In one-on-one interviews, federal candidates provide deeper insight on zero emission transportation policies
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Sep 11, 2021
Mehanaz Yakub

With the climate crisis high on every party’s political agenda and voters paying close attention to their clean transportation platforms, industry association Electric Mobility Canada invited each party to spell out where it stands on ZEV mandates, boosting supply chains, purchasing incentives and more

With the climate crisis high on every party’s political agenda and voters paying close attention to their clean transportation platforms, industry association Electric Mobility Canada (EMC) invited each party to spell out where it stands on ZEV mandates, boosting supply chains, purchasing incentives and more

A $15,000 per family purchasing rebate, 50,000 more public charging stations and a personal low-carbon savings account are just some of the pledges being campaigned on in Canada’s upcoming federal election. The platforms of the five major political parties were all examined during one-on-one interviews between party representatives and Electric Mobility Canada’s CEO Daniel Breton, this month.

Each party made their case for how they plan to develop the national zero-emission mobility sector.

Canada’s transportation sector generates one of the largest shares of greenhouse gases in the country, second only to oil and gas. And with the climate crisis such a pressing social issue, plans to address lowering emissions are forming a critical touchstone of all the major party platforms.

The series of five interviews took place in early September, just ahead of Canadians heading to the polls on September 20 to cast their ballots. The party spokespeople were:

  • Monique Pauzé from the Bloc Québécois
  • Tim Grant from the Green Party
  • Gérard Deltell from the Conservative Party
  • Brian Masse from the New Democratic Party
  • Steven Guilbeault from the Liberal Party

Supporting a Canadian supply chain

First, to help reach emission targets, the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Québécois have all pledged that 100 per cent of light duty vehicles sold by 2035 would be zero emission vehicles; the Green Party is targeting 2030 and the Conservative party has yet to commit to a 100 per cent ZEV sales targets, but MP Gérard Deltell says the party is taking the lead from the British Columbia government and is aiming to have ZEVs make up 30 per cent of all light duty vehicles on the roads by 2030.

At the beginning of the five interviews with EMC, each party candidate said their respective parties were ready to build and support a comprehensive national electric mobility strategy that would include a robust ZEV supply chain.

Canada has a tradition of “rip and ship,” said NDP MP Brian Masse to Breton during his interview on September 9.

Calling it, “absolutely unconscionable for Canada to continue to not have value-added strategies,” Masse pointed to raw materials, such as lithium, which could be used to manufacture batteries for EVs in Canada instead of being exported.

The NDP plans to use the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit Program, and create a Climate Bank that would help generate investments and support of made-in-Canada manufacturing of renewable energy and low-carbon technologies.

The Green Party currently does not have a plan to ensure Canadian access to strategic minerals, said MP Tim Grant during his September 3 interview, but the party is advocating for “made-in-Canada solutions” to help create jobs and innovations and highlight working with Indigenous communities in that process.

The Conservative Party’s Deltell said on September 7 his party is looking towards implementing a national Critical Mineral Strategy.

“We all recognize that when we talked about electrification of transport… we have seen that in many reports… that sometimes just to extract those minerals needed, it’s not done in the best environmental way,” said Deltell. The Conservative’s strategy will see the federal government partnering with Indigenous communities to extract minerals and move away from relying on countries such as China.

Liberal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said on September 9 his party has pushed for measures such as a tax credit forum for mining for critical minerals and supports supply chain innovations through the Business Development Bank of Canada, which invests in new technologies.

The Bloc Québécois is focusing on creating a circular economy in Quebec only, said MP Monique Pauzé on September 2. Under the Bloc’s plan, Quebec will be responsible for the production, transformation and the potential recycling and reuse of critical and strategic mineral resources.

Keeping purchasing incentives 

To increase demand, improve affordability and help the phase-out of combustion cars on roads, the Liberals launched an Incentive for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) back in 2019, which offered Canadians up to $5,000 in rebates for new electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. In their 2021 platform, the Liberals are promising to add $1.5 billion into the program and are open to “tweaking the system” and see “how the market and consumers have evolved,” says Guilbeault. 

