Are you skeptical that the Trudeau government’s price on carbon pollution is the best way to lower emissions? Blair Feltmate has a solution for you.

The head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo is chairing an arm of a new independent watchdog that will hold Ottawa to account on its climate change commitments and policies.

Feltmate said in an interview that the new institute, which is being called the Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration, will help Canadians see if their federal government is making decisions in their best interests when it comes to tackling global warming.

The institute will be a multimillion dollar organization, funded by government but expected to set its own agenda and operate independently. It will have three main areas of focus: clean growth, adaptation and mitigation.

It's being revealed the day after the Ford government in Ontario announced it will mandate that gas pumps in the province are affixed with a "gasoline transparency sticker" to reflect the federal carbon pricing system.

Ontario Environment Minister Rod Phillips and Ontario Energy Minister Greg Rickford demonstrated in Oakville, Ont. on April 8 how the sticker shows the extra 4.4 cents a litre, rising to 11 cents by 2022.

The sticker does not show that Ontario families are rebated the cost as part of their tax returns. Ottawa calculates that 80 per cent of families will receive more money back than they will pay. The sticker also does not mention the costs of impacts of climate change, which run into the many billions of dollars.

The group is being offered enough funding on an annual basis to carry on its work for years, well beyond the current mandate of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals. But this funding would not be guaranteed if a new government comes to power and cancels the spending.

The details of how the funding will be transferred to the group, and on what schedule, are still being finalized.

Feltmate said the group's objective will be to start from the "goals and the aspirations" of the Trudeau government’s climate plan, the Pan-Canadian Framework, and “apply the intellectual framework to execute on that commitment.”

“How do we actually proceed to put an optimal price on carbon, to minimize carbon emissions? How do we proceed to embrace energy efficiency and renewable power, electricity storage? How do we proceed on those fronts, in a manner that will collectively benefit the country well?”

Ford's office alleges 'puppets' at institute

After this story was published, David Tarrant, executive director of strategic communications in the office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, tweeted that it represented "a shocking abdication of journalistic standards" for National Observer. He said the author "unquestioningly parrot(ed) Liberal spin about the puppets on this elite pro-carbon tax ‘institute’."

National Observer asked Simon Jefferies, Ford's director of media relations, if the use of the term "puppets" meant that the premier's office was accusing the academics in the Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration of bias, and whether it had evidence to back up this claim.

In addition, Jefferies was asked if Ford believed this federal body should not have been established, whether he would recommend that a future federal government pull the funding and whether the premier was against establishing a similar body in Ontario.

Jefferies said in response that "supporting a carbon tax may win you brownie points in the faculty lounge or win the praise of jet-setting Hollywood elites, but it is not the only way to fight climate change."

"Elite economists may sit in their ivory towers and lecture hard-working families about the need to make everything more expensive, but they will never understand the struggle of counting the pennies and living paycheque to paycheque."

He added "all a carbon tax does" is punish families and seniors. The federal government argues its pricing system will cut at least 50 million tonnes of carbon pollution by 2022.

"While Justin Trudeau and the federal government may take their cues from the elites, Premier Doug Ford takes his cues from the people he was elected to serve," said Jefferies. "Ontario has an environment plan which meets the targets set by the federal government without imposing a punishing, job-killing carbon tax on already stretched taxpayers."

The province introduced a proposal this year to limit the growth of pollution from industrial facilities by setting emissions to a facility's level of output. Consultations wrapped up at the end of March.

Ontario's Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has said it is designed to be "flexible" and allow "facilities to increase production without being penalized for their success."

University of Waterloo housing some constituents

The Pan-Canadian Expert Collaboration is a grouping of over 15 organizations which won the federal government’s competition to create a new national non-profit. The competition ran from October 2018 to mid-January.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said the group will be "eligible to receive up to $20 million over five years" to implement their vision.

“This institute will provide informed advice to decision makers and identify best practices to ensure future actions are informed by evidence,” the minister said in a statement.

Some of the main constituents will be housed at the University of Waterloo, Feltmate said. The group is planning on putting out a plan in September to show the path forward for each of the three areas of focus.

