Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon share a covid handshake
After Governor General Mary Simon’s (right) throne speech, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) has now shared mandate letters with cabinet ministers. Photo: Justin Trudeau/Linkedin

Prime Minister Trudeau’s mandate letters to his cabinet ministers point to significant government action in 2022 and beyond to accelerate the transition to zero-emission transportation and growing related sectors of the economy

More than two weeks since Governor General Mary Simon read the Speech from the Throne, making brief mention of the government’s plans to address climate change through electrifying transportation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s just-released mandate letters to his cabinet ministers reveal a full agenda of zero-emission vehicle (ZEV)-related government priorities.

Mandating past pledges

In the letter addressed to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Trudeau instructs him to advance measures that accelerate Canada’s transition to ZEVs and support the move to net-zero emissions by 2050. Measures cited include improving ZEV affordability, included used vehicles, for households and businesses; developing a strategy to decarbonize emission-intensive on-road freight; and by supporting global efforts to reduce emissions in the air and marine sectors.

In parallel, Trudeau’s letter to Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault reaffirms the Liberal Party’s campaign pledge for a ZEV sales mandate, calling on Guilbeault to finalize that as part of the government’s Emission Reduction Plan due in March of next year. Specifically, it calls on Guilbeault to “work with industry, labour and other stakeholders to develop a regulated sales mandate that at least 50 per cent of all new light duty vehicle sales be zero emissions vehicles in 2030 as an interim step toward achieving Canada’s mandatory target of 100 per cent by 2035.”

At the same time, a target for 100 per cent new sales for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks by 2040, which was first announced during COP26, was reiterated in the letter as well. Trudeau is, in addition, ordering the Treasury Board to accelerate electrifying the entire federal fleet of light-duty vehicles by 2030.

The Liberal’s past pledge to build 50,000 new electric vehicle chargers and hydrogen stations across Canada and support the installation of charging stations in existing buildings is also among the items listed in Trudeau’s letter to Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources.

Advancing battery manufacturing

The letter to Wilkinson also includes an objective to work with the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry to help make Canada a global leader in battery manufacturing, recycling and reuse by developing a sustainable battery innovation and industrial ecosystem.

“In support of these efforts, you will work with stakeholders to identify new strategic priorities, including future battery types, ways to optimize batteries for cold-weather performance and long-duration storage, and applications in heavy-duty transportation, and launch a Canada-U.S. Battery Alliance for stakeholders in both countries to identify shared priorities and create environmental requirements,” reads part of the letter.

Elsewhere, the Prime Minister’s letter to François-Philippe Champagne, Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry included the mandate to support the Mines and Mobility Strategy to attract investments in minerals processing, cell manufacturing and ZEV parts and assembly manufacturing.

Funding to meet climate goals

To ensure that Canada achieves a net-zero emissions target by 2050, Trudeau is calling for Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland to make sure budgetary measures be consistent with the government’s climate goals and make investments “to achieve a 100 per cent net-zero electricity system by 2035, accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles and other clean technologies, and advance the decarbonization of buildings and the broader industry.”