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NEWS: Obstacles mount for Redford’s ‘national energy strategy’ agenda

The Globe and Mail reports, “Developing a national energy strategy has become a key objective for the Alberta government. Premier Alison Redford has spoken about the province taking a role ‘in leading that conversation’. The sub-text of the strategy is a bid by Alberta to gain national support for its need to export oil, which must flow through other jurisdictions to access new markets in both Asia and eastern North America.”

But “national energy strategy talks have already run into a series of issues. When talks were held in Alberta last July, Ontario balked at language calling the oil sands a ‘responsible and major supplier of energy to the world’ (see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=13902). Quebec subsequently stated its opposition to any ‘coast to coast’ plan, pointing to energy as a ‘provincial competence’.”

“Jack Mintz, who heads the University of Calgary School of Public and sits as a director with Imperial Oil Ltd. (says a national energy strategy) can ‘do more harm than good’ (and has) pointed to the dramatically different energy interests between provinces that draw on a range of electricity sources – hydro for British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba; nuclear and others for Ontario; coal for Alberta and Saskatchewan. …Opening a pan-Canadian discussion could ‘backfire on the provinces that jealously guard their constitutional rights over resource development. … It is not difficult for the federal government to stop many projects under a Canadian energy strategy.'”

The article adds, “The idea remains nascent. Provinces have, so far, agreed to agree on working together. But many of the tricky details have yet to be worked out, including who supports controversial hydroelectric plans by Newfoundland and Labrador, which Quebec opposes, or whether B.C. would back construction of the Northern Gateway oil pipeline to the West Coast.”

In June 2011, the Victoria Times Colonist reported, “The Council of Canadians seeks a national energy strategy to serve two purposes: to ensure the stability of supply to Canadians, and also to set out a plan to wean the country off its dependence on non-renewable fuel sources.”

“‘One of the points the Council has been very clear on and continues to be clear on is that not only does Canada not have an energy plan, we’ve actually relinquished a lot of our control in the energy sector through free trade agreements like NAFTA, to the markets and to the interests of big oil and we find that problematic,’ said Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy and climate justice campaigner for the Council.”

“‘We would say that any plan needs to be balanced with environmental protections concerning the production, transportation and consumption of energy,’ she said, adding: ‘We are very wary and would oppose a strategy that allows business as usual — namely, the pursuit of an energy superpower status through increased exports to the U.S. based on unfettered ongoing fossil-fuel exploitation. The social and environmental costs of this we’re really seeing now, particularly in the tar sands.’”

For more please see NEWS: The Council of Canadians calls for a national energy strategy and NEWS: Differing views on a national energy strategy.