Canada heading for energy ‘gridlock,’ group warns – by Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – December 13, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

OTTAWA — Canada is heading for a gridlock in energy development that will rob the country of future wealth unless it can solve vexing environmental and aboriginal conflicts, a blue-ribbon group including senior Calgary business people warns in a new report.

Concerned about growing conflict over resource development, 21 high-profile leaders from business, environmental organizations and First Nations met over the course of a year and concluded there is an urgent need for detente in the country’s heated debate over resource development.

And they urged that new approaches be found that would offer greater benefits for aboriginal communities and assure Canadians that industry is addressing key environmental concerns.

Bitter differences are “leading us towards energy resource development gridlock,” the group said in a paper that was distributed to industry and government officials and other national leaders on Thursday. “This could compromise Canada’s ability to sustain or enhance the economic and social benefits from its wealth of energy resources as well as our ability to effectively address the associated environmental and social costs.”

The group’s reconciliation effort got early momentum with the involvement of Rick George, former chief executive at Suncor Energy Inc. and Brian Felesky, vice-chairman at Credit Suisse Securities Canada in Calgary, who worry the country is mired in a debate that will drive away investment and indefinitely stall projects.

From Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal to shale-gas drilling in Quebec, a number of resource projects or prospects in Canada face broad opposition to development.

“Canada can realize this great potential or lose it,” Mr. Felesky said in an interview from Calgary. “And we have to act on a very timely basis because money is fungible. And it’s going to other markets that are solutions-driven and are building these facilities while we have this unfortunate impasse.”

Mr. Felesky is focused on the need to build oil and gas facilities to access new markets in Asia.

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