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From fighting ivory trade in Canada to fixing your fridge: Six things you may have missed in Trudeau’s mandate letters


Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland no longer has the condition that said, ‘You will avoid creating new permanent spending’

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Federal ministers received their marching orders from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday in the form of mandate letters, with a particular focus on environmental policies, fighting climate change and creating a more diverse and inclusive Canada. But within the nearly 30 letters were also some tasks to ministers that garnered far less attention, but National Post still found particularly noteworthy. Here are six things you may have missed:

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Money to fix your fridge

Has your fridge been making a weird noise, but you just can’t bring yourself to spend the money to fix it? Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has now been tasked to help you with that by introducing a new 15 per cent tax credit (for a maximum value of up to $500) to cover the cost of appliance repairs performed by technicians. The goal is to encourage Canadians to extend the life of home appliances instead of throwing out a faulty device because the cost to repair it may be prohibitive.

Protecting firefighters from toxic flame retardants

When he’s not too busy dealing with the Omicron-fueled COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos must set some attention towards creating a new action plan to protect Canadians, but even more so firefighters, from dangerous exposure to toxic flame retardants that can still be found in a host of everyday household products, according to his mandate letter.

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According to Health Canada, these chemicals can be found in all sorts of appliances and electronics as well as polyurethane foam products contained in mattresses, pillows and even children’s toys.

In August, the government announced that a review of 150 flame retardants found that 18 cause harm to human health or the environment, particularly when exposed to a household fire.

And while he’s at it, Trudeau would also like Duclos to introduce legislation to end testing on animals.

Fighting the ivory trade in Canada

Trudeau’s new Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has received one of cabinet’s longest laundry lists in his mandate letter, but one item stands out as a touch more surprising for some on social media.

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“Work with partners to curb illegal wildlife trade and end elephant and rhinoceros tusk trade in Canada,” Trudeau tasked Guilbeault in the letter.

Elephants and rhinoceros may not be native to Canada, but Environment and Climate Change Canada says that ivory trade in Canada represents three to five per cent of the global market. Since 2012, ECCC seized 32 ivory items in Canada. “ Seizures tend to be worked elephant ivory in the form of art or jewelry,” a spokesperson said Friday.

In the spring of 2018, Guilbeault’s department seized a whopping 19 tonnes of eel meat as part of INTERPOL’s Operation Thunderstorm targeting anti-wildlife trafficking.

A new park in every province and territory

Parks in cities were a Godsend for many Canadians during COVID-19 lockdowns, so Environment Minister Guilbeault has also been tasked with creating a bunch of new ones.

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His mandate letter demands that he establish “at least” one new national urban park in the 13 provinces and territories as quickly as possible “to ensure all Canadians have access to green space.”

Ultimately, the prime minister wants there to be 15 new urban parks by the end of the decade. As of today, there is only one national urban park in Canada: Rouge National Urban Park in the Greater Toronto Area.

“You will also invest in existing national parks, with more Canadians than ever before visiting these sites,” the mandate letter adds.

No more order to avoid creating permanent spending

When Chrystia Freeland was first named finance minister last January, the prime minister wrote in her mandate letter then that he expected her to “use whatever fiscal firepower is needed in the short term” to support Canadians and businesses during the pandemic.

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But he had one condition: “You will avoid creating new permanent spending.”

Fast-forward nearly one year, and Freeland’s new mandate letter contains similar marching orders from Trudeau, but now omits the part where he asks her to refrain from creating new permanent spending. Instead, he exhorts her to provide “emergency” or “temporary” supports in some portions.

It’s also worth noting that since January, the Liberals have created significant permanent spending in the form of their $10-per-day national childcare program with every province (all of which have signed on except Ontario) at the cost of $30 billion over five years.

Banning the live export of horses for slaughter

Unbeknown to many, Canada is in fact one of the world’s biggest exporters of live horses to Japan for its domestic meat industry. Roughly 41,000 horses have been flown to Japan (mainly from the Calgary airport) since 2013 where they are fattened before slaughter, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

But the controversial practice is seemingly on its last legs, as Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has been formally tasked in her mandate letter to ban the export of live horses destined for slaughter.

That’s a decision likely to please one of the practice’s most vocal critics: Canadian singer Jann Arden, who tweeted at Trudeau on Thursday to “end this sinister part of Canadian agriculture.”

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