The US “exit” from the Paris Agreement + questioning continued tariffs for solar energy

On Monday, June 5th, 2017 in Debate, Parliament

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the resolution from the government today on the ongoing commitment of the Canadian government to the Paris agreement. We had already voted in this place and confirmed our support as a Parliament.

I quibble with the introduction, because as much as President Trump announced from the rose garden that the U.S. was out of the Paris accord, actually the U.S. cannot legally leave the Paris accord until November 4, 2020, which quite by coincidence, is the day after the next U.S. presidential election. That is a process based on the exit provisions we negotiated at COP21, that the treaty would have to be in place for three years after entering into force and then states could give one year’s written notice.

My question for the Minister of Finance is similar to the one from my friend, the member for Edmonton Strathcona. What can we be doing in Canada, and particularly, what could his department be doing? For a government that has branded itself “sunny ways”, I would like to see more emphasis on solar energy.

Could the Minister of Finance update us as to why we continue to have a tariff on very efficient photovoltaic roofing tiles from China that directly take sunlight and produce electricity for those people who put them on the roofs of their buildings, whether schools or homes? It is time to take tariffs off solar energy.


Bill Morneau – Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I think I should respond in a number of ways.

We continue to move forward on making the biggest possible impact on our long-term environmental health with the measure that we know will have the biggest long-term impact on that very health, and that is the pricing of carbon.

As we put forward the pan-Canadian approach to climate change, we knew that this single measure, moving from the roughly 85% or 86% of Canadians who were in agreement to 100% of Canadians, was critically important. However, setting targets that are going to have an important long-term ability for us to move forward progressively over time on this issue is also very important. From my standpoint, getting that right is critically important.

We will continue to move forward on other issues. On an ongoing basis, we will look at tariffs to see if there are ways we could remove them, because that is part of our free trade agenda. We will specifically look towards doing that in places that would have the biggest impact on our global trade as well as on our goals around environmental stewardship.

Print this page

  • Kip Morgan

    Hello Ms May and all who care,

    I am a solar installer in BC and I don’t think Elizabeth understands the full
    scope of why there is a suggestion for tariffs on Chinese made solar panels.
    This is a very, very important topic for figuring out a successful solar energy
    future and I hope she can read this.

    The US once lead the world in solar energy. One of the first mass production plants
    was in Camarillo, California operated by an oil company, ARCO.
    They were doing R and D and selling to the small market for about $25 per watt of
    Solar. When I bought my first new solar panel in 1995 it cost $300 for 55
    watts, the same factory was then owned by Siemans, a German concern, and then
    after a couple of years of no profit the factory sold to Shell Oil. BP also
    tried to enter the market, but again oil was more profitable and buying
    politicians to keep things dependent on oil and gas fueled cars was a better
    investment. Shell oil sold to another German company Solar World. Solar World
    AG, having been successful in Germany
    with the German utility feed-in-tariff program (which Ontario Power has
    modeled), thought they could operated in the north american market and have
    successfully for about 12 years. They made a substantial investment in a brand
    new manufacturing plant near Portland,
    Oregon. They are industry leaders
    in all the things any Green Party supporter would want to want to hear, End of
    use recycling, non toxic manufacturing, recycling of manufacturing waste, fair
    wages and working conditions for the staff, integrity in manufacturing, leading
    warranties, and small carbon foot prints using hydro power to make a solar

    Now enters China
    into the manufacturing.China knows top down it has a carbon problem from coal.
    Coal probably passing through BC to the tune of more than 5 trains a day with
    110-150 cars in each train (personal experience living in Revelstoke, BC), and
    traveling to China to burn in electrical power plants and people are getting
    sick. Top down china became leaders in wind energy in 3 years after starting
    into it. Top down solar factories started appearing everywhere, not because
    Chinese people were demanding solar energy, but because pollution and its cost
    is a reality. The argument for tariff on Chinese manufactured solar modules is
    because the Chinese government is making financing available to start-up a
    factory and that is an unfair advantage in the international market.

    Solar World and Suniva (Now going out of business) several years ago brought
    the China dumping and
    flooding the North American market to the attention of the US government.
    The US
    ended up putting tariffs on Chinese solar modules so the chinese manufacturing
    just seemed to lower their prices. Now what could be better, you ask. Low cost
    solar means more installations and a greening of our energy. Well there is more
    to this. While some Chinese manufacturers score high marks on a set of social
    and environmental criteria establish by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, a
    NGO determined to hold high tech responsible for how they manufacture, most don’t.
    Our local school installer solar panels that were too cheap and you follow the
    trail back and find they don’t even rank anywhere near green. Kids in China with lead
    poison from eating fish out of the rivers below the solar plants. Black toxic
    smoke spewed from factory incinerators. If you know the Lorax by Dr. Suess it
    is the Oncesler Factories of solar.

