Liberal MPs are pressuring their own party to publish long-promised regulations to crack down on oil and gas pollution before the month’s end.

“The longer that we delay, the harder it will be to bring this into force,” British Columbia MP Patrick Weiler told Canada’s National Observer in a phone interview.

Weiler is among 19 Liberal MPs who signed a letter last month urging the government to release draft regulations to cap planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector. First promised by the Liberals in 2021, the regulations have been delayed time and time again.

“It's getting to the point now where it could be frustrating,” said Weiler, who spearheaded the Oct. 4 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. It calls on the government to introduce strong, ambitious draft regulations before a critical international climate conference (COP28) kicks off on Nov. 30 in the United Arab Emirates.

Weiler said 19 MPs signed the letter, but no signatories are listed because caucus decided names “are not public at this time.” Individual MPs can connect with the media if they wish, according to Kevin Hemmat, Weiler’s director of communications.

Canada’s National Observer contacted over a dozen Liberal MPs late Thursday afternoon and confirmed Ontario MP Leah Taylor Roy signed the letter. Most MPs did not immediately respond to the query. This story will be updated if more signatories are identified.

Weiler said he is confident the cap will happen, adding simply that he is “impatient,” trying to apply public pressure and express the urgency of acting.

Generally, it takes time for regulations to come into force. There is also the ever-present possibility of an early election call.

When MPs from the governing party speak out, it can be “a very useful thing for ministers who need support to come from the public,” Weiler added.

“The longer that we delay, the harder it will be to bring this into force,” British Columbia MP Patrick Weiler told Canada’s National Observer in a phone interview.

Because of party discipline, it's “a big deal” for MPs to take an argument outside of caucus and go public with it,” according to Kathryn Harrison, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

The Oct. 4 letter was publicly released in the midst of a countrywide debate over the carbon tax, another key Liberal policy recently altered to exempt home heating oil for three years. Many provinces have households that use oil to heat their homes, but Atlantic Canada has the highest rate of relying on the costly fuel. The change caused an uproar and cries of favouritism in other areas of the country where heat is mostly gas or electric.

Earlier this year, Atlantic Liberal MPs pushed hard behind the scenes for the heating oil exemption, rural rebate top-up, and funds to help families switch off oil. One of these MPs went so far as publicly criticizing the party for not doing enough for East Coast residents struggling with high energy prices. Ultimately, the Atlantic caucus' collective efforts led to Trudeau giving them everything they requested.

Now, it appears some MPs, including Weiler, have also been working behind the scenes to advance the oil and gas emissions cap.

“The importance of the oil and gas emissions cap for Canada meeting its Paris Agreement 2030 target is hard to overestimate, it's a really big deal,” said Harrison. Emissions from the oil and gas sector continue to rise and only six years remain for the industry to reduce its emissions in line with Canada’s 2030 emissions reduction plan.

The long-awaited regulations to address Canada’s most polluting sector — responsible for 28 per cent of emissions in 2021 — were first promised by the Liberals that same year, but have since been delayed repeatedly. Originally, the federal government said details about the form and timeline of the regulations would be communicated in early 2023. But in July, the environment minister extended the timing, saying Canadians can expect draft regulations before year’s end.

The oil and gas cap is being used as a wedge issue by conservative governments across the country, including Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party. Smith has repeatedly said she will “not permit” the implementation of the oil and gas emissions cap, despite polls showing a majority of Albertans support the proposed regulation.

The Oct. 4 letter urged the federal government to publish regulations before COP28 to “maintain credibility internationally” and ensure “investment and emissions reduction is not further delayed.” But the conference is less than a week away, and Canadians still haven't seen draft regulations.

COP28 refers to the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, set to begin on Nov. 30 in Dubai. World leaders gather at these conferences to assess global efforts to address climate change and chart a path forward through sometimes fraught negotiations. Fossil fuels — which are a primary driver of climate change — are at the heart of the most difficult discussions.

At a Nov. 23 press conference on Parliament Hill, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, and Kristina Michaud, the Bloc Québécois climate change critic, joined representatives from several environmental organizations to call on the federal government to release the oil and gas cap before COP28. The day before, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also asked the Liberals if they would release the oil and gas emissions cap before the international climate conference.

In question period earlier this month, NDP MP Laurel Collins again asked the Liberals when the draft regulations will be released, but twice, did not receive a straight answer.

