Jim Prentice a visionary builder, business and energy groups agree403 views
Jim Prentice was remembered by Calgary’s business community Friday as a man of vision who worked hard to build bridges between the energy sector and interest groups across the country.
Prentice had a successful private sector career of his own, serving as vice-chair of CIBC after his departure from federal politics in 2010 and then as an energy analyst with private equity firm Warburg Pincus after his party was defeated in the 2015 provincial election.
He was a friend to many in Calgary’s business community, said Adam Legge, president of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
“We saw tremendous promise in him and his ideas as premier of this province,” Legge said in an interview. “I firmly believe he would have led us through the downturn and would have created conditions that were positive and successful for business to thrive.”
One of Prentice’s greatest legacies, business leaders said Friday, was the work he did on the energy file. Even as a federal cabinet minister and while working for CIBC, he was tireless in advocating for pipelines to move Canadian oil to new markets. He continued that advocacy in his role as premier, travelling to Ontario, Quebec, B.C., and Washington, D.C. in an effort to smooth the path for a pipeline.
In 2014, Enbridge Inc. appointed Prentice to lead consultation efforts with First Nations communities in B.C. and Alberta for its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. At the time, Prentice said in a statement that he accepted the role because he believed First Nations should be “full partners in resource development” and “owners” of projects like Northern Gateway. He said the pipeline could bring jobs and opportunity to First Nations Canadians, all while protecting the environment.
Tim McMillan — president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers — said Prentice believed pipelines had “nation building” capabilities, but he was far from being a voice for industry.
“I would say he was supportive of the energy sector and energy development, but only in a context which respected all other stakeholders,” McMillan said. “He, more than most people, had that very broad view of all the values that needed to be considered with any decision.”
In a statement Friday, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco called Prentice a “friend and trusted colleague” and said the company was “devastated” by the news of his death.
“Throughout his career as a business leader, lawyer and public servant, Jim’s passion to make things better, and his ability to earn respect from all sides, positively impacted the lives of Indigenous peoples, Albertans and Canadians,” Monaco said.
TransCanada CEO Russ Girling also issued a statement, saying “Jim Prentice was a man of vision and exemplified the true meaning of leadership. He was a great contributor both to our country and our province.”
“He was a great advocate for the energy industry, and I think he was a leader when it came to both the aboriginal file and the environmental file, and had tremendous relationships in both of those areas,” said Calgary Economic Development CEO Mary Moran. “This is a significant loss for Alberta, in so many ways.”
“This news comes as a terrible shock to all of us,” said Victor Dodig, President and CEO of CIBC, in a statement. “Jim was a great friend, colleague and Canadian. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s wife, Karen, and their children and extended family.”