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

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from Feb. 14 to Feb. 20, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Spike in Delta COVID cases as UK variant ID’d in school exposure

Total number of cases in Fraser Health increased by 199 from Feb. 14-20

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum speaks at a press conference in August about provincial government approval of the city’s change to a municipal force, joined by councillors (from left) Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford. Members of the National Police Federation claim there is still no transition plan in place although Surrey RCMP’s contract with the city is due to end March 31.(File photo)
National Police Federation members slam Surrey police transition to Surrey Board of Trade

During virtual meeting, bargaining unit representatives say municipal force ‘not a done deal’

Pixabay image
Surrey council moves to update city’s telecommunication antennas policy

But councillor says health and safety protocols are nearly 40 years old

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Shaelene Keeler Bell. (Facebook)
Candlelight vigil planned for Chilliwack mother missing for four weeks

Virtual event to ‘spread some light’ for 23-year-old Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read