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Saturday, September 06, 2008

stéphane dion pre-campaigns in edmonton.

"...as much culture as a bowl of yogurt."
That is how Federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion described the amount of culture in Stephen Harper's Conservative Party following recent cuts to arts and culture funding. Dion was pre-campaigning in Edmonton yesterday and made an afternoon stop at the University of Alberta. This being Alberta, I was surprised to be packed in a 250 person lecture theatre filled with Albertans wanting to catch a glimpse of a Federal Liberal (with over 200 people listening from outside). Dion gave a short and quick stump speech which focused generally on the Green Shift, which is what I expect his upcoming campaign speeches to resemble -- short and green.

The hour-long question and answer period was worth attending and included a wide-range of questions including an student affordability question from U of A Students' Union Vice-President (External) Beverly Eastham, to which Dion replied that students would be very pleased when the Liberal's released their Post-Secondary Education policy during the campaign (we shall see...). Other questions covered a broad-range of issues including Darfur, Afghanistan, climate change, affordable housing, free trade, culture funding, and education.

I found Dion's response to a question about the Athabasca/Fort McMurray oil sands a little confusing, as I believe that he suggested that the oil sands could become sustainable. I'm not a scientist, but I'm fairly sure that a heavily exploited non-renewable natural resource does not easily fall into the "sustainable" category (but Dion did promise lots of research funding for the University of Alberta to make it so...).

On a final note, I very much enjoyed the two of militant young Campus Conservatives who were handing out anti-carbon tax sheets outside the event and donning their yellow anti-Dion t-shirts (they almost fit in with the Greenpeace Stop the Tarsands campaigners, who were there in force).

2 comments:

Patrick Ross said...

Stephane Dion clearly hasn't thought a lot of things through, not just whether or not the tarsands can be "sustainable" -- and you're right, non-renewable resources, by their very nature, are inherently non-renewable.

Consider his clear lack of a post-Green Shift vision. Sure, he seems to imagine the government will restore lost carbon tax revenue with the taxes collected by building and exporting windmills (OK, this is clearly hyperbole on my part, but recall that this was his own test case for the post-Green Shift tax structure).

He seems to lack one very important leadership quality: that of foresight. Something has to come after the Green Shift eliminates greenhouse gas emissions, and Canadians have the right to know what that is before they write Dion a cheque to reengineer the country.

Ken Chapman said...

Dave – Good to see you at the Dion Campaign Launch at the U of A yesterday.

The oil sands can be sustainable if developed responsibly. That includes immediate demands for alternatives to water and natural gas usage. A revised value view about habitat protection using biodiversity offsets now. GHG capture and using CO2 for EOR so we don't have to do as much disruptive conventional drilling. Then there has to be serious work expanded on research and implementation for developing dry tailing ponds. Plus an immediate fast track on extensive reclamation efforts.

None of this is imaginary but it needs a very serious science focus. All of it takes an attitude shift in government and regulators to get them to make such sustainability demands of industry starting now for new projects and vigorous timelines for retooling existing projects.