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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Really? This is just painful... this whole thing is just painful. The ideology war is getting out of hand. I try to understand both sides and, to be honest, both sides have legitimatly good ideas and legitimate complaints about the other. The PROBLEM is when we have people who believe SO STRONGLY in something (on both sides) that they are willing (and indeed attempting) to steamroll other people's democratic rights.

The actions taken by the conservatives is threatening... they are using tactics that while within the word of the law are counter to its spirit. Why? I hope it's only because they believe they are saving Canada from itself, because otherwise they really are meglomanical autocrats. To be honest I am not surprised though, the strong "conservative" belief suggests that they believe they do know what's better for us all. I am just afraid of what they will have to do to "fix" the country and "silence" the opposition.

What's worse is that the opposition is resorting to the same tactics more and more. This is polarizing our country... right vs. left... and CLEARLY that is going GREAT for the states. What makes Canada great? It was the fact that we were a polite and rational country. Our parties were very different, but would still work together toward the benifit of Canadians... now... well you can't do ANYTHING without a majority and when you have it you can do ANYTHING. Why did Canada do better than other contries? Two reasons: first Canada is not an economic power... we are the state's little brother to the north... we are not so dependant on the global economy (not saying that we arn't, just that we are not as) as many of those that are suffering. Second, the banking regulations were inplace before the Conservatives came to power and are a symbol of the RATIONAL nature our country USED to have.

This problem is getting worse and worse... it's the whole if you are not with us you are against us ideology and, as things stand right now... my country is dying, and very soon it will be dead. For the first time in my life I am becoming ashamed to be Canadian and it's not because of our government... it's because of us.


I will comment, as a Canadian who is immensely proud of our Prime Minister, and that article blatantly lies and uses popular propaganda that people still buy into! Kyoto accord? Absolutely ridiculous protocol that are Liberal leader signed up for then did nothing about achieving the goals set. If we had, Canada's economy would have tanked. After an extensive search on global warming I've discovered that it is a lot of hype and has no true scientific data backing it. I won't go into all the reasons it has been introduced, but it is evil. The military bill? That was never hidden, everyone may have not been thrilled, but we all knew. There was not massive electoral voting fraud by the Conservatives, if there was any, it was small. It may have even been NDP or Liberal but the "massive electoral fraud" is a blatant lie. None of our environmental legislation has been gutted; contrarily more has been added. Yes, we have been forced to deal with China because our neighbor to the South would rather put billions into the coffers of Islamic Nations that kill resident Christians, promote and pay for Jihad, threaten to wipe Israel off the map, use some of this money to infiltrate American Colleges by building million dollar wings where Islam can be promoted ....... There should be more concern about that then about buying our oil. The environmentalists have done a real snow job on y'all, and you bought it. Harper is a man of integrity and Canada is blessed to have him. Obama and Clinton however have perpetrated more support of tyranny and evil by blatantly supporting all things Islam around the world. Egypt's new President has his eye on Jerusalem as his Capitol of the United States of Arabia as he restores the Caliphate and Obama is insisting the military give him full control! Back to this ridiculous article. Yes, we found oil in the northern part of my province. My sister had her first teaching job in Ft. Mcmurray, just as they found a way to distract the oil. These companies that you are demonizing, have spent billions on constantly improving this process. Yes, a group of ducks were killed when the "boom" failed one night. This created images that environmentalists salivated over, then created an extremely well done piece of propaganda. It was tragic, they were fined millions, their systems were upgraded and life has gone on. You'd think that the entire population of all waterfowl was destroyed! With the money we've made in Alberta, we keep the "have not" provinces fed. In Canada the "have provinces have to pay an equalization payment to the "have not" provinces. We pay for most of their health care, tuition for Universities to the extent that tuition in Montreal Quebec, a "have not province" is significantly lower that Calgary, Alberta's. Most of us live not far above the poverty level and oil is not part of our lives/discussions! Harper is a Christian. Dirty word around here? He does not disdain science (although I wish he would research the science on the hoax of global warming). He has a healthy respect for the media and will not be ran by their agenda. He is the Prime Minister and deserves respect. Just because he isn't a rabid environmentalist doesn't mean he isn't an environmentalist. He's from Calgary, 1 hour from Banff. As Albertans we are awed and proud of the environment we're surrounded by and care about it's health. Just because all industry hasn't been shut down doesn't mean Harper/we don't care. I'm well aware of the changes made to the environmental laws http://business.financialpost.com/2012/04/17/canada-to-reduce-environmental-reviews-on-energy-and-mining-projects/?__lsa=e8735f45. Makes sense and since I've seen the "slap on the wrist" this article states will be the only reprisal, I'd counter with the 1600 ducks who were killed. That cost the company 3 million for the fine, another million in improvements they voluntarily did and new legislation governing this. Doesn't appear that we needed the feds, did we. Again, this report blatantly lies and/or grossly exaggerates any changes or re-writing of major environmental laws. I follow politics closely (American as well) and being an Albertan; especially anything to do with oil and these changes aren't happening. The first nations water quality stations? The first article I searched showed 100's and the assessments of them. My husband has worked on many reserves and they squander the millions given (in most cases). The last reserve he worked on had a council change while he was there. They removed the native in charge of the water supply and installed an unqualified relative. Drywall was brought in for the construction of several new houses. It and the required insulation that was brought with it had to be hauled to the dump next spring. They bought a hotel with land claims money, promptly replaced management with band appointed cronies and used it as the "go to" free hotel when they went to Regina. 3 years later it was in foreclosure. It isn't that the money hasn't been given, but it certainly has been mismanaged and squandered. I'm disappointed in adbusters if this is the crap they're leading you to believe.


