The fifth installment of the university's series The Kyoto Protocol: Exploring the Critical Issues featured the Honourable Murray Smith, the Alberta Minister of Energy. An MLA since 1993 representing Calgary-Varsity, Mr. Smith spoke to an audience of students, professors and public on Thu., Nov. 14.
His criticisms of the Kyoto Accord surfaced nearly immediately as he began his speech.
"Reports suggest 450,000 lost jobs in Canada," he said of the suggested economic fallout from ratification.
Examining Kyoto from a financial perspective many times throughout the evening, he compared buying emissions credits to transferring wealth from Canada to other countries.
"Wouldn't it make far more sense to spend that money here at home?" he asked.
Criticism against Kyoto turned to questions directed to the federal Liberals.
"Why the federal government's blind rush?" he asked. "Why can't we take the time to debate?"
Mr. Smith spoke often of the uncertainty regarding Kyoto and compared ratification to buying a house without knowing the price or the mortgage rate.
He also mentioned declining Canadian public support by referring to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey that found it to be at 44 per cent.
Mr. Smith discussed extensively the "Made in Alberta" plan, released in October. He described it as "making environmental and financial sense," citing the plan's emphasis on renewable energy, increasing spending on research and purchasing more hybrid vehicles, among other energy saving strategies.
The Alberta government's plan was described the following way in a pamphlet available to attendees:
"Alberta's plan is based on reducing emissions intensity because that allows us to balance environmental and economic goals while achieving real reductions over realistic timelines."
In a question period that lasted nearly one and a half hours, Mr. Smith answered questions from many people whose views were quite varied on the debate. When asked what the Alberta government's plan was if the federal government were to ratify, he responded, "We have some legal options."