The past week has been very interesting on the environment front in Alberta. The government set aside $25 million for publicity to convince the world that Alberta oilsands development is environmentally responsible. It seems too many people are questioning the wisdom of uncontrolled growth and massive emissions in the tarsands. With hundreds of migratory birds killed this week in the tailings ponds (the largest man-made water contianment on the planet) – near Ft McMurray – this may be difficult to sell.
Personally, I think that there are better ways to spend 25 million in tax payers’ dollars! The province is still in dire need of affordable housing, our health care system is being pushed to the breaking point, and real action is needed with respect to the environment. However, instead of addressing these problems head-on, the Alberta Government is choosing to spend $25 million on publicity – to make Alberta appear to be an environmental steward.
Here’s what the Premier had to say when I pressed him on this issue in the Legislature:
Dr. Swann: Will this minister and this Premier stand up and eliminate this $ 25 million propaganda campaign, redirecting the money to real change in Alberta?
Mr. Stelmach: No, weâ€™re not going to do that. In fact, we do have a matter to deal with to make sure that all â€“ all â€“ people, those that invest in Alberta, those people that want to make Alberta their home, get the correct information. I can tell you that Iâ€™m not going to rely on that group or Greenpeace or Sierra Club to spread the misinformation not only in this province and this country but around the world.
You can listen to and read the entire set of questions below. I’ve also included some relevant articles. What do you think $25 million should be spent on in Alberta?
Calgary Herald: $25M ad blitz to boost Alberta ‘brand’
Edmonton Sun: U.S. protesters take aim at Alberta oilsands
Calgary Herald: 500 birds trapped in oil : Ducks perish as Alberta defends oilsands image
Alberta Hansard – Official Legislature Transcripts, April 29, 2008: Questions on $25 Million Greenwashing Campaign