As we near the end of 2025, it’s worth reflecting on the first 1000 days of a new era. 

So much has changed since the tumultuous events of 2022. Who could forget that year? It began with a weeks-long occupation of the capital, then a state of emergency, a war in Europe, and finally a series of unprecedented natural disasters—a stark reminder that the climate emergency loomed over all the others.

The snap election in late 2022 looked like it would produce yet another minority government. But huge and sustained protests across the country forced progressive parties to the table, and to the shock of Ottawa’s political and media class, a Climate Emergency Coalition Government was formed, with a mandate for sweeping change.

A good summary of this remarkable period can be found in the text of a press conference from the recently formed Ministry of Just Transition—that fact alone says all you need to know about the new politics of today. Below is a rush transcript (check against delivery) from the Ministry’s annual update, 2025.

Rueben George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation

I’m here today to welcome you to the future. 

Our people have taken care of the land and water here since time immemorial—and part of that work is taking care of the future as well. 

Our imagination is a powerful force: it powers our struggle against ongoing colonialism, against the theft of our lands. And it helps us remember, and tell a different story.

You know, the phrase “Just Transition” still isn’t familiar to most people who live and work on this land. And for those who know the term, it’s a bit of jargon that is supposed to reassure workers in the oil and gas sector that they will be taken care of as we shift to renewables to confront the climate emergency.

But the task that faces humans today is much, much greater than just changing our energy sources. The poisons we have to deal with are much greater than just greenhouse gasses in the air. 

Rueben George does a welcome before the Ministry of Just Transition’s annual update. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

Our systems today are out of balance. They are rooted in principles of selfishness and exploitation, extraction and greed. The climate emergency is here, right now, because of the colonial idea that people can inflict harm on the Earth for centuries and there will never be any consequences.

That’s why our collective religious and spiritual beliefs are the teachings of humanity: lessons to be a good human. When we are that, we’ll make better choices for ourselves and for our lands and waters that we live on. And for our future generations.

So the work of Just Transition involves a whole lot more than one group of workers in one industry. The real meaning of Just Transition is transformation of ourselves and our society—from an economy of dominance and extraction to one based on caring for the Earth, and caring for each other.

This press conference today may be an act of imagination, but that’s where we are now. That’s where we start. We have to tell a new story before we can dream it into being. And so with that, I say: Welcome to the future! It is worth fighting for.

I’ll turn it over to my friend, the Minister of Just Transition of the Climate Emergency Coalition government, Avi Lewis.

Avi Lewis, Minister of Just Transition

Welcome all to the Just Transition Ministerial Update, 2025. 

I want to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered today on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Unlike when we uttered those ritual words in years gone by, today we mean them in a whole different way. Your Climate Emergency Coalition government is proud to announce that we are finally paying taxes to all three First Nations, the legal rights and title holders of this land. 

That’s just one of many accomplishments we are here to celebrate today, from these past few years of massive change in our society. The biggest one, I think it’s fair to say, is a new spirit of unity and solidarity in our politics—driven by the incredible number of working people who are, through all the new mechanisms of participatory democracy, directly involved in shaping the policies that impact our lives.

It is important to put our Just Transition process in this context: this is not a dry policy exercise dominated by advisory panels of experts. Or a series of government programs imposed from Ottawa, merely to lower the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is a collective undertaking to change everything about how we live: how we move around, feed ourselves, earn a living, and take care of each other. 

We are leaving behind an economy that traps most of us in dead end jobs that gig and dig, while a tiny elite rakes in cartoonish profits. Instead, we are sharing the wealth and protecting the health of people and planet. We are building a future based on care and repair.

This is not just the work of your government. This is the work of all of us.

Avi Lewis present the Just Transition Ministry’s annual update. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

When we began this process in 2022, we started with a great stock-taking. The National Inventory Process. In keeping with our mandate for sweeping change, we carefully studied all of the conditions and capacities of our advanced industrial economy.

