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INDIGENOUS CONSULTATION AND ENGAGEMENT AT CANADA’S ENERGY AND UTILITY REGULATORS

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INDIGENOUS CONSULTATION AND ENGAGEMENT AT CANADA’S ENERGY AND UTILITY REGULATORS

CAMPUT is the Association of Canada’s provincial, territorial and federal energy and utility regulators.  CAMPUT’s purpose is to improve energy and utility regulations in Canada and to educate and train our members.  We are highlighting the work of two of our members, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Canada Energy Regulator, in the areas of Indigenous consultation and engagement.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has a broad mandate, including to protect health, safety and security, and the environment, and to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public, including Indigenous groups.   The CNSC is also an agent of the Crown with the responsibility of ensuring the Duty to Consult is met before making decisions.  The CNSC has explored various means to ensure that Indigenous groups’ voices are heard and integrated into Commission decision-making. The CNSC has also committed to developing on-going, respectful relationships that allow open dialogue in the spirit of reconciliation and trust building.

First, the CNSC focused in-house and put into place policies, practices and processes with an overarching regulatory framework and management system to confirm that CNSC decisions uphold the Honor of the Crown. This included a Regulatory Document (REGDOC 3.2.2, 2016) that sets out the Commission expectations on how proponents play a significant role in working with Indigenous groups to address concerns and mitigate impacts and / or treaty rights, early in design and project proposal stages.

The CNSC also has a dedicated team with expertise in Indigenous consultation and engagement that conducts ongoing engagement with Indigenous groups with interests in nuclear facilities. The long-term goal is to help build relationships and trust and help CNSC staff learn more about the history, rights, interests, and culture of the Indigenous groups. The CNSC continues to work with Indigenous groups to ensure they are provided the opportunity to present their views and give oral presentations at Commission hearings.

To support this participation, the CNSC has put in place a Participant Funding Program that in part, has helped Indigenous groups hire consultants to review technical scientific reports, fund Indigenous Knowledge studies, cover community meeting costs, pay Honoraria for elders, and costs for travel and preparations for hearings. Further, Commission hearings have taken place in communities near facilities to allow easier access by Indigenous groups, and teleconferencing, web access, live streaming and simultaneous translation in Indigenous languages has also been used.

The CNSC acknowledges the importance of working with and integrating Indigenous Knowledge alongside scientific and regulatory information in its assessments and regulatory processes, where appropriate and where authorized by Indigenous communities. Indigenous ways of knowing and cultural context enhance the CNSC’s understanding of potential impacts of projects and strengthens project reviews and regulatory oversight.

The CNSC also runs its own Independent Environmental Monitoring Program (IEMP) that seeks Indigenous participation in taking samples from public areas around nuclear facilities and measuring and analyzing the amount of radiological and hazardous substances in the samples. Following discussions with many Indigenous groups, it was recognized that they could play a key role in identifying country foods and traditional harvest areas and participate as part of the IEMP. Getting meaningful monitoring results to Indigenous communities is a key priority for the CNSC.

The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) welcomes change. In August 2019 we transitioned from the National Energy Board to the Canada Energy Regulator. The CER has been given new legislation and is focused on improvement. Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples is a pillar of our renewal.

Our legislation directs us to find meaningful ways to engage with Indigenous Peoples. We embrace our new mandate and have woven specific deliverables on reconciliation into every aspect of our work.

Our vision: to transform the way we work with Indigenous Peoples, recognizing their unique cultures, knowledge and histories; and endeavor to reflect a renewed Nation- to-Nation relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.

We recognize reconciliation is an ongoing process that occurs in the context of evolving Indigenous-Crown relationships. Sitting around the table with Indigenous communities, we are working to find new ways to co-manage regulatory oversight. We recognize the inseparable connection Indigenous Peoples have with the land and the water, and we will work collaboratively to protect them. We are also ensuring we equip the communities with the right skills and support to make the changes we envision a reality.

Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees (IAMC) bring together Indigenous and federal leaders to provide advice to regulators and to monitor the Trans Mountain Expansion and Line pipelines. Members share the goals of safety and protection of environmental and Indigenous interests in the lands and water. Indigenous participation does not equal support or opposition for a project, allowing for better information-sharing within the group. This initiative represents a foundational change in the way the CER and the Federal government work with Indigenous Peoples. It aims to develop an enduring and meaningful relationship for the entire lifecycle of the project. We believe our work with the IAMCs can lead the way on co- management of regulatory oversight activities and has the potential to be applied across the rest of Canada’s energy system.

