For many years Canada's emissions and fuel economy standards, lagged behind those in the United States. Partly because of the Canada-US auto pact that essentially allowed the duty free movement of cars and parts across the border as long as the value of cars and parts produced in Canada was roughly the same as the value of cars and parts sold, car makers just sold the same cars in both countries. Also because the Canadian market was equal to roughly 10% of the US market, as long as the US regulations were more strict than the Canadian regs, the cars were just built to US standards (except for metric instrumentation) and sold that way in both countries. Later the Canadian emissions regulations were made more comparable to the US rules, but were enforced on a voluntary basis under an agreement that runs through 2010.

Now the new Conservative government has said it will introduce new mandatory environmental standards for all industries in Canada. After dismissing the Kyoto protocol that the previous Liberal government had approved, the Conservatives came in for a lot of criticism. Since they currently have a minority government, they can't afford to be totally oblivious to issues that most Canadians support. As a result they are bringing in these new rules on emissions of greenhouse gases. Initial indications from Environment Minister Rona Ambrose sugggested a desire to move toward California-style regulations, but Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty has objected, saying that the auto industry, which is concentrated mostly in Ontario, should not be unduly targeted. If any new regulations are introduced he wants them to apply to all industries including the oil and gas industry in Alberta, home of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. After meetings held this past week with representatives from the car-makers and Buzz Hargrove, head of the Canadian Autoworkers union, it appears that the new regulations won't go as far as the California regulations but will be applied across the board to all industry.

[Source: Automotive News (subscription required), CTV, Saskatoon Star Phoenix]



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