I dont understand how the love of money diminishes peoples understanding of the dangers of the tar sands,,the record of spills and long term damage is documented everywhere..I feel sorry for you and I feel sorry for your children, if you have any,, I feel you are ignorant and disrespectful to the Native Peoples of this land and you should probably learn what the word Integrity means. Get out of bed with the puppetmaster and look into your own heart and ask yourself what the bigger picture looks like


Finally someone who is not buying into the accusations and unproven attacks on Harper. Do I love Harper, no, but dont blame Canada for giving the world what it wants. Do you all enjoy taking vehicles to work? ( I am sure you all have vehicles) If not, what runs most buses? What keeps Canada from being in the debt that America is in? The oil sands!! You can thank the oil sands for your easy lives. What kind of life are you willing to give up to get rid of the tar sands when there is no other sustainable energy source to supply Canada alone with energy. Instead of hating everyone that has realized this...why not spend your time working on finding that better and cleaner energy source that can sustain the planet. I guess there is always nuclear power....because thats a good idea!!


...to finally someone not buying....
25 to 30 years ago the technology was commercially available to begin shifting to alternate and sustainable (truly sustainable and environmentally neutral,low to zero carbon) energy sources.
"who killed the electric engine"
Wind mills were operational in California 20 years ago. They are still there!
Hm-m-m-m wonder why there was no shift? Hm-m-m wonder which NAFTA agreement, bunch of oil lobbies, OPEC nonsense, and CORPORATE Agendas spent their money to change the landscape. . . ?


