Post-conversation with Ray Boughen, MP for Palliser

the regina mom received a call from her Member of Parliament, Ray Boughen, this afternoon.  He said it was in response to her call about two University of Regina international students facing deportation but she had not, in fact, called.  She had emailed but didn’t press that fact with him.  In hindsight she suspects he must be feeling some heat over the issue since it hit the front page of the local daily.  When asked about his silence over it he said it is not his place to speak to that issue, that the Speaker, MP for Regina Qu’Appelle, Andrew Scheer, has spoken to it. He said he waits for his turn to speak and will be speaking on Aboriginal issues next week.

That led to a conversation about democratic process, the lack of political will for democratic process, followed by a tirade on trm‘s part.  She began with the lack of a national childcare strategy, filled the middle with the lack of support for single parent women and increased poverty in Canada and ended with a few stats on the increased numbers of people using food banks. That’s about when he accused trm of being a partisan and she defended herself claiming her feminist activism of more than 25 years and her being a mother of two young adults as the basis for her statements.  But still, he tried to dismiss her concerns as being partisan ones. trm suggested that he should read her blog.

When he attempted to blame the SK NDP government for the social problems she had mentioned, trm really let loose, informing him that yes, from time-to-time she has supported the NDP but did not support Roy and the boyz and their debt and deficit-cutting measures.  She also reminded him that she is a writer and as such, a researcher, one who bases her words on what she reads in books and on fact-based evidence.  His response was that we’re using different facts in our discussion.

So she switched her tune to the China-Canada FIPA and compared it to the FTA with the USA, mentioning how the former locks us in for 31 years and the latter allows us to give 6 months notice if we choose to break the agreement.

By that time he was really bumbling and went back to the earlier piece about democracy so trm mentioned Motion 312 about which he seemed to have no clue, suggesting it was a Bill, obviously not hearing what trm was saying. She reminded him that it was a Motion put forward by MP Stephen Woodworth as an attempt to reopen the abortion debate and noted that he supported it in spite of what his colleague, MP Gordon O’Connor, had said. He couldn’t recall what O’Connor had said so trm suggested he look it up on YouTube.  He said he didn’t have time so perhaps trm could tell him.  She did. Then he proceeded to parrot Woodsworth, saying that it wasn’t about reopening the abortion debate, blah-blah-blah. trm laughed and reminded him that he really needed to read her blog.

Seeing that she was on a bit of a role, trm then brought up the other F-word, fascism. She noted that even the right-wing Liberal, Michael Ignatieff, is using that word these days. He bumbled some more and wouldn’t listen, kept interrupting her and soon thereafter she told him this conversation was a waste of her time and his and hung up. As she pulled the receiver from her ear she could hear him saying another call was coming in and he had to go. A likely story. There were no phones ringing off the hook in the background; he said that to save face.

Though there’s much more that went on in the conversation, trm knows without a doubt that she has a useless excuse for a representative in Ottawa and maintains her adoption of MP for Churchill, Niki Ashton, as her MP.

Together, we make a difference

Thank you, dear Readers, for the rapid response to yesterday’s call. Aaron Wherry’s coverage of the excellent elocutions by NDP Member of Parliament, Charlie Angus, in the House of Commons regarding the Snoop and Spy Bill C-30, suggests we’ve made a difference. Here’s Charlie.

 

And after Charlie’s lambasting of the Minister here’s what went down according to Wherry,

 

The Public Safety Minister turned to his script, finishing with a concession of sorts. “We will send this legislation directly to committee,” he said, “for a full and wide-ranging examination of the best way to do what is right for our children.”

 

It didn’t end there.  The 3rd-party Liberals rose in the House, first Bob Rae and then Ralph Goodale and they rammed it home.

 

Standing next, Bob Rae pressed the advantage. “Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the people who come forward with amendments will not be called Adolf Hitler,” he scolded from the far end of the room, “will not be called terrorists and will not be called friends of pedophilia by the minister when they come forward with reasoned amendments.”

