I have come to the conclusion that this decision is too important to leave in the hands of short-sighted federal, provincial and municipal politicians. Nor do I want to leave it to the oil industry or other lobbyist or environmental groups to decide. I want the ultimate decision to be made by the people of Canada, all the people, every single one.
There are many uses for fossil fuels, including oil, where the alternatives are nowhere near as advanced as wind turbines, solar panels or electric cars. Stopping pipelines in Canada does not speed up the development of alternatives to oil. It doesn't slow growing oil demand in emerging economies, where most of the growth in energy demand will come from in the future.
The workers and tradespeople who make up the oilsands sector have been hard hit by the recent oil slump. But a new group that is launching today is aiming to put oilsands workers back to work in the renewable energy sector and are calling on the Alberta government for support. Iron and Earth is a non-profit led by oilsands workers who want retrain 1000 electrical workers on 100 different solar projects.
Rather than engaging in a robust post-election rebuilding process and seeking to broaden its base, the Conservative party has decided to retreat into their comfort zone of regional grievance politics. Under the leadership of Rona Ambrose, the Conservatives appear to be abandoning any attempt to repair the national coalition that swept them to power in 2006. Indeed, today they look more like the Canadian Alliance of the early 2000s than the governing Conservatives of the last 10 years. The latest and most obvious example of this is the party's recent opposition day motion on the Energy East pipeline.
Crises can make us restless, inquisitive, and ready for innovative revolution. With history as a guide, we can expect some noteworthy entrepreneurial trendsetters to emerge from the current crisis -- people who refuse to be intimidated and instead think creatively about making the best of a downturn.
Rachel Notley's challenge has been to reassure the fiercely skeptical Alberta business elites that were horrified to wake up last May to discover the NDP had risen to power. With the economy already hammered by plummeting oil prices, they feared that the New Democrats would inflict further damage through a climate change plan that would drive up costs and cripple the oil sands. But business leaders in the Alberta can read the financial press as well as the rest of us and now seem to be buying Rachel Notley's view that they better try to be part of the solution.