Since the federal election, Alberta and Saskatchewan have been making their displeasure known to the rest of the country. There is talk of western alienation, but shouldn’t it rather be called “oil and gas resource alienation?” It is overtly presumptuous and arrogant to assume that the other two western provinces share the outrage that these two prairie provinces have so loudly expressed.
While the Conservatives won all but one of the seats in Alberta and Saskatchewan under our current voting system, it belies the fact that 31 per cent of voters in Alberta and 36 per cent of voters in Saskatchewan supported other parties. Those numbers jump to 55 per cent for Manitoba and 66 per cent in B.C., which means that the majority of voters in these two provinces supported someone other than the Conservatives.
Over 63 per cent of Canadian voters supported parties that urge serious mitigation measures regarding climate change. That is not to say that Canadians want to leave oil and gas workers behind as we transition to a low carbon society. But with climate change being arguably the greatest existential threat to all life on earth, the writing is on the wall. Alberta and Saskatchewan would be wise to accept this reality, stop listening to the denialist hawkers, and focus on transitioning their industrial complex, as quickly as possible.
There is now proven technology in the oil fields for producing hydrogen from bitumen for fuel cell use, while using less energy to do so and sequestering most of the carbon below ground. Both provinces have a huge capability for solar and wind power generation. With coming major advances in battery storage technology and rapidly dropping renewable energy costs, these two provinces need to get onside. Otherwise, they may well find themselves marooned in a world that has left their resources behind, with nobody to blame but themselves.