We took stock of all the factories, power grids, and industrial systems. But just as importantly, all the vulnerable communities, marginalized people, the sick, the underemployed, the support systems in disrepair from decades of austerity.

We conducted an inventory of our conversion needs to determine how many heat pumps, solar arrays, wind farms, and electric buses we needed to electrify virtually everything and end our reliance on fossil fuels.

And then we revived the lost art of planning. We made a 3-year plan to provide all of these public goods—in a way that directly addresses unemployment, structural racism, poverty, and economic inequality.

Even more importantly, we emphasized the need for common purpose—a mission moment. An experiment in solidarity that could respond to the great hunger for meaning and connection and community that we heard in every corner of the land.

We needed to bring the fossil fuel era to a rapid close, while taking care of workers, elders, and everyday folks—not the interests of oligarchs and the profits of their giant corporations. Through our worker-led retraining and job matching agency—featuring the popular “Just Swipe to Job Swap” app—thousands of workers have already left the fossil fuel industry and are working in other fields, while continuing to earn decent unionized pay with benefits.

The popular “Just Swipe to Job Swap” app helped thousands of workers in the fossil fuel industry find new, dignified work. Illustration: The Breach

And we needed to build out the 21st century housing, transit, public services and care economy that would ensure that this transition—unlike the chaotic, market collapses of recent years—would take care of everyone.

So today we’ll hear announcements from a number of the new government bodies, public companies and agencies—all reporting to you, as required in the enabling legislation, on the achievements of this new period.

As we say in government these days, “Transition is inevitable. Justice is up to us.”

We start today with first principles, and our progress on Indigenous land rights since the cancellation of the Indian Act in 2023. It’s my pleasure to introduce my colleague Doreen Manuel, Chair of the Land Back Secretariat, with the latest update on the implementation of the Land Back Act.

Illustration: Oskar Steiner & The Breach

Doreen Manuel, Chair of Land Back Secretariat

It’s my pleasure to be here today, to share the 3rd annual update of the Land Back Act. Since the Act was one of the measures included in the First Fifty Days Sprint of the Climate Emergency Coalition Government, we have plenty of progress to report.

After the cancellation of the racist Indian Act in 2023, the Land Back Act was introduced to reboot the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and all levels of government in Canada. This work was deeply influenced by the late, great Secwépemc teacher Arthur Manuel, who wrote the classic, “Unsettling Canada”. 

He pointed out that as the 21st century began, settlers controlled 99.8 per cent of Canada’s land, and Indigenous peoples only 0.2 per cent of it. We were expected to live off that tiny sliver. As Arthur said, “With this distribution of the land, you don’t have to have a doctorate in economics to understand who will be poor and who will be rich.”

Well, we’re changing that. Our goal, as stated by the Act as passed in parliament, is – and I quote – “to reverse the land theft that underlies the colonial nation state of Canada.” That means that 80% of all federal Crown land is being systematically returned to Indigenous jurisdiction. 

This is what Just Transition looks like. Now, the government understands there is some trepidation about this effort. To quote Arthur Manuel again:  “We obviously do not mean throwing Canadians off the land and sending them back to the countries they came from… We know that for centuries Canadians have been here building their society, which, despite its failings, and because of the contributions of Indigenous resources, has become the envy of many in the world. We Indigenous, even though we have faced severe injustice and been the victims of genocide at the hands of government, accept that all Canadians have a basic human right to be here.”

Doreen Manuel, second from the left, the Chair of the Land Back Secretariat. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

But with rights come responsibilities. And the Land Back Secretariat is pleased to announce today that those responsibilities are now the law of the land. First and foremost is the responsibility to the land itself. Land transferred to First Nations comes with robust Federal incentives to accelerate renewable energy projects and slow the pace of extraction.

