EDMONTON — Hollywood director James Cameron has arrived at the Alberta legislature and is currently talking with Premier Ed Stelmach on issues surrounding the oilsands operations in northern Alberta.
Cameron, who arrived just before 10:30 a.m. in an SUV, made a few brief comments to reporters on the way into the building. It had been reported that Cameron had agreed to help First Nation communities in the Fort Chipewyan area with legal action against the government, but the director backed away from that position.
“No I never said that. What I said was that I was there to support whatever needed to be done. If they choose to take legal action that’s their right, and I didn’t encourage them one way or the other.”
Cameron, wearing a suit and bright blue tie, also said he met with leading water expert David Schindler early Wednesday.
“He made time for me and I was grateful for that,” Cameron said. “This is all just part of meeting the right people and he’s done a lot of important research in the area of the contamination of the watershed and the atmosphere and his science has been peer-reviewed and published and I think it stands up to scrutiny.
“I think he has come out against some of the practices of RAMP and with good reason.”
RAMP, the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program, is the joint government-industry initiative that has been set up to monitor water quality in the oilsands region. Schindler released a study earlier this month that took issue with the program’s results
“I think the fact that everybody has stepped forward so graciously to give me some time and give me the benefit of their experience has been remarkable,” Cameron said. “Everybody has got a story to tell. The thing is all these realities are considerably different.”
Schindler said he discussed his research with Cameron but he declined to elaborate.
Cameron then signed in at the legislature security desk, received a visitor tag, and was led upstairs to the premier’s office. He got off the elevator and proceeded into the office without another word. In tow was Jerry Bellikka, one of Stelmach’s spokesmen.
After the meeting with Stelmach, Cameron will hold a news conference at 12:30 to talk about his three-day visit to Alberta. Stelmach will hold his own news conference this afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
Earlier Wednesday morning, Cameron had breakfast with Alberta NDP environment critic Rachel Notley. Notley feels that the director’s highly publicized visit is a chance for scrutiny about the pace of development of the oilsands, its oversight and standards, and cumulative impact.
“Mr. Cameron’s opinion stands to increase pressure on government to do a better job,” said Notley in a news release.
The director, famous for movies such as Avatar and Titanic, had a busy Tuesday. Cameron took a morning tour of the Syncrude facility north of Fort McMurray, stopping at a reclaimed slough. Following his visit at Syncrude, Cameron had an aerial tour of Suncor’s oilsands facility, and stopped to investigate an in situ operation near Christina Lake. Later in the day, he also met with Fort Chipewyan community leaders and residents.
The small town of 1,200 has been complaining for years about unusual rates of cancer and other illnesses among residents. The majority believe the disease is caused by air and water pollution from oilsands development, which they say also contaminates the wild foods they eat.
Cameron has been an outspoken critic of the oilsands, calling the industry a black eye on Canada’s environmental record earlier this year.© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
Hollywood director James Cameron to meet with Alberta premierIn Canada on September 29, 2010 at 14:06