What are fossil fuel subsidies, anyway?

When we talk about climate action in Canada, the conversation often turns to fossil fuel subsidies — the billions of dollars our Federal and Provinical governments, as well as Export Development Canada, have been spending to support our oil & gas sector. The 2015 Paris climate agreement, signed last fall by the current Federal government, gives new urgency to keep global temperature rise below two degrees. To do that, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

A bird's-eye view of a Fort McMurray industrial plant, next to a dense boreal forest.
Fort McMurray. (Photo courtesy Flickr user sbamueller)

This week, the “Three Amigos” summit saw Canada, the U.S., and Mexico agree to common goals for transitioning to a low-carbon, clean energy future. Like the Paris agreement, it’s a generally positive committment that needs to be followed up — soon — with action.

The “North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership”, as it’s called, re-affirms Canada’s 2009 committment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies in the “medium term”. This week’s news sets a more specific goal — Canada, the U.S., and Mexico have agreed to a phase-out date of 2025.

So let’s get going. If Canada is serious about transitioning away from fossil fuels, we need to do much more than the Liberal election platform proposes (a modest scaling-down of one particular tax deduction). We still have a complex web of subsidies that benefit the oil & gas sector. They all need to go.

Deductible expenses

Tax deductions let corporations declare expenses to reduce their taxable income. These four programs directly encourage the expansion of fossil fuel operations at home and abroad:

  • 10% deduction for Canadian Oil and Gas Property Expenses (e.g. buying oil sands rights, buying a well, leases, permits, and licenses)
  • 30% deduction for Canadian Development Expenses (e.g. expanding a mine, building new haulage routes)
  • 30% deduction for Foreign Resource Expenses (e.g. overseas exploration and drilling of fossil fuels)
  • 100% deduction for Canadian Exploration Expenses (e.g. surveying land for new fossil fuel extraction opportunities, environmental studies, and community consultations before opening a mine)

Provincially, B.C. also offers a 20% tax break on coal mining expenses through the Mining Exploration Tax Credit.

Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance

Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) is a way for all kinds of businesses to deduct the cost of equipment over several years.

Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance (ACCA) speeds that process up, putting money back into the hands of fossil-fuel companies faster and reducing their taxes.

While the ACCA no longer applies for oil sands projects, it was recently introduced for liquified natural gas (LNG) projects.

Canadian mining truck. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Neil and Kathy Carey)

Duty exemptions

In 2014, Canada eliminated duty fees for offshore oil and gas drilling equipment. This makes it more affordable for Canadian companies to drill for fossil fuels in our vulnerable Atlantic and Arctic waters.

Flow-through share deductions

Normally, tax deductions can only be claimed by the business that actually incurs the eligible expense. However, flow-through shares let corporations pass on the deductions directly to investors, whose income gets taxed as capital gains, at half the rate of regular income.

Canada allows flow-through shares for qualifying Canadian Development Expenses and Canadian Exploration Expenses – a sweet kickback for both corporations and their individual investors.

 Royalty credits

In Canada, natural resources such as minerals, oil, gas, and groundwater are owned by the Provinces. They charge royalties to companies that extract these resources.

B.C. offers a Deep Drilling Credit that waives royalty fees between $444,000 and $2.81 million per well for new fossil-fuel drilling projects.

B.C. also offers up to 50% discount on royalites for oil & gas companies to build new roads and pipelines through the Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program. The purpose of the program is to boost oil & gas exploration, and extend the drilling season year-round.

Reduced sales tax

Both Manitoba and B.C. don’t charge provincial sales tax on machienry and equipment involved in oil, gas, and mining. This includes prototyping equipment, surveying and exploration equipment, and even drill bits. There’s also a discount on the electricity required to operate the machinery.

 Where do we go from here?

This week’s “Three Amigos” agreement needs to be followed up with aggressive action.

  • If we are to keep the planet from spilling over that 2-degree threshold, we can’t continue funding dirty fuels.
  • If we’re going to encourage clean energy development, we can’t keep incentivizing oil & gas exploration.

As we move forward, remember that there is a lot of work to be undone. It starts with dismantling these subsidies.

Further reading

Image Credits

Fort Mc Murray IMG_0679 © by sbamueller and released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License

Wabush Mines Truck © by Neil and Kathy Carey and released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License

49th K~W Multicultural Festival Weekend

join WRGreens @ K~W Multicultural Fest 2016
Visit the WRGreens info booth at the K~W Multicultural Festival  in Victoria Park
Saturday June 25th, 2016
Noon – 8pm
Sunday June 26th, 2016
Noon – 6pm

Sign Elizabeth May’s Electoral Reform Petition!

