Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Nation Of Yes Men

From her new perch at  the University of Calgary, former Liberal leadership hopeful Martha Hall Findlay suggests that building the Northern Gateway pipeline is really a nation building exercise. But Andrew Nikiforuk -- an Albertan of much longer standing than Findlay -- suggests that the province which now thinks of bitumen as its economic lifeblood provides a cautionary counterpoint to Findlay's claim.

Consider, he writes, what bitumen has left in its wake:

A ring of mercury now surrounds the mining operation.

Regulators have allowed industry to accrue a $20-billion public liability of toxic mining waste with a paltry billion-dollar corporate bond.

There is no plan to manage the fastest growing source of carbon emissions in the country.

Despite unprecedented changes to the hydrology of the region by steam plant operators, no effective groundwater-monitoring regime exists.

The reclamation debt is growing every year because restoring destroyed peat bogs and wetlands is almost impossible.

Every year, snow melt flushes all the dirt from oilsands air pollution into the Athabasca River.
The contamination amounts to an annual spill ranging in size from 5,000 to 13,000 barrels of bitumen.
One has to ask, is Alberta the kind of province we want to build? And do Canadians want Canada to follow the Alberta model?  The Harper government has made its preferences known. And it has its reasons. Nikiforuk writes:

Revenue from the project supports a 43-year-old one party state that spends money like an entitled adolescent, saves nothing, wears a Tea Party hat and acts like a national bully. You can't find a province composed of more yes-men and yes-women than in Alberta.

Stephen Harper seeks yes men. It would be so much easier to get things done if Canadians were a nation of yes men.


Lorne said...

Glad to see a sterling rebuttal to Findlay's betrayal of progressive interests, Owen. There must be something in the air or water besides toxic waste that infects people like her when they move to Alberta.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect she knows who is really paying her salary, Lorne -- and doing what that salary requires.

Anonymous said...

What is in the air or water in Alberta besides toxic waste? I suspect it is the same ingredients present in places where people think they want to make a quick buck or two: greed and the smell of money. I too was surprised by Findlay's apparent change of values.

ffd said...

I wonder how far that toxic pollution will travel. It may well spread to most of Alberta and Saskatchewan, depending on wind and water patterns. The high cancer rates among First Nations people may become a feature of life for everyone in the western provinces.

Owen Gray said...

It starts with the Athabasca River, ffd, which travels a long way and has several tributaries. This stuff could cover a lot of territory.

Owen Gray said...

She's now part of the problem, Anon, not part of the solution.

Scotian said...

I never thought she was a good fit for the Lib leadership, something about her always felt off to me, so I am not all that surprised to see her position on this issue. I think the Lib party dodged a bullet with her not much smaller than the bullet they did get hit with named Ignatief (who apparently is going back to Harvard, yep, just visiting alright). Anyone that can use the Northern Gateway Pipeline process to date and cite continuing it as a "nation building exercise" is delusional or a propagandist with an agenda, this process has been massively corrupted from the outset unlike any other, and the route chosen to run this pipeline is about as insane a series of risks as one could try to come up with by design. THAT is her idea of a "nation building exercise"?

I could continue to rant on here, but really, I think what I've said is enough already, MHF has shot whatever credibility she had left in the head with this statement, at least outside of the bubble she has so clearly shown herself to have joined on this issue.

As to the other columnist you quoted, those are scary facts indeed, and I wonder how much Albertans down the road will be crying for federal assistance at cleaning up these problems (since we all know big oil won't, big business is all about the free market for profits, but where liabilities and debt are concerned as as socialist as you can get). Alberta is almost the perfect poster child for short term thinking for short term profit and thinking it makes you better than everyone else these days. The arrogance that wafts from so many Albertans when they look down at the rest of us (we in the Maritimes have been told over and over that we should all move out there and work for them making honest money instead of sucking on their welfare teat, needless to say many of us find that rather offensive) will come back to haunt them when their resources finally tap out or are seen as unprofitable and then there is all the consequences from their approach left to be dealt with.

