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.

Canada's tar sands: What will the neighbours think?

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

One part of the brain can work something out while another part is doing something else, or so it seems. The Regina Mom stayed up all night. When that happens, it's usually because she's been engaged in a good read or a good write. This time it was neither. And it wasn't a party, either. No, this time TRM's eyes were glued to the screen catching up on episodes of The Young and The Restless and The Colbert Report, shows she watches only occasionally these days. It's as though her brain needed a time out from the case of overload she'd contracted by consuming a wealth of information about the tar sands. What's weird, though, is that she ended her viewing with the Mercer Report and got right back into it.

From Mercer, then to Twitter and to another story about the long-overdue tar sands monitoring plan the governments of Canada and Alberta have cooked up. While reading this piece, though, TRM thought of her dad. Born in Canada to parents of Germanic descent just before WWII, he grew up with the "what will the neighbours think" mantra. What TRM realized is that her dad is not alone. Many Canadians care about what the neighbours think, particularly on the international stage. Combine that with Canadians' concern for the environment and an insult or two about it and the response is huge, so huge that it appears to have forced the government's hand.

Ottawa and Alberta are hoping a new monitoring plan will curb criticism that the province's massive oilsands fields are a dirty source of energy, but environmentalists say it will take a lot more to clean up Canada's reputation. "It can help send a signal that the government is starting to pay attention to the issues, but it doesn't actually fix the problems that are causing the black eye to our reputation," said Gillian McEachern, a Climate and Energy expert at Environmental Defence.

By the time TRM got to the end of the article, she was recalling NDP MP Megan Leslie's comments that this latest exercise was nothing but a PR stunt, a way to pacify audiences and is subject to spin. TRM agrees and suggests this tactic it's not only for short-term gain. Note the timeline.

The new plan ... to be rolled out over three years, will mean the governments will be monitoring more frequently and for more contaminants.

In three years' time, Canada will be on the verge of an election and the HarperCons will undoubtedly point to this project as a demonstration of their shared concern for the environment. Never mind that it's not what the scientists they consulted recommended, that it doesn't go far enough, that a filthy addiction pollutes Earth's air, waters and communities or that it's harming real people downstream and upwind and around the globe or that the continued expansion of the tarsands over the next three years could do irreparable harm, the HarperCon government has created its next "action plan."

And we must continue to challenge that plan.

---

If you read The Regina Mom's posts, please consider joining me in supporting rabble.ca right now during their winter donation drive. rabble.ca depends on community support to keep the site going. You can learn more about the donation drive right here.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.