’s reassuring to see that we’ll continue on with the very important and very popular incentives for the electric vehicle purchases. I do hope that the Conservative Party takes notice that if they ever want to go into power that they need to think more about mobility because this will have an influence overall on how people view their party. And this is the future — right now and electrification in the future.”
Ben Sharpe, regional lead Canada, International Council on Clean Transportation: “The federal government’s continued commitment to re-capitalizing the iZEV program is critical to supporting the ZEV market, which is still in its early stages but quickly building momentum. Earmarking funding for infrastructure is of course equally pivotal, and it’s great to see that the platform proposes substantial funds for both charging and hydrogen stations, as well as outfitting buildings to be ZEV-ready. The $8B for the Net Zero Accelerator to be a catalyst for investment in domestic manufacturing and jobs is terrific. We can’t overstate the importance of this measure to not only bolstering the all facets of the auto industry (across the supply chain), but we think that selling ZEVs as domestic job-creators will help more Canadians view electric cars with a ‘made in Canada’ pride. Finally, setting a target that medium- and heavy-duty vehicles get to 100 per cent ZEV sales by 2040 is huge. By codifying this into regulatory action, Canada would join California as having the most ambitious timelines in the world for transitioning commercial vehicles to electric drive.”
Wilf Steimle, president, Electric Vehicle Society: “Electric Vehicle Society congratulates Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada and all elected parliamentarians on their electoral success. In our pre-election survey, EV Society’s scorecard reported that all major political parties were in favour of plans for a rapid, just and prosperous shift to electrified transportation in Canada. We look forward to working with all members of Parliament, including both the elected government and opposition parties, to implement these critical and time-sensitive electrification goals.”
Flavio Volpe, president, Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association: “This election was a bit of a mulligan. We’ve ended up where we started off, but it’s not a bad thing. I’m not concerned about getting the things we need done in a minority government. Everyone knows we need rebates and education and incentives to advance adoption and no one party was going to solve all the problems if elected. I’m glad we don’t have to catch a new government up to speed on what needs to happen on this file.”
Dan Woynillowicz, principal, Polaris Strategy and Insight: “The pivot to EVs — both in the market and in Canada’s auto sector — was a rare area of relative agreement amongst the parties, and so it should be prioritized for quick action. The Liberals have committed to continue efforts to build out the market by sustaining purchase incentives and building out charging infrastructure network, and will ensure the market is supplied with sufficient vehicles through a federal ZEV mandate. As we’ve seen in Quebec and BC, this package — incentives, infrastructure, and regulations — can lead to rapid growth in EV uptake. There’s no doubt this presents a big opportunity for Canada’s auto sector, and the focus on building the battery supply chain extends that opportunity upstream into the mining sector. The global race to both produce EVs and get them on roads is accelerating, and this election outcome likely gives Canada its best shot at remaining competitive.”