The Alberta government should not be spending public funds on a “war room.” Environmental protection is in the public interest and environmental issues are complex. The economics and politics of energy development and transport are also complicated.

The “war room” will label Albertans as either pro- or anti-oil industry, which is an over-simplification. Most Albertans want resource development projects and the resulting economic prosperity, but also want each project’s environmental impacts reduced. This requires planning by professionals, both on the development and environmental impact assessment side. It requires pre-development surveys of wildlife, fisheries surveys, monitoring and mitigation of impacts and protection of water and air quality.

The “war room” runs the risk of the government painting all “environmentalists” as enemies of the people. Do you love nature? Do you love outdoor recreation? Do you love fishing and paddling in clean water, and seeing healthy bears, birds and butterflies? Do you want to drink safe water and breath clean air? Well, if you’re local creek or landscape, or your family or your community is threatened by a poorly planned development, and if you dare to speak out, you could end up in the “war room” black book.

This “war room” is really a ministry of truth (see George Orwell’s book “1984”). Other governments have effectively had ministries of truth, and the outcome has always been repression. We don’t want this in Alberta. A responsible government, once in power, should be able to reassess and reconsider a poor idea that was conceived in the heat of an election campaign. Jason Kenney, instead of going through with this “war room,” please command your public affairs army into a strategic and face-saving retreat.

Richard Quinlan


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