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ENERGY – Injecting some Positive Energy in a divisive national debate

(Image: uottawa.ca)

By BILL WHITELAW
President and CEO
JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group

CALGARY – Monica Gattinger, a University of Ottawa scholar, is doing more to do advance constructive energy conversations in Canada than just about anyone.

Bill Whitelaw.

She’s the chair of Positive Energy, a three-year initiative to assess how Canadians think and talk about energy in all forms. Positive Energy is bringing together disparate and typically unaligned voices.

Her goal is to reframe our domestic energy narratives. She wants to know why, as an energy-producing nation, we’ve become increasingly poor at talking about energy issues.

We tend to worry a lot about energy efficiency but we’re incredibly inefficient in terms of talking about it.

Her latest paper, System Under Stress: Energy Decision-Making in Canada and the Need for Informed Reform, was co-authored with Michael Cleland, a senior fellow at the university. The paper examines key aspects of energy policy-making and regulation. The authors lay out some compelling logic and ask some tough questions.

The paper is refreshingly pragmatic in clearly identifying problems and suggesting reforms.

A three-year initiative assesses how Canadians think and talk about energy in all forms, bringing together disparate and typically unaligned

Neither Canada’s policy frameworks nor its various regulatory tools are robust enough to meet our energy demands. More often than not, they sag (and even collapse) under their burdens.

Gattinger examines how energy literacy complicates how we engage in energy matters.

My perspective is that too many people with too little knowledge are too deeply involved in energy discourses. They need more knowledge. Energy ignorance has jammed the gears of decision making, and sometimes the sector and the government are too indifferent to public ignorance. In turn, that ignorance creates a sense of entitlement for folks who oppose energy development – they too often leap into the breach without the knowledge that could shift their positions from the simply shrill to constructively rational.

Over the last few years, the petroleum sector’s rallying cry has been that evidence-based science will carry the day. But most folks forgot the rudiments of scientific inquiry when they left high school and scientific facts themselves are highly politicized. Ordinary folks are caught is a crossfire of duelling facts and opposing sides are often great at manipulating these facts.

Thinking that science will carry the day in this climate is naive at best.

The scales of knowledge are rarely in balance. Special interest groups and politicians, for example, often don’t acquaint themselves with the science or the facts, relying on the notion of social licence in any energy-related confrontation. And if these two groups, to which ordinary folks look for leadership, are less informed than they ought to be, what hope is there that average Canadians will step up to learn?

This perspective is perhaps just outside the constructive framework of Gattinger’s Positive Energy philosophy. But it’s a hard truth we ignore at our peril.

In the meantime, get acquainted with Positive Energy. Get behind its momentum. Support its positions and perspectives for more constructive energy dialogue.

It holds tremendous promise to rescue Canadians from the current quagmire of indifference and ignorance.

Bill Whitelaw is president and CEO at JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group.

© 2017 Distributed by Troy Media

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About Mel Rothenburger (4605 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on ENERGY – Injecting some Positive Energy in a divisive national debate

  1. The stats are pretty clear, Canadians are energy hogs.
    We are also very selfish, thinking our single actions don’t carry much “weight”. But it is the collection of millions of single actions that make us statistically relevant. Yes worldwide many other countries are, overall, worse polluters than we are. However, we must be better at conservation and environmental stewardship.

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