Under most circumstances Canada and the Canadian government are very progressive. Universal healthcare system – Canada has it. Excellent public education – Canada has it. However, when Big Oil gets involved the Canadian government lines up right it behind them.
Many Canadian nonprofit organizations oppose the Keystone XL and other tar sands pipeline projects. While the Keystone pipeline has made some ripples in the political waters here in the United States – mainly surrounding jobs – Canadians are worried that pipelines will endanger their very communities.
Canadian nonprofits against the expansion of pipelines note that strip mining tar sands are devastating Canada’s forests. As bad as traditional drilling is, producing tar sands generates more than three times the greenhouse gas emissions. It makes drilling in ANWR look downright clean.
The Canadian federal government responded by branding clean energy advocates as “radicals” and threatened to add environmental groups to the list of extremist organizations under Canadian anti-terrorism legislation. The attacks and threats did not stop there; Some members of the public opposing tar sand mining were accused of treason, and one Minister even accused environmental charities of “money laundering” for American donors. What do American donors have to do with anything? Well, it so happens that the Canadian government attacks came in the wake of American President Obama rejecting the Keystone oil pipeline.
The actions taken by the Canadian government regarding Canada’s environmental policy has been eyebrow rising as of late. In April, the Canadian federal government’s budget bill rolled back many of Canada’s major environmental laws on clean water, wildlife, and climate change. Additionally, the budget bill limited the Canadian public’s right to participate and even comment on environmental reviews. Instead the bill gave the Prime Minister definitive authority over all pipeline proposals.
The Canadian budget bill also cut funding for environmental protection while leaving the $1.3 billion in federal subsidies for the oil industry largely intact. The bill also included an extra $8 million to audit environmental groups — specifically the nonprofit groups opposing the new tar sands pipelines.
It seems that money is talking louder than ever these days, and not even our northern neighbors are immune.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison