At the close of the 2011 fall sitting of Parliament, John Carmichael, the MP for Don Valley West, presented the ForourGrandchildren petition on renewable energy requesting the Government of Canada to:
Take immediate steps to develop in cooperation with the Provinces of Canada a national policy on Renewable Energy, with the goal of presenting to the Parliament of Canada this national policy by 2014 for adoption into law and subsequent implementation by Government action.
Two months later the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources responded with a four paragraph memo. The Minister’s memo ignored two circumstances expressly mentioned in the petition and central to the request:
- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on renewable energy pointing out its great potential, and
- the IPCC’s recognition of the importance of countries developing a national policy on renewable energy.
Lastly there was no commitment in the memo to a strategy to initiate the process of cooperation and consultation or any time line for action as requested.
The Minister’s first paragraph (115 words) dealt with the generalities of cooperation with the provinces. His second paragraph (68 words) gave statistics on the sources of renewable energy in Canada. His third paragraph (119 words) spoke of the role of the Government of Canada in bringing “innovative renewable energy technologies from idea to marketplace”.
His first paragraph began with a self-congratulatory sentence describing the Government of Canada’s “comprehensive approach” to reduce emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases to help protect the environment and the health of Canadians. True, renewable energy will reduce air borne health risks caused by fossil fuels, but this statement demonstrates no recognition that the essential reason for developing renewable energy is to stop global warming.
As for collaboration, the paragraph referred to “A Collaborative Approach to Energy Policy” endorsed by a meeting of the Minister and Provincial/Territorial Ministers in July 2011. Yet the Federal Government’s News Release that summarized the subjects discussed at this meeting said nothing about an endorsement of renewable energy:
“The ministers discussed common issues, which could be addressed collaboratively by the federal, provincial and territorial governments under this approach. Areas of possible collaboration identified by ministers included regulatory reform, energy efficiency, energy information and awareness, new markets and international trade, and smart grids and electricity reliability.”
The Minister’s third paragraph referred to the ecoENERGY Renewable Power program which will invest over $100 million per year over the next 10 years “to support our renewable energy industry”. No mention that one of the first things the Minister did after the 2011 election was to cancel a $1 billion subsidy for renewable energy. That subsidy was withdrawn supposedly because of budget constraints, but the many billions of dollars of subsidies for the Canadian fossil fuel industry were not touched.
His last paragraph concluded with this platitude, probably the work of a Department Communications Officer:
“The Federal Government will continue to work with provincial and territorial governments, industry stakeholders and all Canadians to further strengthen Canada’s approach and ensure that energy policies, including those related to renewable energy, are coordinated and serve the best interests of Canadians.”
The words “including those related to renewable energy” appear to be put in as an afterthought.
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