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Presentations: "Power for the People"

Click the name of one of the presenters from the list below to access their abstract and an .mp3 recording of their presentation. To start the audio, click the play button below the abstract.

Democracy, Sovereignty and Energy
Saul, John Raulston

Essayist and novelist John Ralston Saul studied at McGill University in Montreal and at the University of London, where he earned his Ph.D in 1972. After helping to set up the national oil company Petro-Canada, as Assistant to its first Chair, Maurice Strong, he turned his attention to writing. He has published five novels, including the international best seller, The Birds of Prey, as well as The Field Trilogy: Baraka, The Next Best Thing, and The Paradise Eater. He is perhaps best known for his philosophical trilogy and its conclusion: Voltaire's Bastards, The Doubter's Companion, The Unconscious Civilization, which won the 1996 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and On Equilibrium. His ground-breaking reinterpretation of the nature of Canada - Reflections of a Siamese Twin (1997) - launched a national debate. His latest book, The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World, confronts the reigning economic ideology known as globalization.

Energy Regulation and Public Participation: Disappointments in Democracy
Fitch, Gavin; Graff, Barbara; Steiner, Oscar

Legal Limitations on the Public Interest Mandate of the EUB and the EAB Both the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) and the Environmental Appeals Board have a "public interest" mandate. But what does this really mean? Does it mean that their role is to protect the interests of the public--as opposed to the industry or industries these boards regulate? How do these boards define the concept of public interest and how does that impact on individual landowners and residents whose lives can be significantly affected by their decisions? Downwind Democracy There are two titles to every piece of property in Alberta. Are there also two levels of democracy? When you play by the rules, who wins in our system? Is Alberta's quasi-judicial system and regulatory body recognizing our democratic and human rights? Barbara will be speaking of the frustrations of lack of fair participation in the process from the perspective of landowners and occupants in Alberta. Disappointments in Democracy A corner point of democracy is the mandate of public accountability. The institutions of democracy, especially those that monitor, regulate, and enforce the use and distribution of public goods and resources must be directly accountable to the public. If they are not, incompetence, nepotism, and bias will lead to corruption, which in turn undermines democracy and the rule of law. The EUB's mandate according to its website is to ensure that the discovery, development, and delivery of Alberta's energy resources and utility services takes place in a manner that is fair, responsible, and in the public interest. But as a regulatory body however the EUB has become largely unaccountable to the public, and as such does not live up to its mandate.

Trading Away Our Energy Future
Gibson, Diana; Dillon, John

Diana Gibson: More than Hewers of Wood and Haulers of Bitumen NAFTA and pipelines to the South are turning Canada into an energy resource hinterland for the U.S. What are the real costs of our energy exports? Why are Canadians exporting our energy resources raw, sending quality jobs south? Why is the Country developing our natural resources without an energy strategy? Why do all of the pipelines between the East and West go through the United States? Why are we proceeding at a pace that so obviously exceeds our needs or capacities? What would it take to follow a different path? John Dillon :How NAFTA Limits our Energy Options Securing access to continental energy supplies is a central component of US National Security Strategy. Since the creation of the International Energy Agency in 1974 the US has attempted to ensure uninterrupted petroleum supplies. The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement of 1988 gave the US unprecedented assurances of access to Canadian natural resources which were carried forward into NAFTA. The proportional sharing clause could require Canada to go on exporting non-renewable hydrocarbons to the USA even if these exports cause domestic shortages. This talk will explore some scenarios under which this clause might be invoked; describe how it limits Canada's options for managing our own energy future and discuss some options for regaining sovereignty over Canadian energy policy.

Don't Let the Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark
Laxer, Gordon

Those unforgettable words, displayed as a bumper sticker on many Albertans cars in the early 1980s, have become Canada's current oil and gas policy. Although Canada is a net exporter of oil, we import almost one million barrels per day to meet 90% of Atlantic Canada's and Quebec's needs, and 40 % of Ontario's. Much of these imports come from unstable OPEC countries, with Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq heading the list. Meanwhile, NAFTA locks Canada into exporting the majority of oil and natural gas to the US. The session outlines what's wrong with this picture, the politics of how it can be changed, and suggests alternatives which will be put to the audience for discussion.

