The Tar Sands and the Future of Alberta


March 26, 2009 :: Andrew Nikiforuk
Moderated by Trevor Page

The rapid development of the tar sands has changed the nation and made most of Alberta a suburb of Fort McMurray. The current financial meltdown has highlighted the folly of exploiting this resource with inadequate planning, little financial accountability, dubious technology and poor regulation. But low oil prices have also given Alberta an opportunity to reassess the pace and scale of development. Without a clear savings plan, fair royalties and hard renewable energy targets the tar sands could impoverish the province.

Speaker: Andrew Nikiforuk

For the last two decades, Andrew Nikiforuk has written about energy, economics and the West for a variety of Canadian publications including The Walrus, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, and the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business. He is a frequent commentator on CBC.

In the late 1990s, Nikiforuk investigated the social and ecological impacts of intensive livestock industries and the legacy of northern uranium mining for the Calgary Herald. His public policy position papers on water diversion in the Great Lakes (2004) and water, energy and North American integration (2007) at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre sparked both discussion and reform.

Andrew’s journalism has won many National Magazine Awards and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists. His Alberta-based book, Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War against Big Oil, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction in 2002. His latest book is The Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent.


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