Canadians, Environmental Radicals? according to Natural Resources Minister

Dear Minister Oliver:

With respect to your open letter to Canadians: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/an-open-letter-from-natural-resources-minister-joe-oliver/article2295599/

I don’t know why you used the term “environmental and other radical groups” to describe Canadians who want their democratic right to ask tough questions about the planned Gateway Pipeline?

Canadians know there are real, legitimate concerns about moving Tar Sands oil 1177 kilometers by pipeline over mountains and through pristine forests and salmon streams. Canadians are also concerned about people who will end up living next to potentially leaking pipelines just so we can ship it to China.

Your criticisms of these Canadians while accepting the opinions of and subsidizing mostly foreign oil companies who want to sell off Canadian resources as fast as possible is hypocritical in the extreme.

I know the Exxon Valdez story so I know the facts don’t support lifting the moratorium on oil tankers that will be required along the BC coastline.

You speak of ‘diversifying markets’. Your letter has an angry tone, not only with concerned Canadians but with the U.S. who have said ‘No for now’ to the Keystone pipeline through Nebraska where the people there had exactly the same concerns for their aquifers as Canadians have for their natural environment.

There is no ‘diversifying of trade’ either. This is the same old selling off of Canada’s natural resources as Canadian governments have always done, with no ‘value added’ whatsoever. Just sell it off as fast as you can. This haste makes one wonder who is going to benefit. It is not the ordinary Canadian citizen; nor is it the citizen of the future. I believe that there are a very few people ready to ‘make a killing’, with Canadians being left with nothing but a permanently damaged environment and nothing to show for it.

Your government with its emphasis on the tar sands has already made Canada a ‘petro-state’, meaning that our dollar is now pegged to the price of oil and is so high that manufacturing in Ontario and Quebec is going out of business because our dollar is too high. This is the history of all petro states in the world – they rely solely on selling oil and lose their diversity in other sectors.

You also mentioned “jet setter celebrities’ carbon footprints” so you do acknowledge that there is a problem of greenhouse gas induced climate change – which your government is doing nothing about and actually embarrassed Canadians by cancelling our international commitment to the Kyoto agreement. We are already experiencing climate change in Canada with the warmest last fifteen years in recorded history, no winter this year and a melting Arctic that is killing the wildlife there and destroying the way of life of the Innuit that had existed for millenia. Even Ontario’s environmental commissioner Gord Miller warned the Ontario government today that we stand to lose the Boreal forest due to a drying climate and insect pests that are now destroying trees in the western part of that forest. We need to drastically reduce the burning of fossil fuels, not sell these fuels to places that will burn them. James Hanson, the most prominent Climate Scientist in the U.S. said that the Keystone pipeline if built would represent ‘game over’ for human civilization because it will permit the rise in average Earth temperature to go beyond what will sustain life on Earth. Why don’t you believe the Climate scientists when you believe science in every other area of life?

My suggestion as a Canadian who wants to see a sustainable future for my children, their children and their children, is that we keep the valuable tar sands for a future generation who will undoubtedly have a much better use of this resource than digging it up at great cost of precious water, natural gas and the huge destruction of the landscape just to sell it abroad to be burned, surely the lowest possible purpose for this resource that was created over millions of years and is the heritage of all Canadians.

I challenge you and your government to declare a change in energy policy: that you are going to end all subsidies of fossil fuels and direct these subsidies to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy. You say that China wants our tar oil. Maybe they do but they are way ahead of us in developing renewable energy sources and will be selling these technologies to us in the future while Canada is a petro-backwater.

This Canadian believes a sustainable economy can only be built within a sustaining environment.

So, I guess that makes me a radical too. Please think and act on these suggestions before it is too late.

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About Murray Lumley

Board member of Conscience Canada; Christian Peacemaker Teams Reservist; retired teacher; grandfather
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