NP OPINION: Trudeau Touts Canadian Miners But Blocks Their Efforts

There's a major gap between what the PM recently said in New York and the reality of his track record


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left Canada during an historic federal public service strike and cost-of-living and crime crises to visit New York and advocate for Canada’s critical minerals’ interests. But rubbing shoulders with elites can’t make up for the fact that Canada is lagging behind in this field because of eight years of damage inflicted by Trudeau’s own government.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on April 28, the prime minister noted that the global track record for mining and battery manufacturing includes human rights abuses, child and slave labour, and environmental damage in critical and rare earth metals production and processing — namely by Beijing’s Communist Party regime.
Trudeau also noted the need to strengthen domestic supply chains. But back at home, there is a glaring disconnect between the prime minister’s words and the impact his anti-resource and anti-private-sector policies have had on Canadian mining and related manufacturing investors, inventors, workers, entrepreneurs, Indigenous partners and owners, and affected communities.

With some of the largest known critical mineral and rare earth element reserves, Canada has an enormous opportunity and is an obvious solution to the need to increase domestic supply. But as a result of the uncertainty imposed by Trudeau through constant regulatory changes, Canada hasn’t mined a single teaspoon of lithium for domestic use since 2019. Canada sits on the world’s sixth largest deposits of lithium, a key ingredient for electric car batteries, yet Trudeau has taken an all-of-government approach to keep it in the ground with a suite of anti-energy policies and legislation including Bill C-69, which makes getting anything built in our country next to impossible.

A mine takes 25 years from concept to production and fewer than half of Canadian mining applications have proceeded in the past eight years. Canada is second-last in the OECD for construction approvals, and 64th globally for business permitting. The largest lithium proposal in Canada, James Bay Lithium, spent six years in review, with 271 conditions, and won’t start production until next year. Despite several decades of the highest environmental standards and Indigenous engagement and employment in Canada, the problem is self-imposed: onerous, duplicative Liberal red tape.
Despite committing $3.8 billion to roundtables and consultations, Canada produces no lithium exclusively (there is no Canadian-owned mine that extracts lithium for Canadian supply chains), no rare earth elements and under five per cent of key critical minerals globally.

Liberal gatekeeping means that Canada is actually a net importer of lithium. Sixty per cent of Canada’s lithium oxide comes from Russia and China, and over 70 per cent of lithium-based batteries are imported from China and the United States.

Today, China leads global lithium processing and rare earth element production. Beijing is a major threat to natural resource-based free and democratic economies around the world as it aggressively secures raw minerals and dominates manufacturing of 80 per cent of the world’s lithium-ion batteries.

There is also the human cost. Cobalt is essential for manufacturing lithium batteries. Seventy per cent of the world’s cobalt reserves are in the Democratic Republic of Congo and of the 255,000 Congolese workers mining for cobalt, 40,000 are children. China owns 15 of the 19 cobalt mines in that country. While Trudeau’s sloganeering has failed to deliver on this point, the world truly does need more Canada.

"The world truly does need more Canada"

Resources and energy security are the free world’s top economic and defence concerns. The Liberals set aggressive targets, but their policies prevent Canada from delivering. Meanwhile, hostile regimes are taking increasingly larger shares of the production and processing that could (should) be done in Canada’s backyard.

There is a major gap between what the prime minister told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and the reality of his track record. The Liberals are pushing Canada further behind on domestic supply and exports of critical minerals in real time.

A Conservative government under Pierre Poilievre would cut red tape and remove the gatekeepers who keep costs high and approvals low. We would bring timelines down and project approvals up, and bring home Canadian critical mineral production, processing and supply chains to get Canadian resources and technologies out to the world.


Special to National Post
Shannon Stubbs is the Conservative member of Parliament for the Alberta riding of Lakeland, and Shadow Minister for Natural Resources.