Greens invade That Empty Space

By ├ćndrew Rininsland

You know we’re living in weird times when a group that brags about being the ‘voice of upstream oil and natural gas industry’ invites the Green Party to talk about ways of influencing public opinion to reduce oil consumption. Yet talking with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers was just one of many things federal Green Party leader Jim Harris did before speaking to a diverse crowd on the University of Calgary campus.

“It was a sit-down, round-table discussion between representatives of the industry and representatives of the party,” reflected Harris. “It was surprising, there was common ground. They recognized demand needs to be reduced.”

Harris spent over an hour talking about various issues, answering questions, and relaying information on Green Party policy to the students in That Empty Space at the MacEwan Student Centre Tue., Sept. 27. Topics ranged from peak oil to tuition costs to the Gomery Inquiry.

“I look at it as rearranging deck-chairs on the Titanic,” said Harris of the inquiry. “We look at [The Gomery Inquiry] and say, compared to the destruction of the planet, it doesn’t even rate on the radar screen. It’s not the issue we talk about.”

One of the ideas Harris presented was implementing an additional 10 cent tax on gasoline. He then went on to advocate the conversion of taxis to Gasoline-Electric Hybrid technology.

“They reduce smog emissions by 90 per cent, yet hybrids only represent one per cent of vehicles on Canadian roads,” said Harris. “If the 25,000 cabs on Canadian roads were all hybrids–because cabs drive 10 times the distance of the average vehicle every year–it would be like changing a quarter million cars.”

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