Transcript: Does Ottawa's Climate Plan Add Up? | Jan 08, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and gray tie.

A caption on screen reads "Does Ottawa's climate plan add up? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says LAST MONTH, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED A MAJOR NEW EFFORT TO PUT CANADA ON TRACK TO MEET ITS CLIMATE CHANGE COMMITMENTS. THE 15 BILLION DOLLAR PLAN RAISES THE PRICE ON CARBON EMISSIONS STEADILY OVER THE COMING DECADE TO MORE THAN FIVE TIMES THE CURRENT PRICE BY 2030. JONATHAN WILKINSON IS CANADA'S MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE. HE IS ALSO THE LIBERAL MP FOR NORTH VANCOUVER, WHICH IS WHERE WE FIND HIM TONIGHT.

Wilkinson is in his early fifties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit and a white shirt.

Steve continues MINISTER, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND HOPE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ARE REASONABLY OKAY IN THE MIDST OF THIS PANDEMIC.

Wilkinson says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Steve says I THOUGHT WE'D JUST, SINCE YOU MADE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT A WHILE AGO, JUST TAKE 30 SECONDS OFF THE TOP HERE TO REMIND PEOPLE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF IT. SO I'LL ASK OUR DIRECTOR, SHELDON OSMOND, TO BRING UP THIS GRAPHIC HERE. HERE IS THE LIBERALS' NEW CLIMATE CHANGE PLAN.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "The Liberals' new climate change plan."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE PRICE ON CARBON TO RISE TO 170 dollars A TONNE BY THE YEAR 2030. IT'S CURRENTLY AT 30 dollars A TONNE. IT'LL CLIMB TO 50 dollars IN THE YEAR 2022. THE AIM, OF COURSE, TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY ALMOST A THIRD BY 2030, AND THAT'S BASED ON A FLOOR OF CANADA'S EMISSIONS IN THE YEAR 2005. THE GOVERNMENT HOPES WE CAN BECOME A NET-ZERO EMISSIONS COUNTRY BY THE YEAR 2050. THE PLAN INCLUDES QUARTERLY REBATES TO HOUSEHOLDS TO TRY TO OFFSET THE TAX. FOR EXAMPLE, THEY SAY THIS YEAR A FAMILY OF FOUR IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO WOULD SEE A REBATE OF 600 dollars. THE PLAN ALSO PROVIDES FUNDING TO INDUSTRY, 3 BILLION DOLLARS. MUNICIPALITIES, 1.5 BILLION DOLLARS. ALL TO HELP REDUCE EMISSIONS. THERE'S NEARLY 1 BILLION DOLLARS IN THE PLAN TO IMPROVE CANADA'S ELECTRICAL GRID. ADD IT ALL UP AND IT COMES TO 15 BILLION DOLLARS. AND I GUESS, MINISTER, LET'S START WITH THIS: IF WE DO THIS, HOW MUCH WILL WE ACTUALLY CONTRIBUTE TO SCALING BACK THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE GLOBALLY?

The caption changes to "Jonathan Wilkinson. Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change."
The caption changes to "The time is now."

Wilkinson says WELL, WE WILL MAKE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION. I MEAN, THE WAY THAT THE PARIS AGREEMENT WORKS IS COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD ARE SIGNING UP TO TAKE ACTION TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE, AND AS YOU WELL KNOW, IN THE CONTEXT OF ANY KIND OF INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT, COUNTRIES NEED TO DO WHAT THEY SAY THEY'RE GOING TO DO IF THEY EXPECT THAT OTHERS ARE GOING TO DO LIKEWISE. SO CANADA, BY TAKING ACTION, IS MEETING THE CHALLENGE, ALONGSIDE ITS INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS. IT WILL MAKE A MEANINGFUL CONTRIBUTION. I MEAN, THERE ARE SOME CONSERVATIVE POLITICIANS IN PARTICULAR WHO OFTEN SAY, WELL, CANADA IS ONLY 2 percent OF GLOBAL EMISSIONS. WELL, CANADA IS IN THE TOP 10 OF GLOBAL EMITTERS, AND WE ARE NUMBER 2 IN TERMS OF PER CAPITA EMISSIONS. IF COUNTRIES LIKE CANADA DON'T TAKE ACTION, WE WILL NOT ADDRESS AND SOLVE THE EXISTENTIAL THREAT THAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE. BUT I WOULD ALSO SAY THAT THIS IS AN ENORMOUS ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY, AND PART OF TAKING ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE IS ABOUT SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT EXIST THAT ARE BEING PURSUED BY EUROPE, BY CHINA, AND NOW WITH PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN, BY THE UNITED STATES.

