TV Appearance: BNN (5:20pm EST November 9, 2010)

I discussed a report released November 7th by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) calling for the Canadian government to pursue a new national energy strategy, to institute national environmental standards for energy-related emissions, to strengthen ties with the U.S., and to clarify foreign investment rules.

The video is here.

To their credit, the CCCE pulls up short of asking for federal subsidies for an east-west power grid which others, such as the Canadian Engineer Academy and the Ontario government, have rashly demanded. In my opinion, electricity consumers in each province should pay the costs of their own consumption and not require other Canadians as federal taxpayers to subsidize local users.

I support national environmental standards and clear, liberalized foreign investment rules but I oppose the idea of the federal government initiating another national energy strategy.

Many large Canadian energy companies have been pushing for a national energy policy for years. If there were such a policy, the big players would have many natural advantages in steering it. With only a few exceptions, most federally supported energy projects have been major failures – Dome Petroleum and the Beaufort frontier generally, Prime Minister Trudeau’s National Energy Plan, AECL, Cape Bretton’s Devco coal fiasco, urea formaldehyde home insulation and on and on. Arguably, the positive side of the ledger probably should include TCPL Mainline, the Manitoba Interlake transmission system, and Hibernia. The federal government is on thin constitutional ice wading into energy matters and should stick to its constitutional knitting.  Interprovincial trade is one area where the federal government has the power to improve electricity trading but does not exercise that power, to the detriment of our federation.

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