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The Real Radicals Are Those Who Pollute Our Air and Water and Destabilize Our Climate, Mr. Oliver

2012/01/10

Here are some excerpts from an open letter released yesterday by Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, just prior to the start of the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings in B.C. today:

“Unfortunately, there are environmental and other radical groups that would seek to block this opportunity to diversify our trade. Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth.”

“No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.”

“These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada’s national economic interest.”

I find this letter very telling, and believe it to be a very honest expression of the mindset of our current federal government with regard to the economy and environmental concerns. They see them as being completely separate from each other, and honestly believe that the “god” of economic growth is to be followed and obeyed at all costs.  Concerns about clean water, clean air, and a stable climate are but petty distractions to the main focus – making money, and lots of it (although not necessarily for all Canadians – it’s the oil and gas industry that are going to be the big winners if this pipeline goes through).

I recently read this quote from economist Kenneth Boulding, “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever is either a madman or an economist.”  This is what we have at Canada’s helm right now – madmen!  They have become so disconnected from the experience of being human on planet earth that they have forgotten that we humans are indelibly connected to the earth systems around us, from where we get the sustenance of life – the air we breathe, the food that nourishes us, the water of which two thirds of our bodies are composed. Our economy operates inside our environment. Mr. Harper, Mr. Oliver and their friends have forgotten that the economy is, as U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson put it, “a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.” And as David Suzuki reminds us, “When we measure everything in terms of economic value, those things that matter most to us, are worthless.

To blame Mr. Harper and Mr. Oliver entirely for these failings is to be too harsh. They are the penultimate products of a society and culture that, for millennia, has been distancing men (I use that word deliberately) from the natural world. To be successful in our society has been to triumph over nature, be it by building bigger and better edifices, transforming pristine wilderness into “resources”, or just plain old raping and pillaging. Women and indigenous peoples have suffered, and continue to suffer, because of this alienation between man and nature.

To cite logic to people who are so disconnected from reality is rarely helpful. One could remind them that “Government’s job is to ensure that the overall economic system functions effectively, not to protect all the component parts from change.” (Paul Gilding, The Great Disruption) But Harper and Oliver are too deeply in the pockets of Big Oil and Gas to see how they are failing the vast majority of Canadians by their single-minded focus on the Alberta tar sands as the economic driver for Canada. Canada as a nation is going to be completely outpaced in the new, renewable energy economy of the 21st century because all of our economic eggs, at least at the federal level, are being placed in the tar sands basket.

However, as I’ve been recently been immersed in Gilding’s The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On The End of Shopping and the Birth Of a New World, I am heartened by Gilding’s prediction that the global economy, and as a result our society as a whole,  is about to hit the wall. We’ve been withdrawing from our environmental capital account for decades, and we’re about to run out of both the interest we’ve been living off and the capital. Thisgreat disruptionwill result in a transformational shift in the way we live and behave in the world and within the ecosystem that gives us life. If humans are to survive on earth, which Gilding is sure that we will, we will adopt a new consciousness about our environment, and our place in it. I’ll end with another quote from scientist and Canadian environmental icon David Suzuki: How you imagine the world determines how you live in it.

If you’d like to send a message to Mr. Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources (or is it oil sands?) reminding him who the real radicals are, here’s his contact info:  Natural Resources Telephone: 613-992-6361 Parliamentary Office Telephone: 416-781-5583 Fax: 613-992-9791 EMail: Joe.Oliver@parl.gc.ca. Twitter: @joeoliver1

If you’d like to read a letter to use as a template or to get inspired, go to BorealCitizen.wordpress.com

More links:

Closer Look: Canadian Oil Sands And Koch

Spin Cycle On Pipelines, “Foreign Interests” Hits Warp Speed

For The Harper Government, The Gateway Must Be Open

Oil Sands Foes Are Foes of Canada, Minister Says

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Leslea permalink
    2012/01/10 4:26 pm

    Harper & crew used attack tactics to win a “majority” (as if 38% of the voters actually count as the majority… NOT) government in Canada. Now he’s using the SAME attack tactics to attack ANYONE who isn’t on board with his radical & vicious plans to stripmine the country for all it’s worth. Doesn’t matter to him if it’s the tarsands or the Jasper National park, EVERYTHING is on fire sale prices to this SOB.

