On behalf of the Atlantica Centre for Energy, I would like to extend our deep sympathy to those affected by Hurricane Fiona. We extend sincere gratitude to the hundreds of crews and thousands of volunteers working tirelessly to provide immediate assistance to those impacted.

This is undoubtedly one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region, and the response only reinforces the tenacity of Atlantic Canadians and the true helping nature of our neighbours. It is important to recognize those who have traveled from Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and the United States, deployed in Atlantic Canada to help recovery efforts.

We understand the work it will take by our energy providers, provincial and municipal utilities, and regional services to restore power, provide temporary shelter, and repair critical services; the path recovery may be very long for some. Our region’s infrastructure is strong, but in the wake of this devastating natural disaster, time spent restoring may help us become even more resilient and efficient than before.

Federal support and regional cooperation will be crucial, and we can take advantage of this opportunity to strengthen our energy infrastructure and systems. Support can be found not only through creative funding solutions but also the speed at which decisions are made.

The force of Hurricane Fiona should underline the importance of energy security and diversity in our energy systems. Electricity, natural gas, and refined petroleum products are essential to the recovery process and the resumption of full economic activity here in Atlantic Canada.

We applaud the quick work already underway and admire the determination of Atlantic Canadians to rebuild better and stronger than ever.

Commentary by David Campbell from It’s the Economy, Stupid! 

When I was a kid my dad used to say “now, you’re cookin’ with gas!” when something was really going well. I’m not sure where he got that statement as I don’t believe we knew anyone that actually cooked with gas (except propane BBQs, I guess).

We don’t have a lot of folks in Atlantic Canada with natural gas cooking stoves but the few I have talked with are adamant that cooking with gas is much better than electric.

I see now there is a move in the U.S. to ban gas stoves/ovens because of study linking them to childhood asthma and to reduce carbon emissions.

I have said on many occasions that most people don’t really pay attention to big public policy issues until it becomes personal. Then, watch out.

This, of course, won’t be an issue in Atlantic Canada where only the ‘elite’ for the most part use gas stoves (maybe 0.5% of households?) but in Ottawa or Toronto or elsewhere? Get ready for some pushback.

But this is just a harbinger for other big changes to come – banning heating oil, banning the sale of ICE vehicles by 2035, etc. Even ‘greening’ the grid by 2030ish, most people don’t really pay attention until their power bill is up by 15-20% over several years – then they pay attention. And some politicians will be ready to pounce.

My sense is that politicians should be more honest with folks about the timing and cost of net zero 2050 commitments. I have written before that the instinct of politicians and gov. officials seems to be to downplay the cost – the former NS Premier talked about how wind energy would ensure Nova Scotians have cheap power in the future. Maybe, at some point, he might be right but someone is going to have to pay billions and billions to get Nova Scotia to a point where it has a pervasive green grid, no oil or gas heated homes and a full electrified transportation system (not to mentioned carbon-neutral industrial activity).

Because this spade work isn’t being done, it won’t be hard for a political party (or more) to get elected on a promise to roll back any changes.

Now, I am told by some of my younger colleagues that it won’t be an issue because young people are prepared to pay and make the lifestyle changes needed to adjust so the real problem is the 40+ crown and they become less and less relevant as we head towards 2050.

Maybe. But if a Millennial in Miramichi can’t drive their vehicle more than 200 KMs in the winter without a 45 minute/1 hour ‘fill up’ – they might end up being cranky. Or technological improvements might have gotten to a point that by 2050, the Millennial in Miramichi doesn’t even own or maintain an EV – they just order one on their phone every time they need it an a driverless car pulls up and takes care of the rest.

Who knows?

All I am saying is that we have many examples right here in NB of the public flexing its muscles and sending governments over a cliff – the proposed sale of NB Power, shale gas, uranium mining – don’t forget the 4-lane highway from Moncton to Fredericton. Old Al Hogan from the T&T believes he brought down the Theriault government over something as trivial as a toll highway.

After 30 years in the public policy sandbox, I still don’t know much but I do know that people start paying attention when they perceive it will hit them personally.

Better to get out front and make a clear, articulate and honest case for the change you want.

You can read more from David Campbell at It’s the Economy, Stupid!