By Deidra Garyk
Governments are currently operating in an environment of declining trust. Citizens feel so disenfranchised by government and politicians that they are not even taking the time to vote. This is a concern in a democratic society that relies on citizens to set the priorities of the country, province, or city.
In the 2019 Canadian federal election, 65.95% of people voted, representing fairly high turnout compared to prior years. However, that means 34.05% of eligible voters did not vote, for whatever reason.
Provincially, our recent election in Alberta in April 2019 saw record turnout with 1,905,520 people voting or 64%. Turnout has not been this strong in my province since the 1980’s, and it was even higher than 2015’s election, which also saw significant voter turnout at 57%. According to Elections Alberta, about 2.9 million people in Alberta were registered to vote, so doing the math, that still leaves 36%, or about 1 million eligible Albertans who didn’t vote. (For all the engineers, I’ve done some rounding!)
It gets worse. Municipally, voter turnout in Calgary, Alberta for the 2017 election saw the highest turnout in 40 years at 58.1%. This may seem troublingly low, but it’s fantastic compared to 2013’s election that saw only 36% or 262,352 people vote (we are a city of over 1 million people).
We need politics for the people, not for the politicians, and that’s why I believe voter engagement is critical. I have encouraged people to join a political campaign, but I know that isn’t feasible or desirable for everyone, so to help you engage by having a conversation with candidates, below are ten questions that you can ask candidates about their position on energy policy.
The energy industry is the number one industry in Alberta, and it is important for the Canadian economy as a whole; therefore, oil and gas supporters need to be informed about candidates’ positions on energy policy.
It is valuable to have a written “paper trail” of what the candidate supports prior to the election; therefore, I encourage you to get as many answers as possible in writing so that you can review what you were told. It is then much easier to hold them accountable after they are elected into public office and a position of influence.
Please don’t be shy to speak with your current elected officials to find out their positions and track-record on supporting the energy sector. In my experience, they appreciate interacting with constituents who are knowledgeable, respectful and engaged in the political process.
Additionally, candidates vying for an elected position are often eager to speak with potential voters to discuss their ideas. A good-quality candidate will want to talk with you to learn about your concerns on a topic that you have expertise in, such as energy.
No matter how involved you become in politics, please vote. I know of an incumbent candidate who lost their seat by six votes. It isn’t just a cliché — every vote really does matter.
Here are some questions (all or some) you could ask your candidate if you want to know if he/she supports Canadian energy development.
- Do you agree that the Canadian oil and gas sector is an integral part of the Canadian economy?
- If elected, what are the first three things you will do to support the energy sector?
- What will you do to ensure your party understands the issues the Canadian oil and gas sector faces, both currently and potentially in the future?
- Have you ever been part of an anti-oil sands campaign or protest in the past?
- How will you personally support construction of necessary inter-provincial infrastructure, such as pipelines to the west coast and across Canada to the east coast?
- If elected, would you keep or repeal the Clean Fuel Standard and Bill C-69, the impact assessment act?
- Do you believe that Canada can have a thriving oil and gas sector and a robust renewables sector? How do you see the two intersecting? How will you and your party support the oil and gas industry in transforming the energy sector?
- What are actionable steps your party can take to spread a positive message about the oil and gas sector and how will you measure its effectiveness?
- What is your view on the Liberal Party’s “Just Transition” for the oil and gas sector?
- What is your position on foreign funded activist groups mandated to landlock Alberta oil and gas from getting to competitive markets? What actions would you support to address these groups?
About Deidra Garyk
Deidra has been working in the oil and gas industry for over 15 years. She held roles of varying seniority in joint venture contracts where she was responsible for negotiating access to pipelines, compressors, plants, and batteries. As well, she was involved in drafting and interpreting contracts, and working collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure the negotiated commercial arrangements were implemented correctly. She spent the last few years leading the Joint Venture department at a mid-size natural gas producer.
In her spare time, Deidra is an independent energy advocate who writes articles and open letters that are published on EnergyNow.ca and are widely shared on social media. She advocates to inspire energy supporters across the country to have confidence to speak up proudly for the Canadian industry from coast to coast in an effort to have balanced, honest, fact-based conversations.