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Trudeau unveils new net-zero emissions plan to meet climate change targets – CBC.ca

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Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson tabled new legislation today that would force current and future federal governments to set binding climate targets to get Canada to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The bill, if passed, would require the federal government to set five-year interim emissions reduction targets over the next 30 years to ensure progress toward that ambitious goal.

The legislation, C-12, fulfils a Liberal election promise to be more aggressive at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to get Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Reaching “net-zero” by 2050 would mean that emissions produced 30 years from now would be fully absorbed through actions that scrub carbon from the atmosphere — such as planting trees — or technology, such as carbon-capture and storage systems. The Liberals have promised to plant two billion trees.

“Climate change remains one of the greatest challenges of our times,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Thursday.

“Just like with COVID-19, ignoring the risks of climate change isn’t an option. That approach would only make the costs higher and the long-term consequences worse. Canadians have been clear — they want climate action now.”

Trudeau described the bill as an accountability framework that will “ensure we reach this net-zero goal in a way that gives Canadians confidence.”

Global emissions will need to reach “net zero” around mid-century to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 C, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The 1.5 C target was a goal of the Paris climate accord, signed by almost all countries, including Canada.

No plan presented to meet 2030 target

Wilkinson’s bill doesn’t set out exactly how the federal government should go about reducing emissions — it does not mandate further increases to the carbon tax, for example. It simply stipulates that Ottawa must set a goal and work to achieve it through measures that are deemed effective.

The legislation calls for the creation of an outside 15-member advisory board — composed of climate experts, scientists and Indigenous representatives, among others — which would provide advice to the minister on setting targets and the best “sectoral strategies” for achieving net-zero. By law, the minister would be obliged to consult with groups before setting targets.

The legislation also requires that the minister table a plan in Parliament outlining how Ottawa plans to meet those targets. The legislation does not stipulate what role the provinces and territories will play in this national emissions reduction plan.

The first emissions reduction target, and the plan to meet it, would be tabled nine months after the bill is passed through Parliament. That first target would be for the year 2030.

Under the federal government’s net zero plan, new pipelines, mines, power plants and railways in Canada will have to include strategies to hit net-zero emissions by 2050 in order to be approved. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Environmental groups celebrated the government’s push to enshrine the net-zero commitment into law — but raised red flags about the plan to make 2030 the first milestone year, saying binding targets should be implemented much sooner than that.

“To be effective, the legislation will need to prioritize immediate climate action by setting a 2025 target, and ensure that all the targets we set are as ambitious as possible. We will be looking to all federal parties in the upcoming weeks to work together to strengthen this bill,” said Andrew Gage, a staff lawyer with West Coast Environment Law.

“This legislation is a significant step to put Canada on the course to achieve its emissions targets and sets up Canada to become a global leader. However, Ecojustice also believes that there is room for improvement on issues such as the lack of a 2025 target,” said a spokesperson for the environmental advocacy group. 

‘Binding’ — but without penalties

Canada’s target, set by the former Conservative government in May 2015, is to reduce emissions by 30 per cent compared to 2005 levels by 2030.

Current policies — including the carbon tax, banning coal power plants and regulating methane emissions in the oil and gas industry — will only get Canada about two-thirds of the way there.

While the government describes this legislation as “legally binding,” there would be no tangible penalty applied if the country fails to drive down emissions as promised.

People attend a climate change protest in Montreal, Saturday, September 26, 2020. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

The government would simply have to state publicly in Parliament that it failed to meet its goals. There would be no meaningful legal consequences if Ottawa falls short.

A future government also could simply repeal the law and do away with reporting obligations altogether.

The proposed law is similar to what Denmark passed through its legislature earlier this year. In Denmark, however, the government’s targets are put to a vote every year and it needs to secure parliamentary approval for its global and national climate strategies.

Asked why the government failed to include any penalties to make the targets more meaningful, Trudeau said it will be up to voters to punish governments that fail to hit their marks.

“Ultimately, the accountability for government’s actions or inaction is from Canadians themselves. We live in a democracy. Stephen Harper’s inability to fight climate change responsibility was a big part of him losing power in 2015. Conservatives continue to fight against measures that combat climate change,” Trudeau said.

“The consequences for a government that doesn’t lead on climate change … will be far greater than anything you can write into a legislation.”

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul slammed the bill Thursday, calling it a major disappointment for climate activists who were expecting a much more ambitious plan.

