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AFN Energy Forum

Vancouver Feb 10-11

The National Chief and the Minister of Natural Resources (in back to back speeches) gave reason for hope in cracking the resources gridlock playing out everywhere in Canada. They both had great opening lines ...

Bellegard: "This is our second such conference, we tried this 5 years ago but Canada was not represented, so thank you Minister Carr for being here."

Carr: "You might well think that the National Chief?s staff wrote my speech as will be seen in the next few minutes; given that there's no relationship more important to this government and to Canadians."

What they both emphasized to a packed conference was the fact that this event held enormous implications for the country's natural resources sector and the national economy. For two newbies (Bellegarde in the job for 1 year and Carr in his 100 days), they both delivered superb speeches demonstrating that they were in command of their mandates and knew that the clock was running on maximizing the country's resource opportunities.

Look who else showed up to present: Chair of the National Energy Board, and the Indigenous Affairs Ministers for British Columbia and Ontario. To this strategist (who also spoke) the Assembly of First Nations has never looked more relevant. 

The National Chief prioritized three themes: inclusion, balance and diversity. 

His bottom line was that a "national energy strategy cannot be accomplished without First Nation inclusion at every stage. We need to shape our energy future together."

The Minister prioritized his government's moves to meet that challenge citing the pending Inquiry (MMIW), embracing Truth and Reconciliation recommendations, and modernizing the NEB. His bottom line was "The only way forward is with you. I want to invite you in - to work together - to strive for consensus."

At this point the convention chair, Chief Ian Campbell, Squamish Nation interjected: "This change in the narrative is refreshing!" A remark that elicited  a loud round of applause. Indeed there was more substance to both their speeches; but it's now clear that for the country's sake, these two leaders are putting the lost decade behind them; as a strategist, I refer to that decade as a time of 'systemic stagnation'.

Thus the AFN Energy Forum stands out as a singular success marking the era wherein we might actually now get some big things done in this country through a collaborative process. It had to happen - it?s a great start - it?s called statesmanship.

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