Here are some other ways we are changing how we work with Indigenous Peoples:

  • We are meeting with Indigenous communities earlier on who may be impacted by projects we regulate to better understand their concerns and share how the CER holds companies accountable for the protection of Indigenous rights and interests.
  • We are adapting our hearing processes to allow for different paths of Indigenous participation. This includes sharing Indigenous Knowledge, allowing for ceremonies, selecting specific locations for the hearing that are convenient to Indigenous participants or elders, and allowing for remote participation if travel is not possible.
  • We are developing a National Indigenous Monitoring Policy so that all CER-regulated infrastructure projects can benefit from Indigenous Knowledge when they are being build and operated.
  • We are training our employees to understand more about Indigenous history, culture and contemporary issues facing Indigenous Peoples in Canada. This training ensures that consideration of Indigenous rights and interests and becomes embedded in our way of working.

Background.  The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual Energy Council of Canada initiative which provides opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration on a topic of shared interest across the Canadian energy sector, produced with the support of Canada’s national energy associations and Energy Council of Canada’s members. The stories contributed to the 2019 edition, Indigenous Energy Across Canada, highlight current conversations celebrating Canada’s dynamic energy sector and encouraging its continuous improvement.

Thanks to Todayville for helping us bring our members’ stories of collaboration and innovation to the public.

Click to read a foreward from JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel River Group; Former President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

JP Gladu, Chief Development and Relations Officer, Steel
River Group; Former President & CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

 

Jacob Irving, President of Energy Council of Canada

The Canadian Energy Compendium is an annual initiative by the Energy Council of Canada to provide an opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration and discussion on current topics in Canada’s energy sector.  The 2020 Canadian Energy Compendium: Innovations in Energy Efficiency is due to be released November 2020.

Click to read comments about this series from Jacob Irving, President of the Energy Council of Canada.

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The Energy Council of Canada brings together a diverse body of members, including voices from all energy industries, associations, and levels of government within Canada. We foster dialogue, strategic thinking, collaboration, and action by bringing together senior energy executives from all industries in the public and private sectors to address national, continental, and international energy issues.

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Higher Capital Gains Taxes cap off a loser federal budget

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From Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Lee Harding

Even former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Financial Post the capital gains tax increase would be “very troubling for many investors.” He added, “I don’t think there was enough effort in this budget to reduce spending, to create that appropriate direction for the economy.”

New taxes on capital gains mean more capital pains for Canadians as they endure another tax-grabbing, heavy-spending federal deficit budget.

Going forward, the inclusion rate increases to 66 per cent, up from 50 per cent, on capital gains above $250,000 for people and on all capital gains for corporations and trusts. The change will affect 307,000 businesses and see Ottawa, according to probably optimistic projections, rake in an additional $19.4 billion over four years.

A wide chorus of voices have justifiably condemned this move. If an asset is sold for more than it was bought for, the government will claim two-thirds of the value because half is no longer enough.  It’s pure government greed.

If you were an investor or a young tech entrepreneur looking for somewhere to set up shop, would you choose Canada? And if you’re already that investor, how hard would you work to appreciate your assets when the government seizes much of the improvement?

Even before this budget, the OECD predicted Canada would have the lowest growth rates in per-person GDP up to 2060 of all its member countries.

In a speech in Halifax on March 26, Bank of Canada senior deputy governor Carolyn Rogers put the productivity problem this way: “You’ve seen those signs that say, ‘In emergency, break glass.’ Well, it’s time to break the glass.”

What can Canadians bash now? Their heads against a wall?

Even former Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau told the Financial Post the capital gains tax increase would be “very troubling for many investors.” He added, “I don’t think there was enough effort in this budget to reduce spending, to create that appropriate direction for the economy.”

No kidding. Not since the first Prime Minister Trudeau (Pierre) have Canadians been able to count so reliably on deficit spending, higher expenditures, and more taxes.

Long ago, it seems now, when Justin Trudeau was not yet prime minister, he campaigned on “a modest short-term deficit” of less than $10 billion for each of the first three years and a balanced budget by the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

His rationale was that low interest rates made it a rare opportunity to borrow and build infrastructure, all to encourage economic growth. Of course, the budget never balanced itself and Canada has lost $225 billion in foreign investment since 2016.

