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November 20, 2023
For the federal Liberals the question is whether a new Indigenous loan program should extend to oil and gas projects
The Trudeau government has another key climate policy decision on its plate, but this time it collides with Indigenous reconciliation, another of its signature policies.
A multi-billion dollar loan program to allow Indigenous entrepreneurs to buy equity in resource projects is about to be unveiled, perhaps as early as Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s economic update on Tuesday. For the Liberals the question is whether loans would be available for oil and gas projects — or whether limiting loans to only other cleaner resource projects would be another, unnecessary roadblock to Indigenous economic self-determination.
The climate file has become a liability for the government. A three-year pause on carbon pricing on home heating oil predictably gave rise to demands for relief on all home heating methods across the country and played into the hands of Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and his Axe the Tax campaign. The prime minister and his environment minister, Steven Guilbeault, have vowed to hold the line with no more carve outs, but a private member’s bill awaiting Senate approval would remove the carbon price for farmers who use natural gas or propane to heat buildings or dry grain. Now comes the Indigenous loans program and the competing imperatives of phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and facilitating self-determination for First Nations.