Calgary

Alberta climate change group choice debated by political panel

Naming an environmental activist who once compared Alberta’s oilsands to Mordor as co-chair of the panel exploring how to implement the province’s climate change plan was a “massive mistake,” according to members of the CBC Calgary News at 6 political panel.

Tzeporah Berman compared Alberta oilsands to Mordor

CBC Calgary News at 6 Political Panel 9:06

Naming an environmental activist who once compared Alberta's oilsands to Mordor as co-chair of the panel exploring how to implement the province's climate change plan was a "massive mistake," according to members of the CBC Calgary News at 6 political panel.

Tzeporah Berman, an adjunct professor of environmental studies at York University in Toronto, was named one of three co-chairs of an 18-member panel, and made the comment about Mordor in a recent interview with Climate Home, an international news source focused on climate change.

"This was a massive mistake," said political strategist Stephen Carter.

"She's sorry for that quote, 'Mordor,' what about the others? What about all the other quotes? What about opposing pipelines? What about saying that we don't need pipelines? What about saying we have to keep the oil in the ground? She's a hard core environmentalist and I don't begrudge her point of view, she can have whatever point of view she wants, but when you start saying 'this is how we're going to implement our climate change plan,' they're going to put her in charge?"

The other co-chairs are Dave Collyer, a former president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Melody Lepine, director of industry and government relations for the Mikisew Cree Nation.

Tzeporah Berman has been named co-chair of a new provincial advisory panel for implementing Alberta's climate policy.

The group's mandate is to provide advice on ways to ensure that initiatives created as part of the government's climate change plan, announced last year, are effective and widely supported.

Fellow panelist and National Post columnist Jen Gerson said the goal of including Berman could be part of a larger agenda.

"You have [advisory panels] so you can get a bunch of stakeholders from all across the board into a room, you listen to what they have to say from their respective communities," she said.

"And at the same time, you also hope to sway some of the people in that group so they can take some messages back to their respective communities."

Fellow political strategist Corey Hogan, had a more succinct summation, saying the optics are bad, especially during a recession.

"I'm not convinced this was a particularly adept political move," he said.

CBC Calgary News at 6