Transcript: Finding Middle Ground in the Oil Sands Debate | Sep 27, 2017

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Finding nuance in the oil sands debate. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says ALBERTA'S OIL BOOM
RECONFIGURED THAT PROVINCE'S
ECONOMY, DRAWING INVESTMENT FROM
AROUND THE WORLD AND WORKERS
FROM EVERY CORNER OF CANADA.
AND IF THE BUST DIDN'T WORK
EXACTLY IN REVERSE, IT CERTAINLY
SENT REVERBERATIONS FAR BEYOND
THE OIL FIELDS, PARTICULARLY AS
THE ENVIRONMENTAL ARGUMENTS
AGAINST THE SECTOR MOUNTED.
A NEW BOOK CAPTURES THE LIFE IN
THAT HOT AND HOTLY CONTESTED
SECTOR.
IT'S CALLED "THE PATCH: THE
PEOPLE, PIPELINES, AND POLITICS
OF THE OIL SANDS," AND WE'RE
PLEASED TO WELCOME ITS AUTHOR
CHRIS TURNER TO OUR STUDIO TONIGHT.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a stylized picture of flowing tar.
Chris is in his late thirties, with short curly brown hair and a full beard. He's wearing a gray suit, gray shirt, and striped blue tie.

Steve continues CHRIS, GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

Chris says THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says FIRST OFF,
FASCINATING BOOK.
I'VE GOT TO TELL YOU, I DIDN'T
THINK A GUY LIKE YOU WOULD WRITE
A BOOK LIKE THIS.
YOU'RE A FORMER GREEN PARTY
CANDIDATE.

Chris says YES.

Steve says THERE ARE THINGS
YOU'VE WRITTEN THAT ARE
COMPLIMENTARY TO THE OIL SANDS.

The caption changes to "Chris Turner. Author, 'The Patch.'"
Then, it changes again to "From boom to bust."

Chris says THAT WAS THE
INTENTION FROM THE BEGINNING FOR
THIS BOOK.
HERE WAS THIS TOPIC, THIS
INDUSTRIAL PROJECT, THIS
SIGNIFICANT SLICE OF THE
CANADIAN ECONOMY THAT PEOPLE
HAVE EXTRAORDINARILY STRONG
OPINIONS PRO AND CONBUT DON'T
ACTUALLY KNOW THAT MUCH ABOUT,
THE BACK STORY OF IT, HOW IT
CAME TO BE, WHO GOT IT BUILT,
WHO'S THERE AND, YOU KNOW,
MAKING THIS THING HAPPEN, AND
THEN HOW DID IT BECOME SUCH A
LIGHTNING ROD FOR CONTROVERSY?
THAT STORY HADN'T BEEN TOLD.
AND SO MY INTENTION REALLY WAS
TO BE AS, I GUESS YOU WOULD SAY,
EMPATHETIC AS POSSIBLE TO THE
SUBJECT AND TO THE PEOPLE, YOU
KNOW, WHO WERE MY SOURCES ON
THIS STORY.
I WANTED TO TELL THEIR STORY
MORE THAN TO MAKE AN ARGUMENT,
AND I FOUND AS I WENT THROUGH
THAT, YOU KNOW, THEIR ARGUMENTS,
YOU KNOW, HAD SOME MERIT TO
THEM.
THIS IS NOT A BLACK-AND-WHITE
ISSUE, THIS IS NOT A PRO OR
CON KIND OF THING, IT'S A VERY
COMPLEX THING.

Steve says THAT'S INTERESTING.
WE LIVE IN A WORLD TODAY WHERE
IT IS BLACK OR WHITE.
YOU ARE EITHER WITH THE
ENVIRONMENT OR WITH THE
OIL SANDS.
YOU CAN'T SEE NUANCE IN
ANYTHING.
DID YOU FIND IT A DIFFICULT TASK
TO TRY TO TELL A MORE NUANCED
STORY ABOUT A PLACE THAT
EVERYBODY HAS MADE THEIR MIND UP
ABOUT ONE WAY OR THE OTHER?

