As Guilbeault downplays electric car mandate, Freeland announces billions more in subsidies

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said his electric car mandate is not the be-all and end-all for Canada combating 'climate change.' They will not solve all our problems, he claimed. Soon after, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced a $2.1 billion tax break for the sector.

As Guilbeault downplays electric car mandate, Freeland announces billions more in subsidies
The Canadian Press / Justin Tang and The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has admitted that electric cars are not the be-all and end-all when it comes to Canada combating ‘climate change.’

“We must stop thinking that electric cars will solve all our problems,” he said as the keynote speaker at a Montreal fundraising luncheon. 

Following those remarks, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced a $2.1 billion tax break to electric auto battery manufacturers on Thursday, who already receive billions in subsidies, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

“There are no other stakeholders to consult,” Freeland wrote in a legal notice on federal amendments to the Income Tax Act Regulations. It grants a decade-long tax break on production subsidies for battery factories.

“The cost of foregone federal tax revenue associated with the regulatory amendment is estimated to be about $2.1 billion over ten years starting in 2024 which is the estimated amount of federal corporate income tax otherwise payable by the recipients,” said a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement.

“We knew Canada had to be at the table,” Freeland told reporters last June 14. “We were just not as a government going to tolerate a situation in which investment was sucked out of Canada, sucked to the south of the border, and I don’t think Canadian workers should tolerate that situation,” she added.

However, Guilbeault said on Monday that only a quarter of Canada’s carbon emissions come from transportation. Placing too much weight on electric vehicles to solve ‘climate change’ would be “an error, a false utopia that will let us down over the long term,” he claimed.

“The solution to mobility will not consist only of electrification,” said Guilbeault. “Electrification is a component but it’s not the only thing,” he added.

As of writing, the Trudeau Liberals have subsidized a proposed Volkswagen battery factory and two Stellantis battery plants in Ontario, as well as a Northvolt factory and a Ford battery in Québec. They also subsidized the E-One Moli lithium battery plant in Maple Ridge, B.C.

The Budget Office, in a report last November 18, pegged auto manufacturer subsidies at $50.2 billion, including debt charges incurred by taxpayers — more than triple the annual economic output of Canada’s auto sector.

Despite the continued investments, Dr. Eve Riopel, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University, concurred with Guilbeault. She said electric vehicles alone will not solve Canada’s supposed environmental issues.

“We think that if we switch to electric cars, everything will be good, but it won’t be,” claimed Riopel. “That is something we have to be aware of [when we] justify decisions to promote active and public transportation.”

Guilbeault noted during the luncheon that the future of urban planning must incite people not to use their cars in place of public transportation. 

“All of our planning practices have to be coherent with these mobility objectives, for the reduction of the ecological footprint of transportation and greenhouse emissions,” he said.

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