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The history of Canada Immigration



The movement of individuals of one country into another for the purpose of resettlement is central to Canadian history. The story of Canadian immigration is not one of orderly population growth; instead, it has been — and remains one — about economic development as well as Canadian attitudes and values. It has often been unashamedly economically self-serving and ethnically or racially discriminatory despite contributing to creating a multicultural society (see Immigration Policy in CanadaRefugees to Canada). Immigration has also contributed to dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands.

Galician ImmigrantsGalician (Ukrainian) immigrants at Québec, circa 1911.(photo by W.J. Topley/courtesy Library and Archives Canada/PA-10401)

Immigration to New France (16th–18th Century)

Throughout the 17th and much of the 18th century, European colonial administrations, charged with overseeing what would become Canada, did not consider settlement a priority. French or British governments initially seemed unprepared to expend vast quantities of money or energy necessary to encourage settlement. Nor was migration to Canada popular in France or Britain. Adventurers, explorers, and particularly traders acting for British or French interests feared the interference of settlers in the lucrative trade (see Fur Trade).

However, policy eventually changed and colonial authorities carefully and slowly encouraged settlement in Canada. It was their hope that settlers would guarantee the sovereignty of colonial land claims and exploit natural resources — often on behalf of European investors. It was also hoped that the settlers would convert Indigenous peoples to Christianity. Settlements grew gradually but not without difficulty. New France‘s population at the time of the British Conquest (1759–60) was about 65,000. In Nova Scotia, a transplanted Scottish community was supplemented by German and Swiss settlers. In the late 1700s, Irish settlers reinforced Newfoundland‘s population.

Although the British victory limited migration from France (see also French Immigration in Canada), it did not immediately bring about a large number of English-speaking immigrants. Except for a handful of British administrators, military personnel, and merchants who filled the vacuum left by their departing French counterparts, few English-speaking settlers seemed interested in Canada. Indeed, it is doubtful whether settlers would have been welcomed by the new British administrators. The latter feared that an influx of English-speaking Protestant settlers would complicate administration in a recently conquered Roman Catholic French-speaking territory. Most British migrants were far more inclined to seek out the more temperate climate and familiar social institutions of the American colonies south of Canada.

Loyalist Immigration (18th–19th Century)

Many of Quebec‘s new British rulers were soon forced to accept many thousands of English-speaking and largely Protestant settlers displaced by the American Revolution. Known as United Empire Loyalists, they were largely political refugees. Many of them migrated northward not by choice but because they had to. Many either did not wish to become citizens of the new American republic or because they feared retribution for their public support of the British. For these Loyalists, Canada was a land of second choice, as it would be for countless future immigrants who came because to remain at home was undesirable, and entry elsewhere, often the US, was restricted.

Loyalist migration was supported by Canadian authorities who offered supplies to the new settlers and organized the distribution of land. Despite the hardships the settlers endured, their plight was made less severe by the intervention of government agents, a practice to be repeated in Canada many times.

Many Black Loyalists also left the United States for British North America. Despite having sided with the British during the American War of Independence, Black Loyalists faced racist hostility and considerable inequality. Despite this, they persevered and built strong communities, particularly in towns like Shelburne and Birchtown in Nova Scotia. (See also The Arrival of Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia.)

Irish Immigration (19th Century)

Throughout the mid-19th century, the colonies — Canada West in particular — returned to a pattern of painfully slow and erratic economic growth. Officially encouraged immigration from Britain and even the US gradually filled the better agricultural lands in the colony and bolstered new commercial or administrative towns. The new immigrants were generally similar to that of the established community. However, the great Irish potato famine and, to a lesser degree, a series of abortive European rebellions in 1848 sent new immigrant cohorts to North America.Irish immigrantsIrish emigrants wait with their few belongings to board ship for North America. Millions were forced to leave by famine.From Illustrated London News, 10 May, 1851, p. 386. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, C-3904PrevNext12

Of these tens of thousands migrants, many were Irish whose arrival in Canada initiated major social and economic changes. In many respects, the Irish were Canada’s first major cohort of overseas immigrants after the English and French. Although the Irish generally spoke English, they did not mirror the social, cultural or religious values of Anglo-Canadians. They formed a Roman Catholic minority in a predominantly Protestant Canada-West. Irish Catholics were, however, a bit more at home with French Canadians who shared their faith but not their language. Many of these Irish migrants’ loyalty to the British Crown also appeared suspect in a Canada where ardent loyalty was demanded as insurance against the threat of American republicanism.

