REGINA – Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre presented the first panelists making up the independent assessment tribunal to the Saskatchewan Legislature on Nov. 28, providing greater detail in their background. And perhaps as a sign of unity, New Democratic Party Energy Critic Aleana Young also spoke in glowing tones of those panelists.

This is the first of possibly several tribunals that could flow from the Saskatchewan First Act, which passed earlier this year. It’s topic will be the proposed Clean Electricity Regulations, which the federal government is seeking to impose. In their current form, they would envision all but eliminating natural gas and coal power generation by 2035 unless extremely stringent carbon capture plants are added. At the same time, those regulations project the Canadian electrical grid will need to grow by a factor of 2.5x. On any given day, up to 87 per cent of Saskatchewan’s power generation comes from natural gas and coal.

Here’s Eyre’s and Young’s speeches, verbatim:

Minister of Justice and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre:

Mr. Speaker. Flowing from The Saskatchewan First Act, which came into force on September 15, is the independent assessment tribunal, whose purpose and role will be to determine, assess, and quantify the economic effects of federal policies and legislation on the people, businesses, and industries of our province. This morning I formally introduced the members of the tribunal, some of whom could join us in your gallery today.

Mr. Speaker, Chair Michael Milani, K.C. [King’s Counsel] is a senior commercial and insolvency partner at McDougall Gauley with over 40 years of experience in practice, a former Estey Chair in business law at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law, a former president of the Law Society and Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and the current Chair of the Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan.

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In his legal capacity, Mr. Milani has undertaken various renewable energy projects for SaskPower, including negotiating power purchase agreements around wind and solar energy and agreements for the engineering, procurement, and construction of combined-cycle gas plants. I know Mike to be highly effective, professional, and honourable, and I know he will serve the tribunal and the province well.

It was also my pleasure, Mr. Speaker, this morning to introduce Vice-Chair Janice MacKinnon, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Member of the Order of Canada, and former Saskatchewan cabinet minister. In 2017 she was appointed to the federal advisory panel on NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] and the environment. In 2019 she was appointed by former Alberta premier Jason Kenney to chair the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances.

She remains a professor of fiscal policy at the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan and is a senior fellow and member of the National Council of the C.D. Howe Institute.

Mr. Speaker, also able to join us today, Kenneth From, the former president and CEO [chief executive officer] of SaskEnergy, former CEO of the Petroleum Technology Research Centre and of the Technical Safety Authority of Saskatchewan. He served as an officer and director of Raven Oil Corporation from 2012 to 2016 and before that as president of Prairie Hunter Energy Corporation. A professional engineer, he also served from 2003 to 2004 as president of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan. When I was minister of SaskEnergy, I found Ken to be the definition of a detail person, and I know that his wide breadth of energy sector knowledge and expertise will serve the tribunal and the province very well.

This morning, Mr. Speaker, I also introduced Dr. Stuart Smyth, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan in the department of agricultural and resource economics whose research focuses on sustainability, agriculture, and innovation. He has published over 100 academic articles and is recognized as a leading expert on barriers to innovation and regulatory efficiency. He’s also the Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement Chair at the University of Saskatchewan.

And finally, Mr. Speaker, Estella Petersen, whom I also introduced earlier today. She is a heavy equipment operator in Fort McMurray, Alberta, originally from Saskatchewan and Treaty 4 Cowessess First Nation. Estella has been part of Suncor Energy’s Aboriginal ambassador program. She has also written eloquently, including for The Globe and Mail, about the crucial economic importance of the natural resource sector to Indigenous communities. As she told me after the press conference this morning, and contrary to what some of the questions suggested, just because you work in the oil sands doesn’t mean you don’t care about the environment.

I should say. Estella offers a unique on-the-ground perspective which will be of great value to the tribunal’s work.

Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased that this fine, distinguished group has agreed to serve on Saskatchewan’s Economic Assessment Tribunal. Their work will be detailed, comprehensive, and valued. Please join me in welcoming them to their Legislative Assembly.

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NDP Energy Critic Aleana Young:

Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It’s a true, true pleasure to join with the minister in welcoming these individuals to their service on this tribunal, as well as Mr. Milani and Mr. From to this, their legislature.

Mr. Milani, we haven’t met, but the list of accomplishments that the minister read off is truly remarkable, mildly terrifying, and I think illustrates a true life of professional service and a service to this province and all of its potential. And I want to thank you for being here today and for agreeing to serve Saskatchewan and its interests.

I also want to thank Janice MacKinnon, who I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting but whose career I’ve obviously followed closely, and whose book I read with relish and delight when I was first privileged enough to be elected to this Assembly, and who continues, I think, to serve in a number of capacities.

Dr. Stuart Smyth, again, just an individual with a remarkable résumé. And I note in particular the minister’s commentary on his dedication to reducing barriers to innovation, which I think speaks strongly to his commitment.

And Estella Petersen from Fort McMurray, breaking barriers, using her voice to speak for her industry, her community, a proud member of Cowessess and Suncor. I look forward to her advocacy.

And last of all I want to give a special, hopefully appropriate shout-out to Ken From who had perhaps the misfortune of formerly being my boss at PTRC [Petroleum Technology Research Centre], who I worked under for a couple of years. And I have just been privileged to know you professionally and to watch all that you’ve gone on to do in your work with SaskEnergy as well as your background in the sector. I know Ken as someone who’s incredibly accomplished, whip smart, charismatic, funny, cares deeply about his province, his sector, and just really brings excellence to all that he touches.

So with that, on behalf of the official opposition, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to add our welcome and congratulations to these members and thank them for their service to this province.

 

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