|“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” This quote by Sir Walter Scott comes to mind when I see the latest machinations from our fearless leader, Stephen Harper. I am sure John Diefenbaker is rolling over in his grave as he sees the current version wearing the mantle as Leader of the Conservatives in Canada.We start off with a proposal to build a pipeline to Kitimat to move tar from Alberta to Asia via large tankers. The project is fairly low key, with hearings set with limited announcement, allowing for interested parties to speak on the project. Fortunately some people and organizations with environmental concerns notice the announcements and advise the populace of the deadlines to apply to make an oral presentation to the panel.At this point the master plan starts to go awry, as in excess of 4,000 people, including myself, submit requests to appear at the hearings. In an effort to discredit the opposition even before the hearings open, we have the following events take place:
- Ethical Oil, a supposed grass-roots organization out of Calgary, with close ties to the Prime Minister’s office (see article in the Huffington Post), started an advertising campaign in early January attacking opponents of the pipeline as being organized by environmental groups taking money from “foreign billionaires” to disrupt what is supposed to be a Canadian decision. Their Â spokesperson, Katherine Marshall, refused at that time and in later interviews, to reveal who is funding her organization, although she did pointedly and repeatedly ignore the direct question as to whether Enbridge was funding them.
- Mr. Harper, on Jan. 6, tells reporters he’s heard concerns expressed about the use of foreign money by interveners opposed to an oilsands pipeline proposed for Northern BC by Calgary based Enbridge. Mr. Harper failed to mention the concerns were expressed by Ethical Oil, which appears to be controlled directly from the Prime Minister’s office.
- On the eve of the hearings, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver attacked opponents of the pipeline as “radicals” out to “hijack” the process at the behest of foreign (read American) interests. Mr. Oliver was disingenuous enough to pretend he had no idea of this before the Ethical Oil ads were aired.
While Harper et al have been setting the stage for what we can only project to be a legislated end to the hearings and any opposition to the pipeline, they have also managed to open a can of worms that they don’t seem to be able to control. People are suddenly looking into not only the finances of environmental groups, but also into the economic realities of the tar sands projects themselves. The following has now come to light:
- The scope of the tar sands project has been expanding rapidly in the last few years.
- Major investment in the tar sands has come from China, to the tune of 15 billion dollars in 2010 alone. The Chinese also appear to be the primary financial backer for the proposed pipeline, and the eventual market for the tar.
- China has purchased one tar sands property at MacKay River entirely, and will be the sole owner and operator of this mine, scheduled to open in 2014.
- China has indicated they would prefer to provide their own workers for the tar sands projects.
- In a speech in Davos in late January Harper said Canada will significantly reform the immigration system, using new Canadians to fill gaps in the labour force.
Mr. Harper has scheduled a trip to China in early February. We can only suppose this is to report to his new BFF’s just how the corporate takeover of Canada is going from his end. For someone who rails against “billionaire socialists” hijacking the Canadian economy, he seems awfully eager to get cozy with a communist dictatorship with their excellent reputation for control of dissent and freedom of speech. No doubt he will be taking notes on various approaches to stifling dissent, and getting advice on how much manpower he will need to ensure the pipeline can get built through BC. Perhaps the Chinese army will fill the “gaps in the labour force” at his request. While this statement may appear over the top, it is certainly no worse than accusing concerned Canadian citizens of being “radicals out to hijack” due process.
I will close this rant with another quote, which seems appropriate:
“When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it’s rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.”
Stephen Harper (as leader of the Opposition), Canadian Press, April 18, 2005