Canadians must fight U.S. protectionism in the energy sector, Prentice says

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Former Conservative federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice is shown at the Canadian American Business Council during an interview in Ottaw. — Canadian Press photo

The Canadian Press — Ottawa

Former Conservative cabinet minister Jim Prentice says Canadians need to step up their efforts to maintain free and open energy markets for Canada’s oil, gas and electricity in the United States.

Prentice, who is now a vice-president at CIBC, is in Halifax today to discuss how Canada will fare in a North America that is on the verge of being energy independent.

“If we play our cards right, there will be profound opportunities for Atlantic Canada and for our country as a whole,” he told the Maritimes Energy Association in Halifax, according to a text of his speech.

But he said Canadians can’t take access to the U.S. market for granted.

Rather, Prentice warned that they should be vigilant about signs of protectionism coming in the form of low carbon fuel standards or regional requirements to use specific amounts of renewable energy.

“Canada must continue to fight for a continental energy marketplace that is free of national and sub-national impediments. Interventions by government, while well meaning, are nevertheless potentially damaging and counter-productive,” he said.

“Even green protectionism is protectionism nonetheless.”

If U.S. markets stay open to Canadian products, Prentice says the Canadian energy sector stands to profit handsomely, not just from oil and gas sales but also from hydro-electricity.

Prentice — who stepped down as environment minister in November, 2010 — has been a strong advocate of fully developing the energy potential of the Lower Churchill River so that Atlantic Canada can define itself as a major exporter of clean electricity.

He acknowledged that cheap and abundant natural gas in North America means volatility for Canadian oil and hydro-electricity exporters. But as heavy users of electricity look for ways to wean themselves off fossil fuels, Prentice believes the long-term potential for hydro is promising — as long as U.S. markets stay open.

In order to ensure that subnational energy requirements don’t get in Canada’s way, Prentice proposes setting up bi-national working groups “with real teeth” that would establish policies for both countries.

Organizations: Canadian Press, CIBC, Maritimes Energy Association

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, U.S., Halifax North America Lower Churchill River

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Recent comments

  • seanoairborne
    May 01, 2013 - 11:00

    You'll have to wait for the Bum in our WH to be thrown out on his ear before you get satisfaction.Canada is our biggest supplier of energy and are treated like the red headed step child by this bunch of loopy lefty goons in Washington.Chalk it up to the ignorance of our masses.Sorry!!!!

    May 01, 2013 - 06:54

    Doesn't Canada have Atomic generating plants like the one that caused all the problems a short time ago in Japan, I think 10-12 of them one operating in Quebec? Power generated by harnessing the power of a water falls like the Churchill Falls or The Muskrat Falls which ran for Millions of years, and will run for millions more, Creating Clean,Reliable and Cheap, Power, When it is developed it will be one of the Cheapest To Operate and the Cleanest and safest to run.

    • Tony Rockel
      May 01, 2013 - 10:31

      What planet are you living on? Cheap power from Muskrat Falls? You obviously haven't a clue-- either that or you're a robot.