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If Thomas Friedman is right, in his compelling bestseller, Hot, Crowded and Flat, Canada has just thrown away a major opportunity to build a successful future.

This week’s federal budget will create an $85 billion deficit, without creating the clean, sustainable energy supply that our peace, power and prosperity depend on. Friedman persuasively predicts that the ET (Energy Technology) revolution will be both transformative and disruptive, and will define the competitive advantage of both nations and companies for decades to come. Barack Obama understands this, but we Canadians seem to have our heads buried firmly in the tar sands.

The budget did not create an energy transformation, even in areas where a slight change of focus could have accomplished much. For example:

  1. Any home renovation will get a tax credit- why wasn’t this focussed on the energy conservation improvements, which so many homes urgently require, to echo Obama’s call to insulate a million American homes a year?
  2. Billions have been promised, again, for infrastructure, but much of the money will be spent on roads and bridges; not enough on transit; and nothing on conservation. And the mechanism for getting transit funding out to the municipalities remains painfully slow and highly political.
  3. Renewable power also got a brushoff. Even the existing Wind Power Production Incentive, which is small by international standards but has helped create a burst of new wind power facilities, was allowed to expire.

If Friedman is right, these decisions may prove as harmful to Canada as the last presidency was to the United States.

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