Developing the oilsands: Former Suncor CEO Rick George

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Two decades ago, Rick George looked at the patch of land around Fort McMurray, Alberta and saw dollar signs where most people saw headaches. As the head of Suncor, he took some gambles, listened to his gut, helped build the modern oil sands and earned a reputation as one of the first oil-patch CEOs to take environmental issues seriously. But not everyone is happy with what he has wrought.



Developing the oilsands: Former Suncor CEO Rick George

Every year, the Alberta oil sands bring in about 3-and-a half Billion dollars in royalties for the Alberta Government and Billions more in tax revenue for Ottawa.
About 75,000 people work in jobs directly related to the oil sands and the number of jobs is expected to keep growing.

Of course the oil sands are also the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. If Alberta were a country, it would have the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

For years, Canadians have argued over the benefits and costs of the oil sands ... and Rick George has tried to bridge the divide. He was the CEO of one of the biggest oil sands players--Suncor--from 1991 until he stepped down in May.

Twenty years ago, Rick George looked at a struggling industry and saw an opportunity. He bought into the oil sands at a time when very few others saw a future there. And he kept on developing, turning a one-Billion-dollar company into a 50-Billion-dollar company. Along the way, he's been widely credited with being one of the only people in the industry to take environmental concerns seriously.

His new book is called Sun Rise: Suncor, the Oil Sands, and the Future of Energy. Anna Maria spoke with him earlier this week.

Mail: Bullying Strategy

We have a little bit of time this morning to check in on some of our listeners thoughts. We received a lot of response to our discussion of the suicide of 15-year old Amanda Todd. Sadly, there have been too many stories of bullied teens who could see no other way out. Yesterday on The Current, we looked at the idea of a national anti-bullying strategy and other solutions.

David Zalokar experienced bullying as a child and he writes from Toronto:

If these same activities were taking place between adults, charges would be laid and people would be convicted and sentenced. Don't bullied children deserve the same level of justice?

A mother from Fredricton, New Brunswick writes:

My son was thrown into lockers and a door by a teen on the his football team. My daughter's bullies were on the high school volleyball team. Are athletes more likely to engage in bullying? Does team culture encourage aggression and elitism? For all the positives that athletics can bring to a child's life, there can be a negative element. How is a teen who is bullied by an athlete in their school, supposed to speak out when the bully is revered by their teachers, classmates and teammates?

On Facebook, Nicholas Prouten said this:

Negative interactions with people are part of life. What we need to do is teach children how to handle bullying emotionally and physically and put it in perspective.

And on the role of technology in bullying, Mike Luz tweeted:

What about IP's, Facebook and Youtube? They have a role - fake accounts need to be deleted.

And Dorothyanne Brown of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia added:

There is a certain degree of anonymity on the web. But people can be traced if there is the desire to do so. This whole conversation reminds me of the early days of rape prosecution, where women were blamed for the crimes perpetrated against them.

We'll hear more of your feedback tomorrow on Checking In. So if you'd like to add your opinion to anything you hear on The Current, email us from our website. Also, visit our Facebook page or tweet us @thecurrentcbc.

This segment was produced by The Current's Carole Ito.

Last Word - Jim Crow

We've been talking today about what some say are attempts to limit the vote in the United States; what Bill Clinton calls the worst case of voter suppression since the Jim Crow laws.

Jim Crow was once a stock figure in minstrel shows, a nasty stereotype of black Americans. The Jim Crow laws were rules enacted by states of the former Confederacy to limit what blacks could -- but mostly couldn't -- do.

Keeping African Americans from political power was a priority -- and that meant keeping them out of the polling booths. Sometimes they were required to pay a tax to vote, sometimes they had to prove they could read the U.S. Constitution. Intimidation certainly had its place, as well.

Miserable societies grew out of the many Jim Crow laws and it wasn't until 1965 that Washington passed the voting rights act -- officially burying Jim Crow. Singer Nina Simone anticipated his passing in this 1964 song. She gets Last Word.

* Please note the song that aired as our Last Word is not available in our streamed audio link posted *


Other segments from today's show:

U.S. Voter ID laws: Suppressing the vote or curbing voter fraud?

Is Food Irradiation the answer to reducing risk of illness from E. coli ?

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