Can Canada ever develop a coherent national energy strategy that aligns diverse interests and sets a clear path forward for the country's next 150 years?
A roadmap that recognizes fossil fuels and their extraction, transportation and processing will remain a vital part of an energy systems mix for decades to come?
A game plan that amplifies the reality that all energy systems bring with their introduction difficult choices and unintended consequences?
A blueprint that embraces efficient and effective regulation while ensuring balanced and timely processing for project permitting and approval?
All are possible, but not until Canadians come together communicatively—and that means creating new ways and means of having balanced dialogue, says Bill Whitelaw, CEO of JWN.
Currently, energy debate in Canada is so polarized that it's difficult to imagine a Canada in which the rules of civil society prevail, he noted. That means balanced and respectful dialogue around complex and often potentially divisive issues.
"Somehow, we've reached the point in Canada where energy matters divide us as a nation, rather than binding us together around what is singularly one of our most important social and economic issues."
Canadians are too often caught in a crossfire of dueling facts regarding energy, particularly fossil fuels. As a consequence, they're frustrated and confused and the result is a loss of trust, said Whitelaw.
"What's confounding about this is that most people actually know more about energy than they think they know...what they lack are mechanisms that connect the dots," he explained.
"People understand that they are energy beings...that they live within a web of complex energy systems. They just want to know who to believe and who to trust."
To do its part, JWN is "pivoting" one of its flagship brands, Oilweek, to be part of an future in which energy dynamics are productively understood and constructively discussed. Even though Oilweek has largely served the petroleum sector for 75 years, it's the ideal platform from which to launch next-generation perspectives on all forms of energy—recognizing that from a systems approach, all energy forms connect to each other.
"In reality, nothing stands alone and independent...all systems have key points of interconnection and interdependence. Energy systems should work together but we seem determined to have them work against each other."
As part of its pivot, Oilweek's team will tie together key audiences via balanced content and analysis. With its September issue (and on its digital platform) Oilweek insights will link its long-standing petroleum audience to federal and provincial politicians, First Nations communities, post-secondary campuses, mayors and councils of Canada's top cities, ENGOs and energy associations.
That's the first step toward building an integrated audience and the first step toward potential new alignments that can result from diverse interests all focused on the same objectives, said Whitelaw.
Within months, other specific groups, such an investors and economic development organizations, will be added. And a partnership with a national agency will make the content available to more than 1,800 online and print media outlets across Canada.
Additionally JWN will align with a national public affairs group to ensure maxmimum market penetration.
Canadians have a substantial appetite for balanced content from trusted sources, he noted.
"This alignment might be the first tentative steps we need to take toward some form of national coherence on energy issues. The reality is that we don't need to always reach consensus because that's not the way democracy works...but we do need better means of getting all points of view heard."