QP – Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Areas

The Honourable Jim Carr, P.C., MP., Minister of Natural Resources 

March 27, 2018

Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Areas

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Thank you, minister, for being here. Your mandate letter states you must:

Work closely with provinces and territories to: develop a Canadian Energy Strategy to protect Canada’s energy security; encourage energy conservation; and bring cleaner, renewable energy onto a smarter electricity grid.

As you know, we in Nunavut are facing a carbon tax potentially being imposed on us by the end of this year. I’ve called on your government to recognize the unique situation of Nunavut with 25 fly-in-only communities that are solely reliant on diesel. I have yet to see any accommodations for my home territory.

Further, as the main importer of petroleum products into the territory, the Government of Nunavut stands to pay the largest price, should a carbon tax be introduced in the territory. So I was pleased, minister, to hear your announcement about a clean energy for remote and rural communities program in February. INAC had a $53-million program over 10 years that really wasn’t enough.

Will that fund be available to help Nunavut deal with its dilemma of 100 per cent reliance on fossil fuels? If so, can your government hold off on imposing a carbon tax on Nunavut, which will only serve to increase our already sky-high cost of living, until we have alternate energy projects in place throughout Nunavut?

Hon. Jim Carr, P.C., M.P., Minister of Natural Resources: Thank you, senator. First, I’m glad you brought up the Canadian Energy Strategy as part of the mandate given to me by the Prime Minister. It’s actually a very interesting way of developing public policy. It wasn’t in the government; it was in the private sector where there were business councils and think tanks across the country that wanted to establish a Canadian Energy Strategy when President Obama came to Ottawa on his first foreign mission and asked Prime Minister Harper if he would join him to create a North American energy strategy. A few people across the country scratched their heads and said, “That’s a good idea, but what’s the Canadian Energy Strategy?” Lo and behold, there wasn’t one.

It was left to the premiers to develop it, which they did very effectively. They published a paper in July 2015 toward a Canadian Energy Strategy. That means we use these abundant resources we have in order to knit them together in a national purpose, which would include electricity inter-ties, for example, between my home province of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and maybe someday between British Columbia, Alberta and the North, and in Atlantic Canada.

Also, you probably know that in Budget 2018, my department was asked to invest $220 million in removing remote and isolated communities off diesel. Through INAC there are greater funds available.

The preamble of your question is consistent with what the Government of Canada has already announced and what it hopes to accomplish.