JANE TABER and SHAWN McCARTHY CHARLOTTETOWN and and OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail Last updated Friday, Aug. 29 2014, 9:05 PM EDT
Ontario and Quebec have seized the leadership of a long-promised Canadian energy strategy, shifting the focus to climate change and clean energy from the pipeline agenda.
At the closing session of their annual conference on Prince Edward Island, premiers released the outline of the Canadian Energy Strategy, which every one of them, including Quebec, has endorsed.
For Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec’s Philippe Couillard this is a victory – the plan puts as much emphasis on addressing climate change as it does on the transport and transmission of energy.
Mr. Couillard had indicated he would support the strategy only if climate change and clean energy were included. At the closing news conference, he thanked his colleagues for their collaboration, noting they “made the essential link between environment and energy strategy.”
He also announced he will play host to a climate-change summit next spring in Quebec and all of the premiers are invited.
For several years, the premiers were at odds over the strategy, which was being led by then-Alberta premier Alison Redford, who emphasized the oil sands and transporting oil and gas along pipelines.
At the premiers’ meeting in Halifax two years ago, British Columbia’s Christy Clark refused to participate in a national strategy because of a dispute with Ms. Redford over the Northern Gateway pipeline project. That was eventually resolved – but Pauline Marois, then Quebec’s separatist premier, had refused to sign on.
Change in leadership – Ms. Marois and Ms. Redford are both gone now – has dramatically altered the dynamic around the premiers’ table.
For Ms. Wynne, the agreement reached Friday is “probably the most significant thing that came out of this meeting.”
“I think the fact of having a federalist premier [from Quebec] at the table to take part in something as significant as an energy strategy is a huge step forward,” she said.