Sunday morning, I was reminded yet again about the challenges of trying to foster a strong economy in this province while not putting the environment in peril in the process.
Linda Duncan, a New Democrat MP from Edmonton, was a guest on the Alberta Morning News, talking about a new report from the United Nations agency, UNESCO, on the condition of Wood Buffalo National Park. The park is a World Heritage Site in northern Alberta.
LISTEN: Is Wood Buffalo National Park’s UNESCO World Heritage designation in jeopardy?
“Continued lack of action by Liberal and Conservative governments to effectively assess impacts of energy projects and require protective measures is jeopardizing the park’s World Heritage designation,” she told the radio audience. She went on to say that decisions made by the government of British Columbia with respect to such issues as the Site C hydro dam will have a negative impact on the First Nations communities, in particular, in northern Alberta.
Later on the program, Ron Seftel, chief executive officer of Bullfrog Power, talked about details of a survey which concludes that a majority of Canadians support more action on climate change. We should not be surprised that a company built around green power should be an advocate for cleaner ways of producing energy. Nor should we be surprised that it is young people, millennials in particular, who are the most outspoken on the need to do more on climate change.
LISTEN: Do Canadians support more action on climate change?
In the past few months, politicians have been pointing to a greater focus on their own leadership on the climate change file. Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau have built a model of enforcement of rules that protect the environment around a strategy to expand pipeline development to appease the energy lobby. Energy companies are spending more time and money trying to woo environmentalists and First Nations, promising jobs and economic benefits as the reward.
The process will always have bumps on the road. But I think the conversation is becoming a bit more civilized and the debate is about how to make the process work for everybody. If everybody is at the table, at least no one can complain about being excluded or ignored, and whatever is produced will keep jobs in the province and the landscape pristine. If that’s the goal, it’s a worthy goal, indeed.