We're going to get things under way here.
There are a couple of things at the outset. We have an extended session today. We're going to be sitting until 6:30. We have three witnesses in the first hour and two in the second. Because of all of the cancellations we've had due to votes in the last series of Wednesdays, I asked our clerk to see if he could line up as many witnesses as he possibly could for today, which he was able to do on Thursday and Friday, which I thank him for. The notice that went out Friday didn't include all of the witnesses, so it's not just some of you who didn't know the names of all the witnesses until earlier today or late Friday; it was everybody. I'm grateful to everybody for co-operating.
Our first three witnesses are Steve Reynish from Suncor, Jordan Brennan from Unifor, and Chris Boivin from Sustainable Development Technology Canada.
I would like to thank all three of you for taking the time to be here today.
I would particularly like to thank you, Mr. Reynish, as this is the third time you've been kind enough to make yourself available to attend, which in itself is extraordinary, but in light of recent events in Fort McMurray, it's even more so. Thank you, sir, for doing that.
I'm going to open the floor to our three witnesses who will have up to 10 minutes each to make a presentation, and then we will follow that by opening the floor to questions. We should be finished the first segment around 5:30. We can suspend the meeting for a few moments. I suspect we can take care of some administrative business then, and then we can get on with the second set of witnesses.
Without any further ado, I will turn it over to our witnesses.
Mr. Reynish, since you have waited the longest, sir, I will let you start.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, everyone.
I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. I have deposited the full text of my statement with the committee clerk. I will try to shorten my remarks to allow more time for questions and further discussion.
My name is Steve Reynish, and I am the executive vice-president for strategy and corporate development with Suncor Energy, Canada's leading integrated energy company, employing over 10,000 Canadians from coast to coast.
The scheduled topic for today is the future of Canada's oil and gas, mining, and nuclear sectors, and how we, in the oil and gas sector, are adjusting to this new, lower-for-longer price environment, or as we sometimes refer to it in Calgary, “even lower for even longer”.
First, however, I would like to make some very brief remarks on the fires in northern Alberta and the impacts on the community and the industry. The safety and well-being of people remain the number one priority. Working together, government, industry, and local first nations have safely evacuated thousands of residents and workers. Oil sands companies have world-class safety procedures, experience, and expertise in managing these types of situations and in planning and executing safe shutdown and restart of their operations. Safety and the environment will continue to be our first priority as operations restart, and I am pleased to say some of that is under way now.
The impacts of the fire on Fort McMurray are significant, as you know. Thousands of residents have been displaced. While work is under way to begin the process of rebuilding the community of Fort McMurray—where my family and I lived for three years—it will take some time for the safe re-entry of citizens. In contrast, essentially none of the industrial locations have been physically impacted, to date, and much of the industry is now in the process of restarting operations.
It is important to remember that the industry is here for the long term. These are 50- to maybe 100-year assets, and they are being protected. The communities, the industry, and its people are resilient, and that resilience will allow the industry to return to full production and provide Canada and North America with the energy they need. In the weeks and months to come, industry will continue to work with governments, communities, first nations, and others to restore a thriving community in Fort McMurray.
I think the response to the fire brought out the very best qualities in Canadians. Their generosity in supporting those affected has been and continues to be tremendous. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, the residents of Fort McMurray will need our help and support. Based on the response so far, I know they will get it.
Finally, I know I speak for my colleagues when I say how very proud we are of the determination, spirit, and commitment that our employees and contractors have shown throughout this difficult period.
Now, let's turn to the big picture.
The oil and gas industry is vital to Canada's economy. It creates jobs, generates taxes, and provides for our energy needs. The magnitude and duration of low oil prices are having a significant impact on producers, suppliers, partners, and the wider economy. These effects are being reflected in impacts to real people, their families, and their businesses. It will take years to fully recover. We have all seen the very real effects of the downturn on the Canadian economy, and the knock-on effects of lower revenues to governments. At Suncor, our strategy continues to focus on being a low-cost, low-carbon oil sands producer.
There are two parts to this economic story: the immediate term and the medium-to-longer term.
The immediate term is about survival for the industry, and it is not one the industry will be coming out of soon. I believe we need to see global crude inventories significantly decrease over an extended period of time before oil prices recover.
At Suncor, our integrated business model, our strong focus on capital discipline, and a healthy balance sheet have positioned us to weather this difficult phase. To be frank, we believe that we are in a better position than many others, and we continue to maintain a relatively healthy balance sheet.
In the medium-to-longer term, the challenge will be growth. As I think everyone appreciates, growth equals job creation. Prior to the recent fire event, many producers had cut growth investment to zero.
At Suncor, however, we have maintained our commitment to advance two significant projects: the new Fort Hills mine in Alberta and the Hebron production facility off the coast of Newfoundland. In addition, we increased our ownership in the Syncrude oil sands operations earlier this year.
For this new construction, our goal is to avoid the value destruction associated with stopping and starting projects, and to take advantage of a lower-cost construction environment to ensure that these projects remain economically sustainable. This commitment has meant continued employment for many of our contractors and suppliers. For example, over the next number of months, Fort Hills will employ approximately 5,000 to 6,000 people as it moves into the peak construction period.
Unfortunately, others in our industry with higher debt or limited cash flow have had to defer or cancel long-term investment decisions for future growth projects. Both the price environment and the lack of market access have contributed to these decisions. There are real and long-lasting impacts. For example, all upstream producers lost money in the first two months of this year and, collectively, the industry data shows 40,000 direct job losses and something like 100,000 indirect job losses across Canada.
Also, let us not forget that pipeline capacity is still required to support the existing operations and current in-flight projects. The production and projects across the industry that are currently idled hope to be restarted, and the need for new pipelines has not been diminished. Quite simply, future job creation and new investment will depend on project economics, of which price is the single biggest factor.
Other factors, such as regulatory and fiscal certainty, market access, and the overall policy burden costs from different levels of government, play a key role. To illustrate this situation, the capital investment of Suncor's interests in the $15-billion Fort Hills project is $6.5 billion, and Suncor's investment in Hebron is over $3 billion. Construction on both of these projects is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017. Once these two projects are substantially complete, the order books for firms across Canada supplying products and services to these projects will be largely clear, and there are few new megaprojects, if any, on the horizon.
While the price environment has been challenging, Suncor has preserved its commitment to research and development and new technology. I know this is an area of interest for the committee.