Steve says I SHOULD ASK YOU, HOWEVER, WHETHER THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER MET A CLIMATE CHANGE TARGET THAT IT HAS SET, NOT JUST YOUR GOVERNMENT BUT GOVERNMENTS GOING BACK IN THE PAST?

The caption changes to "Jonathan Wilkinson. Liberal MP, North Vancouver."

Wilkinson says WELL, I THINK THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION, AND I THINK PART OF THE CHALLENGE IN THE PAST HAS BEEN GOVERNMENTS HAVE SET TARGETS WITHOUT EXPLICIT AND CLEARLY DEFINED PLANS FOR ACHIEVING THEM. I MEAN, YOU WILL RECALL THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF STEPHEN HARPER SET A TARGET BUT NEVER HAD A PLAN. THIS GOVERNMENT CAME TO POWER IN 2015. IT DEVELOPED THE FIRST REAL CLIMATE PLAN THAT CANADA HAS EVER HAD, IT'S CALLED THE PAN-CANADIAN FRAMEWORK. IT DIDN'T IDENTIFY EVERYTHING WE NEEDED TO ACHIEVE OUR TARGET. THIS ENHANCED CLIMATE PLAN GOES BEYOND THAT. IT BUILDS ON THE INITIALLY WORK THAT WAS DONE BY MINISTER McKENNA. IT BUILDS UPON THAT AND IT PROVIDES A VERY, VERY DETAILED PATHWAY THROUGH WHICH CANADA WILL NOT ONLY MEET BUT WE WILL EXCEED OUR 2030 TARGET.

Steve says SO THAT'S WHY WE SHOULD BELIEVE THAT THIS TIME IT'S REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN?

Wilkinson says IT'S ON THE TABLE. I MEAN, PEOPLE CAN GO ON THE INTERNET AND LOOK AT THE PLAN. THEY CAN LOOK AT EVERY ELEMENT OF THAT PLAN. EVERY ELEMENT HAS A NUMBER OF EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS ASSOCIATED WITH IT. IT IS A VERY DETAILED AND, TO BE HONEST, VERY CONSERVATIVE PLAN AT THIS STAGE. WE CERTAINLY WANT TO DO MORE. I THINK YOUR INITIAL GRAPHIC SAID 32 percent. THAT IS THE BASELINE, THE BARE MINIMUM. WE THINK WE CAN DO BETTER. WE CERTAINLY THINK THAT PROVINCES AND TERRITORIES IN THIS COUNTRY HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO WORK ON THIS ISSUE TOO AND WE WILL BE ENGAGING THEM IN THAT CONVERSATION.

Steve says I SHOULD GET YOUR REACTION TO THIS. I WAS SNOOPING AROUND ON BLACKLOCK'S REPORTER WHICH IS A VERY FINE JOURNALISTIC WEBSITE THAT DOES A LOT OF SHOE LEATHER REPORTING AND THEY HAVE A REPORT THAT THEY REPORTED ON FROM YOUR OWN ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT THAT SUGGESTS THAT THIS PLAN, COMBINED WITH YOUR CLEAN FUEL STANDARD PLAN, AND HERE'S THE QUOTE, "WILL DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECT LOW INCOME AND MIDDLE INCOME HOUSEHOLDS, FIXED INCOME SENIORS, AND SINGLE MOMS." DO YOU WANT TO RESPOND TO THAT?

The caption changes to "Jonathan Wilkinson, @JonathanWNV."

