Friday, October 12, 2007

Stupid to the Last Drop

Are Albertans stupid? Montreal journalist William Marsden thinks so. (Is he still ticked that the Esks beat the Als in the Grey Cup in 2005 and 2003?) His book's title and subtitle explains it all: Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (and Doesn't Seem to Care).

Marsden appears to be emulating Michael Moore (Stupid White Men) - fighting the good fight but doing it by poking an angry dog with a stick. And the sarcastic attacks work to a point - the various emperors are shown to have no clothes - but the weakness is that the film or the book ends up playing to the same sympathetic audience as before the attack.

Marsden's polemic will find a sympathetic audience with many Albertans of course. What many central Canadians like Marsden don't understand about Alberta is the diversity of opinions, the freedom to express these opinions, and the openness to opinions that makes change possible. I find new ideas and approaches are more welcome in Alberta than Ontario. Indeed, as someone who has lived in both places, I find Ontario far more "conservative", in the classic sense (change happens incrementally - hey, slow down!), than Alberta. One example only: the precursor to the NDP, the unashamably labour/socialist CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) was formed in Calgary in 1932!

Calling us stupid just gets our collective back up and sends the oil industry apologists to the barricades with endless chants of "N.E.P., N.E.P." And actually Marsden's book is timely and full of excellent facts that Albertans, especially Albertans, should be thinking about. Maclean's magazine has a look at the book and the issues involved [here].

Many, many Albertans agree with Marsden and have been bringing these issues forward. Alberta writer Andrew Nikiforuk had a sympathetic review of the Marsden book in the Globe and Mail recently [here], but he noted that "It's not just Alberta, it's the whole country." Nikiforuk has been writing about these issues for years, including in his award-winning book Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig's War Against Big Oil. And in a perfect storm of bookish events, Nikiforuk is one of the featured authors at this weekend's Edmonton LitFest!

Appearing in Edmonton with Nikiforuk are some of the leading writers on global warming and the environment, many of whom I blogged about [here] back in January:

The only writer missing is Al Gore! Perhaps next year for LitFest.... Take a look at the schedule and pop down for some interesting listening and discussing.


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