POLITICS

Nunavut premier joins Alberta's call for national energy policy

03/14/2012 12:31 EDT | Updated 05/14/2012 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - Nunavut has joined Alberta's call for a national energy policy.

Territorial Premier Eva Aariak says she is throwing her support behind her Alberta counterpart Alison Redford's call for federal co-ordination of developing energy supplies.

"I stand with premier Redford in her calls for a Canada-wide energy strategy," Aariak said Wednesday in prepared remarks for a speech in Calgary on Arctic oil and gas.

"We have a choice to make. We can continue to bumble along in a piecemeal and haphazard fashion. Or we can pull together as 13 provinces and territories and match our different strengths to our different needs."

Aariak said the North has major energy resources that could replace expensive and polluting diesel power for the roughly 300 northern communities that still rely on it — a situation she called Canada's "energy divide."

Nunavut has vast energy supplies — from renewables such as wind and tide energy to huge and untapped reserves of oil and gas, she said.

"We need a more expansive vision that goes beyond new pipelines in the West. It is time to turn our eyes north to build an energy exporting network from sea to sea to sea."

A road from Nunavut to Manitoba would open up hydro development that could send 4,000 megawatts to southern markets, Aariak suggested. Such energy exports could give the territories a major economic boost.

Any national program must respect provincial control over resources — something provinces take for granted but which Nunavut and the Northwest Territories still don't have, she said.

But she acknowledged the federal government would still have a crucial role to play in any national program.