Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holds hands with President-elect Joe Biden and her husband Doug Emhoff as they celebrate, in Wilmington, Del., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Federal cabinet ministers are welcoming Joe Biden election as the next U.S. president as an opportunity to advance the fight against climate change. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andrew Harnik

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holds hands with President-elect Joe Biden and her husband Doug Emhoff as they celebrate, in Wilmington, Del., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Federal cabinet ministers are welcoming Joe Biden election as the next U.S. president as an opportunity to advance the fight against climate change. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andrew Harnik

Ottawa welcomes president-elect Joe Biden as ally in climate fight

Trump administration had been lagging on climate change issues

Federal cabinet ministers are welcoming Joe Biden’s election as the next U.S. president as an opportunity to advance the fight against climate change after four tumultuous years dealing with Donald Trump.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna were among those to specifically mention climate change as they welcomed Biden’s victory over the weekend.

McKenna also appeared to take a veiled shot at the Trump administration as she noted Biden’s promise to have the U.S. rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement after the country formally left the treaty last week.

“This is really sinking in,” McKenna, who previously served as Canada’s environment minister, wrote on Twitter. “It’s been a long, tough slog these past four years internationally on climate action.”

For his part, Wilkinson said Canada “stands ready and willing to work constructively with the U.S. to create good jobs for citizens on both sides of the border while taking strong action to address the climate crisis.”

The Trudeau government’s enthusiasm for Biden’s climate-change policies are well-founded, experts said, and could even provide a boost to Canada’s efforts as it seeks to move faster on the issue.

In the last four years, Canada has in some places slowed or amended its own environment policies to reflect concerns American companies facing fewer environmental regulations and taxes might hurt Canada’s competitiveness.

But Blair Feltmate, who headed the Canadian government’s expert panel on climate change adaptation, said Biden’s election should serve as a “shot in the arm” for the Trudeau government’s ambitions to build a greener economy.

That includes both adaptation in terms of working together on infrastructure as well as mitigation in terms of regulation and rolling out of greener technology and energy, all of which Biden has promised to tackle.

“What does the Biden presidency mean to Canada?” said Feltmate, who is head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.

“I think it will underscore for Canada that the direction we’ve been heading in on the climate file is correct. But the speed at which we’re deploying on the climate file has not been adequate.”

Sara Hastings-Simon, whose many roles include serving as a member of the expert panel on clean growth for the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices, agreed that Biden’s presidency has put climate change on the “main stage.”

“One of the things I think will change in the U.S., which will impact Canada, is that climate will be woven into economic policy and the stimulus across all dimensions,” she said. “That really creates an urgency for Canada not to fall behind.”

Yet Biden’s election is also expected to pose a further challenge to Canada’s oil and gas sector, starting with the president-elect having indicated he plans to cancel approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgins on Sunday joined Alberta counterpart Jason Kenney in referencing Canadian energy exports to the U.S. as well as the ongoing softwood lumber dispute as he congratulated Biden on his win.

“We have an important trade relationship with the United States as a leading supplier of refined energy products,” Higgins said in a statement.

“We also supply significant amounts of softwood and other forestry products and have been hampered by an unjustified softwood lumber dispute.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told the CBC in an interview aired Sunday that protecting Keystone XL and other energy exports to the U.S. is a top priority for the Liberal government.

“We’re going to be making our case, saying that Canada is the most reliable energy supplier to the United States,” he said on Rosemary Barton Live. “This is true for Keystone XL. This is true for electricity in the East Coast.”

While Feltmate said he expects Biden would press ahead with cancelling Keystone, but that there would be a focus on retraining and other efforts to protect jobs as Canada and the U.S. transition to greener energy sources.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaClimate changeJoe Biden

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police will be out in force to target drunk drivers this weekend as part of ICBC’s annual CounterAttack campaign. (Contributed - ICBC)
Police launch Christmas CounterAttack this weekend

On average, 11 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on the Island every year

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

A 43-year-old woman is facing charges for impaired driving and leaving the scene of a crash after attempting to flee from police by driving down the beach in front of the Oak Bay Marina on Nov. 23. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter)
Victoria woman drives over seawall onto beach near Oak Bay Marina

Driver faces charges for fleeing crash, refusing breathalyzer test

Friends with Dorothy opens in Victoria.
LGBT2Q+ lounge Friends with Dorothy opens second location in Victoria

The Kelowna-based lounge plans to open in Victoria mid-December

Sig
Traffic delays expected on Monday from highway construction in Sooke

Single-lane alternating traffic between Otter Road and Caldwell Road

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read