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.
We looked at the $1.3 billion in taxpayer money our federal government currently hands to the oil industry in the form of subsidies and asked: what if, instead of subsidizing polluters, the money was invested in industries that cut pollution? We crunched the numbers and found that $1.3 billion invested in renewable energy or energy efficiency could create between 18,000-20,000 jobs.