After escaping an agrarian life where agriculture was synonymous with poverty and dependency, some of the famine-stricken Irish had little or no enthusiasm for farm life (see History of Agriculture). Instead, the Irish worked seasonally in the newly expanded canal system, lumber industry, and burgeoning railway network. Due to their less fortunate social-economic status as well as their distinct ethnic and religious identities, separate Irish neighbourhoods popped up in Canadian cities and larger towns.

Western Migration (19th–Early 20th Century)

With a relatively low death rate, high birthrate, and small but continual migration from the British Isles, the immediate post-Confederation era had its overpopulation problems (see Population). This issue was further compounded by the increasing rarity of farmable land.

Meanwhile, the US — with its seemingly boundless supply of free, fertile land — attracted thousands of new immigrants and Anglo-Canadians. American industry attracted many French Canadians were to work in the factories of New England (see Franco-Americans).

Towards the late 19th century, Canada’s future Prairie provinces were opened to settlement, but only after — sometimes violently — displacing First Nations and Métis peoples off their lands. (See also North-West Rebellion.) However, large scale migration only picked up when the need for agriculture products like wheat also increased.

The demand for farm goods, especially hard wheat, coincided with the election of Wilfrid Laurier‘s government, which encouraged western settlement with large-scale immigration. Canada’s new minister of the interior, Clifford Sifton, organized a revamped and far-reaching immigration program. He was even prepared, if not reluctantly, to admit agricultural settlers from places other than the British Isles, Northern Europe, and the US. Sifton’s willingness to open immigration outside of traditional sources was not, however, reflective of Canadian immigration policy.

For English-speaking Canadians, the traditional definition of ideal immigrants may have been modified but was not radically altered. The Canadian government preferred white English-speaking migrants from within the British Empire and from the US. At the same time, non-white migrants were denied entrance on racist grounds. The ideal immigrants were British or American independent farmers who would settle in the West.

Pressed by business and railway interests to increase immigration, immigration authorities balanced their ethnic anxieties against a frantic search for settlers. They listed ideal settlers in a descending preference. British and American agriculturalists were followed by French, BelgiansDutch, Scandinavians, SwissFinnsRussians, Austro-Hungarians (see AustriansHungarians), GermansUkrainians, and Poles. Close to the bottom of the list came those who were, in both the public and the government’s minds, less assimilable and less desirable, e.g., Italians, South Slavs, Greeks and Syrians (see Arab Canadians). At the very bottom came Jews, Asians, Roma people, and Black people.

Ottawa, however, did not have the only voice when it came to immigration. The British North America Act also gave the provinces a voice in immigration if they chose to do so. Quebec was particularly interested in doing so and set up its own immigration department. This was partly in response to the expansion of English-speaking Canada and in an effort to stem, if not reverse, the migration of rural Quebec youth to New England. In co-operation with federal authorities, immigration agents were sent into New England to encourage French Canadians to return home to settle new but marginal agricultural lands. The program was met with only limited success, but Quebec’s involvement in managing its own immigration priorities continued.

Migrants and Urban Centres

In spite of government precautions, not all immigrants committed themselves to resource exploitation or agriculture. Like the Irish before them, many non-English speaking and largely non-Protestant immigrants rejected a life of rural isolation, choosing to work in cities. Furthermore, many of these migrants only saw themselves as living in Canada or North America temporarily. Some sought to earn enough money to buy a piece of land at home, to assemble a dowry for a sister, or to pay off a family debt. However, the many who adopted North American definitions of success or who were unable to return home because of political upheavals established themselves in Canada. If possible, they brought their wives and children to join them.Immigration Centre workers, Québec, circa 1911William James Topley. Library and Archives Canada, PA-010149

Migrants some increasingly diverse origins started migrating to Canada, these included Macedonians, Russians, Finns, and Chinese people. Many of these new migrants had been allowed into Canada to satisfy the need for cheap labour or a pool of skilled craftsmen for factory or construction work. Some worked in mining or lumbering, others like the Chinese worked to finish the Canadian Pacific Railway. Many settled in the major cities like MontrealWinnipegTorontoHamilton, and Vancouver. However, these immigrants were confronted by ethnic and religious anxieties and prejudices previously only reserved for the Irish.

