Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains sees ‘enormous potential’ for clean technology in the Northwest Territories.
Bains was the keynote speaker during a Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce event in Yellowknife Wednesday morning.
The MP for Ontario’s Mississauga-Malton riding is also the minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor).
In years to come, the Liberal government has promised to double its investments in renewable energy in the fight against climate change.
Bains acknowledges that Canada’s North is feeling the effects of climate change more than anywhere else in the country. That’s why he says it’s important for the territories to get behind creative and innovative solutions.
“There’s global momentum to act on climate change and to accelerate the transition to a low carbon future through the development and adoption of clean technology,” said Bains.
“Innovation is not about a cool new gadget or toy or about the latest and greatest technology that’s come forward. It’s about social innovation and finding solutions to problems.”
“Why can’t we expand our footprint when it comes to solar or wind or biomass? These are areas where we have tremendous opportunities if we really leverage them.
“We’re seeing climate change as a reality here more than in other parts of the country and the profound impact it’s having on communities.”
Given the country’s current economic outlook, Bains says Canada has an opportunity to modernize its infrastructure and energy capabilities while diversifying its economy.
But in order to do so, the government, private sector and civil society all have to get on the same page.
“This is an opportunity for Canada to show true global leadership,” said Bains.
“When we talk about innovation, we traditionally think about the next gadget or the next technology but there’s a lot of innovation happening in agriculture, fishing and forestry too,” said Bains.
“We understand that we can’t turn our backs to resource development. That’s still very important and we need to focus on that but how do we diversify?”
‘Just a down payment so far’
Bains admits innovation initiatives flew under the radar during the Liberal election campaign at the expense of infrastructure and tax cuts for the middle class.
But in last month’s budget, a total of $4.6 billion was invested in different projects to help advance the innovation agenda. And Bains says that’s just a down payment.
“Innovation is going to be a whole-of-government approach. The investments that we’re talking about … are coming in the next budget.
“We’ve had patchwork initiatives. This government made significant investments and we’ll continue to build on those but more is to come.”