Canada's negotiators are working hard to sidestep the issue of the country's growing greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector while simultaneously keeping quiet about the oilsands as nations come up with their "intended nationally determined contributions" in the global climate agreement.
Once the carbon bubble, like the tech or housing bubble, pops it would bring dramatic re-evaluation of oil companies, resulting in massive layoffs and major industry restructuring. In Canada, the oilsands represents two per cent of the country's GDP and 90 per cent of the economic benefit goes to Alberta.
The way tensions between pipeline opponents and Kinder Morgan contractors have escalated during the last week should come as a surprise to no one. The mishandling of the National Energy Board review of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain oil pipeline and tanker proposal has created the conditions for the situation now unfolding on the mountainside.
After 24 years of controversy, a vital deadline is looming for Glacier Resorts Ltd., which by next month has to prove to B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office that significant progress has been made on the billion-dollar plan to build a 6,300-bed resort on Crown land in the glacial wilderness, 55 kilometres west of Invermere.
"One of the mysteries is why he has got his nose in it at all," said B.C. MLA Norm Macdonald, adding that people worry about publicly criticizing powerful minister Bill Bennett. "This is complete insider stuff. It's a remote corner of the province and they're getting away with stuff no one would get away with anywhere else... Everything about it feels like cronyism at its worst."
Facing criticism in the lead up to the U.N. Climate Summit, which prime minister Stephen Harper did not attend, the Harper Government released a new public outreach campaign through Environment Canada. Already critics are pointing to the apparent disparity between the Environment Canada campaign and Canada's waning reputation on the international stage.
Canada's so-called "War on Science" has made international headlines, especially after deep funding cuts led to the closure of some of Canada's most important research centres. Thousands of federal scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as well as Environment Canada have lost their jobs as a result of the cuts. Since 2006 the Harper government has introduced strict communications procedures that prevent scientists from speaking freely about -- and at times even publishing -- their research.
"The situations we've encountered in every case has been an independent contractor to a company who signs on to a company [saying] they will dispose of the waste in an appropriate manner...and then behave badly, try to save themselves some money by coming to our dump instead of going to the proper spot."
In 2012, when Gatineau beaches were tested 12 times, the Parc Moussette beach received a D rating three times. In 2013, with eight test dates through the summer, the same beach was posted as unsafe for swimming once and this year. Health Canada estimates that, at the D-grade level, about 100,000 Canadians a year get sick from swimming in polluted waters.
According to the poll, conducted by Environics and commissioned by Environmental Defence, 41 per cent of Canadians believe the importance of the oilsands to the economy is six to 24 times higher than it actually is. And a full 57 per cent of Canadians overestimate the value of oilsands to the country's economy.