The arrival of migrants from drastically different cultural backgrounds generated some racist hostility from many Canadians. Some Canadians responded with a dignified tolerance. They recognized that these foreigners were here to stay, that their labour and skills were necessary, and that their living conditions were subject to improvement. Immigrants played vital economic role in urban centres — laying streetcar tracks, labouring in the expanding textile factories and digging the sewer systems. Yet, many Canadians nonetheless demanded a stricter control on immigration along ethnic or racial lines.

Immigration and Racism

Canadian immigration policy and administration had bowed to economic necessity by allowing some migrants into Canada. However, it only did so reluctantly. Soon enough, restrictive immigration controls were put in place to stop immigration along ethnic and racial lines.Chinese Immigration CertificateC.I.5 (Chinese Immigration) certificate issued to Ching Ng (Chin Ng Jai) 3 March 1918.(courtesy James Rosenthal/Arlene Chan)

Chinese migration was particularly targeted. Measures like the Chinese head tax, landing taxes, bilateral restriction agreements, and travel restrictions virtually prohibited Chinese immigration into Canada. (See also Chinese Immigration Act.) Canadian authorities also refused to allow the settlement of female Chinese immigrants. The government feared this would encourage Chinese men, who were temporarily in Canada as railway or mine labourers, to settle down permanently. There were widespread racist fears of a supposed “yellow peril” that would endanger Canadian society’s moral fabric.

In 1914, almost 400 Indian migrants aboard the ship Komagata Maru languished in Vancouver harbour while Canadian authorities debated what to do with them. Despite being subjects of the British Empire, the passengers had exposed Canada’s racist restrictions imposed on South Asian migration. Canada’s new navy, in action for the first time, escorted the ship from Canadian waters while many Vancouver residents cheered approvingly from shore. Many of the passengers would be later killed when back in India

During the First World War, anti-German hysteria erupted in Canada. This xenophobic hostility was largely directed against those with ties to enemy countries. Although foreigners with links to countries allied to Canada were also targeted. Despite Canadian military manpower needs, British and Canadian authorities alike felt that, where possible, foreigners belonged in foreign armies. Groups such as Italians, Serbians, Poles, and some Jews were encouraged to return to the armies of their mother country or were recruited into specific British army units reserved for allied foreigners of various origins. Without national armies of their own to join, many Jews, Macedonians, and Ukrainians volunteered for the Canadian Army.

In 1910–1911, rumours spread that a group of Black people was preparing to migrate to central Alberta. Descendants of previously enslaved people, they were being pushed from their lands in Oklahoma territory, where they had been granted holdings and hoped to build new lives.

Public and political response in Alberta was immediate and predictable. Federal authorities initiated an ingeniously simple scheme. Nothing in the Immigration Act specifically barred Black Americans, but any immigrant could effectively be denied access to Canada for health reasons under the Act’s medical provisions. The government merely instructed immigration inspectors and their medical aides along the American border to reject all Blacks as unfit for admission on medical grounds. There was no appeal. Blacks were warned they should not waste their time and money by considering immigration to Canada. (See also Order-in-Council P.C. 1911–1324.)

As a result of the devastating economic collapse caused by the Great Depression, the government’s approach to immigration hardened. Immigration authorities switched to actively preventing migration into Canada. By 1933, Hitler ruled Germany, and millions of political opponents and Jews might have survived if Canada or other countries had offered innocent victims a home. Although many Canadians responded to the refugees with a mixture of sympathy for their desperate plight and embarrassment at the lack of government aid, others, including the federal Cabinet, many in the diplomatic corps, and immigration policymakers, reacted with alarm to any pressure to accept Jews or political refugees escaping Germany. As a result, few refugees were able to get around Canadian immigration restrictions. (See also MS. St. Louis.)