Chris says THAT'S
CERTAINLY A MAJOR CHALLENGE,
JUST IN THE RESEARCH AND THE
FIELD REPORTING, TO GET PEOPLE
TO THINK YOU'RE NOT HIDING AN
AGENDA.
THAT WAS TRUE ON BOTH SIDES.
INDUSTRY PEOPLE THOUGHT THIS IS
GOING TO BE ANOTHER HATCHET JOB
THAT MAKES US LOOK LIKE THE
WORST THING IN THE WORLD, AND
SOME OF THE MOST VOCAL OPPONENTS
OF THE INDUSTRY FELT SURELY I
WAS TRYING TO TRAP THEM INTO
SOMETHING OR OTHER.
IT WAS DEFINITELY VERY, VERY
SENSITIVE TOPIC.
PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR, YOU
KNOW, ARE YOU WITH US OR AGAINST
US, THAT SORT OF THING.
BUT I DID FIND THE MORE TIME I
SPENT TALKING TO PEOPLE,
SPENDING TIME IN FORT McMURRAY
AND FORT CHIPEWYAN AND OTHER
COMMUNITIES CONNECTED TO THE
OIL SANDS, PEOPLE DID APPRECIATE
THERE WAS THOUGHT GOING INTO
THIS, THAT THEY WERE ACTUALLY
ABLE TO TELL A BIT OF WHAT THEY
FELT HADN'T BEEN TOLD BEFORE.

Steve says HOW MUCH TIME DID
YOU SPEND THERE ALL TOLD?

Chris says ALL TOLD IT
WAS PROBABLY A COUPLE MONTHS,
FOUR DIFFERENT STINTS.

Steve says WHAT AFTER THOSE
COUPLE OF MONTHS WERE OVER YOU
WOULD SAY HERE IN UPPER CANADA
OUR BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT
FORT MAC WOULD BE?

The caption changes to "Not just numbers."

Chris says FIRST THAT
IT'S AN OVERGROWN WORK CAMP FOR
DIRTY INDUSTRIAL PROJECT.
IT'S A REALLY INTERESTING LITTLE
CITY.
YOU KNOW, I DESCRIBE THIS IN THE
BOOK, YOU KNOW, THERE'S AN
EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIMENT, URBAN
EXPERIMENT ACROSS CANADA IN ALL
THE BIG CITIES IN DIVERSITY AND
WELCOMING NEW IMMIGRANTS AND
THAT SORT OF THING.
FORT McMURRAY DID THE SAME
THING IN TEN YEARS OF BOOM.
IT IS AN INCREDIBLY DIVERSE
CITY.
THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE THEIR
LIVES THERE FEEL THERE IS A
SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND BELONGING
THERE THAT IS UNIQUE AND
POWERFUL AND KEEPS THEM COMING.
SO IT REALLY ISN'T JUST THIS
PLACE WHERE EVERYONE HAS GONE TO
MAKE MONEY.

Steve says DIVERSE
GEOGRAPHICALLY TO BE SURE.
PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY
ARE THERE.
DID YOU FIND DIVERSE ETHNICALLY,
CULTURALLY, ETC.?

The caption changes to "Chris Turner, @theturner."

Chris says ABSOLUTELY.
THE SORT OF CENTRAL SYMBOLIC
EVENT BY WHICH I TRY TO EXPLAIN
JUST HOW DIVERSE FORT McMURRAY
IS, IS I WAS THERE AT ONE POINT
DOING REPORTING DURING RAMADAN
AND TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE
BUILDING THE NEW MOSQUE BECAUSE
THE OLD MOSQUE COULD SEAT ABOUT
200 PEOPLE FOR FRIDAY PRAYERS,
AND DURING RAMADAN YOU WOULD GET
2500 PEOPLE.
SO I WENT TO BASICALLY A JUNIOR
HIGH SCHOOL IN SUBURBAN FORT
McMURRAY TO SEE PEOPLE COMING
TO GATHER FOR FRIDAY PRAYERS AND
IT REALLY WAS JUST THIS
EXTRAORDINARY, YOU KNOW, UNITED
NATIONS PARADE OF PEOPLE FROM
ALL OVER THE WORLD, BASICALLY
EVERYWHERE THERE ARE PRACTISING
MUSLIMS, SOMEONE HAD A
REPRESENTATIVE THERE.
IT WAS QUITE A SCENE.

Steve says HERE'S AN EXCERPT
FROM THE BOOK...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "No room for compromise." The quote reads "It is either Hiroshima or a wonder of the world, a vital economic engine or the most destructive project on earth, an essential commodity or dirty oil, Mordor or Fort McMoney. There is no nuance in this rhetoric, no room for compromise."
Quoted from Chris Turner, "The patch." 2017.

Steve says IF WE WANTED TO HAVE
A MORE NUANCED DEBATE ABOUT THE
VALUE OF FORT MAC AND ALL OF THE
OIL SANDS PROJECTS, WHAT DO YOU
THINK THAT WOULD LOOK LIKE IN
COMPARISON TO THE DEBATE WE'RE
KIND OF ACTUALLY HAVING?

