Friday Focus: The Legislature is Leaderless on Climate Change

Climate change is a catastrophic threat. It is not some vague, abstract problem. We will experience more frequent extreme weather events that will hurt Albertans, like the fires in Slave Lake and Fort McMurray or the flood and hail storms in Calgary. We must take these threats seriously.

This past week at COP26, we’ve already seen: 

We also saw Prime Minister Trudeau commit Canada to an oil and gas emissions cap to help reach net zero emissions by 2050. But, unfortunately, all this occurred at a conference that our Premier dismissively wrote off and ridiculed rather than attending, despite the impact on Alberta’s energy industry. 

Kenney’s response to this pivotal conference has been to attack the Prime Minister for saying Canada will do its part in the fight against climate change. On top of that, the Premier of our province has erroneously claimed Alberta is not being consulted. But the emissions cap was an election promise from only two months ago, an election where the Liberals increased their seat count and vote share in our province. Furthermore, while the commitment to a cap has been made, the details are far from settled. Alberta can still have a say, but only if our provincial government is willing to sit down and be reasonable. 

Remarkably, our Premier has found himself an unlikely ally in this latest bout of disinformation. Rachel Notley has joined with Kenney in attacking the federal government on this issue and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Albertans. Both Kenney and Notley are undermining the fight against climate change and the Canadian confederation to score cheap political points. This is not a first for Notley’s NDP. They employed this same tactic in 2018 when they passed the notorious “turn-off-the-taps legislation” first proposed by Jason Kenney. The NDP are more than willing to borrow from the UCP playbook when it suits their political goals. 

This illustrates the dangers of a two-party legislature. You end up with two parties parroting the same bad ideas. That truth is this: Alberta needs to tackle the ecological and economic disasters of climate change. Like the rest of the world, Alberta will have to make some sacrifices in that fight, but Alberta will be better off if we embrace that reality. Alberta needs a seat at the table to ask the federal government for help with retraining workers and to improve our infrastructure to reduce methane leaks and other harmful emissions. How can we expect any sympathy for our workers and industry if we refuse to listen and refuse to cooperate with others? 

Alberta can come out of this economic transition stronger in the long run. Our industry can adapt, and our economy can diversify. But that won’t happen if political leaders in our province are too busy pandering for poll numbers. Instead of political opportunists picking phoney fights with the rest of Canada, Alberta needs politicians that will address and deal with the real issues facing Albertans in constructive and meaningful ways.


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