 

Then Ralph Goodale stood to make clear the extent of the retreat. “The Prime Minister implied a few moments ago that he will entertain amendments to Bill C-30,” he lectured. “Do we have his guarantee that amendments will in fact be welcomed in the parliamentary committee?”

 

The Minister assured the House that amendments to C-30 would be entertained. Unable to let it go and, quite possibly to ram it home for Quebeckers,

 

…the NDP’s Francoise Boivin stood across the aisle from Mr. Toews and pronounced shame on the minister and the legislation. 

 

trm must say, Thank you, Parliamentarians, friends and colleagues.  Together we make a difference!

This is my SOS to the world

A tiny community called out to world.  And the world answered.  Foreign aid arrived in Canada courtesy environmental organizations which, if you’ll remember, dear Reader, are “radical groups” with “radical agendas” trying to “derail” the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. Our radical agenda, backed by independent science, demands acknowledgement that the continued expansion of the tarsands is killing the environment, people, creatures.  Our audacity to challenge the continued expansion to the tarsands, including the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.  It’s likely the HarperCon governments’ condemnation of the earth-based movement was a way of side-railing or discrediting the documentary, Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands.  The documentary is billed as

a two-hour visual tour de force, taking viewers inside the David and Goliath struggle playing out within one of the most compelling environmental issues of our time.  

In an oil-scarce world, we know there are sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of energy.  What no one expected was that a tiny Native community downriver from Canada’s oil sands would reach out to the world, and be heard.

Tipping Point follows the people of Fort Chipewyan as they take their case to the world.  They live downstream from the tarsands.  And they are dying.  The world heard their plea.  Science spoke.  The world heard the science.  And acted. The HarperCon government silenced its own scientists, defended climate change denial science, gutted environmental programs and greenbaited those who, like the regina mom, stand up to this abuse of power. And now the government proposes to silence citizens.

On Valentine’s Day, 2012, the HarperCon Government introduced An Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts aka the Spy Bill in the House of Commons. Their framing of Bill C-30 draws on G. W. Bush-era “with us or against us” politics, saying that Canadians have a choice to either “stand with us or with the child pornographers.

 

NDP Opposition Critic, Charlie Angus, does not like it, says it is “an unprecedented bill that undermines the privacy rights of Canadians” and that it will turn a cell phone into an “electronic prisoners’ bracelet.” Watch this extended coverage of the NDP’s response to Bill C-30.

The citizen group Open Media doesn’t like it, either.

The government has just tabled an online spying plan that will allow authorities to access the private information of any Canadian at any time, without a warrant.If they are successful your personal information could be caught up in a digital dragnet and entered into a giant unsecure registry of private data.

By forcing digital service providers to install costly online surveillance infrastructure, this scheme will create red tape for online innovators and businesses. It takes Canada in the wrong direction—a dangerous move when families are already falling behind during unstable economic times.

This warrantless online spying plan will invade your privacy and cost you money. If we care about privacy, the open Internet, our economy and our basic democratic rights, it’s time to tell Ottawa to stop this irresponsible plan NOW.

Dear Reader, the regina mom fears that Canada is heading down the road to becoming a closed society.  Please watch Tipping Point and stand with us to stop the Canadian government.  Email Charlie Angus and NDP Leader Nycole Turmel.  Email the Prime Minister, and the minister responsible for this legislation, Vic Toews, too, if you like.  Be creative.  Do whatever you can think of to do.  But please do something.  Please help Canadians save their country.

Please consider this my message in a bottle.

Another Northern Gateway Pipeline Update

Sometimes, the regina mom wonders why she bothers to write her long blogposts, when others do it excellently with a short quote and video or are capable of piecing together a few headlines about the HarperCons’ visit to China, the trade trip on which the Enbridge CEO has accompanied the Prime Minister presumably to tout the pipeline projected to forever change the BC coastline, coastal communities and eco-system when the first tanker spill happens.

Meanwhile, back on the Canadian ranch, the HarperCon MPs spew slick rhetoric. Kady O’Malley’s citations from the Hansard regarding MP Larry Brown’s statements about Sharon Carstairs, Allan Rock and Hitler proves to be a very interesting, if frightening read.  It makes trm believe the PMO is using the Karl Rove’s playbook (PDF).

