Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

Justin Trudeau photo

Seriously, are the Grits really encouraging Justin Trudeau to run for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada? Justin’s last-name recognition is certainly a plus for the Liberals and it would definitely draw attention to their leadership race and convention, but…

Q: So, what’s the problem?
A: Becoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau simply isn’t plausible in this decade.

I hope Justin doesn’t get sucked in by the attention they’re paying to him; it’s pretty obvious the Liberals are just hoping to use the “Trudeau” name to garner media attention. That said, there’s a chance that becoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might be possible later, when he has further developed his resumé and if the Liberals are able to regain a little credibility in Quebec and Ontario.

I was a University of Ottawa medical student assigned to the Ottawa Civic Hospital’s maternity suite when Dr. Manuel (Manny) Gluck delivered Justin. I was an early supporter of Justin’s dad. I’ve always voted Liberal. I was moved by the eulogy Justin gave at his father’s funeral. Hey, I was even amused when he won his boxing match. That said, I don’t believe he’s ready to be the Liberal leader and he’s certainly not ready to be the Prime Minister of Canada.

My suspicion is that Stephen Harper and the press would love to orchestrate a showdown between Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. The media would generate the attention they crave and need. The Harper Government would cruise to another majority.

Q: How could Justin Trudeau increase his leadership credentials?
A: Unlike his Liberal colleagues, Justin could extend a statesman’s hand to Tom Mulcair and the NDP. It’s way past time someone in the Liberal Party seriously considered Jean Chrétien’s suggestion that the Liberals and the NDP begin working more closely. Bringing the Liberals and the NDP together and then defeating the Harper Government would be a very impressive leadership coup and, most significantly, it would be a wonderful gift, the majority of Canadians would long remember.

After the Harper Government is defeated in the next election, Justin’s era will begin. At that time, reading the words Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, won’t be nearly as unlikely as it is today.

Related article:

Andrew Coyne: Trudeau fils is not Trudeau père

Dirtiest Oil on Earth Video

The National Sierra Club (USA) has just released a new video titled, ‘Tar Sands Pipelines: The Dirtiest Oil on Earth’


Dirtiest Oil on Earth Video

What should Canada do with the one of the largest crude oil deposits on Earth (it’s either the 2nd or 3rd largest)? The Sierra Club’s position is even more extreme than my own; they want us to leave all of our heavy crude oil in the ground. I advocate leaving the vast majority of it in the ground, for future technologies and future generations, but I would like to see Canada use our resource today, in a limited way, right here in Canada. Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the United States, but we still import over forty percent (40%) of the oil we consume domestically. Using our own oil today, will pay for our transition to green technologies. We don’t need or want the Northern Gateway Pipelines that will service China and India.

I suspect Big Oil and foreign ownership are demanding that Canada’s Government streamline approval of pipelines to ports, here in Canada and to the United States. Heavy crude oil delivered to Canadian ports will be shipped as is, crude delivered to the USA will be refined before delivery. Multinational oil and gas corporations can earn the biggest profit by selling Canadian oil to countries like China, India and Japan.

Did you know that multinational oil and gas corporations and their shareholders pocket the vast majority of the profits generated from our tar sands?

“In the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute study, completed in mid-March (2012), the Edmonton-based think-tank concluded the oil and gas industry has raked in $260-billion in pre-tax profits since 1986, while the public received less than $25-billion — less than 6% of the total value.”
– according to The Toronto Sun 20120409 (VINCENT MCDERMOTT, QMI AGENCY)

The Harper Government gets a failing grade for their stewardship of Canada’s environment. Canada needs new leadership that will stand up to Big Oil. As it stands today, the oil companies are taking the money and leaving Canada and the world with a mess that they tell us will be cleaned up. Can it be cleaned up? Will it be?

>> there’s something to hope for…

Cleanup Update (20120609): Still no decision on who pays for oil sands monitoring

What’s Happened to Canada?

An Internet friend recently asked me, “What’s happened to Canada?”. After a little back and forth discussion, my British friend’s opinion was crystal clear.

“From here (UK), it looks like you folks are becoming a little arrogant, as though you’re trying to become mini-Americans.”

Summarizing his perspective of the new Conservative Canada:

  • we bloviate about our economy and our banks
  • we bully the EU with our economic ideas
  • our new focus on guns and military power doesn’t seem worthy of a peacekeeping-focused country whose former Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, won the Nobel Peace Prize
  • our vast oil riches have made us lose sight of the environment and global warming.

He even asked “Will we be banning gay marriage and bringing back the death penalty?” I responded, “Any other thoughts?” and he replied, “I think I’ve already said too much.” I chuckled and let him know that I share all of his views and I even emailed him a link to a blog post I wrote in early March of this year.

I concluded by telling him that I remain hopeful that a majority of Canadians will rectify their mistake in our next federal election.

