The following is an edited transcript of speaking notes from Natural Resources Jim Carr's address to the Canadian Energy and Mines Ministers' Conference in Winnipeg on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016.
Our government has been profoundly moved — and greatly inspired — by the perspective of Indigenous peoples. They remind us of our responsibility to those who have gone before and those who will come after. Of our enduring relationship to the land and the water and the air.
So we need to engage with Indigenous communities and do so in meaningful ways, as the Federal Court has also confirmed.
Of course, this Conference isn’t just significant because we’re in Winnipeg.
The fact is, we meet at a pivotal moment. A time when the world is making a historic transition to a low-carbon future. When environmental responsibility is seen as essential to economic development. When a new relationship is being created with Indigenous peoples. And when, as the theme of this meeting makes clear, public confidence is critical to achieving any of them.
As energy and mining ministers, we find ourselves at the nexus of these issues. Charged with providing leadership at a time of enormous change.
So tonight I want to just touch on three areas that are central to meeting those obligations and to building public confidence: international engagement, innovation and collaboration.
One of the key elements of the Prime Minister’s instructions to me was to work with the United States and Mexico to develop an ambitious North American clean energy and environmental agreement.
That work began the moment we took office. I met my two North American counterparts — Secretaries Joaquín Coldwell of Mexico and Moniz of the United States — at a meeting of the International Energy Agency in Paris, two weeks before COP-21.
Following that, our delegation returned to Ottawa and sat down with Prime Minister Trudeau to make Canada one of the founding members of Mission Innovation, which commits countries to doubling their investments in clean energy research and development.
Secretaries Joaquín Coldwell and Moniz then agreed to come here to Winnipeg. In the dead of winter. That’s what you call true friendship.
For those of you who aren’t scientists, the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet at minus 40 — so that day it didn’t matter which thermometer you used.
Secretary Moniz had a great line. He said that after visiting Winnipeg he had to go to Alaska to thaw out.
But we made tremendous progress, signing a Memorandum of Understanding, on Climate Change and Energy Collaboration. And I hope to do the same with my mining counterparts in Mexico and the United States, to increase our collaboration on innovation and mining.
Not long after that, Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama stood side by side in the Rose Garden to announce a Joint Statement on Climate, Energy and Arctic Leadership, including a commitment to cut methane emissions in the oil and gas sector by almost half.
And because we hadn’t seen enough of each other, Secretary Moniz, Secretary Joaquín Coldwell and I met again in San Francisco in June for the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation Ministerial.
At that meeting, member countries, including Canada, announced the baseline funding for clean energy innovation that they will be doubling under Mission Innovation. In Canada’s case, we’ll double $387 million to $775 million by 2020.
The growing collaboration on the North American continent culminated in the recent Three Amigos Summit in Ottawa, where leaders agreed to a Climate, Clean Energy and Environmental Partnership Action Plan.
This agreement sets us firmly on the path to a more sustainable future and catapults North America to the forefront of the battle against climate change.
And just as international engagement is essential to shaping our future, so too is investing in the innovations that will deliver us to capture its opportunities.
Specifically, we need to invest in clean tech, in energy efficiency and in finding greener ways of developing our resources. That’s true for oil and gas and it’s true for mining, where the world looks to Canada for leadership in innovation, environmental stewardship, Indigenous engagement and corporate social responsibility.
What’s come through clearly – at the PDAC Convention, the Ontario Natural Resources Forum, CMIC/MAC Roundtables, and in various meetings and visits across the country, is that exploration and extraction are knowledge-based industries. We need to stay at the cutting edge, help our science and technology initiatives to get to market, find new mineral resources, and bring solutions that help companies stay competitive here at home and abroad.
Our first budget reflected this commitment to innovation and to the clean technology of tomorrow.
It provided two billion dollars for a low-carbon fund to work with the provinces. More than one billion for cleaner technology in the natural resource industries, including mining. More than $100 million to improve energy efficiency. More than $130 million for research in energy technology.
