Alberta Oil magazine is eulogizing ex-Alberta premier and federal environment minister Jim Prentice, who died Friday in a plane crash outside Kelowna, as a consensus-builder who “was always ahead of the curve on energy.”
But while the fossil publication points to several Prentice initiatives that have made their way into policy or popular wisdom, the broader consensus around those measures may be more elusive than correspondent Nick Wilson thinks.
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Prentice represented Canada at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, “was the brains behind the Harper government’s phaseout of coal-fired power, and he worked with the U.S. to get stricter auto emission standards,” Wilson writes. “As Premier of Alberta, he wanted to invest in renewable energy as coal plants retired. He brought environment and climate change issues into a space that wasn’t always very open to embracing this thinking.”
Prentice “also encouraged Alberta’s First Nations that support crude to tidewater to work with those B.C. communities that don’t. Today, much of his thinking is mainstream.” While disagreements over carbon pricing catch the headlines, Wilson adds, ‘there is a quiet agreement on many energy and environment issues among the ruling and opposition parties from east to west coasts, including climate science, investment in renewables, and the importance of oil and gas. They diverge on coal, carbon pricing, and pipeline specifics.”
But in a comment that might raise flags with the First Nations, municipalities, and other communities and organizations standing against fossil fuel and pipeline development, Wilson opines that “all mainstream parties support oil and gas as being central to Canada’s energy mix, while disagreeing over specifics, such as the best route to get crude to tidewater.” That degree of consensus means “we’ve come a long, long way down a stony trail from the scorched earth politics of the National Energy Program of Pierre Trudeau. Jim Prentice helped pave it. Such bridge building is part of his legacy.”
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