O’toole vows net-zero emissions, cuts to CBC
Platform release includes large Quebec section
OTTAWA • Conservative leadership contender Erin O'toole has released a 50-page policy platform that includes promises to achieve net-zero emissions in the oil and gas sector, allow foreign competition for airlines and wireless telecom companies, and to impose Magnitsky Act sanctions on senior Chinese officials if Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig remain in custody.
The platform, of which the National Post received an advance copy, also outlines earlier promises including to eliminate funding for CBC'S digital operations, privatize English-language CBC TV, and to invoke the notwithstanding clause to bring back mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes including murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and trafficking illegal guns.
The platform is not costed, meaning its full impact on the budget isn't known. It does not propose a time frame for balancing the budget, but O'toole says he will review both taxes and spending to determine how to get there, and will have a “Pay-as-you-go rule, enshrined in law, requiring that for each dollar in new spending, the government finds a dollar in savings.”
“Conservatives, in recent years, have failed to explain to Canadians the importance of balancing the budget,” the document says, promising to “not be afraid to explain to Canadians why this is necessary.”
“The next few years will not be easy ones,” it says. “Our government has borrowed hundreds of billions to get through the crisis. The economy, and therefore government revenue, will take time to recover even with the right policies.”
The platform has a lengthy section on environmental policy. It scraps the current national carbon tax, saying it pits one part of the country against another. “If provinces want to use market mechanisms, other forms of carbon pricing, or regulatory measures, that is up to them,” it says. “The federal government will be there to support them.”
But the platform still tables the option of implementing some kind of national carbon pricing mechanism for large industrial emitters, as opposed to one that consumers pay directly. O'toole's plan would make “industry pay rather than taxing ordinary Canadians, by forging a national industrial regulatory and pricing regime across the country,” it says.
The platform promises “a plan to get to net-zero emissions in the oil and gas industry through the use of technologies like electrification generated from sources such as nuclear and wind and carbon capture, with the government providing incentives similar to those that were used to stimulate the early development of the oilsands.” (Net zero means any carbon emissions would be completely offset by other carbon-removing measures. The Canadian government's official goal is to be net zero nationally by 2050.)
O'toole's plan also promises to end fossil fuel subsidies as “a form of corporate welfare,” to examine how Canada can improve its carbon sequestration efforts, and to help the world transition from coal-burning plants to natural gas.
A wide-ranging package of affordability measures includes a promise to open airline and wireless services to foreign competition.
“Canadians pay too much because too many of our big corporations are coddled and protected by a government that serves them more than it serves the people,” it says. It also proposes to give the Competition Bureau more teeth to go after anti-competitive behaviour and “break up companies that abuse their dominant market positions.”
The platform promises to “expand the Canada Child Benefit by allowing benefits to begin for the first child at the 7th month of pregnancy rather than at childbirth,” and to “end the discrimination against families in the income tax system by ensuring that tax is calculated on total family income.”
On foreign policy, the platform advocates a tougher stance toward China and elevating Canada's relationship with India, including a renewed effort for a free trade deal. It singles out certain senior Chinese officials who would get hit with Magnitsky Act sanctions — which can include freezing assets and barring travel — if two Canadians aren't released from detention.
“If Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig remain in detention when the Conservative government is formed, a 30-day period will be given for their release before the imposition of Magnitsky sanctions on the President, Premier of the State Council, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Party Congress and the President of the Supreme
People's Court,” the platform says.
It also advocates a “Canada-australia-new Zealand-united Kingdom (CANZUK) agreement,” which would allow for free trade and investment between the partners, reciprocal freedoms to study, live and work in each country, and enhanced defence and intelligence cooperation.
One of the longest sections in the platform is on Quebec — an important battleground in the leadership race. O'toole says he will protect supply management systems and will ensure Quebec's weighting in the House of Commons never goes down, “whatever its demographic weight within the Canadian federation.”
He also promises to “significantly increase (the province's) autonomy in respect to decisions related to immigration,” to keep federal transfers flowing “unencumbered by restrictive conditions,” and to take a “non-intervention approach in respect to internal affairs within Quebec's fields of jurisdiction.”
On immigration policy, O'toole promises to keep levels steady, focus on skilled workers. He also floats the idea of closing the Safe Third Country Agreement loophole (where people can still enter Canada at non-official border crossings) by “funding a mobile border checkpoint operation to establish an official checkpoint at border points being exploited by irregular claimants.”
Conservative leadership hopeful Erin O’toole has released his platform, including sanctions against Chinese officials if Canadians in China’s custody are not released.