Canadian Insulator Advocacy: Prime Minister Trudeau’s third mandate

In September, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party were re-elected to lead another minority government in Canada.

Trudeau’s Liberals fell 10 seats short of the 170 needed to command a majority in the House of Commons. This was the second time in as many years Trudeau was re-elected, but must work with other parties to navigate through a minority Parliament in order to advance his government’s agenda.

The outcome yielded a nearly identical parliament, forcing parties to work together. The Conservatives won 119 seats, the New Democrats took 25 seats, the Quebec based Bloc Québécois won 32 seats and the Greens got two seats.

Trudeau called the snap election in a bid to reclaim his majority government, and with it, control of the legislative agenda largely free of opposition influence.

When the election was called, Trudeau had a steady lead in public opinion polls and was hoping to capitalize on his government’s leadership during the pandemic and weak support for the opposition Conservatives and NDP. 

It was a risky move by the Prime Minister, but ultimately did not hurt them in Ottawa.

What does this mean for Canada’s Insulators?

Prime Minister Trudeau made several commitments during the campaign that align with the priorities of Mechanical Insulators and the skilled trades, including:
• Additional Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP) Funding: The Liberal platform committed to investing an additional $50 million a year for UTIP to support more apprenticeship training opportunities and partnerships in the Red Seal trades across Canada.
• Energy Audits/Retrofits: The Liberals put forward an ambitious climate plan that included a National Net-Zero Emissions Building Strategy. While there are no specific programs outlined, commercial buildings will need to be part of the conversation to achieve these lofty objectives and present an opportunity for continued advocacy. The Heat and Frost Insulator Training Centre in New Brunswick has built a good relationship with returning Liberal MP Wayne Long, and will look to push this file forward via the Minister of Natural Resources.
• National Building Code: The Liberals committed to accelerate the development of the national net-zero emissions model building code for adoption in 2025. This presents an opportunity for future engagement.

Meeting Canada’s emission reduction targets 

In late October, the Prime Minister appointed a new cabinet. His “front bench” in Parliament is charged with executing the government’s agenda in their respective portfolios (more on this below).

One of the early focuses for the government’s renewed leadership team was to demonstrate early and substantial action to meet the strengthened climate change targets they campaigned on in the election. The reason for this was the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26 Summit) held in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.

The week before the conference, the Prime Minister appointed former Greenpeace activist turned Liberal cabinet minister Steven Guilbeault to the environment file – a clear signal Trudeau sees Canada’s climate change plan as part of his legacy. At COP26, Prime Minister Trudeau sought to address one of Canada’s biggest challenges when it comes to emissions: The oil and gas sector.

“We’ll cap oil and gas sector emissions today and ensure they decrease tomorrow at a pace and scale needed to reach net-zero by 2050,” Trudeau said in his speech to world leaders gathered in Scotland for the COP26 Conference.

This commitment will need to be met with a plan to transition the skilled trades and workers who depend on this key economic sector. Canada’s Insulators can play an active role proposing solutions to support Canadian workers and contractors who depend on the oil and gas sector, including investments in energy efficiency and training to support the trade.

Mechanical Insulators contribute to Canada’s existing energy economy and can help shape the growth of the energy efficiency economy.

A new Executive Branch

While it took more than a month following the election for Prime Minister Trudeau to unveil his renewed front bench, the composition presents opportunities for Canada’s Mechanical Insulators to advance the trade’s priorities.

Here are the highlights and key leaders for Mechanical Insulators:
• A 38-person, gender-balanced cabinet, including Prime Minister Trudeau.
• This cabinet made history with women leading top portfolios including Finance, Foreign Affairs, Defense, Procurement and Treasury Board.
• Several ministers important to Insulator advocacy include:

• Minister of Labour, Hon. Seamus O’Regan
• Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Hon. Filomena Tassi
• Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. John Wilkinson
• Minister of Employment Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Hon. Carla Qualtrough,
• Minister of Health, Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos
• Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Steven Guilbeault
• Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, Hon. Dominic LeBlanc

Prior to the election, Canada’s Heat and Frost Insulators forged strong relationships with several of these cabinet ministers. The Insulators are well positioned to play an important role supporting government investments in energy efficiency and skills trades training, among other priorities.

In the last Parliament, Canada’s Building Trades Unions Director and Canadian Conference International Vice President Paul Faulkner enjoyed substantive dialogue with ministers O’Regan and Tassi, as well as the Prime Minister himself.

Return of Parliament and advocacy

As these cabinet ministers took over the leadership of their departments (or resumed their post in Minister Qualtrough’s case), they were briefed by senior departmental officials on active files and new priorities. They moved quickly to appoint a Chief of Staff who helped staff up their office and focus their ministry on the priorities from the Prime Minister’s Office.

This was followed by the release of mandate letters, outlining the direction provided to them by the Prime Minister.

Under Prime Minister Trudeau, these letters have been made available to the public, providing valuable information articulating both government and ministry specific policy priorities (at the time of writing, these letters had yet to be released publicly).

The 44th Parliament reconvened on Nov. 22. The first item of business was the election of the Speaker of the House, followed by the Speech from the Throne, which was prepared by the government of the day, but read by the Governor General. The speech outlines the overall vision for the government and sets the tone for the new minority parliament.

Canada’s Insulator priorities

The government’s immediate concern remains the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. The government spent much of the fall focused on the implementation of vaccine passports and mandates for federally regulated workers and travelers.

The Insulator ‘s advocacy has been focused on building constructive relationships with the new ministers, while highlighting shared objectives to advance the following priorities:

  • Renewed advocacy for a Canadian mesothelioma
    patient registry as part of a national asbestos strategy.
  • Advocate for sustained funding for training,
    equipment and apprenticeships for the skilled trades, particularly those that are working to innovate within the growing green economy.
  • Working with the government to ensure all federal infrastructure contracts require “red seal” trades to do the job.
  • Be a leading voice for energy efficiency retrofit programs targeted at industrial and commercial buildings, and advocate for Insulators to provide energy audits for federal buildings, including the pilot project proposal provided to the government before the election.

The priorities of Canada’s Heat and Frost Insulators align with the government’s most recent platform and anticipated agenda. Canada’s Insulators will continue to be a strong advocate for energy efficiency, training for the skilled trades and health and safety issues.


SUMMA Strategies is a public relations company based in Ottawa that works with the HFIAW and the Canadian Conference on lobbying and political efforts throughout Canada.
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