My viewpoint today is that the Harper Government is arrogant and is an embarrassment to many Canadians, myself included.

>> there is something to hope for…

Related article:

  1. Oh Canada: the government’s broad assault on the environment

The Enbridge Conundrum

Q: What is the Enbridge conundrum?
A: How can a corporation once named one of Canada’s greenest companies be responsible for delivering about 318,000,000 litres (84,000,000 gallons) of crude oil per day? Yes, I know about their CO2 sequestration, solar power, waste heat recovery and wind farm initiatives, but they’re still a major player in the fossil fuels marketplace. How is that green? To be fair, Enbridge is doing exactly what I think we should be doing with the tar sands, they’re using profits from oil and gas to transition to green technologies. Unfortunately, they’re also promoting a really bad plan that will inevitably lead to an environmental catastrophe.

I first became aware of Enbridge™, years ago, when I watched a newscast referencing an oil spill from one of their many pipelines (they have over 13,000 kilometres of pipeline). Recently, like all other residents of British Columbia Canada, I’ve been bombarded by their public relations blitz for their Northern Gateway Pipelines. Enbridge is currently investing up to five million dollars ($5,000,000) to convince BC residents that their planned pipeline is “a path to our future”. I suspect Big Oil is contributing additional funds to ensure the pipeline becomes a reality as soon as possible.

Q: “What kind of PR campaign can you buy for about $5,000,000?”
A: You can hire a team of designers and copywriters whose job it is to brand a heavy crude oil pipeline and oil port as something magical, wonderful and hopeful.

Ask yourself, does the combination of the designer’s beautiful artwork, pretty colours and the copywriter’s cleverly crafted story alter the fact that multinational oil and gas corporations have asked Enbridge to build a pipeline through BC’s pristine wilderness? Does it change the fact that when the heavy crude oil arrives in Kitimat, it will be pumped into enormous supertankers that will then travel along BC’s world-renowned, Pacific coastline, loaded with heavy crude oil?

Q: Do Enbridge pipelines ever leak?
A: Yes, according to Enbridge’s own data (via the Polaris Institute), they’ve had at least eight hundred and four (804) spills. The USA’s EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) reported that a recent spill, from a 30-inch pipeline rupture, dumped 819,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into the Talmadge Creek and some oil travelled about 30 miles downstream in the Kalamazoo River (Michigan USA). The Kalamazoo spill occurred a couple of years ago and they’re still cleaning up the mess.

Q: Do supertankers loaded with oil pose a danger to BC’s coastline and the Pacific ecosystem?
A: Have you watched ‘Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster’? If you haven’t already watched it, look for it on HBO Canada.

Over six thousand (6,000) well-intentioned, well-motivated people work for Enbridge and I have absolutely no doubt that they are doing everything possible to prevent and mitigate an environmental disaster. That said, Enbridge exists to make money for their shareholders and it does so by working hand in hand with multinational oil and gas corporations.

Questions:

  • do you think the Northern Gateway Pipelines will experience spills
  • do you think we’ll see 270 and 350 meter long supertankers leaking massive volumes of heavy crude oil just off the BC coastline
  • why isn’t more money from oil sands profits being channeled into green technologies here in Canada
  • why aren’t we refining heavy crude here in Canada
  • why is Canada still importing over forty percent (40%) of the oil we use
  • and finally, why are we squandering Canada’s bountiful natural resources to fuel the development of Pacific nations who see us as their competition?

“First, we outsourced our manufacturing jobs and helped to make China rich. Now were planning to send China more and more of our natural resources. The Chinese must think we’re idiots.”

It certainly appears that the Harper Government imagines that its mandate is to do the bidding of Big Oil. Their pro-oil, anti-environment playbook makes me shudder.

I’m convinced that Tom Mulcair and the NDP are on the right track, so there is hope.

Related posts:

  1. The Enbridge Northern Pipeline
  2. Enbridge Athabasca Pipeline Leak
  3. Red Deer River Oil Deluge
  4. Dirtiest Oil on Earth Video

Related article:

  1. Enbridge slammed for ‘Keystone Kops’ response to Michigan spill
  2. It’s More than a Pipeline
  3. Enbridge faces $3.7-million penalty for Michigan oil spill

Oil Sands Boosterism

oil sands boosterism

The Harper Government is both famous for and infamous for its oil sands boosterism. It certainly feels like their attitude is, “Damn environmental science and global warming, let’s make money.”

It’s not at all surprising that most scientists think that the Harper Government has an anti-science approach to environmental policy. The Harper Government doesn’t want scientific fact to interfere with their oil sands boosterism.

Unsurprisingly, the Harper Government’s biggest supporters are:

  • big businesses
  • multinational oil and gas corporations
  • pipeline corporations
  • the one percenters (1%)

Is the commonality in this list short-term profit and possibly even greed?

