January 10, 2012

[Hogwash] On The Minister of Natural Resources Open Letter to Canadians

Yesterday the Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, published an open letter to Canadians on the Ministry's Press Room Website. It was also published on numerous official government websites, and throughout the day sound bites were played on the news in which the Minister essentially claimed thus:
The Canadian regulatory review system (in particular the review of Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline) is being 'hijacked' by 'environmentalists and other radical groups' who are being funded by 'foreign', 'American billionaire socialists'! 
This is truly amazing rhetoric coming from a member of the cabinet! It's truly amazing (and completely inappropriate) for a number of reasons:

First, it's completely inappropriate for a high-ranking Minister to announce the day a review begins that the very process carrying out that review is illegitimate and flawed. One might expect these kinds of reactionary ideological rantings from some anti-government bully like Ezra Levant or something, but the Minister of Natural Resources!? Really? What a horrible precedent, to decry the legitimacy of the very processes which you've been elected to protect and carry-out!

Second, by decrying how long it takes for the 'approval process', the Minister is very clearly stating the government has already approved this project - that the review is basically just a rubber stamping procedure. Yet, with no sense of the sheer hypocrisy found in his own words, the Minister writes in his letter that "Our regulatory system must be fair, independent, consider different viewpoints including those of Aboriginal communities, review the evidence dispassionately and then make an objective determination." By 'objective determination' we already know he means siding with Big Oil, ignoring any alternative perspectives, and approving the project.

Third, by suggesting that the review system is being 'hijacked' by radical environmentalists and 'foreign' interests, he draws an association between environmental justice groups and terrorists. The use of the word 'hijack' is very strong language, and completely inappropriate for a public announcement of this sort. To suggest that pacifist environmentalist groups who care deeply about the future of this country and the planet are 'hijackers' is quite off the mark, and completely unfair. The idea that stakeholders who may not agree with the project shouldn't be allowed to have their voice heard at such review hearings is yet another indication of the backwards understanding of democratic governance held by the Conservative Party.

Fourth, but certainly not least, the complete absurdity in the concept of 'American billionaire socialists' intervening in Canadian sovereignty seriously calls to question Mr. Oliver's capacity to understand reality. Not only do some of the Canadian environmental organizations he refers to receive the vast majority of their funding from domestic sources (read this article), somehow he fails to mention the billions of dollars used by foreign oil corporations that will go into pushing through these projects, through endless lobbying, advertising, flying in 'experts', bribes, etc.

What a disgrace we have for a Minister of Natural Resources. We may as well change his title to Minister of Corporate Propaganda.

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