It wasn’t anything obvious….just three observations in slightly more than a week in and around the Former Centre of the Universe:
- The cab driver in Toronto who couldn’t take our credit or debit cards because the system was down;
- The B&B in rural Ontario which did take our Visa card, but took an impression of it the old-school way, with one of those old plastic doo-dads you slide clunkily over the card and then you fill out the amount by hand and they give you the bottom paper copy as your receipt. (At least it was carbonless);
- The mysterious absence of the Toyota Prius from the streets and highways of Ontario.
Okay…systems crash, I get it. I’m sure there are plenty of small, mom-and-pop operations in rural Alberta that still process your credit card the old-fashioned way; and automotive tastes change from region to region. Not only did we not see many Priuses (Pri-i?) in Ontario. There was a decided shortage of half-ton trucks, too.
But Martha and I both came away from that trip with the impression that today, Calgary and Alberta lead. Toronto and Ontario follow. We are the early adopters; we are the ones who appear more comfortable with the new.There is a school of thought that Alison Redford’s PCs snatched a solid election victory from the jaws of almost certain defeat because the voters opted for the familiar incumbents rather than the unknown Wildrose.
I submit that the voters opted for the new over the familiar. The Wildrose proposed to take us back down the same road Ralph Klein travelled. The voters knew where that road goes, and decided that today, we need to go to a different place.
So now we have a premier who says her three priorities will be investing in families and communities, securing Alberta’s economic future, and advancing world-leading resource stewardship.
Healthy families and communities, a strong and competitive economy, and world-leading resource stewardship require a foundation of environmental protection. Without a healthy environment – without a profound respect for the natural world and an understanding that humanity is part of the environment and not its master – nothing else is sustainable over the long haul.
So, if Alison Redford is serious about “advancing world-leading resource stewardship”, what should that mean?
First, she has to do more than defend the oilsands. It actually is true that Alberta’s oil and gas sector is the world’s most responsible and environmentally conscious supplier of fossil fuels. But that’s compared to all other producing jurisdictions and really, that doesn’t set all that high a bar for us to clear. She not only needs to commit Alberta to pushing the envelope on making the production of fossil fuels clearer with a smaller carbon footprint; Alberta needs to be seen to be doing this.
Second, she has to be seen to be finding other ways to protect our environment and offset the impact of oil, gas, and bitumen production. Like a serious commitment to conserving our wilderness and natural landscapes. Switching from coal to gas to generate our electricity over the near term – that would cut Alberta’s carbon footprint from electricity generation in half, and our handful of coal-fired generating stations still produce more carbon dioxide than the entire oilsands industry. Promoting natural gas as a motor fuel for the trucking industry. And getting serious about both energy conservation and growing the renewable energy sector in Alberta. For example.
We can be leaders in this.
The Premier should feel confident that Albertans want to be the leaders in this. One of the reasons she is Premier today is because Albertans rejected Wildrose’s questioning of the science of climate change.
And frankly, we must become leaders in this, because otherwise our customers are going to find other suppliers to meet their energy needs.