    So there are a lot of very dirty solar panels coming out of China. They are
    being made in factories financed and subsidized in ways perceived as unfair in
    the Capitalist so called democracies, and they can be made more cheaply because
    they don’t have the same unions and labour laws or environmental safety laws in
    Still they are getting really cheap and that feel like Christmas!

    I sell to customers that care about the environment first
    and profit later, which is the state of things in BC. Because of this I talk my
    customers into paying a little more and getting solar made just don’t the Columbia river rather than 12,000 kilometers away. Here
    is my final statement. Solar World in Germany is sinking. Solar World in Oregon is not well. They
    cannot compete and installers are running away from them out of fear of invalid
    warranties. There will not be any solar manufacturing left in North
    America if this keeps up. Evergreen solar (of Massachusetts) failed in 2009, now Suniva
    and perhaps Solar World. Canadian Solar
    is Canadian in name only. Made in China
    with a few modules assembled in Ontario.
    Canadaian Solar does not fair well with the Silicon Valley Toxics score card. Solar
    World is ranked 2nd behind SunPower in California.

    Tariffs may be the wrong choice, but failing to do a better
    job than the Chinese at supporting the industry is what is happening. Our north
    American governments could make it a case of national security that support
    like interest free financing for factories, and incentives for installing
    locally made panels that don’t get stopped by WTO laws. The reality is, that
    isn’t happening and China, and S. Korea are going to steal the entire market
    and we are going to be doing the equivalent of shopping Walmart for our solar
    in a race to the bottom and that is not where I believe the values of the Green
    Party are rooted. BC once had a company called Day4 Solar. Their market was
    mostly Germany.
    Now they are gone. Not competitive and we don’t have a solar industry. Stupid
    we are, for shopping at Walmart. We don’t know how to make shoes anymore. We
    don’t know how to make much of anything but paperwork and paper anymore. Shame
    on us for not being happy with solar panels that cost $400 made in Oregon, and instead opt
    for Chinese panels at $250 with “see no evil, hear no evil” as our excuse. Tariffs
    are to try and keep the industry in North America
    alive until another solution is found.

    Ms. May, Please support Tariffs and then work to create a longer
    term solution that brings clean tech solar manufacturing home!

    Sincerely, Kip Drobish, Oso Solar, New Denver, BC

  • John Heddle

    The reason for the tariffs is clear: to protect the Canadian producers of solar panels. Note that this protects not only the workers but the company from having to innovate and compete on a level playing field. We have a bigger problem than a small number of jobs, namely the destruction of our planet and our way of life as migrants pour into cooler and more habitable climates. TAKE THE TARIFFS OFF NOW!! Put money into research. There is plenty of room for improvements in the efficiency of the solar panels

  • Kjell Liem

    Thank you Elizabeth for keeping this issue in the light. Extremely high import tariffs >150% were recently introduced on drywall of all things -but only for Western Canada. If the government has the ability to chose where to implement a tariff, why penalize BC’s historic Pacific trade with China? There are no solar manufacturing jobs for thousands of kilometres from BC. The fact of the matter is that the best, the cleanest, and most competitive solar panels come from China. What would we do if the government put an export tariff on Apple products or other technologies. It would be stifling important competition and innovation especially for tariffs that are above 150%.

How you can help

Follow Me

facebook-icon Facebook Twitter YouTube Digg


Learn how to support Elizabeth May with her work in Parliament ALT

Latest Articles

Ottawa Citizen: Trudeau must step up on climate change at G20 summit
July 5th, 2017

Island Tides: Movement for Oceans
June 22nd, 2017

Policy Magazine: The Slow Pace of Parliament
June 21st, 2017

Hill Times: The Liberals’ climate plan? A chocolate cake diet
June 7th, 2017

Policy Magazine: A Green Balance of Power in BC
May 15th, 2017

Island Tides: Another Liberal promise about to be broken on Canada’s navigable waters?
April 27th, 2017

Green Party Logo

Constituency Office

1-9711 Fourth St
Sidney, BC  V8L 2Y8

Phone: 250-657-2000
Fax: 250-657-2004


Parliament Hill Office

518 Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Phone: 613-996-1119
Fax: 613-996-0850


Jobs & Volunteering

Click here for the latest opportunities