Country needs better data to ward off criticism: Prentice

Canada needs to have credible data to defend itself from international criticism of its energy and environmental policy, says a former federal environment minister.

CALGARY — Canada needs to have credible data to defend itself from international criticism of its energy and environmental policy, says a former federal environment minister.

Jim Prentice, who left politics last fall, says the country hasn’t presented enough information to get to what he calls “first base” in the game of public opinion.

“Neither industry nor the governments of Canada or Alberta can defend themselves in the absence of credible, science-based data that substantiates the fact we are protecting the environment,” Prentice said Wednesday in a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

“As a country we have not had data of that quality.”

“The world is calling upon Canada to improve its environmental performance vis-a-vis the oilsands.”

Prentice, a vice-chair at CIBC, is optimistic that the ongoing creation of a world-class monitoring system for the oilsands will allow the industry to get out in front of its critics and set tougher targets and benchmarks with respect to the impact on water, air and land.

He said that would provide the data to prove success.

“I think it’s extremely important. I’ve been on the international stage defending our national interests and I know you have to have credible scientific data. If you don’t, you can’t get to first base and so nothing is more important,” he told reporters.