Energy and environment are at the crossroad of the most controversial policy issues of our day. Pipelines, the oil sands, Canada’s international commitments in the fight against climate change, social acceptability, consultation with Indigenous peoples, democracy, trust in public institutions: these are the elements that are intertwined in any discussion of where Canada needs to go in its choice of a sustainable energy future and the role of institutions such as the National Energy Board in making this choice.
But how do we peel the onion in this complex bundle of difficult topics? In his workshop, Gaétan Caron will go back to the roots of pipeline politics, the Great Pipeline Debate of 1956 in Parliament, and tell the story of how, in practice, the National Energy Board has adapted to changing times. He will relate the NEB’s mandate to the definition of sustainability in the 1988 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission), “Our Common Future”.
He will also lead a discussion on how what was once a low-profile technical board has become, in the last several years, a lightning rod at the center of major polemics such as what does democracy looks like in practice, the rule of law, the division of powers between Ottawa and the provinces, and the adequacy of public debates on key issues such as climate change and society’s tolerance towards risks. He will share his perspectives on where the Government of Canada will go in modernizing the NEB and the environmental assessment process for energy projects.
Participants at this workshop will be invited to go beyond the tip of the iceberg in matters of public trust towards public institutions, and acquire the tools to form an informed judgment on their relevance and their performance.