Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Northern Gateway and Rightwing blindness. . . .

I seldom comment on provincial politics - particularly a province in which I no longer live. But BC politics has become interesting in the past couple of years and, for a couple of reasons, our political eyes keep turning to the province. The first reason that BC seems more interesting these days is because it seems to be slowly but surely rejecting the provincial as well as the federal rightwing. The NDP at both levels is riding high in the province and I hope that this is a bell-weather for the rest of the nation. The other thing that has been interesting lately has been the machinations concerning the Northern Gateway Pipeline. At all levels in this country the rightwing has abandoned all environmental conscience and wedded itself to the petro-state. "Alternative" is a dirty word (pun intended) where energy is concerned in the rightwing culture of Canada and it seems that they would do anything to further the cause of big oil. As a result of this pro-petro stance the BC Liberal Party (whose name is a perversion of the very notion of liberal) embraced the Northern Gateway Pipeline project early on. However, with reelection looking like a dwindling dream for the Liberals, they have desperately tried to look more pensive where the pipeline project is concerned. As everyone knows, Christy Clark has tried this week to look as though she is not simply a lapdog of big oil by making certain fiscal and safety demands on Alberta if they are to be allowed to pipe oil through to the BC coast.

From a rightwing position Christy Clark is in an almost impossible position. If she capitulates to the oil interests and endorses the pipeline then any small chance she had for reelection is gone. On the other hand, if she goes too far in embracing environmental concerns she will lose very base of her party - big business. And from the rightwing in this country, like Ezra Levant or the editorial board of Sun Newspapers, nothing short of total capitulation to big oil will do. Just the fact that this week Ms. Clark talked of revenue sharing and more safety concerns sent the right into conniption fits of mouth-frothing madness. In today's Sun the editors called Clark a "spoiled" child and said that she was acting "against the greater good of the country."

Now, regardless of one's politics this editorial seems to verge on madness, lacking entirely in reasonable arguments of any kind. First of all, it seems perfectly reasonable that BC should share in oil wealth if their province is a conduit to the extraction of that resource - particularly if they are shouldering environmental risks. If the Northern Gateway pipeline led to an environmental disaster, BC would be on the hook for most of the immediate clean-up, to say nothing of the longterm effects. But the bigger issue, and the one that should trouble most Canadians is the assumption on the part of the Sun that anything that puts limits on the ability of big oil to do anything it wants is somehow, by definition, against the national interest. In fact even if one accepts that excessive petro-development is in the national interests, the way in which the various Conservative Governments are pursing that development is in no way in the national interests. If the Harpercons and the government of Alberta were really interested in the futre of this country (and still wanted to excessively exploit Canada's oil resources) they would be putting a great deal of energy into developing a solid and strong refinery sector rather than looking to be a third-world style economy of pure raw-material extraction. They would then ensure that a substantial portion of such resource funds went to development of alternative energy industry which would place Canada in a good position for future generations. Yet somehow the Sun Media corporation believes that extracting resources, selling them to the highest bidder, allowing investment to gradually drift aboard, and ignoring the future, is somehow in the national interests.

Now, all of this largely ignores the fact that petro-development is a dead-end, and that pipelines have a depressingly terrible accident rate. But even if we take it from "their" point of view, the rightwing and their media lapdogs in this country are pursing a hopelessly flawed strategy of development and as today's Sun editorial demonstrates they are incapable of seeing through their own ideological fervor to some reasonable position.

What is interesting, however, and what inspired this blogpost, is the fact that causes like the Northern Gateway Pipeline project are quickly becoming catalysts for the environmental cause as well as hubs around which opposition to rightwing, neo-liberal agendas are gathering.


Owen Gray said...

It's interesting that the right doesn't push for more refining capacity.

It would ease environmental concerns -- and value added manufacturing would be good for the whole economy.

Yet they insist that economics is their strong suit.

The Mound of Sound said...

Can you feel it, KC? Yes I believe a lot of us otherwise law-abiding seniors are coming to grips with the idea of acquiring a criminal record for civil disobedience. This thing seems to be acquiring a life of its own. We're tired of sanctimonious editorials from people from other provinces who won't share our exposure to environmental catastrophe. It's funny how you can see something when you're not the sacrificial lamb.

Screw'em. Screw Alberta, screw Harper, screw Ottawa and, if Ontario doesn't come onside and back us, then screw Canada. If we're left to fight this on our own it could just open a rift that can't be healed. It's that serious.

All Harper needs to do is start tossing law-abiding British Columbians into his jail by the hundreds and soon he'll have to jail thousands. And that's how revolts begin.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Owen. Yes it is interesting and there's a reason for it, a couple in fact. The customers want to use their own refining capacity rather than paying Canadian refineries. Also, and probably most important, it keeps the insane energy consumption and emissions from refining off Alberta's and Ottawa's books. Better to expose British Columbia to environmental catastrophe than to have to own up to what you're really doing. Just export those emissions as dilbit to China. It makes perfect sense - to ferrets and cowards.

kirbycairo said...

Right on Mound of Sound! I say never-stop fighting. Harper, like many tyrants has simple sown the seeds of the revolt that will eventually destroy him.

Beijing York said...

Doesn't BC have it's own environmental legislation that should have kicked in once Enbridge proposed the pipeline project? Why should the joint federal-Alberta environmental review process be the arbitrator of whether the project be given the greenlight? A separate environmental assessment should have been prepared for the BC government one would think. And all of Ms. Clark's demands read like a list of an environmental impact statement's requirements, including revenue sharing.

As for the media, once again they spin for the corporate interests, constantly droning about BC being "evenly split" on the Northern Pipeline project. If it was so evenly split, why is Ms. Clark in panic mode?

The Mound of Sound said...

Crispy waived BC's environmental review, leaving us to accept Harper's rigged assessment.

kirbycairo said...

@BY- As I understand it the environmental assessments on the part the BC government were something of a joke and as far as the popularity of the project in the province from what I hear BCers are overwhelmingly opposed.