Workers, unions and environmentalists: PEI meeting a crucial first step to keep premiers’ promise

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2012

Workers, unions and environmentalists: PEI meeting a crucial first step to keep premiers’ promise

Ads feature energy workers talking about how to really create jobs, cut emissions.

Charlottetown – Energy ministers meeting in Charlottetown were greeted by ads in the local paper today—featuring energy workers talking about how to really create jobs while cutting emissions.

The ads feature a windmill maker and an oil sands worker. They explain how the PEI meeting is a crucial first step in keeping the premiers’ promise, made earlier this year, to deliver a Canadian energy strategy that cuts emissions while creating jobs.

It’s a message from Blue Green Canada, an organization of unions and environmentalists that takes direct aim at the notion that Canadians have to choose between the environment and economy. The ads make the case that the two go hand-in-hand.

“I work in Alberta’s Oil Sands. Like many others, I am concerned with the long-term environmental impact of the uncontrolled development of this vast resource,” said Roland Lefort, President of CEP local 707 in Fort McMurray. “It’s time to reduce emissions, focus on renewables and create jobs to provide energy security to all Canadians.”

“Our members work in the oil sands, but they also know the current pace of development isn’t sustainable for the planet or for long-term, good quality jobs. They have kids and are concerned for the next generation, and they know we need to cut emissions,” says Dave Coles, National President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP). “This is why we’re asking the energy ministers to put in place good policies to reduce emissions and create new jobs in sectors like renewable energy.”

 “The energy ministers now have a mandate to get us moving away from fossil fuels and towards more renewable energy, greater energy efficiency, and building more transit. Any of these things would create jobs and cut emissions,” says Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.

“So we’re here to tell them to get going. And we’re not asking them to reinvent the wheel. There are excellent examples to draw from across our country. We hope this meeting will provide an opportunity for the provinces to share successes and forge a plan that delivers on the promise of the Halifax accord.”

“The fact is, renewable energy is creating jobs” added Ken Neumann, National Director of the United Steelworkers Union. “Our members are rolling steel for wind mills in Sault Ste Marie, they are refining solar-grade silicon near Toronto, and making wind mills in Nova Scotia.”

“We estimate that investment in renewable energy and the clean economy leads to three times more jobs than that same investment in fossil fuels. So let’s stop pretending we have to choose between jobs and the environment. And let’s stop pandering to the interests of Big Oil.”

"The energy ministers can build on the momentum started by the premiers in Halifax," said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada. "Canadians believe the country needs an energy plan that reduces fossil fuel dependence, cuts energy waste, creates more clean-energy jobs, and fights climate change."

A Canadian energy plan, agreed to at the Council of the Federation meeting in Halifax, was an initiative of Alberta Premier Alison Redford. It was agreed to by all provinces except British Columbia and committed to reducing emissions, spurring renewable energy and energy efficiency and creating jobs. Shortly afterwards, a poll found only two per cent of Canadians did not believe global warming was real.

Representatives from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union (CEP), Environmental Defence, the United Steelworkers union, Pembina Institute and Tides Canada are in Charlottetown to advance their vision for a Canadian energy strategy that hastens the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Blue Green Canada was founded in 2008 as a way to put old fights aside and bring workers and environmentalists together. It hopes the new consensus among provinces and territories will allow for practical ways to create jobs, cut emissions and lower energy bills for families.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Roxanne Dubois, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, 613-724-7486

Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell)

Bob Gallagher, United Steelworkers, 416-544-5966 or 416-544-5991

Merran Smith, Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada, 604-947-2200


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