US–Canada Joint Statement on Climate and Nature Ambition
At COP 28, Canada and the United States released a joint statement on their efforts to combat the climate crisis and to increase economic benefits from collaboration. To better quantify and value natural assets, Canada announced that it will work with the United States on an accounting framework for the valuation of nature, natural infrastructure, and natural assets. Canada and the United States also intend to continue to work together to harmonize standards to support the adoption of zero-emission vehicles and cleaner fuels. This includes electric vehicle charging infrastructure and clean fuels.
The House of Commons adjourned for the holidays on December 15 and will not sit again until January 29, 2024. The Senate will adjourn the following week.
Senate Transport Committee
The Senate Transport and Communications Committee is continuing its study of “Impacts of Climate Change on Critical Infrastructure in the Transportation and Communications Sectors and the Consequential Impacts on their Interdependencies.” Thus far, the committee has welcomed witnesses from the provincial and territorial governments, members from railway, marine, and road transport sectors, academics, and researchers. The study will continue well into 2024.
Funding for Metro Vancouver Trolley Bus Service
On December 12, Federal Minister Terry Beech, BC Minister Rob Fleming, Mayor Ken Sim, and TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn announced a project in Metro Vancouver to extend the life of trolley overhead (TOH) infrastructure by 30–60 years, after a combined investment of more than $26.6 million from the federal government, Vancouver, and TransLink. This project will maintain TOH infrastructure, which connects trolley cars to overhead wires, and support the longevity of trolley bus service in Vancouver and Burnaby.
TransLink Funding to Plan ZEV Transition
On December 13, Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, Kevin Quinn, CEO of TransLink, and Josipa Petrunić, President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC), announced a combined investment of $1.3 million for TransLink to plan the transition of its bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2040. Through this investment, TransLink is developing a comprehensive strategy, including a detailed market scan of current and emerging zero-emission technologies and a transition roadmap, which will include a zero-emission bus (ZEB) implementation action plan and deployment strategy, an investment roadmap, and recommendations for future ZEB innovation projects.
Active Transportation Funding in Halifax
On December 15, MP Andy Fillmore and David Trueman from Vélo Canada Bikes announced four active transportation research and planning projects are moving forward after an investment of $582,000 from the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia, and Vélo Canada Bikes. These projects will ensure future active transportation infrastructure projects are safer, inexpensive, and a part of their communities. Vélo Canada Bikes, Saint Mary’s University, the Halifax Regional Municipality, and Cycling Nova Scotia will each receive $50,000 from the federal government. Projects will support feasibility studies, research and data collection initiatives, and stakeholder engagements that will help create future active transportation projects.
FCM Partners with the Federal Government in Strengthening Asset Management
The Hon. Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities, and Scott Pearce, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), announced a federal investment of over $700,000 to help 16 communities in Ontario implement innovative strategies to manage their municipal infrastructure, including arenas, bridges, drinking water and wastewater systems, and roads.
The funding comes from the Municipal Asset Management Program—a $110-million program funded by the Government of Canada and delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Under the Investing in Canada Plan, the Government of Canada is investing over $180 billion over 12 years in municipal asset management, in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and rural and northern communities across Canada.
Public Transit Infrastructure Announcement in British Columbia
In a joint investment announcement, the federal government, along with the provincial minister of British Columbia and the BC Transit Service, committed an investment of more than $91.3 million for projects that will improve the reliability and quality of public transit services in British Columbia. Project details are available here.
The federal government is investing $36,542,046 through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The provincial government is also investing $36,542,046, and local governments are contributing $18,271,023.
On the Horizon
Canadian Politics in 2024
While a federal election is not required until October 2025, it is rare for a minority government to last more than two years. We have, however, officially passed the two-year mark this year, thanks in large part to the supply-and-confidence agreement sealed between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party holds the fourth-largest number of seats—and the balance of power—in this Parliament.
While Official Opposition Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has had a commanding lead in opinion polls throughout the fall, his numbers, while still high, have softened somewhat before the holiday break, giving some new life to the Liberal party. For his part, Prime Minister Trudeau has said he has unfinished business for his progressive agenda and will be staying on as leader for the next election. In an interview with the Canadian Press, the Prime Minister notes that, “I made a promise to a whole bunch of first−time voters in 2015 that if they stepped up and came out and supported what we were doing … that we would make the world a better place. Well, those young people are now in their late 20s, those people who voted for me for the very first time, and they’re having trouble affording a home. They’re being pushed out of the centre of our biggest cities.” He noted that they are also “worried about the backsliding of rights,” such as what is happening in the United States. “They are feeling more anxious now about that promise of Canada that I stepped up and I said we were going to fix,” he said. “I feel a responsibility towards those young people. Me, personally. And I know that there is so much more for me to do, and I’m gonna do it.”
We will have two by-elections in early 2024, one to replace former Conservative MP and Leader Hon. Erin O’Toole in Durham, Ontario, and one to replace newly retired Liberal MP Hon. Carolyn Bennett in Saint Paul’s, Toronto, Ontario. Both are considered safe seats for their respective parties.