Clean Energy/Clean Tech


From the Editor / L. Ian MacDonald

Welcome to our special issue on Clean Energy/Clean Tech, one of the defining economic and environmental issues of the day.

David McLaughlin, former president of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, sets the table with a survey piece on climate change and how the conversation has changed, notably on carbon pricing: “Canada has swung from a seeming inevitability on climate action with carbon pricing to a pitched battle between Liberals and Conservatives, some provinces and Ottawa, challenging the very notion of carbon and climate action at all.”

Dan Woynillowicz and Merran Smith of Clean Energy Canada write that clean growth is more than a goal, it’s a reality. For example, they point out “a record-setting 1.1 million electric cars were sold in 2017.” Canada saw a 68 per cent increase in EV sales over 2016.

Dan Gagnier, ex-chair of the International Institute on Sustainable Development, looks at clean tech and writes that consumers will drive the pace of change, in an environment where disruption is the new normal.

Janet Drysdale, vice president responsible for CN’s sustainability strategy, makes the case for rail as a choice for clean energy. Transportation accounts for 28 per cent of Canada’s GHGs, but rail only 1 per cent.

ABB Canada President Nathalie Pilon writes that “never has there been a better time for leaders to adopt sustainable business practices by taking ownership of the digital space…” in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Karen Hamberg of Westport Fuel Systems in Vancouver writes of the opportunity to “deploy made-in-Canada clean technology in a material way to diversify our economy.” Derek Nighbor of the Forest Products Association of Canada writes of the Canadian forestry industry as a success story in clean tech. In a guest column, James Scongack of Bruce Power writes of nuclear power as a clean energy alternative, notably to coal. And Tim McMillan, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, sees a world that will need “more energy in every form, including more Canadian oil and more Canadian natural gas.”

Finally, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May sees the development of renewable energy as a path to reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

In Canada and the World, we take a look at the Ontario election, and the changes upcoming under Premier Doug Ford. Geoff Norquay writes that “by any measure, the PC victory on June 7 was both decisive and strong.” He also notes that Ford wasted no time in holding a summer sitting of the Legislature, moving quickly to “cancel Ontario’s cap-and-trade program on carbon emissions.” Veteran Liberal strategist and media consultant Patrick Gossage writes that both pundits and pols were wrong about the June election. “How could the media have got it so wrong?” he asks. The obvious answer—a state of denial.

With an October 1 Quebec election on the horizon, veteran journalist and author Graham Fraser offers a primer on the campaign. By all the leading economic indicators and fiscal frameworks, the re-election of Philippe Couillard’s Liberals should be a slam-dunk. But it’s not. Going into the campaign, François Legault’s Coalition avenir Québec easily led the Liberals outside Montreal, with the Parti Québécois a distant third. How to explain it? “For the first time since 1970,” Fraser writes, “Quebec independence is not on the ballot.” 

Government procurement can be unwieldy at the best of times, with unknown challenges ahead in the digital age, particularly for small business. Procurement consulting executive Chand Sooran offers his thoughts on SMEs doing business with large corporations and government.

Ten years after the financial crisis of 2008-09, Kevin Lynch looks back at those dark days and asks if the repair job is finished. As clerk of the Privy Council during the crisis and now as a vice-chair at BMO, Lynch considers some of the challenges facing both government and the private sector. 

Our foreign affairs writer Jeremy Kinsman, a former senior Canadian diplomat, looks at the chaotic world of Donald Trump, who is shaking the multilateral institutions of western democracies created and led by the U.S. From the G7 in Quebec to the NATO summit in Brussels, it’s been a summer of discontent. 

In a book review, Historica Canada President Anthony Wilson-Smith looks at J.D.M Stewart’s Being Prime Minister, and finds the author captures what makes Canadian PMs tick, in their private as well their public lives.

Finally, columnist Don Newman considers the conundrum of Justin Trudeau as he heads into an election trying to balance his environmental promises with the energy file, particularly the Trans Mountain pipeline project, of which the government has taken ownership. Newman writes that the Liberals have also taken political ownership.