Wilkinson says WELL, SURE, I'D BE HAPPY TO RESPOND TO THAT. FIRST OF ALL, THEY'RE MIXING A WHOLE BUNCH OF DIFFERENT THINGS. IN THE CONTEXT OF THE PRICE ON POLLUTION, WHAT PEOPLE TEND TO CALL A CARBON TAX, ALTHOUGH I WOULD ARGUE IT'S NOT A TAX BECAUSE THE MONEY IS ALL RETURNED, IT IS A PRICE ON POLLUTION. THE MONEY IS ALL RETURNED. AND IF YOU LOOK AT ANY INDEPENDENT STUDY, INCLUDING THE PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICE STUDY, THE MAJORITY OF CANADIAN FAMILIES GET MORE MONEY BACK THAN THEY PAY AND IT ACTUALLY WORKS IN REVERSE TO WHAT BLACKLOCK IS SAYING, IN THAT THE MOST VULNERABLE CANADIAN FAMILIES ARE ACTUALLY RECEIVING MORE MONEY THAN THEY PAY. SO THAT PART OF THE REPORTING THAT THEY'VE PUT IN THERE IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. WITH RESPECT TO THE CLEAN FUEL STANDARD, THAT IS A REGULATORY MECHANISM THAT'S ABOUT REDUCING THE CARBON INTENSITY OF THE FUELS THAT WE USE. THAT'S ABOUT ENSURING THAT THE GASOLINE WE PUT IN OUR CAR, THE DIESEL THAT IS USED IN HEAVY-DUTY TRUCKS, IS REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF CARBON EMISSIONS THAT IT'S PUTTING OUT INTO THE ATMOSPHERE. AND CERTAINLY AS WE MOVE FORWARD WITH THAT, IT'S GOING TO HAVE A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT IMPACTS. CERTAINLY SOME OF THE POSITIVE ECONOMIC IMPACTS ARE IT'S GOING TO DRIVE DEMAND FOR THINGS LIKE BIOFUELS AND HYDROGEN AND RENEWABLE NATURAL GAS AND POSITION CANADA MUCH MORE STRONGLY TO BE A POSITIVE COMPETITOR IN THE WORLD. CERTAINLY THERE ARE SOME ADDITIONAL COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH MOVING TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF CARBON IN THOSE FUELS, AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHY WE PUT MONEY INTO DOING THINGS LIKE HELPING PEOPLE TO RETROFIT THEIR HOMES, TO BE ABLE TO MAKE THEM MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT, TO ACTUALLY SAVE THEM MONEY IN THE LONG RUN.

Steve says YOU WON'T BE SURPRISED PREMIER DOUG FORD IS NOT A FAN. WE WILL PLAY A CLIP AND COME BACK AND CHAT. SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "December 11, 2020."
In the clip, Premier Doug Ford gives an official statement.

He says I JUST CAN'T UNDERSTAND, FOR THE LIFE OF ME, WHY ANYONE WOULD WANT TO PUT A BURDEN ON THE BACKS OF THE HARD-WORKING PEOPLE OF THIS PROVINCE. FOLKS, THIS CARBON TAX IS GOING TO BE THE WORST THING YOU COULD EVER SEE. YOU'RE PAYING 30 percent MORE FOR EVERYTHING. NOT JUST GAS. FOOD, COSMETICS, SERVICES, RESTAURANTS. YOU WANT TO SEE RESTAURANTS, YOU WANT TO SEE SMALL BUSINESSES HURT? YOU SLAP A 30 percent TAX ON THEM. AND MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, THIS IS NOTHING BUT A 30 percent TAX GRAB. I'VE NEVER, EVER, EVER BEEN MORE DISAPPOINTED IN AN ANNOUNCEMENT EVER SINCE I'VE BEEN IN POLITICS. THIS I JUST CANNOT UNDERSTAND FOR THE LIFE OF ME.

The clip ends.

Steve says WANT TO TAKE THAT ON?

The caption changes to "Provincial pushback."

