OTTAWA – Canada needs to take significant steps to broaden its energy export markets and come to grips with the “new world order” if it is to truly capitalize on its natural resource wealth while preserving the environment, a new Senate report suggests.
The report, compiled over the last three years by a committee of Canadian senators, seeks to define an energy strategy for Canada with 13 priorities developed over three years of consultations.
The strategy is based on creating a clear and responsible path for Canadian energy development and a low-emissions economy — maximizing returns by broadening the global market for the country’s energy exports — while minimizing the environmental impact.
“Canada is today an energy powerhouse,” said Conservative Sen. David Angus.
“We’re in the catbird seat — we’re in this incredibly enviable position in Canada of being the global leader with all kinds of potential to have a prosperous future, and great energy security. But this is at great risk; to stay in this position, a lot things are going to have to change.”
The report’s priorities include establishing greater collaboration between all levels of government — including the provinces, the territories, the federal government and First Nations communities — and modernizing and expanding electricity systems and oil and gas pipelines.
The face of the international energy sector is changing rapidly and dramatically, with a sharp focus on clean, renewable energy, and Canada isn’t moving quickly enough to adapt to it, Angus warned.
“We have to work together,” he said.
“Canada can become the most energy productive nation in the world, with the greatest and highest level of environmental performance in the world, all leading to great national prosperity … but only if we change and adapt to this new world order.”
He called the energy challenge a “national-family Canadian affair” requiring input and co-operation from virtually every corner of the country, including ordinary citizens, corporate Canada and aboriginal communities.
Liberal Sen. Grant Mitchell said Canada urgently needs to diversify its export markets beyond the U.S. in the face of aggressive international competition, and develop newer, cleaner-burning alternatives to traditional fuel options.
“We need to embrace natural gas as a game-changing fuel,” Mitchell said. “It is clean, it is efficient, it is safe and it is becoming a platform for the Canadian energy system.”
Angus said Canada requires a greater understanding of the energy sector, which he calls a key element of the country’s social fabric.