Open file has a bit of a who’s who on the Northern Gateway issue but forgot to mention one of Canada’s treasures, Franke James, who is still awaiting confirmation for a meeting with her MP, Joe Oliver.  Remember him?  He’s the oily MP who offered to meet with environmentalists, the one whose whose slippery words really got the ball rolling on this campaign.

 

Monday Night Movies: Pipeline Edition

With the Superbowl over and done with and football fans looking for something to watch the regina mom thought she’d share some great short vids for your viewing pleasure .

The first is actually a series of clips from the documentary, On the Line, an award-winning film that shows what, exactly, is on the line with the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. (These are not embedded here, but rather linked out to their site.)

In the summer of 2010, filmmaker Frank Wolf and his friend Todd McGowan biked, hiked, rafted and kayaked the GPS track of the pipeline in order to uncover the truth about the proposal. Through the voices of people they meet along the way, their rough and tumble journey reveals the severe risks and consequences associated with this 5.5 billion dollar mega-project.

The scheduled screenings are listed on their website as is contact info for broadcast and distribution.  [With gratitude to 350 or bust for the heads’ up!]  Here’s hoping that trm hasn’t missed the Regina run.

Next up is also an outside link, this time to a hilarious “public service announcement” from Natural Resources Minister Joe (McCarthy) Oilver, courtesy of Dan Murphy, the editorial cartoonist at The Province newspaper. [With gratitude to the Twitterverse.]

Finally, Rethink Alberta, (below) a shorty edited to contrast what is with what’s happening in Alberta. [trm hasn’t a clue how she found it!]

 

Pop some popcorn and enjoy!

What will the neighbours think?

One part of the brain can work something out while another part is doing something else, or so it seems.  the regina mom stayed up all night.  When that happens, it’s usually because she’s been engaged in a good read or a good write.  This time it was neither.  And it wasn’t a party, either.  No, this time trm‘s eyes were glued to the screen catching up on episodes of The Young and The Restless and The Colbert Report, shows she watches only occasionally these days.  It’s as though her brain needed a time out from the case of overload she’d contracted by consuming a wealth of information about the tarsands.

What’s weird, though, is that she ended her viewing with the Mercer Report and got right back into it.

From Mercer, then to Twitter and to another story about the long-overdue tarsands monitoring plan the governments of Canada and Alberta have cooked up.  While reading this piece, though, trm thought of her dad.  Born in Canada to parents of Germanic descent just before WWII, he grew up with the “what will the neighbours think” mantra. What trm realized is that her dad is not alone.  Many Canadians care about what the neighbours think, particularly on the international stage. Combine that with Canadians’ concern for the environment and an insult or two about it and the response is huge, so huge that it appears to have forced the government’s hand.

Ottawa and Alberta are hoping a new monitoring plan will curb criticism that the province’s massive oilsands fields are a dirty source of energy, but environmentalists say it will take a lot more to clean up Canada’s reputation.

“It can help send a signal that the government is starting to pay attention to the issues, but it doesn’t actually fix the problems that are causing the black eye to our reputation,” said Gillian McEachern, a Climate and Energy expert at Environmental Defence.

By the time trm got to the end of the article, she was recalling NDP MP Megan Leslie’s comments that this latest exercise was nothing but a PR stunt, a way to pacify audiences and is subject to spin.  trm agrees and suggests this tactic it’s not only for short term gain.  Note the timeline.

The new plan … to be rolled out over three years, will mean the governments will be monitoring more frequently and for more contaminants.

In three years’ time, Canada will be on the verge of an election and the HarperCons will undoubtedly point to this project as a demonstration of their shared concern for the environment. Never mind that it’s not what the scientists they consulted recommended, that it doesn’t go far enough, that a filthy addiction pollutes Earth’s air, waters and communities or that it’s harming real people downstream and upwind and around the globe or that the continued expansion of the tarsands over the next three years could do irreparable harm, the HarperCon government  has created its next “action plan.”

And we must continue to challenge that plan.

Oh, Those ‘Radicals’!

