I know that by now nothing should surprise me about what our federal government does, but their inability to see the forest for the trees never ceases to amaze me. As I listened to the Honorable Joe Oliver, Minister Of Natural Resources give his little speech today I realised that other than American patriotism the Harper government has no stand of its own. In a group of sympathetic people our minister of Natural Resources tried to trash talk and belittle the Hollywood stars that got arrested trying to protest peacefully on Parliament Hill against what they saw as the danger to the environment and to Canadian lives with the pipeline proposed from the Alberta tar sands to Texas. Joe Oliver hinted again that the people of Canada and the USA are ignorant to what is good for them and that they are being led astray by the opponents of further developing the tar sands and are being misinformed by the people who are saying that the environmental cost of these types of projects are too high to allow these type of projects like the Keystone Pipeline to continue.
When Joe was not bad talking movie stars for lending their support to the rest of the concerned Canadians, he was singing the praises of the oil sands management and the oil and gas industry. We seen what happened in the USA with Halliburton and is still going on every time oil and gas industry gets its fat foot in the door of a community. Will the minister only open his eyes when he sees water being set on fire as it pours from Canadian faucets. It would seem from his speech that Canada can not opt to leave the oil where it is. That somehow Canada has an obligation to the United States and it would seem the rest of the world to get the oil and gas out of the tar sands at all costs and become the friendly alternative for the USA for their oil and gas consumption needs. His repeated referrals to how much money there was to be made and how his government was going to develop the tar sands whether or not Canadians were for it really started to get on my nerves.
I have visited the Alberta tar sands and I must say that from what you are allowed to see that I was very impressed with the way they have stuck to their 100% restoration of mined land, but that does not mean that this is good for the land the animals that get displaced. What I really get peeved about is the lack of choice that we as Canadians are given when it comes to the making of decisions. The way the ministers of this Harper government talk at Canadians and not to them it is clear from the most trivial of portfolios to the highest of profile they all seem to be advising us with a grin that since they have a majority government that they can do whatever they like and we as tax payers and citizens have no choice but to watch for the next four years.
Well when I visited the site and that was some years ago when I was working on the road for a moving company there was always the threat of fire and to that end there were always police and security around to make sure that no one did anything stupid like try to extinguish a cigarette on the ground. Later when listening to the Halliburton story I understood the dilemma. I also have seen what it looks like to have oil and gas rigs pumping away in fields and seeing the glow of the fires used to burn away the excess into the atmosphere on our prairies. From a distance and if it is your first trip through you wonder what the light is off in the distance until you get up close and you see the stack with the flames shooting out. Those big rigs pumping out the oil looking like giant preying mantises dotting fields tells a story, but you do not have to go that far to see , or feel the effects of environmental damage done by oil and gas refineries. In Montreal all you have to do is live on the far eastern part of the island.
Montreal East is home to Montreal’s refineries and the people of the area have felt the direct effects of what I call refinery fallout. Cars , houses being damaged when the chemical waste being spewed into the air falls back down to earth covering houses and cars. Oh the companies are good about sending out their reps to offer to pay for damages and the silence of the locals, but could you imagine living like that. Raising your children under those circumstances. I have seen this for myself as a young man visiting a friend at his mother’s house in an area on the eastern tip of the island. It is impossible to say what the health issues were for these people because at the time when this was happening to them the government did not know or chose not to disclose environmental or health impact studies on these types of things. We do know now the damage that is done in terms of acid rain and people getting cancer from exposure to these by-product chemicals, so let us say at the very least most of these people were impacted in some way from the fall out.
For me what is the biggest problem at all for projects involving these types of dangers and that is the ability for the average Canadian to make a well-informed intelligent choice based on the open, honest advice of a transparent government of Canada either at a federal level, or a provincial level and I say this is impossible, because governments in Canada are becoming less and less honest and feel no need to as they put it burden Canadians with a lot of technical information that they will not understand anyway. In the end what you end up with is a choice between creating jobs and making lots of money, or the opposed side seeing nothing good in the deal, concern for the environment and people’s health and nothing about how it might be possible to do both. There is never a middle ground and I wish sometimes that there was. Then I realize that the government is that the government was right no average person could read or understand all of the technical data in one report in time to make and informed decision on say the new proposed pipeline and that is why we as Canadians find ourselves having to put our faith in the government of the day to tell us the truth.
Given the two choices though and assuming that both sides have exaggerated their sides facts, I still will go with the environmentalists based on what I see and know of the oil and gas industries performances in the past and how the government lies to cover up it wrong doings in just about everything from big issues to small.
In closing I would like to say this to those who believe like the Harper led Conservative Party Of Canada that fixing the economy is the answer to all of Canada’s problems and should be tackled first at the cost of all other problems in Canada, How can you negotiate a deal for Canada for the fair price of our natural resources with the USA when you feel that they are too important to deny those resources too at any price? We enter negotiations saying we are obligated to sell th the USA, or that we need the USA and that not selling to them would be a mistake. We must bend to the USA and await its approval from the USA to see if the way we get our oil meets with their approval? Who are you trying to kid the USA would buy the oil if we robbed it out of babies bottles. We as Canadians owe the USA nothing they have raped this country for years. spit in our faces and broken every trade deal they ever made with this country. I wonder who will be in control of the on and off switch to the Keystone Pipeline. Remember when it was said during the soft wood lumber pay off to which Harper gave the USA $5 billion dollars with a promise to then president George W. bush to deliver to the USA 70% of Canada’s oil and gas? Harper said it was all not true and he had made the best deal for Canada in a realistic way. Well I say he was a liar to deny the deal and this is the proof.
- Oliver: Protests will have little effect on pipeline plan (ctv.ca)
- Keystone XL pipeline protest stirs in Canada | Martin Lukacs (guardian.co.uk)
- Mining approval process can be improved: Oliver (business.financialpost.com)
- Anti-Oil Sands Protesters Target Ottawa September 26 (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)