The new Clean Up Your Mess legislation requires companies in the mining, forestry, and oil and gas industries to provide much higher up-front cleanup deposits, so the Polluter Pays principle is guaranteed in advance. Indigenous nations are now paid property tax for the use of our land by all three levels of colonial government.

And now that even the most remote Indigenous communities have a solid tax base and other revenues, we are seeing a renaissance of healthy families, healthy clans, and healthy nations. This includes health and wellness programming and services which are lowering the unemployment rate, the incarceration rate, and the number of children in Indigenous Community Care.

As you’ll hear later in this update, we’re also seeing zero emissions housing built, roads paved, and of course safe drinking water flowing in every community in the land. There is much left to do, but the Land Back Secretariat is on a roll. I’m happy to end my remarks today with an official announcement: Here in the province that has been known as “British” “Columbia,” the Renaming Roundtable has begun its consultations on a new name.

Thank you. And now I will hand it over to my colleague Christine Boyle, Head of the Department of Universal Housing.

Illustration: Oskar Steiner & The Breach

Christine Boyle, Chair of Department of Universal Housing 

Let’s start by remembering where we were just three years ago. 

In 2022, we faced a full-blown housing emergency. Left to the market, house prices had ballooned beyond all reason. Houses were no longer treated as places to live, but as profit centres for speculators and real estate corporations.

Our communities were becoming more and more segregated, with sprawling neighbourhoods for the wealthy, and limited space for the rest of us. Renters faced not only ridiculous escalating rents, but the constant, grinding stress of looming renoviction and the horror of being tossed into the impossible rental market. And working families lucky enough to own homes, through the fortune of timing or family help, were nevertheless seeing friends and neighbours squeezed out of the city. 

You’ll notice one word that keeps popping up in what I’m describing: market. The housing emergency was a failure of the market. Our system had put its faith in the market to provide one of the most basic human necessities: a roof over our heads. And it was a catastrophe. Housing in 2022 was characterized by inequality, vulnerability, racism, and an epidemic of houselessness. And all the conflict, stress and social division that follows.

And then the Climate Emergency Coalition government got to work.

Christine Boyle, chair of Department of Universal Housing Photo: Yvonne Hanson

The department of Universal Housing focused first on the big solution: a public option for housing. Housing as a human right, not a source of profit. Backstopped by the Bank of Canada, and accelerated by new legislation, we launched the Great Buy Back, purchasing existing rental buildings, and bringing them into community ownership.

That allowed us to bring in the Rent Reboot— freezing or lowering rents across hundreds of thousands of units all over Canada, and locking in those lower rents for good. We worked closely with the Public Goods Corporation of Canada and the Association of Community Retrofit Cooperatives. We supplied and supported communities to get buildings off of gas, install solar systems, heat exchanges, and district heating for whole neighbourhoods. 

All of this economic activity reduced inequality, strengthened local webs of care and relationship, and of course, created good union jobs at every stage of manufacture and installation.

Perhaps the most controversial of our early moves was the Monster-to-Multifamily Home Program. We took a look at all the homes that were sitting empty, and purchased a significant proportion of them. Bringing them into public ownership meant that instead of being empty holes in the heart of communities, those properties became places for local workers and families to call home. 

And in partnership with provincial and local governments, we have been building new mixed-income co-op and non-market housing throughout neighbourhoods, in cities, suburbs and rural areas. And while we are still in court fighting a few disgruntled billionaires, we savour the gratitude of the thousands of families who have secure housing, and are bringing new vibrancy to the schools, small businesses, and safe streets around them.

Connection to active public transportation has been key as well. In just three years, more than a million new residents across the land have moved into affordable, mixed-income communities. Neighbours have easy access to all the places they rely on and that enrich their lives.  For all those folks, it’s just a short ride, glide, or roll to get to work, get the kids to school, pick up groceries, or unwind in libraries and green spaces.

For us at the Department of Universal Housing, our Just Transition mission is clear: we strengthen our collective sense of safety and belonging. We weave living webs of connection.