Dismantling Racial and Ethnic Barriers

At war’s end in 1945, Canadian immigration regulations remained unchanged from the restrictive pre-war years. Yet change was not long in coming. Driven by a postwar economic boom, growing job market, and a resulting demand for labour, Canada gradually re-opened its doors to European immigration. Initially, to immigrants Canada traditionally preferred — those from the United Kingdom and Western Europe — but eventually to the rest of Europe as well. However, with the onset of the Cold War, immigration from Eastern Europe came to a halt. Borders to the west were closed by the Soviet Union and its allies. However, large numbers of immigrants entered Canada from southern Europe, particularly Italy, Greece and Portugal.Dutch immigrants arrive at QuébecJune 1947(photo by George Hunter, National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / PA-129828)

Unlike immigration from previous decades, postwar immigration was not streamed exclusively into agricultural or rural-based resource extractive industries. Canada emerged from the Second World War as an urban, industrial power, and many postwar immigrants soon filled jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Some helped expand city infrastructure while others — like the better-educated immigrants — met the strong demand for trained and skilled professionals.

Canadian immigration underwent other dramatic changes in the postwar years. Canadian governments, federal and provincial, slowly yielded to pressure for human rights reform from an earlier generation of immigrants and their children. Increasingly middle class and politically active, the now well-integrated immigrants had sacrificed in common cause with other Canadians in the war effort; as such, in the postwar era, they refused to assume second-class status in a country they had helped protect. Supported by like-minded Canadians, they denounced the ethnic and racial discrimination against them and demanded human rights reform. They forced governments to legislate against discrimination on account of race, religion, and origin in such areas as employment, accommodation and education. And, just as Canada was making discrimination illegal at home, the government moved to gradually eliminate racial, religious or ethnic barriers to Canadian immigration.

By the late 1960s, overt racial discrimination in immigration policy was gone from Canadian immigration legislation and regulations. This opened Canada’s doors to many of those who would previously have been rejected as being “undesirable” on the basis of race or ethnicity. In 1971, for the first time in Canadian history, the majority of those immigrating into Canada were of non-European ancestry. This has been the case every year since.

Immigration Point System

That does not mean that anyone who wishes to enter Canada may do so. While restrictions on account of race or national origin are gone, Canada still maintains strict criteria for determining who is and who is not a desirable candidate for Canadian entry. In the late 1960s, Canada introduced a point system to set merit-based standards for individuals applying to immigrate to Canada.

Under this system, each applicant is awarded points for age, education, ability to speak English or French, and demand for that particular applicant’s job skills. If an applicant was in good health and of good character in addition to scoring enough points, they were granted admission together with their spouse and dependent children. Those who did not score enough points were denied admission. More recently, Canada has modified its procedures to give preference to the admission of independent, skilled, and immediately employable immigrants.

Once established in Canada, most new arrivals — now called a “landed immigrant” — receive all the rights of a Canadian citizen except notably the right to vote. After a specified number of years of residing in Canada (currently three years out of five), each landed immigrant may apply for Canadian citizenship. In addition, landed immigrants, like Canadian citizens, may also apply to sponsor the admission to Canada of close family members who might not otherwise be able to satisfy stringent Canadian admission criteria. The sponsor must agree to ensure anyone brought into Canada will not become an economic burden to Canadian society. For many years, sponsored families of those already in Canada were the single largest group of those admitted into Canada.

Refugee Migration After 1945

Since the end of the Second World War, refugees and others dispossessed by war and violence have become a significant part of Canada’s immigration flow. In the postwar labour shortage, Canada admitted tens of thousands of displaced persons. Many had been made homeless by the war or who, at war’s end, found themselves outside of their country of citizenship, to which they refused to return. Among the displaced persons were Jewish Holocaust survivors who had no community or family to which they could return. Other displaced persons refused repatriation back to countries which had fallen under Soviet domination. Many resettled in Canada, where they built new lives.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Canada also responded to the plight of refugees from other countries that were under dictatorships. In the aftermath of the unsuccessful Hungarian uprising of 1956 and the crushing of political reform in Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union in 1968, refugees fled westward. Canada responded by setting aside its normal immigration procedures to admit its share of refugees. In the years that followed, Canada again made special allowance for refugees from political upheavals in Uganda, Chile and elsewhere. (See also Latin Americans.) In each of these cases, the refugees were admitted as an exception to the immigration regulations and without following all of the usual immigration procedures.

