June 26th, 2019

Change transcends politics

By Letter to the Editor on April 13, 2019.

I get it! Change is traumatic.

A recent political conversation with educated and caring professionals left me depressed.

They blame Rachel Notley for job losses in the oil and gas industry. It is their family members who must work in Saskatchewan or out of country. For them, the culprit is the carbon tax, plain and simple.

But it’s not simple. The federal government has imposed that carbon tax across the nation and even court challenges are unlikely to change that. Yes, a change in federal government might or might not. Which government is willing to withdraw a tax once it has been imposed? On the flip side, green rebates already encourage our saner use of fossil fuels. Our municipal government is benefitting. Green projects are developing locally at an amazing pace!

I believe that a singular focus on our current oil and gas economy is extremely short-sighted. Change is – pardon the pun – in the wind. And the sun. And also in agricultural diversity.

Despite the deniers, climate change is real. Oil and gas are “non-renewable” resources. (If you doubt this, consider the oil and gas production of our city-owned utility over the years.) And career change is the way of the future.

Back in 1995, an executive from the Syncrude plant addressed senior secondary students at a career fair assembly in Fort McMurray. He made several startling statements. The first was that every student present could expect to see at least 10 personal career changes in a lifetime. The second statement caused faces to droop and smiles to vanish. He told students not to expect to follow their parents into employment at the plant. Within the following year Syncrude laid off hundreds of engineers as if to prove the point. Jobs were out-sourced.

If the future is more than oil and gas, where are the opportunities? If one door closes, what other doors are open?

Our new agro-businesses are not the usual vegetable and flower gardens. Decent salaries and secure positions await anyone willing to learn innovative greenhouse technology. Hemp and marijuana production represent a stable future economy.

Local oil and gas professionals have a matchless opportunity if they are receptive to change. Wind and solar farms will need construction and maintenance workers. Green rebates from the carbon tax are making these changes a reality.

Training opportunities are available both on the job and at Medicine Hat College. It’s time to join the future. The past is the past. Remember that slogan: “Lord, grant me one more boom….” It’s on our doorstep. Don’t waste it!

Les Pearson

Medicine Hat

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