Re­view by Jaime Watt

Jim Pren­tice with Jean-Sébastien Rioux Triple Crown: Win­ning Canada’s En­ergy Fu­ture. Toronto, Harper­Collins, 2017.

Policy - - In This Issue - Re­view by Jaime Watt Jaime Watt is Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man of Nav­i­ga­tor Ltd and a Con­ser­va­tive colum­nist and com­men­ta­tor. jwatt@navltd.com

Triple Crown: Win­ning Canada’s En­ergy Fu­ture By Jim Pren­tice with Jean-Sébastien Rioux

It would be chal­leng­ing for any rea­son­able Cana­dian—Con­ser­va­tive, Lib­eral, New Demo­crat or Green—to read the late Jim Pren­tice’s book Triple Crown: Win­ning Canada’s En­ergy Fu­ture, and find a sig­nif­i­cant ob­jec­tion to his cen­tral ar­gu­ment.

This non-par­ti­san, pol­icy-driven, thought­fully crafted and emo­tion­ally charged man­i­festo by Al­berta’s for­mer pre­mier and fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive cab­i­net min­is­ter clearly and ele­gantly posits that Canada should be the coun­try the world looks to for re­spon­si­ble en­ergy de­vel­op­ment.

Pren­tice, who trag­i­cally died in a plane crash late last year, ar­gues that Canada has the po­ten­tial to rede­fine it­self as a global force in the en­ergy world. Canada, Pren­tice notes, has one of the world’s largest as­set bases of oil, nat­u­ral gas, ura­nium, coal, hy­dro­elec­tric­ity and re­new­able en­ergy. He re­minds us, how­ever, that when Cana­di­ans and oth­ers talk about Cana­dian en­ergy, the first thing that comes to mind are the Al­berta oil sands along with the neg­a­tive im­agery that quickly fol­lows.

He speaks to the fact that Cana­di­ans are proud of their avi­a­tion in­dus­try, uni­ver­si­ties, tech­nol­ogy cen­tres, and world-class man­u­fac­tur­ing hubs in On­tario and Que­bec, but are em­bar­rassed and with­drawn when it comes to the en­ergy sec­tor. As Pren­tice sees it, the proof is in the pud­ding—not one ma­jor global en­ergy com­pany is head­quar­tered in Canada.

The book starts with a com­pre­hen­sive over­view of Canada’s re­sources, and their strate­gic in­ter­est. It quickly digs deeper to of­fer an eye-open­ing, first-hand ac­count of the Cana­dian-Amer­i­can re­la­tion­ship from a nu­anced per­spec­tive. It pro­vides a mea­sured ac­count of hur­dles the en­ergy econ­omy faces, namely what many con­sider to be en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges. Pren­tice frames these in­stead as op­por­tu­ni­ties—le­git­i­mate is­sues that re­late to Canada’s First Na­tions. To con­clude, Pren­tice de­scribes op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Asia Pa­cific Basin and of­fers rec­om­men­da­tions for a bet­ter fu­ture.

Pren­tice ar­gues that for Canada to have a fu­ture in the en­ergy busi­ness it must ex­cel in the busi­ness of the en­vi­ron­ment.

Pren­tice’s view is that a pros­per­ous econ­omy and a healthy en­vi­ron­ment go hand in hand, and that Cana­dian politi­cians of­ten don’t un­der­stand this. The eco­nomic cost of do­ing noth­ing on cli­mate change is high, he says, not­ing that the Key­stone XL Pipe­line—the most sig­nif­i­cant ex­pan­sion of Canada’s en­ergy ex­port ca­pac­ity into the United States— was blocked only be­cause the U.S. pres­i­dent didn’t want to be as­so­ci­ated with Canada’s cli­mate change poli­cies. He also notes that Canada’s pipe­line push to both the east and the west is be­ing chal­lenged by First Na­tions and by mu­nic­i­pal and provin­cial gov­ern­ments, on en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds.

It’s a valu­able les­son to prag­matic con­ser­va­tives across the coun­try: Canada, for the sake of its con­tin­ued pros­per­ity, must re­spond to the is­sue that crit­ics are us­ing to un­der­mine this suc­cess—the en­vi­ron­ment.

New Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer should heed this ad­vice. Few peo­ple now doubt the sci­ence of cli­mate change, vir­tu­ally ev­ery­one un­der the age of 30, and even a ma­jor­ity of Al­ber­tans see the en­vi­ron­ment as an im­por­tant is­sue. Scheer’s chances at elec­toral suc­cess will be sig­nif­i­cantly weak­ened un­less the Con­ser­va­tives have a ma­ture pol­icy po­si­tion on cli­mate change.

So far, Cana­dian politi­cians have not come up with clear, for­ward-look­ing poli­cies on en­ergy and the en­vi­ron­ment. These, Pren­tice ar­gues, are des­per­ately needed.

Pren­tice makes clear we need to lead more ag­gres­sively on the en­vi­ron­ment, and that en­ergy suc­cess will de­pend on re­duc­ing our car­bon emis­sions and green­ing our en­ergy sys­tems.

This book should be manda­tory read­ing for any as­pir­ing Cana­dian leader, re­gard­less of par­ti­san stripe. It is the de­fin­i­tive text on how to move our en­ergy and re­source econ­omy for­ward in a po­lit­i­cal world that is in­creas­ingly im­ped­ing its suc­cess­ful fu­ture.

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