Pick up your own WRGreens sticker!

Cambridge Greens AvatarKitCenAvatarKitConAvatarKitSHAvatarWaterloo Green Party WRGREENS FINALavatar

Candidates Nick Wendler (#KitCen) and Bob Jonkman (#KitCon) at the 2015 WRGreens Booth
Candidates Nick Wendler (#KitCen) and Bob Jonkman (#KitCon) the K~W Multicultural Festival WRGreens Info Booth (2015)
Candidate Richard Walsh (#Waterloo)
Candidate Richard Walsh (#Waterloo) dispenses Green Party buttons at the 2015 K~W Multicultural Festival
Laurel & Laura "We Can Do It"
Laurel & Laura “We Can Do It”
Bob Jonkman (Kitchener-Conestoga)
Bob Jonkman (Kitchener-Conestoga)
WRGreens were selling Heritage Tomato seedlings last year.
WRGreens were selling Heritage Tomato seedlings last year.
WRGreens were selling Heritage Tomato seedlings last year.
WRGreens are always happy to talk about Green issues.
2015 #GPC Candidates Bob Jonkman and Richard Walsh
2015 #GPC Candidates Bob Jonkman and Richard Walsh



National Aboriginal Day in Waterloo

National Aboriginal Day at Waterloo Library
Drummers opened the Film Festival at the Waterloo Library.

The month of June is National Aboriginal History Month.  This year marks the 20th annual National Aboriginal Day in Canada, a celebration of the history, culture and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada on the Summer solstice, June 21st.
Waterloo Public Library
There is a lot of interesting stuff in Waterloo Library’s National Aboriginal History Month display.  North America is known as “Turtle Island” among Canada’s Indigenous population.
Turtle Island (by Mark Wagner)
When explorers and then settlers arrived in the already occupied “new world,” instead of learning from and co-existing with the indigenous peoples, they intended to (and did) take the place over.  The settlers made treaties with the inhabitants, who were happy to share their world and trade with the newcomers.   And so treaties were made.
But the North American native population didn’t realize who they were dealing with, and so they took the Europeans at their word.

National Aboriginal Day display
The map below shows the area promised by the Haldimand Treaty October 25th, 1784:

“…Six miles deep from each side of the river beginning at Lake Erie, and extending in the proportion to the head of said river, which Them and Their Posterity are to enjoy forever.”

Treaty Land map

On the the 2015 side of the map you can see that “forever” didn’t mean what we think it means.  For the Indigenous inhabitants, dealing with the Europeans was like dealing with Darth Vader… the deal kept changing and nothing could be done.

Last night I had the privilege of attending indigiNATE Now, the National Aboriginal Day Film Festival put on by Create Waterloo and imagineNATIVE.  The program consisted of a powerful series of award winning short films made by Aboriginal filmmakers from around the world.

I learned about the Film Festival from CreateWaterloo’s Artist In Residence,  Michele Braniff, an incredibly versatile and talented woman who Waterloo Greens remember as the Cambridge Green Party Candidate in the 2015 federal election.

My Story
9:15 minutes, 2013 | Directed by Shania Tabobondung

Using simple, yet clever whiteboard animation, a young woman’s personal journey of struggles and courage through her early life are poignantly and artistically depicted in this impressive film debut.

Shania Tabobondung is a 17-year-old Anishinabekwe from Wasauksing First Nation. Her passion for the written word and visual arts has led her to seek future academic studies in journalism and/or media arts. My Story was the 2013 imagineNATIVE Tour Video Contest winner, which had over 40 films in contention.

16min, 2012 | Directed by Danis Goulet

Like any 16-year-old, Alyssa desperately wants to fit in with the crowd. But will her dreams crumble as her deepest secret is revealed?

Danis Goulet (Cree/Métis) is an award-winning writer and director. Her short film Wakening played before the opening night film at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

7:48min, 2012 | Directed by Adam Garnet Jones

A young man`s secret fuels a twisted vendetta for revenge in this powerful examination of intolerance.

Adam Garnet Jones (Cree/Métis) is a queer filmmaker originally from Edmonton, Alberta. His short films have been broadcast on television and screened widely at film festivals, including ImagineNATIVE. He is currently in post production on his first feature film, Fire Song.

