Feds, province blame each other for slow movement on green initiatives
Canada’s environment minister accused Manitoba of delaying progress on joint projects to combat climate change on Friday, arguing the province has moved slowly to apply for its $67-million share of federal green funds.
Minister Catherine McKenna said her government has experienced “very long” waits for the province’s applications to the Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF). McKenna also claimed the province held up some projects that the feds were ready to announce.
“We had hoped to be able to move forward with Manitoba through joint climate action … Unfortunately, it has been extremely challenging,” she said.
While the feds did commit $5.9 million of LCEF funds to one Manitoba project that aims to improve the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty freight trucks, funding that was matched by the province, the rest of the LCEF cash remains so far unclaimed.
McKenna alleged that the lack of agreement on projects to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions shows Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government isn’t taking climate change seriously enough.
She noted the province has also cancelled its original plan to levy its own carbon tax.
“We don’t have time for Conservative politicians that don’t seem to want to take ambitious action on climate change,” said McKenna, whose Liberal government is seeking re-election on Oct. 21.
The minister was in town to discuss a $1.3-million federal investment for the City of Winnipeg, which the city disclosed in April. That cash will be combined with $2.4 million of municipal funding to expand a methane gas-capture system at the Brady landfill, reducing its GHG emissions and leaching.
The city says that will reduce emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 240,000 cars off the road each year.
Manitoba Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires wasn’t available for an interview on Friday.
In an email, her office alleged the federal government is actually to blame for the lack of joint green projects.
A spokesperson said that included Ottawa taking two-and-a-half months to set a date for the sole announcement so far.
“Manitoba submitted multiple project applications to the federal government in 2018 for funding … and we look forward to making further announcements. If Minister McKenna is concerned about timelines for project approvals, it’s due to the Trudeau government’s inability to work constructively with the provinces,” the spokesperson wrote.
The spokesperson stressed that Manitoba has been ambitious in fighting climate change. Its green plan aims to cut one megatonne of emissions by 2022.
That plan initially aimed to cut up to 2.6 megatonnes of emissions by that year before it was revised last month. Squires has said the difference was largely due to the fact a carbon tax is no longer being factored in to provincial targets.
The federal government is charging a carbon levy in Manitoba and other provinces that didn’t add their own.