19 July 2010

Whoa, Mr. Prentice, I'm not oblliged to shill for the tar sands

Recently the American organization Corporate Ethics International admitted to an embarrassing error in an anti-tar sands video they had made. The video claimed that tar sands development in Alberta was destroying an area twice the size of England. That, to put it mildly, was an exaggeration. They insisted they had meant to say just the size of England, not twice the size, although that too may be a bit of a stretch.

Naturally, and quite reasonably, federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice took umbrage. "I think they're unfair," he said, "They're disappointing, and as all other Albertans and Canadians, I'm angry about them."

Fair enough to a point but he really shouldn't presume to speak for "all other Albertans and Canadians." He then went on to say, "All Canadians really have an obligation to speak up about this and point out that we are an environmentally responsible producer of the resource." Now there he went too far. All Canadians are not obliged to defend tar sands production and a great many don't. In fact, I suspect a great many are more favourably disposed to Corporate Ethics International, despite its faux pas, than they are to tar sands producers. As an Albertan and a Canadian, that's where my sympathies lie.

I shouldn't be too harsh on Mr. Prentice. Politicians generally are all to fond of the editorial "we," but on matters affecting the future of our planet, I would prefer to speak for myself.

1 comment:

  1. Alberta is more than 250,000 square miles.

    England is nearly 95,000 square miles.

    The Tar Sands (current and planned) are estimated to be roughly 55,000 square miles (or about 22% of the entire province), but that doesn't account for downstream flow related to the Athabasca and other watersheds, nor does it account for the total space occupied and planned for Saskatchewan.

    Given these numbers, I'd suggest that the original estimate is probably quite accurate, but when you're talking about this kind of scale, what's the point of bitching about whether it's one versus several Englands?

    The point is that it's absurdly huge.

    And you're right: The Cons don't speak (in their case, lie) for me, either!