Life in the Tar Sands: The Real Costs
Janvier, Harriet; Cardinal, Jim; Telfer, Lindsay

Harriet Janvier: A First Nations Perspective In Harriet's words, "I am not an expert on costs, but I do know about value and values in the wider context. Values, for myself, are the cultural legacy of one generation given to the next. My own sense of values were taught to me in a much different time and place than the present. I was born and raised in the Fort McMurray area. To know what we as Native Peoples lost, it is important to know what we had." Jim Cardinal: Working in Fort McMurray In the past 30 years, Fort McMurray has grown from a hamlet of 1700 people to an undeclared city of 64,441. What is it like to work and live in Fort McMurray now? Workers in the tarsands make great wages by most standards but what are the costs of living? What about worker safety? What is it like to be at the bargaining table with employers that are making record profits? What are the social costs of such a transitory population? How has Fort McMurray dealt with this rapid change with the boom of the oil sands development? Lindsay Telfer: Towards a New Energy Vision for Alberta The tars sands of Alberta pose one of the largest ecological challenges in North America's history.

Rapid and unconstrained growth of tar sands oil production will result in substantial contributions to increased green house gas emissions, unsustainable water allocations and irreversible damage to Boreal Forest ecosystems. Beyond these ecological costs there is growing concern in First Nations communities living downstream and within the heart of tar sands developments and from local communities challenged by their social infrastructure debts produced in trying to pace local development with the rapid growth of development. Alberta is standing at a cross-roads. Will Alberta be seen as the final frontier of a dwindling resource or as a global leader towards a sustainable energy future?

Alberta's Role in Fuelling Global Demand
Darley, Julian

Julian Darley will outline the current complex state of world oil and gas and place it in the wider context of the world economic system and environmental problems, including climate change. Some response and mitigation strategies for energy vulnerability will be explored, especially in the question and answer session.

The Political Power of the Energy Sector in Alberta
Lisac, Mark; Pratt, Larry; Steward, Gillian

Mark Lisac: Buying Silence The energy industry is the main fact of economic life for Albertans but its relations with the provincial government are far less well known than those of many other important actors such as municipalities, or the agriculture industry. How did it happen that Albertans were kept in the dark about negotiations on the oilsands royalty regime? How is it that a public review of oil and gas royalties is only now becoming a political issue - 14 years after the last major change and 10 years after the deal on generic oilsands royalties? How is it that most Albertans would be hard pressed to identify the average royalty rate on oil and gas, which last year produced about 40 per cent of the province's revenues? Why have Albertans accepted this state of affairs? Larry Pratt: The Export Lobby: Calgary and Canadian Energy Policy Who benefits from the north-south orientation of Canada's oil and gas sector? How does the 'export lobby' influence policy on natural gas development, oil sands upgrading and the regulation of pipelines? What is the alternative to the export lobby and its policies? Gillian Steward: Managing the Media Does the Alberta news media pander to the oil and gas industry? Do most journalists in this province have the resources they need to compete with the industry's propaganda machine? How might this impact Albertans' perceptions of the industry and its role in the province?

Alternative Perspective: The Norwegian Example
Austvik, Ole Gunnar

The Norwegian state built the petroleum industry from its beginning in the 1970s on the premise that "the sector should benefit the whole country." Direct participation, part ownership of the industry and a strong taxation system is making this Government the biggest "capitalist" on the Norwegian continental shelf today. How is the Norwegian Petroleum Fund being built-up and spent? What are the present challenges, and the pros and cons for alternative usage?

Investing in Our Future
Cullen, Roy; Bevington, Dennis; Parker, David

Representatives from the four largest federal political parties have been asked to provide their perspectives on Canada's energy future. Invited, but did not show: Conservative Party Representative Roy Cullen: Member of Parliament, Liberal, Natural Resources Critic Dennis Bevington: Member of Parliament, New Democrat, Natural Resources Critic David Parker: Green Party representative and former local candidate.

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