My dearest Canada:
My name is Michaela Glasgo and I am a very proud, very loud and very passionate Albertan. I have lived, traveled and loved all throughout your beautiful countrysides and populous metropolitan centers for 24 years. I have watched as we overcame crashing world economic prices and recessions together and continue to stand amazed as we lead the world in responsible energy production.
But here’s the thing: as an Albertan, I often feel misrepresented, slandered and taken advantage of. With that being said, we really need to talk.
Aside from being the home of the greatest NHL hockey rival in the league, Alberta has many claims to fame. For decades, Alberta has led the charge for responsible energy production, being cited in various reports as one of the best places to do business, work and support a family. Since the first oil boom and discovery at the Leduc No. 1 site in 1947, Alberta has been a powerhouse for the rest of the country. In 1957, we agreed, although hesitantly, to assist the rest of the country as well through the concept of equalization.
That being said, Alberta has increased the fiscal capacity of provinces like Quebec for decades but when it comes time to lend a hand to us and approve projects to export the very resources that provide your revenue, you slander us and reject our proposals. When we are down, and oil prices hit rock bottom, there is no room to recalculate our contributions and we still provide – albeit for better or for worse.
So, let’s chat about that. For me personally, the Alberta Energy Industry has provided me with everything that I have. With the majority of my family employed by the oil and gas industry, and my post-secondary education being paid for by the wealth that it provides, I feel that it is time that you know some very important things about our energy industry and the people that work within it.
- Canada, and specifically Alberta, is home to 13% of the world’s oil. That’s the most oil of any country in the OECD & western-democratic world. For us, leaving oil in the ground, as suggested by the LEAP Manifesto of 2016, is like winning the lottery & leaving your winnings at the Gaming Commission’s office – just in case you spend it all in one place or utilize your resources irresponsibly.
- Alberta has the highest environmental standards in the world for oil production. Oil companies invest in innovation and the minds of smart, young and fabulous engineers – they are always trying to be efficient and have the least amount of negative impact on our beautiful land that we call home. Even before our NDP government introduced an increase in corporate taxes, a cap on emissions and the notorious Carbon Tax, we ranked in the top 3 of the world for ethical production – we are not your “embarrassing cousin” and are, most certainly, not akin to sewer rats.
- The Canadian energy sector employs 32 000 Indigenous people every single year, on average. The narrative that all Indigenous communities oppose oil development and pipelines is unfair and simply inaccurate. For many years, oil companies have worked alongside Indigenous communities to negotiate fair deals, respect sacred land and provide much needed additional revenue.
- Our oil companies are not stocked with staunch, old billionaires who care about profit more than people. Although, I am sure that those types exist in any corporation, to assume that is farcical and hurtful to the companies that have donated millions of dollars to community projects, funded swimming pools, built hockey arenas and sponsored charity events across the nation. When Alberta was hit with flood and fire, our oil companies stepped up, donated space and money and provided support for families fleeing disaster and we love them for that.
- Finally, those who are employed in the oil industry are good, hardworking, and kind people. They are fathers, mothers, conservationists and a million other things. They attend hockey games, read their children nighttime stories, hike the Rockies, cheer for the Blue Jays and vote in elections. They are proud people, but they are also compassionate. They know that the wealth created by the work that they do reaches beyond our borders and they are proud of the strength of our industries.
When celebrities like Jane Fonda and Leonardo De Caprio fire up their private jets and go to Fort McMurray, slandering the very resources that got them here in the first place, it makes us terribly sad. We are not trying to be controversial, we are trying to fulfill our constitutional obligation to provide. We are doing what Albertans know how to do: work hard, drill, refine, pipeline and repeat. We are here for you in times of trouble, yet you don’t listen when we advocate for fair discourse and treatment.
Let this letter serve as a call to action. If you are reading this and you are not certain of Alberta’s commitment to responsible production, or if you think our industries are troubling, check out organizations like Canada Action or Canada’s Energy Citizens. Read the reports that challenge you and engage in conversations with people who have worked in our industries. If you are reading this and you support our industry, thank you.
For an Albertan like me, and an activist like me, this conversation is not over until every Canadian man, woman and child has enough information to have an informed and balanced discussion on the merits of Alberta’s energy sector. I am proud to be an Albertan, proud to be the daughter of a pipeliner and grateful to have this platform today.
Sincerely & With all my Love:
Michaela Glasgo, Albertan.