Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, with her arch pipeline foe sitting just a few feet away in the front row, compared Trans Mountain protesters Saturday to dewy-eyed unicorn jockeys from Salt Spring Island, B.C.

"I would say to those who oppose our fight to build this pipeline, that they are being extremely foolish," Notley said in a speech to a teachers convention.

Rachel Notley: "Maybe on Salt Spring Island you can build an economy on condos and coffee shops, but not in Edmonton and not anywhere in Alberta." #cdnpoli #bcpoli

"Maybe on Salt Spring Island you can build an economy on condos and coffee shops, but not in Edmonton and not anywhere in Alberta.

"Here in Alberta, we ride horses — not unicorns — and I invite pipeline opponents to saddle up on something that is real."

Notley was rebutting a scheduled speech made earlier in the day to the Alberta Teachers' Association by environmental activist Tzeporah Berman, who listened intently to Notley's speech and applauded at the end.

Environmental activist Tzeporah Berman addresses the Alberta Teachers' Association in Edmonton on Oct. 13, 2018. Video posted by Stand.earth

Berman, who is also an academic and policy adviser, has come to symbolize the divisive debate in Alberta over how to balance environmental stewardship with its resource-dependent economy.

She is a former adviser to the province on oilsands policy under Notley, but has become a political lightning rod for her comments denouncing the Trans Mountain line expansion, which would take more oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast.

In her speech, Berman said striking a balance is already complex but has been made worse by public discourse suffused with hate and polarized ideologies on both sides.

She said the time is now to act on climate change as temperatures rise and the world faces the displacement of millions due to resultant droughts, floods, weather disasters and food shortages.

"No one is saying shut down the oil and gas industry overnight," said Berman.

"What we're saying is 'Right now it's big enough.'

"And we're at a moment in history where we need to look at cleaning it up and we're at a moment in history when we need to look at how to diversify our economy to make sure that we have resilient and safe jobs in the future."

Notley, meanwhile, said a realistic approach is needed for the environment, and that trying to stop the Trans Mountain expansion hurts families, workers and the economy, and will stifle progress to fight climate change in the long run.

The opposition United Conservatives and their leader, Jason Kenney, have said Notley's decision to bring Berman on board in 2016 to help guide oilsands policy despite her previous criticism of the industry reflects bad judgment.

Notley has denied that Berman, who left the advisory group in 2017, has become a political millstone around the neck of her NDP government, but has worked to distance her administration from Berman.

Berman said the vitriol has been difficult and that she has faced death threats.

"The attacks on my character have been meant to drown out what I'm saying, to foment fear and anger in Alberta that paralyzes us from progress. That's not leadership," said Berman.

"The hate is so thick that there can be no meaningful conversation about the future of energy policy."

Kenney, in a social media post, said the only thing Notley should be doing with Berman, whom he termed an "anti-energy zealot," is apologizing for hiring her in the first place.

"You gave Tzeporah Berman the credibility, the platform, the position, the profile of the government of Alberta. You never should have done it and it's time you just fessed up," said Kenney.

Kenney says his party will have an environmental platform ready for the 2019 spring election but will rescind Notley's carbon tax immediately if they become government.

Kenney has said he favours a charge on heavy emitters with funds going to technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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"Notley, meanwhile, said a realistic approach is needed for the environment, and that trying to stop the Trans Mountain expansion hurts families, workers and the economy, and will stifle progress to fight climate change in the long run." We have been informed this week (UN Climate Change Report) that "the long run" means getting our emission down 50% by 2030. How Alberta and Notley think that is going to happen is a complete and utter mystery to the rest of us, who think otherwise. Pumping more oil for the world to burn cannot help!

What's the point of a "good" economy, if the environment sucks, and we cannot enjoy either our wealth and our environment?

Jason Kenney is the real unicorn jockey. Please ask him, National Observer, to identify the technology that is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently in the next 12 years, to reverse the disastrous path we are on. It doesn’t exist, no matter how much he’d like to weave fanciful stories, and pretend he knows more about climate science than scientists. His only skill is in deceptive and dishonest oratory, a skill he polished in the “quite frankly” government of Stephen Harper—the Stephen Harper who has been busy on US tv claiming that “academics” are the world’s biggest threat. Never trust politicians who want us to despise the educated or the experts. Recipe for tyranny.

Notley is not looking much better than Kenney, which is really saying something. Thanks Tzeporah for your courage and honesty, in the face of attacks by the recklessly self-interested, who care nothing for our environment nor for children.

I love this comment.

So right! Thank God Tzeporah had the courage and integrity to bring some sanity to this frightening issue, while we worry continuously about our planet, and the younger generation!

There's nothing extreme about Tzeporah Berman's position. "No one is saying shut down the oil and gas industry overnight. What we're saying is 'Right now it's big enough.'" Contrast that to yammering about unicorns, or claiming its a "terrible mistake" to allow employees to have opinions that differ from your own. Why are Alberta politicians losing their minds over one pipeline?

Notley has sold her soul to the oil patch for the sake of winning an election which she won't win. Kenney is a dinosaur mired down in a tar pit. Two examples of why we are losing the war on climate change.

Premier Notley's and Jason Kenney's inflammatory comments contrasting with Ms. Berman's reasonable stance show us who is appealing to rational decision making and who is not.

Does anyone know why Notley singled out Salt Spring Island? I know a disproportionate number of us have been arrested for blocking the Trans Mountain pipeline gate, but that doesn't seem to be what she was trying to get at.

East of the Rockeys the Methane Gas is affecting People Wiebo Ludwig was Right

So the latest IPCC report means nothing to Jason Kenney and Rachel Notley. They choose to ignore it. They are both young enough to reap the consequences of their attitudes and their grandchildren will curse them.

Re: “Notley, meanwhile, said a realistic approach is needed for the environment, and that trying to stop the Trans Mountain expansion hurts families, workers and the economy, and will stifle progress to fight climate change in the long run.”
This makes no sense. Not expanding the mining of bitumen does not hurt anyone, and it does not hurt the economy.

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