Energy Mines Ministers Conference (EMMC) Banquet


The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources

Keynote Speech

Energy Mines Ministers Conference (EMMC) Banquet

Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, Manitoba
August 22, 2016

Thank you, Christyne [Christyne Tremblay, Deputy Minister, Natural Resources Canada], and welcome to the heart of the universe — that’s Winnipeg — and also to the very centre of the Government of Canada. In a way, it’s a metaphor about where the country is right now when a Quebec Deputy Minister of the Environment can literally overnight become the Natural Resources Deputy Minister for Canada. I think that speaks of the importance of federal-provincial cooperation in a way that matters most.

I also want to thank my Parliamentary Secretary, Kim Rudd, who I’m sure did a fabulous job in my absence today, as she always does.

And I want to welcome ministers from coast to coast to coast and give a special thank-you and hello to my partner, Minister Cullen [Cliff Cullen, Manitoba Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade], who is co-hosting and co-chairing this very important ministerial conference. We had a chance to spend quite a bit of time in his office the other day, and it’s always terrific for me to walk into the Manitoba Legislature because that building, built in 1916, is the best possible example you will find of a home for democracy. Congratulations to you and your new government on a terrific victory. I look forward to working with you.

I also acknowledge that we are on Treaty 1 territory in the home of the Métis Nation.

This city is special to me, not only because it’s my home town but also because in so many ways Winnipeg’s story is Canada’s story. Its roots — at the forks of two great rivers — were the traditional passages of Indigenous peoples

Its forts were built by the French, the permanent settlements by a Scot. Winnipeg’s earliest trade was in furs. It boomed with the railroad, and over the years, it developed a rich multicultural tradition — Indigenous roots, the Métis Nation, Europeans and Asians — all drawn to a place where they saw opportunity. In so many ways, Winnipeg really reflects the history of Canada.

I have to tell you I am fresh from the great mining city of Sudbury from a cabinet retreat. I don’t know what you think of when you hear of cabinet retreat, but the reality was I slept in a dormitory for students and had roommates, Ministers Morneau [Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance] and Bains [Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development] were my roommates. The floors were concrete; there was no art on the walls; it was a very sterile environment. But there was nothing sterile about the conversation with my colleagues in the cabinet room led by the Prime Minister.

I can tell you we talked about relationships: relationships between the federal government, the provinces and the municipalities; the primary relationship between governments and Indigenous peoples; and the relationship between individuals who build trusting relationships with each other.

We talked about Canada and the United States. We talked about the importance of that relationship, which will endure long past any presidential election, the ties that bind. We talked about climate change and a pan-Canadian framework.

And we talked about the relationship with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. And I know that my friend of 35 years, Phil Fontaine [former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations], gave an inspirational speech this morning. I know that because I have heard his inspirational speeches many times, and they never fail to teach me the great lesson of individuals who understand the relationship between us, the land, the water and the air, a relationship that didn’t start with us today. And we have a responsibility, looking back generations, to honour those who have given us what we enjoy, in turn passing on to us an obligation to leave the land, the air and the water for our children and those who follow. It is a lesson that we all have to understand, really to the fibre of who we are and the relationships that count the most.

We need to engage with Indigenous communities, as we will. Tomorrow’s breakfast — and I’m very happy to report this — is the first time at meetings of Energy and Mines Ministers when there will be meaningful engagement with Indigenous leaders, and I’m thrilled that it will happen right here at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

The fact is we meet at a pivotal moment, a time when the world is making an historic transition to a lower carbon future; when environmental responsibility is seen as essential, as Ken Neufeld has said, 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 and all of these goals. As Energy and Mines Ministers, we find ourselves at the nexus of these issues, charged with providing leadership at a time of enormous change. We should be emboldened by the challenge and not shy away from it.

So tonight, I want to touch on three areas that are central to meeting those obligations and building confidence: international engagement, innovation and collaboration.

One of the key elements of the Prime Minister’s instructions to me was specifically to work with the United States and Mexico to develop an ambitious North American clean energy and environmental agenda.

That work began very early in our mandate. 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 and two weeks after our government took office. Prime Minister Trudeau was determined to make Canada one of the founding members of Mission Innovation, which commits countries to doubling their investments in clean energy research and development. He signed the agreement in Paris on November the 30th along with 19 other nations.

Secretaries Joaquín Coldwell and Moniz then agreed to come here to Winnipeg in the dead of winter on a classic February day. And for those of you who may not be scientists, do you know that the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet at minus 40? On that day, it didn’t matter what thermometer you had. Secretary Moniz left Winnipeg with a great line, and this is true: He said that after visiting us here, he had to go to Alaska to thaw out.

And just as international engagement is essential to shaping our future, so too is investing in the innovations that will enable us to capture its opportunities.

Specifically, we need to invest in clean technology, 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 [Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada] Convention, at the Ontario Natural Resources Forum 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 into the clean technology of tomorrow. It provided: $2 billion for a Low Carbon Fund to work with the provinces; more than $1 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 refuelling stations for alternative fuel vehicles.

Our first budget also extended the 15 percent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit and confirmed our intention to proceed with other matters that will be helpful.

Perhaps just as importantly, we’re creating incentives for the private sector, which will play an important role in helping us reach our targets and green our economies. In an earlier life, I was President and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba, and it is there where I learned the power of entrepreneurship and of risk-taking and to work with government to create jobs and to create wealth. Because as we all know, there is no wealth distribution unless there is wealth creation.

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 time.

This emphasis on greener mining that we talked about a minute ago is important to bolster public confidence and to ensure that our exploration and mining industry continues to be a global leader, providing well-paid jobs to Canadians across the country.

Perhaps most importantly, we need to bring together different levels of government in a truly national effort. It’s not possible to launch major national projects and nation-building policies if we don’t have all levels of government talking to each other. Premier Notley [Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta] 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 — and, by the way, with leaders of the opposition as well. 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 each other in a very long time.

That’s especially true when it comes to how we develop our natural resources. Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde [National Chief, Assembly of First Nations] put it well when he said, “Before you build anything, build positive, respectful relationships” — a main theme of our cabinet retreat, a main theme of this meeting and I think the way forward together, working in common cause toward national objectives.

And that’s what we’re doing. We’re holding dozens of roundtables bringing together environmentalists, energy and mining executives, Indigenous peoples and municipal leaders. And when you put people with different interests around the same table, it’s remarkable how much space opens up for them to listen, to learn and to find common ground. Our goal must be to find that sweet spot between resource development and environmental responsibility while respecting Indigenous culture and knowledge.

But as the Prime Minister has said many times — and this a very important point — “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 and 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 tomorrow.

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 sustainably.

Our government has worked to create that certainty and build that confidence with the 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 by Christmas; and with a fundamental review of Canada’s environmental assessment laws, including modernization of the National Energy Board. 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.

As ministers, all of us have been given another important assignment: 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 at the corner of Portage and Main. 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 plus a constructive role in advancing that work. Many of the issues facing our country are shared responsibilities between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. 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.

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 to 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.

We have a generational opportunity to reshape Canada’s energy future. But it will take bold leadership and 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. Confirming the wisdom of something that we’ve known for a long time: that Canada works best when Canadians work together.

I’m also cautiously optimistic about the progress possible on the issues still ahead. 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 for all of our people, while protecting the environment we cherish. Not easy, but then Canadians have never been daunted by the difficult.

Our history is marked by successive generations dreaming big, acting together and achieving great things. 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. I look forward to writing that next chapter with you tomorrow, bright and early. Thank you very much.

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Hon. James Gordon Carr Natural Resources Canada Nature and Environment

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