Monday, October 19, 2015

Harper Conservatives' Tar Sands Complicity

Stephen Harper's ruling Conservative government is doing everything in its power to grow the tar sands, some of the dirtiest energy on earth. Worse still they are complicit with the fossil fuel industry in developing public relations campaigns designed to misinform. While climate change may not be the leading issue in the Canadian federal election of 2015, it is definitely a higher profile concern than it has been in previous years. Canadians are increasingly aware that if they want to participate in the 21stst century economy they must free themselves of the party powered by 19th century energy.

Canadians are coming to terms with the reality of climate change they know that burgeoning levels of atmospheric carbon are causing droughts, floods, wildfires and more frequent and intense storms.

The tar sands are the single most important issue for Canadians who care about the environment and climate change. Even in Alberta, home of the tar sands, there are growing calls for climate action. The Pembina Institute conducted a poll with EKOS Research and found that support for climate action is growing in Alberta.

The tar sands is already the fastest growing source of emissions in the nation and if the Harper government has its way they would surely double that in the next ten years. The environmental degradation associated with the tar sands includes impacts on soil, water, wildlife, and fish. There are also human health impacts from polluted air and water. Further, studies indicate that 85 percent of the tar sands must stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change tipping points.

What makes these realities far more egregious is the complicity of the Canadian Conservatives with the industry they are charged to regulate. Rather than protect people, wildlife, water and air, they are working with polluters to deny access to the truth and misinform the public.

The in the book The Cultural Costs of Corporatism: How Government-Business Collusion Denigrates the Entrepreneur and Rewards the Sycophant, Thomas E. Woods J calls it: by a variety of names. rent-seeking, corporatism, corporate socialism, corporate welfare, regulatory robbery, and subsidy-suckling.

The seamless cooperation between the Conservative government of Stephen Harper and the oil and gas industry in Canada is shameless. The marriage of government and business is an unholy alliance that undermines the best interests of Canadians.

The government has the responsibility to oversee the conduct of industry not secretly meet to developing clandestine strategies. Rather than regulating the oil and gas industry they are working with them to craft devious propaganda campaigns. Even worse they are using tax payers money to do so.

Together with the fossil fuel industry Harper's Conservatives have crafted careful misinformation campaigns to counter the message from scientists, environmentalists, indigenous Canadians.

As reported in the Guardian, Canada’s Conservative government has squandered tens of millions of tax payer dollars on a tar sands advocacy. The Conservatives call their tar sands PR subterfuge “outreach activities."

During their reign the Conservatives have given the fossil fuel industry unprecedented access to policy making. This has translated into legislation that has expanded dirty energy exploitation, gutted environmental oversight, killed environmental dissent, muzzled climate scientists. They have even used Canada's intelligence services to spy on peaceful environmental groups. During the time they were in power they withdrew from the Kyoto protocol and UN efforts to combat desertification. Further Canada pledges to reduce its carbon emissions are a farce and simply not achievable given the Harper government's committment to fossil fuels.

We are seeing how the federal government all in strategy on fossil fuels has been a dismal failure. Falling oil prices have made the tar sands economically non-viable. This has resulted in job losses and pushed the country into recession

However, the government's lobbying efforts managed to stop European environmental measure that would have hampered tar sands exports.

As explained in the Guardian article, the economic drawbacks of heavy reliance on the export of tar sands: "Under the Harper government, surging oil prices and exports led to the rise of the Canadian dollar, which contributed to the hollowing out of Canadian manufacturing, including the lose of hundreds of thousands of jobs – a case of resource mismanagement that economists have labelled the Dutch Disease. Bank of American Merrill Lynch released a report last year that backed up these arguments, pointing to the loss of Canada’s factory production and jobs as a key symptom of Canada’s Dutch Disease.”

Harper makes absurd claims about his party's economic competence that are factually inaccurate. Harper's audacious claims about how well the economy is doing but his assertions are not backed up by the numbers.
As a matter of fact Harper has amassed one of the worst economic records in Canadian history and made Canada an environmental and climate villain.

Strategic Voting to Oust Harper in the Federal Election of 2015 (Leadnow)
Canada's Failed Climate Leadership is also an Economic Disaster
Infographic - Environmental and Climate Positions of Canadian Federal Parties (David Suzuki Foundation)
Climate Positions of Canadian Federal Parties

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