It has been an honour to say to so many: Welcome Home.

And now, I’d like to call on Commissioner Alison Gu, of the Clean Transit Without Delay Commission.

Illustration: Oskar Steiner & The Breach

Alison Gu, Commissioner of Clean Transit Without Delay Commission

Before I begin, please excuse the cast on my wrist here… as Chair of the Clean Transit Without Delay Commission, I personally test all of our new initiatives, including our new Municipal Cargo Hover Sled fleet. Not to worry, I sent them back to the drawing board! 

Many of the speakers have recalled just how bad things were three years ago. That is certainly the case with transit too.

Back in 2022, gas prices hit an all time high, making folks more aware than ever of our dependence on fossil fuels to move around. We realized too, that the burden of transportation costs was not distributed evenly. 

Far too many working class and poor people lived in areas underserved by transit, were unable to afford the upfront cost of electric vehicles, and were living in neighbourhoods without safe infrastructure for walking, rolling, or cycling for them or their children. 

And it wasn’t just the monetary cost of fossil-fuelled transportation. It was the societal costs too: the many injuries and deaths each year from automobile crashes, the lack of clean air, the impacts of stress from noise and road rage, and the cumulative health effects of the sedentary car lifestyle. 

But the truth was, while previous governments refused to stand up to the fossil fuel and automobile industries, ordinary people were already developing the solutions necessary to rapidly transform transit—and in turn, transform society. 

When the Climate Emergency Coalition government came in and struck the Clean Transit Without Delay Commission, the first thing we did was convene a Mobile People’s Assembly to establish three “Just Transit Principles.”

Alison Gu, Commissioner of the Clean Transit Without Delay Commission. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

The first principle: freedom of mobility means fully accessible fare-free transit for all.

The second principle: Frequency matters — connect all neighbourhoods, even rural areas and suburbs, with rapid, frequent, and convenient service.

The third principle was the one that moored the rest of our work: that the real solutions to our transportation woes already existed. 

I’ll give you an example of how we put these principles to work. 

Previous governments had treated Canadian-made electric cars as a win-win, with dreams of reviving the auto industry in Quebec and Ontario, while rolling out clean transit across the land. But then we realized just how many lithium, cobalt and other mines that would require—here, and around the world. 

And the People’s Assembly decided: it’s not a Just Transition if rich countries build their new green economy on poisoning other people’s lands. We returned to our principles, and refocused on simple solutions—at speed and at scale—to create permanent change. 

That’s why we focused on the speed, frequency, and reliability of public transit, electrified our bus and rail fleets, and invested in transforming neighbourhoods from car havens to safe places for people.

And in rural communities where side roads are long, often narrow, and homes are far apart, we have fleets of electric minivans operating as rideshare cooperatives. Algorithms have been replaced by good old fashioned dispatchers, creating jobs and putting humans back in the driver’s seat.

For heavy freight and long haul trucks, where there was no other option, we utilized Green Hydrogen made from excess renewable energy. This, in turn, has drastically brought down the price of essential goods, yet another way that life has been made more affordable for everyday folks.

Today, we treat transit as a universal public service, fully funded and not for profit. And when we do this, the social benefits ripple through society in massive waves. 

People are slowing down, even as their commutes to work speed up. With more spare time, people are spending it with loved ones, building community, and building new relationships. Our lives are simpler, more compact, and more connected. 

With more people on the streets, mom and pop businesses and community co-ops are thriving. Neighbours befriend each other, passerbyers connect, and entire neighbourhoods collaborate. 

Effectively eliminating cars from many communities has revitalized them—making streets safe, and thereby making them true public spaces again. 

Paved parking deserts are being restored to green spaces, making time in nature and connection with the land more accessible for so many. 

When I began my role as Commissioner, I knew that a century of car culture would be a hard habit to break. But what the Clean Transit Without Delay Commission has shown us is that when there is the political will to redesign the way we get around, a few years goes a very long way.

