Red Deer city councillors are on a mission to start conversations about the importance of “resource distribution” in Quebec — one cabbie, restaurant server and municipal official at a time.
Official and unofficial discussions about pipelines are already happening at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City that started Thursday.
Local city councillors are talking to Quebec municipal officials, as well as regular citizens, about Alberta’s fossil fuels industry.
But these conversations are really about “nation building,” said city Coun. Ken Johnston.
“We want to connect with councillors from Quebec — and B.C. — and let them know that this isn’t just an Alberta issue.
“We want to let them know it’s a Canada issue,” Johnston added. “It’s our energy.”
Most Quebecers, like many B.C. residents, are against more pipeline development in their province. This thwarts landlocked Alberta’s need to get oil and gas to Eastern Canada, as well the coast, for shipment to foreign markets.
It’s in everyone’s interest to get past the head-butting, said Red Deer Coun. Vesna Higham.
She believes having fair access to various resource markets benefits every Canadian province — whether their resource is solar power, minerals, hydro power, agricultural produce or forestry.
So far, the Red Deer councillors (all are at the FCM conference except for Mayor Tara Veer and councillors Michael Dawe and Tanya Handley) are hearing that Quebecers favour clean resource development.
Many are driving hybrid cars and looking at a future without fossil fuels.
But the central Alberta councillors are respectfully reminding them that this is still a decade or two away, as every province still relies on oil.
And isn’t it better to get this oil and gas from their own nation, rather than from foreign countries with less sterling environmental records, Coun. Dianne Wyntjes has asked.
Higham has spoken about the U.S. building 58,000 miles of pipelines over the past decade, compared to zero in Canada. In that time, America has gone from being a gas importer to an exporter, while Canada has done the reverse.
She’s wondering why Canada is not allowing itself to capitalize on one of its major resources.
As well as having these idea exchanges with Quebecers — to varying degrees of success — Higham and Wyntjes will be among the local councillors helping staff a booth for the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
They will be giving out T-shirts and information about resource distribution and why pipelines are still the safest and most environmental way of transporting oil.
Coun. Lawrence Lee, who’s running for re-election to the FCM board, said members will be voting on a resolution Sunday about the need to provide equitable distribution for all Canadian resources.
He anticipates having many “fruitful discussions” beforehand to introduce new perspectives to the argument.
“I believe the more knowledge we have, the better we can all make informed decisions.”