The Harper Conservatives have fallen 16 points in B.C., hopefully in part because of their bully campaign on behalf of Enbridge's tar sands pipeline. But they show no sign of letting up, with an oil-soaked budget expected on March 29.
Former Conservative Fisheries Minister Tom Siddon just spoke out against leaked plans to gut federal habitat protections for fish. Reports say that Harper will slip this into the budget, and the government has not denied it.
Bloomberg Businessweek also tells us the budget will contain other measures to speed oil infrastructure projects.
All this comes as Alberta's oil economy is already already more than booming -- with real GDP growth forecast at 3.9 per cent in both 2012 and 2013 -- while our petro-fuelled high dollar causes economic harm to other manufacturing industries in Canada, with 500,000 lost jobs lost.
With the tar sands therefore needing no help, thank you very much, it's hard not to conclude that the budget's boosting of big oil is purely ideological.
If a minister tries to tell you that gutting protections is about "balance," according to a statement released by the fisheries minister's office,
take another look at an open pit tar sands mine or at the trillions of litres of toxic tailings now gracing the Athabasca region in vast, leaking, human-made lakes. Yes, that's right, according to an article in Albert'a alt-weekly, Vue Weekly, the tailing ponds from the tar sands are growing: "Every day, roughly two billion litres of water--enough to fill 800 Olympic swimming pools--are added to the ponds, which are already over 11.5 trillion litres in volume."
If anything, a rational response from a government that wants to try and justify doubling down on fossil fuels at a time when climate scientists tell us we must do exactly the opposite would be to strengthen, not weaken, environmental laws. Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver and Environmental Minister Peter Kent will have a harder time in their international tar sands lobbying trips having to gloss over the fact that they are taking things backwards, not forwards.
So, we Canadians must accept the fact that we have at least another three years of oil ideologues holding the levers of power in Ottawa. The polls in B.C. are at least encouraging, showing that voters there aren't buying it. Let's hope that the rest of the country soon wakes up too.