To serve as Commissioner has been…absolutely… moving.

And now, I’ll pass the podium to my colleague Khalid Boudreau, chair of the Police Retasking Task Force.

Illustration: Oskar Steiner & The Breach

Khalid Boudreau, Chair of Police Retasking Task Force

Three years ago, so many of us felt overwhelmed with grief, sorrow, and despair. 

Feeling helpless as we lost thousands of our loved ones and community members to a drug poisoning crisis, climate disasters, and a global pandemic. 

Our model of public safety was failing the very people it should have been protecting. That’s why we’ve adopted a holistic and ambitious plan to create safe and healthy communities for all. 

The Retasking Task Force started by disarming street officers, because we believe the state must abide by the same nonviolent principles that it preaches to others. We created real civilian oversight as well as strict use of force guidelines, so that officers are accountable to the communities they represent. We ended the era where police were above the law. 

And we immediately ended the School Liaison program, so that Black and Indigenous children finally feel safe in their schools. We then reduced the bloated police budget by 10% a year, reinvesting valuable public dollars in the solutions that we know make communities safer. 

Thanks to that, and in partnership with the Public Goods Corporation of Canada, we’ve finally moved to provide widespread safe supply to people who use drugs, saving thousands of lives a year. Not only that, but we also provided free N95 masks and other PPE to all as part of our campaign to make our communities more resilient to all respiratory viruses, not just COVID-19.

Khalid Boudreau, Chair of the Police Retasking Task Force. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

One program we’ve been very proud to roll out, has been the now fully funded mental health care system. It doesn’t just help those in crisis, but is also rolling out a truly historic framework that addresses people’s needs before they reach crisis levels. By providing culturally appropriate, easy to access, and free mental health services, we’re now on a path towards a truly universal health care system.

Crime rates have plummeted after our unprecedented investments in making life truly affordable for all. You’ve heard about our huge advances in building hundreds of thousands of units of universal social housing. 

You’ve heard about our new, free, and truly accessible transit systems, freeing us all from the price gouging of the gas companies. We’ve also been rebuilding food systems that nurture both people and the land.

Another major accomplishment was reforming the police act and criminal code to ensure that police are no longer used as the billy club for extractive industries. Our country was built on this power and if we truly believe in reconciliation, we must finally put it to an end. 

We’re now in the era of climate uncertainty, and must therefore be solidly on the side of healing the land, and our relationship to it. After three years of fast and transformative changes, we’re well on our way to mending the harms done by over 150 years of carceral thinking. 

I’m so excited to work with this amazing team to continue righting the wrongs of history, and building a common future—one that sparkles with our groundbreaking vision of true justice for all. 

And now it is my honour to introduce Kukpi7 Chief Judy Wilson, the Chair of the Transmountain Pipeline Reparations and Healing Secretariat.

Illustration: Oskar Steiner & The Breach

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Chair of TMX Reparations and Healing Secretariat 

I’m really happy to be here, working with our new coalition government.

The end of petro-government, the end of petro-police, the end of petro-economy!

Friends, serving as the Chair of the TMX Reparations and Healing Secretariat has been gratifying work. Like so many across these lands, I spent years of my life fighting that pipeline, which we always said would never be built.

It’s no surprise that the TransMountain pipeline expansion was a poster child for the fossil fuel era. It was not economically viable. It posed immense threats to the environment and to Indigenous Title, Rights, and human rights. It disregarded the free, prior, and informed consent of many Nations. It endangered the safety and welfare of Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit individuals—especially with its “man camps,” which research proved were directly linked to violence against Indigenous women. 

Today I’m proud to tell you that thanks to the immense work undertaken by the Secretariat, we have made real progress in addressing the racism, the legacy of unilateral government decisions, the climate and environmental threats, and the lack of respect for Indigenous Title and Rights that the TMX project once enabled. 

