Hon. Paul J. Massicotte: Thank you, minister, for being with us today. Much appreciated.
Last week at the conference in Winnipeg you were asked whether you would agree to develop a comprehensive strategy on how to best manage the issues relative to all of our resources. Your answer was: “I don’t favour strategy. I like to do one-offs, one at a time.” Now, that’s the answer we also got from the Harper government, which I never agreed with. Strategy, in my definition, means you do an assessment of the environment. You define your objective. You define how you’re going to get there and develop a plan.
So I’m trying to understand your answer. I presume you must have a plan. I presume you understand the constraints and, therefore, have a strategy. Could you explain to me your answer of last week in light of that practicality?
Honourable Jim Carr, P.C., M.P., Minister of Natural Resources: Well, senator, I’m sure I didn’t say a series of one-offs. What I did say was that there would be a number of reports, and what I’m referring to is that a comprehensive legislative package will be introduced into the House of Commons throughout the next number of months that will deal with a reform of the environmental assessment process in Canada, a reform of the National Energy Board, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.
That is one part of the changing environment that will govern the way energy is produced, moved and regulated in Canada. Out of that conference, there will be a series of recommendations and a series of ideas. At the same time, when we talk to the provinces about the federal government’s role in establishing a Canadian energy strategy, some senators may know that the Canadian Energy Strategy actually had its frame built on the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg.
The story is that President Obama went to visit Ottawa and Prime Minister Harper on his first foreign trip, and during the press conference President Obama challenged Prime Minister Harper to develop a North American energy strategy with him. A few people scratched their heads and said, “What is the Canadian energy strategy that we would bring into the discussion?” And the answer was, there wasn’t one. To their credit — and I won’t go through the whole story — the provinces, through the Council of the Federation, developed the Canadian Energy Strategy. Why? Because the Conservative government of Prime Minister Harper had no interest in developing a Canadian energy strategy and said so. And said so.
Not only was he neutral, but he was negative.
So now that there is a Government of Canada —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Carr: Thank you. Now there is a Government of Canada that wants to build on the work of the premiers and the provinces; and, I might say humbly, with full understanding of provincial jurisdiction in the natural resources world, but understanding that the national government could have a very constructive role to play, for example on electricity interties between provinces, I’m having conversations, including in my own province, and there is a lot of interest among the premiers. We hope to work well together.
So, senator, it’s not a series of one-offs. It is a series of conversations and policies that will lead to a strategy that I hope will be embraced by many Canadians.