In 1978, Canada enacted a new Immigration Act that, for the first time, affirmed Canada’s commitment to the resettlement of refugees from oppression. Namely, individuals who have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of citizenship. Accordingly, refugees would no longer be admitted to Canada as an exception to immigration regulations. Admission of refugees was now part of Canadian immigration law and regulations. But refugee admission has remained controversial and difficult to administer. (See also Canadian Refugee Policy.)Vietnamese refugees in QuébecBibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec / E6,S7,SS1,D79028,P4. Photo: Henri Remillard

The first major refugee resettlement program under this new legislation was during the early 1980s, when Canada led the Western world in its welcome to Southeast Asian refugees and particularly those from Vietnam, often referred to as the “boat people.” Many of the boat people were selected from among those who escaped Vietnam in tiny boats and eventually found themselves confined to refugee camps in Thailand or Hong Kong awaiting permanent homes. (See also Canadian Response to the “Boat People” Refugee Crisis.)

Some people seeking protection are not selected by immigration officials, but instead come to Canada to apply for refugee status. These “asylum seekers” sometimes arrived to Canada after disembarking from flights between Eastern Europe and Cuba that land to refuel in Gander, Newfoundland. Many of them sought to escape the horror of war and persecution in Central America, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and China to seek sanctuary in Canada. Once in Canada, asylum seekers must prove to Canadian officials that they were are being persecuted in their homeland. If refugee status is granted, they may stay in Canada; otherwise, claimants may be deported.

Immigration in the Late 20th Century

In the 1980s, the number of those entering Canada and applying for refugee status grew, and the Canadian determination process was hard-pressed to process applicants quickly. Nor were refugee claimants universally welcomed by Canadians. Some Canadians worried that many of the refugee claimants were not really legitimate refugees but individuals looking for a way around tough Canadian immigration regulations.

The refugee issue was dramatically brought home to Canadians in the late 1980s, when two ships illegally stranded their respective cargoes of Sikh (see Sikhism) and Tamil refugee claimants on Canada’s east coast. Amid greatly exaggerated fears that Canada was about to be “flooded” with refugees, Parliament and immigration authorities began tightening refugee regulations and procedures. The result has been a continual streamlining or hardening of the Canadian refugee determination process. Canadian authorities have also been working closely with other countries and transportation companies to make it more difficult for individuals who might make a refugee claim to reach Canada. Some Canadians are concerned that these changes mean that some legitimate refugees are now being denied sanctuary they are entitled to under international law.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, even as it was seeking to forestall the entry of would-be refugee claimants, Canada opened new avenues for other immigrants with employable skills or significant financial resources. Beginning during the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney, those with capital or skills necessary to invest and start businesses within Canada were invited to apply for Canadian immigration. The idea was that these initiatives would help create employment and wealth in Canada.

As a result, the number of entrepreneurial or business immigrants rose dramatically, reaching 6 per cent of all immigrants entering Canada. A good number of entrepreneurial-class immigrants came from Hong Kong, many seeking a safe harbour for themselves, their families, and their assets in advance of the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong in 1997. It was natural that many should respond to Canada’s invitation and the opportunities offered for capital investment in Canada. As a result, Canada became a prime destination for Hong Kong and other Chinese immigration and for capital in flight. Between 1981 and 1983, Chinese immigrants invested $1.1 billion in the Canadian economy. Hong Kong and other Chinese immigration has been especially pronounced in larger urban areas such as Vancouver and Toronto, where the Chinese community now constitutes the largest immigrant group. However, most of these entrepreneurial-class immigrants did not arrive speaking English or French, and this prompted the Canadian government to introduce tougher language requirements for those coming to Canada.

Immigration from Africa (mainly from South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria) also grew in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of these newcomers were professionals with academic qualifications seeking better working conditions in Canada. The vast majority, however, were refugees fleeing war, famine, and political and economic instability in their countries of origin.

With the economic slowdown of the 1990s, Canadian immigration re-emerged as a topic of public debate. This was only natural, given the continuing impact of immigration on Canadian society. While many economists argue that Canada, with its relatively low birth rate and aging population, needs the infusion of population, energy, skills, capital and buying power that immigrants bring to Canada. Some continue to harbour doubts, however.

