TORONTO — The federal Liberals will continue to promote green technology and invest in the auto industry, even as the Ontario government clamps down on investments and ends electric vehicle rebates, said Navdeep Bains, federal minister of innovation, science and economic development.
Bains said it was a challenge for the federal government to meet its targets on green technology because Ontario Premier Doug Ford intended to scrap the Ontario Green Energy Act and also moved to end EV rebates, among other decisions.
Still, the federal government will maintain its strategy, even as it works with a less friendly government at Queen’s Park, Bains said.
“I understand that the province of Ontario, and even in Alberta in light of the Trans Mountain [Pipeline] discussion, may end up going in different directions with respect to some of their green technology policies or environmental policies. But we are still committed to that,” Bains told Automotive News Canada following the Bloomberg event.
The Conservatives, for example, ended the former Liberal government’s cap-and trade plan, which funded EV rebates of up to $14,000 per vehicle.
The move was expected to dent EV adoption in Ontario — and Canada — as Quebec and British Columbia are the only other provinces still offering rebates. EV sales in Ontario surged 120 per cent from 2016 to about 7,500 vehicles in 2017, according to EV-tracking company FleetCarma.
STILL COMMITTED TO ZERO EMISSIONS
Bains did not say whether Ottawa is considering offering federal rebates as part of a national strategy for zero-emission vehicles. Last year, the federal government set a goal to develop a national ZEV strategy by 2018, and Bains said it was consulting with stakeholders on which policies would work best for Canada.
“We are continuing on with that commitment to come forward with a zero emission-vehicle strategy where we can get a buy-in not only from consumers but from industry as well,” Bains said.
Likewise, the federal and Ontario governments appear to be at odds on large scale subsidies for private industry. For example, Ontario is eliminating the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, which funded automakers’ and suppliers’ manufacturing projects in Ontario. It is part of Premier Doug Ford’s promise to end what he calls corporate welfare.
‘MEANINGFUL’ JOB INVESTMENTS
Bains said the federal government would continue to support certain manufacturing projects. The government, for instance, pledged $110 million to Toyota for its $1.4 billion investment in its Canadian manufacturing operations. The previous Liberal government in Ontario, led by former Premier Kathleen Wynne, matched the federal contribution.
“We believe that certain investments bring clear job creation possibilities to Canada,” Bains said. “We’ll continue to step up, and we’ll see how the province responds. Because ultimately for us, our No. 1 priority has been growth and jobs, and we’ll continue to partner up where needed on a project-by-project basis to see those investments come to Canada.”