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Klein gets warm reception in Saskatoon

Posted by mhudema on January 25, 2008

Klein visit spurs protest

Cassandra Kyle
The StarPhoenix

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ralph Klein spent a few quiet minutes inside TCU Place preparing for a speech Wednesday night, but a few metres away a protest group loudly blamed Alberta’s former premier for destroying the environment and stealing Saskatchewan’s youth.

Klein, however, does not feel he is the best target for accusations from grassroots environmental group The Tarsands Clean-Up Crew, who spent nearly one hour belittling event attendees about their oil consumption and support of a man the group says is responsible for development of the tarsands.

“I’ve been out of politics for over a year, so I’m not involved in the oilsands other than promotion through (other) companies’ oilsands development, if they pay me,” Klein said before his 6 p.m. presentation as a keynote speaker in the Saskatchewan Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs’ leadership series. He now works as a business consultant.

“There are all kinds of professional people (in Alberta) who know when to slow the (oilsands) projects down much more than these kids, they’re all undergraduates and they know nothing from a hill of beans,” he said.

Sustainability, he admitted, is an important factor in planning for the future and one the next generation of leaders will have to consider when sifting through the public’s wants and needs.

“I was minister of the environment and what I strived for was sustainability. In other words, satisfy those that had an environmental agenda, but make sure that the economy was sustained,” he explained.

Klein’s thoughts on long-term planning are likely of little comfort to the group of protesters worried about Saskatchewan’s environmental future. Jesse Sieben’s concerns lie with the focus of the recently-elected Saskatchewan Party government and corporate plans for the province’s resources.

“The new regime here is trying to emulate the Alberta model for the economy, and I don’t really agree with it,” Sieben said, adding, “There are all these private companies that are going to extract oil and water and eventually one day it’s going to be all gone.”

Clean-Up Crew organizer Megan Wohlberg said people are dying from tarsands-related cancers, further development will make Canada miss its Kyoto targets, men who leave Saskatchewan to work in Alberta’s oilpatch often become drug-addicted and many end up committing suicide. Further tarsands development in Alberta using nuclear fuel paints a bleak picture for Saskatchewan’s environment, which will likely supply uranium for the reactors.

“This is a huge deal for us because Uranium City is going to become Fort McMurray, not to mention that there’s a discovery of tarsands in Saskatchewan, so it’s going to be going the same way,” Wohlberg said. “I don’t think we should be following that path at all.”

People should localize their resources and build sustainable communities instead of inviting large corporations into the province and listening to Klein’s message, she said. At $75 a plate to attend the event Wednesday night, Wohlberg suspects there are more Saskatonians who disagree with Klein’s philosophy than the 20 environmentalists that raised their blue signs and voices outside of the banquet facility.

“Only rich people like Ralph Klein,” she said.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008


One Response to “Klein gets warm reception in Saskatoon”

  1. […] bookmarks tagged warm Klein gets warm reception in Saskatoon saved by 5 others     JonKinch bookmarked on 01/27/08 | […]

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