Wilkinson says SURE, I'D BE VERY HAPPY TO TAKE THAT ON. I WOULD SAY... I'M A VERY PRACTICAL PERSON AND I BELIEVE IN DEALING IN FACTS AND EVIDENCE, AND I WOULD JUST OFFER THAT PREMIER FORD NEEDS TO GO BACK AND ACTUALLY LOOK AT FACTS AND THE EVIDENCE. WHAT HE SAID IN THAT CLIP IS JUST SIMPLY NOT TRUE. AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE VAST MAJORITY OF CANADIANS GET MORE MONEY BACK THAN THEY PAY ON THE PRICE ON POLLUTION. IT IS AN INCENTIVE TO DRIVE EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS. IT'S THE MOST EFFICIENT WAY TO DO THAT. I MEAN, YOU ASK 100 ECONOMISTS, 99 WILL TELL YOU IT'S THE MOST EFFICIENT WAY TO DRIVE EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS. AT THE END OF THE DAY, CANADIANS AND ONTARIANS EXPECT THE GOVERNMENT TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE. THEY EXPECT THAT BECAUSE IT IS A THREAT TO THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN. THEY EXPECT IT BECAUSE FROM AN ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE IF WE DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE EMERGING LOW CARBON ECONOMY, WE ARE GOING TO BE LEFT BEHIND. WE CANNOT PUT OUR HEADS IN THE SAND. CERTAINLY WHAT I WOULD SAY TO PREMIER FORD IS EITHER HE IS DELIBERATELY MISLEADING ONTARIANS AS TO HOW THIS WORKS OR HE JUST DOESN'T UNDERSTAND IT AND I'M MORE THAN HAPPY TO SIT WITH HIM AND HIS MINISTERS TO EXPLAIN IT TO THEM. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU KNOW, POLITICIANS HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO THE PUBLIC TO TELL THEM THE STRAIGHT GOODS, AND IF THEY HAVE A DISAGREEMENT, THAT'S FINE. BUT LET'S BE SERIOUS AND LET'S BE REAL ABOUT THE FACTS.

Steve says WELL, ONE OF THE OTHER CRITICISMS HE SAID WAS THAT THIS WILL MAKE US LESS COMPETITIVE IN A POST-COVID WORLD THAN WE NEED TO BE. WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THAT?

Wilkinson says WELL, THE WORLD IS MOVING TO A LOW CARBON FUTURE, AND YOU LOOK AROUND THE WORLD, EUROPE IS MOVING, CHINA IS MOVING. LOOK AT PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN AND THE VERY AGGRESSIVE PLANS HE HAS TO MOVE NOT JUST IN TERMS OF ADDRESSING THE ENVIRONMENTAL THREAT BUT TO SEIZING THE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES. AND BEYOND GOVERNMENTS, I MEAN, ALL OF THE MAJOR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN THE WORLD ARE NOW LOOKING AT CLIMATE AS ONE OF THE MAJOR FACTORS IN MAKING INVESTMENT DECISIONS. SO WE EITHER ARE GOING TO BE PART OF MOVING FORWARD TO EPIDEMIOLOGICAL SURE THAT WE'RE BUILDING AN ECONOMY THAT IS GOING TO THRIVE AND CREATE PROSPERITY AND JOBS IN THE FUTURE OR WE'RE GOING TO STICK OUR HEADS IN THE SAND AND BE LEFT BEHIND AND INCREASINGLY WE'LL BE MORE IMPOVERISHED. I CHOOSE TO MOVE FORWARD. THIS PLAN IS ABOUT MOVING FORWARD.

Steve says DO YOU THINK THE PREMIER IS STICKING HIS HEAD IN THE SAND ON THIS ONE?

Wilkinson says WE WERE VERY DISAPPOINTED WHEN PREMIER FORD DECIDED TO SCRAP THE CAP AND TRADE SYSTEM IN ONTARIO WHEN HE CAME INTO POWER. I THINK WE'VE BEEN VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH RESPECT TO THE LEVEL OF AMBITION WITH RESPECT TO CLIMATE ACTION. CLIMATE CHANGE IS A PROBLEM FOR ALL OF US, WHETHER WE'RE FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS, PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS, OR TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENTS. I HOPE WE CAN FIND A PATHWAY TO ENSURE PREMIER FORD IS WITH US IN ADDRESSING THIS ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE.

Steve says AT THE MOMENT HE'S NOT BECAUSE HE'S ALSO PART OF THE FOUR PROVINCES THAT ARE CHALLENGING THIS IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SIT DOWN WITH ANYBODY IN HIS GOVERNMENT AND EXPLAIN THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU'VE LOST AT A LOWER LEVEL, YOU'RE PROBABLY GOING TO LOSE AT THE SUPREME COURT AS WELL, WHY NOT DROP THIS AND WORK TOGETHER WITH US ON IT? HAVE YOU HAD THAT CONVERSATION?

