Tag Archives: canada

Applauding Pelosi on the oil sands/ environment trip to Canada

Let’s start by saying that I think the Canadian tar sands are pretty horrible. The Alberta government is not coming clean with how they’re handling the environmental impacts and pouring billions of dollars into a single export  (oil exports to US account for 72% of the province’s total exports) seems ludicrous when you think long term sustainability of the province.

That being said, of course we’re dependent on that oil (few options left) and the situation is complex. If you shut it off abruptly, we’d wreak havoc.

How do you handle a complex situation? You do exactly what Nancy Pelosi did on her recent trip to Canada.

  • Meet a diverse group of important stakeholders (She’s met/meeting with environmentalists, the BIG energy hotshots,  politicians, First Nations leaders etc.)
  • Set the atmosphere to be comfortable and casual so people are relaxed and open – not defensive (casual dinner for good conversation)
  • LISTEN She didn’t come to judge, she just came to hear all sides.

From my experiences with Art of Hosting, I’ve spent quite a bit of time this summer reading books like Fifth Discipline, Theory U, Solving Tough Problems, etc. that all exude the power of listening and talking in an open way for creating a new reality.

So far, the debate has largely been oil vs. environment. It’s time to move on and I’m happy that the Speaker of the US House is aiming to create a new reality.

“It’ll be an opportunity to spend an hour or two just having a good, casual conversation about the information we’ve got,” he said.

photo: WWF-UK, from the report Unconventional Oil


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Canada, I’m not impressed.

I’m a pretty patriotic gal (no more so than last month 🙂 ), but when it comes to Canada on the world stage – particularly in the case of sustainable development, I just get more and more angry with Harper’s government.

For the vast land up north, Harper has cut funding for the climate change research and seems to be only focused on  “drill, baby, drill!” and commercializing the Northwest Passage. For owning all of this land, we have a responsibility to the world to understand it and protect it.

And aside from the fact that we don’t really have a plan and have disgraced ourselves at international conferences, we go ahead and continue cutting funding for renewables. (Make note: I’m not all for an internationally binding treaty on climate change , but I’m all for action – something we’re not doing.)

In that article, our Finance Minister insists that they’ll improve our energy system based on regulations, rather than subsidies – but I actually agree with Bjorn Lomborg (the sceptical environmentalist) on this one, we need a hell of a lot of investment into research and development to spur the kind of innovative technologies to get us moving.

All in all, not impressed with our government.

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Needed: the next “pulp and paper” industry

Instead of going straight to the comments, thought i’d post my response to Jay’s comment regarding my last post in a fresh new post.

Yes, pulp and paper – as in “pulp+paper” is a dying industry because the market is no longer growing partly due to our tech habits which not necessarily a bad thing…
pulp & paper

Those who own the logging rights will still be there… the trees aren’t going anywhere (or let’s hope not – and let’s use this renewable wisely) – but the end product has to change. The capital investment is already there – a sunk cost for most.

Half of the log is energythe other half is proving to work well with the nano industry making nanocrystalline cellulose which could be our “new plastic” and a biodegradable new building block material. All I mean, is that there are options with the end product.  It’s in the vested interest of all of the players along the chain to keep these mills open – not just as “pulp+paper” mills.

This can be done with much of the same capital investments – their recovery boilers have been making bio energy for over 50 years… the technology is around 70% efficient (natural gas at 80%) – the technology is there.

And if some investments are written off in this case, just remember that the worse case is that they are ALL written off.  Also, by changing their end product focus they would also keep much of the same producer/supplier network  – giving some hope to these dying communities.  Making this shift will take time, energy.. and money of course. Black liquor is a tricky substance, NCC isn’t ready yet etc. But remember…

Canada will always have trees and those green things will come in handy again once, ah, our tar sands wear out. But once these mills shut down, they’re gone – along with the network and skill that supports it.

We’ll be hitting ourselves if we lose this sector.

Here’s hoping.

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Confusion in Canada…reform in voting needed?

I’ve been pretty busy and sigh, neglecting my feeds somewhat…

But my, what an exciting (and completely embarrassing) time in Canadian politics!

Our three other major parties: Liberal, NDP & Bloc Quebecois (the separatist party)have now joined forces to take over our minortiy conservative gov’t.

The one thing they have in common is that they want the Conservatives out. Other than that, NDP has been hating on the Liberals more than any other party for a while and both of them have joined with a separatist party… interesting indeed… And, this seems like a shot gun wedding in my opinion. When/if they do take over, do you really think they’ll know how to govern our country?

(There’s a lot more here that i’m not including, but there’s plenty to read if you’re interested!)


Do you think that maybe its our electoral system that doesn’t work?

We work on the “first past the post” (FPTP) system. This, plurality voting is used in 43 of the 191 countries in the United Nations, so we’re not alone here.. but there’s no surprise that there are problems associated with this. Read here.

An example…

When I vote, I have to choose who I’d vote for at my constituency level (I don’t even live there, so I chose one riding in Ottawa).  I really only paid attention to the National level – but I’m forced to choose at the riding level.

So, the election result is not representational about how many people voted for our Leader, its how many “seats” a party wins through the ridings and majority wins. If you were to recount the votes through proportional representation, you’d get a very different outcome.

I have to get back to work, but this is stupid. I think I hate all of the parties.

Lets reform how we do this so our contry can stop looking so immature.

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