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

John Rustad, MLA Nechako Lakes. (Submitted photo)
Nechako Lakes MLA questions vaccine supply shift

John Rustad wonders why elderly aren’t being vaccinated while younger people are

Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief Aileen Prince provides an overview of past and future projects in a Facebook video Friday, Jan. 22. (Nak’azdli Whut’en Facebook image)
Anxiety and grief, Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief looks beyond COVID-19

“One day it will be over,” says Aileen Prince

Operating Room nurse Tammy Solecki, Clinical Practice Leader Joanne George, and Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Van Zyl, stand alongside new equipment G.R. Baker’s shoulder surgery extension. (Submitted photo)
New shoulder surgery program at G.R. Baker Hospital in Quesnel already getting rave reviews

The $200,000 program could support nearly 100 surgeries a year at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read