Wilkinson says CERTAINLY I'VE HAD CONVERSATIONS WITH ALL OF MY PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL COUNTERPARTS ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER ON CLIMATE, AND IN THE EARLY MONTHS OF THIS YEAR, WE WILL BE ENGAGING IN A CONSULTATION PROCESS WITH ALL OF THEM AGAIN WITH RESPECT TO HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD. AS WE SAID WHEN WE RELEASED THIS CLIMATE PLAN, IT IS REALLY FOCUSED ON FEDERAL ACTIONS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE, BUT PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE TOOLS TOO, AND WE EXPECT THAT THEY WILL WANT TO AND SHOULD WANT TO BE PART OF ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE. SO THERE WILL BE ONGOING CONSULTATIONS. BUT AS I SAY, YOU KNOW, OUR VIEW WITH RESPECT TO THE PRICE ON POLLUTION IS THAT IT IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF ADDRESSING THIS IN A MANNER THAT'S AFFORDABLE. IT WILL DRIVE INNOVATION AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY, AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT CANADIANS EXPECT THEIR GOVERNMENT TO DO IS TO BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT MOVING FORWARD.

Steve says I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT ONE OF THE BIGGEST PURCHASES A GOVERNMENT HAS EVER MADE, THE TRANSMOUNTAIN PIPELINE, WHICH THE FEDS SPENT 4.5 BILLION DOLLARS ON. DOES THIS CLIMATE PLAN OF YOURS NOW MAKE THAT A STRANDED ASSET?

The caption changes to "Industry standpoints."

Wilkinson says NO, IT DOESN'T MAKE IT A STRANDED ASSET. YOU KNOW, I THINK PEOPLE HAVE TO BE CLEAR... BEFORE I GOT INTO POLITICS, I SPENT ALMOST 20 YEARS AS AN EXECUTIVE IN THE CLEAN TECHNOLOGY SPACE RUNNING COMPANIES THAT ACTUALLY WERE FOCUSED ON REDUCING CARBON EMISSIONS. SO I'VE BEEN AROUND THE SPACE A LONG TIME. AND I THINK THAT SOME ARE OF THE VIEW THAT YOU CAN TURN A SWITCH AND EVERYTHING CHANGES OVERNIGHT THAT, YOU KNOW, ALL OF A SUDDEN WE GO FROM GENERATING ENERGY IN TRADITIONAL WAYS TO ALL RENEWABLES OR ALL ELECTRIC CARS OVERNIGHT. THAT'S JUST NOT THE WAY IT WORKS. WE NEED TO ACCELERATE THE RATE OF DEPLOYMENT OF VARIOUS NEW TECHNOLOGIES. WE NEED TO BE MOVING DOWN A PATHWAY THAT IS A TRANSITION TO A LOW CARBON FUTURE. BUT IF YOU THINK ABOUT OIL AND GAS, CERTAINLY WITH RESPECT TO GASOLINE, YOU KNOW, 98 OR SO PERCENT OF THE CARS THAT ARE ON THE ROAD USE GASOLINE RIGHT NOW. THAT WILL TRANSITION OVER TIME. BUT OVER THE COURSE OF THE COMING DECADE, THERE'S STILL GOING TO BE DEMAND FOR OIL AND GAS AS WE MOVE TOWARDS THAT LOWER CARBON FUTURE, AND THE TRANSMOUNTAIN PIPELINE IS ABOUT ENSURING THAT DURING THAT PERIOD OF TRANSITION, CANADA CAPTURES VALUE FOR ITS RESOURCES. IT DOESN'T GET THE DISCOUNT THAT IT DOES IN THE UNITED STATES. AND SO I DON'T THINK IT'S A STRANDED ASSET BUT IT'S CERTAINLY A TRANSITIONAL TOOL AND A TRANSITIONAL ASSET.

Steve says I APPRECIATE POLITICS IS THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE, SO I UNDERSTAND WHY YOU JUST SAID WHAT YOU JUST SAID, BUT I WONDER WHETHER THE PRE-POLITICS JONATHAN WILKINSON COULD BELIEVE THAT THE POLITICIAN JONATHAN WILKINSON IS ACTUALLY SAYING WHAT HE JUST SAID?

