A step closer to a Canadian Sustainable Energy Strategy?

By The Honourable Perrin Beatty, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Energy security is directly linked to economic competitiveness and job growth.

The energy sector is a cornerstone of our prosperity. It plays a critical role for Canada in serving the energy needs of all Canadians and in generating major income. There is virtually no country in the world that does not look at our energy inheritance with envy.

In 2009, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report, Powering Up Canadian Prosperity, that called for all levels of government to come together with stakeholders, including the business community, to develop a Canadian Sustainable Energy Strategy-a strategy that would ensure that Canada would continue to have a strong and vibrant energy industry that would help grow our economy and meet our future energy needs. We are still waiting, but see signs of progress! More recently, a number of business and poltical leaders have become more vocal about the need for an overall energy strategy. What we have in mind is not simply a federal government policy to be imposed on the regions, but a truly national strategy in which all regions are full partners. Nor must its purpose be to simply transfer the resource wealth from one region to another, but to respect our constitution and to recognize that rising prosperity in one region will also lead to opportunities in the rest.

Energy ministers from across the country are meeting in Kananaskis starting this weekend to discuss the development of a Canadian Energy Strategy. Leading up to that meeting, we at the Chamber have continued to send our message to governments on the business community’s position on what must be included in any strategy at the national level. It is vital that they understand how fundamental energy is to the competitiveness of every Canadian business and to the success of our entire economy.

But beyond the strategy, the question we have to ask ourselves is: does the federal government have a role to play in promoting and assisting the energy sector? And also, how can the Canadian Chamber of Commerce best continue to play a role in all of this?

With the stability of new majority government in Ottawa, Prime Minister Harper and his team have the opportunity and the responsibility to deliver on their commitment to Canadians to create jobs and foster prosperity. Energy is an essential part of the formula.

The Canadian Chamber will continue to stress to the government how important this issue is to business. We have been encouraging all businesses to look at their own energy needs and ask themselves how they can contribute to the strategy, including by working together on innovations that benefit both Canada’s energy producers and its users.

Canada’s energy future is in our hands and the time for action is now.