Barry Penner Ed Stelmach Elaine Taylor Indira Samarasekera Jim Prentice John Gerretsen Ken Cheveldayoff Line Beauchamp Michael Miltenberger Richard Brown Rob Renner Stanley Struthers

top government and energy industry officials discuss climate and copenhagen at low-key banff conference.

You wouldn’t know it from the near complete lack of media coverage, but a low-key conference hosted by the Canada School of Energy and Environment (CSEE) brought some of Canada’s top government and energy industry officials to Banff this past weekend. The June 4th to 6th meeting focused on the upcoming Copenhagen Conference.

Thanks to a long-time reader, I was able to get my digital hands on a draft copy of the conference delegate program for ‘The Search for a Canada U.S. Climate Change Accord: the Road to Copenhagen and Beyond.’ The delegate package lists scheduled discussions and working sessions on topics ranging from pricing carbon, modernizing Canada’s electrical grid, harmonizing energy policy with the United States, and developing clean energy technology.

According to the draft program, conference attendees included:

– Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach (with his Chief of Staff Ron Glen and media spokesperson Tom Olsen also attended. Read Stelmach’s speech)
– Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner
– Saskatchewan Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff
– Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen
– Quebec Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Minister Line Beauchamp
– Manitoba Minister of Conservation Stanley Struthers
– PEI Minister of Environment, Energy, Forestry Minister Richard Brown
– BC Environment Minister Barry Penner
– Yukon Environment Minister Elaine Taylor
– NWT Environment & Natural Resources Minister Michael Miltenberger
– Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice

– CAPP President Dave Collyer
– Suncor President Rick George
– ATCO President & CEO Nancy Southern
– Nexen President & CEO Marvin Romanow
– Alberta CCS Development Chair Jim Carter
– TransCanada Pipeline President Hal Kvisle
– EPCOR President Don Lowry

– Alberta’s Washington DC Envoy Gary Mar
– former US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins
– University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera
– U of A Chairman Brian Heidecker
– University of Calgary President Harvey Weingarten
– National Chief Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine

None of Canada’s municipal leaders or members of the media were included in the list of attendees.

By organizing a conference of this size, my source pointed out, CSEE is clearly showing that it has more clout than an average academic unit. While it’s positive to see such collaboration happening between government and energy officials, it would be interesting to discover who provided the impetus and funding to hold a conference like this. While its secretive nature is suspicious, I hope that conferences like this one will lead to more action than rhetoric when our representatives travel to Copenhagen in December 2009.

Cindy Ady Indira Samarasekera Kory Mathewson

edmonton universiade 2015: denied.

After putting on the appearance of tough campaigning by the City of Edmonton and Province of Alberta officials, the University of Alberta was denied its opportunity to host the Universiade Games in 2015.

Appearances,‘ included sending a delegation of officials to Europe, including spending +$6,000 to send Tourism Minister Cindy Ady and her Executive Assistant to Belgium before sources close to Edmonton’s bid committee admitted this weekend that they knew their chances were slim (perhaps University President Indira Samerasekra used up her political capital at the Bilderberg Conference earlier this month).

According to University of Alberta Students’ Union President Kory Mathewson, a successful bid could have seen the University invest in kind of infrastructure and capital improvements that it saw when it played host to the 1983 Universiade:

“The (Games) offered the potential to address critical issues facing our university, such as a severe lack of student residences and a general space shortage on campus, so this is a setback for students.”

While the City can’t expect to win every event it bids to host, competing for these types of international events can do a lot to help raise the profile of Edmonton (and help debunk our newfound Albertan image as Northumberland-on-the-Energy-Beach).

Affordable Housing Brian Heidecker Carl Amrhein Indira Samarasekera Sol Rolingher Tuition University of Alberta

live-blogging/freezing against the fees.

7:48am – I’m standing outside University Hall at the University of Alberta with over 500 students who got up early to protest tuition and residence fee increases. It’s freezing cold outside, so it’s really great to see so many people out facing the cold and being active citizens!

8:00am – I’m now sitting in University Hall and there’s a nervous tension in the air. The Board of Governors are sitting, preparing for their meeting while the chants of “access now!” are coming from just outside room.

8:03am – The meeting has begun and I’m thinking this might be painful to live-blog. The Board Chair Brian Heidecker is now talking about agenda items. I think he might rival Premier Ed Stelmach for charisma.

8:06am – Chairman Heidecker is now praising Barack Obama.

