Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announcing the new social cost. Twitter/Steven Guilbeault

OTTAWA – For the largest shakeup of his cabinet since becoming prime minister in 2015, Justin Trudeau left alone the two key minister most responsible for the trials and tribulations of the energy industry and a federally-enforced “energy transition.” Indeed, one of those ministers was given an added title on this file.

The July 26 cabinet shuffle was styled as such on the Prime Minister’s Office web page:

“The new Ministry, adding to a strong core economic team, is ready to deliver on what matters most to Canadians: making life more affordable for the middle class, growing the economy, and building a strong future for people from coast to coast to coast.”

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While affordability, and the related issue of inflation, were supposedly driving forces for the shuffle, the announcement did not make any mention of reducing or eliminating the inflationary, ever-increasing federal carbon tax.

Jonathan Wilkinson adds “Energy” to his title, which is now “Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.” It is unclear what the distinction is, as energy had broadly always been part of the natural resources portfolio. Wilkinson has been talking about doubling, or more the electrical grid across Canada in the coming years, but doing so with massive increases in renewable power generation, including wind and solar. To that point, Wilkinson was near Kipling, Saskatchewan, on June 29 to announce a $50 million contribution on the part of Cowessess First Nation’s investment into a 200 megawatt wind project.  Wilkinson also spoke of carbon capture on natural gas-fired power generation, going forward.

Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson at the Bekevar Yotin Wind Facility, near Kipling, on June 29. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

Asked by reporters about the addition of “energy” to his title, and if it was a message to Western Canada, Wilkinson responded, “Well, it’s a message to all of Canada’s on just the message to Western Canada. It underlines the critical nature of the conversation around energy that we are going through, both with respect to how we address the climate crisis that we are facing, but also how we actually build an economy that’s going to be strong and prosperous and a low carbon future.

“It is an inclusive word that is quite important It speaks to offshore wind and Nova Scotia, it speaks to the battery production in Ontario. It speaks to carbon capture and hydrogen and Alberta. It speaks to the energy issues that of our day across this country. And just as when we changed the Department of the Environment and added the words ‘climate change,’ that wasn’t just words that was about focus, and this is very much about focus. This is a priority for this government. It’s about building an economy that’s going to be strong and I think this connotes the additional emphasis that we will be putting on that going forward.”

As Wilkinson held the minister of Environment and Climate Change before Energy and Natural Resources, it means that he has been an architect for much of the current energy transition planning for several years now.

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Steven Guilbeault remains the current Minister of Environment and Climate Change. He is one of only eight ministers out of a total of 38 that remains untouched in his responsibilities. Guilbeault missed the group photo as he is currently attending a conference in India.

On July 24, Guilbeault made a major policy announcement regarding eliminating federal “inefficient subsidies” for fossil fuels.

That announcement was made just under a month after Wilkinson’s $50 million announcement for wind. The day prior to Wilkinson’s wind subsidy announcement, wind power generation in Alberta fell to 3 megawatts out of 3,618 megawatts nameplate capacity. There was no discussion during that announcement about how the $50 million subsidy might be inefficient for a power generation source that, the morning before, was producing less than 1/1000th of nameplate capacity.

In a press release, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “We are ready to keep delivering on the things that matter most to you – making life more affordable, growing the economy, and creating good jobs for the middle class. We have the right team, made up of accomplished people who reflect the diversity and talent of our country. Together, we will keep building a strong future for the middle class, and for all Canadians.”

“With the changes announced today, the Ministry retains a total of 38 ministers, in addition to the Prime Minister. In keeping with the precedent set in 2015, there is an equal number of women and men,” the press release said.

As Saskatchewan has not elected a Liberal to Parliament since Ralph Goodale was defeated in 2019, there is no representation of Saskatchewan within the newly reformed federal ministry. Wilkinson did point out, while speaking to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce in Regina on June 28, that he grew up in Saskatoon. However, he now represents North Vancouver in the House of Commons.

 

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