Equally interesting is that the Harper Government’s biggest detractors are:

  • environmentalists, both Canadian and international
  • scientists, both Canadian and international
  • most Canadians
  • the ninety-nine percenters (99%)

The commonality here is logical thinking.

“Using carbon based fuel creates global warming and pollution. We’re all in this together, so let’s transition to greener technologies.”

>> I’m a ninety-nine percenter and, like most Canadians, I’m hopeful. We have a choice…

Let’s use our oil sands sensibly, to help us transition to green technologies.

Canada Can Prosper and Still Protect Our Environment.

Tom’s Tar Sands Trip

Tom Mulcair Visits Oil Sands

Tom’s tar sands trip, or why Tom Mulcair’s visit to the Alberta oil sands has garnered attention from coast to coast. From the time Mr. Mulcair first mentioned Dutch disease, the overvalued Canadian Dollar, the loss of manufacturing jobs, the threat to Canada’s balanced economy and the absence of sustainable development, folks of all political persuasions have been transfixed.

BTW, before I discuss Mr. Mulcair’s Alberta visit, did you happen to notice that the just released Pembina Institute’s report suggests that Canada has actually come down with a unique strain of Dutch disease they call “oilsands fever.”

There’s no denying that Canada’s oil reserves are a very big deal. An even bigger deal is the question of how best to manage their development in an environmentally friendly, sustainable manner. Frankly, the Harper Government’s oil sands eagerness makes them look like a bunch of old, fuddy duddy, gold-rush characters, flushed with excitement, sweaty palms and all, staring at each other exclaiming, “We’re going to be rich! They’ve told us we’re going to be rich.” In stark contrast, Mr. Mulcair looks like the grown-up in the room telling the kids (paraphrased), “Hold on guys, let’s not get too excited, no matter what they’ve told you, there are some very serious questions that need to be addressed and answered.”

Watch this, oil sands related, CBC video and pay close attention to when Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, says, “What I am told, I’ve been told…” (about 3 min 50 sec into the clip).

Now ask yourself, who told Mr. Oliver that you will be able to drink from tailings ponds? Did the multinational oil and gas corporations actually tell him this whopper? If that’s the case, picture an oil and gas guy, who looks a little like John Lovitz (video below), saying, “You’ll be able to drink from it, yeah, that’s the ticket, you’ll be able to drink from it and fish from it.” 🙂

Tom Mulcair Visits Oil Sands

Alberta’s Premier, Alison Redford, was at a conference the day Tom Mulcair visited the oil sands, but she recorded a video statement ahead of time and said, “Recent comments by the federal leader of the opposition serve to divide our nation by stating baseless allegations and mistruths. Following Mr. Mulcair’s visit to Alberta’s oil sands, I hope that going forward he recognizes the value of our natural resources to the Canadian economy, and the continued commitment of my government to develop those resources in an environmentally sustainable way.”

Was Ms. Redford’s unnaturally aggressive posture nothing more than a recently re-elected politician playing to her base or did her comments actually reveal considerable underlying defensiveness; you know, the old, “the best defence is a strong offence” posturing. I was just delighted to hear her words “environmentally sustainable”.

For his part Mr. Mulcair was a very polite and respectful, visiting gentleman. Here are a couple of Tom Mulcair’s comments after flying over Alberta’s oil sands in a helicopter:

  • “extraordinary undertakings on a human scale. I mean, they’re massive”
  • “It’s extraordinarily impressive, but it also brings with it real challenges. Real challenges that if we don’t assume in this generation, we’re going to bear in future generations”

He also restated his view that oil companies were getting, “a bit of a free ride in terms of using the air, the soil or the water, in an unlimited way and in an almost free way”, but he made clear “My debate is with Stephen Harper, it’s not with the representatives of one of the companies".

>> click here to watch a short Canadian Press video

Canadian Conservative Think Tanks

Think Tank image

The tar sands boom: When you read an article, listen to radio or watch TV have you noticed that traditional media often references studies produced by Canadian conservative think tanks? What do you know about these folks? Have you ever wondered if these think tanks are as independent as they claim to be? Who funds their studies?

Unfortunately, Canada does not require think tanks to disclose their donors and I’m not aware of any conservative think tanks that have voluntarily disclosed their donors.

My suspicion is that resource corporations like:

  • multinational oil and gas corporations
  • pipeline corporations
  • other energy corporations
  • forestry corporations
  • mining corporations

and their owners, many of whom have earned hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars, are the think tank’s largest, individual donors.

Although most think tanks claim to be non-partisan or politically independent, the following organizations are widely acknowledged to be promoters of conservative paradigms (example organizations, listed alphabetically):

Q: Why am I concerned?

Example: In the USA, the Koch brothers are major donors to and funders of conservative think tanks.

