DIVIDED? Polarization and Canada’s Energy Future in an Age of Climate Change - October 2019

About the event

The future of Canadian energy in an age of climate change is passionately contested. Disagreement on an issue this important is not surprising, but is there really growing polarization on energy in Canada? If so, on what issues, between which groups, and why? What are the consequences of polarization? How can Canada effectively navigate and overcome a polarized environment to enable effective, evidence-informed decision-making about Canada’s energy future in an age of climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and public mistrust of institutions?

It was the first major conference of Positive Energy’s second three-year project and convened senior leaders form business, government, Indigenous communities, civil society and the academy to examine and address polarization in Canadian politics, in particular its effects on energy decision-making. At the conference, Positive Energy released original public opinion research on polarization (survey work with Nanos Research, our official pollster), along with original cutting-edge research on drivers of polarization and recommendations to address it. 

Opening keynote: Public Opinion and Leaders’ Views on Energy and Climate Issues

Keynote Speaker

Nik Nanos

Nik Nanos, Chair and CEO, Nanos Research


Session 1: Polarization over Canada’s energy future – who, about what, and how much?


Marisa Beck

Marisa Beck, Research Director, ISSP, University of Ottawa






Stephen Bird
Stephen Bird, Associate Professor, Political Science, Clarkson University





Rhona Delfrari

Rhona DelFrari, Vice-President, Communications and External Engagement, Cenovus Energy





Nik Nanos

Nik Nanos, Chair and CEO, Nanos Research






Michael Cleland

Mike Cleland, Senior Fellow, Positive Energy

Activity: Energy and the arts

Cameron Cross

Cameron Cross, Public Artist

Session 2: Is polarization over energy technologies a failure of public policy, regulation, industry, activism or all of the above?


Neil Alexander

Neil Alexander, CEO, Bucephalus Consulting






Anne Raphaelle Audoin

Anne-Raphaelle Audouin, President, Waterpower Canada






James Donald
James Donald, Doctoral Candidate, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria



Christina Hoicka

Christina Hoicka, Assistant Professor, Sustainable Energy Economics, York University



Patricia Larkin

Patricia Larkin, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Positive Energy, University of Ottawa





Tabatha Bull

Tabatha Bull, Chief Operating Officer, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Session 3: What can we do about polarization of the Canadian energy discourse?


Catherine Abreu
Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network





Duane Bratt

Duane Bratt, Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies, Mount Royal University





Larissa Crawford

Larissa Crawford, Speaker, Larissa Crawford Speaks






Patrick McCurdy
Patrick McCurdy, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Ottawa





Normand Mousseau

Normand Mousseau, Academic Director, Trottier Energy Institute





Meredith Adler

Meredith Adler, Executive Director, Student Energy

Closing plenary: What have we learned today?


Niilo Edwards

Niilo Edwards, Executive Director, First Nations Major Projects Coalition


Tonja Leach

Tonja Leach, Executive Director, QUEST






David Lye

David Lye, Vice-President External Affairs, Encana






Aimee Richard

Aimee Richard, Bachelor’s degree, Public Administration and Women's Studies, University of Ottawa






Monica Gattinger, Chair, Positive Energy
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