Wilkinson says OH, I THINK SO. I MEAN, I'M A PRETTY PRAGMATIC PERSON. I AM FIRMLY OF THE VIEW THAT WE NEED TO ACHIEVE A NET ZERO FUTURE BY 2050 AND WE NEED TO BE MAKING TO ENSURE THAT OUR PARTNERS AROUND THE WORLD ARE DOING THAT, BUT WE NEED TO BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT HOW WE GET THERE. WE NEED TO ENSURE WE'RE DOING IT IN A MANNER THAT WILL MAINTAIN THE PROSPERITY THAT CANADIANS HAVE AND THAT THEY EXPECT THAT THEY CAN PASS TO THEIR CHILDREN. SO BEING THOUGHTFUL MEANS THAT WE ACTUALLY ENSURE THAT WE ARE EXTRACTING VALUE FROM EXISTING RESOURCES AS WE TRANSITION TO A FUTURE WHERE WE WILL NEED TO DEVELOP NEW WAYS OF GENERATING VALUE. IT MAY BE THAT, FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE FUTURE, THAT IT'S NOT OIL AND GAS IN THEIR EXISTING STATE THAT IS A KEY DRIVER OF VALUE FROM... THAT WILL BE A LONG-TERM TRANSITION. I WOULD HAVE SAID EXACTLY THE SAME THING WHEN I WAS RUNNING CLEAN TECH COMPANIES. IT NEEDS TO BE A THOUGHTFUL APPROACH TO TRANSITION THAT IS REALLY FOCUSED AS MUCH ON THE ECONOMIC SIDE OF THE EQUATION AS IT IS ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL.

Steve says LET'S TALK ABOUT THE REACTION THAT I'M SURE YOU READ IN THE NATIONAL POST THAT JOHN IVISON WROTE AFTER YOUR PLAN CAME OUT IN WHICH HE SAID, AND I QUOTE...
"The cost of climate action falls disproportionately on rural and western Canadians, many of whom feel their jobs, their economy and their way of life are under assault."
WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Wilkinson says WELL, I THINK THAT IT IS INCUMBENT ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHERE THEIR SEATS LIE, TO BE THOUGHTFUL AND SENSITIVE ABOUT THE LEGITIMATE ASPIRATIONS OF ALL REGIONS OF THIS COUNTRY. I GREW UP IN SASKATCHEWAN. I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY IN SASKATCHEWAN AFTER GRADUATE SCHOOL, I WENT BACK AND WORKED FOR THE PROVINCE OF SASKATCHEWAN AS AN INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS SPECIALIST. SO I'VE SAT ON THE SIDE OF THE TABLE OF THE PRAIRIES IN THE DISCUSSIONS THAT HAPPEN WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. AND SO I DO THINK WE NEED TO BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT THAT. BUT I WOULD TAKE ISSUE WITH SOME OF THE THINGS THAT MR. IVISON SAID. I DO THINK THAT THERE IS A FUTURE HERE FOR ALL REGIONS OF THE COUNTRY. AND CERTAINLY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE PRAIRIES, IT'S ABOUT THINGS LIKE HYDROGEN, IT'S ABOUT THINGS LIKE BIOFUELS, IT'S ABOUT GEOTHERMAL. THERE'S A WHOLE RANGE OF OPPORTUNITIES THAT EXIST FOR THE PRAIRIES THAT THOUGHTFUL PEOPLE IN SASKATCHEWAN AND ALBERTA ARE LOOKING AT OPPORTUNITIES AND SEIZING. IF YOU GO AND LOOK AT ORGANIZATIONS LIKE CAPITAL POWER IN ALBERTA OR TRANSALTA OR SUNCOR, I MEAN, THEY ALL UNDERSTAND THAT WE NEED TO TRANSITION TO THIS LOW CARBON AND ULTIMATELY NET ZERO FUTURE AND THEY'RE BUILDING BUSINESS PLANS ON THAT BASIS. BUSINESS PLANS THAT ARE GOING TO EMPLOY THOUSANDS OF ALBERTA WORKERS, AND THAT'S THE KIND OF PARTNERSHIPS THAT WE'RE LOOKING TO DEVELOP.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says I APPRECIATE YOUR POSITION ON THAT, AND OF COURSE SOMETIMES IN POLITICS IT'S NOT THE MESSAGE, IT'S THE MESSENGER, AND WHILE THE MESSAGE YOU MAY THINK IS FINE, DOES THE LIBERAL PARTY, AS CURRENTLY CONSTITUTED, HAVE ANY CREDIBILITY ON THE PRAIRIES IN ORDER TO MAKE THAT CASE?

