A letter to the University of Alberta on David Suzuki

I wanted to take the opportunity to explain why it is Canadians are so upset with this callous and out of touch move to reward David Suzuki an honorary degree.

Where to start?

For years, Canadians have seen Suzuki use his platform to spread misinformation about our energy sector.

In the most egregious example, he compared our oil sands industry to slavery.

He calls the discipline of environment economics irrelevant.

He’s asked for his political opponents here in Canada to be put into jail. 

Instead of supporting the responsible, sustainable development of Canada’s oil and natural gas industry, he’s worked hard to block every new Canadian pipeline proposal as foreign oil from oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan continue to come in by tanker to eastern Canada.

Dr. Turpin, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but in 2017 it’s estimated more than half-a-million jobs were directly or indirectly connected to Canada’s upstream energy sector, with close to a quarter million tied to the oil sands.

These people aren’t cold statistics. They are hardworking Canadians who are proud of their line of work and want to make sure they can provide for their families. A lot of them are ordinary blue-collar folks willing to work in 40-below weather during the Canadian winter to make sure families can fuel up and heat their homes.

They are also the moms and dads who wake up early to get their kids ready for school and prepare for a full day of work in office buildings across Canada.

They’re the people, who through innovation and hard work, have made Canada’s energy sector the best and most responsible in the world.

And they’re the type of people who give generously to worthwhile causes in every city across the country.

These folks aren’t asking for any special favors. Many of them are open to constructive criticism. But what a growing majority of Canadians will no longer tolerate is the ongoing smearing and denigration of an industry that contributed $102 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2016.

Where exactly does David Suzuki think the fuel comes from that drives him around on his bus tours or allows him to jet-set around the world?

The fact is, every day that he works to drag down Canadians in the energy sector, the only people he’s helping are our biggest competitors like Saudi Arabia, the United States and Algeria.

On the University of Alberta’s website, it says the “awarding of an honorary degree is intended to encourage a standard of excellence which is exemplary to students and to society.”

Dr. Tupin, how exactly does Suzuki’s attack on an industry that provides for so many Canadian families live up to this standard? What type of message do you think you are sending to foreign-paid actors who are working to destroy Canada’s oil and natural gas industry?

You still have time to retract this decision, and, as an Alberta and Canadian who recognizes the value and contribution of our oil and natural gas industry, I certainly hope you do.

-Evan Menzies