Saturday, 12 May 2012

Oilsands Industry Backed Education

To say that the Alberta Oilsands are controversial would be an understatements.  If you listen to arguments of environmentalists the "doom and gloom" scenario comes to mind.  Their position, despite evidence to the contrary, is that the development of the oilsands would be the end of the planet.

Proponents of oilsands developments maintain that you can develop the oilsands, take care of the environment and provide the engine for economic growth in Canada.  This is also the position of the Federal and Alberta government. 

A story published in The Province questions the involvement of industry in an industry-funded program that offers high school teachers a six-day trip to Fort McMurray to "experience Alberta's oilsands" is being expanded across the country.

Operators inside the education system say that they are trying to present a balanced program, some anti-oil sands activists maintain that informing educators about controversial developments shouldn't be left to those with most to gain from them.
"It's always billed as being free, but what's being sold is a positive image of an industry that's controversial," said Andrew Hodgkins, a University of Alberta researcher who has published on the issue of corporate involvement in education.

While there may be some reason for concern, the public, including teachers, are bombarded daily with anti-oil sands propaganda.   You can hardly switch to CBC Newsworld or open a newspaper that doesn't  have anything negative to say about Oilsands development.

With the controversy over the past few months with the Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would move Alberta crude from Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia and the XL Keystone Pipeline from Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas, there have been plenty opposition and negative media reports on this issue. 

Teachers getting exposure to both sides of this controversial issue can only be applauded.  One has to give enough credit to the intelligence of our teachers to be capable to find a balanced approach to the curriculum. 

The web is a great source to find the different views on oilsands production.  One can say with confidence that the cons much outweigh the pros on this issue.  While there may be some propaganda in favour of the industry in this program, at the least it gives teachers a first hand look at what is going on in Fort McMurray.  In fact, it is highly recommended that the Leader of the Official Opposition, Thomas Mulcair attend one of these sessions. 

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