Canada Member Committee

Energy Council of Canada

The Energy Council of Canada is a not-for-profit corporation whose membership is made up of private sector energy corporations, energy industry associations, Canadian federal and provincial government departments and agencies, and Crown corporations. The Council provides a forum for action, networking and thinking by energy industry leaders from the private and public sectors. The Council aims to forge an understanding of energy issues, while working to shape the energy sector for the benefit of Canadians.  It holds public policy forums, various members’ activities and hosts the Canadian Energy Person of the Year Award. The Energy Council of Canada is a founding member of the World Energy Council (1923), and participates in their activities contributing to a global expert knowledge base of energy information.

Colin provides strategic advice to senior public and private sector executives regarding finance, electricity and health system transformation, including climate change leadership, green finance, system sustainability, energy poverty, behavioural economics and digital wellness.

Colin is Chair of the Energy Council of Canada, which was established in 1923 as a founding member of the World Energy Council. The Energy Council of Canada strives to shape an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy sector for the benefit of all Canadians. The Energy Council covers all sectors involved in energy in Canada, and brings together senior executives from industry and government engaged in regional, national, continental and global activities. He is also Senior Executive Fellow at WISE (Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy – University of Waterloo)

Colin was Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), responsible for ensuring a reliable, sustainable, cost-effective supply of electricity for Ontario. He led the organization in its efforts to coordinate province-wide conservation initiatives, plan the electricity system for the long term and procure clean supply resources.

Prior to joining the OPA, Colin held a variety of senior financial and policy positions in the Ontario Public Service, including as Deputy Minister of Finance, of Revenue, of Policy, Cabinet Office and Acting Deputy Minister of Health and Long-Term Care; Secretary of Treasury Board; Chair of the Ontario Financing Authority; and Chair of the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation.

In these and other senior management positions, Colin provided successive governments with advice and assistance on all aspects of fiscal and financial policy and planning, expenditure management and overall stewardship of Ontario’s financial resources. In addition, he has led strategic asset management initiatives, extensive intergovernmental negotiations at the federal and municipal level and large-scale infrastructure and procurement projects.

He has a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Toronto and an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Calgary.

Energy in Canada 

canada, critical uncertainties, action priorities

In the 2018 iteration of the Issues Survey, Canadian energy leaders identified US Policy, Trade Barriers and Climate Framework as their top three Critical Uncertainties. On the other hand, energy leaders identified decentralised systems, economic growth and renewable energies as the top three Action Priorities.

The renegotiation of the North America Free Trade Agreement posed persistent uncertainty to the Canadian economy in 2018. As a net exporter of energy, access to existing and future markets in the United States remains a paramount priority for Canada. The only issue that received greater attention was Canada’s efforts to access new global markets beyond the USA for its energy products. Climate policy remains a critical uncertainty as policy directions by the federal government and provincial governments evolve.

The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2018 was volatile and, at times, acrimonious. While early indications were that energy would not face great difficulty in the re-negotiation of NAFTA, nothing was certain. Fears persisted that energy could be used as leverage related to other, more contentious areas of negotiation. Inflammatory rhetoric combined with unprecedented action across the policy spectrum in the United States, ensured that Canadian leaders within and outside the energy sector, took nothing for granted.

While the free and fair trade of energy persists across the Canada/US border, concerns remain. Steel and aluminium Tariffs imposed against Canada by the United States, justified as National Security measures, are making energy projects unnecessarily more expensive in both Canada and the United States. US Threats of further trade barriers and trade wars could negatively affect Canadian energy. 

To help meet its Paris Climate Framework commitments, the Canadian Government has been negotiating policy actions with the Provinces. The Government has put in place an effective national price on carbon, beginning at $20 per tonne of CO2 from January 1 2019, rising by $10 per tonne annually to $50 per tonne in 2022. Provinces that do not implement plans to price carbon will have a federal backstop plan imposed upon them. This will remain a contentious national issue for the foreseeable future.

Canada is a pioneer and leader in High Voltage Direct Current transmission which underpins its regional electricity grids. Canadian utilities, governments and consumers are closely monitoring distributed generation and other unconventional approaches to the generation, transmission and trade of electricity. Many jurisdictions have adopted smart meters and related technology. Decentralised energy systems are of particular interest to Canada’s many remote, off-grid communities.

Canada is a net exporter of energy and energy investments lead the Canadian economy. Traditionally, the United States has been a dependent customer. With new oil and gas supply technology, the US has become more self-sufficient and a competitor. Canada must find new export markets and build infrastructure to reach them if energy is to continue its traditional level of contribution to Economic Growth. Delays in major pipeline approvals are causing severe frustration, adding unprecedented political and economic uncertainty. 

Over 80 percent of Canada’s electricity system is non-emitting and the renewable energy sector, based on hydropower, wind, solar and biomass, is growing significantly. With the majority of its electricity coming from nuclear power, the Province of Ontario is the largest jurisdiction in the world to have eliminated coal-fired electricity generation. Renewable energies represent growth potential as Canada seeks to reduce its emissions. With large Canadian renewable potential remaining and a significantly more emitting electricity system to the south, there is great opportunity for the export of low emission electricity from Canada.

Indigenous relations remain central to the success of Canadian energy. True consultation, cooperation and partnership with affected people, based on mutual trust and respect, are necessary preconditions for any energy project to be built. Optimising the sharing of business opportunities and community benefits while minimising impacts on the air, land and water, especially in indigenous territories and areas of traditional use, remain paramount. While full agreement may not always be achievable on every project, every feasible effort must be made to achieve it. 

Canada is an energy exporter with massive undeveloped potential that could do much more toward better satisfying global energy demand. Canada will continue to be a major energy provider to its closest neighbour and ally, the United States. Still, the country can do more by supplying other export markets. Canadian energy can not only become less emitting domestically, but it can also significantly reduce emissions in other countries around the world. With enviable strength in both emitting and non-emitting energy sources and systems, it is incumbent upon Canada to grow its contribution to responsible energy development at home and globally. 

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