Shine a Light on a Rational Conversation About Energy

June 1, 2012

By Matt Palmer

Seven years ago while I was directing the documentary on the Alberta Oil Sands “Pay Dirt” I had the opportunity to interview Dan Woynillowicz from the Pembina Institute. Dan provided great material for the program.

Today, The Globe and Mail featured an opinion piece by Dan called “Shine a Light on the Oil Sands Boom“. It is a great bit of writing and a reasonable assessment of the national situation with regards to oil sands. Everyone may not agree with what Dan says in the article, but he brings up many good points for discussion.

This was yet another big week in the news for the oil sands industry with the visit by Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair. As a National Leader it is incumbent upon him to become better informed on what is happening in the oil sands, something that will take more than one visit. He made comments that upset many Albertans, but debate on these issues is important.

If Premier Redford had to be out of the Province during his visit, there should have been some sort of overture to arrange another meeting time, perhaps even inviting him back to view more than just the Suncor mine sites. The future of oil sands is in in-situ and technologies like SAGD, which bring their own set of benefits and impacts.

If Premier Redford is serious about a National Energy Strategy, engaging Thomas Mulcair should be a priority. The same is true for Mr Muclair, he needs to be open to learning what oil sands are about. The process will only succeed if the discussions and debates are open, transparent, and include multiple viewpoints. As Dan Woynillowicz points out in his article:

When it comes to energy issues, the list of things that are apparently too divisive to discuss seems to grow by the day – from climate change and pollution reduction to a national energy strategy and, most recently, the impact of booming oil sands development across the Canadian economy.

I cannot finish any better than what Dan wrote in his article, and I have great admiration for the statement because it sums up what my project is about: inspiring critical thinking about the future of energy.

As controversial as it may be, Canadians deserve a rational, mature conversation about how the current pace and scale of oil sands development is affecting Canada’s economy, for better and for worse. We need less heat and more light from our leaders – across the country and the political spectrum.

We must have an open discussion about the full ecological, social, political, and economic impacts of all energy sources.

About Unintended Consequences Documentary Project

I'm Producing and directing a multi-platform documentary project on global energy called "Unintended Consequences".
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