A recent plunge in oil prices as been driving a steady stream of commentary from leading economic voices across the spectrum in Canada calling for everything from outright panic to 'stay the course'. With oil hovering just north of $80 per barrel, many are starting to question the future of pipelines, tar sands and other resource intensive extractive projects.
There's something about a new Naomi Klein book that always seems to attract a lot of attention. And not just from middle-of-the-road Western Canadians like myself who work hard for a living and enjoy the beautiful, natural settings where we live, work and raise our families. No, Klein even seems to attract the ire of -- you guessed it -- "big environmentalism." It's a credit to her proven ability to lay out the controversial argument. People love that.
A new report released today finds that seven of the largest publicly-traded oil companies in the world are putting billions of dollars in jeopardy by investing in high-cost, high-risk oil extraction projects. Many of the most risky ventures are right here in Canada and many of the companies named in the report figure significantly in Canadian pension plans and mutual funds.
The residents Fort McMurray and region are reliant on specialized emergency services - and in situations where minutes do matter and where lengthy transportation delays can result in poor medical outcomes, including death. We are a region of remote communities, work camps, isolated roads, industrial sites and thousands and thousands of people for whom these night flights can mean the difference between life and death. It's a pretty stark reality - and it is time for everyone to recognize it and come back to the table.
Like Mr. Mulcair, Dr. Jaccard has gone down to Washington to try to shame Canada into walking away from a prospective source of prosperity and employment for the people of Canada. He does his country no service tossing around overheated rhetoric which only arms Canada's competitors and critics against her best interests.
In the 20th century, much of the divide in politics and policy was over how best to create jobs, incomes and keep people from starving--how to create opportunity as part of the good life. Those on the "left" argued for state intervention and often outright state ownership; those on the "right" pointed to open markets and other elements of capitalism as the superior route to avoiding poorer populations.
Foreign markets are buying up our resources, corporations are getting rich, and average Canadians are taking on all the risk. Unfortunately, Canada has a poor record of enforcement against oil companies, and prosecutes less than one per cent of environmental violations in the oil sands. Because of changes to the NEB Act last year, Canadians must do tremendous paperwork to have their voices heard, but some are fighting back.
"Here," said a Heiltsuk friend as we began the walk, "put this in your pocket, it will help protect you." She handed me a piece of dried Devil's club bark, medicine from the B.C. coastal rainforest to carry with me as we walked by Alberta's tar sands facilities. Strong medicine was definitely in order as my lungs hurt, heart ached, and eyes welled up with tears with all that I witnessed.
With consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal heading into the home stretch, a parade of Canadian politicians have been making the trek to the U.S. to try to convince the Obama Administration of the pipeline's merits.The good news is that the recent visitors -- from Premiers Redford and Wall to federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver -- now acknowledge that Canada's environmental record is crucial to the upcoming U.S. decision.The bad news is that there are some gaping holes in that record.