Today the HarperCons stepped into the cesspool polluted waters tarsands issue to announce a water monitoring project which will take 3 years and $50 million to fully implement.  the regina mom agrees with Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie; this is a PR stunt.  And, trm shares Edmonton MP Linda Duncan’s concerns that First Nations’ communities were not adequately consulted and that many more tarsands projects could be approved before this monitoring begins. trm considers this announcement to be a reflection of the great work the ecojustice community “radical groups” are doing to educate citizens on the issues.  Well done, radicals!

One radical, Andrew Nikiforuk, declared a political emergency regarding the tarsands years ago.  His latest piece at The Tyee cites a “detailed analysis” submitted to the National Energy Board by Robyn Allan who is the former president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.  Ms Allan’s report “concludes that “Northern Gateway is neither needed nor is in the public interest.

“I assumed that it would be a wealth generating project,” the 56-year-old retired investment and financial affairs economist told the Tyee. “But when I started digging none of those assumptions held. The project is an inflationary price shock to the economy.”

Allan, once rated by the National Post as one of Canada’s top 200 CEOs, says she started to study the economic case for the project after a query by her son. That was when she discovered that Enbridge’s economic benefit models were based on “misleading information, faulty methodology, numerous errors and presentation bias.”

trm‘s readers can download Allan’s full report, “An Economic Assessment of Northern Gateway” at the Alberta Federation of Labour’s website. Note that, according to Nikiforuk, “Allan’s report supports the findings of Dave Hughes, a retired senior analyst with Natural Resources Canada. He described the pipeline as a risk to Canada’s economic and energy security” a report to which trm has previously linked.

Further commentary comes from the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada which also says that the Gateway pipeline is unsustainable, based on a report they commissioned from Informetrica Inc.

The brief points out that two major refinery closures in Ontario and Quebec have created even more of a dependency on foreign suppliers for refined petroleum products: gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil.

“Canadians should also be alarmed that, while Canada exports most of its bitumen to foreign sources, Atlantic Canada and Quebec import 90% of their oil, and Ontario imports 30%,” says Coles.

“Without access to the increased supply of Western Canadian crude, Eastern Canada has suffered a loss of refining capacity, a loss of jobs and gasoline supply problems. Meanwhile, hundreds of workers where thrown out of high-skill, well paying jobs and many additional direct and indirect jobs have been lost.

The primary CEP document is here.

Andrew Frank, the former ForestEthics employee fired for his whistleblowing and about whom trm has previously reported, now suggests a “middle way” to avoid the polarization the Gateway debate has created. Though his suggestions are valid, trm has concerns that they are premised on the continued operation of the tarsands.  trm does not necessarily agree that they must continue.  Still, she also wants to encourage dialogue among Canadians and so, presents his points in abbreviated form:

  1. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline should not be built.
  2. Regulation needs to catch up with production.
  3. Oil sands production should match a rate that climate change scientists say is safe.
  4. Slowdown production to extract the maximum value and develop a royalties system that will look after Canadians long after the oil sands are gone.

Related to the Frank matter was the Notice of Motion filed by Ecojustice on behalf of four so-called radical groups. If you recall, dear Reader, it was the prelude to the HarperCons’ knickers-in-a-knot InfoAlert last Friday. Earlier this week, Ecojustice reported that their motion was denied, but welcomed the “declaration of independence” from the Joint Review Panel. They go on to say that,

Given the impact the proposed pipeline would have on our country, Ecojustice and our clients believe it’s absolutely critical that this review process remain objective, representative of all interests and conducted with integrity and fairness. This isn’t just an ethical issue — it’s about the legal principles of due process.

In its response, the Panel is making a promise to all Canadians to evaluate the Northern Gateway project based on evidence provided by all sides of the issue. This includes evidence that the pipeline and the risk of an oil spill it brings could irreversibly damage our forests and coasts — and all the species that depend on them.

An oil spill wouldn’t just devastate the environment. Our coastal economies like fishing and ecotourism are at risk, too. Is that a fair trade-off for short-term jobs?

