Last week, I found out that my government is spying on me, Canada ranked worst in the developed world for response to climate change, Canadians rose up against pipeline proposals all across the country, and the media reported precious little of any of it. What happened to the Canada we know and love? Where is the country that holds its head high in the world, a respected leader on human rights and environmental issues?
To accept and use money from these companies is outrageous. It is an obvious contradiction: How can the organizers promote reconciliation while giving Big Oil companies a pass when those same companies are directly involved in damaging Indigenous ways of life? This was the exact purpose of Residential Schools. The Residential School system had sought (among many things) to displace Indigenous peoples from our homelands; yet again, these companies are seeking to displace our peoples from our homelands to reap the benefit at our expense.
Filling up at the gas station is certainly one of the ways to use oil that is most familiar to us. But guess what: of all the oil we use, only 43 per cent goes to fueling our cars. Given this, can we seriously consider ending our "dependence on oil", as some would suggest? Someone who wants to stop using oil will have to say goodbye to smart phones, ballpoint pens, candlelight, clothing made of synthetic fibers, glasses, toothpaste, tires (including those on bicycles), and thousands of other products made from plastic, a petroleum derivative. Good luck with that program.
Line 9 is a 38-year-old pipeline running between Sarnia and Montreal. It runs through 115 communities and under prime farmland, and crosses major river systems that flow into Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. A spill could put the drinking water of millions of Ontarians at risk. And a spill will happen.
The grim news is that we've gone from bad to worse when it comes to how we move oil around North America. With oil prices now back in triple-digit territory, there is, at least, a glimmer of hope. The same high prices that are spurring producers to load crude on to train cars are about to, once again, curb our appetite for the fuel.
The BC Liberals and particularly Premier Christy Clark deserve the praise they're receiving for their surprise electoral victory. After all, the Liberals reversed a double-digit deficit in the polls and ended up securing a majority government. This moment of jubilation for the Liberals and their supporters will be short-lived however, as the reality of governing in difficult times takes hold. The litmus test for the success of this government, which they themselves established, is the success of the economy and in particular, jobs.
British Columbians clearly oppose both Kinder Morgan and the Northern gateway, but I wouldn't doubt we will see the pro-pipeline Harper federal government stick their nose into the B.C. election in the coming weeks, as they twist in the wind watching the fate of their beloved tar sands pipelines land right in the waiting hands of Adrian Dix and the NDP.
The courage and resilience of the First Nations people in general, and specifically through their ongoing resistance to and suffering from mineral extraction such as the tar sands mining in Alberta, further affirms that we have a great deal to learn from the aboriginal peoples of this region and elsewhere.
This Thursday a new treaty is due to come into effect between Canada and China without debate or public discussion. It is called an Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China. his agreement will allow both countries to go to binding arbitration at an international tribunal. Under this agreement, "unreasonable" attempts to stop foreign takeovers could be brought to this very arbitration board and either mandated to be allowed or incur huge fines against Canada. Unsurprisingly, a lot of Canadians, especially in the West, don't like the sound of that
As I write this thousands of people are gathered in Victoria, B.C. risking arrest to send a clear message that Canada's west coast is united in opposition to the expansion of tar sands pipelines and tanker traffic. There is no one size-fits-all solution to environmental issues, but that's exactly what PowerShift is all about.
If a mega corporation wanted to build a ski resort in your most treasured forest, you'd raise your voice. If a little girl in your community was standing up to big oil because she wanted to save sea otters, you'd raise your voice. If a thoughtful group of First Nations said to you "how can we understand the total impact of all these development projects unless we are working together?", you'd raise your voice too. Well, this is your chance. B.C. is facing unprecedented environmental challenges.