“The oil and gas sector's expansion has gone unchecked in Canada, and there have been no limits on how much pollution they are allowed to create,” Collins said in the House of Commons on Nov. 8. Despite accounting for about five per cent of Canada's GDP, the oil and gas sector is responsible for more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector, she noted. “A strong cap on emissions would be that limit,” said Collins.

Weiler wouldn’t divulge details but said the response to his letter sent on Oct. 4 was “very positive,” and pointed to Guilbeault’s comments that draft regulations will be published by the end of this year. The Prime Minister’s Office passed Canada’s National Observer’s request for comment to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). When asked if the draft regulations will be published before COP28, an ECCC spokesperson said the draft regulations will be published before the year is up.

“Ideally, we want to do it even faster than that,” said Weiler.

On Nov. 23, the International Energy Agency released a report calling for a 60 per cent reduction in oil and gas emissions by 2030. Canada’s emissions reduction plan currently projects the oil and gas sector will reduce emissions 31 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. A recent report by Canada’s environment commissioner raised concerns about “overly optimistic assumptions,” including the projection that carbon capture and storage facilities would be built and eliminate 27 megatons of CO2-equivalent emissions annually by 2030.

“At the end of the day, the industry is going to have to invest in reducing emissions and we've provided a whole host of incentives for them to do that, including a carbon capture tax credit backdated to investments made at the beginning of 2022,” said Weiler. “But those investments simply are not coming, even though those companies are making record profits.”

According to the new IEA report, less than one per cent of global clean energy investment comes from oil and gas companies. It also found current global investment in fossil fuels, worth US$800 billion, needs to be slashed in half to match declining demand in a 1.5 C-aligned world.

Recent polls also indicate broad public support for regulations to cap oil and gas sector emissions. Even in Alberta, where the premier is waging war on all federal climate policies, six in 10 Albertans support capping oil and gas sector emissions. The Alberta polls were conducted in late August by Leger and Research Co., and commissioned by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE).

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

Updates and corrections

| Corrections policy
November 24, 2023, 05:45 pm

This article was updated to correct the caption describing the photo of Patrick Weiler.

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Come on Liberals - do the right thing - let's just do it and not look back.
Let P.P. Smith, and Moe gripe ad infinitum, they do anyway.

At the same time, can these Liberal MPs also tell their boss Justin Trudeau to step down so we can get real leadership at the head of the party? This will be critical to ensuring Pierre Poilievre the snake oil salesman will never see the light of day as PM.

The Liberals need to grow a set of balls and get serious about capping emissions from the oil and gas industry which current are only ramping up emissions. The Liberals also need to get serious about a new party leader if they want to win the next election.

Wailer for Prime Minister!

Weiler for Prime Minister!

In the Liberals' latest policy reversal — in favor of the O&G industry — carbon capture projects used in part (up to 90%) for "enhanced oil recovery" (EOR) will now qualify for the proposed carbon capture tax credit for the non-EOR portion.
As CBC reports, "Given the difficulty in monitoring carbon capture, producers could 'game this system to receive a tax credit for projects where virtually 100% of the use is ineligible EOR."
"Carbon capture tax credit open to projects that extract more oil, climate experts warn" (CBC, Nov 24, 2023)

The Liberals' latest cave-in on climate.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault should do the honorable thing and resign.
Canadians will have to wait until 2025 to give Trudeau his walking papers.

Exit Trudeau, enter Poilievre. Awesome.

The Tweedledum and Tweedledee of climate disaster. Both parties serve Corporate Canada. Only the Liberals are far more effective.
If progressive voters reject the Liberal Party's climate betrayals in 2025, Trudeau will have only himself to blame.

The Liberals desperately need a time-out. A new leader. And new policy.
What better way to send that message than to toss the Liberals out in 2025? Voting Liberal every election simply rewards them for betrayal. Why would they ever change?

As PO'd about Trudeau I am on many fronts (i.e. very PO'd, especially on climate), I feel it's my duty to cast my vote to: keep the healthcare conspiracists, anti-vaxxers and Ivermectin pushers away from the healthcare system; convoy trucker "law" away from the Justice Department; the supporters of Soldiers of Odin and the Heritage Front from permeating the Immigration Dept.; religious fanatics, pro-birthers (they are not pro-"life"because most of them could give a flying fig about a child's quality of life once born) and book burners from infiltrating any public social service; pro-Putin and anti-democracy propagandists away from the Defense Dept.; and bitcoin hucksters as far as possible from the Finance Dept.