Furthermore, the devastation of that environment would also devastate First Nations who have lived on the coast for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Still, Enbridge says it has agreements with 20 First Nations communities.  But Enbridge has not produced names or evidence to that effect.  First Nations spokespeople suggest Enbridge is stretching the truth, or worse, lying.  They accuse Enbridge of a lack of due diligence.

The theme of lack of due diligence and/or misrepresentation by Enbridge recurs among members of northern First Nations when speaking about Enbridge. Members the Haisla, the Gitxsan, the Wet’suwet’en and the Haida gave no credence to Stanway’s claim that “more than 20 groups who in recent weeks have fully executed and endorsed equity participation agreements deals with Enbridge.”

As trm suggested earlier this week, Enbridge doesn’t necessarily tell the truth, but she’ll let you, dear Reader, be the judge.

Finally, an item for which trm is sure to be lambasted by a certain regular reader.  Amnesty International has released an Open Letter to the Prime Minister, calling on him “to take a strong stand for human rights in China” during his visit there.  As trm has stated numerous times over the years, Canada should not be trading with any nation whose human rights record is so very sketchy.  And, Canada should also be cleaning up in her own back yard!

Making More Noise About the Tarsands!

The HarperCons are certainly giving the regina mom a lot of opportunity to diss them.  And that would be fun! Perhaps, if we give them enough rope… I know.  It’s wishful thinking, mirroring theirs, apparently. As a poster at one of the web boards I frequent said, “It’s like the entire country is having a Stress Test.”  It does feel that way these days, for sure.  Alberta Diary blogger David Climenhaga says we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Does it really surprise anyone that’s he’s doing it now, just when he’d persuaded us he was a really fine, avuncular, sweater-wearing fellow, possibly holding a pussy cat, who said absolutely nothing about this topic during his recent election campaign?

Seriously, people, this is the neo-Con modus operandi — when the opportunity presents itself, manufacture a “crisis” and move swiftly to “resolve” it while the opposition is still silently bug-eyed with astonishment and trying to remember where the facts were filed.

trm is not surprised and so, for now, she’s going follow her western neighbour’s subtle advice and make more noise about the tarsands.

But where to start today?

Maybe this is as good a place as any. When trm first clicked onto this 30-minute video, she considered it a hoax.  Further research revealed it to be an expose of the cover-up on a spill that leaked into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.  SET Environmental Inc. was subcontracted by Enbridge to clean up the mess. In the video John Bolenbaugh, a former employee of SET, documents some of the devastation he witnessed as a worker, the cover-up itself and the challenges of taking the case to the Environmental Protection Agency.  His actions as a whistleblower have resulted in him not only losing his job, but also attacks on his property, harassment by Enbridge and the police, as well as death threats.  This week he is in court suing his former employer, “seeking compensation for both past and future economic damage, emotional distress and attorney fees.” trm wishes him well.

Meanwhile, here in Canada, the Minister of Natural Resources, spews false data about the GHG emissions levels in the tarsands.  Deep Climate dissects the dirty data, noting that the numbers Minister Oliver spouts are those put forward by the climate change deniers at Ethical Oil.  trm readers will remember that a propagandist communications guru in the Prime Minister’s office is a founder of that organization. And, even though the Minister has claimed he is not a denier, he still spills denier science and misinformation when he speaks in Parliament and in public. Don’t trust his words.

trm does trust the words of Andrew Nikiforuk, however.  She attended his session at the Saskatchewan Festival of Words several years ago and was moved to tears by his presentation on the tarsands.  Nikiforuk has been steadfast in his commitment to this crisis, writing prolifically and touring extensively, to share his work.  Today, at The Tyee, he lists 11 “economic and political questions [that] have gone unasked or unanswered in the media and Parliament,” questions we should be asking our MPs. And so, trm suggests we do just that.  Go there now, copy of those questions,  and send them to your MP, the Opposition critics, Minister Oliver and the Prime Minister’s Office. And while you’re at The Tyee, take a moment to thank Andrew for his good work.

