Alberta’s Official Opposition lost its collective mind on the weekend after it was announced environmentalist Tzeporah Berman will be a keynote speaker at the Alberta Teacher’s Association Conference in October. Albertans would likely remember Ms. Berman as the controversial figure brought onto the Alberta Oil Sands Advisory Group (OSAG)as Co-Chair to represent Environment and Non-Government Organizations. Berman’s two-year term appointment ended after the first two phases of OSAG’s recommendations were completed.
Contrary to the oppositional narrative surrounding Berman’s inclusion in the panel, her role was never to represent oil or Alberta. Her role was to represent the environment and non-government organizations and bring those voices to the table. Even amidst death threats and calls for her dismissal, Berman maintained a simplistic but accurate understanding of opposition to her role.
“..(W)e have hard choices to make about how we manage the transition to a low-carbon economy; and it does affect people’s lives. It will affect people’s jobs. It means real choices. It means: Which industries are we going to support? What kind of retraining programs are we going to create? These are hard questions and they’re particularly hard for Alberta; everybody is scared.” ~ Berman
She’s not wrong. Between increasing automation in the oil industry and moving toward a less carbon-intensive energy model, Alberta’s oilfield workers are being hit hard. Unfortunately, information regarding these issues was not part of the public discourse with the previous government and set the stage for the many difficulties oil industry workers are facing today.
Enter: teachers. While the Official Opposition may not like the changes that have taken effect on a global scale, the fact remains that much has changed outside of Alberta and our province is already behind. One of Amazon’s requirements for their second headquarters was walk-ability and public transit between major hubs. The amount of antagonism toward bike lanes in our two major cities proves Alberta is not being led into the future by many of our representatives who are instead promoting decades old ideas.
Teachers should be highly informed on issues in current events and few things are more current than our children’s future in a changing world. It is difficult to believe a parent would urge their child to enter into a dying profession but we see, especially in Alberta, the conservative vision of a retreat to the past is stronger than ever. The problem is that the future is ahead of us, not behind.
People can listen to opposing views and still disregard what is being said; as can hardly be more obvious than in Alberta politics. That does not mean we should silence those who are offering more information than what we currently have. Opposing lies and hate, however, is still highly recommended and encouraged.
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