On Saturday I started out by attending the Pacific North West Economic Region (PNWER) meeting and hearing Minister Jim Prentice talk about the environmental issues that confront Canada. Then I met with Bruce Carson, the Executive Director of the Canada School of Energy and Environment and Chair of Carbon Management Canada. We discussed ways in which we might be able to help facilitate additional collaboration between U.S. and Canadian researchers focused on developing clean energy technologies. Excellent work is going on both north and south of our border and we can both move ahead faster by sharing our experiences and findings.
After that we had a quiet day until the evening when it was back to the Chuckwagon Races. I didn’t seem to lose my touch in picking the winners. We stayed for the Grandstand show. It was really great. Kind of a cross between a musical, Cirque du Soleil, and motorcycle racing.
At the end there was a there was a video montage with all the emotional scenes of Canadian medal winners at the Olympics. I was watching it with a group of Canadian friends and there wasn’t a dry eye among them.
I was able to keep my composure. That is until they showed that clip of Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal in the gold medal hockey game. At that point I too broke into tears.
On Sunday I had a breakfast meeting with representatives of the Idaho National Labs, a Department of Energy facility, and Dr. Lorne Babiuk, Vice-President of Research at the University of Alberta. Again, the hope is to help solidify ties between Canadian and U.S. researchers working on reducing the impacts of energy production in both our countries.
Later in the day I met with Larry Persily, the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects. I have met with Larry before in Ottawa. His office is responsible for coordinating activities of federal agencies with respect to permitting and regulations that impact the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s Arctic to North American consumers.
We had dinner at the Consul General’s home where Laura and I heard about western Canadian economic development from Roger Gibbins, President and CEO of Canada West Foundation. I learned more about the recently established New West Partnership. This is an agreement between Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan that aims to lower barriers to interprovincial trade and investment. The goal is to take better advantage of opportunities through joining forces in a combined market of nine million people and over $550 billion in GDP.
This morning it was my turn to give a speech at PNWER. I talked about the border and how we did not have to choose between security and efficiency. If we were smart we could have both. I also talked about how the United States and Canada could coordinate our energy policies.
Immediately after the speech, we left for Lethbridge which is about two hours south of Calgary. The ride was just spectacular. To the west were the Canadian Rockies. And I had my first view of canola in flower. If you’ve never seen this before you have missed something. It is a brilliant golden yellow. There are miles and miles of the stuff against the backdrop of the mountains. It is quite a sight.
I loved Lethbridge. It’s the largest city in southern Alberta and is home to the highest and longest steel trestle bridge in the world. Very impressive. In Lethbridge, I had lunch at the Galt Museum with members of the Lethbridge town council, Senator Joyce Fairbairn, local MP Rick Casson and other members of the city’s business, academic and cultural sectors to learn about issues facing their community.
After Lethbridge we travelled to Magrath to tour a wind power project jointly operated by Suncor Energy and Enbridge. Grant Arnold. Suncor’s director of wind project and development operations, gave me an introduction to Suncor’s efforts, which are a key component of the company’s climate change action plan. Suncor is using revenues from oil sands development to invest in this alternative source of power. It was impressive to see the massive wind turbines up close and see them in operation.
Canola fields and wind turbines at the Magrath wind power project
Then we took the three hour drive back to Calgary and I got on a plane to Winnipeg. A very long – but very rewarding day.