It may have seemed like a shrewd move by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley last year when she named prominent environmental activist Tzeporah Berman to the new Oil Sands Advisory Group (OSAG).
Almost a year later, though, it’s hard to see how that decision has yielded anything positive. The problem for Notley, however, is that she may be trapped in her mistake.
The OSAG was set up to advise the government on how the proposed emissions cap for the oilsands could be implemented. Berman was named co-chair, alongside a former president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, with the aim of demonstrating to Albertans that this government would listen to both sides of this issue, unlike their predecessors.
In choosing Berman specifically, it also was a signal to environmentalists that their concerns would no longer be ignored. The hope was that the payoff would come in the form of environmentalists easing up in their opposition of Alberta’s oil industry; that this new, enlightened premier could be given the benefit of the doubt. Moreover, if a prominent oilsands opponent like Tzeporah Berman could give her blessing to Notley’s approach, then that would be a huge political win for the premier.