Zero-emissions vehicles will be a focus of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's minority Liberal government during this session of Parliament, according to the plan the laid out in the speech from the throne Wednesday.
While the outline was short on financial details, which is usually the case during the speech delivered by the governor general, it did point the government toward the age of electrification.
The Liberals reiterated their desire to “make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable while investing in more charging stations across the country.”
The party has made similar pledges in the past.
Ottawa previously committed $130 million in the 2019 federal budget for EV infrastructure. In the 2017 budget, the Liberals said they would be broadly investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure, including electric vehicle charging stations and electricity grid interconnections.
Similar commitments were made in the throne speech.
“A good example of adapting to a carbon-neutral future is building zero-emissions vehicles and batteries,” the speech stated. “Canada has the resources – from nickel to copper – needed for these clean technologies. This – combined with Canadian expertise – is Canada’s competitive edge.”
The comments came just a day after Ford Motor Co. and Unifor reached a tentative three-year collective bargaining contract that the union says includes a $1.8-billion retooling of the automaker’s Oakville, Ont., plant to assemble electric vehicles and batteries. Unifor says the plant will eventually be assembling five EVs models when at full capacity.
The Toronto Star reported Sunday that the federal government will kick in $500 million to help Ford retool. Neither the automaker nor government has confirmed that publicly, and Unifor declined to comment Monday.
Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said this week he wants to see more electric-battery production done in Ontario.
“We have the lithium. We have the nickel. We need to manufacture here,” Ford told Automotive News Canada during his daily press briefing Monday. “Do you want to be hauling these batteries from a southern U.S. state up to Canada? Or do you want the batteries manufactured down the street that we can ship in hours, saving millions? I want the battery manufacturing done here.”
The government also pledged in its speech to launch a new fund to attract investments in making zero-emissions products and cut the corporate tax rate in half. The gross federal tax rate in Canada is currently 15 per cent.
“The government will ensure Canada is the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies,” the speech said.
None of the Detroit Three automakers, Toyota or Honda, all of which assemble vehicles in Ontario, were immediately available for comment.