Also at The Tyee is a piece by Christopher Pollon in which he raises the question of the commercial viability of the Northern Gateway pipeline.  Though Enbridge claims otherwise, it does not appear to have provided sufficient documentation in the form of signed contracts for various things, such as long-term shipping contracts, to prove it.  This has led one of Enbridge’s competitors, Kinder Morgan, to complain

Gateway’s application creates a dangerous precedent, shifting the entire process from a race to obtain contractual support for new services, to a race to get regulatory approval for unproven “concepts” without the need to demonstrate market support.Pembina [Institute]‘s [Nathan] Lemphers concurs, stating in his report that such an approach could spur a “rush of pipeline speculators who seek regulatory approval for conceptual pipelines, effectively putting the cart before the horse and placing greater strain on both regulators and the affected public alike.”

Emma Gilchrist, at Troy Media, lays down five reasons as to why this project is not in Canada’s interest.

  1. protecting B.C. jobs
  2. Dutch Disease
  3. exports Canadian jobs
  4. Half of Canada is reliant on foreign oil
  5. What’s the hurry?

Good points, all, points it’s obvious the HarperCon government could care less about.

But, maybe not quite.  In a House of Commons committe examining the oil and gas sector, Mark Corey, Assistant Deputy Minister for the energy sector with Natural Resources Canada said more oil may flow east in the future.  Who knows?  It may turn out that this hullaballoo was created to set Canadians up for something else.  It is, as previously noted, the way the HarperCons work.

Regardless, First Nations communities are working to stop the tarsands.  The most recent call for action comes from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation(ACFN). They have concerns, explained in part by trm in previous posts.  The current concern has to do with Shell’s plans to expand projects in the tarsands.

ACFN is concerned about the proposed Shell Projects’ impacts on ACFN’s ability to exercise treaty rights in a meaningful way into the future.  The regulatory process DOES NOT meet ACFN’s need in terms of a proper assessment of impacts to rights. ACFN has no assurance that the environment and treaty rights can be protected because Alberta has done a poor job of enforcing environmental protection with the companies and  Shell has not met past commitments to ACFN. In September of 2011, ACFN  filed suit suing Shell Canada for these unmet agreement (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation serves Shell Canada with intent to Sue over tar sands projects). 

Chief Adam of ACFN stated, “We’re drawing the line, and taking a strong stand against Shell. ACFN wants no further developments until Shell is brought to justice and our broader concerns about the cumulative impacts in the region are addressed, our treaty rights respected and our rights are fully recognized within the approval process once and for all.”

 

ACFN calls on us to submit written comments on Shell’s revised Jackpine and Pierre River mine agreements to the Public Consultation on Revised Joint Review Panel Agreements. Instructions for doing so are on the ACFN website. Do what you can, please, to stop this racist development and potentially save some lives.

In other words, make some noise; it’s the least you can do.

 

Oily in Canada, eh?

Franke James, the artist who was blacklisted by the HarperCons, lives in Joe Oliver’s riding.  She was excited to learn that he is open to meeting with environmental groups.  So, she’s issued a public letter, taking him up on his offer and requesting a meeting with him.

Today in the House Halifax New Democratic Party MP Megan Leslie wanted an answer from  Oliver. She didn’t get it.  Nor does he, apparently, get it.  Here’s the video version which is really worth the 6:29 minutes of your time. Leslie is brilliant!

And speaking of the NDP, the regina mom received an email from Nycole Turmel, interim leader of the NDP, today.  The message responded to an email sent to Turmel and other politicians regarding the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.  Turmel’s is the first response.

Interestingly, one must ask themselves: whose interests are the Conservatives representing? Canadians or the interests of the American and Chinese companies who will profit from the pipeline?

For our part, we have been consistent in our call for the government to ban oil tanker traffic on the BC coast. Building on NDP past work that included a motion calling on the government to ban oil tanker traffic on the BC coast, in June 2011 NDP MPs Fin Donnelly and Nathan Cullen laid out a legislative proposal for a permanent ban on oil supertanker traffic off the north coast of British Columbia.

We have long felt that these supertankers are all risk and no reward – it’s all about shipping raw bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands to Asia. Additionally, banning oil tanker traffic would effectively stop any move by Enbridge to ship oil through its planned $4.5 billion Northern Gateway Pipeline.