    I have NO doubt he’d be selling his own wife & kids on the street if he thought he could get away with it.

    • 2012/01/11 10:26 am

      Perhaps Harper and his minions have been given enough rope to hang themselves with, as a previous commentor suggested!

    • klem permalink
      2012/01/13 9:44 am

      “Now he’s using the SAME attack tactics to attack ANYONE who isn’t on board..”

      I’m on board, and since you as a member of the eveil West, so are you. I hope we sell everything we can, as fast as we can and for the most money we can.

      Climate alarmism is dead.

      “What economist would advocate increasingly costly energy resources in place of free ambient energy? ”

      None that I know of. Most economists would advocate for the increasingly plentiful, energy rich, cheap fossil fuels rather than expensive and inefficient solar and wind.

      “As more people learn about these hearings, it will shine a light on the oil sands and on this pipeline..”

      That’s right, it will also shine a light on the bizarre luny world of the eco-marxist. I can’t wait.

      Four years is a long time. That’s four years of continuous attack ads on TV against the Greenies, the NDP and the Libs. By the time four years is over, his oposition will be a total train wreck.

      Looking forward to the next four years.

      Cheers.

  2. 2012/01/11 8:43 am

    The mindset of politicians internationally appears to be bounded an erroneous belief that ‘green’ development is not economically viable.

    What economist would advocate increasingly costly energy resources in place of free ambient energy ? Would it be those in the pay of the exploiters of depleting and polluting energy resources ?

    What businessman would build a business on the back of increasingly costly resources ? Would it be those who haven’t the imagination of how to achieve sustainable growth through the harnessing of sustainable recyclable resources ?

    Let the people know that we have nothing to loose but our Dinosaurs through blocking the exploitation and depletion of non renewable and polluting resources.

    • 2012/01/11 10:28 am

      Well said, Keith. The tide is turning, those of us who are most aware of the price our children and grandchildren (not to mention the rest of the ecosphere) are going to have to pay for our delay need to keep reminding our “circle of influence” of this.

  3. 2012/01/12 11:35 am

    Foreign interests? What about the fact that most of the oil companies are foreign owned?

    This statement made me angry too but in some ways – there is a silver lining. It shows that the government and this industry are frightened about the opposition to this pipeline. It shows that they are trying to lash back, and in doing so, look more ridiculous. As more people learn about these hearings, it will shine a light on the oil sands and on this pipeline, and everyday people might start to question – why are we doing this, why are we taking this risk and what about our children’s future? This whole thing could blow up in the government’s face and I think they know it. 18 months of hearings is a long time to keep the public’s best interests outside of the knowledge of the public.

    I just hope that those groups opposing this pipeline (both grassroots and others) continue to fight the fight. I want to help too, just don’t really know how…

    The path of this pipeline will run just about an hour north of where I live.

    • 2012/01/12 11:50 am

      I agree, Sherry, it does seem a strange tactic for the government to take, protective as it is of massive foreign investment in the tar sands. And just being aware of this issue, and talking about it with friends/families/colleagues is helpful. And there’s always Citizens Climate Lobby if you want to lobby for change!

  4. Ruth McVeigh permalink
    2012/01/12 4:26 pm

    It really worries me that our P.M. is an economist who appears to believe he’s good at managing the economy, yet he clearly doesn’t understand that 38% is NOT a majority and that, in fact, 62% of Canadians either did not vote, or voted other than Conservative. That’s simple math which he apparently can’t comprehend.

    • 2012/01/12 4:32 pm

      Apparently Mr. Harper only counts his current seats in the House of Commons – he isn’t there to represent what Canadians truly what, he’s taken his 38% as a carte blanche to push through his very specific ideological agenda. He doesn’t seem to be able to count past 4, either, to realize that he will have to go back to the Canadian electorate after 4 years and if he’s managed to alienate the vast majority of the population with his extreme ideological policies, he won’t be getting even 38% of the vote.
      And, frankly, if Canadians aren’t paying attention and vote him and his government in again, we deserve everything we get!

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