Wilkinson says WELL, LOOK. I MEAN, IT'S CLEAR THAT WE DON'T HOLD SEATS IN SASKATCHEWAN AND ALBERTA. WE DO IN MANITOBA, WHICH IS PART OF THE PRAIRIES. BUT I WOULD SAY THAT CLEARLY THERE IS A LOT OF CONCERN IN ALBERTA AND SASKATCHEWAN, AND IT IS INCUMBENT ON US AS A GOVERNMENT... WE REPRESENT ALL CANADIANS, NOT SIMPLY THOSE CANADIANS THAT VOTED FOR US... TO BE LISTENING AND TO BE LOOKING TO RESPOND. AND I HAVE HAD VERY PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS WITH MY COUNTERPARTS IN ALBERTA AND IN SASKATCHEWAN. I INTEND TO CONTINUE THOSE CONVERSATIONS. AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE WANT TO HELP TO DEVELOP A FUTURE THAT IS GOING TO ENSURE PROSPERITY FOR THE FOLKS THAT LIVE THERE AND THAT WANT TO HAND THAT DOWN TO THEIR KIDS. I CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS CONCERN. I WOULD TELL YOU THAT IT'S NOT SURPRISING THAT THERE'S LOTS OF CONCERNS ABOUT THE FUTURE GIVEN THIS WHOLE DISCUSSION AROUND THE NEXUS BETWEEN ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT. BUT THERE ARE PATHWAYS. AND, YOU KNOW, CERTAINLY ONE OF THE OBJECTIVES THAT I HAVE IN THE JOB THAT I CURRENTLY HAVE IS TO BE FINDING PATHWAYS TO REACH OUT AND HAVE MORE PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS ON THE PRAIRIES.

Steve says YOU'VE MENTIONED JOE BIDEN'S NAME A COUPLE OF TIMES ALREADY, AND I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT RUMOURS THAT WE'RE HEARING COMING OUT OF THE UNITED STATES ABOUT WHAT HIS ADMINISTRATION MIGHT DO. AND ONE OF THE THINGS WE HEAR HE MIGHT DO IS ACTUALLY BAN THE SALE OF CARS THAT BURN FUEL AT A DATE CERTAIN SOMETIME DOWN THE ROAD. IF THEY DID THAT, CANADA WOULD HAVE TO GO ALONGSIDE; RIGHT?

Wilkinson says WELL, I DON'T WANT TO GET AHEAD OF MYSELF, BUT I DO THINK THAT THERE ARE LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES TO TALK WITH THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION ABOUT A NORTH AMERICAN APPROACH TO TRANSPORTATION. I THINK THAT'S WHAT CANADIAN BUSINESSES, INDUSTRY, AND THE SECTOR WOULD BE LOOKING FOR. I THINK THAT'S WHAT WORKERS WHO, YOU KNOW, GAIN THEIR EMPLOYMENT IN THE SECTOR WOULD BE LOOKING FOR. AND THERE ARE A WHOLE RANGE OF WAYS WE CAN DO THAT. CERTAINLY ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR EARLY ON IS TO WORK WITH THEM ON LIGHT DUTY FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS. WE HAD AN AGREEMENT WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA. SOME OF THOSE GAINS ON THE CLIMATE SIDE WERE ROLLED BACK BY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION. I THINK THERE'S A LOT MORE THAT WE CAN DO IN TERMS OF ENHANCING THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF LIGHT DUTY VEHICLES. CERTAINLY THE DEPLOYMENT OF ZERO EMISSION VEHICLES, BE THEY ELECTRIC OR HYDROGEN, IS SOMETHING THAT WE WANT TO LOOK AT AND CERTAINLY WORKING WITH THE UNITED STATES, WHETHER THAT'S THROUGH SOME KIND OF SUPPLY MANDATE OR OTHER MECHANISMS, WE'RE OPEN TO THAT CONVERSATION. BUT WE WANT TO DO IT IN A WAY THAT'S ACTUALLY GOING TO BE HEALTHY FOR THE SECTOR AND PART OF BEING HEALTHY FOR THE SECTOR REALLY MEANS THAT WE'D LIKE TO DO THAT ON A NORTH AMERICAN-WIDE BASIS AND JOE BIDEN'S ELECTION REALLY OPENS UP THAT OPPORTUNITY.