Suncor spends approximately $200 million annually on new technology and innovation. These investments are aimed not only at improving economic competitiveness by reducing costs, but also at helping to minimize our environmental footprint related to water management and at reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
We are unlikely to see new growth projects without the adoption of new technology, and governments and industry need to work to together through a robust R and D effort to reduce the carbon footprint and improve the economics of future oil sands development. In fact, in support of further technology and innovation development, Suncor has publicly supported a broad-based price on carbon.
In particular, we have actively supported the Alberta climate leadership plan, and our chief executive, Steve Williams, was part of the Canadian delegation in Paris for the COP21 discussions.
We look to government to continue to support a culture of innovation. This support should be in the form of direct investment in R and D, and ensuring an adaptive regulatory framework to allow for technology adoption.
Fortunately, the approach required for today is also relevant to the medium-to-longer term. For the industry to be viable in the longer term, our actions today must be part of a lifestyle change, not a crash diet. To be successful, we will need to work together with governments. This means ensuring that strong cohesive policy frameworks are in place to facilitate future development, particularly in securing market access.
We are increasingly in direct competition with our largest customer, the United States, and it is through this lens that we need to consider regulatory efficiency of our industry. Improving our takeaway capacity will improve the ability for corporations to continue to focus on growing, ultimately providing jobs and economic growth.
We want to work with government to ensure there is public confidence in the regulatory process. By addressing these issues and enabling infrastructure projects, we can finally start getting full value for Canada's resources.
Suncor remains committed to working with all governments on moving forward to a low-carbon future. We would encourage the government to consider how we can avoid double counting when setting targets in provincial jurisdictions, where efforts are already under way to reduce greenhouse gases.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I'd be pleased to answer any questions and elaborate on any points I have made.
Thank you very much for the opportunity.
On behalf of Unifor, I want to thank the standing committee for allowing me to speak to you today.
Unifor is Canada's largest private sector labour union. We have over 310,000 members in 36 or so industries. We have 13,000 in oil and gas, all the way upstream in the extractive process, midstream in refining and manufacturing, and downstream in natural gas distribution.
We're in the process right now of developing a comprehensive national energy policy, but it is not yet finalized so I can't give you specific policy recommendations. But I want to bring some pertinent facts to your attention, and also some principles and the policy orientation that we're using to think about energy development in Canada.
Hydrocarbons—that's crude oil, natural gas, and coal—together make up 87% of global energy consumption. It's almost all of it. It's all fossil fuels. Renewable energy is only 2% right now. The single largest and most important fuel source is oil, and that's 33% of the global total. When said that Canada was an energy superpower, he meant it in the context of world energy demand. We have the third-largest global reserves of oil, we're the fourth-largest producer of crude oil, we're the fifth-largest producer of natural gas, and the fourth-largest exporter of natural gas, so he wasn't lying when he said that.
If you look at Canada's actual production mix, nearly half of it is crude oil, 45%, and natural gas makes up a further third, at 34%. That's what we produce domestically. Again, overwhelmingly, it's hydrocarbon-based.
Our energy consumption is a little different. Again, the single largest fuel source is oil at 31%, and then natural gas at 28%. Those two, those industries we're describing here, constitute 60% of our consumption. Only 1.5% is renewable energy.
Now, Canada is actually uniquely blessed in our energy mix in that we have such a high degree of hydroelectric potential. When you look at hydroelectric, nuclear, and renewable energy, those three areas together are 35% of our consumption. Those are non-emitting fuel sources, and that proportion, 35%, is much higher than the global average. Globally, only 13% of consumption is non-emitting. In the EU, which is the champion for renewable energy and non-emitting, they're only at 24%. So even though we consume more than the EU, our consumption mix is much more tilted towards non-emitting sources.
I just want to bring the population of each jurisdiction in Canada, the proportional primary energy production, and the proportional consumption to your attention because 65%, two-thirds, of our energy is produced in Alberta. A further 22% is produced in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
What do these facts mean? They mean three things at least. The world currently has an enormous appetite for hydrocarbons. Second, Canada has an abundance of these resources. Third, any talk of decarbonization is going to have a differential effect on people who live in western Canada, because decarbonization, effectively, means their economy, as most of it is produced up there. These are just the facts we're dealing with right here. I'm just trying to lay out some factual context.
Those three things are significant. When we look at the energy sector's contribution to Canadian prosperity, it's enormous. Ten per cent of our GDP is energy-related, so that puts it on par with manufacturing. When you restrict the focus to oil and gas, it's 7%. That may sound small small, but that's the whole finance and insurance industry, roughly 7%. That's the whole health care and social assistance sector—health, 7%. That's roughly the size of education.
Oil and gas is a major contributor to Canadian prosperity. It's outsized in terms of business investment. It constitutes roughly one-quarter of all business investment in Canada, and it is also outsized in terms of well-paying jobs. From a labour perspective, the average industrial wage in Canada is $23 an hour, so annualized you're looking at $46,000 a year. That's the Canadian average. In natural gas distribution, it's more like $36 an hour, so you're looking at more than a 50% premium on those jobs. In oil and gas extraction, in the extractive activities, it's fully double. You're looking at more like $45 an hour.
I say this because the energy industry is an important source of good-paying jobs.
Canada is a major exporter of oil and gas, of energy, but we're also dependent on foreign sources for our imports. We export 3.6 million barrels of oil per day, almost all of it going to the United States. Most of it goes unrefined. It's either bitumen or unrefined petroleum products. Only 15% of our exports are actually refined petroleum products.
We also import 1.2 million barrels of oil per day and that reflects the fact that our energy grid is positioned on a north-south axis. Western Canada ships most of its energy resources south to the United States, and central and eastern Canada import a lot of their energy. The United States is the single largest supplier, but also Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Norway, and so on.
Canada's energy resources are of world historical significance. They're a source of geostrategic influence. This is part of the starting point of any conversation about decarbonization. Our civilization is built on this energy source, and there's no getting around that. Nearly 90% of our energy is fossil-fuel based. Unifor does recognize the severity of the challenge we face in terms of carbon emissions, pollution, and other forms of ecological devastation.
At the lowest level of resolution, Unifor believes that we can responsibility develop these energy resources, while respecting aboriginal treaty rights, and that would include, of course, consultation and full socio-economic participation, and we can meet our emissions targets as set out in Paris at the COP21.
The current development model for energy will not get us there. During the upswing of the commodities super cycle, during the energy boom, we dug this stuff out of the ground as fast we could, we shipped it off to whomever would buy it, mostly unprocessed, mostly unrefined, often purchasing it back in finished form.