Her letter also pointed to the NDP Platform on tackling climate change, to Section 4.2, specifically. That section, Ensuring Canada Becomes a World Leader in Renewable Energy, addresses how an NDP government will move subsidies from non-renewable energy sources such as oil and gas to subsidies for renewable energy sources so that a fairer system exists.  trm likes that the NDP have a plan for change.

And change is certainly needed!  Yesterday (or very early this a.m.) trm reported that the fossil fuel industry receives billions of dollars in subsidies from governments worldwide.  Today, trm learned that ExxonMobil raked in $41.06 billion in profits in 2011.  That’s the equivalent of $1,300 a second! Talk about greed!  Exxon owns Imperial Oil which operates Esso and Mobil in Canada.  Why do corporations making this kind of cash get any subsidy at all?  And who is funding the mouthpiece for the greedy industry, Ethical Oil (sic)?

And why is the HarperCon government hell-bent on doing business with a regime that engages in murder and torture, anyway? Why is Canada doing business with China?  Terry Glavin has a go at that one:

How well I recall the days when Canada’s mere possession of a national energy program and the establishment of our own state-owned oil enterprise, Petro-Canada, was a free-market sin that cried out to heaven for vengeance. Now China is doing the nationalizing of our energy resources, and it’s Chinese state-owned corporations intruding into our oilsands wealth. Sinopec revenues last year exceeded the tax revenues of Canada’s federal government. We’re supposed to behold the glories of the free market in this?

We don’t even have a Foreign Investment Review Agency anymore. China’s version of FIRA – preferential bank loans to dozens of outfits like Sinopec that are run by Chinese Communist Party politburo appointees; draconian restrictions on foreign investment to favour the government’s own enterprises; privileges granted to state-owned corporations at the expense of thousands of Chinese businesses they’ve driven into bankruptcy in recent years; labour-law exemptions gifted to Beijing’s monopolies and their foreign joint-venture buddies; grotesque tariffs and duties imposed on imports to the advantage of the multinational corporations Beijing owns and runs – all this makes us looks very much like the chumps we are.

Chumps and radicals, that’s what Canada’s made up of, eh?  Well, there is a good news side to this horrid tale.  Minister Oliver’s open letter to Canadians, the letter that moved trm into action, has moved others into action, too.  They’re digging into their pockets and sending donations to those “radical” environmental groups.

“We’ve seen an unprecedented surge of support,” said Emma Gilchrist of the Dogwood Initiative, a B.C.-based group which has received $12,000 in unsolicited donations since Oliver’s letter.

“We’ve got cheques that say, in the memo section, ‘Thanks to Joe Oliver.”‘

Dogwood also got nearly 25,000 new signatures on its anti-tanker petition — more than it got all of last year. Traffic to its Facebook site increased 10,000 per cent.

“We’re quite disappointed to hear the things coming out of the federal government, but it has brought people together,” Gilchrist said.

Here’s another example of generosity:  John Oliver, composer and performer, is offering free copies of his new song, Pumpin’ Oil.

How Canadian, eh?

Canada’s #enemygate open for questionable business

the regina mom‘s amassed a number of links about the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline and, though other bloggers have moved on to the HarperCon’s potential attack on Old Age Security (OAS) [See Alison@Creekside], trm‘s staying on this issue a bit longer.  Now, let’s see where those links take us.

First, let’s note that this fiasco has been dubbed “EnemyGate” by none other than one of Canada’s finest wordsmiths, Margaret Atwood, according to the stream #enemygate on Twitter.  trm thinks it a very apt term.

A case in point.  Marc Jaccard is one of those environmental people the HarperCons would likely paint as an enemy.  He’s a sustainable energy researcher and over at the Vancouver Sun he points out the HarperCons promise, in 2007 and recently re-confirmed. that Canada will reduce her greenhouse gas emissions 65 per cent by 2050.  He says that in order for that statement

 

… not to be a lie, Harper cannot allow expansion of tarsands and associated pipelines, and he must require a growing market share of near-zero-emission vehicles. He knows this because his analysts are privy to the work of the world’s leading researchers. Canadians on all sides of the issue should read a 20-page report from MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change entitled Canada’s Bitumen Industry Under CO2 Constraints … The report shows how and why the Canadian tarsands must contract as part of a global effort to prevent a 4 degree increase in temperatures and catastrophic climate change.

