February 19, 2009

Barack Obama “I love Canadians” (approval ratings + the topic of dirty oil vs. clean energy exports)

Barack Obama’s approval rating in Canada (82%) is higher than in the US (about 70%). So of course he loves Canadians…as he stated this afternoon at a press conference at Parliament Hill.

It seems the first part of his short visit to Ottawa has gone well and he and Canada’s Prime Minister Mr. Harper are in agreement on many issues. He is still here for a few more hours meeting with our new liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff who seems to care a lot more about the environment than Harper.

About 1.2 billion dollars are traded back and forth over the Canadian/US border every day. It is one of the world’s largest trade relationships. Some Canadians are worried that the new environmental actions of the United States will hurt the industry of the Alberta oil sands developments.

For the environmental advocate, this is good for Canadians and Americans in the long run. Should we be supporting this method as the only future viable source of energy? With no alternatives will everything will collapse? The present conservative government does not seem to have a back-up plan. Doesn’t it seem obvious? Environmental progress has been sluggish north of the border. Canadians are a lot more easy going than Americans when it comes to complaining to the government. This does not mean that this is not a hot topic right now in Canada as many companies and developments in Alberta are going bankrupt and sending hundreds of thousands of Canadians back home to measly or non-existent jobs. A huge chunk of the young Canadian work force (many with families in tow) left and went to Alberta to join this economic boom. It is true, some of this money has come back to benefit home provinces but much of it stays out west. The money now? Already we are seeing a major decline in the Albertan economy.

Less than even a year ago jobs “Out West” related to the oil industry were more prevalent in our local job classifieds than jobs offered at home. The question was should I stay or should I go? There is no easy answer anymore, jobs are disappearing as quickly as they started with the cost of oil having dipped under $40 a barrel where newish companies need it at at least $80 a barrel to survive. Many folks are coming home broke with a huge debt hanging over their heads.

I (in Nova Scotia) have seen a lot of trucks with Alberta license plates lately.

We can hope Mr. Obama will be tough on this dirty oil issue and that it will push Canadians to become more competitive and innovative with alternative energy resources. We have a lot of potential to keep leading in energy exports to the US (at 13% presently) without pillaging and spoiling our earth of non renewable resources. There was a boom in Canada and many people benefited. The money could be used to new efforts in cleaner and more sustainable energy outlets. Unfortunately the provinces outside this massive industry have not grown much economically. Now we can take this chance to have all provinces thinking about the future and what each area may have to offer. Could things not be better balanced? Could people not stay put and start up environmentally ethical and innovative companies right in their hometowns and cities?

Barack Obama with Stephen Harper.                             Mr. Obama with Canada’s Gov. General Michaelle Jean.

A snowman greeting The US president’s arrival.

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