In just three years, we have canceled the pipeline and launched a far bigger and better project: Reparations and healing for people and the land. Back in 2022, the federal government got news that TMX was going to cost more than 20 billion dollars. We were not surprised at this giant price tag. But we were disgusted. 

The government of the day was determined to push it through against the will of the people and communities who have defended and taken care of that land for generations and since time immemorial. And so it was a great day when the new Climate Emergency Coalition government – on its very first day in office – cancelled TMX, and announced the Reparations and Healing Secretariat to re-allocate the public funds. 

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Chair of the TMX Reparations and Healing Secretariat. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

We started with an initial multi-year budget of what was saved from canceling TransMountain: more than 20 billion dollars. We quickly trained up and hired hundreds of local workers from Indigenous communities along the pipeline route, and decommissioned the pipe. This provided an initial three years of skilled trade employment—union jobs with excellent benefits for those Indigenous workers. 

Unemployment in those communities was almost eliminated in months and the steel went to the new National Steel Repurposing Foundry, which replaced the proposed fracked gas export terminal in Kitimat. While we were already following the pipeline route, we were able to remove the original TMX pipe as well. With the huge wave of renewable energy coming online and the surge in public transit and active transportation, the 300,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day were simply no longer needed.

But that was just the beginning. With the pipeline becoming a thing of the past, we moved forward with the work of repairing relationships with communities and restoring their role in governance.

The Secretariat now has a network of new infrastructure projects going ahead in Indigenous communities across the prairie, the mountains, and to the sea. Unlike fossil fuel projects, they are all proceeding with the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the Indigenous peoples affected by their construction. 

Community health centres, water treatment facilities, zero emissions housing, schools, hospitals and treatment centres—all are proceeding under the leadership of Indigenous communities. The economic boom from this redirected public funding has lifted communities out of poverty, put community members in family-sustaining jobs, and addressed centuries of deep inequality in access to services and the basic necessities of human life.

With the money that would have gone to piping some of the worst oil in the world to the west coast, we have instead unleashed a wave of investment in healthy people and healthy land. The road ahead remains long. There is so much more healing to do, but from a violent and harmful project that was once declared in the national interest, we have launched a constructive and healing process that is truly in the interest of all living things.

We are just getting started.

And now it’s my pleasure to introduce you to my colleague, the CEO of the Public Goods Corporation of Canada, Anjali Appadurai.

Illustration: Oskar Steiner & The Breach

Anjali Appadurai, CEO of the Public Goods Corporation of Canada 

When we designed the Comprehensive 3-year Just Transition Plan back in 2022, it became clear that to rapidly decarbonize while confronting the deep inequality and systemic injustices of our times, we simply had to put our economy back in the service of people and the planet. 

And it was equally clear that there was an excellent, if long-neglected policy tool for achieving many of these goals: public ownership.

When a corporation is publicly owned, you don’t see the price gouging, serial layoffs, and relentless quest for profit above all that you see with private monopolies. And you can concentrate on maximum employment, social benefits, and getting essential goods and services into people’s daily lives as quickly and cheaply as possible. 

The market is not designed to put people first. And when it comes to the climate emergency, it was crystal clear many more than three years ago that market mechanisms like carbon pricing and offsets, had just utterly failed to lower emissions. 

Markets did a fantastic job of concentrating enormous wealth in the hands of the 1%, and turning climate measures into corporate welfare scams. In other words, far from solving the climate emergency, markets turbocharged it.

So in 2022, as you’ve heard already today, we launched our National Inventory Process, identifying the key goods and services that were needed most urgently, and that the market was unable to provide at sufficient speed and scale. 

At the same time, we identified economic assets that were underutilized—ones that the market did not value. 

Idle factories, valuable metals and minerals sitting in landfill, hundreds of thousands of eager, capable workers who wanted to make a decent living, and make a real difference in their communities.

