This Week in Lloyd: Environmental Stuff and Multiculturalism

Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield works a ways from the Royal City, but he’s still working for the people in his riding. So what has he been up to lately? This is “This Week in Lloyd.”

Money for Alectra

On Friday, Longfield announced $3 million for Alectra Utilities, the company that recently merged with Guelph Hydro, for the development of two smart grid projects; one project will look at how homeowners are compensated for the power they provide back to the grid, as provided through home-based solar panels for example, and the second project involves retrofitting 10 homes with a variety environmentally-friendly, energy saving measures as demonstration models. Alectra is developing this project through its Green Energy & Technology Centre, and with the collaboration of Enbridge Gas Inc., Ryerson University and the City of Markham.

“These two smart grid projects will set the stage for lower energy costs in Guelph, while creating a smarter, more resilient and efficient electricity system,” Longfield said in a media statement. “Providing smart grid technology locally will help in implementing the Pan Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change, by giving local metrics relating to emissions reductions, clean energy generation, and support for electric vehicle implementation. We are creating our clean energy future by building a safe and modern grid that will generate good-paying jobs and lower emissions.”

Climate Action in the House

Several hours after the government put forward a motion to declare a climate emergency, the House got pretty heated over a different motion, and Longfield was right in the thick of the back-and-forth. It started with Conservative MP Ed Fast, who forwarded a motion that demanded the government repeal the carbon tax, and replace it with a “real environmental plan.” Fast said, “The reality is this. Right now the Liberals have brought forward something they call a climate plan. However, it is not a climate plan; it is a tax plan.”

Longfield waded into the debate about 25 minutes later when he asked another Conservative MP, Dan Albas, if there was any part of the 50-point climate program from the government that the Conservative member would endorse. Albas said it’s already been noted that the Liberal plan will not meet the targets agreed upon by world leaders in Paris in 2015, and that the government has failed to work with the provinces to achieve climate goals. “The provinces have the majority of the policy levers when it comes to energy, transportation and housing. This member should realize that,” Albas said.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May joined the chorus later in the debate, saying, “The problem we have here is that last night we declared a climate emergency and today we are apparently going to buy a pipeline with public dollars,” she said. “This goes right against the goal of achieving the Paris Agreement target, which is not the one cited by my hon. friend from Guelph.”

May asked if Longfield could tell the House if the government will increase its target on eliminating greenhouse gas if the intention is to move forward declaring a climate emergency.

“The goals we have signed on to, through the Paris accord, are goals that will be reviewed as we go forward. However, they are goals that align with the international goals that 192 countries have all signed on to together,” Longfield explained. “We are going to exceed our targets by the aggressive programs we have launched and are going to be following through on, working with our provincial and municipal counterparts.”

Backing the Ban

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that a re-elected Liberal government will take steps to ban single-use plastics – including plastic bags, straws, cutlery and plates –  by 2021. Longfield, in his email newsletter to constituents, said that he’s pleased with this move, and that it makes good economic and environmental sense. “With every bottle, straw or cup, we are also throwing out up to $150 billion worth of plastic each year, much of which ends up in landfills or our waterways,” he wrote. “These measures will be grounded in scientific evidence and will also support the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s development of an action plan to implement the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste.”

Tribute to the Multicultural Festival

Longfield took a minute in the House last week to praise the 33rd annual Guelph and District Multicultural Festival. Guelph’s MP praised the organizers, and he praised the message of the festival that Canada is a place that celebrates differences between cultures, and encourages us to experience those cultures. “Canada was the first country in the world to adopt a multiculturalism policy. It is at the foundation of what makes Canada the true north strong and free country that we are all proud to call home,” Longfield said. “Canada needs to continue to be a compassionate, accepting and welcoming country that is an example to the world.”

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