Last week in Toronto an interesting gathering took place – a meeting of the minds, as it were. The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association held a symposium that brought together groups to talk about pipeline safety and the future of Canada’s critical infrastructure.
Yes, the usual crowd was there (CEPA’s member companies, for example), but you might not have anticipated the presence of an environmental organization, a prominent First Nations speaker, or the hard-hitting messages delivered by a leading Canadian pollster about Canadians’ attitudes regarding pipelines.
For an industry often accused of hiding behind engineering-speak, it was a remarkably frank and open dialogue about the infrastructure and energy choices facing Canadians, social acceptance, and the industry’s pursuit of zero leaks.
Simply put, Canada’s transmission pipeline operators want to regain social acceptance and are prepared to not only have that conversation, but host it and do what it takes to earn our social licence to operate.
The entire event was live tweeted – so you can follow the blow by blow by searching Twitter for the hashtag #pipesafety.
The event kicked off Wednesday night with a keynote from the Honourable Perrin Beatty, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Beatty spoke passionately about how Canadian infrastructure like pipelines is a uniquely Canadian success story and is critical to our economy and well being as a nation.
“Canadians need to have a conversation on energy,” said Beatty, “but the debate these days is anything but rational. Surveys show most Canadians know it’s possible to balance development with environmental responsibility.”
Beatty went on to note that, based on his many years of public service, “When you treat Canadians with respect, they will make the right decision.”
The symposium agenda was chock full of a variety of speakers and panelists who investigated all aspects of pipeline safety, integrity, and the socio-political climate. Topics included:
A real highlight of the second day was pollster Bruce Anderson’s lunch keynote on public opinion of pipelines. We captured many of Anderson’s remarks on Twitter. We “Storifyed” those tweets, along with a video Anderson showed and our interview with him – here is that Storify package for those inclined to listen in.
The day and a half was a successful dialogue with prominent Canadian groups on a topic of interest to all Canadians. How do we engage in responsible development while building infrastructure for the future and our economy for today?
The answer? It all starts with a rational conversation between Canadians. Like the Integrity First symposium last week.