To Unifor's way of thinking, every time we build a pipeline or expand pipeline capacity of unrefined, unprocessed energy resources, we are exporting good jobs. I'm going to circle back to that in just a moment. This gold rush mentality that we've had, you see the negative consequences of this in Alberta and you see it in Newfoundland. When prices are rising, everyone thinks this model looks good, when prices crash, as they inevitably do, everyone gets their second thoughts going.
I'm going to speed up a little bit here.
The key point I want to make is this. If the world is going to decarbonize, and if Canada is going to decarbonize along with it, we need to extract as much economic activity from these resources as possible. We should be trying to spin out as much as possible in the way of job creation and GDP growth if we're going to shrink our resource economic base.
If you look at Canada's refining capacity, just a few more facts, we have 10% of global reserves, 5% of global production, and 2% of refining capacity. We have been shutting down refineries. Between the early 1980s, at the end of the last boom, and the late 1990s, we shut down, on average, one refinery per year.
Even during the energy boom, we shut down four refineries. Our production has tripled since 1978 and our refining capacity today is lower than it was in 1978. We are shutting down all the good-paying jobs associated with refining these resources and just shipping them out as fast as possible. This represents a lost opportunity.
Unifor believes we should develop a national strategy to develop our resources responsibly. We should be drawing on the best practices of other energy jurisdictions in terms of conservation and efficiency, in terms of public ownership and regulatory oversight, consultation, security of supply, and maximal economic community benefit. I'll leave it at that.
Thank you for your attention.
To begin, I'd like to provide a brief overview of SDTC. I'm not sure how many folks are familiar with us as a foundation. I'd also like to talk about some of the drivers we see in the sector, in the oil and gas sector specifically, for innovation. Finally, I'd like to give you an overview of some of the investments SDTC has made over the past 15 years in the sector, to get at some of the issues raised by some of my peers here.
SDTC was created in 2001 with the mandate of being a policy instrument of the government to deliver environmental and economic benefits to Canadians. We're to do that by fostering the development and demonstration of technological solutions that address climate change, clean air, clean water, and clean land or clean soil. We're also to forge innovative partnerships and build a sustainable development technology infrastructure within Canada, which is more than just the hardware, it's also the ecosystem. We're also to ensure timely diffusion—that is, increase the number and rate of uptake of technologies into the marketplace across Canada to provide national benefits. That's national economic and environmental benefits.
As our primary instrument in delivering on our mandate, we use the SD Tech Fund, which is essentially a granting instrument that has received allocations of $955 million from the federal government to date since 2001. That has been largely deployed to date or allocated to projects. We are sitting at roughly $850 million of investments across Canada's economic sectors.
We're registered as a not-for profit and we operate at arm's length but we are accountable to Parliament, formerly through the Minister of National Resources but now accountable through the . We are governed by a board of 15 directors, seven of whom, including our chairman Jim Balsillie, are nominated by the Government of Canada.
Essentially the role of SDTC is to financially de-risk the development and demonstration of technologies. It has been studied for a long time and identified that a lack of capital flows into high-capex development and demonstration of technologies. SDTC's role within that is to buy down some of the financial risk and draw in some of the other financial parties so that these technologies can mature, become market-ready solutions and drive benefits to Canadians.
To date that $850 million from SDTC has been invested in 304 projects. That $850 million has leveraged $2.3 billion from partners. That's government and industry, but about 85% of that is industry. So it's primarily industry.
In terms of the sectoral spread of our funding, a significant portion has been deployed to the oil and gas sector. I would say an estimated 15% has been deployed to what we refer to as cleaner fossil fuel technologies. These are advanced extraction technologies, but also technologies that address some of the waste streams from production. We've also invested in some of the support infrastructure, significant investments in pipeline leak detection technologies, other safety measures associated with production and the pipelines, as well as technologies that are used in the service industry that support the oil and gas sector.
What do we see as the trends or the challenges for the sector and some of the issues we should have top of mind when we look at innovation going forward in that sector?
First I would refer to the OECD green growth indicators study from 2014, which ranks Canada's competitiveness on multi-units on a GDP basis. They looked at GDP productivity per unit of CO2, GDP productivity per unit of energy used, per unit of water withdrawal, and per unit of material consumption in production. Canada ranked not so well, not so favourably, according to the study, when compared with peers such as the United States, the U.K., France, Germany, Ireland, etc. We ranked 14 out of 15 on CO2 productivity, 15 out of 15 on energy productivity, nine out of 11 in water withdrawal productivity, and 11 out of 15 in terms of material consumption productivity on a GDP unit basis.
Furthermore, the world is getting increasingly competitive, as we all know, and there are some megatrends out there that will impact the competitiveness of the sector going forward. The IPCC estimates that we need to reduce emissions by 40% to 70% to avoid the significant impacts of climate change. There's an expectation of 90 trillion dollars' worth of infrastructure investment to achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions over the next 15 years.
China is launching a carbon market in 2017 addressing eight of its sectors. That's just around the corner and they are working closely with the EU to align their policy framework for their market with that of the EU's. It is expected to create a consolidated market in the five- to 10-year time frame.
Finally, a recent McKinsey study estimates that 25% to 40% of the world will be facing shortages in water, energy, and food. Obviously I'd like to highlight energy in that we sit on a lot of energy resources. We need to deploy them effectively.
What does that mean for the oil and gas industry, particularly in Canada?
Many of the speakers before me have indicated the estimates from NRCan are in the range of 8% of our GDP. It's therefore critical to adopt innovative and sustainable solutions to stay competitive. We need to continually improve and drive performance margins to maintain our position in the global competitive landscape, but resilience in the sector to ride through these big macroeconomic blips that we're seeing, particularly on the price of oil, will be tied to a triple bottom line. It's more than just cost-competitiveness. It's environmental and social competitiveness.
You can see globally that externalities are playing an increasing role in determining the viability of business opportunities. Whether it's the perceived carbon liability or social licence issues delaying the rollout of projects, which all adds to the capex and the deployment cost of new business opportunities, these are all coming to bear. For economic prosperity to be maintained in this fast-changing world, we'll need to address those three pillars: economic, environmental, and societal.
We've all seen just how dramatic the highs and lows of oil prices have been over the past 10 years. There's a lot of volatility. It's very difficult for any industry to navigate that kind of volatility. In terms of a different breakout of Canada's position within that volatility, we're looking at how we can hold on to market share within that volatility. What price point do we require to have significant margins and to retain Canadian economic benefits?
