02 December 2009

Canada's Oil Fetish Threatens World Peace

Canadian road construction workers in Banff advertising their governments tempo on climate.

Our Canadian readers aren't going to like this. Well, maybe they will. Our American readers might, since it takes the focus off of the US Government's past climate gaffes.

The writer, George Monbiot, is never shy of controversy. He spells it out rather sharply with this article:

The Greatest Threat to World Peace is... Canada.

"When you think of Canada, which qualities come to mind? The world’s peace-keeper, the friendly nation, a liberal counterweight to the harsher pieties of its southern neighbour, decent, civilised, fair, well-governed? Think again. This country’s government is now behaving with all the sophistication of a chimpanzee’s tea party."

Read the whole article right here.


Martine said...

As one of your Canadian readers, I can tell you that yes, I like reading articles like this one. It is quite fascinating to see the perspective that people from around the world have of Canadian policies, but I strongly believe this perception is rooted in past accomplishments and values that are no longer reflected by our current Conservative government.

It is time that Canadians speak up and feel a bit more alarmed about the far-reaching consequences that our government's actions (or inaction) will have on a number of important international issues, notably the reaching of a deal here in Copenhagen this month.

I have been living in Copenhagen for a few months now, and have realized how much Danes can teach our country, which is slowly drifting away from what it used to be. Thanks for posting this.

Martine, Montreal

James D. Schwartz said...

I am also one of your Canadian readers and I'm glad Canada is in the spotlight for the tar sands ridiculousness.

But, the only thing I disagree with Mikael is the title. Canada is the United States' largest provider of oil. The title should read "US Oil Fetish and Canada's Greed Threatens World Peace"

For Canada, it's more about the bling bling - which I think is ridiculous because we would still be a wealthy nation if we didn't export oil.

There is no limit to human greed I suppose... it's unfortunate...

BikeBike said...

I live in the heart of this problem - Calgary - and can tell you that there are many people here that are disgusted with the way our provincial (conservative) and federal (conservative) governments are acting. Sadly, this province is completely addicted to the weath generated by the tarsands, not unlike a junkie addicted to crystal-meth.

Those of us who are opposed to the continued expansion of the tarsands need all the help we can get to slow down these developments - including international pressure and international humiliation. Bring it on!

I for one have decided to act in the only way i know how - i am opening a transportation bike shop here in Calgary and am hoping to make a positive impact - one commuter at a time!

Thanks for posting this Mikael.

lagatta à montréal said...

I have already sent this article and a subsequent letter Monbiot wrote to the Globe and Mail newspaper addressed to Canadian readers to people I know and climate listserves round the world. Certainly nobody "likes" hearing this but it has to be said and the tar sands project is one of the most environmentally-destructive ones anywhere in the world.

Bonjour Martine.

This stuff is of course "fuel" for the independence movement here as an independent Québec would automatically have a far better climate profile - though that is due in large part to massive hydro-electric projects in the far north that while arguably less destructive of the world's climate and ecology than the tar sands, still caused considerable climate upheaval and negative impact on Indigenous peoples, including the Inuit, Cree and Innu.

But that would change nothing in global terms, unless we mean a different approach.

Anonymous said...

Must be Canadian comment day today, eh?

Canada isn't just dropping the ball on the big stuff, it can't even get the little stuff right. Consider the following:


And would love to hear Copenhagenize's view on the following op-ed piece:



burrito said...

As a Canadian, I'm also horrified by our government. And frustrated, because our Federal government was elected to power with the votes of 37% of the population - because of our insane electoral system. So - it is, at most, 37% of Canadians that are responsible for holding back the world. That is INSANE.

Kiwehtin said...

I can't find any of the actual news items via Google, but a couple of weeks ago there was a poll showing three quarters of Canadians are embarrassed by the Conservative government's actions on climate change. There is this site though:


(And a week or two some reporter - I believe on CBC - actually said he had been told our PM Harper visibly slumps in his chair whenever the topic of climate change comes up in cabinet...)

And to comment on Anonymous/veronica's link about the Dutch trying to send bikes to Vancouver for the Olympics, I would add that British Columbia is a "cycling helmets obligatory everywhere" zone. Any Dutch visitors who do end up cycling there will likely end up overwhelmed by the stupidity of the province's attitude to what constitutes cycling safety.