5:44, 2011 | Directed by Ehren (Bear) Witness

This innovative tribute in response to the murder of totem carver John Williams by a Seattle police officer in 2010 employs image mixing, documentary footage, and an ingenious soundscape to commemorate a tragedy not to be forgotten.

Bear Witness (Cayuga) is an Ottawa-based media artist who has been producing short experimental videos for over eight years. Bear is a member of the award-winning DJ collective, A Tribe Called Red.

6:50, 2014 | Directed by Tara Browne

This docudrama short film is an interpretation of an interview and performance of Buffy Sainte-Marie that originally aired on CBC TV’s program TBA with host John O’Leary in 1966.

Actress, filmmaker and singer-songwriter, Tara (Beier) Browne (Cree) won the Best Experimental award for this film at imagineNATIVE in 2014.

3min, 2013 | Directed by Lisa Jackson

Evocative and haunting, director Lisa Jackson crafts a stunning performance-based piece that captures the brutality of violence against Indigenous women, yet celebrates hope for a future illuminated through advocacy and understanding.

Named one of Playback Magazine’s 10 to Watch in 2012, Lisa Jackson’s (Anishinaabe) genre-bending films span documentary, animation and fiction. Her work has also garnered numerous awards and her film, Savage won the Genie award for Best Short Film in 2010.

A Common Experience
10:30min, 2013 | Directed by Shane Belcourt

Acclaimed playwright Yvette Nolan voices her personal experience in this beautifully poetic and intimate exploration of the multigenerational effects of Canada’s residential school system.

Shane Belcourt (Metis) is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and musician based in Toronto. His debut feature film, Tkaronto closed imagineNATIVE in 2007 and has screened at film festivals worldwide.

Apikiwiyak (Coming Home)
12:46min, 2014 | Directed by Shane Belcourt and Maria Campbell

In this collaborative work, originally presented as a live reading and visual accompaniment, Maria Campbell, an acclaimed Métis author from Saskatchewan sets out to hold a mirror out for Indigenous non-Indigenous people to peer into the never-ending legacy of colonial violence.

Maria Campbell (Cree/French/Scottish) is a community worker, storyteller and filmmaker whose bestselling autobiography Halfbreed – an important document on ethnic relations in Canada – encouraged many First Nations people to become writers. In addition to her many other publications, she has also written or directed stage plays, films and videos.

indigiNATE Now program: http://sawvideo.com/event/indigi-nate-now-province-nations-film

I had my first taste of Bannock, something I had believed to be a native staple, but I learned the real story last night.


These two new Heritage Minutes were shown at the beginning of the program.

Why Isn’t Ontario Protecting Our Water?

On April 24, 2007, Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller released a report in which he warned that “funding cuts spanning 15 years have left Ontario vulnerable to a catastrophe similar to the Walkerton tainted water tragedy.” (Guelph Mercury, April 25, 2007). The Mercury reported that Miller also told a press conference in Sudbury that, “Our present course puts our ecosystems, our biodiversity, our health and parts of our economy at serious risk of deterioration and catastrophic events.”

Missive on Nestle’s Water Taking in Aberfoyle

In 2007, residents were challenging Nestlé’s Water Taking in Aberfoyle, citing the disconnect between MPP Liz Sandalls claim the “The Clean Water Act focuses on source water protection” while effectively allowing Nestlé to take whatever water it likes absent independent data on the impact to local aquifers.

Bottling and selling our water is hugely profitable for Nestlé, and yet the multinational isn’t even paying its way as the result costs Ontario money.

Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of OntarioMike Schreiner writes:

“Several industries get a total free ride when it comes to taking our water, an explosive new report from Ontario’s Environment Commissioner revealed. Those who do pay for taking water — “phase one” industrial and commercial users that include bottled water producers; vegetable and fruit canning facilities; and certain types of chemical manufacturers — are charged a paltry $3.71 per million litres used.

This is not a typo.

This nominal fee works out to less than $10 for enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. That works out to $0.00000371 per litre. After the ECO report I walked down to the basement in Queen’s Park to double check that a 500ml bottle of water was still selling for $2. That’s right, you can buy a litre of bottled water at Queen’s Park for more than it costs a company to take 1 million litres of our water.

