Cross Country Checkup

Alberta will remain an 'energy superpower' under Green Party climate plan, says May

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says Alberta's oil workers won't be left out under her party's plan to transition the country's fossil fuel industry to sustainable energy. 

Province can be big in geothermal, solar and wind power

Under her party's plan to transition Canada's oil industry to sustainable energy, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May tells Checkup there will be more work than there are workers. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says Alberta's oil workers won't be left out under her party's plan to transition the country's fossil fuel industry to sustainable energy. 

"Alberta will remain an energy superpower, but it will be a superpower in geothermal and solar and wind," May said Sunday on Cross Country Checkup.

"The reality is the transformation of our economy to one that's not dependent on fossil fuels is one that will need more employees — more skilled workers — than we currently have in the fossil fuel sector."

In a half-hour Ask Me Anything segment, May took calls from listeners across the country.

Callers pushed her on how she will fund her party's plans to fight climate change and how she would collaborate with rival parties in Parliament.

Alberta workers & foreign oil

Calling from Edmonton, Tanner Stewart, who runs a sustainable food production company and formerly worked in construction, asked how May would fund career transitions for thousands of tradespeople he worried would be left out under her plan.

The Green Party climate change plan calls for the retrofitting every building in Canada to be carbon neutral by 2030. The platform also includes a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on 2005 levels, by 60 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

We know that there's a sustainable future for every single worker in the oil sands- Elizabeth May, Green Party leader

May told Stewart that carpenters, plumbers and electricians will be needed for her retrofit strategy. Pipefitters and electricians would assist in building solar panels and windmills, she added.

"We've put $400-million in our budget so far this year just for the workers in the coal sector," she said.

When asked by Stewart whether she supports foreign oil, May responded that she, and the Greens, are in favour of ending imports.

"For as long as it takes to get off fossil fuels, which is as rapidly as possible, we will be using Canadian sources in order to ensure the lead time for workers … to find jobs in place," she said.

Indigenous pipeline investment

Robby Pickard, calling from Fort McMurray, Alta., asked May how she would address Indigenous communities that have invested in the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

"Pretty much all Métis, Indigenous and First Nations businesses and nations in our area of Fort McMurray want the Trans Mountain pipeline," Pickard said.

"What happens to them? I can tell you right now that we're terrified about what's happening because we believe that we have the best oil in the world with the highest environmental standards," he continued.

May says that no additional pipelines would be built under a Green government. (Dennis Owen/Reuters)

May opposes the Trans Mountain expansion and said she would not support a minority government that backs the project.

"The Assembly of First Nations is clear: the No. 1 issue is the climate emergency," she said, adding that under a Green Party government not a "single additional pipeline" would be built.

"We know that there's a sustainable future for every single worker in the oilsands," May told Pickard.

"We know that Indigenous peoples who have invested in those operations will be using oil at least till 2030 from the oilsands, but we'll be cranking it down."

May told Checkup that she would work with the leaders of other parties to ensure long-term action on climate change. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

When pushed on her stance against working with parties who support Trans Mountain expansion, May told Checkup host Duncan McCue that her opponents' positions could change once in Parliament.

"You start from the premise that the stuff they said on the campaign trail may change substantially when they realise that they want to occupy the Prime Minister's Office," she said.

"They're going to have to change their policies quite dramatically to live up to what our kids are demanding on the streets."

Cross Country Checkup has requested that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also participate in Ask Me Anything sessions.

Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Richard Raycraft. To hear the full Ask Me Anything segment with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, download our podcast or click Listen above.

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