Spiritual Insurrection

Canada's Hard Turn Right

A New Petrol State Has Emerged.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Audio version read by Sloan Garrett – Right-click to download

A new petro state has emerged in global affairs and its extreme political behavior has unsettled both Americans and Europeans alike.

For starters, the year-old regime has muzzled government scientists who are now accompanied by Soviet-like “minders” at public events.

It has branded environmentalists as “foreign radicals.”

It has abandoned its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce atmospheric pollution and effectively has no national plan to deal with climate change.

The state’s Auditor General has accused the government of lying to elected officials and concealing the real price tag for military aircraft: An astounding $25 billion.

More than 30,000 citizens have filed complaints with authorities accusing the ruling party of committing massive electoral fraud during the last election.

The same ruling party has gutted most of the country’s environmental legislation to quicken the approval times for pipelines and other oil and gas projects.

It also proposes to sell its supertankers of petroleum to three highly corrupt state-owned corporations ruled by the Communist Party of China. All comfortably deal with dictators and human rights violators.

Although this petro pirate may sound like Nigeria, Angola, Ecuador or Equatorial Guinea, think again. It’s Canada. That’s right: The northern mining giant that shares a border with the United States. It used to be a polite place – but the country’s gone rogue over oil.

Petrolized by bitumen exports and ruled by a Conservative Party that makes the Republican antics of George W. Bush look tame, Canada has become another dysfunctional petro state in full democratic free fall.

Even one of the nation’s most seasoned political analysts, Laurence Martin, writes that the nation’s oily leaders are breaking “new ground in the subverting of the democratic process.”

The resource behind this rueful transformation is bitumen, a costly junk crude that must be mined from the nation’s northern forests or steamed from deeper deposits. The unconventional hydrocarbon, which even Big Oil describes as ugly, comes with a much higher water, carbon and energy footprint than light oil.

Since the late 1990s a bitumen boom, driven by rising oil prices and give-it-away royalties, has created the world’s largest energy and engineering project in northern Alberta, a western province home to the Rocky Mountains, cowboys, and boreal forest. As a consequence, Canada now ranks as the world’s sixth largest oil producer. Oil lobbyists dominate the nation’s capital and bitumen now accounts for more than 30 percent of the nation’s exports. Not surprisingly, the nation’s embassies lobby against carbon taxes and low-carbon fuel standards abroad with Saudi-like enthusiasm.

Canada’s ruling Conservative party now vainly describes the nation as an “emerging energy superpower.” Its leader, Stephen Harper, a libertarian ideologue who brooks no criticism, is the son of an Imperial oil accountant from Calgary, Alberta – Canada’s Houston, Texas.

Harper, who makes policy announcements from foreign capitals, is also an evangelical fundamentalist Christian with a deep disdain for science, the media and environmentalism.

Although he refuses to publicly answer questions about his religious beliefs, his political actions tell an extreme story. In recent months he stunned the country by formally declaring war against environmental critics of rapid tar sands development. Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver, an investment banker and genuine one percenter, even dubbed opponents “foreign radicals” in an open public letter. At the same time the government reclassified Greenpeace, a civil organization established by Canadian journalists, as a “multi-issue extremist threat.”

To accelerate the approval of pipelines that would carry bitumen to the coastal province of British Columbia and onto supertankers destined for China, the federal government has rewritten every major piece of environmental legislation from the Navigable Waters Act to the Fisheries Act. It has also centralized key decision-making powers for major pipeline projects in the hands of Conservative ministers.

This broad policy change, buried in a recent documents, so shocked one columnist for the National Post, Canada’s leading right-wing newspaper, that he accused the government of “institutional duplicity” and “treating Canadians like fools.”

While government and industry PR folk spin fabrications about Canada’s environmental record (one of the worst in the industrial world), Scott Vaughan, Federal Environment Commissioner in the office of the Auditor General, reports that there are only 12 water quality stations for Canada’s 3,000 First Nations communities and just one federal water monitoring station operating downstream from the tar sands (which was, until last year, only calibrated to detect pulp mill pollution). Most of Canada’s resource extraction happens on or near First Nations land, and has long-lasting impacts on water, soil, and communities.

The data-antagonistic Harper government has so muzzled federal scientists that an editorial in the prestigious Nature magazine demanded that it was “time for the Canadian government to set its scientists free.” Harper responded by providing Soviet-like chaperones for Arctic scientists at a recent Montreal conference, much to the nation’s global embarrassment. “It’s going from bad to worse,” says Andrew Weaver, one of the nation’s top climate researchers and a critic of government scientific censorship.

Given that Canada’s prime minister and his cabinet ministers now receive a portion of their paychecks from bitumen taxes (not one petroleum cent is being saved federally), just about everyone expects the level of tension, intimidation and conflict to rise steadily in the country. And yes, you read that correctly: We’re talking about Canada.

Andrew Nikiforuk is a Canadian journalist and the author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent.

106 comments on the article “Canada's Hard Turn Right ”

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1. Canadians ask the Canadian Federal Government for a clear, permanent exemption for all Canadians from the Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP): or any other agreements with foreign or corporate powers; including but not limited to the International Monetary Fund (IMF); World Bank (WB); World Trade Organization (WTO)
2. Canadians ask the Federal Government to protect the autonomous powers of the individual Canadians - to create local jobs, protect the environment, and provide services and programs as they see fit for the local environment – free from any restrictions to those powers in the above named
3. Canadians further ask the Federal Government to exempt us from corporate powers and we encourage and support the end to global corporate tyranny.