She said without penalties — or clear targets in writing from the outset — it will be easy for future governments to duck accountability.

“After five years in power, and a record of unfulfilled emissions reductions commitments, the government has given us more smoke and mirrors. There is only talk of accountability about a plan that will be developed at some future date. That’s not what we expected, that is not what we need,” Paul told reporters.

Green Party leader Annamie Paul comments on the governments climate legislation during a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday November 19, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

“I’m confused as to why the government is yet again passing up on the chance of a lifetime to put Canada on a path to net zero by 2050. There are no targets and no specific actions designed to put Canada on a pathway to net zero. In short, there is no plan,” she said.

Conservative MP Dan Albas, the party’s environment critic, said Trudeau needs to come clean with Canadians about how much a dramatic reduction in emissions would cost.

“Justin Trudeau needs to be transparent with Canadians about his plan for achieving net zero. Canadians are worried that he plans to dramatically increase carbon taxes, and they are worried about the impact this will have on the cost of gas, groceries and home heating,” he said in a statement.

The bill stipulates that the finance minister also will be required to prepare an annual report each year detailing “key measures that the federal public administration has taken to manage its financial risks and opportunities related to climate change,” to ensure the bureaucracy itself is doing its part to drive down greenhouse gas emissions.

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3 Nova Scotians appointed to the Order of Canada – CBC.ca

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Three Nova Scotians have been appointed to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours.

They are among the 114 appointees announced Friday.

The list includes eight companions, 21 officers, one honorary member and 84 members. The full list can be found here.

“Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation,” said a statement on the office of the Governor General’s website.

Appointments are made by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada. More than 7,000 Canadians have received the honour since its inception.

Jeff Dahn of Halifax, who has led groundbreaking research on lithium-ion batteries, was appointed as an officer.

Dahn is considered a pioneer of lithium-ion battery research. (Jill English/CBC)

In 2017, he won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for his work in making batteries increasingly efficient. He also won a Governor General’s Award for Innovation in 2016.

Dahn works out of a lab at Dalhousie University. He also began a five-year research partnership with Tesla In 2016.

In the statement, the Governor General’s office also commended him for “his mentorship and adroit bridging of academia and industry.”

Dahn could not be reached for comment Sunday.

‘It’s humbling’

Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Wilson and John Eyking were appointed as members.

Wilson, a plastic surgeon in the Halifax area, was appointed “for his nationally recognized expertise in reconstructive and plastic surgery, and for his volunteer work on international medical missions.”

“It’s humbling, but a very nice addition to a great career,” Wilson said of the honour.

In the mid-80s, Wilson became the first person east of Montreal to dedicate himself to doing plastic surgery for children.

“It was a very satisfying thing for me to be able to look after a lot of the children who have either had to travel, or that hadn’t had, sometimes, the attention they would’ve had otherwise,” he said.

Wilson has spent more than 30 years doing plastic and reconstructive surgery for children. (Submitted by Ken Wilson)

In the mid-90s, Wilson began working with Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgeries and dental care to children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. He travelled a couple times a year to do surgery in underdeveloped countries, and he estimates he went on about 46 missions.

In the late 1990s, Wilson became the chief of surgery at the IWK children’s hospital in Halifax, a position he held for more than a decade.

He stopped practising five years ago, but Wilson now works as a medical consultant for Doctors Nova Scotia and is chair of the board for Operation Smile Canada.

“It was a wonderful career,” said Wilson. “I gotta say, I’ve been very lucky over the years to have the opportunity to do what I did.”

While there is no ceremony this year due to COVID-19, Wilson was mailed his snowflake insignia, as well as a “lovely book” detailing the history of the Order of Canada and the many recipients over the years.

‘All in a day’s work’

Eyking, a farmer and entrepreneur who founded Eyking Farms, was recognized for his “personal and professional dedication to the Cape Breton community, particularly within the agriculture industry.”

Eyking, of Millville, N.S., immigrated to Canada in 1963 from the Netherlands. He started a farm, which later grew into a family operation run by him, his wife and their 10 children.

He is also an inductee of the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Reached by phone Sunday, Eyking, 89, was modest about his appointment. He credited his farm’s accomplishments to the work of his large family.

“For me, it was all in a day’s work and I enjoyed it,” he said.

He, too, received a parcel from the Order of Canada, and said he enjoyed the book.

“There’s quite a few Cape Bretoners in there,” he said.

The recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

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Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

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The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

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Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

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 on


The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

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