With immigrants of non-European origin making up a large majority of those entering Canada, some Canadians have expressed uneasiness at the changing character of urban Canada. However, many of these prejudices towards Canadians of other ethnic and racial origins often tend to be exaggerated and harm minority communities.

Public debate on immigration in Canada has remained civil and has certainly been free of the kind of violence that the arrival of large numbers of immigrants has provoked in France and Germany.

Canadian Immigration since 11 September 2001

As a direct consequence of the events of 11 September 2001, the terrorist threat, and security issues, Canada has tightened its immigration policy. (See also 9/11 and Canada.) In 2002, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) was passed. The new law replaced the 1976 Immigration Act. It notably made immigration into Canada harder, including for refugees. However, the Act did also make it easier for people in common-law or same-sex relationships to enter Canada.

Canada’s harsher stance on refugee migration was reflected in how it treated Tamil asylum seekers in 2009­–2010. Seen as “bogus” refugees, many were imprisoned despite being legitimate refugees. Many Canadians reacted similarly to asylum seekers performing irregular crossings of the US-Canada border to seek protection in Canada. (See also Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement.) This was despite the fact that it is an internationally recognized human right to claim asylum in another country.

These attitudes stood in stark contrast to the Canadian response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Between 2015 and 2017, Canada rapidly resettled 54,000 Syrian refugees. While this number was greater than the US’, Canada’s contribution paled in comparison to other countries like Germany, Lebanon, Turkey, and Sweden.

Modern-Day Immigration to Canada

Canada receives a considerable number of immigrants every year. From 2001 to 2014, an average of around 249,500 landed immigrants settled in Canada every year. In 2015, more than 271,800 migrants were admitted while this number increased to over 296,300 in 2016.

According to the 2016 Census, approximately 7.54 million Canadians were born outside the country. This means that 21.9 per cent of the total population of Canada is an immigrant. In 2011, Canada boasted the highest proportion of foreign-born inhabitants of all the countries in the G8, outstripping Germany and the US, which recorded 2010 percentages of 13 per cent and 12.9 per cent respectively.

Between 2011 and 2016, Canada welcomed a bit over 1.21 million immigrants. Permanent migrants from Asia and the Middle East continued to be the most numerous, with more than 748,700 arrivals in Canada, or 61.8 per cent of all newcomers. Africa was the second largest source, with 162,800 immigrants, but it accounted for only 13.4 per cent of all recent newcomers. Migrants originating from the Americas were the third largest group with more than 152,500 arrivals, or 12.6 per cent. A bit less than 8,000 migrants (0.7 per cent of all immigrants) from Oceania were admitted to Canada.

Census data shows that migrants from the Philippines, India, and China were the three most numerous groups of immigrants arriving in Canada. Around 188,800 (15.6 per cent) recent migrants were born in the Philippines, 147,200 (12.1 per cent) in India, and 129,000 (10.6 per cent) in mainland China. Other major groups of immigrants originated from Iran, Pakistan, the US, Syria, the United Kingdom, France, and South Korea.

The vast majority of newcomers (88.4 per cent) settle in four provinces: Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta. Most of them also live in these provinces’ major urban centres like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. These three cities alone receive 61.4 per cent of all recent immigrants.

Modern Canada was built on the migration and contributions of many immigrant groups, beginning with the first French settlers, through newcomers from the United Kingdom, Central Europe, the Caribbean and Africa, to immigrants from Asia and the Middle East. While the challenges posed by racism and discrimination remain, Canadian society remains generally open to immigration. Moreover, many immigrants’ contribution to Canadian society and desire to help build a better society on Canadian soil is beyond dispute.


Clean fuel standards allow companies to get both tax credits and sell carbon credits



OTTAWA — Canada’s new emissions standards for gasoline and diesel will allow oil companies that get a federal tax break for installing carbon capture and storage systems to also generate credits based on those systems, which they can then sell to refineries and fuel importers.

Cabinet approved the final regulations for the Clean Fuel Standard last week and The Canadian Press obtained them Monday ahead of their intended publication July 6.

