My partner Penny and I watched the Alberta election results live on Tuesday night with a sense of dread.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m no fan of Rachel Notley’s advocacy for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. However, Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party will be an order of magnitude worse for folks like us who are concerned about the grave threat greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels pose to humankind and the planet.
Besides his determination to get the Trans Mountain expansion and other pipelines built, Jason Kenney has promised to remove the cap on GHG emissions from Alberta’s tar sands. The cap, which was put in place by Rachel Notley’s NDP, certainly didn’t justify the continued extraction of oil from the tar sands. But it did make a bad situation somewhat less so.
Rachel Notley and her NDP government also implemented a very progressive policy of phasing out all coal-fired power plants by 2030. Jason Kenney and the UCP have vowed to reverse that decision. Worse, he plans to go after organisations working on climate solutions like the David Suzuki Foundation, accusing them of “defamation” of Alberta oil.
It was so ironic that Penny and I were watching this depressing election result the day after seeing an installment from David Attenborough’s spellbinding new documentary series, Our Planet. It shows what a catastrophe our planet is facing because of human-caused climate change. And Canada’s climate is changing twice as fast as the rest of the world!
We now have conservative provincial governments in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick all fighting against the very modest carbon tax brought in by the federal Liberal government. These conservatives oppose the carbon tax in spite of its demonstrated success in BC in reducing GHG emissions while having no negative impact on the economy. The carbon tax has been in place since Gordon Campbell’s Liberals implemented it in 2008, and economists are unanimous that it hasn’t slowed our province’s economic growth rate. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the energy sector doesn’t actually contribute much in the way of GDP (7%) or jobs when you compare it to other sectors.
All in all, Tuesday night was an upsetting one if you’re as concerned about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions as Penny and I are. Hopefully, the string of provincial conservative victories is not an omen of what’s in store with this fall’s federal election.
I predict it’s only a matter of time before the Alberta electorate regrets the decision it made this week. Even if they don’t, the rest of us will.
- Canada’s Changing Climate Report (2019 federal report by Environment and Climate Change Canada)
- Suzuki Foundation, Tides and other groups brace for impact of Jason Kenney’s new war (National Observer; April 16, 2019)
- Is the Oil Industry Canada’s ‘Deep State’? (The Tyee; May 17, 2018)