(Used to) Rely on IS Electric for ...
Were I able to be installing renewable energy systems I would likely still be doing electrical work. Unfortunately the reality in Canada today is that fossil fuels dominate the political agenda. Programs like the federal Eco-Energy Upgrade program, which was a wonderful business generator, get cut while governments expend both political and monetary capital in support of Oil Sands expansion, pipelines and natural gas (LNG) fracking.
Of course there was still plenty of electrical work, at least in the Lower Mainland area where I operated. The problem is that our current trajectory, driven by international investment in the Oil Sands and fracking, would commit our next two or three generations to increasing fossil fuel extraction and export as the basis of their economy, to the detriment of progress.
The social, economic and environmental impacts associated with that fossil fueled path over this century are simply unacceptable. I have taken action on these issues for years; writing letters to media and politicians, supporting petitions, making donations, etc. In 2012 I began actively volunteering in my off-work time. In 2013 I stopped doing electrical work to volunteer and work full time in community organizing. Now in 2014 I am taking the rather breath-taking (to me) step of actually declaring that I will no longer do electrical work and will continue working in favour of progress in Canada instead.
My vision is of a Canada with diverse, resilient, localized energy systems and economy where, for example, production in the Oil Sands will be done as though the Oil Sands were a savings account and not a (black) gold-rush. Where domestic needs will be met before exports (currently we're having trouble moving wheat because of capacity taken by oil-by-rail, some of that oil-by-rail to the West Coast going to the domestic refinery in Burnaby which is no longer able to meet its needs via the existing pipeline because of the pipeline increasingly being used for export, while Eastern Canada imports its oil from other countries).
With a slower pace our carbon budget could be spread out. Care could be taken to control emissions and waste and do reclamation so that local communities in resource extraction areas might find that activity an economic boon rather than a source of contamination, cancer and extinguishment of their way of life. In short; responsible resource development, coupled with policy support to position Canada to lead the world in 21st century technology and expertise.
It is a vision of Canada with a strong economy and healthy communities. Unfortunately a vision that our current governments are rushing head-long away from as they race to sell raw resources as fast as possible while dismantling anything that stands in the way (such as science) without regard for the consequences.
We can fix this, but it won't be easy.