As I hope you’ve all heard by now – and just a few days after Canada Water Week – in 2012, the Harper government removed substantial protections on our bodies of water. This issue has come up again in the past month, as companies like Nestlé and those operating in the Albertan oil Sands challenge the rights of human beings to free, safe, clean water.
For those of you keeping on top of politics in your nation, as you should be, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise albeit another crushing loss for Canadians.
I wanted to write a summary on what’s been going on with this government, but in scouring the web for more information on the topic I came across two fantastic summaries that are more than worth sharing. Both of the quoted comments and sources below, from Reddit user ‘ekster’, share a frightening insight into the works of our government.
Our government, that is supposed to protect us.
Our government, that is supposed to ensure responsible use of resources for the protection of the environment.
Our government, that is supposed to ensure the well-being of generations to come.
The Harper government is starving the beast of departments that don’t fit into his ideological viewpoints on industry, eliminating positions, eliminating funding, closing down departments or buildings. This has a two fold effect. One, this is money the Conservatives need to help balance the budget. Two, it is eliminating voices of dissent, or any other facts that could create cracks in his vision for Canada. Now non-profit groups directly opposed to his vision, not politically, but because that is the purpose of the groups themselves, are being labelled terrorists, accused of fraud and political scheming, and spied on only because it challenges the rhetoric of what the government is trying to do. Scientists in the USA are free to report on their findings, while government scientists here have to go through a public relations person. This is all before C-51.
Here are some links on muzzling of scientists
This paper shows rather well the muzzling that’s happening
This CBC documentary “Silence of the lambs” shows it rather well
Here is the AB government doing it
Funny how they didn’t want to appeal at all
Why silence environmentalists? If they’re as crazy as the governments say, why not let them say their piece and let Canadians be the judge if they’re crazy or not?
Science has shown that reclamation in the oilsands will not work
What about letting industry and the AB government dictate their own emission rules, and delaying it as long as possible, while the rest of the country has a different set of rules?
What about harpers own appointee saying we’re an ‘environmental rogue state’? That’s someone he hired and vetted.
High profile conservatives urge government action on environment
What of the environment canada report that either left out information, or had misleading data, to confirm the governments message that everything is going good?
Why the deception on emission rates?
What about our poor record on reaching our GHG targets?
Why was the government so sneaky to leave out the oilsands GHG emissions to the UN?
Why were they so quiet when they finally did release that information, and the fact that GHG from the oilsands will quadruple while in other areas it’s falling? Which will push us further and further away from the Copenhagen targets?
Why release press releases from both federal and AB governments about oilsands pollution not being a concern, if the GHG is going to quadruple?
How can science be objective when the oilsands make up our largest group of lobbyists far greater than any other industry?
Why are we allowing industry to rewrite our environmental laws?
Why is the NEB and Transcanada delaying access to information, and hiding information about pipeline spills from 5 years ago?
Why are we selling off land and resources to oligarchies in the USA, why are we spending all this money on advertising, on natural resources promotion, when the Koch brothers will make $100 billion off of our land and resources when average Canadians will never see any of this type of profit?
With environmental regulations gutted, and left to the whims of provinces, will we have more spills like this, that are still leaking after 9 months?
Why does the government spend taxpayers money of all of Canada, to promote a provinces resources that the province owns? Especially if other than tax dollars from the oilsands, only Alberta benefits from it?
Why is all of this money being spent, when John Kerry said that lobbying won’t alter his decision? And he says “The public has a role in this. We’re all accountable to our publics. The democratic process demands that we do that.” If only our government felt the same way.
Why kill wolves to try and slow the decline of the Caribou when scientists have been reporting for a very long time that their loss of habitat is the main reason? Why disregard the reports from scientists, and instead form an industry led body to address the issue?
Why does the NEB keep any environmental concern out of the northern gateway hearings?
Why is the NEB taking over protecting our oceans and fish from industry, an energy regulator, instead of scientists who’ve gone to school for their specific field in the DFO?
Why such a small window to voice concerns over the kinder morgan expansion, oh right those new laws from the government to ‘speed up the review process’?
Why eliminate over 3000 environmental reviews on pipelines and other projects?
Why spy on environmentalists if only because they threaten your talking points and are a lone voice of dissent? Why are tax paying dollars spent spying on Canadians who care about the environment?
I’m sure the lucrative environment industry, the ones who don’t have as much to gain from expansion being approved, are really radicals and ‘ecoterrorists’. Easier to brand your opponents radicals and kooks, than to actually address valid concerns people have.
2010 the advertising budget for natural resources canada, NRCan, was $237,000.
The Harper government has increased its advertising spending to $16.5m in 2012 from $9m in 2011. To $40m in 2013. No other departments have had an increase in spending like that in just advertising, many other departments are facing massive cuts across the board.
We need our government to force oil companies to clean up their act, not buy their ads for them.
While they cut funding and jobs to the DFO in stations that fall along the proposed nothern gateway pipeline that would lead in monitoring, assessments, and remediation if there was a spill.
The government is focusing on telling the world and Canadians that we’re environmentally friendly when they should be showing it by creating and enforcing sound environmental policies not gutting them.