This chart illustrates the cost bands for different producers of oil across the world from different resource stocks, as well as the GHG emissions per barrel for the different production pathways. The grey blocks are the cost band. Horizontally, you have the volume of production attributed to each production source and then the I-shaped bars give you the spread of the GHG emissions for the respective sources of production routes of oil.
I would like to highlight the oil sands block, which clearly shows it has the highest range of cost of production, but also the highest range of GHG emissions per barrel of oil. This is obviously not an ideal position to be in when you deal with volatility and drastic price drops. The red line across the horizontal is roughly the current price point, the green line being the average production cost across those various grey blocks. We're well above both the average and the current price point.
SDTC's investment thesis in this space is all about driving that cost range down. The next chart essentially illustrates where we're targeting, both from a cost of production point of view but also from a GHG intensity point of view per barrel. We've made quite a few investments in this space since our inception to achieve those objectives, and we're open for business to invest in more.
In terms of an overview of SDTC's investments across the value chain, they go from exploration all the way to marketing and distribution. As I said, this represents roughly 15% of our funds, so about 150 million dollars' worth of investments in this space. When I say investments, I mean grants. We're are a non-dilutive instrument. We do not take an equity position in the companies that we fund.
A significant portion of our investments in the value chain has been in production, obviously. We've looked extensively at solvent-based extraction. We've looked at enhanced steam operations. We've looked at downhole steam production, which also drives significant efficiency advantages, but we've also looked at tailings management, reducing the net yield of tailings but also remediating them completely, as well as extracting more value out of those tailings, minerals, and other co-products.
Finally we've look at addressing the balance of plant, driving efficiency throughout the operations of production. We refer to upgrading and refining. SDTC also sees this as a very important space to play, all with the objective of retaining value for Canadians but also driving up efficiency. The more refined the product is before it gets in the pipeline, the more efficient its transport. The investments we've made in companies like MEG Energy, Fractal Systems, and Field Upgrading, are all targeted at partial upgrading to enhance the amount of margin retained by Canadian entities at the end of the day.
Also we've made significant investments in pipeline, pipeline integrity, pipeline leak detection, and even pipeline repairs in sensitive ecosystems as well as investments in downstream refining in companies such as Quantiam, lmtex, and Paradigm Shift Technologies, which are drastically reducing the energy intensity of creating chemical building blocks for industry.
Thank you, witnesses, for taking the time to be here.
I would like to echo my colleagues' comments to Suncor about the incredible efforts your company and your employees took to help the people who are employed both directly and indirectly by you. I also know that for many people who are not employed by you, you also assisted in the evacuation efforts from Fort McMurray. My riding is just south of Fort McMurray. It spans northeast Alberta, so there are many heavy oil and oil sands developers in my constituency. In speaking to many evacuees from the area, they said, as you pointed out, that if anybody is wondering about how an orderly evacuation of more than 80,000 could happen in the face of the biggest natural disaster, certainly, in that province's history, it was very much because of the high level of skills and training in safety procedures and emergency management of the people who are all directly or indirectly employed by oil sands companies there.
I just want to touch on two points that we've been discussing at this committee today. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a bit of a twilight zone in this committee because we often speak about regulatory issues around energy development, particularly with regard to regulating and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions as well as advancements in innovation and technology, as well as community and first nations consultations, as if they're new, as if this is something that has never been done before in energy development or in oil sands development in particular.
Of course, it's not at all the case for those of us who are from northern Alberta and are familiar with oil sands and energy development. We can cite examples like the Fort McKay Group of Companies, the Cold Lake First Nations companies, and so many of the service and supply companies that are long-term, significant partners with energy developers in that area.
Mr. Reynish, if you have any examples to share about your experience working with first nations communities, both on gaining their co-operation and investment in energy development in those regions, as well as on employment and contracting, I'd welcome you to do that.
Thanks for the question.
The difficulty is that governments structure markets. If you want a different set of outcomes, you need to restructure markets. This is not an easy thing to do. It's obviously very controversial.
The idea that we're just going to let the free market rip, and automatically from that, we're going to have lower greenhouse gas emissions, get aboriginal participation and approval for these projects, and maximize the economic benefit is just wrong. It's not going to happen.
We deregulated our approach to energy in the late 1980s. It was the Mulroney government, primarily, through the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and we've been closing refineries as if it's our job. For every refinery we close, we become more dependent on export-oriented pipelines, and we're sending good jobs elsewhere. We need a new approach to our national energy development.
Norway offers a very promising model. Norway is very similar to Alberta demographically. There's a similar number of people and similar energy resources, but there's a very different approach to energy development. Obviously, it doesn't have the same challenges. We have a federal government where provinces are in charge of natural resource development. That obviously poses a challenge.
Regarding the aboriginal people, incorporating aboriginal people into this process is huge, but I don't have answers on that latter question about how to do that. That is something we have to seriously think about. I have all the questions this committee has. What does it mean now that we've signed on to the UN declaration? What does free, prior, and informed consent mean? These are all huge question marks.
The status quo does not seem sustainable, in the fullest sense of the word, sociologically and ecologically. As I said, we're still in the early stage of trying to work out a coherent policy.
The presentation has been translated, and you can see it here.
My thanks to the committee for this kind invitation to come and speak with you today.
As you've just heard, I speak English and French, so if you have any questions you'd like to ask in French, feel free.
I'll be speaking with you very briefly today about the role of public confidence in unlocking Canada's energy potential. At the University of Ottawa we've been doing some research in this space for the last little while, and I'm going to be sharing with you some of the results of that research in speaking to this issue.
To begin with, I'm just going to very briefly lay out the context. I often think of energy, and the challenges and changes in the energy sector, as very much a brave new world of energy development, and I'll speak about that in a moment. I'll talk with you very briefly about the positive energy project, and then dive into public confidence and the important role of public confidence when it comes to energy development and unlocking Canada's energy potential.
It is very much a brave new world of energy development. I've been studying energy policy and regulation for 20-odd years now, and there's never been a time at which it's been so controversial and so frequently in the headlines in my experience up until this point. I often think of the policy and regulatory context, which has become increasingly complex, as governments, in essence, search for what I think of as a holy grail of energy policy and regulations. They are trying to identify the appropriate balance points between a number of key policy imperatives, many of which this committee is studying at the moment: market imperatives, looking at economic opportunities; environmental imperatives, notably climate change but obviously other areas of environmental impact of energy; and security imperatives, security of critical energy infrastructure and the like. The fourth imperative, which I will be focusing my remarks on, is how one goes about garnering social acceptance and support when it comes to finding the appropriate balance points between those three previous imperatives—market, environment, and security. I'm going to dive into that in a moment.