He said he’s focused on figuring out how Canada will adapt to the “extreme weather events that are becoming increasingly problematic in Canada,” such as floods, droughts, wildfires, hail, wind, permafrost loss and sea level rise.

Residential flooding — flooding basements, and flooding communities — is the number one cost to Canada, by far, relative to climate change extreme weather risk, for example.

Canada’s Changing Climate report, released April 1, showed the formidability of the challenge, said Feltmate. The major report received contributions from 43 government scientists and academics and found that Canada is heating up at double the average rate of the planet.

“Now the question is, what do we do as a country to address that?" he said. "Hopefully, that’s what this institute will do...we want on the ground deployment of efforts that take risks out of the system. That should be the measure of success ultimately.”

Editor's note: This story was updated at 5:51 p.m. ET on April 9, 2019 to include a quote from Tarrant. It was updated again at 8:57 p.m. ET on April 9, 2019 to include comments from Jefferies.

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I'm skeptical with any politician handling our tax dollars. They have been known to waste them on occasion.

Too many support fighting climate change as long as it does not involve any sacrifice on their part. The $$ paid in C taxes should be used to fund green projects such as expanding public transit, electrifying the Canadian Railway Network (, converting gas stations to charging stations for electric cars, not to generate rebates to consumers.

No. All the money collected should be given to residents on a per capita basis. This makes it equitable and makes it acceptable to most people.

Stop clear-cutting Canadian forests ! There...they can have that one right now for free.

After just watching some of the debate south of the border, I think that Ontario should forget about testing teachers’ math skills and perhaps instead debate adding some kind of skill testing question on the form you need to fill out before being allowed to run for political office.

‘John Kerry fires back at congressman: Are you serious.’

“a gasoline transparency sticker” should also reflect the fact that burning 1 litre of gasoline produces 2.3 kg of co2

Let's hope that this institute fulfills its stated goal. It could provide a much needed reference point for action that is sorely needed.

If this institute is working within the parameters of the Pan-Canadian Framework, which it appears that it is, then we will be well and truly screwed! This Framework completely neglects the emissions produced by the Tar Sands, which have been increasing massively since the Framework was announced. There is no plan in the Framework which addresses the necessary gradual, managed decline in extraction of fossil fuels, along with a planned ‘just transition’ for displaced FF workers as was done for the cod fisheries and is being planned for coal workers ( as it should be).
Thus this Institute will be focussing on mitigation of the ongoing, increasingly dangerous extreme weather effects, yet completely avoiding the most significant cause of those same effects. This is estimated to be 3x more costly in economic and human consequences, species extinctions and ecological collapse, not to mention that we are, really, really, really already in a Climate Emergency! And Canada is leading the way to Climate Catastrophe with the recent news on our trajectory heading for a 5C degree increase in global average temperature. Add to this the recent announcement that Canada is warming at twice the global rate and it gets pretty scary.
I understand that politicians are intimidated and influenced by massive numbers of highly paid lobbyists, pressures from the PMO and the fear of being booted out of Cabinet and Caucus. But really, are there none who would stand up for the future of our children, and frankly, civilization itself? Just as Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott did on the SNC Lavalln scandal?? Really none at all? Surely Catherine McKenna ‘knows’ what is happening in her portfolio?? Do these people really believe they can escape because they have money and power?

This is the problem; 43 Government scientists and academics. After, or lets say still in the present, the SNC Lavalin controversy, in which case PM Trudeau is still not transparent, I do not trust any statistics the Trudeau government provides. As far as I'm concerned, he puts out what he wants.
We never hear about how countries, like China for example, effects our efforts in climate control. If half of the world is doing its best to control emissions and the other half does not (some because if poverty), what will happen eventually? Is our world going toward an accelerated rate of disaster? I already red books about climate change, but I would like to read a comprehensive study to understand this whole climate change scenario, including what effect has on our climate also, all the "stuff" we put into space.

Read "The Uninhabitable Earth" by David Wallace-Wells