Alberta Politics
Saskatchewan Union of Nurses President Tracy Zambory (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

How will Alberta politicians respond now that groups like Canada’s nurses are demanding action on climate change?

Posted on June 07, 2019, 8:26 pm
5 mins

FREDERICTON – On the last day of their national convention in New Brunswick’s capital city today, the approximately 900 delegates of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on Canadian governments to recognize climate change is a global crisis and a health emergency, and to act on it.

Citing such evidence as the destructive forest fires in Alberta and British Columbia in 2016, 2017, and 2018, flooding in New Brunswick and deadly heat waves in Central Canada, as well as defining climate change as a significant public health issue, the members voted to call on the federal and provincial governments “to undertake the necessary policies to meet Canada’s obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” better known as the Paris Agreement.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

That should mean, the resolution said, “enforceable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.”

The resolution also called for CFNU and its member unions to “support sustainable health care practices in hospitals and community facilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in health care settings” and to “raise the public’s awareness about the serious health implications of climate change.”

The tone of the brief discussion on the resolution was more that climate change is an obvious fact and health care professionals had better pitch in and do something about it than a hair-on-fire debate between opponents and proponents of unimpeded development of the fossil fuel industry in Western Canada.

Speaking for the motion, Saskatchewan Union of Nurses President Tracy Zambory pleaded for the support of her fellow nurses from across Canada because, she said, in Western Canada even taking a moderate position on climate change “can actually get your life threatened.”

A tide of “deep, dark conservative rhetoric is drowning us all,” she stated. “We’ve really got to stand up and support each other in the places where it’s so difficult to even broach the topic.”

When it came time to vote on the resolution, if there were any Nays, they were not audible or visible.

So at the risk of belabouring a point already made in this space, this raises the question of how effective Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s belligerent “war room” tactic of telling what he calls the truth about fossil fuel (whoops, ethical oil) extraction can be when there is a growing worldwide consensus the climate crisis is for real.

Whatever the people of Alberta concluded in April, it sure seems as if this is not the best way to get pipelines built and restore the so-called Alberta Advantage, which we Albertans will likely soon be reminded is no advantage at all.

Bullying and suing people who speak up about climate change sure doesn’t sound like it will be a very effective technique outside Alberta, no matter how much it fired up the United Conservative Party base during the provincial election campaign. And that’s unlikely to change regardless of how effective Mr. Kenney’s attacks on the NDP strategy of gaining “social license” for pipelines and more oilsands development were in Alberta.

Assailing the previous NDP government’s carbon tax might have been highly effective, but there’s bound to be a price to be paid for that strategy in places less persuaded than Alberta and Saskatchewan by Mr. Kenney’s view concern about climate change is merely the “flavour of the month.”

Setting up fake “BCforTMX” Twitter accounts run out of Calgary with misleading claims about what’s responsible for the high price of gasoline in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland certainly isn’t going to help.

Whatever will they do?

13 Comments to: How will Alberta politicians respond now that groups like Canada’s nurses are demanding action on climate change?

  1. TENET

    June 7th, 2019

    Calgary and the Hillbillies drove the ship onto the rocks.

  2. Expat Albertan

    June 8th, 2019

    “even taking a moderate position on climate change “can actually get your life threatened.””

    Has it really gotten this bad in Alberta?

    • David Climenhaga

      June 8th, 2019

      While that was a reference to Saskatchewan, the answer in Alberta is yes as well. DJC

  3. Bob Raynard

    June 8th, 2019

    We saw one of Mr. Kenney’s responses last week, when he deflected the blame to the third world, by saying “Overwhelmingly the growth in emissions come from the Third World.”

    This, I assume, is the kind of ‘truth’ Jason Kenney wants his war room to get out there. I am sure Kenney is correct; most of the growth is in the third world, but only because their current emissions level is so low. This brings up a mental image of Andu & Waji (the third world equivalent of Ralph Klein’s Martha and Henry) finally being able to afford a moped. Yeah, their emissions output just took a huge jump. Meanwhile, right beside them is a big blue half ton, idling to keep the AC running, and Jason Kenney leans out of the window and tells them they are polluting too much.

    • Geoffrey Pounder

      June 8th, 2019

      Indeed. The top 10% of emitters are responsible for almost half of global emissions.
      The top 20% of emitters are responsible for 70% of emissions.
      The richest half of the global population are responsible for 90% of global emissions.
      The poorest half of the global population are responsible for only 10% of global emissions.
      “Extreme Carbon Inequality” (Oxfam, 2 Dec 2015)
      See page 4 for graphs:

      “The richest half (high and upper-middle income countries) emit 86% of global CO2 emissions. The bottom half (low and lower-middle income) only 14%. The very poorest countries (home to 9% of the global population) are responsible for just 0.5%. This provides a strong indication of the relative sensitivity of global emissions to income versus population. Even several billion additional people in low-income countries — where fertility rates and population growth is already highest — would leave global emissions almost unchanged. 3 or 4 billion low income individuals would only account for a few percent of global CO2.”
      “Global inequalities in CO₂ emissions” (Our World in Data, Oct 16, 2018)

      The energy hogs and high emitters live over here, not in the developing world.