This is absolutely horrendous. Just when I was ready to leave the US and head for the border due to our conservative-disguised-as liberal president..this. Why is the democratic process failing us.. are we really that vulnerable to corruption? This isn't right. I haven't felt this helpless in so long, I submitted my application to the Peace Corp.


I guess the only thing to say is that they are not acting-in the best interests of all Canadians or anyone else, for that matter.Polution doesn't stop at borders nor does water contain itself to areas where it is fracting .Serious consequences are going to be paid by this fascist regime for it's Godless policies because we know that where there is oil, there are oil spills ans yet the government uses every dirty trick to force thru aggresive energy agendas.Look out Canada! We're headed for death as a nation if this keeps up.God is GAIA and our Earth is sacred, The only heaven s right here right now.Our immortality is in our children and their children's children.Destroy nature and you are destroying God.


they own your shit and the food you put in your mouth and the digestive track processing it to shit


LOL @ all you people that use terms like "Fasicst" and "Regime" and talk about albertans flipping the bills for clean up and yadda yadda crap about america owning us ... you are all pretty funny ... one of you calling "facist regime" for "godless politics" made me really laugh ... like god has anything to do with politics tff ... and the other about being "on the hook" for clean up also ... lol ... the COMPANY is ORDERED by GOV to clean up after themselves ... I would even bet you have NEVER EVEN BEEN UP THERE and seen the RECLAIMED land ... the lakes , forest , animals , any of that ... you all just spout crap that the HAVE READ somewhere without even going to seeing any of this "PROOF" you called read somewhere .... sheep is the best thing that comes to mind , yes the land looks bad sometimes up north , but would you give up driving your car in -40 to save all that? , hell would you stop posting your crap online to save all that? ... HYPOCRITES .... like green peace chashing some ship for thousands of miles to tell them how bad they are ...or driving to some const site to protest .... NONE of you ever read anything by someone else that writes a BIAS , INFORMATIVE piece of work I'll wager even , you only follow the people that live only to disturb and disrupt anything they feel is not what THEY THINK IS RIGHT , all of you still go on vacations I bet , using gas , oil , PLASTIC .... but then jump all over some guys band wagon that wrote a book on ""Tar Sands": Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent. " which is also funny considering they are OIL SANDS ... Did you all actually know that the land they actually dig up CANNOT BE USED for anything because it is laden with oil??? Admittedly I DO NOT like Harper and what he does , but I WILL NOT base that on CRAP someone else wrote , or on someone's OPINION of him ..... and I would atleast TRY and get ALL THE FACTS first before I spew the crap some of you did/have .... HYPOCITES ...... now I have more sufing to do and all because of OIL BY PRODUCTS I can do this ...... ENJOY ... P.S. I will NOT keep coming back to "ARGUE" online about this all ... I can only pray you will all atleast TRY and get OTHER facts on all this ...... Be Well all .........


Well, UiDiOt, I enjoyed your wit and passion, a very funny comment. I also see how you believe you have the only acceptable perspective on the issues you touch upon, and that derisive condescension is a way of life for you (goes around, comes around, jack). Since it's literally impossible for one person to have ALL the answers and to have the ONLY possible understanding of the issues and challenges we communally face, I have to pity you a bit, all alone there in your mental certitude and basking in trumped-up pride in your own cleverness and past-expiration-date rebellious adolescence (or are you really only 14?). Actually, there's a vast wealth of extensive science that at least strongly challenges and very likely refutes your rather shallow ideology and arguments, an area you obviously haven't explored for one reason or another (Too much effort? Or worse, you might be wrong?). One taunt of yours in particular strikes me as especially naive: "OIL SANDS ... Did you all actually know that the land they actually dig up CANNOT BE USED for anything because it is laden with oil???" I especially like the three question marks. So manly! The ALL-CAPS was very helpful as well. Anyway, It's hilarious to me that you think that the digging up of the oil sands itself is what we "HYPOCITES" object to, and that you have not the first inkling or curiosity about the comprehensive problem with the oil-sands approach to meeting energy needs and the very legitimate, even dire concerns involved. You know, just because you are so busy enjoying the benefits of the oil economy - which of course everyone does to some extent - doesn't mean that you can't do both, enjoy the benefits and learn and care about maintaining the quality of life downstream from the oil sands. Maybe when your favorite surfing coasts are so polluted by oil spills that surfing becomes even more carcinogenic, you could possibly begin to come to some wisdom. Hopefully, if that happens, you will still possess your wit and passion and can shoot your mouth off in the proper direction by then.


LOL .... exactly my point of the arguing , seriously?? you feel a need to argue? and seriously?? you think you calling me a child is a bad thing?? LMAO ... Naive? Manly? ...tff ... you really had a nerve touched didn't you? you picked apart a bunch of non-sense , lol so easy to ruffle a feather sometimes .... so tell me something .... do you think your superior to others by all that name calling? Voicing your "opinion" by saying I am child like or a child for real? Or that I "shoot my mouth off"? ... lol ... wow ...I bet you've never been up there either ... BTW If you call running a huge ass diesel pushing boat thousands of miles to tell someone they are doing wrong , or driving to some oil site to protest and express your opinion "enjoying the benfits and learning to care" not a hypocrite , then what would be one? ... anyways .... I had to come see who would be the first to call names and express their "opinion" lol .... and HELLO ... <~~~ Yes not very manly am I? LMAO


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