rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The Regina Mom

the regina mom's picture
Bernadette Wagner is an award-winning writer, a community activist and a singer. Her work has been published in newspapers, magazines, chapbooks and anthologies, on radio, television, CD and film, as well as online. Her first collection of poetry is available from Thistledown Press. This summer, she participated in an international women's recording project, A Widening Embrace, a collection of love songs for Earth and all its beings.

Oh, those 'radicals'!

| February 3, 2012

Today the HarperCons stepped into the [cesspool / polluted waters] tar sands issue to announce a water monitoring project which will take 3 years and $50 million to fully implement. The Regina Mom agrees with Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie; this is a PR stunt. And, TRM shares Edmonton MP Linda Duncan's concerns that First Nations communities were not adequately consulted and that many more tar sands projects could be approved before this monitoring begins. TRM considers this announcement to be a reflection of the great work the ecojustice community "radical groups" are doing to educate citizens on the issues. Well done, radicals!

One such radical, Andrew Nikiforuk, declared a political emergency regarding the tar sands years ago. His latest piece at The Tyee cites a "detailed analysis" submitted to the National Energy Board by Robyn Allan who is the former president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. Ms. Allan's report "concludes that "Northern Gateway is neither needed nor is in the public interest."

"I assumed that it would be a wealth generating project," the 56-year-old retired investment and financial affairs economist told the Tyee. "But when I started digging none of those assumptions held. The project is an inflationary price shock to the economy."

...

Allan, once rated by the National Post as one of Canada's top 200 CEOs, says she started to study the economic case for the project after a query by her son. That was when she discovered that Enbridge's economic benefit models were based on "misleading information, faulty methodology, numerous errors and presentation bias."

TRM's readers can download Allan's full report, "An Economic Assessment of Northern Gateway" at the Alberta Federation of Labour's website. Note that, according to Nikiforuk, "Allan's report supports the findings of Dave Hughes, a retired senior analyst with Natural Resources Canada. He described the pipeline as a risk to Canada's economic and energy security" a report to which TRM has previously linked.

Further commentary comes from the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada which also says that the Gateway pipeline is unsustainable, based on a report they commissioned from Informetrica Inc.

The brief points out that two major refinery closures in Ontario and Quebec have created even more of a dependency on foreign suppliers for refined petroleum products: gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil.

"Canadians should also be alarmed that, while Canada exports most of its bitumen to foreign sources, Atlantic Canada and Quebec import 90% of their oil, and Ontario imports 30%," says Coles.

"Without access to the increased supply of Western Canadian crude, Eastern Canada has suffered a loss of refining capacity, a loss of jobs and gasoline supply problems.

Meanwhile, hundreds of workers where thrown out of high-skill, well paying jobs and many additional direct and indirect jobs have been lost.

The primary CEP document is here.

Andrew Frank, another so-called radical, a former ForestEthics employee fired for his whistleblowing and about whom trm has previously reported, now suggests a "middle way" to avoid the polarization the Gateway debate has created. Though his suggestions are valid, TRM has concerns that they are premised on the continued operation of the tar sands. TRM does not necessarily agree that they must continue. Still, she also wants to encourage dialogue among Canadians and so, presents his points in abbreviated form:

1. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline should not be built.

2. Regulation needs to catch up with production.

3. Oil sands production should match a rate that climate change scientists say is safe.

4. Slowdown production to extract the maximum value and develop a royalties system that will look after Canadians long after the oil sands are gone.

Related to the Frank matter was the Notice of Motion filed by Ecojustice on behalf of four so-called radical groups. If you recall, dear Reader, it was the prelude to the HarperCons' knickers-in-a-knot InfoAlert last Friday. Earlier this week, Ecojustice reported that their motion was denied, but welcomed the "declaration of independence" from the Joint Review Panel. They go on to say that,

Given the impact the proposed pipeline would have on our country, Ecojustice and our clients believe it's absolutely critical that this review process remain objective, representative of all interests and conducted with integrity and fairness. This isn't just an ethical issue -- it's about the legal principles of due process.

In its response, the Panel is making a promise to all Canadians to evaluate the Northern Gateway project based on evidence provided by all sides of the issue. This includes evidence that the pipeline and the risk of an oil spill it brings could irreversibly damage our forests and coasts - and all the species that depend on them.

An oil spill wouldn't just devastate the environment. Our coastal economies like fishing and ecotourism are at risk, too. Is that a fair trade-off for short-term jobs?

Furthermore, the devastation of that environment would also devastate First Nations who have lived on the coast for hundreds and hundreds of years. Still, Enbridge says it has agreements with 20 First Nations communities. But Enbridge has not produced names or evidence to that effect. First Nations spokespeople suggest Enbridge is stretching the truth, or worse, lying. They accuse Enbridge of a lack of due diligence.

The theme of lack of due diligence and/or misrepresentation by Enbridge recurs among members of northern First Nations when speaking about Enbridge. Members the Haisla, the Gitxsan, the Wet'suwet'en and the Haida gave no credence to Stanway's claim that "more than 20 groups who in recent weeks have fully executed and endorsed equity participation agreements deals with Enbridge."

As TRM suggested earlier this week, Enbridge doesn't necessarily tell the truth, but she'll let you, dear Reader, be the judge. Finally, an item for which TRM is sure to be lambasted by a certain regular reader. Amnesty International has released an Open Letter to the Prime Minister, calling on him "to take a strong stand for human rights in China" during his visit there. As TRM has stated numerous times over the years, Canada should not be trading with any nation whose human rights record is so very sketchy. And, Canada should also be cleaning up in her own backyard!

embedded_video