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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (L) other dignitaries and officials aboard the Union Pearson Express train returning from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Union Station on April 22 2015. Wynne was in New York last week pitching her province as an investment destination.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

After years during which the Keystone XL pipeline and exporting Alberta's carbon-laden oil sands has dominated the Canada-U.S. energy discussion, Ontario's Premier Kathleen Wynne is singing a very different tune.

"Everywhere I've been, I've been talking about climate change and the fact that we are joining our cap-and-trade system with Quebec and California," the Premier said Monday.

In New York last week, Ms. Wynne was pitching Ontario as a sophisticated high-tech destination, seeking to build on its current claim as the "number one jurisdiction for foreign direct investment in North America," she said.

But the Premier's focus on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and tackling climate change remains paramount. She casts it – as does President Barack Obama – in terms of dire generational consequences if today's political elites fail to act.

"That's exactly why I talk about [the consequences for] my granddaughter because I truly believe that people can project forward when they think about their families much more easily than they can think about it as a policy issue," she said in a interview.

Ontario, a major exporter of emissions-free electricity from both nuclear and hydroelectric generating stations, has more than a principled stake in the pending political fight in Washington over Mr. Obama's sweeping new emissions standards, which will force states to find cleaner ways to generate power.

Both Ontario and Quebec, an even bigger clean-energy exporter, want Canadian hydro power treated as renewable energy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as it fashions new rules as to how states can achieve tough new emissions standards by 2030.

Ms. Wynne met Monday morning with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the de facto environment minister in the Obama administration.

The Ontario Premier said the energy discussion, both in Canada and between Canada and the United States needs to move beyond hydrocarbons.

"Energy policy is more than oil and gas," she said, adding that she expected the growing "international discussion on climate change is going to change the energy discussion between Canada and the United States."

On Tuesday, Ms. Wynne will deliver a luncheon speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center's Canada Institute and then meet with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to Mr. Obama.

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