Meanwhile our national debt has exploded since they took power by an additional $169 billion. I wonder if the same thing will happen in 2015 with the promise of a balanced budget as what happened with the promise to drive the debt-ratio down.
Ekster continues in another comment, citing frightening incidences of muzzling and general ignorance – this time it is towards the health of the nation.
Why are doctors afraid in Alberta to diagnose health conditions that may be related to oil and gas?
Dr. Margaret Sears presented a report that found “physicians are frankly afraid to diagnose health conditions linked to the oil and gas industry.”
Why was a doctor run out of town by Health Canada for reporting on elevated cancer rates, especially rare ones, in Fort Chipewyan. A first nations reserve next door to the oilsands.
Environment Canada had a moment of glory recently, when they proved that Tailings Ponds, which is just a nice name for open toxic sludge lakes, are leaking into the Athabasca river. Tailings are toxic. Being leaked into clean water source that is used by animals and humans to drink from. Contaminants include naphthenic acids, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phenolic compounds, ammonia, mercury and other trace metals.The liquid found in oilsands tailings ponds is acutely toxic to aquatic organisms, and mammals.
The government is targeting environmental groups. Let us not forget that the public relations war is largely being won by those with the most money, and that compared to just the advertising budget of both the federal government and companies who are represented by CAPP (who combined receive far more foreign investments than NPOs), foreign donations these groups get pales in comparison.
Calgary-based TransCanada has hired Phil Fontaine – former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations – to help it win the support of native communities from Alberta to New Brunswick.
I would be concerned if I was an environmental group, when the head of the watch dog for our spy agency is lobbying for enbridge.
I would be concerned if I was an environmental group and was being targeted and spied on by our spy agencies and the RCMP.
I would be concerned if I was first nations and instead of listening to their appeals, or trying to find some common ground, then send out ministers to convince band leaders.
I would be worried if I were first nations, and the government when holding meetings essentially didn’t listen to you and talked past you, really only wanting to use you to bolster support and not have to worry about pesky legal battles.
The radicals and ecoterrorists part? Not necessarily about infrastructure bombings and destruction, but just simply voicing their opposition and taking part of the regulatory hearings. The pipelines aren’t even built yet, so it can’t be a concern that they are going to destroy something that hasn’t been built. It’s the possibility that they could derail or put a wrench in their plans
Oliver says the groups “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda,” stack the hearings with people to delay or kill “good projects,” attract “jet-setting” celebrities and use funding from “foreign special interest groups.”
These aren’t radicals and eco terrorists, these aren’t people threatening to blow up pipelines. These are people protesting, which is their right. These are people who care about the environment, and because it goes against the plans of our government, they are being focused on. Do the groups below have any criminal history? Have they ever committed any violent acts? Is protesting, or voicing opposition a terrorist act in the eyes of the government now?
Idle No More, ForestEthics, Sierra Club, EcoSociety, LeadNow, Dogwood Initiative, Council of Canadians and the People’s Summit.
They passed legislation so that the CRA could do this…
The prime minister’s office directed requests for comment to the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). Noël Carisse, a spokesman for CRA, said that since 2012 “the CRA has conducted additional review activities focused on political activities. Audits are being conducted in addition to our regular audit activities, and will include charities from across the entire spectrum of charitable activity.”
The same company who is proposing Keystone, TransCanada, recently made headlines in Canada along with our energy regulator, for not releasing information about a spill that happened 5 years ago. Our energy regulator, the NEB, withheld this information claiming it was an “administrative error” and delaying access to information as the negative publicity would put the proposed pipeline in jeopardy.
The Exxon Valdez spill cleanup cost figures are well over $1 billion. The clean-up costs alone in the Exxon Valdez spill are estimated at $3.7 billion and the economic costs of the spill on the region for fishing, socio-cultural impacts, wildlife and natural resource damages range from $8.5 billion to as high as $127 billion.
There is oil still found along the coast of Alaska from the exxon valdez spill, and that is conventional oil which has had years to develop remediation efforts. Diluted bitumen sinks, making it nearly impossible to clean. The new safety requirements don’t meet ‘world class standards’.
Thank you, ekster, for putting this together.
The largest, and most terrifying question I draw from all of this: what do we do?
I urge you all to attend local protests, share as many articles on this matter as you can, and above all KEEP ON TALKING. The first power the government really has over its citizens is shutting them up. The decisions made by Harper and the Canadian governing bodies should be a common topic at dinner tables, on coffee dates, when you’re getting together with your friends and when you’re calling your grandma. You are not a terrorist for wanting to speak up against this, even if those you speak with disagree with you. My grandfather did not fight in the second World War so that I could be labeled a terrorist for speaking up against the irresponsibility demonstrated by my government.
We should never tire of talking politics, especially when they threaten the well-being of a country, its people, its ecosystems and its democracy as much as Harper and his Conservative monsters.
The worst sin we could commit would be to become ignorant, and lose one of the most beautiful territories in the world to the likes of greed, ignorance, and a dying fossil fuel industry.
Let’s keep this conversation moving. Feel free to write your opinions in to me, and I will both publish (anonymously) and speak to them.