And then, just like during the fight against fascism in the Second World War, we created dozens of public companies—crown corporations—to match the needs of the Just Transition with all those human hands and material resources that the market had abandoned. 

Putting people’s needs and the ecological limits of our planet at the heart of the economy changed everything. We were able to create more than 1 million jobs while rapidly decarbonizing and reducing inequality at the fastest rate we’ve seen in history.

CEO of The Public Goods Corporation of Canada Anjali Appadurai. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

Some examples:

In three years, we have produced millions of heat exchange systems that run on clean electricity, keeping families warm in the winter and cool in the summers. And thanks to The National Association of Community Retrofit Cooperatives, local workers use recycled materials to make this all possible. 

Public ownership in the energy industry has drastically diminished the power of fossil fuel corporations, and finally put communities in charge of their energy needs. 

Now, communities across the country can decide which forms of energy are suitable for them, and the Public Goods Corporation of Canada provides all the infrastructure they need, from solar panels to wind turbines to geothermal and tidal generators. 

We created a huge, thriving renewable industry. And we did it not only by repurposing the materials and expertise of the fossil fuel industry, but also by applying a strong lifecycle assessment to all of this infrastructure.

As a huge public company, we have the market power to make sure our supply chains are sustainable and in right relation with communities around the world. We are aiming for no more extractive industries, no more extractive practices.

In the health sector, the pandemic revealed gaping holes in how we procure and deliver medicines. That’s why we made a massive public investment in rapidly scaling up domestic vaccine and pharmaceutical production. 

And as a major producer, we threw our support behind the international movement to restructure patent agreements to expand the use of generic drugs, guaranteeing affordable medications for all. 

Thanks to these and other steps, Canada’s approach to safe drug supply is now emulated by countries around the world. And with that tipping point, truly universal vaccination is already within reach.

And on that note, our public corporations are leading a significant shift in Canada’s global role. We’re doing this by finally addressing the brutal and toxic legacy of Canadian mining corporations at home and abroad. 

Given the outsized impact of ruthless corporate practices on poor communities around the world, it seems fitting that these industries are now retasked to provide transport and storage infrastructure for vaccines and other medications in countless small communities in the global South.

Finally, I can now reveal that The Public Goods Corporation of Canada is in talks to purchase a major financial institution.

We’ll have more details soon— but with that out of the bag, it’s my pleasure to bring to the podium my fellow CEO, Seth Klein—Commissioner of the Just Transition Transfer Agency.

Illustration: Oskar Steiner & The Breach

Seth Klein, Commissioner of Just Transition Transfer Agency

It’s my honour today to be the last speaker, and it falls to me to answer the question hanging in the air today, just as it has been asked repeatedly by our critics, throughout this historic process. You know the one: “sounds expensive, how are you gonna pay for it?”

I am delighted today to answer that question directly. But first, let’s remember how we got here. When the Climate Emergency Coalition government came to power, with a mandate for not just rapid climate action, but sweeping climate justice—we knew that significant public expenditures would be required.

And just as the pandemic back at the beginning of this decade taught us, the costs of inaction are mass death and suffering: there really is no alternative. We have to spend what it takes to win.

What does winning look like? Well, we’re doing it—so we know! First, we established a rigorous, science-based carbon budget for each and every sector of our economy, and we have legislated emissions down, year after year. 

And for the first time in our history, we have accomplished that—three years in a row of deep emissions reductions, beating all of our targets, and putting us on track to cut our climate pollution in half in less than a decade. But winning also means leaving no one behind—especially in regions, like Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Northeastern B.C., that have long relied on revenue and jobs from oil and gas.

And that’s where the Just Transition Transfer comes in. With that funding from Ottawa, in just three years we have established a Just Transition Agency in each province and territory, all jointly administered by all levels of government including Indigenous Nations.

