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Remember how, when times were really bad in the U.S., we could always at least imagine taking refuge in Canada? Easy—just pack a coat and cross over the border. Well, things are different now. Andrew Nikiforuk writes in Foreign Policy about how our friendly neighbor became a belligerent bully.
The kowtowing to China, now the world's largest oil consumer, highlights Canada's big bitumen dilemma: how to get dirty, landlocked oil to global markets. The United States, Canada's biggest customer, doesn't seem to need it as much anymore; imports declined by more than 4 million barrels a day between 2005 and 2011, and with pipeline projects to the United States like Keystone XL stuck in the mud, Harper's vision of being an "emerging energy superpower" appears in danger. Unsurprisingly, Harper has recently jettisoned criticism of China's human rights record. As a secret foreign-policy document leaked last fall to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) makes clear, Canada has new priorities: "To succeed we will need to pursue political relationships in tandem with economic interests even where political interests or values may not align."
First, a country needs to discover a natural resource that can be exploited regardless of consequences to the environment. Then they have to find a leader who will bully his people and the rest of the world to pursue his megalomaniac ambitions.
THE SINGLE-MINDED PURSUIT of this petroproject has stunned global analysts. The Economist, no left-wing shill, characterized Harper, the son of an Imperial Oil senior accountant, as a bully "intolerant of criticism and dissent" with a determined habit of rule-breaking. Lawrence Martin, one of Canada's most influential political commentators, says that Harper's "billy-club governance" has broken "new ground in the subverting of the democratic process." Conservative pollster Allan Gregg has described Harper's agenda as an ideological assault on evidence, facts, and reason. [...]

More than a decade ago, American political scientist Terry Lynn Karl crudely summed up the dysfunction of petrostates: Countries that become too dependent on oil and gas riches behave like plantation economies that rely on "an unsustainable development trajectory fueled by an exhaustible resource" whose revenue streams from "an implacable barrier to change." And that's what happened to Canada while you weren't looking. Shackled to the hubris of a leader who dreams of building a new global energy superpower, the Boy Scout is now slave to his own greed.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a right-wing policy wonk and evangelical Christian with a power base in Alberta (ground zero of Canada's oil boom), has convinced three-fourths of his people that they need to exploit the tar sands for economic reasons. It's not like Canada didn't see what happened in the U.S. with two oil men in leadership; wars for oil anyone? We must stop this megalomaniac at the border with rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Originally posted to beach babe in fl on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 06:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Climate Change SOS.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Nikiforuk has an excellent book called (8+ / 0-)

    The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude (2012)

    Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation

    A radical analysis of our master-and-slave relationship to energy and a call for change.

    Ancient civilizations routinely relied on shackled human muscle. It took the energy of slaves to plant crops, clothe emperors, and build cities. In the early nineteenth century, the slave trade became one of the most profitable enterprises on the planet, and slaveholders viewed religious critics as hostilely as oil companies now regard environmentalists. Yet when the abolition movement finally triumphed in the 1850s, it had an invisible ally: coal and oil. As the world's most portable and versatile workers, fossil fuels dramatically replenished slavery's ranks with combustion engines and other labour-saving tools. Since then, oil has transformed politics, economics, science, agriculture, gender, and even our concept of happiness. But as Andrew Nikiforuk argues in this provocative new book, we still behave like slaveholders in the way we use energy, and that urgently needs to change.

    Many North Americans and Europeans today enjoy lifestyles as extravagant as those of Caribbean plantation owners. Like slaveholders, we feel entitled to surplus energy and rationalize inequality, even barbarity, to get it. But endless growth is an illusion, and now that half of the world's oil has been burned, our energy slaves are becoming more expensive by the day. What we need, Nikiforuk argues, is a radical new emancipation movement.

    Among the most powerful books I have read in the past decade. I am reminded of it in various ways every single week since I read it last fall.

    I will forever stand up and take notice when he speaks, because I know it will be informative, accurate and of vital importance.

    Optimism is when you shut your lyin' eyes. ☮ ♥ ☺

    by Words In Action on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 07:00:37 AM PDT

  •  The USA is doing exactly the same thing . . .. (5+ / 0-)
    First, a country needs to discover a natural resource that can be exploited regardless of consequences to the environment.
    as far as the Obama-led fracking boom is concerned . . .

    (but hey, I like picking on Canada as much as anything, provided I'm not sensitive to the hypocrisy involved on this particular issue!)

    •  I loathe Harper as much as anyone (4+ / 0-)

      and I find the characterization of Harper as a 'bully, intolerant of criticism ...' to be dead on

      However - it is the height of hypocrisy of an american to point a finger at ANY foreign country and call it 'rogue', muchless a 'rogue petrostate' - to be clear, I am not talking about Nikiforuk, who is clearly qualified to talk on this -

      I think the diarist does a gross disservice in pointing to Harper as the 'bogey man' here - XL / Northern Pipeline / Athabasca Tar Sands have been in development since the mid 70's in full cooperation with US and multinational Oil companies

      While the US and Canada have roughly the same per capita energy consumption (about twice that of UK) - with a population of 10 times that of its northern neighbor, the US has a much stronger ability to affect energy policy

      Yes, Stephen Harper is horrible - much more so than this diary illuminates - but pointing a finger at him and saying "there is the bad guy" is totally off base imo

      "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

      by josephk on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 08:00:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes indeed, I alluded to this in a different (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deward Hastings

        but here's a few more details:

        Pierre Trudeau's government decided that they needed a window into the oil industry in order to assess and control Canada's valuable natural resources. The Canadian Parliament passed the Petro-Canada Act in 1975 establishing a Crown Corporation to meet these targets. Many in the Alberta Oil industry felt that this was an unwelcomed intrusion into the business world and campaigned to have Petro-Canada and its activities restricted.