Steve says MINISTER, IN OUR LAST MINUTE HERE, WE TALK MOSTLY POLICY BUT A LITTLE BIT OF POLITICS ON THIS PROGRAM, SO I WANT TO FINISH UP WITH A POLITICAL QUESTION. YOU KNOW, I THINK MANY OF US WHO FOLLOW POLITICS REMEMBER WELL BACK IN 2007 WHEN STEPHANE DION, WHO WAS THEN THE LEADER OF YOUR PARTY, BROUGHT FORWARD SOMETHING CALLED THE GREEN SHIFT, WHICH IN HINDSIGHT A LOT OF PEOPLE HAD A LOT OF PRAISE FOR, BUT AT THE TIME WAS A LITTLE AHEAD OF ITS TIME AND YOU GUYS HAD AT THAT TIME YOUR WORST RESULT IN ELECTORAL HISTORY. SUBSEQUENTLY NOT THE WORST OF ALL TIME BUT THE WORST AT THAT TIME. I WONDER HOW CONCERNED YOU ARE IN A MINORITY PARLIAMENT GOING TO THE POLLS AT SOME POINT PROBABLY IN THE NEXT, WHATEVER, SPRING, FALL, WHATEVER, I WONDER IF YOU'RE WORRIED THAT ALL OF THIS WORK THAT YOU'RE DOING RIGHT NOW CAN BE ACTUALLY QUITE EASILY DEMONIZED AND AFFECT YOU GUYS POLITICALLY?

The caption changes to "Politically speaking."

Wilkinson says WELL, I WOULD ACTUALLY SAY NO BECAUSE I WOULD SAY THAT THE CANADIAN PUBLIC HAS REALLY MOVED A LONG WAY SINCE 2007 IN TERMS OF BOTH THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS A REAL AND PRESENT THREAT TO OUR WAY OF LIFE, AND CERTAINLY TO THE WAY OF LIFE THAT WE WOULD HOPE TO SEE FOR OUR CHILDREN AND FOR OUR GRANDCHILDREN. BUT ALSO INCREASINGLY CANADIANS... AND YOU WILL SEE THIS IN PUBLIC OPINION POLLS... ARE OF THE VIEW THAT TAKING ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE CAN BE GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY. IN THE PAST I THINK THERE WERE LOTS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT THAT CANADIANS HAD. INCREASINGLY WHAT THEY'RE SEEING IS THE SAME THING THAT I'M SEEING IS AROUND THE WORLD PEOPLE ARE SAYING, HEY, THERE'S AN ENORMOUS ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY HERE. WE NEED TO BE PART OF SEIZING THAT OPPORTUNITY. THAT'S GOING TO HELP US BUILD AN ECONOMY THAT'S GOING TO BE STRONG, THAT'S GOING TO CREATE GOOD JOCKS, AND IT'S GOING TO ALLOW US TO FIGHT THE EXISTENTIAL THREAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE. AT THE END OF THE DAY WHAT YOU SAW IN THE LAST ELECTION WAS TWO-THIRDS OF CANADIANS VOTED FOR POLITICAL PARTIES WHO HAD CREDIBLE CLIMATE PLANS. CLIMATE WAS ONE OF THE ONLY REAL SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES THAT WAS DEBATED IN THE LAST CAMPAIGN. I SUSPECT IT WILL BE ONE OF THE MAJOR ISSUES THAT WILL BE DEBATED. I THINK IDEALLY WE WOULD LOVE TO GET TO THE PLACE WHERE ALL PARTIES HAD A CREDIBLE APPROACH TO CLIMATE, IN THE UNITED KINGDOM THEY DO, THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT IS VERY AGGRESSIVE ON CLIMATE. WE'RE NOT THERE YET. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE A CREDIBLE PLAN COME FORWARD FROM MR. O'TOOLE. I HAZARD THAT THAT'S PROBABLY UNLIKELY, BUT I WOULD CERTAINLY LOVE TO SEE A CREDIBLE PLAN TO ADDRESS THE CLIMATE CRISIS COME FORWARD, AND I'M CERTAINLY VERY HAPPY TO ENGAGE THAT CONVERSATION IN THE CONTEXT OF AN ELECTION.

The caption changes to "Producer: Harrison Lowman, @harrisonlowman."

Steve says THAT'S JONATHAN WILKINSON, HE IS THE MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA, COMING TO US FROM VANCOUVER. MINISTER, AS I SAY, HAPPY NEW YEAR. APPRECIATE YOU JOINING US ON TVO TONIGHT.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Wilkinson says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: Does Ottawa's Climate Plan Add Up?