The caption changes to "A plea for nuance."

Chris says RIGHT.
I THINK WE WOULD BEGIN BY
ACKNOWLEDGING, THIS IS, YOU
KNOW, IF THERE IS SUCH A THING
AS A NATIONAL PROJECT, THIS IS A
NATIONAL PROJECT.
THIS IS A THING... YOU KNOW, THE
EARLIEST FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
INTERESTED IN FORT McMURRAY
AND THE OIL SANDS DATES BACK TO
ALMOST THE START OF THE 1900s.
THERE WERE, YOU KNOW,
GOVERNMENTS AT EVERY LEVEL SPENT
DECADES, TONS OF PUBLIC RESEARCH
MONEY GETTING THIS TO THE POINT
WHERE IT WAS PROFITABLE, RIGHT
UP INTO THE MID 1990s, THERE
WAS THIS MOMENT IN 1995, JEAN
CHRETIEN, RALPH KLEIN, AND A
BUNCH OF CABINET MINISTERS
GATHERING FOR THIS DECLARATION
OF OPPORTUNITY BECAUSE THEY HAD
CHANGED THE TAX AND ROYALTY
REGIMES AT THE PROVINCIAL AND
FEDERAL LEVELS TO MAKE THIS
THING GO.
AND AT THAT MOMENT... AND THAT'S
NOT THAT LONG AGO... WHEN WE
REALLY DID KIND OF HIT OVERDRIVE
IN THE BOOM, THIS WAS SOMETHING
THAT WAS CONSIDERED BENEFICIAL
ACROSS CANADA, WAS DEFINITELY A
HIGH PRIORITY ON THE NATIONAL
AGENDA, AND WE VERY MUCH DID
KIND OF SINK THE WHOLE COUNTRY'S
FORTUNES INTO THIS, AND SO
SUGGESTING THAT IT'S SOMETHING
OVER THERE, THAT A BUNCH OF
PEOPLE KIND OF WENT CRAZY FOR
OIL IN NORTHERN ALBERTA I THINK
DOESN'T DO IT JUSTICE TO ITS
CONNECTION TO THE REST OF THE
COUNTRY.

Steve says I HEAR YOU.
SPEAK TO THE ARGUMENT, THOUGH,
AND I KNOW THE PROPONENTS OF
FORT MAC SAY IN SOME RESPECTS IT
IS THIS GENERATION'S NATIONAL
RAILWAY.
IT IS A NATIONAL ECONOMIC
PROJECT THAT AFFECTS ALL REGIONS
OF THE COUNTRY.
BUT OBVIOUSLY A LOT
OF PEOPLE OUTSIDE ALBERTA THINK
IT'S ALL ABOUT ALBERTA, AND
GREAT FOR THEM AND THEY DON'T
SEE THE BENEFITS BEYOND THAT,
AND IT'S REALLY NOT A NATIONAL
PROJECT.
MAKE THE COUNTER-ARGUMENT THAT
IT IS.

Chris says RIGHT.
THE RAILWAY IS A GOOD EXAMPLE.
EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS THE
CONNECTION WITH THE RAILROAD.
IT GOES THROUGH THEIR TOWN.

Steve says VISIBLE CONNECTION
FROM PROVINCE TO PROVINCE.

Chris says THE
CONNECTIONS ARE LESS OBVIOUS,
BUT AS WE WERE SAYING, YOU KNOW,
FORT McMURRAY HAS WELCOMED
PEOPLE FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY
SO, YOU KNOW, YOU GO TO SMALL
TOWNS IN NOVA SCOTIA, SMALL
TOWNS IN THE INTERIOR OF B.C.,
YOU KNOW, PARTS OF SOUTHERN
ONTARIO WHERE THE ECONOMY HAS
NOT BEEN STRONG IN RECENT YEARS.
THAT'S THE PEOPLE WHO WENT TO
FORT McMURRAY TO BUILD THIS
INDUSTRY.
ON TOP OF THAT, I MEAN,
PROBABLY... GOD KNOWS WHAT THE
PERCENTAGE IS, AN
EXTRAORDINARILY LARGE PERCENTAGE
OF CANADIANS WHO HAVE RRSPs
ARE DIRECTLY INVESTED ONE WAY OR
ANOTHER IN THE SUCCESS OF THE
OIL SANDS.
I DON'T THINK THAT NEGATES THE
CRITICISM AND I THINK THAT WAS
ONE OF THE BIG MISTAKES OVER THE
LAST 10, 15 YEARS WAS SAYING,
THIS IS GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY SO
WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR
PROBLEMS WITH IT.
BUT I DO THINK WE HAVE TO
ACKNOWLEDGE WE'RE ALL DUG IN
THERE.

