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Premiers' national energy strategy draft "positively disingenuous", says professor of Canadian environmental policy

BC premier Christy Clark stole the headlines when she walked out of the Council of the Federation meeting in Halifax last week, but what actually came of the national energy strategy on the agenda?

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However, he said putting it on paper isn’t enough -- real action has to follow it. 

The national energy strategy drafted in 2007 by premiers was a reaction to inaction from the federal government. Since then governments from all levels haven't done much with the strategy or similar ones such as the Western Climate Initiative

Harrison cited this as an example to illustrate the limits of provincial power in transitioning nationally to a low carbon economy.

But could a provincially agreed upon national energy strategy be a blueprint for a federal national energy strategy?

Whittingham calls that the million dollar question.

He agreed that the federal government should be taking the leadership role on creating a national energy strategy for Canada. But in the absence of that leadership, he said, someone’s gotta lead.

Having some sort of cohesive long-term planning is absolutely a must, he said.

“Given that energy is still provincial domain, then very possibility you could have ten premiers get on board and come up with something and say we’re gonna do it and we don’t care about the feds because they don’t have jurisdiction over energy or they have limited jurisdiction.”

When asked whether it was realistic that they be able to pull something together, he replied that it’s quite possible, although ambitious.

But it’s not the first national level planning exercise that Canada has gone through, he added.

“Can we do it? I think so. We've done similar nation-building exercises in the past. Have we done it recently? No. So it’s going to be a bit new for premiers and populations.”

What's next for the national energy strategy
A working group led by Redford including Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, is set to work with provincial and territorial Energy Ministers to further develop the blueprint for a national energy strategy.

They will be working from a previous energy strategy titled, “A Shared Vision for Energy in Canada,” released by the COF in 2007. That report outlines seven key goals:

  • Promote energy efficiency and conservation;
  • Invest in energy research for new technologies;
  • Develop renewable and clean energy;
  • Develop modern and environmentally safe transportation networks;
  • Improve the timeliness and certainty of regulatory approvals for the energy industry;
  • Meet demands for energy sector workers;
  • Include provinces in international negotiations around energy.

Redford said she hopes the premiers will be able to develop "a statement of principles and shared outcomes" later this summer.

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