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Carbon tax, Bill C-69 prompt provincial dissent at Ottawa’s PDAC announcement

by Greg Klein | March 3, 2019

PDAC’s opening day might have seemed like a good time for the feds to express a concern for jobs that transcends SNC-Lavalin. But a hoped-for unanimous show of provincial and territorial support fell apart when Ontario and Saskatchewan objected. As long as the Liberals push their carbon tax and Bill C-69, the two provinces argued, the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan means little.

Carbon tax, Bill C-69 prompt provincial dissent at Ottawa’s PDAC announcement

Although lacking details, federal Minister of Natural Resources
Amarjeet Sohi promotes the CMMP at PDAC.
(Photo: Natural Resources Canada)

In fact the “plan” remains a notion waiting for substance. Bandied about since an August 2017 meeting of federal, provincial and territorial mining ministers, the CMMP goes to another ministerial conference for further discussion in July. That, says Ottawa, will be “the forum to discuss actions to realize this vision across the six strategic directions.”

In the meantime, the industry has to settle for platitudes on the half-dozen topics: encouraging economic development and competitiveness; increasing native participation; protecting the environment; building science, technology and innovation; benefiting communities; and fostering global leadership.

“Ontario and Saskatchewan agree with some of the elements covered in the CMMP,” said a joint statement from ministers Greg Rickford of Ontario and Bronwyn Eyre of Saskatchewan. But they expressed concern “about how misguided federal policy will stand in the way of progress.”

Ottawa needs to address trade challenges so Saskatchewan uranium and Ontario metals “can access international markets in a transparent, stable and effective fashion,” the ministers stated.

They promised “we will do everything in our power to protect our provinces’ industries from the job-killing carbon tax that the federal government seeks to impose.”

As for the proposed Bill C-69, it “has the potential to use environmental assessments as weapons against future development. This short-sighted approach by the federal government will curb development efforts and prevent major development projects from getting off the ground.

“Until we address these issues that are hurting Canadian families, businesses and the national economy, Ontario and Saskatchewan cannot endorse the CMMP.”

Still, other jurisdictions endorsed the idea. So did the Mining Association of Canada. President/CEO Pierre Gratton praised the CMMP for its six proposed areas of improvement.

Gratton also noted Ottawa’s five-year renewal of the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit, as well as encouraging announcements from Newfoundland and British Columbia. “We look forward to seeing the full implementation of federal, provincial and territorial action plans in the coming months.”

According to federal data, 2017 mineral production totalled about $44 billion. The country produces some 60 minerals and metals at 200 active mines and 7,000 pits and quarries. Mining, exploration and related activities produce 19% of Canada’s domestic exports, 5% of GDP and 634,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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