Read the Room

Read the Room May 25, 2021

by Rick Peterson                 

Anyone in Canada, and especially here in Alberta, who is looking at the energy sector right now can quite easily read the room and see where we need to truly invest our time and effort.

 Energy East is dead.

 Northern Gateway was buried long ago.

 Keystone XL is on life support.

And progressive elements in the Democratic Party, led by Green New Deal firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are pushing hard to shut down Line 5, which connects Alberta oil to Ontario and Quebec.

After TMX is (hopefully) completed, it’s unlikely that any new pipeline will ever be built in Canada.

All of this mess highlights the need for Canada to accelerate its capital and investment plan into what’s called the “energy transition” sector. This involves supporting the transition from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption – including oil, natural gas, and coal - to renewable energy systems using hydrogen, lithium, helium, wind, solar and nuclear.

It’s the right thing to do for Canada. It’s the right thing to do for Alberta. And it’s an amazing opportunity for Edmonton Strathcona to be right in the middle of it all.

Reading the room and pivoting rapidly to the energy transition sector is a no-brainer. It helps us more effectively tackle climate change. It ensures Canadians have access to reliable clean energy from coast to coast, and it will help drastically revitalize Alberta’s economy.

In fact, Alberta is already ramping up its efforts to become a serious player in energy markets as we transition away from oil. Just this month Suncor and ATCA announced a partnership to pursue a “world-scale” hydrogen project that could produce 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year. The economic impact of a project like this, which leans heavily on its Edmonton refinery, would be immense. On top of that, if the project succeeds, it could reduce Alberta’s CO2 emissions by 2 million tonnes per year.  

Beyond production, we are seeing large players advance their zero-emission strategy as well. National railway operator Canadian Pacific has just announced a partnership to begin the development of their hydrogen locomotive project, and major auto-manufacturers are pledging to move entirely off gasoline in the next 10-15 years.

So the question is, are we going to stand by and let this transition leave us behind? Or are we going to read the tea leaves, react accordingly, and cement ourselves at the front of the pack?

Let’s be leaders of this movement, not followers.

That’s why I’ve proposed that we turn Edmonton Strathcona into a capital and investment hub to help make Canada competitive. The riding is a perfect fit because it has everything global providers of capital are looking for:

  • Proximity to the U of A and all the technology coming out of it.
  • Low-cost real estate in an attractive location with easy access to the airport
  • Access to top-notch research – which we will develop and set up with open access to global fund managers, dealers and investors
  • Close proximity to government offices and decision-makers at the provincial level who affect policy decisions and support in this space
  • A progressive, open and welcoming community known for its vibrant culture and ethnically diverse neighborhoods

And better yet, growth in the tech industry in Alberta has shown us that this type of transition is possible.

Alberta’s tech industry is booming right now, but it wasn’t always like this. In 2018 there were 1238 tech companies operating in Alberta. In 2021 there are 3038. Alberta is becoming a tech hub for Canadian industry, and that same growth could, and should, also apply for Canada’s energy transition goals.  

A majority of Canadians don’t feel that Canada’s approach to climate change does enough to combat the issue, while at the same time a majority of Canadians feel that Ottawa is ignoring the economic consequences of aggressive climate policies. That gives the impression that we’re in an unwinnable position.

That impression isn’t reality. We can both push for better climate measures, while emboldening industry, creating jobs and prosperity. We have the keys to make it happen here in Edmonton.

It’s time we had representation in Ottawa willing to take a bold stance on getting this right.

 

Rick Peterson is an Edmonton businessman and Conservative Party of Canada nomination candidate in Edmonton Strathcona.