As I mentioned, the politics of energy are really becoming increasingly fierce and very polarized. We've seen a shift in energy politics over the last number of years from much more localized concerns around energy, neatly captured by the acronym NIMBY, “not in my backyard”, to what I refer to as much more principled opposition to energy development, particularly fossil fuel energy development. This is an opposition to the development of those energy resources in toto, again captured tongue in cheek by the acronym BANANA, which folks have probably heard of, “build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone”. It's a much different form of opposition, a much different kind of politics that policy-makers, regulators, and industry are facing. Clearly, as we've seen over the last number of years, this slows down project decisions, and it can slow down and even halt altogether project construction. The question becomes whether we can afford to go on this way. It's costly, in terms of money and time, going into projects, both on the proponent's side and on the opponent's side. There are many deteriorating relationships—and I'll speak about those in a moment—and, of considerable interest to this committee, there are lost economic opportunities, and the potential risk of capital flight as well.
In the context of this, the positive energy project, which I chair, really does two key things. The first is to use the convening power of the university to bring key energy players together to grapple with this issue of how one can strengthen public confidence in energy development. Here we're not referring exclusively to fossil fuels. As we know, it's not just fossil fuel projects that run into social opposition. It can be hydro. It can be wind farms, and the like.
But we do more than convening. We do what I think of as convening plus. We also undertake solution-oriented applied research to try to inform dialogue and action, so I'll be sharing with you some of the results of that research today.
What drives public confidence? What impacts or influences the level of confidence that individual citizens and communities have in energy development? There are really three key factors that affect public confidence. Clearly, government—policies and regulations that governments put in place—has an impact on the levels of public confidence in energy. Next is society: NGO activities, local communities' views, individual neighbours' views. These also have an impact on attitudes, opinions, and levels of public confidence in energy. Of course, there is also industry. Industry performance has an impact on public confidence.
Why, then, do we see the level of controversy around energy and what many are thinking of as a declining public confidence in energy development? Why now? What has changed in the context over the last number of years that creates this?
There are a variety of different factors. There is no single factor that drives public confidence. I'm not going to speak to all these factors. I'll be speaking to social and value change over the last number of decades. There are a number of areas of public policy where we see gaps in policy movement on a number of key areas that are leading to declines in public confidence. Other factors are regulatory responses, notably, to those policy gaps, and project proponent practices. As I said, I'm going to focus in on the social and value change, and the policy gaps. I'd be happy to get into the other topics in the discussion session if that's of interest.
Social and value change is not to be underestimated. We are not in the same world of energy development as we were in the 1950s. The last time we had this level of controversy over pipeline development in this country, you would have to go back to the 1950s. It's a very different context now than it was some almost 60 or 70 years ago.
We see a number of key changes in society that are actually driving, or making it much more challenging to develop public confidence in energy. I have listed a few of these here, but I won't speak to any of them in great levels of detail. They're things that we can all, quite readily, experience in our own daily lives.
First is a decline of trust, public trust in institutions, public and private, and that's writ large. We're not just focusing here on energy. There is also a decline in deference to authority and expertise. We're not in a rational, comprehensive, technocratic, expert-driven, approach to policy-making or to governance, as we might have been in the 1950s.
Second is a desire for greater public involvement in decision-making. People want to be involved in decisions that are going to be affecting them.
Third, there is a shift from communitarian to individual values. The line of sight of interest is often much more at the local level—local and individual impacts—than it is at the national level. I often think of this when you hear that phrase, “Who speaks for Canada?” Where is the national interest in some of these discussions? What we're trying to point out here with our research is that some of these social and value changes make it much more difficult to appeal to those kinds of values.
Fourth is a rise of what we think of as anti-corporate, anti-big business, or even anti-fossil fuel values, and much more of a preference when it comes to project developments for smaller-scale, locally owned kinds of developments with a decline in risk tolerance as well. As Beck pointed out, we live in a risk society, but we also live in one in which the trust that folks have in the capacity for governments and industry to mitigate risk and to manage risk if things go wrong has declined as well. That's social and value change.
I'll go through the policy gaps very quickly. I don't think I'm saying anything here that folks wouldn't have already given some thought to.
In terms of climate change, it's the extent to which there has been a real or perceived lesser movement and lesser availability of forums to address climate change in a meaningful fashion over the last number of decades, and I'm not just referring to the previous government, but governments prior to that as well.
On indigenous issues and reconciliation, which was referred to in the testimony of the previous witnesses, it's the need to address, in a meaningful fashion, some of the key issues that indigenous communities are concerned about. Again, this goes beyond energy. It can be about clean drinking water. It can be about housing. It can be about murdered and missing indigenous women, a whole host of issues that go far beyond energy on its own.
These policy gaps, the concern that there hasn't been as much movement on these issues as there might have been, can also be exacerbated by siloization within governments, whether it's at the federal level or between governments federally, provincially, and to some extent, even municipally as well.
The third policy gap is around a lack of mechanisms to address cumulative effects or to plan in a regional fashion when it comes to the cumulative impact of a number of different energy projects.
What are the impacts of these policy gaps? One of the things we see is that they have increasingly been cascading onto the regulatory process and onto individual regulatory processes for individual energy projects. Unresolved policy issues are being played out in regulatory processes, as are concerns about climate change, about lack of movement on reconciliation, about lack of mechanisms for cumulative impacts or regional planning, and then people turn to the forums that exist. The forums that often exist in that context are regulatory processes for individual projects, which are not necessarily well suited to address those kinds of concerns, and that can exacerbate this issue and lead to reduced public confidence as well.
What to do? First and foremost, one of the things that our research has suggested is that it's very important to accept that the horse has left the barn on some of these issues. It is not the 1950s anymore. Sometimes in conversations—and we've probably all had these conversations—there is a desire to move back to the golden age when governments could act in a more unilateral fashion, when the public did have greater levels of trust in government, in expert opinion, and the like. We're not in that kind of an environment anymore so it means rethinking the way we do energy, for lack of a better term.
Second, address these policy gaps. This is one area where I'm cautiously optimistic. Certainly a number of governments here at the federal level, but also provincially, are beginning to move in a more meaningful fashion around issues like climate, reconciliation, and trying to address cumulative and regional impacts of individual energy projects.