        The largest source of Oil in Canada was in the Alberta Tar Sands which was much more difficult and expensive to get the oil out f then a normal well hole. in 1978, Petro-Canada invested in Alberta's Syncrude which became the largest producer of the Tar Sands and held a 12 percent ownership position.

        In 1979 Petro-Canada bought Pacific Petroleum, an Alberta based coming and then partner with Chevron, Gulf and Mobil to explore the Hibernia oilfield in the Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland. Over then next 5 years Petro-Canada continued to expand its exploration and drill operations well growing it's retail gas operations across the country. In 1981 Petro-Canada bought Petrofina, in 1983 BP Canada and in 1984 discovered the Terra Nova oilfield off the east coast


        IOW, a Liberal government laid much of the groundwork for Canada now being a "Rouge Petro State"  (with rouge being a play on words referring to PetroCanda's colors . .. .  and as I just read on Wikipedia PetroCanada was nicely doubled as "Pierre Elliot Trudeau Rips Off" Canada - a common feeling in Western Canada back then when all the $$s they were pouring into tarsands development was largely regarded as a huge clusterfuck.

        •  Petro Canada? (0+ / 0-)

          PetroCan was started as a Crown Corporation(with strong PC opposition) in order to nationalize oil policy in canada by having a strong industry in order represent government within the oil industry

          as soon as Mulroney came into power - he began the dismantling of PetroCan as a crown corporation towards fully privatizing it

          Yes, PetroCan was used to invest and influence oil industry in canada including the tar sands development - as a crown corporation implementing government / national policy in an industry that had / has large foreign / private influences

          A 'thought experiment' on PetroCan might better be - IF PetroCan was allowed to continue and grow as a Crown Corporation - MIGHT it have been better positioned to mitigate the horrendous deleterious effects of how the tar sands have been developed

          Finally - the Liberal Government signed Kyoto - and it was the Harper conservative that withdrew from Kyoto (largely with an eye at the tar sands development)

          There is enough blame for the development of the Tar Sands to go around for EVERYONE - inside Canada and out - because of the lack of foresight on the environment and the influence of monied interests over public good

          "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

          by josephk on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 08:45:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly! (0+ / 0-)

      Like the she-demon says "...Drill, Baby; Drill"
         God save us!

  •  Conservatives: (4+ / 0-)

    They will wreck your country every time.

    Private health insurance: a protection racket without the protection.

    by rustypatina on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 07:02:51 AM PDT

  •  a right-wing policy wonk and evangelical Christian (4+ / 0-)

    Well, what a surprise—those two things go together in Canada just like they do in the United States.

    Few religions have clean hands when it comes to justifying environmental exploitation, but only Evangelical Christianism justifies the destruction and despoilation with their idiot belief in a coming Armageddon and Rapturing.

    •  Yes, bluestatedon. This calls to mind a (0+ / 0-)

      cartoon idea I had years ago in which a crowd of crazed faced, hair-pulling, pummeling and body-checking women were seeking access to a sale rack of fur coats, with one of them who while pushing in the face of another crying out, "Outta my way.  I need a coat for church tomorrow."

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 07:28:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seriously, 75% of Canadians agree with Harper? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker

    C'mon Canada, do you really want your own special George W. Bush experience?

    Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 07:28:53 AM PDT

    •  Will... (0+ / 0-)

      Carolyn Parrish whip up a Harper voodoo doll?

      "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

      by JackND on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 07:32:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  they call it "stranded oil' . . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MGross, josephk

      and it's regarded as some sort of treason by probably 90% of Albertans, and they point to Saudi Arabia and Iraq/Kuwait and Norway/Great Britain and Nigeria and Venezuela and . . . on and on and on . . . and note that the US has been happy to build pipelines and tanker fleets and a worldwide distribution apparatus to get that oil to American gas tanks.  Not to mention Alaska and the Gulf and billions of barrels of "domestic crude" (and coal, let's not forget coal) . . . but now

      Canadians Are The Bad Guys (just 'cause we do it don't mean they can)

      because they want to get something for the puddle of oil they've got.  Oh, and the Chinese are "bad guys" because they want cars (and maybe Canadian oil to run them) like Americans have.  They rightly note that while there's a big push against Canadian oil there's no corresponding outcry about the new play in Austrailia or about Israel's new natural gas production in the Mediterranean or about Americans fracking for gas and "tight" oil pretty much everywhere they can find it.

