SASKATOON – A recent move by Canada’s new prime minister to rename a rename a federal ministry is hopeful news according to a Saskatoon-based environmental advocate. On Wednesday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created the newly titled Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.
Peter Prebble, policy director for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, said he applauds the new move.
“I think clearly the Trudeau government intends to make climate change a higher priority than the previous federal government,” said Prebble.
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Trudeau made a number of promises on the campaign trail that many expect he will now act to keep. Prebble pointed to a number of pledges on the climate that make him hopeful for the future.
“The commitment for instance to phase out fossil fuel subsidies,” said Prebble.
“The commitment to work constructively at the upcoming Paris negotiations on climate change.”
While Wednesday’s news may make advocates like Prebble optimistic, it could strike anxiety in others. University of Saskatchewan economics professor Joel Bruneau said some oil and gas companies may feel weary about the new government’s potential approach.
“Oil companies and gas companies are feeling [financially] stressed so they will be legitimately concerned that new policies will place more stress on them,” said Bruneau, who specializes in resource economics.
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Bruneau pointed to a lack of uncertainty over what measures will actually be implemented as a potential stressor.
“Getting them written down so that they understand exactly what they’re dealing with can resolve a lot of uncertainty for them,” he said of Trudeau’s potential policies.
The provincial government will have to work with the federal Liberals to come up with appropriate climate measures, according to both Bruneau and Prebble.
“One has to wait to see what the actual actions of the new federal government will be, but certainly the initial signals are very positive,” said Prebble.