Addressing the policy gaps is part of the solution, but it's not the only piece. It's also important to strengthen confidence in decision-making, and that's not just the substance of energy decisions; it's also the process of those decisions.
We're doing some work right now in communities that's pointing to the importance of the process when it comes to energy project decision-making. Communities want to have access to those decision-making processes, to relevant information related to an individual energy project. In many instances as well, our research is pointing to the important role of building capacity at the local level, particularly in municipal governments but in other sectors as well to engage in energy decision-making.
On the substance side of things, one of the themes that's coming through very close.... I'm saying “close” because he's saying I have two minutes left.
Thank you for the opportunity to present to you today. I'll let go some of the comments that the previous presenter shared. In particular, I will unpack some of the issues around indigenous reconciliation, and I hope that my comments will help inform the committee.
My name is Alika Lafontaine. I am an Ojibwe anesthesiologist, alignment consultant, and current project chair for the Indigenous Health Alliance.
I would like to acknowledge the traditional territory of Treaty 8, from which I am teleconferencing, as well as the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin people on whose territory these hearings are being held.
The Indigenous Health Alliance is a project that arose in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action for health. It has a mission to eliminate the differences in quality of care between indigenous and non-indigenous patients. Most important, it is through a process led by indigenous peoples.
Our members and supporters include the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the College of Family Physicians Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the Assembly of First Nations, and the national Indian Residential School Survivor Society, as well as many other first nations and territorial organizations. We are building a strategy to eliminate health quality differences that is led by indigenous people. Additional information about the Indigenous Health Alliance has been forwarded to your committee.
You may be asking why I am talking to you today. I hope I can shed some light on that as we talk about the similarities that exist between indigenous health and resource development.
I would like to acknowledge the technical assistance of Indigemetrics consulting in preparing my remarks, and the direction and advice of indigenous community members and leadership. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Senator Ted Quewezance from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. He has been very helpful in understanding the history of resource development in my own traditional territory of Treaty 4.
I would like to emphasize that my remarks should not be misinterpreted as speaking for indigenous peoples. Our indigenous communities have their own internal decision-making processes, priorities, and leadership, and I encourage the committee to reach out to those territorial and local first nations at a regional and community level.
The challenges and issues before you today—the future of Canada's oil and gas, mining, and nuclear sectors—have interesting similarities in health. I would like to unpack a couple of points briefly.
The first point is one raised repeatedly by Justice Murray Sinclair, who states that the intent of colonialism was to extinguish the rights of indigenous peoples to land and resources. When we speak of colonial systems in health, for example, we can recognize these systems based on their outcomes—to extinguish the rights of indigenous peoples to land and resources. Consider that, for indigenous patients living on reserve to access the full benefits of the Canadian medical system, all they need to do is leave their traditional territory and disengage from their treaty rights to health. Quite literally, by giving up their rights to land and resources, they become like every other Canadian.
There are many layers to the situation, but to put it simply, indigenous peoples are not engaged in defining the problems, the solutions, or the implementation strategies concerning their health problems, and this is done by design. Health problems, solutions, and implementation strategies are predetermined. The system, once again by design, excludes indigenous patients in communities from playing a meaningful role. This is contrary to the transformation occurring in the mainstream Canadian health care system, where communities, families, and patients form the centre of everything we do. We are actually redesigning our Canadian health care system to ensure this.
It is also important to note that while the mainstream Canadian health system continues to have better outcomes, indigenous health outcomes are moving in the opposite direction. There is obvious correlation between health system design and patient outcomes. The indigenous health approach is obviously not working, as disparities widen. Quite literally, the colonial health system encourages extinguishment of indigenous rights to land and resources.
Now let me connect this with resource development in the oil and gas, mining, and nuclear sectors. Framing engagement of indigenous peoples as a social licence is a misconception that has to be addressed in any future framework. In 2013, indigenous communities had already won more than 150 court cases across the Canadian resource sector, and this number has likely grown since then. As indigenous communities have asserted their treaty rights to land and resources, the duty to consult and accommodate impacts the outcome of resource development in a very real way. Indigenous peoples do not provide a social licence to resource projects; they provide a literal licence. That licence is protected by a legal framework that continues to evolve.
Indigenous peoples must be engaged at a level that respects and supports their treaty rights to land and resources. Corporations have a legal duty to engage indigenous peoples for resource development that occurs on their respective traditional territory. It is a legal duty that corporations have yet to fully embrace. There is still an ongoing effort to reframe these legal rights as social rights. Each has a very different trust obligation.
By comparing the indigenous health consultation process, and the consultation process for resource development in the oil, gas, mining, and nuclear sectors, I observed the same colonial system. For example, the National Energy Board process is designed to engage indigenous peoples after a plan has been made. That means identifying the problems, solutions, and implementation strategies for resource development have largely been predetermined.
The NEB process then becomes more of an exercise of selling the plan, instead of having indigenous peoples involved in creating the plan. Inevitably conflict emerges from this process with strong efforts to minimize or eliminate the treaty rights to land and resources held by indigenous peoples within the territory in an effort to ensure the resource development proceeds.
Consultation varies widely among resource development projects. In a project around the Swift Current area of Saskatchewan in Treaty 4 territory, the indigenous consultation involved picking up a single hitchhiker with whom the persons consulting discussed the project over coffee. This is not hyperbole. This literally happened. I am not suggesting this is the norm for consultation, but evaluating processes cannot ignore such obvious deficiencies.
How can Canada properly consult indigenous peoples in a way that acknowledges and respects their treaty rights to land and resources? The current process must embrace having communities involved in defining the problems, solutions, and implementation strategies of any resource development project at the earliest reasonable opportunity. Outcomes cannot be predetermined.
The process must also acknowledge that problems cannot be identified as a single issue; for example, how to get a pipeline from point A to point B.
Integrated with the issues of resource development are those of education, health, economic development, and environment, among others. If a consultation process does not acknowledge and address these issues in a clear manner, the solutions will not address the real problems. Implementation strategies will then be more likely to fail.
When stakeholders in the Indigenous Health Alliance identified that these issues would arise, we adopted a community-based process with a charting and prioritization tool kit. I will share some of our highest priorities issues, and you may recognize some overlap with ongoing issues within the oil, gas, mining, and nuclear sectors from previous presenters.
These priorities include recognizing that in order to achieve this outcome, we need to address the lack of a community-based model of decision-making, where communities decide the problem, decide the solution, and decide on the strategy for implementation.
