Opinion

Observations from Jim Carr’s Generation Energy conference

Pearson Centre president and Carleton University professor Andrew Cardozo weighs-in on the Generation Energy conference in Winnipeg.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr hosted the Generation Energy conference in Winnipeg from Oct. 11-12. The Hill Times file photograph

PUBLISHED :Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 12:25 PM

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr hosted the Generation Energy conference in Winnipeg from Oct. 11-12, a culmination of a national discussion on Canada’s future energy needs that took place over 25 weeks, with online input form 320,000 Canadians and another 30,000 from outside our borders. At the 600-person gathering, many interesting things were said and done. Here are some observations:

  • After two days of intensive discussion, the point that had most agreement was that dialogue is good and more is needed. Trite as that may seem, it reflected the fact that the highly specialized energy sector operates in very separate silos, and for the most part, the industry and environmentalists operate in different stratospheres, pun intended.
  • The various sub-sectors, especially when you consider traditional non-renewable and the newer renewable sources, operate quite separately from each other. They are natural competitors, but should be thinking of themselves as necessary collaborators.
  • While the government takes the position, which is growing in acceptance, that economic growth and environmental sustainability need to go together, the view is not yet universally accepted in certain sub-sectors.
  • The conference highlighted that we have four women energy ministers in various provinces: Michelle Mungall in B.C., Margaret McCuaig-Boyd in Alberta, Rochelle Squires in Manitoba, and Siobhan Coady in Newfoundland and Labrador, a former federal MP. Federally, Pat Carney, Anne McLellan, and most recently, Lisa Raitt have occupied the portfolio.
  • This government and Mr. Carr in particular, have brought Indigenous peoples into the centre of the discussion—lessons learned from the previous government which avoided doing that and made no progress on pipelines. They also recognize there is much to learn from Indigenous ways of treating the land, the water, the sun, and the wind. The depth of this fundamental change of Canadian government thinking is only just becoming evident.
  • Mr. Carr was also able to highlight in response to criticism about TransCanada’s cancellation of the Energy East line, that his government has approved three pipelines (Kinder Morgan, Line 3, and Keystone XL), doing better than the previous government.
  • Despite the political rhetoric in recent weeks over TransCanada’s decision on Energy East, there is extensive cooperation and agreement across federal and provincial governments on the fundamentals of energy policy. A happy place compared to say the United States.

Andrew Cardozo is president of the Pearson Centre and an adjunct professor at Carleton University

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