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Will Ottawa replace natural gas to fuel Centennial Flame?

Don Horne   


Ottawa is looking for alternatives to natural gas fuelling the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill – and that has sparked an open letter to the Prime Minister from Timothy M. Egan, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Gas Association.

“It has come to our attention that Public Services and Procurement Canada is undertaking a study to look at alternatives to natural gas fuelling of the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill.  The Canadian Gas Association, representing the companies across Canada that deliver natural gas to over 20 million Canadians every day from coast to coast to coast, wishes to register an objection to this study….”

Egan cites seven examples as to why the Centennial Flame holds meaning for many Canadians:



A piece of Canadian history: The Centennial Flame was established in the year marking our country’s 100th anniversary.  In the tradition of public monuments incorporating a flame, it has become a representation of faith in what we stand for, of hope in the future, and of the care we take to stay glorious and free. Canadians know and value this – and don’t want to change it.


A symbol of unity: Apart from the obvious demonstration of unity it provides – incorporating the coats of arms of all the provinces and territories – the flame is a unifying symbol in what it does. It draws on a fuel that moves across our country, uniting the regions in a unique and powerful way.


A demonstration of our resourcefulness: You have spoken of the need to show resourcefulness. Extraordinary innovation is demonstrated in the feat of bringing fuel across great stretches of harsh terrain, safely and reliably, to the very centre of our democracy. The flame speaks to just how resourceful we can be.


A reminder of our resource wealth: The flame burns natural gas. Natural gas is a fuel we have in abundance. Government of Canada analysis tells us there are hundreds of years of supply readily available, with the potential for significantly more from many sources, renewable and otherwise: ours is a sustainable asset and the flame is a reminder of it.


A marker of our natural gas affordability advantage: Natural gas use has grown steadily in Canada since the middle of the 19th century – before Confederation.  This is because it has consistently been so affordable for Canadians. Today, natural gas meets more than 36% of our energy needs, and more and more Canadians want it for their residential, commercial and industrial needs. The flame reminds us of that.


A measure of our adaptability: The Government of Canada purchases RNG (renewable natural gas – a renewable source of methane produced from municipal solid waste, wastewater, agricultural waste and biomass) to “offset” any GHG emissions generated from the flame.  Our industry is deeply involved in work to expand the use of RNG – a more costly product than conventional natural gas, but one that can be delivered more cheaply than most other renewables, while helping meet emission reduction goals.


A message to the world: The last few decades have seen an extraordinary development – the lifting from poverty of hundreds of millions around the globe. Making resources like natural gas more widely available has been key to this human achievement. Canada has an opportunity to contribute to the continuing story. If we can get our natural gas wealth to markets overseas we have a chance to alleviate poverty and improve the environment with an affordable, clean energy product. The world admires how we have developed our resource wealth and wants to share in the fuels and their innovative applications. What kind of message does it send if we stop using the product ourselves?

“Prime Minister, in December at the re-lighting to mark the addition of the Nunavut coat of arms, you described the Centennial Flame as an “iconic symbol” and you quoted former Prime Minister Pearson: ‘as this symbolic flame burns, so let pride in our country burn in the hearts of all Canadians where the real meaning of Canada must ever be found…’

“We hope you will join the #keepcanadasflame / #préserverlaflameducanada campaign to underscore this pride, and to demonstrate your support for this Canadian icon,” concludes Egan.


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