This program marks the 16th annual Canadian Energy Law Forum. Every year around 50 lawyers meet in a Canadian city to review the developments in energy regulation across Canada. The members of the Forum are legal counsel in different Canadian provinces that act for utilities, intervenors and regulators in proceedings before both energy regulators and the courts that review the regulatory decisions. 

Today’s program starts, as it always does, with the lecture by David Mullan Canada’s leading authority on constitutional and administrative law. The Mullan annual lecture at the Forum is also published every year in this journal.

Following David is a panel on greenwashing that includes Adonis Yatchew at the University of Toronto, Joseph Kelleher, a former Chair of FERC in Washington, Carolyn Calwell, General Counsel at the Ontario Energy Board and Amanda Klein, General Counsel at Toronto Hydro. Misleading claims regarding carbon reduction is attracting a growing interest by regulators in both Canada and the United States The Securities Commissions in both countries are taking the lead but energy regulators will soon get involved whether they like it or not. 

The second panel, which is chaired by Jonathan Liteplo at the BLG law firm in Calgary, deals with a very unique topic. That is the impact of the Covid virus on regulation within the energy sector. Like the courts regulators have had to live in the new Zoom life. More importantly they have had to make adjustments to filing requirements and hearing procedures. These have created some real challenges and debate. 

Last but not least Katie Slipp, a partner with the Blakes law firm in Calgary, chairs a panel dealing with investments to promote green energy. Meeting Canadian climate change goals will require huge investments in new technology. That will create significant regulatory challenges for both the regulatory agencies and the lawyers that practice before them. 

The last matter on the program marks a longstanding tradition at the Forum. For each of the last 15 years we have recognized the Energy Lawyer of the Year. One from the West and one from Eastern Canada. The award consists of unique Inuit sculpture of a grizzly bear. This recognition started in the very first Energy Law Forum held in Kelowna British Columbia. In those days there is only one bear. The award that year went to Neil McCrank QC, then Chair of the Alberta Utilities Commission. 

This year we are pleased to announce that two senior members of the energy bar are being recognized. The first is Bruce Outhouse QC, a partner at Blois Nickerson firm in Halifax . Bruce for the last 35 years has acted as counsel to the Nova Scotia regulator. The Western Bear goes to Chris Sanderson QC, a partner at the Lawson Lundell law firm in Vancouver who practiced for 40 years before the British Columbia Utilities Commission. 

This is the first time in the history of the Energy Law Forum that one of the Bears has gone to a lawyer on the Pacific coast while the second Bear went to a lawyer on the Atlantic coast. So much for the monopoly long enjoyed by Ontario and Alberta lawyers. In closing we must thank the sponsors of the grand Bear Dinner- the national law firms – Borden Ladner and Blakes.