The Voice spoke with newly appointed president and CEO of the Canadian Propane Association, Nathalie St-Pierre to hear her thoughts and goals for the CPA.
The Voice: Many congratulations on being appointed President and CEO of the Canadian Propane Association. Please could you tell us what your main objectives are for the Canadian Propane Association over the next few months?
Nathalie St-Pierre: My goal is clear: make the Canadian Propane Association the most influential and credible voice to ensure that the propane industry plays a significant role in Canada’s energy landscape and provides a solution to our environmental challenges. So far, the Association has succeeded in moving the bar in several areas, including strengthening the industry’s relationship with regulators, and developing strategies to increase awareness of the value of propane and its many uses to Canadians, and to dispel myths about its safety.
To achieve the next level of success, I am looking at consolidating our leadership and our brand. I will increase our advocacy efforts and ensure we are an engaged partner with all levels of governments. We have a good story to tell. Propane is a safe, clean-burning affordable alternative to lead Canada’s transition to a low-emission energy future.
I am also looking at building a coherent and orchestrated strategy to support our members in developing their markets. And while we currently offer the best programs across Canada in safety and training through our Propane Training Institute – bilingual, competency-based certification programs designed to ensure workers are safe and members are in compliance with regulations – I believe we can expand our reach to further promote a culture of safety across Canada.
Finally, like all organizations, we need to be creative and innovative, and responding to our members to remain relevant. We are all facing market consolidations, mergers, acquisitions, etc. What is our value proposition? To lead change for our members, we need to listen to them. And I am very fortunate; my Board is incredible and very dedicated and our members are really engaged. They are the ones we listen to.
The Voice: Could you tell us a little about your career path to get to this point?
Nathalie St-Pierre: I have led a varied and interesting career, and have taken on many different roles – from government relations, lobbying, defining the association’s agenda to pursuing members’ agendas.
I have over 20 years of experience in both private and not-for-profit sectors, and recognized accomplishments in strategic leadership and organizational development.
I am a member of the Quebec bar, and although I’ve never practiced as a lawyer, I have worked on developing numerous strategic alliances and opportunities with government to deliver on core objectives for the various associations I have worked for. I have also contributed to several not-for-profit organizations and I have been privileged to speak on behalf of many organizations across Canada and internationally, as well as on radio and television.
I believe my experiences will help me in moving the Canadian Propane Association forward and increasing outreach to governments as they look for ways to reduce Canada’s carbon footprint.
The Voice: What are the key goals for the Canadian Propane Association in terms of membership for example, or major campaigns?
Nathalie St-Pierre: Our next major campaign is to get Canadian regulators, governments, municipalities and businesses to understand that propane is a safe, reliable, efficient, low-cost and low-emission fuel. It is readily accessible without large-scale infrastructure and it provides solutions to important economic and environmental issues facing Canadians today, such as high energy costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We will continue to promote that propane is an excellent alternative fuel source, including for Indigenous and remote communities and for transportation, a sector that creates about 23% of GHG emissions in Canada. We are working with government to include propane in government fleets as well as provide conversion rebates and tax breaks to support the conversion of fleets to alternative fuels such as low emission, cost-effective propane.
For our members, our focus will always be to bring value and support their efforts in growing their businesses. We need to keep them informed and with that in mind, we are working to ensure we provide modernized communication tools so they can stay well-informed of key issues occurring in our industry as well as support their efforts in promoting their businesses. These communication tools will also help ensure our members can easily and efficiently stay abreast of new or changing regulations and safety practices as well as provide a forum for them to collaborate on best practices.
The Voice: Also for the Canadian market in general, what do you see as the major opportunities?
Nathalie St-Pierre: Canada is fortunate. We have an abundant supply of propane. And our propane producers have earned a reputation for innovation, environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility. We are the sixth largest LPG producer in the world with supply exceeding demand. Approximately 50% of our annual production is exported because of surplus. And we can do even more…
AltaGas’ propane export terminal off Canada’s western coast – Canada’s first terminal to export propane – is currently under construction and is expected to be operational by early 2019. It will provide producers with access to new markets and opportunities, especially as propane use continues to expand in Asia and other overseas markets.
Within Canada, we need to make sure the industry is moving forward and that we can compete with other energy sources and lead the conversations for a low-emission Canada. Propane can play a vital role in climate change policies as everyone looks to reduce their emissions. With government support, propane usage can grow, creating significant benefits for Canadians. This is particularly true in areas such as using propane as a feedstock for the petrochemical industry to make plastic products. New facilities using propane as a feedstock and investments in infrastructure to expand capacity in propylene and polypropylene markets are required. Propane is also used as a solvent in bitumen production, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and lower water and energy consumption – these are all opportunities we need to work on.
The Voice: What benefits do you see as being a member of the WLPGA? How do you envisage working together with us?
Nathalie St-Pierre: I have only been with the Canadian Propane Association a few months but I see many benefits in having an association that understands and supports the work of propane associations around the globe.
We benefit from understanding what’s happening with propane in other parts of the world, and can leverage data and market developments in our own efforts to educate and influence stakeholders and grow our propane market.
With limited resources, we benefit from the research and marketing material created by the WLPGA, adding to the solidarity and cross promotion of propane.
The WLPGA’s efforts to raise awareness and advocate for propane at the international level helps to ensure our industry is fairly represented and supports our efforts to affect change and policy within our own country.
Safety and compliance is also an important area for all of us and we must ensure our industry – regardless of the country we live in – demonstrates best practices and standards. Having an organization that promotes compliance with health, safety and environment standards and best practices in the propane industry helps all of us advance our agendas.
And obviously, the Women in LPG network is of particular interest to me. I always look forward to the information I get and to get more involved.