That is a serious problem Alberta is facing, and the fact that they have decided to spend like drunken sailors instead of preparing for the long term as they once did only shows just how bad the rebound effect will be for them, and I for one am having a hard time mustering much sympathy because of that attitude I spoke of. While yes I know it is unfair to paint all Albertans with that brush, and that many are equally disgusted with that attitude, it is hard not to when I get this not just from their political and media class but from far too many online and when they visit down here as tourists and I meet them by chance. So I have to say a rather nasty part of myself looks at the approaching disaster for them and says to itself "looks good on them".

Now, thankfully that nasty part of myself is not a dominant part, but the fact that it feels this strongly about this is not a good sign because I rarely have that sort of sentiment. So I have to wonder about people who tend to be more prone to anger, contempt, and vindictiveness than I am will be feeling who share this feeling of disrespect from Alberta and far too many Albertans these days when the chickens finally come home to roost for them. I've always made it a point to watch out for such feelings in myself, I grew up around someone who was badly twisted by rage and I saw what it did, and I wanted no part of it, and hatred I see as a poison to be avoided wherever possible. Because of that I've been mistaken by some at times as a doormat, right up to the point where they end up finding out that when I feel it necessary I can be as hard and ruthless as anyone who lives as such can be (I'll feel bad afterwards maybe, but I will do what is needful when it must be done).

The future for Alberta to me to be far darker than for many Albertans it seems. At least this person you quoted appears to have decent vision, because they are going to need all the folks with such they can get in the not so distant future I suspect.

Owen Gray said...

Nikiforuk is one Albertan who understands what has happened to his province since Ralph Klein told Albertans that he's lead them into paradise, Scotian.

You may remember that Klein didn't want his province overrun by "eastern creeps and bums."

Scotian said...

Owen Gray:

So I do, so I do. Didn't he also say let those eastern bastards freeze in the dark, or was that another one of Alberta's leading political lights, it gets hard remembering who pissed on us more and for what out there. Seriously, the amount of smug that flows out of Alberta these days makes the problem shown in that South Park episode look mild, and when mixed with the contempt one could create a whole new class of WMDs, or Weapons of Mass Delusion/Dementia/Denial (I could go on, but I think I've made my point/snark).

Sorry, bit of a touchy thing for me, I take great pride in being where I am from as my alas should make clear. NS played a vital role in the development of this nation form its beginnings through to the end of WWII, and to have all of that forgotten and to be treated with such naked contempt for so long, well it tends to leave a very sour taste. The exceptionalism that spews from Alberta because it was lucky enough to have oil put there for them to use for their ability to lord over all grates even worse on me than Dipper sanctimony that I have referred to on your blog, that is how much it irks me and many like me down here.

Owen Gray said...

With all those toxins finding their way into the water table, Scotian, Albertans may soon find that their good luck has turned as sour as a sour gas well.

the salamander said...

.. perhaps Ms Findlay was only referring to how we are assisting China in their 'nation building' as per 'westerner' from Toronto, Stephen Harper's economic dream vision.

Anonymous said...

The F.N. up near the dirty oil sands, are not able to eat the fish out of Athabasca lake. The fish are full of ugly tumors. They also can't eat the Caribou or any of the wild game. The F.N. up there are also dying of cancer. However with the dictator Harper, greed trumps common sense every time. The huge Athabasca watershed is polluted. All rivers eventually, find their way to the sea.

I used to live in the Rockies and the mighty Athabasca River, was my favorite River. That pollution will begin to poison the game in Alberta, that use the River.

The tar sands also use the water from, the Columbia Ice Fields. On a visit back? I was shocked to see how far back the Ice Fields have shrunk. Perhaps, the Site-C-Dam will supply the tar sands with the copious amount of water, to be wasted.

I did read, they have already found tar sands pollution, in other Alberta water ways. For sure anything connected with the Athabasca River will become poisoned. I guess the people of Alberta have evolved so, they can drink their oil and eat their money.

Owen Gray said...

That may be the goal, Anon -- drink the oil and eat the money. But certain laws of nature can't be repealed.

Owen Gray said...

It's interesting, salamander, that both Harper and Findlay are transplanted Torontonians.

And both have drunk the Kool Aid.