Greta Thunberg's visit to Alberta was no ordinary celebrity drop-in - 2019-10-18
Before Greta Thunberg rode an electric car into Alberta, many celebrity activists before her had arrived to demand climate action: Leonardo DiCaprio, Neil Young, Jane Fonda and others. There's a significant difference that has nothing do with the age of the Swedish teen, or that, unlike many an entertainment figure leveraging fame for a virtuous cause, the climate fight is Thunberg's calling card.
What's new this time—and detractors like Premier Jason Kenney et al should take note—is that Thunberg isn't putting on a solo show for the cameras. She led a crowd. An estimated 4,000 at a youth- and Indigenous-led rally in downtown Edmonton. And this was the second climate protest of this scale in the city in as many months. The actors' and musicians' method was to draw attention to oil sands. Thunberg draws attention differently, declaring that she's far from alone in raising the alarm about an overheated planet—and that's the case even in Canada's petro-province.
To be sure, Alberta is still Alberta, and the province writ large isn't on Team Greta. It's where you're most likely to pass by someone clad in an "I (heart) oil and gas" T-shirt. Polls have consistently shown Albertans are among the Canadians least likely to worry about a climate emergency—yet the regional difference of attitude isn't nearly as significant as a probable Conservative sweep of the province might imply. While 26 per cent of Canadians say climate change is the most important election issue, climate also outranks any other issue in Alberta: it's the top concern for 20 per cent of residents, an Angus Reid Institute survey suggests. That's one-fifth, in a province of 4.3 million people.