Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

"Ignatieff touts Alberta tar sands"

The scale and scope of the political shift in Canada as a result of Ignatieff taking power is not really yet understood.

From ten years ago, where only the Reform Party and then after that, The Alliance, would openly support the US military adventures around the world we now have both the top party and the opposition who are:

Completely pro tar sands, completely pro-Iraq War, unquestioning of Israel and advocates of torture on prisoners.

This needs to be noted more. Here is how Ignatieff sees the world's largest, most destructive industrial development and why it "must" go ahead. Notice he never suggests changing the direct shipment to the US of nearly all the oil, "unless" Canada "must" do something-- such as take sovereignty over the Northwest Passage through the Arctic-- an Arctic that the tar sands are helping to open up with massive greenhouse gasses.


Ignatieff touts Alberta tar sands
Oil industry key to Canada's geopolitical power, Liberal leader tells Quebecers in unity pitch
Jan 22, 2009
Quebec Bureau Chief

MONTREAL–Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff brought a pragmatic message to this environmentally conscious province yesterday, defending Alberta in the name of national unity.

Keenly aware that his greatest future electoral opportunity is in Quebec, and his greatest challenge in Alberta, Ignatieff essentially told Quebecers they needed to get with the program when it comes to the Alberta tar sands.

"The stupidest thing you can do (is) to run against an industry that is providing employment for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, and not just in Alberta, but right across the country," Ignatieff told an audience largely of business graduate students at HEC Montreal, a management school affiliated with the University of Montreal.

Aware that the tar sands, one of the biggest oil deposits in the world, and also one of the dirtiest, is a controversial subject in Quebec, Ignatieff told the audience that "all questions of energy policy are a question of national unity."

He said he toured the oil sands in August and concluded that they will determine Canada's geopolitical power for the 21st century.

"We provide more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia. That changes everything," he insisted. "It means that when the prime minister of Canada goes into the White House, he gets listened to, in ways that Canadian prime ministers have not been listened to before.

"We're not the nice little friendly northern cousin. They can't run their economy without us."

Polls show Quebecers have serious environmental reservations about the resource's development. During the election campaign, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe repeatedly claimed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's favouritism toward western oil companies hurts Quebec.

Ignatieff repudiated that kind of rhetoric. "Alberta is a valued treasured part of our federation," he said. "Never pit one region of the country against the other when you develop economic policy."

Ignatieff tempered his comments by saying tar sands development must be made more sustainable – environmentally and socially. He said waterways must be protected.

"We've got to understand this isn't the Klondike," he said. "We're going to have this thing developing for a century. Let's do it right."

While some might say coming to Quebec and essentially chastising the public to embrace the tar sands carries risks, HEC professor of international business Martin Coiteux said it depends on how the message is packaged.

If development policy comes with more attention paid to the Kyoto Protocol for example, or using more environmental technology, "and that this isn't just a government for the West, I don't see why it'd be difficult to sell to Quebecers."

Coiteux said Ignatieff could go a long way educating the public because Quebecers are used to politicians talking to them only about Quebec's interests. "But it's not only Alberta that has benefited from exploitation of the oil sands," he said. Quebec has benefited in terms of that industry buying Quebec goods and services, and in terms of increased transfers from Ottawa, possible in part because of oil sands profits.

Ignatieff was appointed interim Liberal leader in December after Stéphane Dion stepped aside. He won't be ratified as full-time leader until the party's convention in May in Vancouver.


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