      In the face of such hypocrisy it wouldn't surprise me at all if 75% of Canadians agree with 90% of Albertans.  It is indeed funny how even American (supposed) "liberals" always find someone else to blame for problems they themselves are up to their neck in.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 08:05:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. (0+ / 0-)

        I never said Canadians are the bad guys. I said that supporting Harper is a bad idea, one that kinda blows my mind Canadians are into, especially since Canadians just watched us follow George W. Bush over a cliff.

        But hey, you want to follow us over the cliff, fine. Pile on. We can all die together. See ya at the bottom!

        Perhaps before everything goes to hell people might have a few years of having a higher living standard.

        Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 08:40:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Someone else to blame LOL (0+ / 0-)

        Funny how you can just ignore my entire comment history and criticism of my own government and of American industry. But fine, go ahead with that RW talking point, if it makes you feel better.

        Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Fri Jul 12, 2013 at 08:41:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  NO ... (2+ / 0-)

      the tar sands project has been in development since the mid 70's - this has unfortunately been a project that many aspects of Canada have allowed and encouraged to go ahead with very little foresight - and unfortunately, there is far too much invested in the tar sands as an economic force in canada - which HAS influenced the majority of canadians ...

      "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

      by josephk on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 08:06:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Based on your title implying you (4+ / 0-)

    were going to tell us how Canada became this way - you overlook a huge amount of pertinent information.

    In particular, how the "progressive" government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau was a major driving (and funding!) force behind the development of the tar sands.

    By stark contrast, there were efforts on the parts of the local Alberta conservatives (e.g., Peter Lougheed's (sp?) government) to block or suspend the development of tarsands.

    Bottom line, if the conservatives had gotten their way a generation ago and blocked the liberal-backed development of the tarsands, we'd not be in this pickle today.

    •  This isn't Your father's Conservative Party (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deward Hastings

      like 'old time' Republicans - it is hard to see that the likes of Lougheed could foresee a Howdy Doody like Harper taking over the PC party, let alone the country ...

      "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

      by josephk on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 08:13:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How? The same way the Cheney/Bush junta did (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deward Hastings

    It's called "The noble lie". Harper is a Straussian. He believes the people are too stupid to govern themselves so must be lied to for their own good. The true agenda of the government is to be done in secrecy and in incremental steps so as to not scare the "masses".

    Neocon/theocon Harper may be right about the stupidity of the Canadian electorate. He was elected by them three times.

    The Tyee has an interesting article that exposes Harper and how he came to power in Canada.

    Harper, Bush Share Roots in Controversial Philosophy
    Close advisers schooled in 'the noble lie' and 'regime change.'
    By Donald Gutstein, 29 Nov 2005

    In Washington, Straussians exert powerful influence from within the inner circle of the White House. In Canada, they roost, for now, in the so-called Calgary School, guiding Harper in framing his election strategies. What preoccupies Straussians in both places is the question of "regime change."

    Strauss defined a regime as a set of governing ideas, institutions and traditions. The neoconservatives in the Bush administration, who secretly conspired to make the invasion of Iraq a certainty, had a precise plan for regime change. They weren't out to merely replace Saddam with an American puppet. They planned to make the system more like the U.S., with an electoral process that can be manipulated by the elites, corporate control over the levers of power and socially conservative values.
    Is regime change possible through the electoral process? It's happening in the U.S., where the neocons are succeeding in transforming the American state from a liberal democracy into a corporatist, theocratic regime. As Canada readies for a federal election, the question must be asked: Are we next?
    There's one big difference between American and Canadian Straussians. The Americans assumed positions of power and influence in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The Canadians have not had much opportunity to show (or is that hide?) their stuff. That may change with a Harper victory.

    Paul Wolfowitz's teacher, Allan Bloom, and another Straussian, Walter Berns, taught at the University of Toronto during the 1970s. They left their teaching posts at Cornell University because they couldn't stomach the student radicalism of the '60s. At Toronto, they influenced an entire generation of political scientists, who fanned out to universities across the country.

    Two of their students, Ted Morton and Rainer Knopff, went to the University of Calgary where they specialize in attacking the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They claim the charter is the result of a conspiracy foisted on the Canadian people by "special interests." These nasty people are feminists, gays and lesbians, the poor, prisoners and refugee-rights groups who are advancing their own interests through the courts at the expense of the general public, these Straussians allege.

  •  Republican governance, for the world to see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VL Baker

    In Socialist Canada.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 08:50:47 AM PDT

  •  Oil is a legal commodity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deward Hastings

    We have a free trade agreement and you are pretty much required to approve that pipeline or we can take you to WTO and sue your butts off for damages. Billions! Go stop your fracking, and we might see you have a point. Till then, shut up.

    •  probably get enough in the settlement (0+ / 0-)

      to build Voyageur, Heartland and North West . . .

      and leave a lot of American capacity without feedstock.  I wonder who they get to sue . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 10:22:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I doubt if that will work (0+ / 0-)

      based on softwood lumber dispute precedent.

      Didn't the world courts always rule in your favor on that issue but we always totally ignored the rulings?  And what happened to us?  


      (heh hehe heh hah ha ha - take that Celine Dion!!).

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