David McGuinty, Member of Parliament
Vice Chair, House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources
This dissenting report begins by thanking all of the witnesses who testified during the Committee meetings and thanks all groups and individuals who submitted written briefs.
The good faith and good will expressed by the witnesses is in stark contrast to the Conservative Members of the Committee who, throughout the entire process, focused on achieving what can only be described as pre-ordained outcomes, aligned with the government’s ideological and narrow perspective.
There is no doubt that the evidence adduced at committee was useful in the context of the immediate preoccupation with the construction of pipelines and refining capacity writ large. However, concern was repeatedly raised that dealing with these issues in isolation would invariably give rise to much broader considerations.
The question of energy speaks to every single facet of Canadian life. It speaks to job creation and housing, to royalties and revenues, to competitiveness and efficiency, to transportation and infrastructure, to information and awareness, to markets and international trade, and, finally, it speaks entirely to the reality of climate change and its consequent effects on water, soils, biodiversity, ecosystems, temperature, oceans, agriculture and Canada’s natural resource base.
The last six years of Conservative rule have seen the systematic weakening of our collective efforts over 40 years, spanning multiple governments of different political persuasions, to help foster a competitive economy and create jobs while enhancing ecological integrity. International treaties have been rescinded, research foundations and institutions have been shut down, scientists are censored and muzzled and programmatic and fiscal incentives for citizens and businesses have been eliminated.
Globally, the race is on to retool to become the most energy efficient economy. This is a race that Canadians expect Canada to win.
1. The Government of Canada should immediately develop and implement a National Energy and Climate Change Strategy.
Energy and climate change are inextricably linked. Canadians should know that 86% of Canada’s greenhouse gases are emitted through the exploitation, transformation and consumption of fossil fuels. The Conservative promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 will never be fulfilled. Canada needs a National Energy and Climate Change Plan that would implement economy-wide regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and invest in renewable energy, clean technology and energy efficiency; exercise sovereign leadership as opposed to hiding behind American inaction; establish a non-partisan expert group approved by Parliament to set a science-based emissions trajectory so that Canada does its part to keep global temperature increases to below 2oC; reverse the decision to cut the ecoENERGY program that allowed Canadians to receive a rebate for greening their homes using energy efficient products and services; restore the Commercial Buildings Retrofit Program that supported commercial enterprises, particularly small and medium sized businesses in their transition to greater energy efficiency; follow through on Canada’s commitment at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in 2009 to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and report on implementation; and to honour Prime Minister Harper’s pledge, made in his May 2008 “Energy Superpower” speech in London, UK, wherein he stated he would “establish a price on carbon of $65 a tonne… over the next decade.”
Building on the early and tentative work launched by provincial and federal Ministers at Kananaskis, and in full respect of provincial jurisdiction, the strategy must encompass the following key elements: regulatory reform, energy efficiency, energy information and awareness, markets, international trade, smart grid technology, electricity reliability, building codes, building standards, and transportation efficiency. Furthermore, it should conduct a full and transparent analysis of federal and provincial programs and fiscal incentives and disincentives applicable specifically to the energy sector in all of its forms, including fossil fuels, wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels, and nuclear, with a view to facilitating Canada’s transition to a low carbon future.
2. The Government of Canada should immediately create a House of Commons Special Committee to undertake a comprehensive study on regulatory reform in the energy sector.
First and foremost, the study would be public and televised for Canadians. It would seek to improve Canada’s energy and environment regulatory regimes and their integration by addressing the following elements: a complete examination of the interface between existing energy and environmental law and regulations; the mandate, operations and funding levels of the National Energy Board; the mandate, operations and funding levels of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency; where applicable, overlap and duplication between federal and provincial energy and environmental regulatory regimes; an examination of the fairness, independence and use of evidence in regulatory processes; public access and participation and participant funding in review processes; aboriginal consultation best practices; comparative international approaches; the imposition of arbitrary timelines; and the implications of NAFTA’s proportionality clause with respect to energy security.