How Nancy Pelosi Sets an Example

Several days have passed since Nancy Pelosi wrapped up her Canadian visit, so this post may come a little late (I blame TIFF), but there are important lessons to be gleaned from the visit for environmentalists and change managers.

The topic of global oil and the development of the Alberta oil sands is a contentious issue at best, but no matter which side of the table you sit on, I think we can agree on two basic facts. First, in its current form, the development of the oil sands results in a negative environmental impact on the local ecosystem. Second, the oil sands hold profound implications on the current and future economic prospects for both Alberta and the rest of Canada.

Photo credit: US National Archives

Hmm, decisions, decisions…

Enter Nancy Pelosi, stage left. On her whirlwind tour, she attended a meeting with Jim Prentice and the Premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec, as well as meetings with the major energy industry leaders (economy…check). She also met with key environmental organizations that included the Pembina Institute, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence and Climate Action Network Canada (environment…check) and sat down with local First Nations leaders (society…check).

Triple bottom line! It’s like oil sands Bingo.

It was made clear from the get-go that she intended to give everyone a fair shake at providing their version of the facts without having the conflicting parties present. The result was that every side came away claiming a ‘victory’, satisfied with the meeting and raving about Pelosi’s willingness to hear them out.

It would be nice to think that during these meetings, Pelosi had offered some kind of groundbreaking insight that highlighted common ground for all sides, thus providing an acceptable compromise for everyone to move forward.

It would also be nice to think of unicorns high-fiving a Sasquatch poolside in the Alberta mountains, while Elvis goes on a beer run.

The important thing here is that the meetings allowed each group to be independently heard, pulling the argument back from being somewhat of a shouting match, like on the average school yard or session in the House of Commons. As an active listener, Pelosi would have been forced to at least acknowledge each group’s main points, which is vital for reinforcing her credibility as someone who could play a part in building collaboration, despite her being a bona fide environmentalist.

It would be wonderful to see a Canadian step up and lead the way in this regard, but sometimes it takes a seemingly less biased outsider to break through the animosity between the stakeholder camps. Also, a figure like Nancy Pelosi might be just what we need, as Canada’s economic and environmental future will be closely tied with that of our neighbours to the south, whether we like it or not.

Of course, this picture is what we can piece together from very general statements made to the press, which is about as comprehensive as peering through windows and rifling through recycling bins. We have no idea what Nancy Pelosi actually said to each of these parties to make them feel so encouraged about their respective meetings and she wisely has not made any direct statements concerning her opinions about the oil sands. This has served her well in this scenario, but trying to be everything to everyone will not. At least for now, everyone is feeling positive and excited for the future and that is the best we can ask for when trying to set the stage for compromise and collaboration.

Join the Sustainability Movement - Donate to the Sustainability Learning Centre's Student Scholarship Program

About Daniel Caunter

Who is Daniel Caunter? Daniel is a series of contrasts – Environmentalist MBA, anglo Montrealer, landlocked surfer, serious about fun, and creatively practical. He has lofty ideals, but is focused on finding veritable solutions that will work in reality. He is a work in progress, building a career in environmental business with a focus on stakeholder engagement, project management and corporate communications. Daniel can be reached via Twitter (@danielcaunter), or by commenting here on this site. If you’d like a real-time update on this work in progress, he may even be persuaded to come out for a pint or a cuppa. (Please note: the views expressed in Daniel’s posts are his personally - though sometimes satirical - and are not necessarily those of his employer or other don’t be silly.)
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How Nancy Pelosi Sets an Example

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How Nancy Pelosi Sets an Example | Sustainability Learning Centre Blog --

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>