Steve says HOW CLOSE TO ANY OF
THE MAJOR SITES WERE YOU
ACTUALLY ABLE TO GET?

Chris says I ACTUALLY
GOT ON ONE OF THEM.
I DIDN'T HAVE ANY SORT OF
SPECIAL JOURNALISTIC ACCESS, BUT
SUNCOR, WHICH IS THE FIRST OF
THE BIG OIL SANDS COMPANIES,
BUILT THE VERY FIRST MINE, DOES
OFFER PUBLIC TOURS.
YOU DO GO ONTO SITE.
YOU GET TO SEE, YOU KNOW, WHAT
THE SORT OF PROCESSING AREA
LOOKS LIKE FROM A DISTANCE, YOU
CAN SEE THE HUGE TRUCKS GOING IN
AND OUT OF THE MINE...

Steve says DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE
GETTING THE STRAIGHT GOODS WHEN
YOU GO ON THAT TOUR?

Chris says NO.
IT'S OBVIOUSLY SLANTED TO TELL A
CERTAIN STORY.
THEY SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN THE
SPECIAL PART OF THE SITE WHERE
THEY'VE BEGUN RECLAMATION THAN
ANYWHERE WHERE YOU CAN GET A
GOOD LOOK AT WHAT THE MINE LOOKS
LIKE AND WHAT A TAILINGS POND
LOOKS LIKE AND THAT SORT OF
THING.
THAT SAID, IT'S NOT... YOU KNOW,
IT'S TOO BIG AND THAT'S THE
THING TO HIDE, PARTICULARLY.
IT IS WHAT IT IS.
THERE'S NO ONE PRETENDING
TAILINGS PONDS ARE GOOD FOR THE
ENVIRONMENT.
THERE'S NO ONE PRETENDING THERE
ISN'T A LOT OF NATURAL GAS
BURNED TO TURN BITUMEN INTO
USEABLE OIL.
I THINK THE INDUSTRY'S ARGUMENT
IS, SURE, WE DO THAT, BUT SO
DOES EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE
BUSINESS.
IF OUR BARRELS ARE SLIGHTLY MORE
POLLUTING THAN ANY OTHER GIVEN
BARREL REALLY ISN'T THE PROBLEM,
THE 90-ODD MILLION BARRELS A DAY
WE'RE ALL BURNING AND NOT JUST
THE LITTLE BIT WE'RE TAKING OUT
OF NORTHERN ALBERTA.
I THINK THE INDUSTRY HAS MADE
SOME MISTAKES IN THE PAST.
I THINK THEY COULD BE DOING A
LOT BETTER.
BUT THEY WOULD CERTAINLY ARGUE,
YOU KNOW, WE GET THAT NOW AND
WE'RE ON BOARD.

Steve says SHALL WE GO TO
MISTAKE NUMBER ONE?

Chris says SURE.

Steve says THE DUCK.
TELL US THE STORY ABOUT THE DUCK.

The caption changes to "The duck incident."

Pictures flash by of a dead duck in a puddle of black oil.

Chris says THE STORY...
MANY PEOPLE PROBABLY REMEMBER...
1600 DUCKS LANDED ON A TAILINGS
POND AFTER A SPRING SNOWSTORM IN
NORTHERN ALBERTA.
SYNCRUDE HAD FAILED TO PROPERLY
DEPLOY DETERRENTS, THEY HAVE
NOISE CANNONS AND THINGS LIKE
THAT TO KEEP WATERFOWL OFF OF
THOSE PONDS, THE DUCKS ALL DIED,
THE IMAGE WENT GLOBAL OVERNIGHT.
THE AMAZING THING WAS REALLY...
IT WAS THE ONE... IT WAS A
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL
TOOK THOSE PICTURES FOR
DOCUMENTARY PURPOSES.
WHEN THE STORY STARTED GETTING
PICKED UP, THOSE WERE THE FILE
PHOTOS AND OFF THEY WENT.
I THINK MORE THAN THE 1600
DUCKS, WHICH PEOPLE HAVE MADE
THE ARGUMENT FAIRLY IS, YOU
KNOW, WOULD BE A GOOD DAY FOR
THE DUCKS DURING HUNTING SEASON.
IT WAS THE SYMBOLIC POWER OF
THAT.
I THINK THAT WAS A MOMENT WHERE
THE INDUSTRY SHOULD HAVE
REALIZED, EVEN IF IT DIDN'T, YOU
ARE IN A VERY DIFFERENT KIND OF
CONVERSATION NOW ABOUT YOUR
NECESSITY THAN YOU WERE BEFORE.
PEOPLE LOOKED AT THAT AND
THOUGHT WHAT ARE WE DOING IN THE
NAME OF, YOU KNOW, A COUPLE OF
MILLION BARRELS OF OIL HERE.

