Goodale announces biggest-ever spending
boost for the environment
Published February 23rd, 2005
OTTAWA (CP) - Finance Minister Ralph Goodale has delivered
the greenest budget in Canadian history with $3 billion
in newly announced spending over five years to cut pollution,
protect national parks, promote alternative energy and
improve fisheries management.
The new environmental funding is accompanied by $5 billion
for municipalities, much of which is targetted towards
improving the environment.
The biggest single item is a $1 billion Clean Fund to
stimulate projects that cut greenhouse emissions in compliance
with the Kyoto climate treaty.
Kyoto and other environmental improvements enjoy strong
support from voters. Any significant backpedalling from
Kyoto commitments would cost Prime Minister Paul Martin's
minority government the support of the Bloc Quebecois
and New Democrats.
The government will tap into public support for new environmental
initiatives. Entrepreneurs, provinces and municipalities
will be invited to propose ideas for cutting emissions
and the best ideas will be funded. Some of the projects
may be in foreign countries when this is deemed in the
"Canadians want us to demonstrate that smart economic
policy and smart environmental policy can go hand in hand,"
Goodale said Wednesday.
The budget provides a $225 million expansion of the popular
EnerGuide program, which subsidizes work to make homes
more energy efficient. The program has already supported
an estimated 125,000 home retrofits.
Contrary to expectations the budget doesn't provide rebates
on the purchase of fuel-efficient cars or extra fees for
gas guzzlers, but the government says it will seek advice
on such options with a view to the next federal budget.
Responding to complaints that Canada's tax system is
tilted to favour fossil fuel developments, the budget
provides $295 million in tax incentives for alternative
Municipalities will get $300 million for green projects
such as cleaning up abandoned and polluted properties
known as brownfields.
There will be $200 million to support research and development
in the clean energy sector, and another $200 million to
stimulate the use of wind power. Other types of alternative
energy will get $97 million over five years.
Efforts to eliminate harmful chemicals from food and
water will get a boost with $90 million for assessment
of chemicals under the Canadian Environmental Protection
Painful experience with pests from purple loosestrife
to the zebra mussel have sparked an $85 million investment
to fend off invasive animal and plant species. Ongoing
efforts to clean up the Great Lakes will get $40 million.
In addition to the $3 billion in new money earmarked
for the environment, the $5-billion gas tax transfer to
municipalities will support programs with environmental
benefits, notably mass transit.
Approximately $2 billion in environmental spending from
previous budgets will continue, although it may be redirected.
That brings the total in green spending to $5 billion
over five years.
The greenest previous budget goes back to the green plan
of Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, worth approximately
$3 billion over five years.
Goodale's Clean Fund is not without controversy. It appears
the fund will not operate at arms' length from government,
opening the door to claims that green funds are being
used for political purposes.
If the fund sponsors projects in countries like Russia
and Ukraine, critics will protest the money is being used
to buy "hot air" even though the government
has promised all spending will be tied to real environmental
Highlights of the five-year, $5-billion environment plan
in the federal budget:
-$1 billion for a Clean Air Fund to reduce greenhouse
-$225 million to retrofit homes under the popular EnerGuide
-$200 million to support clean energy and technology.
-$200 million to promote wind power.
-$97 million to promote other types of renewable energy
such as small hydro, biomass and landfill gas.
-$295 million in tax incentives for efficient and renewable
-$300 million for green municipal projects, including
cleanup of contaminated sites.
-$85 million to fend off invasive animal and plant species.
-$40 million for Great Lakes cleanup.
-$28 million to "preserve the health" of Canada's
-$15 million for fisheries conservation in the Northwest
-$90 million to assess potentially harmful chemicals
under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
-$269 million for national parks.