Kiwehtin said...

Oh, by the way, the (Toronto) Globe and Mail, one of the most influential newspapers in the country, yesterday held a debate with George Monbiot, Bjørn Lomborg, Lord Nigel Lawson the denialist, and Elizabeth May, the leader of Canada's Green Party. From the comments I saw as it was proceeding online, Monbiot seemed to be getting the best reception from people.

bentguy said...

I am in compete agreement with this article. Although the entire electorate of this country has a lot to answer for, I find it hard not to blame Alberta and their corporate bosses from south of the boarder. It is the nesting grounds of our current government and our climate change denying Prime minister -- elected by only one third of the lowest-ever turn-out to the polls -- and has no interest in anything unless it benefits big oil... full stop!

It pains me to admit it but I see no change coming from our broken, un-democratic process anytime soon.

So bring it on. I'd much rather we stood up for what is right but the world can't wait for us to get our act together. Don't hold back and maybe you can embarrass the voters here into dumping this crowd of corporate, big-oil hacks.

I've been all across this great country and I can assure you this is a country full of good people who care. Unfortunately this is big country that is easily divided by the greedy interests that control our once functional democracy.

bentguy in vancouver

burrito said...

Yeah, I should ammend my outrage by pointing out that the current government was elected into power with 37% of the popular vote in a year with the lowest voter turnout in history, so about 5.2 million people actually voted for the party in power. In a country of ~34million.


2wheeler said...

Well sorry to disagree with the enlightened, but that "article" is shrill political bunk if I've ever heard it. Those who accused Bush of fear mongering should be able to recognize the other side of the same coin. Complete nonsense!

lagatta à montréal said...

Why is it "bunk"? I was at a conference on global warming last year where the details of the tar sands enterprise were presented and the impact is even worse than Monbiot states in his short comment piece.

bentguy said...

To 2wheeler-- Read William Marsden's book entitled "Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn't Seem to Care)." then get back to us.

Sprocketboy said...

Yet another Canadian reporting in--I saw the Monbiot article and find it sad that we are trying to emulate the Nigerias of the world. As long as I drive a car, I guess I can't kick too much about oil usage, but I only use it on weekends as I bike to work the rest of the time.

Kevin Love said...

As a Canadian, I too am ashamed at the greed and stupidity of our government.

I must disagree with some of the people who criticized our system of democracy. The Opposition members of parliament constitute a majority and could form a government tomorrow - if they would agree to do so.

It is not the fault of our system of democracy, which allows the Opposition MPs to come together and form a coalition goverment. It is the fault of those Opposition MPs who cannot get their act together.

Nick said...

We Canadians are very embarrassed indeed about this issue but, despite all the blame that gets thrown at our lousy government, it is actually we Canadians who are to blame: we are so apathetic and concerned with protecting the status quo that we couldn't care less if the government actually did anything meaningful. In fact, it would be rather inconvenient if we had to, say, ride a bus to work or walk to the grocery store.

Although our government is garbage and their policies more foul still, it is our attitude to the world and our lifestyle that are to blame. I live right in the middle of the capital of BC, the
"cycling helmets obligatory everywhere" zone. This city doesn't even have a single car-free street. We just spent lots of money to replace our old parking metres with new ones but still pump our excrement right into the ocean.


You're absolutely right that it's not our political system to blame, but I would argue it is in fact the Canadian people. When was the last time we had a coalition in Canada? Even when the right was split in the 1990s they couldn't do it because Canadians are terrified of coalitions. The opposition parties know it will be political suicide to try as demonstrated by the sagging poll numbers from last year's attempt. We need to demand a coalition if we want a change.

Kevin Love said...

Nick asked:
"When was the last time we had a coalition in Canada?"

Kevin's answer:
In Ottawa, 1917. There are numerous more recent examples in provincial governments.

Perhaps the most relevant example was in Ontario in 1985. After 42 solid years of Conservative government, they were reduced to a minority in the election that year. Although the Conservative party tried to carry on as the government, the opposition parties did a deal, defeated the Conservative party on a non-confidence motion and took over the government.

There is absolutely nothing stopping the opposition parties in Ottawa doing the same thing today.

And yes, you are right. In a democracy the people tend to get the government they deserve.

Anonymous said...

very good,thank you.:)