This absurd system enables the provincial government to recover only 1.2 per cent of the money it spends on water quantity management programs. Since the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) receives less money today than it did in 1992, the budget it has for water management is not enough to make it an effective steward of our water resources. Yet, the province is essentially giving away our water.

HuffPo: “Companies Are Ripping Off Ontario’s Water Resources” by Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario

And yet it goes on. Nestlé continues to pump water out of Ontario Aquifers and sell it back to us, reaping enormous profits. Or worse, shipping it elsewhere, which has permanently lowers the supply of water available to us in our aquifers.

The water Nestle is taking comes from municipal water supply– the drinking water our municipal governments filter and treat to make sure is safe for us to drink.  To offset the costs of cleaning, storing and delivering water to our taps, Ontario citizens pay our local public utilities about $1.50 for 1,000 litres of water for our personal use. The reason we pay so little for the water we consume is because the taxes we pay subsidizes the cost. This is how public utilities work, and the reason they exist: by sharing the infrastructure investment, the costs can be kept down to ensure the public has equal and reasonably affordable access to a necessity.

But the Provincial Government gives Nestlé a sweetheart deal.

We pay $3.00 per 1,000 litres
Nestlé pays $3.70 per 1,000,000 litres

The multinational company pays pays a miniscule fraction of what we pay, which allows it to realize enormous profits when bottling our water and selling it back to us.  Do they employ some Canadians?  Sure thing. Does the company pay its fair share of taxes?  Truthfully, I don’t know.  What I do know is that this company is paying too little for the refined natural resource it sells at a profit.   Ontario taxpayers are subsidizing this rich and powerful multinational, so we know Nestlé is perfectly happy to not pay its fair share.  And companies are shameless: they exist to make as much profit as possible, so of course they take what they get.

But there is no reason the citizens of Ontario should let this go on.  The Green Party of Ontario has been opposing this for a long time.

Laura Lee Roberts shared a great Environmental Defense article: WHAT A DEPOSIT RETURN MIGHT LOOK LIKE IN ONTARIO.  From my perspective, since Ontario practically gives Nestle our drinking water for free, the least they could do is use glass bottles.

Nestlé Waters

Sign the petition:
Ontario: Deny Nestle Water-Taking Permit in Aberfoyle

Guaranteed Livable Income Green Learning Community (2nd Session)

Basic Income Waterloo meets with Richard Walsh and Bob Jonkman at the Waterloo Greens Office during the 2015 election
Basic Income Waterloo advocates meet with Richard Walsh & Bob Jonkman at the WRGreens Office [2015]
A Guaranteed Liveable Income is Green Party of Canada policy.  During the 2015 Election it was a integral piece of the GPC’s integrated plan to eliminate poverty in conjunction with a renewed commitment to Universal Health Care, the introduction of Pharmacare, a National Housing Strategy, and the elimination of Post Secondary tuition and debt relief for those struggling under enormous student debt loads.

Oddly enough, this is not at all a new thing.  The Canadian Government partnered with the Manitoba Government to run a guaranteed annual income pilot project they called Mincome in Dauphin ~ A Town Without Poverty?  back in the 1970s.  As often happens with long term projects in countries using winner-take-all voting systems, the government changed and the new lot boxed up all the data and stored it away.

This is becoming a hot topic worldwide, and here at home we’re hearing about this from all levels of government:

The Trudeau Liberals just prioritized one of Richard Nixon’s favourite conservative policies: ‘mincome’

A Basic Income For Ontario? Province Plans Pilot Project As Part Of Budget


The Waterloo Green Party is hosting the second Guaranteed Livable Income Green Learning Community event on Saturday to help get a handle on what this social policy is all about.

GLI slide
Announcing the GLI Learning Community @KPL

As a learning community, we’ve met once already to develop a set of questions we’d like to explore. When we meet on the 18th, we’ll dig deeper, sharing what we’ve learned and discussing more in depth.  All are welcome, there is no need to have attended our first session.

