Scott Thompson: Provincial silos need to fall for real climate action to be possible

Pro-oil and gas supporters protest across the street as Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to the Economic Club of Canada about the 2019 federal budget in Calgary, Alta., Monday, March 25, 2019.
Pro-oil and gas supporters protest across the street as Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to the Economic Club of Canada about the 2019 federal budget in Calgary, Alta., Monday, March 25, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

In an effort to understand the issues from both sides of the country, we once again held an East-meets-West radio simulcast between Ontario and Alberta.

Initiated by The Danielle Smith Show at our sister station Global News Radio 770 CHQR in Calgary, the objective was to link the listenership there with that of Global News Radio 900 CHML in Hamilton and discuss the issues that divide East and West.

Hint: did you know it’s mainly oil and gas?

The first show was just a few weeks prior to the election and did we get an earful of how Albertans are feeling, including how no one in the East is listening.

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They are angry and steadfast, feeling they have no voice, despite providing Canada with very much-needed revenue through natural resources to help finance the country.

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The first edition of the show was more of a venting for the West, trying to make the rest of Canada understand how their products, whether oil or natural gas, are needed around the world to help ease the world’s dependence on much dirtier coal.

They’re saying the climate change discussion has to evolve and involve a gradual transition, rather than knee-jerk reaction to goals that are unachievable. Even if they can be achieved, they say the rest of the world — China, India, Russia, the U.S.A. — needs to be involved.

So why are we not attacking this problem as a nation rather than on a province-to-province basis?

Alberta counter-rally amid Greta Thunberg’s visit
Alberta counter-rally amid Greta Thunberg’s visit

As Canadians, we must understand we can help the rest of the world by offering cleaner alternatives and use that to fund the research and development needed to make renewable energy a viable reality. That includes building pipelines to get the product to the worlds’ markets.

This is an opportunity, rather than the end of the world.

It doesn’t happen by virtue signalling from each of our own provincial silos, hoping that somehow the minimal but painful actions we’re taking are actually helping the cause.

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Enough of the impossible feel-good imagery. Let’s all put our heads together to figure out a real national plan — and eventually a worldwide plan — that has some solutions, rather than just lofty targets no large industrial country seems to be able to hit without crippling modern society.

Albertans are willing to debate the science. Not that of climate change — they get it — but the science needed to find a solution without destroying peoples’ lives.

Kenney says Alberta feels frustrated, alienated from Canada
Kenney says Alberta feels frustrated, alienated from Canada

Cries of “shut off the tap!” amount to hysteria, and what they call for is impossible for many reasons.

It’s like sex: doing it safely and responsibly is more advantageous than preaching abstinence.

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The second East-meets-West radio simulcast was held this week after the election.

The iron that was in the fire is now white-hot.  With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau back in Ottawa, Albertans believe their future looks bleak.

You can’t blame them.

We all get climate change. It’s impossible not to be bombarded by the message.

The real issue is separating the rhetoric from reality and finding a solution that is attainable, then working towards it.

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That seems impossible unless East meets West and each province understands where the others are coming from.

It takes empathy and willingness to find Canadian unity, as well as real climate solutions.

Perhaps a humbled prime minister can mend the divisiveness he himself may have created.

That starts with looking beyond a privileged life and fairytale vision and understanding what the rest of the country is actually going through.

Unfortunately, it appears we have done more for Canadian unity by linking two radio shows than the prime minister has done in four years.

Scott Thompson is the host of The Scott Thompson Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.​​​​