Macdonald-Laurier Institute Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley will be speaking on the concept of social licence at an event in Calgary on Oct. 8, 2014.

The conference, organized by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, will bring together speakers to examine whether the concept of social licence is useful in regulatory issues.

Social licence has created a new standard that businesses hoping to start energy and infrastructure projects have to meet.

Advocates of the concept now claim that applicants have to win the approval of certain groups – non-governmental organizations, citizen’s associations, local residents – before they can go ahead.

However this has created an uncertain and often-shifting set of standards which businesses need to meet.

The event will ask: “Is social licence a meaningful addition to the regulatory process, or is it being used as a constantly moving goal-post designed to slow down regulatory processes, delay project implementation, frustrate energy infrastructure expansion and even enrich those advocates who promote it as new model?”

Crowley wrote about the issue in a column for the Globe and Mail earlier this year.

“‘Social licence’ ought properly to be called ‘opponents' permission’”, he wrote. “And a moment's thought reveals why such open-ended, undefined, biased and unaccountable tests can never be the basis on which civilized societies make such decisions.”

He will be participating in a panel titled “Who ‘owns’ or ‘issues’ social licence? Where does the authority come from?”

Martha Hall Findlay, a former Liberal member of Parliament and an executive fellow at the University of Calgary, will also take part.

For more details, click here.

MLI would not exist without the support of its donors. Please consider making a small contribution today.