Where are Canada’s protections for green jobs?

In this week’s newsletter, we chat with Manitoba reporter Julia-Simone Rutgers about an electric bus revolution brewing in Canada, but taking root in the U.S.

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When Julia-Simone Rutgers joined The Narwhal this spring, the last place she expected to find herself on a hot August day was inside a massive bus manufacturing facility in Winnipeg. 

But there she was, watching workers weld and paint large bus shells for a leading North American zero-emissions bus manufacturer, New Flyer Industries, also known as NFI Group. 

At first glance, it seemed like a good-news story — you know, the kind of story you’d want to read in the dog days of summer. But then the plot thickened: as Julia-Simone dug into the company more, she was surprised to learn that they’ve exported hundreds of good-paying manufacturing jobs to south of the border in recent years. 

Her resulting feature looks at how the Trudeau government has failed to protect clean tech jobs amidst Buy America rules and trade agreements.

While Canada is making major investments in zero-emission transit and many cities have started leading the charge to electrify their fleets, one expert told Julia-Simone that Canadian policy has overlooked “transit manufacturing as a sexy big job employer,” leaving the industry lagging behind. 
Minister Mary Ng sits in front of reporter Julia-Simone on a picnic bench. Photo taken from the side.

Julia-Simone spoke with International Trade minister Mary Ng to press the government about whether it should be doing more to stop American protectionism from threatening Canadian jobs in the transit sector. While the minister offered some general comments about how the government was still working on a plan to build a green economy in Canada, Ng wasn’t able to get into specifics for the transit industry.

“It was clear to me that the feds are passionate about protecting Canada’s stake in the future of the auto manufacturing sector … but it seems like transit was just an oversight,” Julia-Simone said.

Union leaders don’t blame the companies, per se. They just want stronger protections for the country’s transit industry.

In the meantime, New Flyer has its gaze set on Winnipeg’s plans to shop for 100 electric buses in the next five years. This could actually bring some new jobs closer to home.

Take care and take some time to recharge,

Karan Saxena
Audience fellow

Screenshot of tweet from MPP Sol Mamakwa that reads: ".@EmmaMci of The Narwhal discovered through access to information requests that @GregRickford attempted to block the progress of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas in Ontario. No reconciliation here."

The Narwhal in Ontario legislature

“Why does Ontario have no process to enable Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas?” asked Sol Mamakwa, MPP for Kiiwetinoong, Ont. — referencing a scoop by reporter Emma McIntosh.

Environment Minister David Piccini responded without addressing the question directly.

“I’ll always be willing to work alongside [Indigenous communities],” Piccini said. 

Read the story here, which Emma found while sifting through 87 pages of documents obtained by an access to information request.


Narwhals hang out in the wild 

Okay, okay. Maybe going lawn bowling isn’t really considered “the wild” by everyone.

But after a couple years of not seeing one another, members of The Narwhal got together in Victoria to rub tusks on Monday evening. Bowls were thrown, snacks were had and the miracle of reader-funded journalism was celebrated. 

We’re excited to meet with more members across the country soon!


This week in The Narwhal

Photo of Doug Ford at the AMO
4 things Ontario mayors want from Doug Ford to fight climate change
By Fatima Syed
While the premier didn’t mention the climate emergency at a gathering of Ontario’s municipal leaders, everyone else had it top of mind

Tulsequah Chief Mine
An ‘open, oozing wound:’ why it’s taken decades to clean up waste from a troubled mine in B.C.
By Francesca Fionda
Reflection of power lines in a puddle
Ontario Power Generation has made $5.5 million privately selling clean energy credits
By Fatima Syed
Electric bus in Winnipeg
Winnipeg Transit could buy electric buses from local factory
By Julia-Simone Rutgers


What we’re reading

Wet’suwet’en Camps on Evacuation Alert as Wildfire Brought Under Control
A Bear’s Necessities
When you’re waiting for your government to get an electric transit fleet. Tell your friends to sign up for our newsletter — we’ll tell you when the green bus is ready for you.
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