Steve says EXCEPT THAT IF YOU
TAKE THAT STORY IN ITS GLOBAL
NECESSITY, IT'S A NOTHING STORY,
BUT THE IMAGE, THE INDUSTRY JUST
COULDN'T SEEM TO FIGURE OUT HOW
TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST THAT IMAGE
OF THOSE DUCKS DESPERATELY
TRYING TO CLAW THEIR WAY OUT OF
ALL THAT MUCK.

Chris says YEAH.
AND STAGE BY STAGE, AS THE DUCK
STORY TURNED INTO A CLIMATE
STORY, TURNED INTO A PIPELINE
STORY, YOU SAW THE INDUSTRY
CONSTANTLY TRYING TO FIGHT, YOU
KNOW, PROBABLY AN OVERLY
SIMPLISTIC PR BATTLE AND NEVER
WAKING TO THE FACT THEY WERE
NEVER GOING TO GET AHEAD OF THE
STORY UNTIL THEY COULD STAND UP
AND SAY, HEY, HERE'S WHAT WE'RE
REALLY DOING TO MAKING TAILINGS
PONDS QUICKER TO REMEDIATE, TO
REDUCE OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT.
THEY ARE DOING SOME OF THOSE
THINGS NOW.
BY THE TIME THEY CAUGHT UP WITH
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE IMAGE GAME,
THEY WERE THE WORST
ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER ON EARTH,
THEY WERE ON POSTERS AND
BILLBOARDS AROUND THE WORLD.

Steve says EXCEPT THEY WEREN'T.
IT WASN'T THE WORST
ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER ON EARTH.
IT WAS PORTRAYED THAT WAY.

Chris says WHEN YOU TALK
TO FOLKS IN THE INDUSTRY,
THEY'LL TELL YOU WE DIDN'T
INVENT TAILINGS PONDS.
EVERY MINE ON EARTH, THIS IS
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.
BUT THEY WERE THE POSTER CHILD.
ONCE YOU'RE ON THE POSTER,
GETTING BACK OFF OF IT, THAT'S A
TALL ORDER.

Steve says WE HAVE HAD FOR
MANY, MANY YEARS IN THIS COUNTRY
A GREAT DEBATE ABOUT WHETHER OR
NOT THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE IS
SOMETHING THAT IS DESPERATELY
NEEDED OR JUST SOMETHING THAT
OUGHT TO BE AVOIDED AT ALL
COSTS, AND TO GET INTO THAT
DISCUSSION, LET'S PLAY A CLIP...
SHELDON, LET'S BRING THIS UP.
HERE'S THE MAYOR OF CALGARY
DISCUSSING KEYSTONE XL ON CNBC A
COUPLE OF YEARS AGO.
ROLL IT, PLEASE.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "Power Lunch. The economy of Calgary. CNBC. May 29, 2015."
In the clip, two men, in their fifties and sixties, talk on a news show.

The younger man says ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WITH
KEYSTONE IS FOR SOME REASON,
THAT ONE-METRE-WIDE PIPE HAS
BEEN ASKED TO BEAR ALL THE SINS
OF THE CARBON ECONOMY.
NOT HAVING KEYSTONE ISN'T GOING
TO END THE CARBON NECESSITY OR
IT'S NOT GOING TO CHANGE CLIMATE
CHANGE, BUT SOMEHOW THAT ONE
PIPELINE IS BEARING...

The older man says IT HAS A SYMBOLIC NATURE.

The younger man says DEEPLY SYMBOLIC.
WHICH IS A SHAME.

The clip ends.

Steve says NAHEED NENSHI ON THE
KEYSTONE XL.
HOW DID THAT WOULD-BE PIPELINE
GET TO BE SUCH A TOUCHSTONE FOR
EVERYBODY?

The caption changes to "In the eye of the storm."