You have done no such research on global warming what-so-ever. You are spouting nonsense you have heard from someone else (you obviously trust) who says they have researched it or read an article - which would have been in some biased or bought out magazine/newspaper (i.e. MacLeans) that was spouting propaganda. If you have graduated from public school, then you have the necessary grade eight math skills to take the world statistical data on resources, and our consumption of said resources and tie that in with population growth and graph it out. You can also take this same grade eight math and easily graph global environmental data. It is extremely easy for you to do! So get off your ass and actually do the work and research yourself before you start puking out someone else's propaganda and claiming it as your own hard-work. And don't try to tell me you HAVE done the work. I KNOW for a fact that you haven't done the work. If you'd actually done the work for yourself instead of just sitting on your ass and joining whatever bandwagon suits your selfish purposes best... you'd know the truth already. And you'd probably be scared shitless. I so hope you don't have any kids. They're the ones who'll be paying for your ignorance and intellectual laziness. While you're at it... maybe you can take an actual read of all these new bills that emperor Harper has put through, BEFORE you start speaking about how awesome they have been. You obviously haven't read any of them either, you lazy chit.
Don't talk about shit you don't know. Back up your arguments with actual facts. Unfortunately, that seems to be an issue with any religious person. It seems when a person commits to believing superstitious nonsense, it spreads into all facets of their lives - until they can't do anything on their own, but have faith in others... true sheeple. They just listen to whatever they like to hear best - whatever works best for them individually. It ain't just Islam that's the problem baby - it's all you superstitious freaks populating our planet with your nonsensical, oppressive and selfish views of life, the universe and everything. You believe "God", "Allah", "Jehovah" or whatever, created life, the universe, and everything, and yet - all you do is destroy. Destroy the planet, destroy yourselves and destroy others. That's why there's such an anti-religion movement happening around the world. The rest of us, have watched how you ACTUALLY live your lives. The example you have shown us, leaves something to be desired - selfish, greedy, oppressive, controlling, and the list goes on... Even here in Canada, where we have a decent education system, it still persists? It's incredible to me how data and facts can be ignored for superstition. Simple laziness on your part. Look inside yourself. Use your own mind and learn for yourself what's really going on. Stop spouting crap you actually know shit about and get yourself educated. Check your fact resources. Find out how the data was collected. Find out who pulls the strings. Just stop spreading sheeple shit please. You're stinking up my planet.


If your research is one source and that is a financial post document no wonder your information is skewed (spun)!
Marginalized, oppressed peoples who have very little choice about their future usually act in what sociobiologist refer to "survival mode" . Try it. Get some empathy. Then begin to figure out what is wrong with the entire housing situation for a Northern climate. . . Drywall??? / housing for southern conditions and peoples in marginal transitional living conditions, get real!
Inter-jurisdictional wars that never end. get real!
Not being able to negotiate terms of business income that should rightly be theirs from mineral rights on their own land, so as to be able to determine their own destiny and no longer be Marginalized....get real!
As for climate change . . . it is anthropogenic (look it up . . have your sister look it up for you)
and it is REAL ....
Compare it to local changes from Waldon Pond from the data meticulously collected by HD Thoreau 150 years ago. proof is local and going global!
Man has burnt the oil (that makes the CarbonDioxide that makes the GHGs and subsequent Oceanic acidification) that was nicely (and naturally) sequestered in the ground for millions of years in less than 70 years and SCREWED UP our ONLY HOME to the point of NEAR no RETURN.
And in 1 year Harper has put us on a path that may not allow us to mitigate any of these ills and so many more as a What we have known as the Canadian Federation.


I wish idiots like you didn't exist. Give us your nonsense about religion and so-called fake climate change again when the last drop of oil is sucked out and there is so much irreparable damage to the Earth and our societies. We'll see who had their head stuck in concrete- deaf blind and dumb.

Anonymous Jerk

You attempted to tear down this person's argument with climate change and religion? Kyoto was a load of crap, and until we have a sustainable source of energy we are stuck with oil. The real question is this: With a probable global economic depression of some degree at hand can Canada afford to give up the jobs and income generated by oil and other fossil fuels? Nope! To conclude my opinion of your asinine comment, you should be glad for people who think differently than you, otherwise we'd all have our heads stuck in trees! Deaf, blind and dumb. Furthermore, did you know that concrete is an absolutely amazing creation? It's a human invention, much like the computer you are using to be an anonymous jerk. Do yourself a favour try being nicer to people who's comments you think are dumb, and maybe they'll be nicer to your comments that they think are dumb.


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