I have lived in Alberta all my life.
I have benefited from a strong public education system, access to an affordable university education and a well-paid, rewarding professional career – in large part due to the economic benefits of the oil and gas industry.
I have also lived through many energy boom and bust cycles. Through each one, the government of the day promised to diversify Alberta’s economy, moving away from its heavy reliance on energy.
So here we are again in another economic downward. This one, however, feels different. Fossil fuels are out of public favour. The energy sector is unlikely to return to its former glory. Industry insiders recognize the public’s concern for climate change and the environment and are showing leadership by adapting their businesses.
All Albertans need to recognize the pivotal change upon us. No amount of pounding our bully pulpit will convince people to rally around fossil fuels.
It is time for our province to adapt to the new reality, or risk becoming a "have not" province. We’ve seen it before with the cod fishery, soft wood lumber, and coal-fired power. We need to reinvent ourselves and truly diversify.
Our province must embrace measures to reduce our carbon footprint and build a greener economy. We must support other sectors with as much fervor as we do the energy sector. Supporting post secondary education ensures our youth are equipped to find good paying jobs in the new economy. We must embrace alternative energies at the same time as we work to get our conventional energy to tide water.
I want to see my province continue to prosper for all Albertans. Cutting budgets to public and post-secondary education, continuing to invest in roads rather than public rail transport, cutting subsidies to new, growing industries all look like measures to ignore the current reality. Bold new thinking is needed to forge a new future.