Canada’s next prime minister will have to be ready for a post-petroleum world, Globe and Mail columnist and political commentator Gary Mason suggested last week.
“Throughout his time as prime minister, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has mostly dismissed dire warnings about climate change as the whinging of environmentalists intent on destroying our national economy,” Mason writes. But “to say the ground on climate change has been shifting beneath Mr. Harper would be understatement. And it certainly behooves him, or whoever takes the reins of power after the October 19 election, to thoroughly understand the extent to which it has, around the world and in this very country.”
Mason points to just a few of the recent challenges to Canada’s obsessive reliance on fossil fuels as an economic driver—including a major speech in which Bank of England Governor Mark Carney referred to climate change as the “tragedy of the horizon,” and a Pembina Institute poll that found the majority of Albertans support climate action.
“The next prime minister needs to start preparing for a post-petroleum world,” Mason writes. “By that, I do not mean oil extraction will not continue to play a part in this country’s economy, but it won’t play the part it once did.”
He notes that oil and gas only represent about 10% of Canada’s economy, though 25% of the country’s current exports, and “the good news is that Canada’s economy continues to chug along despite the horrible blow the oil industry has taken in the past year.”
(Canada’s federal election takes place October 19, with most recent polls pointing to a tight race between Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Stephen Harper, and controversy growing over the accuracy of some polling techniques. If you’re in Canada, make sure you vote, bring at least one or two people along…and while you’re on your way, have a word with them about petro-politics and Canada’s role in a low-carbon transition! – Editor)