By all means, continue heavily criticizing the Libs on their weak and fracturing climate policies (at least he has some, as does the NDP minority backer) and subsidies for the oil industry, but know that promoting their demise and actively considering the Conservatives walking into the empty space is a very dangerous game. Look at our electoral history. Defeated parties are not usually out for just one term; Poilievre will likely do a huge amount of damage over two or three terms as the Libs regroup, that is after first tearing themselves apart in leadership and policy processes. Can our climate, healthcare and social policies survive a decade under Poilievre, who is much worse than Harper in a time where Q Anon and David Parker rules their thought processes? I doubt it very much.

Next election, it's ACB123 for me because I will not, under any circumstances, entertain for even one second letting Poilievre sit on the throne. With not a small amount of luck, the federal NDP will field a very strong candidate who can top multiple polls a week before the election. Last time, they came within 4%, but their former star candidate has gone on to discredit herself in an attempted coup in another jurisdiction. NDP, please try harder!

Is there another way to change Liberal leadership and climate/energy policies? Let's hear it.
Otherwise, we are just voting for more of the same.
The status quo is unacceptable. Short of clogging Ottawa streets with millions of climate protestors, the only way I see to alter the Liberals' trajectory is to send them an unequivocal message at the ballot box.

The Liberals are responsible for their own demise. Poilievre & Co. do not require any assistance or encouragement from me. Nor will they receive any.
The Liberals have left a bad taste in Canadians' mouths. The only "medicine" to remove it is a stiff dose of Poilievre. Harsh but effective. Four years of chaotic Conservative rule, and Canadians should once again be ready for sane government under new management.
Though I welcome the Liberals' defeat come the next election, this should not be construed as an active expression of support for the Conservatives. Simply a matter of reading the tea leaves — and the national sentiment. The Liberals are done. I accept the inevitable and will grit my teeth under the double trials and tribulations of living under both Denial Smith and Petro Poilievre. The stuff of nightmares.

But, by all means, if you can change the Liberal leadership and climate policy before the next election, you and they will have my support. Even then it will not likely be enough to avert a petro-con disaster.
Fasten your seat-belts. And put the blame where it lies. On the Trudeau Liberals.

Good comment. I wish there was a thumbs up button on this forum.

About time they put caps on these emissions. I wonder how D Smith is going to feel when the planet’s temperature goes past the tipping point and Alberta either turns into a desert or an inland sea. Does she have children or grandchildren that will have to live in the terrible future her policies will ensure for the entire planet? We need to act now..we all can’t escape to the moon or Mars!

We in Alberta who are sane call her Denial Smith but no, she doesn't give a rip; she's just revelling in being one of the boys who's also kind of in charge!
Maybe it satisfies what motherly urges she has because she has no children?
Either way, someone in the NDP here senses an opportunity for HIM so is trying to hive off what support we have marshalled here by splitting the party again in the guise of renaming it and using the word "progressive." I'd love to see that as the name for the brand new federal majority party. We'd win every time and could relax again.
I'm continually astounded by how many people on the left can't seem to do basic math.

If it takes so long to regulate the carbon industry's extraction and processing emissions at the beginning of the cycle, it could take 10X as long to regulate Scope 3 emissions upon combustion at the end of the cycle.

Surely with a limited single digit contribution to the national economy, government can well afford to ignore the noise and step it up. Fearing the fossil fuel industry and acting timidly is not an acceptable way to get the job done.

The Libs, NDP, Greens and Bloc do not have much -- if any -- political capital in the two carboniferous provinces issuing the most egregious resistance to acting against climate change in the national interest. So, why not act together to address the issue on behalf of the rest of Canada that forms a great majority. Isn't that acting in the national interest with the high rate of efficacy required by science to lower emissions across the board?

Yes it is indeed.
I wish someone would or could explain why in hell they're doing another walk back now FFS.
It makes less sense ALL the time; it's almost like there's some sort of criminal extortion going on.
I thought maybe Guilbeault was taking his time to avoid any more legal obstacles but maybe he's just loathe to disappoint us all again?
A lot of people on here seem to be NDP supporters so can you also explain where THEY are on this topic? They have more leverage than Liberal MP's.