You can join the Green Learning Community Event

Guaranteed Livable Income
Learning Community ~ Session 2

1:30 PM – 3 PM

The Journey ~ A Christian Church
16 Eby St. N.
Kitchener, ON

*note: although the venue this time is a church, it is a non-secular event

Further Reading:
The Manitoba Mincome Study; Even a small Guaranteed Income has dramatic positive effects on society
Download the 39 page PDF file:
THE TOWN WITH NO POVERTY Using Health Administration Data to Revisit Outcomes of a Canadian Guaranteed Annual Income Field Experiment

You can get more information from our awesome local advocacy group, Basic Income Waterloo Region

WRGreens at OpenStreets 2016

Join us in Uptown Waterloo Sunday Afternoon for the 2016 Open Streets launch!
WRGreens at Open Streets Uptown Waterloo 2016

The Waterloo Region Greens invite you to drop by and say “hi!” at our first ever Open Streets information booth! Grab a WRGreens sticker and sign Elizabeth’s electoral reform petition!’


or fly down to check it out!fly

There’s always lots to doThings to do
seeU of W solar race car
and listen to!Badlt Sketched Poets (2013) at Open Streets
If you’ve never been to an Open Streets before you’re in for a treat!

The Green Party of Ontario on Bill 201

Mike Schreiner speaking at Gord Miller's GPC Town Hall in GuelphOntario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner has been sharing GPO’s ideas for restoring trust in the integrity of our system by reforming political party funding rules.

Some of these Green ideas have been incorporated in Bill 201, currently being considered by the House.  Clearly our message is gaining traction, since the Liberal Government took the unprecedented step of inviting Mike to participate in the drafting new legislation by speaking to the Standing Committee on General Government today.

“The Liberal bill reflects many GPO priorities, including eliminating corporate and union donations, limiting third-party advertising, and introducing a per-vote allowance to finance political parties.

However, there are still some glaring omissions that need to be addressed, and Mike’s presentation is making sure these are still on the table before the bill gets past..

Becky Smit, Executive Director, GPO

This afternoon Mike told the Standing Committee on General Government what the Ontario Green Party likes about Bill 201:

  • It eliminates corporate and union donations
  • A more democratic way to fund political parties: per-vote funding
  • It restricts third-party advertising during writ and pre-writ periods
  • Establishes donation limits for nomination contestants and leadership races
  • Eliminates general and by-election contribution periods to a party

Then he outlined the significant revisions the GPO would like to see in Bill 201:

  • Lower contribution limits and eliminate loopholes
  • Lower spending limits for political parties
  • Eliminate the partial reimbursement of campaign expenses
  • Improve disclosure and oversight rules

You can read the full text of Mike’s presentation to the committee:
at gpo.ca/how-fix-elections-finances-bill

We can help by:

  • Spreading the word on Twitter:
    @OntarioGreens live tweeted during Mike’s presentation #onpoli #QPnot4sale
  • Like our post on Facebook
  • Send a message to Premier Wynne



Live on Twitter: Mike Schreiner Speaks at Ontario Finance Reform Hearings

Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of OntarioGreen Party of Ontario leader MikeSchreiner will address the Ontario Finance Reform Committee

at 2pm
June 7th, 2016

Follow live tweets:

follow @OntarioGreens

or keep track on Facebook 

An easy way to follow live twitter chats
go to Tweetchat
and type #ONnotforsale in the search bar

I haven’t used this for a long time so I don’t know how well it works now… it aggregates live tweet stream and automatically adds the hashtag…
update: unlike Twitter now, retweets don’t fit, so you need to manually edit them (and if yoy do change RT to MT for “modified tweet”

Waterloo Region Districts

These are the 5 electoral districts of Waterloo Region.
These are the 5 electoral districts of Waterloo Region.


Tomorrow (Sunday June 5th, 2016) is a busy day for WRGreens.  It is the first session of Waterloo’s Kris and Bryan’s 2nd Learning Community on the topic of Guaranteed Livable Income, which features a presentation by Basic Income Waterloo‘s John Green.  [The day & time are the same but the venue did change.]

These sessions are open to the public, so feel free to bring anyone who is interested, Green or not 🙂

I am sad to have to miss this session, but tomorrow afternoon I’ll be staffing a WRGreens Information Booth at the TriPride Festival at Kitchener City Hall. I’ve been putting together some fresh materials, made stickers and I’ve put together this map.  The visual demarcation of the electoral districts was taken from the excellent Redistribution of Federal Electoral Districts website, but this is primarily a graphic representation which may not be entirely accurate around the edges. This was created to give visitors to the Waterloo Greens information booth an idea of where the #WRGreens districts are.

I also used the OpenStreetMap® which is open data, licensed under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL) by the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF).
Tiles by MapQuest licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (CC BY-SA)

I’m looking forward to tomorrow; maybe I’ll see you at Kitchener City Hall for the family friendly TriPride festivities!