‘Canada will benefit from climate change’: comments from Ford appointee draw fire

Joe Oliver, the chair of Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator, Joe Oliver, seen here in 2015, wrote that Canada has “enormous agricultural potential if the land warms up” and “let’s not ignore the greater personal comfort of living in a more hospitable climate.”

The agency that operates Ontario’s electricity system is distancing itself from controversial climate-change comments made by its chair, Joe Oliver, a former federal finance minister appointed to the board last spring by Premier Doug Ford’s government.

Concerns about how seriously the environmental challenge is viewed by the province grew Monday as opposition parties — who last week took aim at Energy Minister Greg Rickford for quoting from a website denying the scientific consensus on climate change — flagged remarks from Oliver.

Oliver, 79, leads the board of the Independent Electricity System Operator, which runs day-to-day needs of the power grid and plans for its future needs. The agency, for example, is handling compensation for developers of more than 750 renewable energy contracts cancelled by the Ford government in July 2018.

In a commentary written for the National Post on August 15 and headlined “Canada will benefit from climate change,” Oliver referred to a study on its impact by Moody’s, a U.S. business and financial services company, and wrote the country has “enormous agricultural potential if the land warms up” and “let’s not ignore the greater personal comfort of living in a more hospitable climate.”

He also argued Canada is responsible for just 1.6 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and thus “cannot achieve a measurable impact on global temperatures.”

The New Democrats and Green party said Oliver’s remarks are troublesome amid escalating warnings about climate change from the scientific community and the United Nations, which has appointed former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney its special envoy on climate.

“To suggest, somehow, that Canada is going to benefit from global warming is the height of insanity. And it is a very, very dangerous opinion to have,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “If he was being flip, shame on him, because this is nothing to joke about.”

The Independent Electricity System Operator said it “has no comment on personal views expressed by Mr. Oliver” and noted “addressing non-traditional threats to grid reliability such as climate change and cyber-attacks is part of the IESO’s corporate strategy to ensure the reliability of Ontario’s electricity system.” SOURCE

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