The regulations require Canadian companies that produce or import gasoline or diesel to register as “primary suppliers” and then show how they are ratcheting down the life cycle emissions for the fuels by a fixed amount every year until 2030.

Life cycle emissions include every greenhouse gas produced from initial extraction, through refining, upgrading and transporting, to their final use such as to power a vehicle.

To comply with the new standards, companies need to show that they have reduced the life cycle emissions the required amount through a variety of activities, including buying credits from other companies along the life cycle chain that have reduced their own emissions.

Those credits can come from things such as building electric vehicle charging stations, replacing coal or natural gas power plants with renewable electricity sources, producing and distributing biofuels, or investments in clean technology including carbon capture and storage.

Carbon capture projects that benefit from the new federal tax credit — worth 50 to 60 per cent of the project’s cost — can also generate Clean Fuel Standard credits for sale.

“So they’re double counting,” said NDP environment critic Laurel Collins.

Collins said the Clean Fuel Standard is an “essential” tool to drive investments and conversions to renewable energy, but as it currently stands, it’s not appearing to be doing much of that.

Keith Stewart, the senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, said double counting projects isn’t going to generate additional emissions cuts, and instead just takes the financial weight off companies that are now rolling in cash.

“There is no rational way anyone should get a credit for the Clean Fuel Standard, and a 50 per cent tax credit, along with being able to write it off on the royalties, at a time when oil companies are making more money than God,” he said.

The federal government watered down the Clean Fuel Standard plan in 2020 at a time when fossil fuel companies were struggling because of a pandemic-related oil price plunge. But in 2022, oil prices have surged, largely because of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, and most Canadian companies reported record profits or near-record profits in the first quarter.

Collins is also dismayed that the implementation timeline for the new standards is being pushed back another six months. The draft regulations published in December said they would take effect in December 2022, but the final regulations push that back to the second half of 2023.

An Environment and Climate Change Canada official speaking on background because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the regulations yet said the date was moved to allow a longer time to create the emissions reductions credits gasoline and diesel producers need to comply with the emissions standards.

The Canadian Fuels Association wouldn’t comment on the final version of the regulations until the government officially releases them but said it has long supported the plan.

“The CFA and its members are obligated parties and have consistently been on the public record in support of the Clean Fuel (Standard) because it promotes a ‘technology neutral’ approach to decarbonizing fuels and provides policy certainty that is necessary for companies to plan and invest in low carbon fuels projects,” a statement from the association said Tuesday.

“In preparation for this regulation our members have already committed to billions of dollars of investments in low-carbon fuel technologies.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2022.


Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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Support dogs to comfort victims at Quebec’s specialized sexual violent courts



QUEBEC — Some Quebec domestic assault and sexual violence victims will be able to be accompanied by a support dog during court appearances.

Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette says a pilot project is being launched in collaboration with a guide dog training foundation and the province’s crime victims assistance group.

Support dogs will be offered in the province’s specialized courts that were recently created to handle cases of sexual violence and domestic assault.

Jolin-Barrette says the animals’ presence will provide comfort to victims and help them feel more confident and safe as they navigate the legal process.

The courts are located in Quebec City, Beauharnois and Bedford, in the Montérégie region; Drummond, in the Centre-du-Québec region; and St-Maurice, in the Mauricie area.

The Quebec legislature adopted a bill last year to create the specialized tribunals, which are designed to offer a supportive environment to victims who come forward to denounce their alleged abusers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2022.


The Canadian Press

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Trudeau expected to face tough questions on Canadian military spending at NATO summit



MADRID — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to face tough questions at a major NATO summit this week as a new report released by the alliance ahead of the meeting shows Canada heading in the wrong direction when it comes to military spending.

Members of the 30-member military alliance agreed in 2014 to increase their defence spending to two per cent of their national gross domestic product, and the target is expected to be front and centre when the summit begins on Wednesday.

Trudeau met with NATO leaders Tuesday evening at a dinner hosted at the royal palace in Madrid by King Felipe VI, and will begin formal talks in the morning.

The new report released by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg estimates Canadian defence spending will instead decline as a share of GDP to 1.27 per cent this year, down from 1.32 per cent last year and 1.42 per cent in 2020.

