The Canadian Senate's ESG Nightmare

Tom Finnerty16 May, 2024 3 Min Read
Das Kapital comes to Ottawa

Former Conservative finance minister Joe Oliver has an article in Canada's Financial Post discussing a concerning piece of legislation currently before the Canadian Senate. The legislation is known as Bill S-243, the Climate-Aligned Finance Act. As Oliver explains, "Its declared purpose is to regulate investment practices so as to reduce the risks both that financial institutions pose to the climate and that climate change poses to financial institutions." Which is to say, the bill's aim is to make it difficult, borderline impossible, for financial institutions to invest in oil and natural gas projects, or really any project which doesn't bend over backwards to conform to the Left's climatological obsession.

The bill reads like a Green version of Karl Marx's Das Kapital. It mandates an arbitrary increase of "the amount of capital a bank must hold for the credit and market risks of a given loan," to a degree "which far exceed international norms," with the object of making access to capital significantly more expensive for insufficiently Green companies, especially the country's natural resource sector. It "induces compliance via supervision, including by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) the bank regulator, which it tasks with developing capital adequacy guidelines," and empowers that department to "impose a capital surcharge related to how much a financial institution facilitates emissions and to order compliance with the Act’s objectives."

Public Enemy No. 1.

The bill wouldn't just regulate financing related to actually taking resources out of the ground — it "would effectively discourage — in some cases probably even block — financing of pipeline operators, natural gas distributors and fuel companies." It also mandates that "downstream emissions" be included in the financing assessments of projects, which is to say projects won't just be evaluated by how much carbon they release themselves but the amount of carbon they are likely to facilitate being emitted eventually. Oliver speculates that this could complicate loans to farm operations "because of cow flatulence," "waste disposal, business travel, delivery services and even financing of sparkling water companies (since carbonation is a pollutant)."

The bill's defenders reject the notion that it would target projects so far afield from oil and gas. Of course, that targeting in itself is bad enough, especially for a country whose economy and way of life are so dependent upon those resources. But Oliver's point is that the bill itself is so expansive, who is to say that it wouldn't stop a bank from loaning an Alberta rancher the money to build a new barn?

If this bill passes, no Canadian bank will want to be the one to test its limits. Of course, that presumes the banks aren't enthusiastic supporters of this legislation. Perhaps they aren't at the moment, but the Climate-Aligned Finance Act seeks to ensure that they will be.

New arbiters of Canadian finance?

In a move which outrageously interferes with corporate governance across Canada -- the "G" in ESG -- the bill mandates that all “reporting entities,” which means essentially all banks and financial institutions as well as a variety of major corporations, must have at least one board member with "climate expertise." This could be an expert in "climate change science" (notice this doesn't say a "climatologist," since not all of them are on board with the "climate change" narrative). But this could also be someone "who has acute lived experience related to the physical or economic damages of climate change," or who has experience in "Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing." Whatever that means.

Furthermore, it includes a "conflict of interest" stipulation which states that “no person may be appointed to the board of a reporting entity if that person controls any capital, shares, stock… or has any ownership or legal interest in an organization that does not meet the description of an entity in alignment with climate commitments.” Ominous.

Read Joe Oliver's full write up on Bill S-243. And beyond that, be very afraid of what these people are planning for Canada.

Tom Finnerty writes from New England and Ontario.


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