These words are written every week with Manitoba and Saskatchewan in mind, first and foremost, because that is the Canada I know best.
Manitoba became a province in 1870, while Saskatchewan joined Confederation along with Alberta, 35 years later. How I frequently wish that my two provinces would find it easier to do business, particularly when it comes to energy.
Saskatchewan is rich in natural resources like oil, but they still have to burn a lot of dirty coal to produce electricity. Brad Wall and company are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in carbon capture and storage – a questionable investment at best.
Manitoba produces huge amounts of renewable hydro power, and Greg Selinger and company are committed to generating a whole lot more, even though the economics of that are questionable. This past week, the former chairman of the province’s Public Utilities Board made the case very strongly that the $20 billion dollar program which Manitoba locked in five years ago, could effectively bankrupt the province.
A lot of those ‘questions’ would resolve themselves over time if Saskatchewan, and Alberta for that matter, would accept the fact that hydro from northern Manitoba is a better option, and they should start building the east-west connections to make it happen.
Unfortunately politics, as we’re constantly reminded, has very little to do with common sense. How else can one explain the pronouncements of Manitoba Energy Minister Dave Chomiak?
He says if Hydro does not build hugely expensive new dams in the north, the province could be out of power in less than a decade.
Chomiak: “We’re going to run out of power in 2022. So, what are our options? To import coal? To import natural gas? We have to build the hydro. We’re running out in 2022.”
Chomiak and a handful of others might actually believe what they’re saying for public consumption. I hope someone who matters is quietly working on a better way.
I’m Roger Currie