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Unstable climate policy creating uncertainty says School of Public Policy

Last Updated Feb 26, 2020 at 11:23 am PDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – Oilsands in Alberta, windmills and solar farms in Ontario. Investing in energy projects has become a tricky proposition in Canada.

“We need a plan but the problem is the governments are not offering a plan,” said Jack Mintz with the University of Calgary School of Public Policy.

Energy companies are having second thoughts to investing in Canada where policy shifts and regulations can change as fast as governments in less than four years.

The most recent example is the Teck Frontier project in Alberta, where the company’s CEO pointed to shifting climate policy as a major hurdle, arguing governments need to get on the same page.

“I think governments have been moving the goalposts,” said Mintz. “Look at Coastal Gaslink. All of a sudden the company has to negotiate with the hereditary chiefs as insisted by the B.C. regulator that already approved the project.”

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In some cases, however, it’s the government actively causing the uncertainty like Premier Doug Ford in Ontario.

Since his election in 2018, his government has cancelled more than 750 wind and solar projects, which Mintz called a huge mistake.

Some, like the group Fair Vote Canada, say the problem is winner take all politics, arguing a small shift in the popular vote can lead to a massive shift in policy.

“Proportional representation will actually aggravate the regional differences in this country,” said Mintz. “All of a sudden you can have a large region like Ontario and Quebec that completely swamps Atlantic Canada and the western region in terms of voting. They’ll always get their way and that will just make people more upset.”

If the winds of change continue to blow when it comes to global perceptions around climate, many believe there may only be so much governments can do.