And billions more for public transit and other green infrastructure, including recharging stations for electric vehicles and refueling stations for alternative fuel vehicles.
Our first budget also extended the 15 percent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit and confirmed our intention to proceed with revisions to tax rules that would make the environmental studies and community consultations required for exploration permits eligible for the Canadian Exploration Expense. Measures that will help junior mining companies attract the capital they need to make the next great discovery.
Perhaps just as importantly, we’re creating incentives for the private sector, which will play an enormous role in helping us to reach our targets and green our economies.
In an earlier life, I was executive director of the Business Council of Manitoba, where I learned the power of entrepreneurship and risk-taking. And I developed a deep appreciation for matching the private sector’s motivation to make a profit with the public responsibility to make a difference.
So as we build public confidence, we need to invest in the innovations that will pave the way to a low-carbon future and engage with the private sector to solve the challenges of our times.
Many of the critical components to support our low-carbon priorities come from the minerals and metals we have in Canada: copper, rare earths, graphite, etc. We also need a clear vision for the role of innovation in mining. And strengthened collaboration among government and industry is necessary to enhance opportunities for green mining technology development, deployment and commercialization.
This emphasis on greener mining is important to strengthening public confidence and to ensuring that our exploration and mining industry continues to be a global leader, providing well paid jobs to Canadians across the country.
Third and finally, we need to bring together different levels of government in a truly national effort.
It’s not possible to consider major national projects and a nation-building policy if you don’t have all levels of governments talking to each other.
Premier Notley said it well at a recent press conference with the Prime Minister. She said, “It’s really a matter of listening to each other’s positions and problem-solving together. It’s not about politics; it’s about trying to get the job done.”
For our government, getting the job done means a return to cooperative federalism. Whether it’s having the premiers and territorial leaders with us in Paris for COP-21. Or meeting with provinces and municipalities across the country. Or bringing Canadians from all walks of life together — including some who might not have spoken to one another in a very long time.
That’s especially true when it comes to how we develop our natural resources. Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde put it well when he said, “Before you build anything, build positive, respectful relationships.”
That’s what we’re doing. Holding dozens of roundtables — bringing together environmental groups, energy and mining companies, Indigenous groups and municipalities. And when you put people with different interests around the same table, it's remarkable how much space opens up for people to hear from others about those things that really matter to them.
For example, in Indigenous communities, the relationship with the land is integral to their identity as peoples and as communities. But they will tell you at the same time that they want opportunity for their children. They want economic possibilities for communities that have had very few.
By expanding our national conversation, we can ensure Indigenous voices are heard and all perspectives considered.
Our goal must be to find that sweet spot between resource development and environmental responsibility.
As the Prime Minister has said many times, “the choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our goal.”
Because while it’s exciting to think about the clean energy, low-carbon economy of the future, we’re not there yet. Even in light of the Paris Agreement, even as the world continues the transition to renewable sources of energy, the demand for fossil fuels will actually increase for decades to come.
Our challenge — as Ministers, as Canadians — is to build the infrastructure to get our resources to global markets and use the revenues to fund Canada’s transition to cleaner forms of energy. To leverage the minerals and fossil fuel resources we have today to deliver clean-energy solutions for tomorrow.
That’s the central challenge. That’s the defining issue we face. And that’s the tremendous opportunity for Canadians. Because we’re not alone in the challenge of gradually reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
This came through time and time again in my meetings with colleagues around the world. Approaches may vary. The pace of transition may differ from country to country. But there is remarkable alignment in where they want to go. In where they know we must go.
So the world needs solutions and Canadian innovation can provide them.
Which again speaks to the importance of public confidence. Of creating certainty for investors and an approach to developing our resources in sustainable ways that carry the confidence of Canadians.
Our Government has worked to create that certainty and build that confidence: with principles we announced in January through our Interim Strategy; with the three-member panel that will report to the Government on the Kinder Morgan TMX proposal in November — leading to a final decision before Christmas.