First nations often have internally competing visions, and competing visions with non-community stakeholders and with other regional first nations. This leads to difficulties articulating how to own and control models to optimize outcomes through cross-jurisdictional collaboration and integration of federal and provincially funded processes as anticipated by self-government.
Often decisions about problems, solutions, and implementation strategies are already decided before the community is even engaged. “Engagement” becomes selling communities on a predetermined strategy, instead of truly engaging the community and proceeding with community-based priorities controlled by community decision-making processes.
Indigenous historical trauma leads to a community not trusting outsiders to facilitate this engagement, and the engagement must have leadership in the community that it has confidence in.
Communities are insistent on the involvement of elders through the process and the decision-making process. Elders must be recognized as a stakeholder group that needs to be part of the decision-making and not just as influencers on the decision-making process. They need to be directly involved in setting the agenda as they want to integrate project components and processes. This is often expressed in the activity as being holistic.
Government processes use a one-issue process. They don't want to address all the issues in a coordinated strategy. Without transparency and a good communication strategy the design of the process will fail.
Lack of trust of government is intensified in indigenous communities and is exacerbated with communities who do not understand how government structures work. The result is that both sides feel they are not being heard.
The current process adopted by government to move forward resource development projects does not engage communities because it is not designed to engage communities. It is a colonial process.
Indigenous peoples are pragmatic. Indigenous peoples are reasonable. Indigenous peoples have our own priorities and we are heterogeneous. If a process that truly addresses our community-based issues supports the building of a community-based decision-making structure and clearly identifies issues in a context beyond a one-sided consultation, indigenous peoples are pragmatic and reasonable about resource development.
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today. I look forward to further discussion.
That's a tough question.
Again, to go back to the presentation, it's a multi-faceted challenge here, and those principles are a very important first step.
Having said that, one of the things that I think we will need to sort through is what exactly the balance is between policy and regulation on the pipeline projects, and also on energy writ large, but your question pertains to pipeline projects specifically.
If we have regulatory processes that by their design historically are intended to be evidence-based, neutral, independent, third-party assessments, but we also put on top of that at some level a set of principles, for some of which it's not entirely clear how they will be operationalized and at what level they'll be operationalized, and if we have an individual pipeline project move its way through the regulatory system, what does it mean, then, subsequent to that, that cabinet will consider the climate change impacts of that project? It's not clear to me what the balance then is between policy and regulation in the system.
I think another area that's going to be really essential—and I'd be curious to hear my counterpart witnesses' thoughts on this—is the integration of traditional knowledge into regulatory processes. In principle, and I think a very important principle, and again, a very important step, how one actually operationalizes that is a really important question. Some of this, from my perspective, really remains to be seen.
One of the things that governments can do at the level of policy and politics is set the tone. It has been a really significant shift that we've seen from the previous government to the current government. Another thing that governments can do—again, at the policy level, not the regulatory level—is consider the impact and the collective impact of projects overall.
Regulatory processes are meant to be responding to individual proponent applications for specific projects. That's how they function. One thing that governments can do at that policy level is step above that and say, okay, given the suite, as it were, of proposed projects that we have in front of us, how can we collectively or cumulatively evaluate those projects? What—
Dr. Lafontaine, I wanted to refer to a point that you had made about the partnership between the oil sands companies and first nations, and the evacuation of the residents of Fort McMurray. Of course, not only did the oil sands companies play a big role in that, but I want to acknowledge the efforts of several first nations and Métis communities across my constituency of Lakeland who in fact are also providing refuge for evacuees from Fort McMurray and have opened their homes and their communities to support the people who have come south and who require their support. It has been a huge effort between many communities, including first nations and Métis, right across my constituency to help our neighbours to the north.
Certainly, I'd echo your comment that there are indeed heterogeneous perspectives among first nations communities around energy development. I have been travelling quite a lot throughout my constituency, which is home to extensive conventional oil, heavy oil, and gas development, and also companies that operate in the oil sands, as well as a little bit in the south. I hear often of very active equal and productive partnerships between first nations, whether being employed directly by energy developers or service and supply companies. Without a doubt the message that we hear repeatedly from energy developers is exactly what you're saying, namely the importance of involving first nations communities from the very beginning in energy development.
I would also like to get a little bit at these interim measures issues. As you pointed out, it's important for us to acknowledge that we have the largest energy reserves of any industrialized democracy in the world, the vast majority of which are in Alberta's oil sands. I wanted to underline that point. I think what I'm concerned about is that there seems to be a real lack of specifics and evidence about where this public confidence is coming from. You had mentioned local and community-driven energy developments. As a person who lives side by side with energy development in a province where we have a long history of environmental and socially responsible energy development, I think some of us are a little confused about where this is coming from, because we are world leaders in energy regulation and in that energy development.
Concerning the interim measures that the government has announced, we've heard repeatedly from witnesses that either they're not clear or that they do indeed add delays, as they have, for example in extending the energy east pipeline approval process to 21 months instead of the regular 15 months, or adding the additional climate change test to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline after the NEB review process is almost complete. Obviously, certainty and predictability is very critical to energy development in Canada.
I wonder if you are able to really provide some specifics around where that's coming from and whether or not it may be driven by a lack of knowledge about the real track record of energy development in Canada and in particular in Alberta.
I'd like to thank you both for coming. It's been great to hear your thoughts today on a lot of the issues surrounding what we're talking about in committee.
I'd really like to hit on just a few points, including this idea of the collaborative approach that we've talked about as we form government, and how we're trying to change the mindset on natural resource development. We're not necessarily trying to change the process, but I think it's important we recognize that just because Canada's been a leading governing country, western development country, in terms of policy around natural resource development and the types of strategies we've used for creating innovation and fostering growth in technology within the sector, that doesn't give us a veto to continually try to strive to do more. We need to continue to grow and evolve and focus on clean tech and the innovation that's largely come from the sector.
We had a witness earlier from SDTC. I've always been a huge fan of SDTC, of the work they've done, and of the way they help government foster growth within a sector, specifically within oil and gas. I think we really need to focus on the stakeholder engagement, whether its first nations community engagement, or the three different levels of government, and on how we can collectively work to grow the sector and to get that social licence, or community buy-in if you want to call it that, from across the country. Ultimately, I really believe that if these resource projects are going to go forward, public perception of these projects has changed, and we need to adapt as a government, along with the change in mindset, to see them go forward.