The deficits continue though the excuse of low interest rates is long gone. Despite higher carbon and capital gains taxes, this year’s deficit will match last year’s: $40 billion. Infrastructure seems less in view than an ever-expanding nanny state of taxpayer-funded dental care, child care, and pharmacare.

Of course, the Trudeau deficits were not as modest as advertised, and all-time federal debt has doubled to $1.2 trillion in less than a decade. Debt interest payments this coming fiscal year will be $54.1 billion, matching GST revenue and exceeding the $52 billion of transfers to the provinces for health care.

In 1970, columnist Lubor Zink quoted Pierre Trudeau as saying, “One has to be in the wheelhouse to see what shifts are taking place . . . The observer . . . on the deck . . . sees the horizon much in the same direction and doesn’t realize it but perhaps he will find himself disembarking at a different island than the one he thought he was sailing for.”

Like father, like son, Justin Trudeau has captained Canada to a deceptive and unwelcome destination. What started as Fantasy Island is becoming Davy Jones’ Locker.

Lee Harding is a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

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Canada’s economy has stagnated despite Ottawa’s spin

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From the Fraser Institute

By Ben Eisen, Milagros Palacios and Lawrence Schembri

Canada’s inflation-adjusted per-person annual economic growth rate (0.7 per cent) is meaningfully worse than the G7 average (1.0 per cent) over this same period. The gap with the U.S. (1.2 per cent) is even larger. Only Italy performed worse than Canada.

Growth in gross domestic product (GDP), the total value of all goods and services produced in the economy annually, is one of the most frequently cited indicators of Canada’s economic performance. Journalists, politicians and analysts often compare various measures of Canada’s total GDP growth to other countries, or to Canada’s past performance, to assess the health of the economy and living standards. However, this statistic is misleading as a measure of living standards when population growth rates vary greatly across countries or over time.

Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, for example, recently boasted that Canada had experienced the “strongest economic growth in the G7” in 2022. Although the Trudeau government often uses international comparisons on aggregate GDP growth as evidence of economic success, it’s not the first to do so. In 2015, then-prime minister Stephen Harper said Canada’s GDP growth was “head and shoulders above all our G7 partners over the long term.”

Unfortunately, such statements do more to obscure public understanding of Canada’s economic performance than enlighten it. In reality, aggregate GDP growth statistics are not driven by productivity improvements and do not reflect rising living standards. Instead, they’re primarily the result of differences in population and labour force growth. In other words, they aren’t primarily the result of Canadians becoming better at producing goods and services (i.e. productivity) and thus generating more income for their families. Instead, they primarily reflect the fact that there are simply more people working, which increases the total amount of goods and services produced but doesn’t necessarily translate into increased living standards.

Let’s look at the numbers. Canada’s annual average GDP growth (with no adjustment for population) from 2000 to 2023 was the second-highest in the G7 at 1.8 per cent, just behind the United States at 1.9 per cent. That sounds good, until you make a simple adjustment for population changes by comparing GDP per person. Then a completely different story emerges.

Canada’s inflation-adjusted per-person annual economic growth rate (0.7 per cent) is meaningfully worse than the G7 average (1.0 per cent) over this same period. The gap with the U.S. (1.2 per cent) is even larger. Only Italy performed worse than Canada.

Why the inversion of results from good to bad? Because Canada has had by far the fastest population growth rate in the G7, growing at an annualized rate of 1.1 per cent—more than twice the annual population growth rate of the G7 as a whole at 0.5 per cent. In aggregate, Canada’s population increased by 29.8 per cent during this time period compared to just 11.5 per cent in the entire G7.

Clearly, aggregate GDP growth is a poor tool for international comparisons. It’s also not a good way to assess changes in Canada’s performance over time because Canada’s rate of population growth has not been constant. Starting in 2016, sharply higher rates of immigration have led to a pronounced increase in population growth. This increase has effectively partially obscured historically weak economic growth per person over the same period.

Specifically, from 2015 to 2023, under the Trudeau government, inflation-adjusted per-person economic growth averaged just 0.3 per cent. For historical perspective, per-person economic growth was 0.8 per cent annually under Brian Mulroney, 2.4 per cent under Jean Chrétien and 2.0 per cent under Paul Martin.

Due to Canada’s sharp increase in population growth in recent years, aggregate GDP growth is a misleading indicator for comparing economic growth performance across countries or time periods. Canada is not leading the G7, or doing well in historical terms, when it comes to economic growth measures that make simple adjustments for our rapidly growing population. In reality, we’ve become a growth laggard and our living standards have largely stagnated for the better part of a decade.

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