The Bloc is in favour of keeping the federal iZEV program as-is since Quebec also provides an additional rebate of up to $8,000 for new EVs and $4,000 for used EV purchases, which has helped increase the total number of EVs sold in the province, says Pauzé. The BQ would also like to provide an additional rebate for low-income households too, which the Green Party also supports. 

The Green Party’s Grant called the iZEV program “adequate” for EV passenger cars but says federal subsidies should be given to “a whole range of electric vehicles” including used EVs, electric light-duty trucks, and electric bikes. 

“There’s another issue behind all of that, which is how many rebates will be allowed in a given calendar year,” added Grant. “We saw that the federal government had, through the enthusiasm of Canadians for electric vehicles, exceeded the amount that was allocated last year. And so it’s important to really stress that we need more available rebates.”

The NDP says they will waive HST tax on EV purchases while offering rebates of up to $15,000 per family. The rebates offered to each family will operate on a sliding scale depending on whether households are purchasing a car or something smaller such as a bike or scooter.

The Conservatives did not mention including a consumer purchase incentive in their platform, but have put forward a personal and small businesses low-carbon savings account. The account is supposed to work similarly to a points-card system where each time you buy fuel, the tax you will pay on the carbon will go directly into your savings account. The money saved would be put towards green purchases, such as buying EVs or paying for charging infrastructure and installation. 

Increasing public charging availability

One of the major concerns for consumers looking to switch to EVs are questions surrounding how and where they can power up their vehicles and how fast and convenient it will be.

The Bloc and Greens seem to be on the same page. Both parties are in favour of providing high investments for public Level 2 and fast and super-fast chargers and will provide rebates for charging infrastructure and installations at residences and workplaces. 

“If we can put public charging stations relatively close to people’s houses, and especially close to apartment buildings, that’s interesting…[because] it will make things easier…[and] I will tell you that it will reassure buyers of EVs from thinking there will be a time where they will be momentarily out of power. It’s reassuring for consumers and I think it can equally help them to choose EVs,” said Pauzé.

The Liberal platform also calls for continued investment in charging infrastructure. It earmarks $700 million to install 50,000 new chargers across Canada and will invest another $100 million to support retrofit installations in existing buildings.

The NDP said it supports providing rebates on charging infrastructure and installations of public charging stations but is mostly concerned with creating a universal charging system to allow maximum ease of charging that gives everyone equal access to the different providers’ infrastructure.

The Conservatives are focusing are amending the national building code to require all new federal buildings to have charging stations by 2025, says Deltell.

Expanding training and education 

As more Canadians begin to move toward EVs, all five parties are in agreement that buyers need to be better educated since there is a lack of knowledge and misconceptions about these vehicles. However, both the Conservatives and Bloc agree that education falls more under provincial jurisdiction and not federal.

“When you talk about publicity or some mandate to tell to people what to do, I think that belongs to the municipalities and also at the provincial level and I think they are doing quite a good job right now. The Conservative government is doing so much for electric transport by investing $1 billion [in the sector]. This will speak for itself, and so this is where we want to indicate where we want to go,” said Deltell.

The five parties also agree that training needs to be supported in the electric mobility sector.

The Liberal platform includes new training programs on the federal level to help workers get retrained to meet employer demands in growing sectors.

“In light of the issue of fair transition, [I visited] transit corporation garages in [Montreal’s] South shore a couple of weeks ago…they will need new mechanics to maintain their fully electric buses,” said Guilbeault. “Imagine the amount of electricity required for charging, 10s and 10s of buses at a transit Corporation? You need certified people, you need trained people… It is a safety issue, but it’s also about making sure that you’re not damaging the electric vehicles which are much more expensive to purchase right now.”

The obstacles that face the electric mobility sector are varied and, in a few days, Canadians will vote for who they believe will help guide the country towards a cleaner low-carbon future.

To watch all five of EMC’s party interviews, visit here.

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