This article examines how, in the absence of federal leadership, Canada’s provincial premiers are reaching a consensus position on a climate change plan.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, politics, world issues

Key Questions to Explore:

  1. What are the various provincial positions on a climate change plan?
  2. What is the current situation regarding the status and position of each of the provincial premiers?
  3. Why is there no federal leadership on this issue?
  4. What is the position of the federal Conservative government on a national climate change plan?

New Terminology:

Canadian energy strategy

Materials Needed:

Access to the Internet for group research

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The federal Conservative government has been totally absent when it comes to establishing a national energy strategy which would ensure that Canada meets its international commitments to address climate change. Rather than working to establish a national plan, the Conservative government has stated that it would develop regulations on a sector by sector basis and wait until the United States developed its plan. Once the American commitments are established, the federal Conservatives say they would follow suit. This, they claim, would avoid putting Canada at an economic disadvantage. What this position has done, however, is create a leadership void that has prevented meaningful action to address climate change. Canada has received ongoing international condemnation as a country that lacks serious commitment in this area. In response to this lack of federal leadership, the provincial premiers have stepped up and agreed to an outline of what is now referred to as the Canadian Energy Strategy. The question becomes, therefore: when there is apparently the will to establish a national energy policy that would address both the oil sands and climate change challenges, why has the federal Conservative government steadfastly refused to take a leadership role? This lesson will have the students examine both the situation and circumstances at the provincial level and the position of the federal government on this issue. They will determine for themselves whether they support the federal position or the provincial initiatives.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students if they are aware of any significant outcomes of the provincial premiers’ annual meeting that took place in Prince Edward Island during August.
  • List any information that they may have.
  • If it is not mentioned, ask them if they would be surprised to hear that the premiers reached a consensus and released the outline of what is being called the Canadian Energy Strategy – a document that made an essential link between addressing climate change and the transport and transmission of energy.
  • Provide the students with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Get their reaction to what they have just read.
  • Put the students in groups of five or six and give them the following questions:
    1. Why were the premiers finally able to come to this consensus after many previous failed attempts?
    2. Why was the federal government not taking an active role in these discussions?
    3. What action is the federal Conservative government taking to provide a national energy plan that would also honour its international climate change commitments?
  • Give the groups time to complete their assignment and then have the groups report.
  • Once the groups have reported, ask the students to indicate whether they support the premiers’ initiatives or the position of the federal government.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Divide the class in half with those who support the premiers in one half and those who support the federal government in the other half.
  • Conclude the lesson by conducting a class discussion during which the opposing groups are given a chance to convince the other of the correctness of their position.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • The students can explain the general outline of the premiers’ Canadian Energy Strategy.
  • The students can explain how the premiers were able to reach this consensus.
  • The students can outline the basic position of the federal government in this area.

Confirming Activity:

  • Assign the following essay theme for homework:

‘I believe that the premiers’ outline is (is not) the best way to proceed in order to develop a national energy strategy. The federal government needs (does not need) to change its position and assume a leadership role in establishing this national policy.’

  • Have the students be specific about what they feel needs to be done.