As oil prices continue their downward slide, Canada will be hosting a meeting of North American energy ministers in Winnipeg, Manitoba next week, Ottawa announced Monday.
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr will meet his counterparts Dr. Ernest Moniz, the United States Secretary of Energy and Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Mexico’s Secretary of Energy, on Feb 11 and 12.
The goal of the meeting is help the trio build a foundation for greater continental focus on climate change and energy collaboration, said a statement released by Carr’s office.
“The three energy leaders will meet face to face and with key stakeholders to share efforts and build strategies for clean and unconventional energy sources and energy trade,” said the statement.
This is the second meeting between Carr, Moniz and Joaquín Coldwell since the Liberals assumed power in early November.
They met in November at the International Energy Agency’s Ministerial meeting in Paris.
Conservative MP Candice Bergen, the Official Opposition Critic for Natural Resources, said the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is building upon a foundation created by the previous Conservative government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
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“What we’d like the new minister and the Liberals continue is a North American strategy when it comes to climate change and to reducing greenhouse gases,” Bergen said. “Canada should not be left to do all of the heavy lifting whether it’s in terms of shutting down exports, which is what the new Liberal government is looking at doing, whether it’s putting more red tape on pipelines being built… or talking about carbon tax.”
The Conservative Party doesn’t think that putting Canada and its oil industry at unfair disadvantage is right way to go to meet Trudeau’s ambitious climate change goals, Bergen said.
“We’re always looking at unfair disadvantages for other sectors, whether it’s agriculture, whether it’s automotive, manufacturing, we want to make sure Canada is at a level playing field,” Bergen said. “It should be no different for our natural resources and our energy sector.”
Bergen said she’s worried the Liberals are willing to sacrifice the interests of Canada’s energy industry for “a pat on the back” from the U.S.
Nathan Cullen, the energy and environment critic of the left-wing opposition New Democratic Party, said the Trudeau government will need to come up with some concrete proposals with respects to Canada’s targets to cut greenhouse gases.
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“The government has been in office a number of months and has made some strong commitments in Paris but without any details,” Cullen said, “and on climate change details matter.”
The idea of common North American strategy to fight climate change has often been used as a delay tactic, Cullen said.
“I think we need leadership,” Cullen said. “I think there is a strong part on the Obama administration to move forward on climate change. Mr. Trudeau has expressed his willingness but not come forward with concrete steps yet, so this is the time to step up to the ‘big boy’ table and show what Canada is willing to do.”
The current crisis affecting Canada’s once-mighty energy industry underlines the urgency for having a diverse and value-added economy that doesn’t rely on the high price of oil, Cullen said.