    • Simon RENOUF

      June 9th, 2019

      Presumably Kenney, Scheer at al. will be campaigning to have Canada give up its place in the G-8 and the G-20, as we’re just a “little” country.

    • Athabascan

      June 10th, 2019

      Yeah, sure it is.

      Were you ever asked Hanna? Neither was I.

      I rather suspect they polled everyone coming out of the Petroleum Club in Calgary, who was white old and male.

  4. Political Ranger

    June 8th, 2019

    ” … the best way to get pipelines built and restore the so-called Alberta Advantage …”

    This is a completely false choice. The whole idea of a debate around how to increase production in the tarsands is ludicrous and irresponsible. If this is your* idea of a reasonable topic to debate in 2019 then you* are in the camp of climate deniers. Period. Whether you like it or intended it, or not. You are arguing for increased emissions, greater environmental damage and less agency for your kids and future generations of living beings.

    That you would argue for such an extreme and unreasonable position forestalls any approach or understanding of reasonableness, responsibility or rationality. You are the kind of person who can relate to Trump and harper, Kenney and Ford. You wants what you wants – and you’ll just take it.
    When you’re in that camp those are the ideals and goals. Whether you have the courage or intellectual capacity to understand it or not.

    The Alberta Advantage will never again be petroleum, if it ever was. Under Klien, the advantage was really lax or non-existent regulation, corruption and wide-spread support for criminal theft of public resources. Petroleum or more likely, the chemistry of petroleum, will always be a source of opportunity in Alberta but the days of simple production at any cost representing opportunity are gone.

    As I’ve said previously, nurses, commentors, readers, Canadians from the ROC, anybody who wants to positively influence for health, life and happiness in the future have to begin by imagining what life will be like then.
    It will not be like anything that has ever happened in human existence. It will be influenced by what we do, or don’t do, today. It will be useful to contemplate what is possible and what your emotions are about that.

    I am happy, even appreciative, that a national group of health professionals choose the side of health, life, humanity and progress. But let’s be clear; choosing sides is not leadership.

    *Note – the you and your above does not point to any particular person. Certainly not our host and likely not most of the readers. It does refer to a person who holds such views and makes such arguments.
    Today, as it was in the lead-up period of times we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of, this is a time of choices.

  5. Benjamin Sugars

    June 8th, 2019

    Dear David, thank you for the article as always. I would say that the @BCforTMX fiasco certainly deserves more explanation from the Kenney administration.

    Taxpayer-funded advertising campaigns are always an ethical grey area at the best of times. Goodness knows that the fact-starved pro-TMX campaign from the NDP government was less than credible on many counts but at least they were always upfront about their identity. The @BCforTMX handle however goes above and beyond simple questions of “fake news” and raises serious ethical and perhaps even legal concerns given the $1.1 million pricetag of the crusade.

    For starters, the impersonation it embodies seems to be a clear violation of Twitter rules. Beyond that though is the very concerning matter of one provincial government professing to represent the electoral wishes of a population in another jurisdiction. The UCP government has thus resorted to the interdiction of the democratic rights of British Columbians to further their agenda. I wonder what the Ethics Commissioner would say? What would the constitution say?

    That this is being done in such an underhanded and deceitful manner is not surprising. Such tactics do however raise the question of whether the UCP government is so uncertain of their position that they have to resort to cheating. All this coming from a party that pledged to “ban governments from advertising in the run up to an election, and from using tax dollars for partisan ads at any time”–to quote the UCP platform directly.

  6. Dave

    June 9th, 2019

    I suspect the UCP will respond to groups like Canada’s nurses with three common tactics that past conservative governments have used at times. First they will ridicule them and perhaps hint it is some socialist or eastern plot by a few radical environmentalists. Second, they will try to intimidate them into silence and third if that doesn’t work either, they will try ignore them. I don’t think any of this will be successful, but to some degree many in Alberta and Saskatchewan live in a bit of a bubble and don’t realize what a significant issue climate change has become in the rest of the word, or are trying to ignore it and hope it somehow goes away, which it will not.

    Things are likely to get worse for the proponents of pipelines in Alberta before they get better. Both the Enbridge and Keystone XL pipelines to the US are now facing additional significant delays. This sort of news would have probably caused the old pre-election Kenney to go on a long winded anti Trudeau diatribe, but right now his only hope left is the Trans Mountain pipeline and he is so desperate for any good news about pipelines, he might not even dare make a peep.

    He has also been rather quiet so far about the Senate upholding the northern BC tanker ban, hasn’t he? I suppose he might not want to draw too much attention to this matter given his fairly recent trip to Ottawa to unsuccessfully lobby the Senate on this issue. I suspect the UCP has discovered, or is about to discover, that despite all their criticism of the Notley government on getting pipelines approved, it really is a very tough thing to do these days.


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