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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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