(The following was to appear on The Real Agenda on canada.com, but due to time or editorial unhappiness with my previous rejected submissions about the state of Canada’s media as an election issue, it never appeared.)
April 26 became a famous date in 1986 for a major catastrophe that destroyed a city and ruined the lives of thousands in Ukraine and surrounding areas. The Chernobyl nuclear reactor went out of control. Decades later humans are still using nuclear power, and we’re still experiencing catastrophes related to our dependence upon high-energy lifestyles. Fukushima’s nuclear disaster in Japan could have triggered a major election issue in Canada like it did in Germany recently, but so far it has not. So too could have the Chalk River isotope reactor crisis, especially after the partisan firing of Linda Keen, the former President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Keen has since endorsed Elizabeth May of the Green Party. For some reason, nuclear power, and Canada’s energy strategy, was given little attention by the media in the 2011 campaign.
In 2008, the election buzzed with climate change as an issue; remember the Green Shift? Whenever you mention energy policy, climate change has to be one of the considerations, since air pollution is a major factor to much of Canada’s energy, especially in my home province of Saskatchewan where most of our power comes from coal burning. Even in 2006, the Conservatives swept to power with one of their promises being a “Made-in-Canada” climate change solution to replace the unfulfilled Kyoto Accord. Now both plans seem forgotten and unapproachable by most politicians, despite their extreme importance to our economy and ecosystems upon which our economy and life relies!
Do we develop the Tar Sands as fast as possible, while potentially missing out on higher oil prices in the future? Do we expand uranium mining in Saskatchewan; build more nuclear power plants; increase hydraulic fracturing for natural gas? Are the parties thinking about thorium reactors as an alternative? Do they have the MP candidates who understand science, and the urgency of solving Canada’s energy and climate change problems? As you can see, questions come easily, but answers do not. What I’d like to see is Canada focus on renewable energy solutions, and try to leave nuclear, coal, oil, and even natural gas in the past as much as scientifically possible.
When people tell me that I’m a dreamer, I’ve started to tell them, “I’m not the only one.” For instance, I think Canada can change its entire vehicle fleet to one that uses 50% less oil, within 5 years. During the last World War, we invented, mass produced, and scrapped entirely new (flying and armored) vehicles in that time frame, while under national pressure to succeed. The same Canadian innovation is possible again to deliver safe and efficient civilian vehicles that have the effect of doubling our transportation oil supply.
We can do the same with making our electrical grids more sustainable by growing our renewable power industries. Legislative support for renewable energy, and home energy efficiency is required to quickly grow the “green collar” job sector of our economy. I look forward to more parties talking about this, and more media coverage of it as well. There are cheaper and healthier alternatives to industries that leave massive tailing pools, kill indirectly with air pollution, or create $132 Billion clean-up projects for future politicians to implement fixes for.