January 12, 2012
VANCOUVER, BC, Jan. 12, 2012/ Troy Media/ – As Canadians have discovered more in recent days about the shocking amount of meddling in our national policy decisions, paid for by foreign money, they’ve grown increasingly alarmed, and they’re starting to speak out, demanding that our political leaders put a stop to it.
Canadians have been writing letters to the federal government to call for Ottawa wake up to the swarm of activist groups backed by foreign billionaires from hijacking – a word the prime minister himself uses – the federal hearings on the Canadian Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry our oil from Alberta to B.C.
The power of foreign interests
They’ve been calling up radio shows and writing blogs, and spreading the word in their communities about the fact that this crucial decision over Canada’s national energy policy is being manipulated by what are essentially the well-paid lobbyists of wealthy and powerful foreign interests.
Clearly – thankfully – it’s working. First there were the comments from Stephen Harper a few days ago. The prime minister expressed concern about ‘foreign money (being used) to really overload the public consultation phase of regulatory hearings just for the purpose of slowing down the process.’ It was a clear reference to the anti-oil activists’ plans to sabotage the Gateway hearings by swamping it with an unmanageable volume of testimony. Thousands have registered and will get a chance to testify before the hearings, many of them part of an organized campaign to overwhelm the hearings with opposition and deliberately gum up the works. In many cases, they’ve been hired to do so by foreign interests.
This week, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, delivered the most vigorous and accurate criticism of this kind of interference we’ve heard yet from the government, or any government in Canada, for that matter. In an open letter to Canadians, Oliver warned of ‘environmental and other radical groups’ out to incapacitate Canada’s ability to develop its industries. These groups claim to want to protect the environment, but as Oliver points out their ideology is absolute: ‘Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.’
As Oliver explains, one of their main tactics is obstructing our regulatory processes. ‘They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects.’ They have an effective arsenal at their disposal that average, hardworking Canadians, with more sensible, reasoned ideas about balancing environmental issues with other priorities, like jobs, can’t compete with. These groups have foreign billionaires and governments sending them hundreds of millions of dollars. They have self-righteous Hollywood celebrities who don’t care at all that Canadians depend on our resource-based economy for jobs and to fund our schools and health care. And they have the biggest advantage of all: time. They want nothing more than to tie up our government and industry in regulatory challenges, red tape, protests and lawsuits, while the rest of us just want to get on with making the right decisions, and building our economy.
Oliver’s letter is almost certainly the most blunt, honest thing any senior Canadian politician has ever dared to say about the extreme-environmentalist lobby, who are so accustomed to being treated as serious, reasonable stakeholders, and given so much credit for supposedly having good intentions – because they say they care for the environment – that they’re well on their way to paralyzing the energy development of a G8 nation.
But many of these groups lost sight of what being ‘reasonable’ means years ago: raking in megabucks from rich, faraway foreigners has a way of doing that. It has a way of insulating you from what real, ordinary Canadian people think. An organizer from the foreign-backed, anti-pipeline group, Dogwood Initiative, recently declared: ‘If I got duffel bags of money delivered from Martians from outer space I would still take that money.’ It certainly sounds like he’s more interested in getting loot to fight his own cause, wherever it comes from, than in representing the point of view of actual Canadians. Forest Ethics, another one of the extremist anti-oil groups caught using foreign money to manipulate our policy decisions, said about Alberta’s oil industry last month that ‘No substantive efforts to clean them up, or measure their pollution makes them a socially acceptable form of energy in a world that is increasingly concerned about climate change.’
The system is broken
So, there: no amount of environmental regulation and protection our industry our government implements will make, no matter how stringent, will make these important sectors acceptable to these people. They want them all gone. These outsiders would shut our industries down, and they’ll take money from any rich outsider or foreign government to do it. That’s not reasonable. That’s not balanced. That’s fanatical.
Clearly Joe Oliver sees that. And it’s no wonder he’s alarmed: our important task of developing and diversifying Canada’s economy has become a battle between average, hardworking, reasonable Canadians and slick, radicalized outsiders with incredibly deep pockets.
But it shouldn’t be a battle at all. If the system is set up right, Canadians and Canadian concerns should win, automatically, over foreign interests every time. That’s why the system, as Oliver says, ‘is broken.’ He’s right. Let’s get it fixed before it’s too late.
Kathryn Marshall is a columnist for 24 Hours Vancouver and a blogger and a commentator on politics and current affairs. She is the spokesperson for EthicalOil.org, a grassroots advocacy organization that encourages people, businesses and governments to choose Ethical Oil from Canada, its oil sands and other liberal democracies.