Chris says RIGHT.
THE STORY DOES BEGIN WITH
INCIDENTS LIKE THE DUCK
INCIDENT.
THE OIL SANDS INDUSTRY NOT
RECOGNIZING THAT THIS WASN'T
JUST GOING TO GO AWAY, THAT IT
HAD A LONG-TERM IMAGE PROBLEM,
BUT REALLY THE MAJOR PIECE OF
THAT BEGAN WITH THE FAILURE,
ACTUALLY, OF THE INTERNATIONAL
CLIMATE TALKS IN COPENHAGEN IN
2009.
THERE WAS, YOU KNOW, BARACK
OBAMA WAS THE PRESIDENT,
AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS AND
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS
PARTICULARLY THOUGHT WE'RE
FINALLY GOING TO BE DOING
SOMETHING SERIOUS ON CLIMATE
CHANGE.
INSTEAD THOSE TALKS BROKE DOWN,
OBAMA'S CAP-AND-TRADE BILL
COLLAPSED IN CONGRESS AROUND THE
SAME TIME, AND SO THERE WAS THIS
SENSE OF ALMOST DESPERATION
AMONG CLIMATE LEADERSHIP IN THE
UNITED STATES, WE NEED
SOMETHING.
WE NEED A CAMPAIGN.
WE NEED TO RALLY PEOPLE.
WE HAVE NO SENSE OF MOMENTUM OR
PURPOSE RIGHT NOW AS A MOVEMENT,
AND KEYSTONE WAS A VERY, VERY
CONVENIENT TARGET.
MOST OF THE COMPANIES INVOLVED
AND THE PROFIT IS ALL OUTSIDE OF
THE UNITED STATES, IT'S A SINGLE
THING THAT THE PRESIDENT COULD
APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE WITH A
PEN...

Steve says WHICH HE DID.

Chris says AND IT HAD
NATURAL ALLIES.
YOU HAD, YOU KNOW, CONSERVATIVE
RANCHERS WHO DIDN'T LIKE IT AND
YOU HAD FIRST NATIONS WHO DIDN'T
LIKE IT, AND SO IT WAS A REALLY
POWERFUL SORT OF FOCUS FOR A LOT
OF PROTEST ENERGY THAT HAD NO
WHERE ELSE TO GO.

Steve says WHAT ROLE DO YOU
THINK PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN
HARPER PLAYED IN ALL OF THIS?
HE WAS OBVIOUSLY A HUGE BOOSTER
OF IT, AN ALBERTA M.P.
WHAT ROLE DID HE PLAY IN THE
DRAMA SURROUNDING ALL OF THIS.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Chris says HE THREW FIRE
AND GASOLINE ON IT IS THE ROLE
HE PLAYED.
YOU COULD NOT HAVE DONE A WORSE
JOB OF REASSURING PEOPLE OF
CANADA'S RESPONSIBILITY
ENVIRONMENTALLY, ITS INTENT TO
MEET CLIMATE TARGETS THAN
STEPHEN HARPER DID, BASICALLY
TOOK A VERY SIMPLISTIC APPROACH,
YOU KNOW, YOU WANT OUR OIL, YOU
NEED IT.
THAT WAS A LOT OF THE MESSAGE TO...
NO BRAINER, EXACTLY.
JUST COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD
THE NATURE OF THE DEBATE THAT
WAS EMERGING AROUND KEYSTONE AND
THE OIL SANDS AND COULDN'T HAVE
DONE A BETTER JOB OF PLAYING THE
VILLAIN THAT THAT PROTEST
MOVEMENT NEEDED TO GIVE IT
FURTHER MOMENTUM.

Steve says CANADA-U.S.
RELATIONS ARE OBVIOUSLY
EXTREMELY COMPLICATED AND
MULTIFACETED, BUT THAT WAS A
MAJOR IRRITANT BETWEEN STEPHEN
HARPER AND BARACK OBAMA.
HOW MUCH OF A NEGATIVE
CONSEQUENCE DO YOU THINK THAT
DECISION ALONE PLAYED IN
RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES?

Chris says CERTAINLY IT
WAS A FACTOR.
THEY DIDN'T PARTICULARLY SEEM TO
LIKE EACH OTHER, AND THIS WAS A
MAJOR POLICY GOAL OF STEPHEN
HARPER'S GOVERNMENT THAT WAS
GETTING NOWHERE AND ACTUALLY
SORT OF, YOU KNOW, BACKTRACKING
UNDER OBAMA.
NOT TO BE DISCOUNTED, THOUGH,
WAS THAT OBAMA, AFTER 2009, HAD
SOME LEVERAGE OF HIS OWN THAT
DIDN'T GET TALKED ABOUT AS MUCH,
WHICH IS ALL OF A SUDDEN THE
UNITED STATES WAS A MAJOR OIL
PRODUCER AGAIN.