I wonder, have the Koch brothers funded any of the Canadian conservative think tanks that have produced studies supporting our tar sands economy?

The big question I’m left with is, “Can we trust studies produced by Canadian conservative think tanks?”

Harper Government Political Patronage

Harper Governments political patronage

Have you read about Harper Government political patronage? As you’re undoubtedly aware Stephen Harper was previously dubbed Canada’s “patronage king”, but I’m not writing about that well documented Senate padding; rather, I’m referencing the thirty-five Conservative candidates, who lost in the last election and then quickly landed public jobs. The jobs included:

  • more appointments to the Senate
  • diplomatic posts
  • jobs in the Prime Minister’s Office
  • jobs with Health Canada
  • positions on EI Boards
  • positions with Port Authorities

Here’s the story: A quarter of defeated Tory candidates landed public jobs after election

The best headline was ‘Running for the Tories means never needing EI’

Running for the Tories means never needing EI

Is my memory failing me, or did Stephen Harper promise to end political patronage back in 2006?

Paying Attention

Paying Attention illustration

In politics, the sentence “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” has often been used as a slogan for both the left and the right. My wife, Wendy, saw a sign bearing the slogan at a Vancouver rally to protest the Northern Gateway Pipelines.

For those of us who would like to raise awareness of the environmental devastation caused by the Harper Government’s pro oil and gas agenda, the “…paying attention” bit is crucial.

Recently, Harper Government surrogates, Western Provincial Premieres, newspapers, TV news and political bloggers went wild analysing Tom Mulcair’s remarks about Dutch disease. From an economic, environmental and fundamental fairness perspective, Dutch disease is an important issue. Unfortunately, a recent Canadian Press, Harris-Decima telephone survey demonstrated that less than fifty percent (50%) of Canadians were paying attention.

Apathy and inattention aren’t new to Canadian politics. Did you know that only a little over sixty-percent (60%) of eligible Canadian voters cast a ballot in the 2011 Federal Election. Even more shocking is the fact that the sixty-percent turnout was higher than the previous three elections.

Humour: Did you know that when I was working as a medical doctor, I developed a cure for apathy? I didn’t make any money from my invention because I discovered that no one was enthused about or even interested in my product. 🙂

Only about forty percent of eighteen to twenty-four year olds voted in 2011. You guys are the folks who will have to live with the environmental consequences of the Harper Government’s profit now – pay later approach to tar sands development.

Q: Why is there apathy?
A: Once upon a time Canadian Federal Governments seemed pretty much the same, but that hasn’t been the case since the Reform Party decided to rename themselves the Conservative Party of Canada. Make no mistake, these are not your grandfather’s conservatives and that’s not a good thing.

“These Are Not You’re Gradfather’s Conservatives
and That’s Not a Good Thing.”

Example: The 2012 Budget

>> Learn why I’m hopeful that things will change

BTW, if you’re one of the folks who hasn’t payed much attention to politics, you may be wondering, “Who is Tom Mulcair?”

Harper Government’s 2012 Budget

Harper Government Budget 2012

Spring is a time for renewal. The Harper Government’s 2012 Budget was something new, but if you care about our environment, it was only new in a very unwelcome way. There’s nothing fresh about this stinker. Canada’s Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, introduced the ugliest attack on Canada’s environment in our history. Much has been made of the Bill C–38’s over four-hundred, page count, but, unsurprisingly, it was the exasperating Big-Oil-Agenda, that left environmentalists completely befuddled. Here are just a few of the changes:

  • Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act repealed
  • NEB (National Energy Board) reviews limited to two years, the Northern Gateway Pipelines review is included, retroactively. Worse still, if the Harper Government’s Cabinet disagrees with the NEB’s findings, they will have the power to unilaterally overrule the NEB’s review
  • pipelines will be exempt from the provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act
  • replacing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
  • shuttering the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy
  • Canada’s Auditor General, will no longer audit the Northern Pipeline Agency
  • the Minister of National Revenue can withhold tax receipts from a charity if political activities exceed ten percent (think environment focused organizations)
  • rewriting The Fisheries Act, potentially eliminating current protections for fish habitat.

Q: Who benefits from these downgrades of our environmental protection?
A: Multinational oil and gas corporations.

Ask yourself, “Why is the Harper Government working hand-in-hand with Big Oil?”

Harper Government Big Oil

Historical note: What did Stephen Harper think about omnibus budget implementation bills back in 1994? To be fair to the Liberals, their omnibus bill was much, much smaller than C-38 and it did not cover over seventy pieces of legislation. The Harper Government’s Bill C-38 will become infamous.

“In the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?”
– Stephen Harper, Reform Party MP

Related Articles:

  1. Budget 2012 – The Harper Government’s Trojan Horse
  2. PSAC criticism of Budget Implementation Act