And with a fundamental review of Canada’s environmental assessment laws, including modernizing the National Energy Board. Led by two ministerial panels that will report back by the end of January.
We are determined to make sure the provinces and territories, as well as all interested groups and individual Canadians, are part of the review. This Conference is an important starting point for those discussions, but we expect the conversation to intensify in the weeks and months ahead. Because the approach is already attracting public support.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, for example, has said that it expects, and I quote, “that the thorough review, consultation process and applying the interim principles will enhance the public’s trust in the federal regulatory system of major natural resource projects.” End quote.
As Ministers, all of us have been given another important assignment as well — contributing to a Canadian Energy Strategy.
This is something I’ve been involved with for years, going back to 2009, when I helped to bring all of Canada’s major think tanks together in one room, right here in Winnipeg. What emerged came to be known as the Winnipeg Consensus — beginning a process that culminated last year with the Council of the Federation’s Canadian Energy Strategy.
That Strategy was a remarkable political achievement — by premiers of all political stripes who knew that this was something that simply had to get done; that it was bigger than party or politics.
As a national government, we want to play a constructive role in advancing that work. Because many of the energy issues facing our country are shared responsibilities between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. So success will require coordinated action.
I believe that we can respect the constitutional division of powers while at the same time acknowledging that there is a pan-Canadian interest to work together to improve Canada’s energy performance. Based on a common set of priorities we share.
The Vancouver Declaration, signed by Canada’s First Ministers in March, identifies three of those key areas where we can work together as Energy Ministers:
- Energy efficiency and conservation;
- Clean energy technology; and
- Delivering energy to people and markets.
These meetings are an opportunity for us to turn the strategy into concrete results that we can take back to the First Ministers in the Fall:
- On energy efficiency, we’ve been making progress to improve codes and standards. We need to continue building on these efforts because greater energy efficiency in our buildings, vehicles and industries can play an important role in cutting our greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning Canada to a low-carbon economy;
- On clean technology and innovation, the right investments can significantly accelerate the development of clean-energy technologies, and expand Canada’s clean-energy industry. For example, effectively developing, demonstrating and deploying renewable and energy efficiency technologies can help reduce diesel dependency in remote First Nation and Northern communities, and lead to opportunities for the sale of off-grid energy solutions to markets around the world. This potentially represents a triple win for the environment, economic development and energy security in these communities, not to mention a big opportunity for our domestic technology industry;
- Finally, on delivering energy to people, we heard the premiers agree last month that inter-jurisdictional electricity interties can be a key tool in supporting clean growth, opening up new markets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We have a generational opportunity to re-shape Canada’s energy future. But it will take bold leadership and a strong commitment to collaboration. The same kind of commitment that the provinces and territories demonstrated last month, at the Council of the Federation meeting, where Premiers made another historic breakthrough, this time on interprovincial trade and on the sale of wine among British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
Confirming the wisdom of something we’ve known for a long time – that Canada works best when Canadians work together.
We have that same opportunity with the release this week of the 2016 Mining Sector Performance Report, which highlights the economic, social, and environmental performance of the mining industry. This report clearly articulates areas where the industry has made progress but also those areas where we need to work together to improve performance and enhance public confidence.
So three areas where we’re making progress and building public confidence: engaging internationally, investing in innovation and working together, as partners facing common challenges.
I’m also cautiously optimistic about the progress possible on the issues still ahead of us: On climate change. On a pan-Canadian energy strategy. On carbon pricing. And on developing our resources in ways that provide the prosperity we seek while protecting the environment we all cherish.
Not easy. But then, Canadians have never been daunted by the difficult.
As I’ve said before, our history is marked by successive generations dreaming big, acting together and achieving greatly. We saw that spirit in a railway that spanned a continent. A broadcasting system that connected a country. And an arm that reached into space.
Today, we face new challenges. But with goodwill and hard work, I believe we can meet the test of our times.