8:16am – Not sure who the Governors of Alberta’s largest public post-secondary institution are? Here’s a list:

William Cheung
, Gordon Clanachan, Marc de La Bruyère, Brian Heidecker, John Hoddinott, J.D. Hole, Agnes Hoveland, Linda Hughes, Michael Janz, Don Matthew, Janelle Morin, Jay Nagendran, George Pavlich, Gerard Protti, Sol Rolingher, Oliver Rossier, Indira Samarasekera, Bruce Saville, Don Sieben, Ben Whynot, Dick Wilson

4 women, 17 men. Pretty reflective of the Alberta’s population, student population, etc, etc, etc…

8:21am – President Samarasekera is now talking about India and CANDU nuclear reactors. Here’s an interesting read on that topic (h/t @AB_get_rich).

8:25am – Holy Web 2.0, Batman! Governor Michael Janz is tweeting from the meeting.

8:32am – Provost Carl Amrhein is about to start their presentation to justify this year’s tuition hike. Amrhein takes the time to preemptively call the student position ‘inaccurate‘ before starting his presentation.

8:37am – I’m curious how many people in this room find themselves in this category?

8:44am – University VP Finance Phyllis Clark is presenting the ‘institutional budget risks.’ Just about as exciting as it sounds.

8:49am – GSA President Ben Whynot is schooling the Board Members on the responsibility of Governors towards the institution while starting the presentation from Graduate Students. “Dissatisfaction with current investments” includes funding disparities across departments, hefty differential fees for international students, & lack of access to childcare for graduate students. U of A Graduate students accessing childcare pay an average of +$700 per month (it may be just me, but that sounds like a lot!)

9:02am – Thinking about how difficult it must be for Governors to actually wade through the positions of the administration and the students. How do you tell what is reality and what is positioning and agendas?

9:08amStudents’ Union President Janelle Morin is beginning her presentation. Commenting on students’ role on the board. “My obligation to highlight one area where the University is falling short” “gaps between students school costs and their expected revenue flow” “tuition is poised to pass $5,000 this year

9:15am – Morin: Average accumulated debt for a U of A undergraduate student is $23,000. Over half of undergraduate students graduate with debt.

9:18am – Morin: Average earnings of an Albertan with a Bachelors Degree: Men: $70,000; Women $54,000.

Students’ Union summary: improve access, improve quality.

9:21am – Heidecker has opened the floor to questions and observations from the Administration and the Board members on the three presentations. Having been to this kind of meeting in previous years, I know the kind of gold mine for quotes this can be. Let’s go!

Provost Amrhein – ‘Post-secondary education is a shared responsibility between the Government and the people.’ Shouldn’t the Government be the people?

9:28am – Calling this meeting frustrating would be an understatement. Can someone convince me to run to become the Students’ Union Board of Governors Representative? They’re all wearing nice suits. Maybe I’d be able to get a nice suit too? I don’t think I’d wear a suit. This board needs less ‘suits.’

9:31am – Governor Sol Rolingher:I made the decision to have a child while in University. It happened. I don’t know why.” Rolingher then went on to explain that ‘it is a herculean task to overcome financial deprivation, but it’s part of being on campus and learning.’ (rough quote). Keep in mind that he said this while wearing a very very nice business suit. Doesn’t it make you feel better that this public board is filled with men of the people like Rolingher?

9:43am – Provost Amhrein: The tuition increase covers salaries and benefits.

From Maclean’s:

According to the University of Alberta’s fiscal statements for year ended March 31, 2007, U of A president Indira Samarasekera was paid $591,000 in salary and benefits. Her Number Two, provost Carl Amrhein, earned even more: $599,000.

9:48am4.1% tuition increase passed. 17-3. Barely any debate from the Public Members of the Board. Alumni Representatives Dick Wilson and William Cheung voted for the increase. In 2008, Alumni Rep Ruth Kelly took a stand and voted against the increase.

10:15am – The presentations regarding residence rent increases are done. Good presentations all around. The University is still dealing with massive deferred maintenance costs caused by the cutbacks in the 1990s. Students are facing a 8% increase, giving students a 30%/$1000 increase since 2006 = $220 per month increase since 2006.

10:30am – Governor Michael Janzthe policy of student housing by our provincial government is unfortunate” “concerned that we are pricing students out” “original 6.4% increase in 2006 was supposed to be an emergency deferred maintenance cost. We are facing so much deferred maintenance costs that I’m afraid we’ll continue putting the cost onto students” “I’m concerned that this is contributing to an unsustainable levels of costs that we’re putting on students.

10:32am – The meeting is still going. Call me a cynic, but I’m going to assume that the rent increase will pass with about the same amount of debate and similar vote tally as the tuition vote. Two and a half hours after the meeting began, life calls and I must depart. Thanks for tuning in!