Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May made her position on the western separation movement and Jason Kenney’s approach to climate change very clear while speaking in Ottawa on Friday.
May was answering media questions following her meeting with Justin Trudeau, as the prime minister tries to find common ground with opposition leaders.
The Liberals will return to Parliament in December with a minority government, where the Green party will hold three seats in the House. Alberta will be represented by 33 Conservative MPs and one New Democrat MP.
May was asked about anger in the west and the separation movement.
“They can separate — which I don’t think they will and I don’t think there’s much appetite for — but we’re all on the same planet,” May said.
“The biosphere is going to go into meltdown. Alberta is not exempt. Alberta’s already experienced the Fort McMurray wildfires; Alberta’s already experienced the Calgary floods; Alberta is experiencing the rapid retreat of glaciers.”
May said there is power in taking an honest and science-based approach to climate change, saying that’s what earned her party one million votes from Canadians across the country.
“We have got to really talk to other premiers who don’t grasp this in a way that respects their intelligence — Jason Kenney is plenty intelligent, so he has to be able to understand the science,” she said. “The discussions have to be grounded in, ‘What does this mean if we continue down the path that says fossil fuels have an economic future?’
“Fossil fuels have no economic future and they are a threat to our survival. We have to go off fossil fuels.”
“This is not the first time that economies has had to face this in Canada,” she said, citing the shutdown of asbestos mines in Quebec.
“Economically, that was the reason the federal government defended asbestos for decades after we knew it was a killer.”
In a statement from the premier’s office, a spokesperson for Kenney said it seems May has “difficulty understanding some basic facts.”
“Economic projections from around the world show that the demand for oil is increasing, not decreasing, and is expected to so for years to come,” Christine Myatt said. “Further, once global demand peaks, it is still expected to consume more than 110 million barrels of oil per day.
“So the question is not about the economic future of oil, it’s about where will the world be getting the energy products to meet its demand.
“They can choose Alberta, a province in the liberal democracy of Canada, that has already reduced carbon intensity by 29 per cent since 2000 and is expected to reduce by another 20 per cent in the short term, where oil producers like MEG and CNRL have committed to 0 net emissions by 2040, or they can get it from OPEC dictatorships and places like Russia and Venezuela who continue to have deplorable records on human rights and environmental standards.
“To us, and to most Albertans, and indeed Canadians, the choice is clear,” Myatt wrote.
In a speech to the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, Kenney reiterated his government’s support of the industry.
“At least here in Alberta, you have a government that has your back, that will fight without relent for the future of the women and men who work in Alberta’s oil and gas sector,” the premier said.
“I also want you to understand that we are not isolated. We are not alone. We have the significant majority of the provinces and territories in Canada who agree with us on the urgent need for responsible resource development,” Kenney said in the speech, which was shared on his Facebook page.
May said she spoke with Trudeau about some ways to address frustration in Western Canada and some things the federal government could do to address western alienation.
“I think it would be useful to add up all the federal subsidies that went to creating the oilsands in the first place so that it’s very clear to Albertans that this is not just a project of their own government or their own industry, but was massively subsidized by the federal taxpayer.
“We’re in this together, in other words,” May added. “We have a lot of toxic liabilities from abandoned and orphaned wells.