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While Jim Prentice was overseeing the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue (CED), launched in 2009, the Harper Cabinet appointed political fixer Bruce Carson to hold a variety of business conferences on that theme. The CED envisions that Canada’s “cheap, clean” power — generously subsidized by Canadian ratepayers — ramp up production for export.
In a variety of speeches, Carson advocated the creation of a massive high-voltage/direct-current (HVDC) “smart” electricity grid that would march “both North-South and East-West” across the country and the continent.
Reportedly at Prentice’s side “routinely” at that time, Carson “was continually working for Prentice” while advocating for Canada’s fossil fuel industry as a “clean energy” sector.
During this same period, Carson became involved in a high-powered industry lobby group called the Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC), composed of some three-dozen companies involved in tar sands production, private electricity production and the shale oil/natural gas sector. EPIC was boldly writing its own national energy plan, and by 2010, Carson was vice-chair of EPIC.
But EPIC’s national energy plan went much further than the CED’s vision. As outlined by EPIC Chair David Emerson in Policy Options (February 2011), the national energy plan should include massive energy-export corridors that have “transmission lines with ‘smart grid’ capability as well as pipeline capacity.” So the new HVDC transmission-line corridors would also contain pipelines for exporting tarsands dilbit, fracked natural gas, and (potentially) water.
It is a vision designed by industry for industry and would advance “the primacy of the Canada-United States energy relationship.”
Recently, the RCMP decided to lay charges against Bruce Carson for illegal lobbying and influence peddling while in his role at EPIC. But as Linda McQuaig noted, “the real story” is the ready access that Carson had to the Prime Minister’s Office and its top man, Nigel Wright.
Nevertheless, by 2012, EPIC’s energy-export plans had hit some serious blockages.
TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline south was mired in U.S. politics and environmental opposition. Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal had hit a wall going west and that company was dusting off a 2008 plan to go east with a Line 9 reversal through Ontario and Quebec.
So in Spring 2012, TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling began musing aloud about going east too. For a landlocked resource like the tar sands, they call it “getting to tidewater.”
Conveniently, an important forum had been scheduled in the U.S. where issues like this could be discussed, and in utmost secrecy.
Readers will recall that Alison Redford missed a chance to meet with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair in May 2012 because, as premier of Alberta, she was invited to attend the Bilderberg meeting in Chantilly, Virginia. With Alberta taxpayers picking up the $19,000 tab for the 4-day trip, Redford told the press that she would report back about what was discussed at the secret annual conference.
The other Canadians at the 2012 Bilderberg conclave were: Mark Carney (then Governor of the Bank of Canada, now Governor of the Bank of England); W. Edmund “Ed” Clark (Group President and CEO, TD Bank Group); Frank McKenna (former premier of New Brunswick; former ambassador to the U.S.; Deputy Chair, TD Bank; Chair, Brookfield Asset Management; director of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.); J. Robert S. Prichard (Chair of Torys LLP; director of Onex Corp.; Chair of BMO Financial Corp.; director of George Weston Ltd.; Chair of Penguin Canada; member of the Ontario Economic Advisory Panel; member of the Federal Economic Advisory Council; director of Peter Munk’s Aurea Foundation); Heather Reisman (CEO of Indigo Books & Music Ind.; director of Onex Corp.; wife of billionaire Gerry Schwartz of Onex Corp.); and Nigel S. Wright (at the time, Chief of Staff, Office of the Prime Minister; former Managing Director of Onex Corp.; former director of the Aurea Foundation).
Onex Corp. is a private equity firm which, like other such firms, was poised in 2012 to invest billions in the private power and energy sector.
Clark, McKenna, Prichard and Reisman regularly attend Bilderberg. Clark and Resiman are members of the Bilderberg Steering Committee which chooses guests and topics.
Redford’s Final Report, issued in July 2012, was a mere half-page long, and its Results section only two sentences: “The Premier’s participation advanced the Alberta government’s more aggressive effort to engage world decision makers in Alberta’s strategic interests, and to talk about Alberta’s place in the world. The mission sets the stage for further relationship-building with existing partners and potential partners with common interests in investment, innovation and public policy.”
There’s not much there, but we can fill in some of the blanks.
Joyce Nelson is an award-winning freelance writer/researcher and the author of five books.
Photo: flickr/World Economic Forum