CBC is doing a Calgary at a Crossroads project to examine the city as it shifts and changes. They recruited Rex Murphy to talk about it and he had some interesting points to make about things like jobs and the hate that Calgary generally receives.
It’s easy to feel ignored and overlooked as an Albertan and I agree with him that other industries get far more sympathy for their problems. The oil industry is as responsible for global warming as cars are but we feel bad for Ontario. I gave up eating fish in elementary school after learning about over fishing and its consequences. Yet the oil patch is demonized.
I’d be asking why the production of oil, as opposed to the use of it – and it is used in everything by everybody, every other industry, every other product, all of our current civilization – why production is demonized by its (mainly) fanatic opponents?
When I was in DC I found the anti-Keystone protesters infuriating. It wasn’t because I love the oil industry or pipelines but because they were hypocrites. People living in single-family homes with two car garages whose lives are completely dependent on cars are the reason the oil sands exist. If there wasn’t a market we wouldn’t be able to pull it out of the ground (see current crisis). The lifestyles we all lead and the way our economy is run are the problem. It’s a lot easier to put up anti-Keystone stickers than to critically examine the way we have structured our cities and lives. If you want to stop global warming you’re better off living in a dense mixed use neighbourhood and ditching the car for public transit and a bike. Then you can say you’ve done something.
Things are rough in a way that Albertans have no control over. We do not control the price of oil and we never have. What we did control was the choices we made. We had all this prosperity and wealth and did little with it. Of the top four ranking universities in Canada none are in Alberta — they are usually U of T, McGill, UBC and SFU. We were complacent and unambitious. We did nothing to plan or reinvest. We were drunk on the good times and didn’t think about the inevitable crash or that maybe it would be best if we didn’t build our entire economy around unstable nonrenewable resources. After all these good times we have very little to show for it. Our fiscal state is on the edge of collapse and we still don’t think a provincial sales tax might be worthwhile. We have failed to diversify the economy and invest in infrastructure. We are a province without a vision that is living with the consequences of years of bad choices.
We deserve sympathy and pity and as much stimulus money as the country can spare as much as we need to rethink most of the policies we’ve been had for as long as I’ve been alive. All this wealth and nothing to show for it. What a shame.