posted by coyote
Last week, the federal natural resources minister, Joe Oliver, came out all rabid attack-doggy on "radical foreign elements" set on infiltrating and hijacking the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings to bring up environmental issues. Some kafuffle, huh?
Northern Gateway would be, if you've had your head buried in the, ummm, sands, these last weeks, a really big pipe for pumping great wads of sludge from the Athabasca tar sands, through some of BC's most pristine remaining wilderness to the west coast, where megatankers (...none, we hope, named Exxon Valdez...) would bug out for China with it.
It's the government's, ummm, better alternative to the now-shelved Keystone XL project, another big-jeezuz pipeline that was designed to pump that self-same sludge through some of Nebraska's most pristine wilderness, and thence to the refineries of Texas et.al. Are you starting to see a theme? And what could possibly go wrong?
Yesterday, in another vaguely-fawning Peter Mansbridge interview, the PM appeared to cool the hot oil cauldrons. Although we should remember that: A) This is a guy who's all about appearance over reality; and: B) He'd have to have approved Oliver's frothy yappin' in the first place. There's a definite strategic messaging advantage in that kind of thing: He looks about as reasonable as he's capable of of - which ain't very - as he sweetly opines that "Canada shouldn't be one giant national park for the northern half of North America."
This is pretty much standard operating procedure. The Prime Minister's Office tells the useful idiots on the back benches and in the ministers' thrones to say the really dumb/incendiary crap, so he can later look prime ministerial while he pours heavy oil on troubled waters.
The troubled waters in this case, though, are in the Athabasca River. As an Alberta doggy, I can vouch for its beauty if you ever get that far north. Not to mention the Beaufort Sea, where it empties. You know. The Arctic Ocean. Where, notwithstanding all those, well-enforced environmental regulations, increasing masses of escaping toxic aromatics seem likely to eventually ooze from the giant settling ponds surrounding a growing bunch of heavy oil mines - pretty much owned by, ummm, foreign elements.
One is China. Judging by the monumentally appalling way that country's government treats its own environment in the name of economic gain, I don't imagine they'd give a rat's ass about screwing up Canada - good - to feed their own strategic oil wants. Ditto the U.S. of A.
If Joe Oliver thinks I'm some kind of dangerous radical for considering that environmental concerns deserve a serious airing in any discussion of the tar sands, let him. He's kind of heavily biased. And kind of wrong. In his own way as much as a fossil as the animals from which all that evil-smelling goo in Athabasca came from. Hey! Maybe he's so defensive about the tar sands because he's related!
Way I see it, Canada being one giant national park may indeed be dreaming in technicolour. But it shouldn't be one giant black national toxic waste dump, either.