Is our PM banking on us not figuring this out?  On not knowing this?  On us not putting two and two together?  Jaccard concludes,

 

The facts are simple. Our political leaders are lying to us if they aid and abet the expansion of tarsands while promising to take action to prevent the imminent climate catastrophe. If you love this planet and your children, and are humble and objective in considering the findings of science, you have no choice but to battle hard to stop Gateway and other tarsands pipelines. It is time to face up to this challenge with honesty and courage.

We already know the HarperCons are dishonest and that our PM is a bully and that bullies lack courage, so is it even realistic to expect the PM to act with honesty and courage?  trm notes that the PM was not courageous enough to announce his major policy shift for Canada on Canadian soil.  Instead, he used his time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to announce, among the previously mentioned OAS attack, that

energy policy will be dictated by the need of the economy, not environmentalists, First Nations and other “adversaries” to development. New mines and energy projects would be expedited and regulatory red tape cut in Harper’s brave new world order.

A member of the First Nations community in Canada, Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, says that’s a bunch of bullshit, that First Nations are not adversaries to development. He said it more politely, though.

Madahbee said Canada is missing out on an opportunity to be seen as a leader on the world stage. “The National Chief has told Prime Minister Harper that a comprehensive action plan would add $400 billion to the Canadian economy, and eliminate $150 billion in social costs. There are 400 million Indigenous peoples around the globe – over a million in Canada. We are the fastest growing population. We are the students and workers of the future. Why do governments constantly overlook us?

“If financial self-sufficiency of First Nations” is truly the “end-goal” of the Canadian government, they need to be talking to us about the treaty promises and resource revenue-sharing. This is the only way to create certainty for corporate projects. They can no longer expect to barge into our territories without dealing with First Nations peoples.”

Marc Lee, at the Progressive Economics Forum, has something to say about the economic side of things, too, and in some detail.  Go ahead and read the full piece; it’s very informative.  But, trm will cut to the chase:
Bottom line: the Enbridge pipeline makes odious profits and they must be weighed against the costs of GHG emissions and oil spills. Privatize gains, socialize losses. Which is why the industry and their government make no reference to either the profits to be gained or climate change. While there will be some jobs created along the way, they are very small in number. Governments get a cut, too, through royalties and taxes (though the latter are being phased out for people fortunate enough to be corporations), but these are like the royalties on export of blood diamonds.
And why are we singing to China’s tune, anyway? Terry Glavin’s been doing some damned fine research and writing on that issue.  He says we’ve been hoodwinked:

Over the past decade, Canadians have sunk more than $20-billion of mostly public money into port, rail and highway infrastructure on the West Coast, all to expand Canadian trade into Asian economies. The whole point was to diversify our markets and reduce our reliance on the United States. But none of it has worked out like we were told. We’ve been hooped.

Ten years and $20-billion later, it’s all China, all the time. China plays by its own trade rules and everybody’s let them get away with it. The result is that in 10 years the annual value of Canadian exports to Japan hasn’t budged, and last year, as a destination for Canadian exports, India (the largest country on Earth) was overtaken by Norway. As a Canadian trading partner, Taiwan is now down there with Algeria.

Canada’s collective $20-billion Pacific “gateway” investments have ended up transforming Canada’s West Coast transportation infrastructure into the portal that has enabled Beijing to flood North American markets with goods manufactured in sweatshops where they’ll chuck you in prison if you even wonder aloud what it might be like to belong to an independent labour union. As for free elections or political parties, don’t you dare even think about it.

 

The HarperCons are going against everything Canada has stood for in the global community.  As the headline writer at the Times Colonist points out, “Oil policy [is] turning good guy Canada into global bad boy.”

And we, who dare challenge their edicts are enemies of the state.  Can you say fascism?

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