Steve says FRACKING.

Chris says THE FRACKING
BOOM COMPLETELY CHANGED THE
GAME.
IT MADE THE NECESSITY ARGUMENT
THAT HARPER'S GOVERNMENT WAS
BACKING, YOU NEED OUR OIL, YOU
KNOW, THIS IS A VITAL SOURCE.
THEY WERE BRINGING... THE
OIL SANDS IS TWO AND A HALF
MILLION BARRELS.
DURING THE FIVE YEARS WE WERE
DEBATING KEYSTONE XL, THE U.S.
INTRODUCED FOUR OR FIVE MILLION
BARRELS OF FRACKED OIL.
NOT ONLY WAS HARPER NOT A VERY
GOOD ALLY AS FAR AS OBAMA WAS
CONCERNED, HE DIDN'T NEED THE
PROJECT ANYMORE.

Steve says LET'S DO ANOTHER
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK...

Another quote from Chris's book appears on screen, under the title "An intractable debate." The quote reads "When the Patch's boosters say they are simply supplying a product everyone uses every single day they are not wrong. When the prime minister says 'no country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there,' he's not wrong. When antipipeline protesters say some of that oil has to stay in the ground, they're not wrong. When Indigenous people say they've never been properly consulted about what those pipelines and bitumen mines are doing to their land, they're not wrong."

Steve says HOW DO YOU... HOW DO
YOU COME TO SOME KIND OF
CONSENSUS AND-OR RESOLUTION WHEN
EVERYBODY'S GOT A LITTLE BIT OF
TRUTH AND A LITTLE BIT OF BAD PR
ON THEIR SIDE?

The caption changes to "The way forward."

Chris says RIGHT.
I THINK YOU DO SO WITH GREAT
DIFFICULTY.
CERTAINLY THAT'S WHAT PRIME
MINISTER TRUDEAU FINDS HIMSELF
IN A POSITION WHERE THERE IS NO
ANSWER THAT'S GOING TO
COMPLETELY PLEASE EVERYONE AND
LOTS OF ANSWERS THAT AREN'T
GOING TO PLEASE ANYONE, AND IT'S
A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION.
I THINK IT GETS AT THE FACT, YOU
KNOW, THIS DEBATE OVER CLIMATE
CHANGE AND ENERGY USE, THIS IS
GOING TO BE A DEFINING DEBATE OF
OUR TIME FOR YEARS, DECADES TO
COME, AND SORTING OUT THINGS
LIKE PIPELINES AND BITUMEN AND,
YOU KNOW, INDIGENOUS RIGHTS
AROUND THOSE AND ENVIRONMENTAL
RESPONSIBILITY AROUND THOSE,
THERE'S NO SIMPLE SOLUTION
ANYWHERE ALONG THE WAY, AND I
DON'T THINK IT HELPED THAT WE
BEGAN THIS DEBATE WITH SUCH
ACRIMONY AND SUCH, YOU KNOW,
ACTIVE POLARIZATION AND
DIVISIVENESS PARTICULARLY ON THE
PART OF STEPHEN HARPER AND SOME
OF HIS ALLIES IN THE INDUSTRY
OUT OF THE GATE.
I THINK EVERYONE IS KIND OF
COMING BACK AROUND TO THE IDEA,
HEY, WE BETTER FIGURE OUT A WAY
TO BUILD A SLIGHTLY LARGER TENT
FOR THIS PROJECT, BUT IT TOOK A
WHILE TO GET THERE.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU THINK
ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF GETTING
TO, I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S A PIPE
DREAM, IS IT CLOSE OR WHAT, ZERO
EMISSIONS IN TRYING TO GET THIS
STUFF OUT OF THE GROUND?
IS THAT AN OPTION?

