Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997
Christ Church Cathedral414 Sparks St.

Oil, Gas and Water with Marq de Villiers, Louis Helbig and Andrew Nikiforuk

Hosted by Neil Wilson

Oil, Gas and Water with Marq de Villiers, Louis Helbig and Andrew Nikiforuk

Hosted by Neil Wilson
Christ Church Cathedral
414 Sparks St.
Andrew Nikiforuk - Photo by John MacDonald
Louis Helbig
Marq de Villiers

Canada has been blessed with a huge quantity of three fundamental resources: oil, natural gas and water. We know that clean water is essential to our survival and that oil and natural gas fuel our economy and our way of life, but the question remains: Can we successfully manage and protect all three? Are there ways to safely extract our oil and gas and also protect our water? Must we mortgage our future to prosper today?

Join us for an essential overview of our most important natural resources, our economy and our very future.

In Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water, Marq de Villiers takes on some of the biggest questions of the century: Who owns water? Is access to water a human right? Who is responsible for keeping water clean and ensuring it gets to the people who need it most? Is privatization of ownership and supply networks an evil or an extension of the public trust? Fifteen years after the publication of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource, his influential Governor General’s Award-winning book on the water crisis, de Villiers returns with a clear-eyed assessment of the politics of water—from the personal and commercial uses of water to the impact of climate change and global conflicts.

Beautiful Destruction by aerial art photographer Louis Helbig presents over 230 stunning, full-colour photographs that transcend the polarities that dominate public discourse of the largest industrial project in North America: the Alberta oil/tar sands. They are a kaleidoscope of contrasts, colours and patterns keeping time with the seemingly unstoppable movement of machinery, smoke and effluent set in an immense boreal landscape with its own immutable patterns, cadence and cycles. These images create space for viewers to reflect, imagine and think for themselves

From Andrew Nikiforuk , the award-winning author of Tar Sands, comes Slick Water: Fracking and One Insider’s Stand Against the World’s Most Powerful Industry. When Jessica Ernst’s well water turned into a flammable broth that even her dogs refused to drink, the biologist and long-time oil patch consultant discovered that energy giant Encana had secretly fracked hundreds of gas wells around her home, piercing her community’s drinking water aquifer. Since then, her ongoing lawsuit against Encana, Alberta Environment, and the Energy Resources Conservation Board has made her a folk hero in many places worldwide where fracking is under way. In this powerful work of investigative journalism, Andrew Nikiforuk interweaves Ernst’s story with the science of fracking and stories of human and environmental repercussions left in its wake. Slick Water raises dramatic questions about the role of Big Oil in government, society’s obsession with rapidly depleting supplies of unconventional oil and gas, and the future of civil society.


This event is organized in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts to mark the 2015 edition of the Governor General’s Literary Awards.

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