O’toole vows net-zero emis­sions, cuts to CBC

Plat­form re­lease in­cludes large Que­bec sec­tion

Calgary Herald - - NEWS - BRIAN PLATT

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.”

ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship hope­ful Erin O’toole has re­leased his plat­form, in­clud­ing sanc­tions against Chi­nese of­fi­cials if Cana­di­ans in China’s cus­tody are not re­leased.

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