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My life as the son of an Alberta oil man

Posted 14, 2014 by Common Sense in Economics

Alex (right) and (left) riding dirt (Photo: Matt Sutton’s

by Matt Sutton

In November, I drove to Lacombe, Alberta, to my Dad and his family, accompanied by my best Alex – a chemical engineer at Imperial Oil, responsible for research on how to clean up tailing

Both Alex and myself been shaped by this dollar industry, Alex in it and me having grown up in a household supported by it.

I was aware of northern and Fort McMurray before I what the oil and gas industry was.

‘Vivuki’ is an …

After a day of biking on my father’s acreage, we sat for dinner and within minutes about the oil sands, Neil and David Suzuki  joined us at the

“David ‘Vivuki’ is an …,” the eight-year-old at the table.

“It’s sweetie,” corrected her Mother, that’s right, he’s an

At the time it was hilarious hearing her attempts at saying the name but as I look back now the meaning of dinner table discussion me.

Growing up in an oil and gas family, I have experience of the benefits the industry My Dad always had a job, and subsequently, I had new toys and my family always had a for dinner.

But for me – and I suspect many like me – it has created a lot of confusion about how we respond to the debate over an that has clothed us, but is also in many other ways.

economic promise

My Dad left his in England at 18 and joined the British He spent the following decade England’s tanks internationally. at some point, he met my Mom, had me and my left the army and settled in Alberta.

Being a heavy-duty he began work with a company and moved up the ladder of the oil and gas Today, he is a maintenance manager for a tubing company which drilling internationally.

As a kid, I understand the ins and outs of what my Dad nor did I really care – similar to the way eight-year-old daughter doesn’t who David Suzuki is – she only what she hears.

I knew my Dad on drilling rigs up north and meant he was gone all the time. I him being in a place described to me as ‘up or sometimes it was ‘Fort Mac’.

I was of northern Alberta and Fort before I knew what the oil and gas was.

Trading family time for

But my Dad missed a lot – hockey games, contests, birthdays and school – and the reasoning for it was always, “Your Dad has to

A oil sands operation in Fort Alberta (Photo: Chris

Looking back now, I wish he could have there, but without that I never could have hockey, I never would had skateboards and I would not have Gameboys, CD players, or new skates for my

Now that I am older and attempting to my place in the world, having more aware of the public surrounding the oil and gas industry, I face a deal of confusion.

On one side, I am shown the horrific damage to the caused by these companies oil from the ground, the ecosystems have destroyed and the way they are the future of our planet.

On the other I see an industry responsible for my Dad always work and for my life’s privileges.

opposing the oil and gas industry’s actions me ungrateful?

Does agreeing the oil and gas industry’s actions make me

I am constantly unsure. In Alberta, it like I’m not supposed to question going on. I’m supposed to be appreciative of the it makes my life and my cities better.

Same old corporate oil answers

At points, I have asked my Dad about the oil sands, what he and what it all means to him, but it seems to be the same corporate oil

We need oil, there’s not much you can in a day that doesn’t come oil.

How come there’s a big Alberta but nobody cares drilling in Saudi Arabia? Is it because it’s not in Canada?

there’s pollution but nowhere as much as they’re emitting in

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These are just some of the I’ve received from my Dad in the and although these things are and I appreciate the conversations we have, do not provide answers. They are all that simply divert my away from the topic I brought up.

Matt Sutton Jon Peters)

Most of the time I like I will never truth.  Most who provide an on the situation seem to be making off of it one way or another, and that makes it to discover the truth.

Both overreaching

Every time I into the left side of the I find the same frustrations as I on the right. Everything seems out of proportion with both

For example, Neil Young’s jet and tour buses are enormous of the same fuel his lyrics against.  I don’t blame him – if I had the money I’d probably have a jet too, and I’m not saying that I the message of his songs are wrong. My is I don’t know how I’m supposed to his conviction when his actions do not with his words.

The same kind of things can be about David Suzuki, spokesman against the oil sands.  writes frequently against the oil describing them as ‘scary’ and the suits behind the oil companies to the ‘bogeyman’ his children used to ask him Suzuki then says, “or there’s something more to consider.  Perhaps the bogeyman is us – the that places short-term value of the tar sands above the value of our environment and our earth.”

To be I don’t very much Mr. Suzuki saying that I, or any hard working citizen is any of bogeyman who values money the environment.  Especially when is not something he has to worry about.

If frustrated because another is making me feel bad for appreciating the generated from the oil sands enough, I found it even to listen to David Suzuki’s after hearing the accusations he made up some information in an piece saying cyclones an environmental threat to the great reef.  When asked this claim, Suzuki’s was “that one, I have to was suggested to me by an Australian and it may be true it might be a mistake, I don’t Is it just me, or does saying an idea was suggested to him by an Australian it any less frightening that he it in his article without double first?

The trial of David Suzuki The Royal Ontario Museum)

If Suzuki had such an easy putting false information an article about climate in Australia, how do I know he’s not the same thing here?  is why I have a hard time either side of the oil sands

It is examples  such as these frustrate me about the environmental of the argument. They take out of context or exaggerate them reason to belittle the oil industry, the way that the oil industry will issues to make them better in the public eye.  It is frustrating on both sides and me feel like neither are honest.

That said, it is not the battle between the oil and gas industry and that exists this way – every conversation has two different from each side aren’t necessarily honest, and why I got into journalism in the first to discover the truth.

I believe the is balanced somewhere between the the oil sands to Hiroshima  and the oil calling their reclaimed ‘lush’.

My job now, and everybody’s job for that is to listen. Listen to everything and try understand that although comments may be exaggerated and both may be wrong sometimes, if everybody to each other then is hope for a truth.  A truth I will be willing to accept both sides.

It is important now than ever to pay attention to is going on and listen to everything said about the oil sands of what you believe and regardless of side the information is coming because neither side the full truth.

It is going to a lot of time, patience and cooperation but I do the truth is out there to be found.

Sutton is studying journalism at Royal University in Calgary, AB.  


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