Looks like the Alberta oilsands have an ally in Canadian Governor General David Johnston ... as do all of us concerned with increasing Canadian productivity through research, development and innovation.

In remarks following a speech to the Canada Foundation for Innovation on Monday (Edmonton Journal, Tuesday, November 29, 2011, "Take oilsands to next level, GG urges")  the new governor general - an academic with vast industry experience - showed a great deal of common sense and insight about the role of the oilsands, its ongoing economic potential and the need for honest but positive reporting on the oilsands' environmental impact. 

Calling the oilsands a "great Canadian development," the governor general went on to suggest that moving beyond bitumen to "higher developed products" would be of great benefit to the country by combining Canada's "two economies" of commodities mining and the creation of high-value good and services in the oilsands sector.

He bolstered his argument with some past experience,. Because theCanadian forestry industry did not focus on improving itself through innovation, the industry is now "on its knees," he pointed out. While he was on the board of the Pulp and Paper Institute of Canada, "our focus (was) on running pulp mills faster and making newsprint whiter with bleach. The industry was spending less than one per cent of its GDP on research and development, so we lost the edge that we had in our forestry industry and we lost the engineering."