Chris says I THINK THE
OPTION CERTAINLY IS TO DO MUCH
LESS DAMAGE CLIMATE-WISE TO GET
A BARREL OF BITUMEN TO MARKET.
AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF THE NEW
PRODUCTION IN THE OIL SANDS IS IN
SITU, SO FAIRLY DEEP IN THE
GROUND, THEY USE A TON OF STEAM
TO BASICALLY LIQUEFY IT AND PUSH
IT OUT OF THESE DEEP DEPOSITS,
AND AT PRESENT, THAT MEANS
BURNING A LOT OF NATURAL GAS.
THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF THIS
BIGGER CARBON FOOTPRINT COMES.
THE COMPANIES HEAVILY
INVOLVED... SAGD COMPANIES LIKE
CENOVUS ARE PUTTING A LOT OF
TECHNOLOGICAL EFFORT INTO MOVING
AWAY FROM NATURAL GAS TO OTHER
WAYS OF GETTING THE IN SITU
BITUMEN OUT OF THE GROUND.
THEY'RE NOT THERE YET.
BUT THEY LOOK AT THAT AND SAY,
GIVE US A FEW MORE YEARS AND WE
WILL EVENTUALLY HAVE A BARREL
THAT'S AT LEAST NO BIGGER IN
CARBON FOOTPRINT THAN ANY OTHER
GIVEN BARREL, AND THEY START
LOOKING PAST THAT AND SAY, HEY,
MAYBE WE CAN FIGURE OUT WAYS
FURTHER DOWNSTREAM TO ELIMINATE
OR REDUCE EMISSIONS AT THE
TAILPIPE, TO CREATE PRODUCTS
THAT ARE USEFUL OUT OF CARBON
DIOXIDE RATHER THAN JUST BLOWING
IT INTO THE ATMOSPHERE, AND THEY
START SAYING, HEY, WE COULD
REALLY GET TO ZERO EMISSIONS.
I THINK THAT'S A FURTHER OFF
GOAL AND A LOT OF PROOF OF
CONCEPT WE NEED TO BUY IN BEFORE
WE GET TO THAT.
BUT A STRONG CASE TO BE MADE, I
THINK THAT'S A REASONABLE
MID-TERM GOAL.

Steve says CHRIS, LET'S FINISH
UP ON THIS.
YOU KNOW WHERE YOU WERE IN YOUR
OWN HEAD WHEN THIS PROJECT
STARTED AND NOW YOU'VE WRITTEN
THE BOOK "THE PATCH."
WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND
ABOUT IN RELATION TO ALL OF THIS?

Chris says PROBABLY THE
BIGGEST THING, YOU KNOW, NOT TO
KEEP HARPING ON IT, IS THAT IT'S
A MUCH MORE COMPLEX THING AND
THERE IS NO REALLY SIMPLE
ANSWER.
I THINK... YOU KNOW, I
CERTAINLY, YOU KNOW, SPENDING A
LOT OF THE LAST 10 YEARS LOOKING
AT CLEAN ENERGY SOLUTIONS AND
BUILDING THAT LOW CARBON
ECONOMY, I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW,
THAT NEW WAY OF DOING THINGS IS
NEAR ENOUGH THAT THE LAST THING
WE SHOULD BE DOING IS PUMPING
MILLIONS OF BARRELS OF OIL OUT
OF THIS MARGINAL, YOU KNOW,
RESOURCE IN NORTHERN ALBERTA.
THE LOGIC OF HOW IT CAME TO BE
AND WHY IT STILL IS A PRETTY
IMPORTANT PIECE OF A GLOBAL
ENERGY SYSTEM FOR THE
FORESEEABLE FUTURE.
I THINK I GET THAT NOW.
I THINK IT'S PROBLEMATIC.
I CAN UNDERSTAND PARTICULARLY
IF, YOU KNOW, YOU LIVE IN A
COMMUNITY DOWNSTREAM LIKE FORT
CHIPEWYAN WHERE YOU FEEL YOU'RE
LOOKING DOWN THE BARREL OF
EXTRAORDINARY DESTRUCTION, I CAN
UNDERSTAND WHERE THAT KIND OF
OPPOSITION COMES FROM.
IF WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, HOW DO
WE GET TO, YOU KNOW, THE SORT OF
NEXT LEVEL OF OUR RESPONSE TO
CLIMATE CHANGE, I DON'T THINK WE
BEGIN THAT BY SHUTTING DOWN THE OIL SANDS.

The caption changes to "Producer: Katie O'Connor, @KA_OConnor."

Steve says THE NAME OF THE BOOK
IS "THE PATCH" WITH ITS SUBTITLE
"THE PEOPLE, PIPELINES, AND
POLITICS OF THE OIL SANDS."
CHRIS TURNER, THANKS FOR COMING
IN TO TVO TONIGHT.

Chris says THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Watch: Finding Middle Ground in the Oil Sands Debate