The Energy Council of Canada (ECC) convenes energy interests throughout the country, providing a networking platform of executives in corporate and government spheres intent on influencing policy decisions. The ECC acts as the Canadian arm of the World Energy Council (WEC)—one of the world’s largest and longest running energy organizations.
With a membership base of government and corporate energy executives, the ECC enjoys a considerable amount of influence on policy-making at the national and international levels, making it one of our Top 50 legitimators. Its corporate sponsorship by companies such as Suncor, Teck, Syncrude and Enbridge suggests that, for this elite group, the future of “energy” includes a continuing predominance of fossil fuels.
Head office: Ottawa, Ontario
Government members include Natural Resources Canada, the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Alberta Department of Energy, as well as the Nova Scotia and Ontario ministries of energy. Industry-association members include the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Fuels Association, the Canadian Gas Association and the Coal Association of Canada, among other hydroelectricity and renewable energy industry groups. Corporate members include Enbridge, Irving Oil, Suncor and a number of electrical companies such as Ontario Power Generation.
The WEC, established in 1923, is the “world’s principal network of energy leaders and practitioners.” 1 It hosts international conferences and events related to energy policy and carries out research initiatives on energy scenarios and forecasts such as the World Energy Resources Report.2 The WEC promotes a contradictory agenda for energy transition, promoting renewable energy and low-carbon technology alongside expanded fossil fuel production. The WEC claims natural gas will lead towards a “cleaner” energy future 3 and it is a founding member of the “Global Gas Centre,” an advocacy organization that promotes itself as a “high-level platform to shape the natural gas agenda.” 4 As a national member, the ECC shares its research on Canadian energy issues and attends WEC conferences and assemblies internationally.
As an industry convenor representing various energy interests, including fossil fuels, nuclear energy, hydroelectricity and renewables, the ECC supports an “all of the above” approach to energy systems and climate policy. Authors of ECC publications call for climate policy that is “balanced” with Canada’s “legitimate role as an energy supplier to the world.”5 ECC publications frequently cite the construction of oil pipelines as a necessary counterpoint to climate action. In a keynote address at an ECC event on climate policy, the deputy chair of TD Bank, Frank McKenna, cautioned against the economic consequences of a “premature phase-out of fossil fuels.” 6 In lieu of climate policies targeting the fossil fuel industry, the ECC advocates for technological development to reduce emissions, and it also promotes moderate carbon pricing.
The ECC’s active promotion of oil industry executives further indicates its relationship to the fossil fuel industry: in 2017, it awarded Enbridge’s president and CEO, Al Monaco, with the Canadian Energy Person of the Year Award. The award ceremony also featured key government officials such as Kim Rudd, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources Canada; Kathleen Wynne, premier of Ontario; and Rachel Notley, premier of Alberta.7 The Globe and Mail sponsored the event along with organizations such as CIBC, Scotiabank, RBC, TD, the Bank of Montreal, KPMG and Enbridge.8 Monaco was a featured author in the ECC’s e-book on Canadian energy systems, along with other oil industry majors such as Steve Williams, president and CEO of Suncor, and Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).9
With members including government ministries, energy associations and corporations, the ECC facilitates close access to government decision-makers. While it does not disclose its financial statements, sponsorship from companies such as Enbridge, Suncor and the CIBC10 help explain the ECC’s outspoken advocacy for fossil fuel interests.
In 2018, the ECC partnered with CAPP, the Canadian Electricity Association and the Canadian Gas Association to present an “interactive session” with Canada’s energy ministers at the 2017 Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference. Their presentation, titled “Clean Competitive Energy: Building Canada’s Future,” stressed that the energy industries’ financial competitiveness should be a top priority for policy-makers, and that subnational governments should place local concerns behind the national interest—apparently referencing pipeline disputes between British Columbia and Canada.11 The ECC’s president reported that the groups felt the presentation had been “useful to get the industry’s messages across” and that they would plan to continue to make similar presentations in the future.12
The ECC’s extensive funding ties to academia further suggest it attempts to strategically influence civil society. Through its “Energy Policy Research Committee” the ECC funds research initiatives that address energy policy issues, including “Energy Council Fellowships” that sponsor PhD students at the University of Waterloo studying research topics “which have been selected to align with the Energy Council’s areas of policy interest.”13 Meanwhile, a 2015 donation from the ECC provided seed funding for the Canadian Network for Energy Policy Research and Analysis (CNEPRA) at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy.14 The 2017 theme of CNEPRA’s annual conference, “Beyond Reconciliation,” invited presentations that provided advice for industry in mitigating the risk of Indigenous opposition to resource development projects.15
Learn more about the Energy Council of Canada at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.