Canada’s energy resources can be a source of continuing economic advantage, but only if all levels of government work together to develop a clear, consistent and sustainable energy strategy, the country’s business leaders say.

In a policy paper released today, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) outlines five key steps that would help to ensure Canada achieves its potential as an energy and environmental powerhouse – including a new bilateral accord with the United States and a comprehensive national policy on carbon pricing that recognizes the imperative of addressing climate change.

The CCCE is the senior voice of Canada’s business community, representing 150 chief executives and leading entrepreneurs from all major sectors and regions of the country.

“Canada’s endowment of natural resources can be a tremendous source of comparative advantage,” the CEOs say in their paper, titled Clean Growth 2.0: How Canada Can Be a Leader in Energy and Environmental Innovation.

“We cannot take this enormous potential for granted, however. To derive maximum benefit we need a long-term approach to energy development and energy use.”

The paper was prepared by the CCCE’s Task Force on Energy, the Environment and Climate Change, co-chaired by Linda Hasenfratz, Chief Executive Officer of Linamar Corporation, and Hal Kvisle, former Chief Executive Officer of TransCanada Corporation.

“It’s time that we as Canadians had a frank discussion about the role that energy and cleaner energy technologies can play in contributing to the country’s future economic prosperity,” Ms. Hasenfratz said.

Mr. Kvisle said that Canadian companies need a clear and predictable public policy framework and efficient regulatory processes in order to invest the billions of dollars that will be needed to tap new energy sources and develop new energy technologies that will enable Canada to achieve its environmental goals.

“The private sector is ready and willing to do its part, but our industries need a road map that provides clarity and predictability so that they are able to contribute innovative and lasting solutions,” Mr. Kvisle said.

The paper sets out five priority actions that would put Canada on the road to global energy and environmental leadership:

  • The federal, provincial and territorial governments should work with the business community and other stakeholders to develop a truly national strategy for energy policy, building on each region’s strengths and opportunities.
  • The federal government should seek to negotiate a broad Canada-U.S. energy and environmental accord.  Key issues include strengthening the current arrangements on energy, aligning regulatory and other standards where appropriate, and enhancing current efforts on cross-border technology cooperation.
  • Governments at all levels should commit to a national approach to climate policy and carbon pricing, instead of the current patchwork approach. A national carbon pricing policy should be broadly applied across the economy and to consumer end-use, but would have to be phased in to give both businesses and consumers time to adjust and in order to avoid unnecessary impacts on competitiveness.  Revenue raised should be deployed to fund reductions in other taxes and support the development of new technologies, and the scheme should avoid imposing undue costs on any particular region or sector.
  • The federal, provincial and territorial governments should work with key business sectors on a national strategy to develop and deploy new generations of energy and environmental technology.  Success will require increased private-sector commitment to energy R&D, greater industry-university collaboration and strategic public investments.
  • Governments, industry and other stakeholders should strengthen their efforts to build an ethic of energy conservation and to engage Canadians in a national dialogue on the costs and benefits of various energy choices.  The goal must be to encourage employers of all sizes and individual Canadians to make smarter choices about day-to-day energy use.

“Energy is the key ingredient that will drive economic success and raise living standards around the globe,” said The Honourable John Manley, the CCCE’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Canada can be a major player in the energy industries of the future, but we have to recognize that our companies face fierce competition internationally to become the location of choice for leading-edge research and high-skilled jobs.”