Last week, I came across a Troy Media column that caught my interest. Bill Whitelaw, the president and CEO of JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group, wrote a piece about injecting some positive energy into what is often a divisive national energy debate. He spoke of Monica Gattinger, the director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa and chair of a three year initiative known as Positive Energy. I tracked her down.
“I have found that one of the key components in the debate is the capacity to ’listen,’” Gattinger told me. “Another of the key components is research, so that all parties to the conversation have a set of facts on which they can agree. The debate has to be about more than just economics vs. the environment.”
“It’s not that we’re ever going to get to the point of complete agreement on whether or not a project should proceed. It is about having a conversation that involves thoughtful analysis rather than emotional wrangling. I think we are making some progress.”
We have seen a number of proposed projects go through the rigorous scrutiny of public hearings and community meetings in the past few years. They are invariably accompanied by public events that attract cameras and media coverage and the often highly emotional response of one side or the other to the issue at hand. Facts can sometimes be lost in the clamour. Or, they can be interpreted in a way to demonstrate a particular point of view.
Listen to the interview below: