The Enbridge Northern Pipeline

Enbridge Keystone Kops

My first post on this website was ‘Northern Gateway Pipelines’, but since then I’ve commented about the potential dangers of the Enbridge northern pipeline again and again.

Enbridge was obviously concerned that environmentalists opposed to the Northern Gateway Pipelines were gaining a little traction here in British Columbia, so the Enbridge PR team was tasked to launch a $5 million ($5,000,000) pro-pipeline ad campaign. If you’ve missed it, so far, you really must have been living under a rock, the ads were and still are pervasive.

Q: Has the Enbridge PR team managed to sway public opinion in favour of the Enbridge northern pipeline?
A: Probably not.

Q: Why has their impressive ad campaign failed?
A: Enbridge was making news.

Enbridge news:

  1. The USA’s National Transportation Safety Board recently referred to Enbridge as Keystone Kops/Cops. Here’s the NTSB’s Press Release regarding the 318,000,000 litre oil spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The ‘clean’ up* took two years and cost about $800,000,000.
  2. The recent Enbridge Athabasca pipeline leak that occurred Monday, 18 June 2012.

The end result is that, right now, everyone seems to be writing off the pipeline, saying it’s dead. Whoa, stop, hold on, let’s not forget that the Harper Government devastated environmental and fisheries laws specifically to ensure approval of the Enbridge pipeline. The Cabinet can still approve this thing. Most people have a very short attention span and short memories is what Stephen Harper always relies upon. Unfortunately, we still can’t assume the Enbridge northern pipeline is dead.

Here’s the Enbridge northern pipeline parody video:

*Can diluted bitumen (heavy crude oil) be cleaned up? The following, unconfirmed, video suggests that spilled heavy crude returns to it’s original state, leaving Michigan with their own mini-version of Canada’s tar sands courtesy of Enbridge and Big Oil.

Related articles:

  1. Scathing U.S. report won’t change Ottawa’s mind on Northern Gateway
  2. It’s semi-official: The Enbridge Northern Gateway project is kaput!

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Oil Sands are for Canadians

I chose the title ‘Oils Sands are for Canadians’ because, strictly speaking, this is not just another diatribe about Canada’s oil sands, rather it outlines a very exciting paradigm shift.

My thesis is that we’ve all been viewing tar sands’ development from Big Oil’s (the Harper Government’s) perspective. Big oil:

  • doesn’t mind wasting Canada’s water and natural gas
  • has no interest in refining heavy crude oil here in Canada
  • encourages cheap foreign labour to increase their profits
  • isn’t troubled by toxic tailings ponds, CO2 emissions, pipeline leaks, oil spills and supertanker disasters.

Multinational oil and gas corporations are driven by profit and nothing more than delivering money to shareholders. They’re happy to sell Canada’s oil to the highest bidder wherever they might be. Big Oil pockets hundreds of billions of dollars from Canada’s natural resources and Canada is forced to settle for whatever is left.

Environmentalists:

  • would love to see all of our tar sands oil left in the ground

What if we decided to proceed with tar sands development in a balanced and sustainable fashion? What if we focused on the idea that our oil sands are for Canadians?

What if we decided to:

  • stop squandering our precious, raw natural resources
  • scale back bitumen production
  • treasure our fresh water because it will be the key to our future
  • make better use of our natural gas
  • refine heavy crude oil near the source, right here in Canada
  • produce just enough oil to satisfy the Canadian marketplace’s needs
  • gradually eliminate most, if not all, existing long distance pipelines
  • say no to the Northern Gateway Pipelines, Keystone XL Pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
  • invest in massive upgrades of Canada’s railways
  • develop railcars with best-in-class safety standards to transport oil
  • use rail instead of pipelines to transport our oil to all of Canada’s Provinces and Territories
  • use Canada’s oil profits to fund our transition to green technologies, to eliminate our deficits and eventually to eliminate our debt?

My suspicion is that we would:

  • create hundreds of thousands of well-paid Canadian jobs
  • vastly improve Canada’s transportation infrastructure, benefiting all Canadians
  • dramatically reduce pollution of our air, land and water
  • create a balanced Canadian economy ensuring a prosperous future for our grandchildren and future generations.

The Harper Government and their corporate backers have taken us a very long way down an exceptionally risky road in their misguided attempt to generate short term profits. Canadians need better governance. We need big ideas and those ideas rarely originate in the boardrooms of multinational oil and gas corporations.

Canada’s oil sands are for Canadians, they’re not for Big Oil’s shareholders.

The “path to our future” is not a pipeline, it’s better ideas, ideas that focus on Canadians, not corporate greed.

Related article:

  1. Senate energy committee backs sending western oil east

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The Conservatives’ Biggest Lie

Q: What is the conservatives’ biggest lie?
A: The conservatives’ biggest lie is, “I’m better than you are!”

Money, Alone, Is Not the Measuring Stick
of a Successful Life.

“I’m better than you are!” is the lie many financially successful conservatives whisper to themselves. They rarely utter this one in public, but it’s a big part of who they are and unbeknownst to them it’s obvious to everyone they meet.

Let’s use a couple of people as an example: Is there any doubt in your mind that Mitt Romney and Donald Trump think that they’re better than you are?

Ask yourself a simple question, “Would your life, today, be different if you had attended the best schools that money could buy and then had many millions of dollars deposited into your bank account”?

Background: Mitt Romney’s dad, George, was Chairman and President of American Motors Corporation (today’s Chrysler), Governor of Michigan and the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Mitt is said to have inherited millions and millions of dollars. Donald Trump’s dad, Fred, was a very successful real estate developer and left young Donald assets valued at about two hundred million dollars ($200,000,000).

Both Mitt and Donald have absolutely no idea what it would be like to start from zero and compete on an even playing field. They selfishly seize all of the credit for their successes and they demand your envy. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that their very privileged backgrounds have skewed both Mitt and Donald’s views of the poor and the middle class. Neither is altruistically attempting to serve, they’re both constantly seeking media attention and power. Both men ooze phoniness. Their persona betrays their conviction that they are better than other people. Can’t you just feel Mitt and Donald wondering aloud, “What’s up with the Occupy Movement?” completely failing to grasp the very real frustrations of folks who work for a living?

Mitt’s disdain for those who are not super rich would lead to more:

  • tax breaks for corporations and
  • tax breaks for the wealthy.

Referencing the USA, did you know that:

  • “in 2010 the average salary for CEOs on the S&P 500 was over $1 million and climbed to over $11 million when all forms of compensation were accounted for”
  • “… tax rates on the super rich are now lower than they’ve been in three decades”
  • “corporate profits now constitute the largest share of the economy since 1929”?

Interestingly, if the USA’s gross national income were divided evenly across the entire population, every household would be classified as middle class. Unfortunately, instead of even a little fairness, we have the 1%—2% with all the money and then the rest of us.

Recommended reading:

  1. Peter Edelman’s ‘So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America’
  2. Robert B. Reich’s ‘Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life’

Stephen Harper would have you believe, it’s completely different here in Canada, it’s not really, we’re just about a decade behind the US.

Humorous note: A fortune “trickled down” to Mitt Romney, perhaps that’s why he supports the discredited, “trickle down”, economic theory.

Related post:

  1. Arrogant Harper Government

Canada Under Harper

I hope my title for this post, ‘Canada Under Harper’, wasn’t as bad for you as it was for me. A psychiatrist could write a pithy journal article about the nasty movie-clip that just played in my head. 🙂

To understand where the Harper Government is planning to go, you have to know where Stephen Harper has been. About ten years before his minority government first assumed power in Canada, Stephen Harper said, “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”

“Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”
– Stephen Harper 1997

Knowing that this is one of Harper’s core beliefs, it’s not at all surprising that the Harper Government’s 2012 Budget and the now infamous Budget Implementation Bill C–38 included changes to OAS (Old Age Security), is it?

Q: What’s next for Canada under Harper?
A: Could it be the your healthcare, specifically the Canada Health Act? After all, the Harper Government has already mucked with Health Transfer Payments to the provinces and territories, so we can’t rule out even more sinister changes. Is the Harper Government already encouraging a two-tiered system, one for the rich and another for the rest of us? Will they… ?

Healthcare is very expensive, so it’s a natural target for Stephen Harper’s bean counters, but privatization and a two-tiered system is definitely NOT the answer.

Q: What is the best way to deal with rising health care costs?
A: Canadians would be best served if our government:

  1. focused on community-based, wellness promotion and prevention
  2. established multidisciplinary, diagnostic clinics, led by nurses, to offer help when prevention has failed and lastly,
  3. allowed doctors and hospitals to do what they do best, but doctors should be the last step, not the first.

We should also consider dumping fee-for-service, but more on that another time…

Related post:

  1. What’s Happened to Canada?

Senator Patrick Brazeau’s Judgement

Senator Patrick Brazeau photo

Q: Is it fair to question Senator Patrick Brazeau’s Judgement?
A: I won’t weigh in on Senator Brazeau’s Senate attendance record, but his Tweet, in response to Jennifer Ditchburn’s article, was ill-advised and definitely calls into question his maturity; so, yes, in my opinion, it is fair.

Background: Who the heck is Patrick Brazeau? Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau is just one of a total of forty-three Senate appointments made by Stephen Harper. He is an Algonquin from the Kitigan Zibi Reserve, near Maniwaki Quebec and previously served as the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. He is still in his thirties and is not due to retire from the Senate until November 11, 2049.

Recently, in response to a Canadian Press article questioning his Senate attendance record, Senator Brazeau Tweeted the CP reporter, @jenditchburn while u smile Jen, others suffer. Change the D to a B in your last name and we’re even! Don’t mean it but needs saying.”

Senator Patrick Brazeaus Tweet to Jennifer Ditchburn

Although my wife’s uncle was also a Canadian Senator, I’ve frequently questioned the value of the Senate. For whatever reason, it has proven difficult to reform the senate, I wonder if it would be easier to abolish it? Stephen Harper has set a record by appointing forty-three (43) Senators. Compare that to Pierre Trudeau’s 5, Brian Mulroney’s 14, Jean Chrétien’s 26 and Paul Martin’s 15 (one of Martin’s 15, was Conservative). I could have sworn that the Harper Government campaigned stating that it would save the taxpayers’ money and reduce Government costs. The base, annual salary of a Canadian Senator is $132,300 (2010) and the benefits package is apparently very impressive. Abolishing the Senate would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year and it would also streamline Canada’s governance.

Humorous note: Perhaps the Harper Government’s Senate appointments were part of Stephen Harper’s ‘jobs and prosperity’ initiative and not patronage. 🙂

Related articles:

  1. Senator Patrick Brazeau calls journalist a bitch after she reports his poor attendance record
  2. Truant Tory senator apologizes for sexist slur at reporter

Related post:

  1. Harper Government Political Patronage

Mulcair’s NDP Video

Tom Mulcair photo
Photo courtesy of Reuters – Wattie

The Harper Government’s attack ad, ‘Mulcair’s NDP’ makes it glaringly obvious that Stephen Harper is, figuratively, wetting himself, again. Mr. Harper has a long history of nervous incontinence. Mulcair’s NDP video isn’t the Harper Government’s first attack ad, you’ll recall their mean-spirited ads attacking Stéphan Dion, Michael Ignatief and then, most recently, Bob Rae.

Here’s the ‘Mulcair’s NDP’ video:

Q: Ask yourself, “Why is the Harper Government so nervous?”

A: Although, it’s true that Tom Mulcair and the NDP bested the Conservatives in a recent nationwide popularity poll, that’s not the Harper Government’s biggest worry. They’re most worried about a simple but very powerful idea. Canada’s natural resources should benefit all Canadians and Canada’s environment is not for sale. The Harper Government sides with multinational, corporate greed. Tom Mulcair and the NDP side with Canadians.

The Conservatives are also well aware of a trend that poses another significant threat to their power. A growing number of people don’t like the Harper Government’s style of governance. I’ll bet you’ve heard some of the descriptive words folks are using when they mention the Harper Government. I’ve listed some of the polite words here, but I’ve also written an entire post about the Arrogant Harper Government that you might find interesting.

I won’t critique the Harper Government’s attack ad except to say:

“Risky Theories” like putting Canadians and Canada’s environment ahead of multinational oil and gas corporations, pipeline corporations, foreign workers and China is not a reason for concern. There’s certainly nothing risky there, in fact, Tom Mulcair’s ideas are a breath of Canada’s fresh air.

The Conservative’s biggest pitch is always, “We can’t afford… (insert opponents name here)”, they want you to be nervous when you walk into the polling station. Have you noticed the Conservatives are always fear mongering? It fits their agenda, that’s why they’re always yammering on and on about guns, jails and fighter jets.

When you walk into a polling station in 2015, or sooner, you won’t need to be worried about things like the Harper Government’s scary, petro-state, guns, jails and greed-focused agenda, instead, you can smile a big smile and think about Stephen Harper wetting himself. 🙂 Then you’ll be able to vote for a positive vision of Canada and hope.

Canada is blessed with an amazing abundance of natural resources, most, if not all, of the rest of our world would love to be in our position. It’s time for Canadians to benefit by electing leadership that has a hopeful, altruistic vision and a solid plan. In the next election, vote NDP.

Update 20120710: Here’s the NDP’s initial response to the Harper Government’s Mulcair’s NDP video attack ad.

Related article:

  1. On carbon pricing, the Tories aren’t just battling Mulcair

Arrogant Harper Government

Arrogant Harper Government, confused Liberals and the NDP preparing for 2015

Have you played a team sport? Did you ever lose to an inferior team, a team that had no class? Can you imagine how frustrating it must be to sit as an altruistic, progressive, NDP, Liberal or Green MP facing the arrogant Harper Government majority?

Two phrases spring to my mind,

  1. “Bullshit baffles brains” and
  2. ‘Never Fight with a Pig’.

Every time the Liberals point out a problem with Conservative governance and their stewardship of Canada, the Harper Government responds with a childish taunt, “Neener, neener, neener, when you were in power you did that too”. Clearly, Stephen Harper ignored his mother when she taught him that, “two wrongs don’t make a right”. That would be number one, “Bullshit baffles brains”.

When Tom Mulcair uses his analytical mind to ask Stephen Harper a serious, foundational question, Stephen Harper’s sycophants arrogantly demean the Official Opposition by:

  • consistently failing to answer the question and then
  • muttering something about unions, communism or even Nazism.

The Harper Government obviously isn’t classy or intelligent, but they’re clearly very skilled at fighting dirty; I suspect many of the Conservative MPs have been fighting dirty from childhood right on through until the fuddy duddy, angry-old-uncle, stage of life, they’re at now. By now, it’s evident, to almost everyone, that meaningful democratic debate has gone missing under the Harper Government and it’s been replaced with condescension and disrespectful nastiness. That would be number two ‘Never Fight with a Pig’.

Stephen Harper is a relatively clever fellow, but he is a long, long way from being the smartest guy in the room. My suspicion is that China very quickly got the best of him, but they’re still letting Mr. Harper believe that he has the upper hand.

Background: First, China purchased a major stake in the tar sands and then they demanded a Pacific pipeline. The Harper Government’s 2012 Budget and Bill C–38, devastated Canadian environmental laws and granted the Conservative Cabinet dictatorial powers to ensure the Northern Gateway Pipelines’ approval. Unfortunately, China will benefit and Canada will lose.

Canada:

  • loses a chunk of our boreal forest
  • wastes our natural gas
  • wastes our fresh water
  • sells another raw natural resource (heavy crude oil)
  • pollutes our air, land and water
  • risks a pipeline and/or supertanker related environmental disaster.

China:

  • fuels their thriving economy
  • refines our heavy crude oil
  • transitions to a greener economy
  • snickers at us.

Canadians generally prefer viewing the world through rose-tinted glasses. Perpetual optimism led some people to ignore warnings, about Stephen Harper, from Michael Ignatief, Jack Layton and Elizabeth May. Their warnings were dismissed as “politics as usual”. The end result was that in Canada’s last federal election, a minority of voters took a chance and offered Stephen Harper an opportunity to govern. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister and Conservative MPs have arrogantly wielded Canada’s authority in unanticipated ways. Embarrassed Canadians will soon remind the Harper Government that it doesn’t have the power, the people of Canada do. Less than a year into his mandate, support for Stephen Harper and his Harper Government has already declined significantly.

It’s likely that we’re going to have to put up with inadequate, dictatorial governance for another three years. Opposition MPs won’t be able to do much within Parliament, but they will have time to educate the Canadian public about the Harper Government’s scary, Big Oil, China-focused agenda. Canadians care about our environment and our international reputation. The Harper Government isn’t just disgracing Canadian democracy, they’re degrading Canada’s reputation around the world.

Q: What’s the first step, what can we hope to accomplish with the arrogant Harper Government in power?
A: Step one: Let’s stop spending billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the richest corporations on earth. The profiteering multinational oil and gas corporations will do just fine without even more of Canada’s money.

Next step: A comprehensive, sustainable Canadian energy strategy that benefits Canada first.

>> Hopeful Canadians

Related post:

  1. Peter Van Loan, “…job done”

Related article:

  1. Harper’s ‘bullying’ ways gives opposition hope, Economist says

Peter Van Loan, “…job done”

Peter Van Loan image

Peter Van Loan, the Harper Government’s Leader of the House of Commons, marking the end of the Spring 2012 session, proudly proclaimed “…we got the job done”.

Many Canadians, including myself, see it very differently. The majority of Canadian voters were ignored when the Harper Government completely disregarded the “democracy” thing. What’s the point of having our Canadian Parliament if you don’t listen to your opposition and you don’t engage in meaningful debate? It’s clear that someone needs to explain to Stephen Harper that a majority government is not a dictatorship.

“If you were half as smart as you think you are, you wouldn’t think you were so smart.”

Bill C–38 will not be forgotten. Here are just a few of the descriptive words that I’ve heard applied to the Harper Government since their election in 2011:

  • undemocratic
  • dictatorial
  • authoritarian
  • arrogant
  • condescending
  • mean-spirited
  • secretive
  • mendacious
  • conspiratorial and
  • inadequate.

“This is a truly bad government. It has a bad ethic about it. It doesn’t understand its own limits… It’s not just a style, but it’s a profound attitude toward other people and other opinions which is deeply, deeply unhealthy.”
– Bob Rae, referring to the Harper Government

Fortunately, 2015 will afford forgotten Canadians an opportunity to amend the mistake that about thirty-nine percent of voting fellow Canadians made in 2011.

Mindlessly repeating your “jobs and prosperity” mantra won’t work next time, we’re onto your bullshit. We’ll be taking our democracy back. Canada is not China and we’re not going to accept authoritarian governance.

Humorous note: When I reviewed this post I noticed a typo, ‘Peter Van Load’. Now that’s Freudian. 🙂

Enbridge Athabasca Pipeline Leak

Enbridge, The Northern Gateway Pipelines, “Path to our future” company, experienced a new oil spill on Monday, 18 June 2012. The Enbridge Athabasca pipeline leak occurred when a flange-gasket gave way, near Elk Point, about 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, Alberta.

Background: The Enbridge Athabasca pipeline carries heavy crude oil from the Fort McMurray tar sands to Hardisty (~ 541 km).

map Elk Point Alberta

Interestingly, Enbridge referred to the two hundred and thirty thousand (230,000) litre leak as an oil “release”; as if the leak had been planned, which, of course, it had not.

Q: Did the location name, “Hardisty”, ring a bell?
A: It should, because the proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines are intended to carry heavy crude oil from Hardisty, AB to Kitimat, BC.

If you live in BC, ask yourself, what’s going to happen when a future Enbridge leak and oil spill dumps heavy crude oil and chemicals into a pristine BC waterway? What happens to our water? What happens to the fish and wildlife? Did you know that the proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines cross at least seven hundred streams before they reach Kitimat. FYI, Fisheries and Oceans Canada previously stated the number of streams and rivers was actually over one thousand (1,000), not the seven hundred Enbridge claims.

Q: How often do Enbridge pipeline leaks and oil spills happen?
A: We don’t really know.

I found this quote from Alberta’s oil and gas regulator, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) disturbing, “This one (referring to this Enbridge spill) is significant enough that we issued a news release on it.” I wonder, how many leaks occur that we never hear about?

Q: Will the Harper Government approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines?
A: It certainly looks like they will. Bill C–38 was crafted to eliminate environmental obstacles and ultimately, to ensure approval. The Conservative Cabinet can, if necessary, overrule the National Energy Board’s recommendations. In the end:

  • China wants the Pacific pipelines and
  • Big Oil has already calculated their anticipated profits,

so what do you imagine Stephen Harper will do?

BTW, regarding this oil “release”, Enbridge was quick to assert that, “there is no risk to public health or safety.”

Deformed fish found swimming in the Athabasca River have been trying to tell us that Canada’s tar sands adventure hasn’t been working very well for fish and they would like to, respectfully suggest, to us, that it’s time we started giving a little more consideration to what we’re doing to the Earth’s ecosystem. 🙂

Tar sands skyline courtesy of Greenpeace
Image courtesy of Greenpeace

Related posts:

  1. The Enbridge Conundrum
  2. Northern Gateway Pipelines
  3. Dirtiest Oil on Earth Video

Related articles:

  1. Enbridge slammed for ‘Keystone Kops’ response to Michigan spill
  2. David Suzuki: The catastrophic effects of oil pipeline spills
  3. Spate of oil spills pushes Alberta to look harder at pipeline safety
  4. Enbridge has a best friend in Ottawa

C-38 Infamy

C–38 Infamy will mark a turning point in Canada’s democracy. My first sentence might sound overstated, but let me explain why it’s bang-on and not hyperbolic. The Harper Government’s arrogance and their dictatorial nature has now been revealed to almost all Canadians, including many within their Conservative base.

“The Harper Government’s arrogance and their dictatorial nature has now been revealed to almost all Canadians, including many within their Conservative base.”

Early in his political career, Stephen Harper was coached, by top-notch Conservative strategists. They taught him how to appear polite, all the while trash-talking his opposition. They also prepared him to simply repeat the conservative mantra:

  • lower taxes
  • more jobs

over and over and over and…

Their stategy worked; Harper defeated more intelligent, altruistic, opposition candidates.

Recall the cliché aphorism, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Well, guess what, it did.

When about thirty-nine percent of Canadians, who cast ballots in the last election, gifted the Harper Government a majority, the voters weren’t anticipating what would follow.

Most Canadians value our social democracy and our environment. Very few, if any, Canadians guessed that Stephen Harper planned to devastate our environmental laws, decimate environment-focused infrastructure, muzzle government scientists and environmentalists, so that Canada could become a Petro-State controlled by multinational oil and gas corporations.

For the Harper Government C–38 was a step too far. Most Canadians do not share Stephen Harper’s vision of Canada and I suspect a very significant number of Canadians have been dismayed by what has been happening to our democracy. It’s been embarrassing and even humiliating.

I’m convinced that C–38 has become a rallying cry for those who oppose the Harper Government’s Big Oil agenda.

I’d like to thank Elizabeth May, the Liberals, the NDP and Tom Mulcair for working as hard as they did to draw Canadians’ attention to the very undemocratic Bill C–38.

C–38 has focused everyone’s attention on the arrogant, dictatorial nature of the Harper Government. Canada is a democracy and Canada will not become Harper’s Petro-State. Stephen Harper will not be given the benefit of the doubt next time.

Canada is a Democracy and
Canada Will Not Become Harper’s Petro-State.