Text of Mr. Harper’s speech http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/Text+Prime+Minister+Stephen+Harper+Canada+Address/6870149/story.html
On Canada’s birthday, Prime Minister Harper could have said something completely different. But he didn’t. His speech had the same character as his recent Omnibus Bill C-38 with so many hidden changes to the Canadian landscape and to Canadians, which his government railroaded through Parliament. His praise of our economy failed to recognize that there can be no economy without the contribution of nature, and without environmental protection such as the ‘sacred’ Fisheries Act which he gutted in Bill C-38. Criticism for this has come even from Conservatives.
Mr. Harper has approved the further industrializing destruction of Canada’s beautiful wilderness. Much of Canada’s ‘economy’ is now based on the extraction and ‘fire sale’ of the Alberta Tar Sands – tar or bitumen. The tar must be separated from sand with heat and refined using hundreds of barrels of pure fresh water and thousands of cubic feet of natural gas that could heat Canadian homes. The process is so expensive that it is not worth doing unless world oil price is at least $90/barrel. Not only that but the horrible landscape destruction, predicted to grow to the size of Florida has had the sentient life of the Boreal Forest killed off, the Athabasca River poisoned causing increased cancers to First Nations people living downstream. He proposes to send this tar, diluted with gasoline via a pipeline through some of British Columbia’s most pristine wilderness with vulnerable Salmon streams, to a port and coastline that would be destroyed forever by even one bitumen spill.
Mr. Harper also failed to mention that the only reason that anyone would try to extract the tar from the sands is because all of the easy oil in the world has already been found. This should have led him to tell Canadians about the dangers of peak oil to the economy, including peak food prices.
Mr. Harper failed to mention the Climate Change that all of us on this planet are now experiencing – due to the ever increasing burning of coal, oil and gas. Anyone over 70 as I am or any farmer could tell Mr. Harper that the climate has changed and for the worst. Just look at the news about heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and more severe monsoons killing thousands around the world. The insurance companies know this. So does the U.S. Pentagon who state that Climate Change is the greatest Security Risk facing us now, not some kind of vague terrorism.
Mr. Harper’s reference to the military and the War of 1812 is propaganda to reshape Canada into a war fighting nation (Afghanistan?) which goes contrary to the ‘peace, welfare and good government’ historical description of Canada since its founding. Mr. Harper’s remarks belong to the 19th and possibly 20th centuries, not to the present.
Mr. Harper briefly told one truth – that First Nations, alongside British Regulars were primarily responsible for the defence of the Canadian colonies (not yet Canada). Many of the settlers who had freshly come from the U.S. took very little part in this war that no-one really wanted and which ended when both Britain and the U.S. could no longer afford to pay for the war. The First Nations allies without whom the colonies would have been absorbed into the U.S., were then betrayed by having their lands taken from them, moved onto tiny reserves and then the greatest insult, a genocide – having their children taken from them to be cleansed of who they were in the Residential Schools. They (and we )still live with that legacy today. First Nations children and their parents still suffer an existence found elsewhere only in developing countries, with higher suicide rates, greater poverty, more inadequate housing, lack of clean water and second class education compared with the rest of Canadians.
Mr. Harper could have chosen to tell the truth to Canadians. He didn’t.