I am responding to Kristen Perry’s commentary about the McGill Petrocultures conference (“Refocusing the conversation,” Commentary, February 23). I admire Ms. Perry’s commitment to a sustainable energy future. Cenovus shares that goal, though we have different ideas about how to get there.
What concerns me is the casual way in which Ms. Perry would silence those whose opinions differ from hers. Universities are supposed to be crucibles of free speech, where diverse ideas can be discussed civilly. To hold a conference on the role of oil and gas in society without hearing from a respected energy company seems counterintuitive. And had protesters shut down the conference, because they didn’t like what they were hearing, it would have set a terrible precedent.
Democracy is built on the notion that everyone has the right to be heard and that the more we understand the opinions of others, the more valuable our own opinions become. Cenovus wants to hear from everybody, including our critics. Instead of demonizing others, we prefer to have a facts-based discussion about the important role that energy of all types plays in our society.
Ms. Perry called my presentation “propaganda.” Had she listened to it, she would have heard an argument supported by documented facts. Rather than dismissing them outright, I urge her to check out those facts to gain a broader perspective on an issue that is far from black and white. Her voice matters, but it’s incumbent upon her to do the work necessary to have an informed opinion.
Nobody is saying it’s business as usual in the energy sector. My colleagues are dedicated to making our industry as sustainable as possible, through innovation. We’ve made great strides, and by working together I believe we can overcome the challenges we still face.