Those regions I just mentioned, as well as Indigenous communities across the land, have been prioritized for transfers that recognize that they have to bear the biggest burden of transition. In all the announcements you’ve heard today—housing, transit, Land Back, and more—the Just Transition Agencies have played a central role. Convening, listening, supporting, coordinating and, vitally, funding all these exciting initiatives we’re celebrating today. 

Seth Klein, Commissioner of the Just Transition Transfer Agency. Photo: Yvonne Hanson

No longer the hollow promise of days past, the Just Transition Transfer has put billions of dollars annually into the jobs and infrastructure we’ve needed and will continue to need to catapult our society into this new fossil fuel-free era. The Just Transition Transfer has backstopped the Good Jobs Guarantee for workers in carbon-intensive industries, ensuring the promise that no one will be left behind.

Thousands of workers who’ve left the fossil fuel industry through the “Just Swipe to Job Swap” app are decommissioning pipelines and cleaning up well sites. They’re drilling for geothermal energy, working in the heating and cooling industry, building high speed rail, retrofitting and fuel-swapping buildings, improving forest resilience. And of course, many have switched to the booming renewables sector, where worker-owned energy co-operatives are flourishing.

For all this and more, the flow of federal funding from your Climate Emergency Coalition government has been unprecedented. Following the recommendations of the Climate Action Economic Summit, we have spent an amount equivalent to 2% of our annual GDP, some $40 billion dollars per year, for the past three years. And we will keep that up until we have reduced our emissions to zero.

Ok, I’ve kept you waiting long enough. Where did that money come from? Well, from a combination of climate quantitative easing and wealth and windfall profits taxes.

With respect to the former, it was our experience in the first year of the pandemic that showed us what was possible. For most of that year, the Bank of Canada was buying up federal government securities to finance the COVID emergency response to the tune of $5 billion each and every week. Once we embedded our climate emergency goals within the mandate of the Bank of Canada, the Bank proceeded to do this again, for a mere 4 weeks each year, generating $20 billion a year for climate and Just Transition programs.

We’ve supplemented this, as you’re all familiar, with the Bank of Canada’s new Climate Bonds, which have proven highly popular and helped in financing these new programs.

With respect to the new tax revenues deployed: Significantly, we are the first government to actually enforce the longstanding law of the land, that polluters must pay.

And they certainly have the means. According to the Climate Emergency Information Agency, in the Alberta oilsands alone, the Oil and Gas industry racked up excess profits of 677 billion dollars, just between 1997 and 2018. 

And don’t forget, previous governments were still giving them tens of billions in corporate welfare. So when we abruptly cut all Fossil Fuels subsidies in 2022, that freed up considerable resources to redirect to programs. The Fossil Fuel Windfall tax of 2023 was another major piece of the financing pie, as was the Wealth Tax on accumulated assets over $5 million.

The Excess Profits tax on emergency profiteering was one of the most popular measures of our government’s first term, closing the revenue gap easily. Most people agree that an annual profit of 10% is very reasonable for any business. Especially in an emergency.

So, with the big questions answered, and the Climate Emergency Coalition Government on a sound fiscal path…I will pass it back to my boss, the Minister of Just Transition, Avi Lewis.

Illustration: Oskar Steiner

Avi Lewis, Minister of Just Transition 

Thank you Commissioner Klein, I know I shouldn’t break from the script, but I think you may have accidentally neglected a couple of minor points…

Like the fact that it only took us three years to achieve full employment in Canada, with a universal four-day work week and a guaranteed liveable annual income.

But when there’s so much good news to share, it’s inevitable that a few major announcements will just have to wait for the 2026 update!

To my distinguished colleagues in government and our social movements who have made this possible, thank you for all the work you do in the interest of all living things.

Let’s say it one more time: Transition is inevitable. Justice is up to all of us.

The Ministry of Just Transition presented its annual update in Vancouver on March 11. For the full archived video of the press conference, visit here. Avi Lewis was the lead writer. The event was supported by and the Council of Canadians.

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