The report did not specify the reason for the expected decline, or whether it includes $8 billion in new military spending that was promised in April’s federal budget and whose purpose has not been clearly defined.

Asked about the report during a news conference at the end of this year’s G7 meeting in Germany, as he prepared to head to Madrid for the NATO leaders’ summit, Trudeau said the government has announced several “significant” new investments.

Those include $4.9 billion to upgrade Norad, the shared U.S.-Canadian system used to detect incoming airborne and maritime threats to North America, as well as plans to buy new fighter jets to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s.

The prime minister also said Canada has repeatedly proven its commitment to the NATO alliance by deploying troops and equipment on a variety of missions, including by leading a multinational NATO force in Latvia.

“Canada is always part of NATO missions and continues to step up significantly,” Trudeau said.

“We know how important it is to step up and we will continue to do so to make sure that the world knows that it can count on Canada to be part of advancing the cause of democracy, the rule of law and opportunities for everyone,” he added.

Successive Canadian governments have shown little appetite for meeting the two per cent spending target, which the parliamentary budget officer has estimated would require an extra $75 billion over the next five years.

They have instead emphasized Canada’s numerous other commitments to the alliance, including the provision of 700 Canadian troops to Latvia along with several naval warships to assist with NATO patrols in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean.

That is despite Canada having agreed to the target, as well as repeated exhortations from Stoltenberg and criticism from American officials in Washington calling on Ottawa to invest more in its military and collective defence.

The continuing decline in Canadian defence spending as a share of GDP will almost certainly lead to even more pointed questions for Trudeau in Madrid than was already expected, said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

This is particularly true given confusion surrounding the government’s announcement last week that it plans to invest in Norad modernization, with uncertainty around where the money is actually coming from, when it will be spent and on what.

“I would assume that they were hoping to send a message with the continental defence piece that irrespective of what’s happening in Europe, Canada’s got other defence commitments and that contributes to overall alliance security,” Perry said.

“But the mechanics of how the continental defence piece rolled out would take away from some of that.”

That defence spending is on a downward track when Canada is facing pressure to contribute more overseas and struggling with significant military personnel and equipment shortfalls is also a concern, said Robert Baines of the NATO Association of Canada.

“I’ve always been amazed that Prime Minister Trudeau has facility for dancing over the very serious situation Canada is facing when it comes to defence,” Baines said. “Trying to do so much, and then having so many resource issues and challenges.”

To that end, Trudeau sidestepped a question over whether Canada is prepared to send more troops to Latvia, as NATO seeks to double the size of its forces throughout eastern Europe in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Latvia’s ambassador to Canada told The Canadian Press earlier this week that Canada is talking with allies about reinforcing the Canadian-led battlegroup in his country.

The battlegroup in Latvia is one of four established by NATO in 2017, with Germany leading another such unit in Lithuania and Britain and the United States responsible for forces in Estonia and Poland, respectively.

Germany and Britain have both said in recent weeks that they are ready to lead larger combat units in Lithuania and Estonia, but Canada has so far remained silent about its plans in Latvia.

Trudeau also wouldn’t say whether Canada is prepared to put more of the military on high readiness, as Stoltenberg announced on Monday that the alliance plans to increase the number of troops on standby from 40,000 to 300,000.

“We have been working closely with NATO partners, with the secretary-general of NATO, and especially with the Latvians, where Canada leads the (battlegroup) and is committed to making sure we continue to stand up against Russian,” Trudeau said.

“We, like others, are developing plans to be able to scale up rapidly,” he added. “And those are conversations that I very much look forward to having over the next couple of days in NATO.”

Baines predicted whatever additional troops and equipment are added to the Canadian-led battlegroup in Latvia will predominantly come from other NATO members as Canada only recently deployed more troops to the region.

The government announced in February that it was sending an artillery unit and 100 additional soldiers to bolster the 600 Canadian troops already in the Baltic state. It also recently deployed two additional warships to the region.

Perry said it remains unclear how much more the Canadian military, which is short about 10,000 service members, has to spare.

“Maybe there’s an ability to find some more at the back of the cupboard,” he said.

“But if the alliance is going to collectively be stepping up with some additional … troop and equipment commitments, then I’m sure there’d be lots of pressure on us to be part of that as well.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2022.

— With files from Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa


Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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