Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put some distance between his government and Canada’s previous positioning as a global energy superpower in a keynote address this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for its resources. I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness,” Trudeau told a gathering of about 400 delegates. “The low oil prices are a challenge, but the Canadian economy is a lot more than just natural resources. We have extraordinary high-tech sectors, innovative manufacturers, really strong biotech, and mostly an educated, diverse work force that is excited about participating in the global economy.”
Trudeau took the opportunity in Davos to rub shoulders with potential investors and global influencers like billionaire investor George Soros, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, the Globe and Mail reports. “It’s welcome back to the Canada that we know, and on a global scale,” Soros said.
But Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi took Trudeau to task for de-emphasizing the country’s fossil fuel sector. “I might not have used the same language that the Prime Minister used,” he told Fife. “We are still a resource economy. Our biggest export is still energy, and I do not see a path where that does not continue to be the case.”
Yet fossil executives attending this year’s World Economic Forum are beginning to quietly acknowledge that oil prices could stay “a lot lower for a lot longer,” Bloomberg reports—a development that raises practical questions about why Canada would want to dump ever-larger volumes of product into an already glutted market.
“It is the third year in a row we have more supply than demand,” said International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol. “Prices will be still under pressure. I don’t see any reason why we [would] have a surprise increase in the price in 2016.”