I don't think anyone in this room doesn't recognize the importance of the energy sector to the Canadian economy. I think we're all fans. We all have family who work in these projects. We all have friends who work in these projects. I'm just really excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for us.
Specifically, Ms. Gattinger, I understand you were at the tri-ministerial meetings. I wanted to see if you could touch on the effect, specifically with innovation, energy security, clean technology, and conservation, of having three governments working together at the ministerial level to try to form policy that aligns all three governments in North America to further the technological growth, focus on our greenhouse gas emissions, eventually reach our climate targets, and maintain those targets over the long term by collaborating together.
There's been a lot of talk over the last weeks and months about how the Canadian economy, if we foster this growth on our own, has to work abrasively against other governments. But can you just elaborate for me on how the three governments could work together to foster that type of growth, and on the synergies that could come out of that, as opposed to the friction of working against each other?
Let's get going on committee business here.
Where things stand right now, we have a meeting scheduled for this coming Wednesday. We have two witnesses, the Alberta Federation of Labour and the B.C. Ministry of Natural Gas Development. If recent Wednesdays are any indication, they probably won't be coming, but we'll see how it goes on Wednesday.
May 30 is our last day, and right now we have the NEB and the In Situ Oil Sands Alliance coming. If something happens with Wednesday, we'll have to try to get those witnesses to come in on May 30.
I've been advised by the analysts that they can start working on the draft report during the week of May 23, and have a preliminary draft report done sometime before we return on May 30. Then after we hear the witnesses on May 30, they will incorporate that evidence into the report with a view to having something ready for us to review, possibly on June 1, but that's probably pushing it. More realistic is June 6, and it has been suggested to me that we might then take the meetings on June 6, June 8, and even June 13, to consider the report.
That's the time frame we're looking at. That being the case, and assuming the draft report is not ready for June 1, which I think is unrealistic because we have witnesses on May 30, there will be no meeting on June 1, or at least there's nothing scheduled for that day. That would potentially leave that day and whatever Wednesdays and Mondays we have left in June, while we're sitting, to deal with.
First, is everybody content with the schedule I've just outlined?
Second, does anybody have any suggestions in terms of how we deal with, or whether we want to deal with the remaining days for the balance of June? We can deal with that.
Then I understand for the third part, the parliamentary secretary has a proposal for us as well. Perhaps we should hear from her first, before we answer questions one and two.
I'm going to pass out gifts for everyone. No bow today.
There has been some thought given, a suggestion made, that because clean technology is really the bedrock of so much of what we're talking about and where we see we're going, that we undertake a study specifically on clean tech. What you're getting right now is sort of the broad strokes of what that might look like.
I'm just going to go through a couple of points and then I'll talk about the idea of the format of this.
It says, engage parliamentarians on issues related to clean technology and natural resources, provide new insights on the government's approach to supporting clean technology, and consider opportunities for natural resource sectors to benefit from clean technology. There are some study questions in there.
The idea was that we could take the last few weeks of sitting and flesh out some of the questions we might want to ask in discussion around how this might tighten up. The idea was that, for this study, we basically break the country up—not figuratively, of course, very poor choice of words—and that we would do the west first, because we're studying oil and gas and we'll have concluded. It seems most appropriate when it's all fresh in our mind.
A couple of the suggestions have come forward, and these are not carved in stone. We're just putting these out for you to think about. What we're looking for today is more of a confirmation on principles that this is something that we'd like to do and we can, as I said, tighten it up.
If you go to annex 2, Jonathan Wilkinson, who is parliamentary secretary for environment and has 20 years' experience in clean technology based out of Vancouver, has given us some suggestions. Some of them come from other places, including our clerk, I believe, about some of the places that we might want to think about or groups we may want to engage.
There's a suggestion that the Vancouver Economic Commission—read their bio and who they're involved with—would convene a round table for our committee where we could actually engage a variety of people in the clean-tech sector.
Then look at doing two site visits, if you will, in British Columbia. One is the NRCan Pacific forestry centre. You can read the bio about them. They're one of five research centres within the Canadian forest service. There's also an LNG facility. LNG is a huge part of what we talk about, and there are some LNG facilities that are really working on some clean technologies that are quite innovative.
That would be a couple of days, and we would then do a couple of days in Alberta. If you flip to the next page, we're possibly looking at an oil and gas round table probably in Calgary. The presentation by COSIA was very extensive, and they've offered to assist us in doing something further. They may be the catalyst for doing that. We don't know; I'm just putting that out there.
There's also an NRCan Canmet energy facility near Edmonton. They're doing some very innovative work with businesses to help them get where they need to be.
The third thing is—and we're going to ask our Alberta colleagues specifically—one of the thoughts was to visit Fort McMurray. We'd like to show our support for Fort McMurray in a variety of ways and visit, if it is appropriate that we go to one of the facilities near Fort McMurray, but again, we don't know, and you know better than we do. We're looking at the last week in August, so it wouldn't be for a bit, and I'm just putting it out there. I think it's important for the committee, but we also realize that there are sensitivities around people trying to get back in their homes, etc., and we certainly don't want to do anything to impede that.
That's what the first leg or part of this would be.
The second would be in October, and we can talk about that in a second.
In the meantime there are two things that we think are important for this committee to look at as we look at the next two segments, the mining and the nuclear. Michael has been in touch with some of the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories that are doing some really innovative things. There happens to be a direct flight from Ottawa, which just makes life so simple. That may be somewhere we want to take a look at. Recognizing our north is extremely important to us and gives us a sense of the accessibility issues and infrastructure, etc.
The other is the energy centre at Darlington. They have a mock-up now of a full calandria for nuclear power that we can tour. I spent seven hours there a few weeks ago. We can tour the waste facility, and there are all sorts of things we can do that will give us a better sense of what nuclear is and some of the innovation going on around that.
You can go on the train free of charge as parliamentarians. We can go up and back in the same day. I'll throw that out, because I take the train every week.
What we do in October is look at the more eastern part of our country and tidal power. I don't know how familiar you are with tidal power. There's some interesting stuff happening there. There's forestry in Quebec and on the east coast. We're still working on a couple of things in the east and Quebec that may be of interest. That's not until October, so we're holding that off for a bit.
That's what it would look like, and of course our analysts and our clerk would help us determine what that would look like in terms of budget and travel. We're looking at the last week of August, just before the Labour Day weekend and the week after Thanksgiving. That's what we're looking at and the other two days to be booked in between.