Developing a bold new energy strategy is not only a Canadian leadership responsibility; it is a national economic opportunity.
Over the past two years, a number of traditional energy industry associations, think tanks, thought leaders, academics, and civil
society organizations have thrown their weight behind the idea of strengthened cooperation and coordination between provinces on energy issues. Recent public opinion research suggests that they aren’t alone. In a national survey of more than 1,400 Canadians, 92 percent of respondents agreed that a national energy strategy should be a public priority. Further, more than seven
out of 10 of those surveyed agreed that any such strategy should seek to reduce our reliance on non-renewable energy.
We expect a Canadian energy strategy will be on the agenda at this July’s Conference of the Federation meeting of provincial premiers, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It may also be discussed at a subsequent meeting of energy ministers in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
We are asking federal, provincial, and aboriginal leaders to seize the day. A strategic energy accord between the provinces, if developed properly, could become:
- A path forward that could resolve a number of divisive energy conflicts while recognizing the constitutional authorities of federal, provincial, and aboriginal governments;
- The blueprint for how and when Canada transitions from its current energy mix to a low-carbon energy future;
- The plan that the Office of the Auditor General of Canada recently suggested we need to ensure Canada will prosper and create jobs while meeting its greenhouse gas commitments; and
- A powerful opportunity for business, government, and civil society to collaborate on one of the most exciting challenges of our age––diversifying and strengthening our economy for long term prosperity while tackling major environmental challenges.
We agree with Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who recently addressed the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto:
“It is time to stand up and show others how Canada can lead globally on all fronts, including energy supply, innovation and efficiency, as well as clean energy and addressing climate change.”
We also agree with David Emerson, former federal Minister of International Trade. Last year, he was recruited by the Premier of Alberta to chair the Premier’s Council on Economic Strategy and commissioned to write a report on Alberta’s future. In that report, he said:
“we must plan for the eventuality that oil sands production will almost certainly be displaced at some point in the future by lower cost and/or lower-emission alternatives. We may have heavy oil to sell, but few or no profitable markets wishing to buy.”
It is time to stand up and show others how Canada can lead.