Friday, December 30, 2011

Global 'happiness index' ranks Canada 23rd - Canada - CBC News

Interesting concepts - Canada, the country with one of the highest ranking economies in the world ranks only in the middle of the pack in terms of happiness. And Alberta, the richest province in the country is also the least happy province in Canada...

Why doesn't wealth correlate with happiness? What's going wrong?

Global 'happiness index' ranks Canada 23rd - Canada - CBC News

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Worse Than 2008 - Clear signs of a 2012 Depression

An important reflection on the fragile state of our faith-based economies - and excellent reading for the shortest day of 2011.

It's a good thing that the Occupy Movement has shown us how to build a thriving community by simply meeting the most basic of human needs because this is an option we might need to seriously consider....

Worse Than 2008 - Blogs at Chris Martenson

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Building pipelines to export oil might be Nation-Building - but which nation?

The Conservative government is using an amazing range of rhetoric to sell the Northern Gateway pipeline - which is designed to ship oil from the tar sands to China- to Canadians. In their latest attempts, Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver claims the plan is a priority for "Nation Building". Considering that one of the most famous examples of Canadian "Nation Building" was the railway that connected our Atlantic and Pacific coasts, it might be worth while to look at some of the facts behind Joe Oliver's claim to see if it makes sense.

First, Canada requires 2 million barrels of oil each day to meet our current needs. Canada also has one of the least energy-efficient economies in the developed world requiring 1780 barrels of oil per million dollars of GDP, compared to countries like Denmark who require less than 750 barrels for the same benefit in GDP, which means our overall economy is highly vulnerable to high oil prices. In addition to our oil consumption, Canada currently exports more than 2 million barrels of oil per day to the US for a total of 4 Million barrels of oil per day.

Now comes the problem. Canada only produces 3 million barrels of oil per day and Eastern Canada is completely dependent on 1 million barrels of oil primarily shipped over 9000 km by oil tankers each day from unstable regimes in the Middle East. If oil prices rise suddenly or if these regimes stop exporting this volume of oil or if this steady stream of oil tankers is interrupted, our brothers and sisters in Eastern Canada will literally freeze in the dark.

On top of this problem, Eastern Canada's manufacturing sector has faced dramatic declines in recent years and this has resulted in serious unemployment and a growing gap between the rich and poor. Recent OECD reports indicate these problems are primarily caused corporations moving jobs overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor costs.

Interestingly, these problems are entirely related to high oil prices. First, the Canadian dollar is viewed as a petro-currency because Canada is a major oil exporting country. Higher oil prices over the past 5 years have led to a 40% rise in the value of our dollar and this indirectly raises the cost of employing Canadian workers relative to other countries. Second, higher energy prices also increase the cost of running factories and shipping materials which adds additional burdens to the manufacturing industries.

So, let's review Joe Oliver's claim that building a 900+ km pipeline across pristine BC wilderness that is home to more than 130 First Nation communities to fill 200 oil tankers per year that will ship the oil through one of the most environmentally sensitive regions in the world on the way to China is a nation building priority. Ultimately, this will leave Eastern Canada completely dependent on high priced foreign oil while increasing the value of the Canadian dollar which further erodes the competitiveness of Canadian workers, exporters and tourism industries which will lead to greater unemployment in all of these sectors.

Wouldn't it make more sense to upgrade the bitumen here (generating Canadian jobs) and building a 2700 km pipeline to Eastern Canada to ensure they have a reliable source of energy for their manufacturing industries?

Wouldn't that be Nation-Building?

Environmentalists, aboriginals won't stop pipeline: minister

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An open response to Marybeth Hick's parental advice to Occupy protesters

I must admit that I don't routinely follow the writings of Marybeth Hicks - or most ideological columnists for that matter- but two of my friends have recently sent me one of her columns from the Washington Times (Oct. 20) to review. If you are interested, here is a link to her column.

HICKS: Some belated parental advice to protesters - Washington Times

I won't respond in detail, but I would like to offer my opinion that this column seems typical of the way that journalists on both the right and left of the political spectrum tend to demonize and stereotype people who hold differing viewpoints rather than discuss the specific issues. For example, Marybeth characterizes members of the Occupy movement as young, immature, unrealistic, dirty, smelly, lazy, irresponsible etc. and blames them for their lack of success. She then defends those responsible, successful traders that have earned enough money through their "hard-work" on Wall Street to buy houses in the Hamptons.

Unfortunately, reality tends to be more complicated than she admits. From my experience, a typical Occupy camp consists of a wide range of people. I have met idealistic and informed people of all ages from varying backgrounds who are sacrificing their personal safety and comfort to stand against a system that is destroying our environment and funnelling the profits into fewer and fewer pockets. I have also noticed that there are large numbers of homeless people who are attracted to the movement - perhaps because of the free food and relative safety from police harrasment- and some of them bring their addiction and mental health problems into the camp environment. I have been particularly impressed by the way that the more able camp members tend to reach out and try to support those who have been rejected by our current system - however, in some cases this has not been successful and I suspect that many of the conflicts between police and the Occupy movement have been triggered by the chronic homeless. It's also worth noting how MaryBeth characterizes the Wall Street traders as hard-working rather than considering how many of these traders come from rich ivy league families who were able to get them into the "right" schools where they made the "right" connections that opened the "right" doors and so on. It's also worth noting that many of these wealty traders have made their wealth by gambling with other people's money and while it is beyond any doubt that they were responsible for the major economic crisis of 2008 - where millions of people lost their pension earnings, their pensions, their jobs and even their homes- I am not aware of a single Wall Street trader or bank CEO being sent to jail for their dishonest transactions.

Overall, I feel very hopeful that the Occupy Wall Street Movement will help in bringing a positive change to our current system. Hopefully they will be a part of moving our society back to a place where everyone has a fair chance for success and we can start rebuilding our middle class and our natural environment. In the meantime, you can expect that those who are benefitting the most from our current system will fight very hard to maintain the advantages in wealth and power that they now hold. Much of this will be played out in the media where the elite from both sides of the debate will attempt to stereotype and characterize the movement for their own advantage. Certainly you will see alot of negative reporting - this is because the rich and powerful own most of the media outlets - so I would recommend that you go down to the Occupy camps and meetings to visit with the people personally. During our Victoria Peace Colloquy on Oct 22, we had 3 people from Occupy Victoria come and present their ideas to our congregation. It was a very worth-while event.

I also notice that no matter how much bad press is targetted against the Occupy Movement, the Rich and Powerful said the same things and worse about the early Christians and the early Mormons...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mormon Polygamy on Trial: The Final Verdict

After more than 3 months of hearings and 6 months of deliberation, BC Supreme Court Justice Robert Bauman has delivered his final decision. In his opinion, Canada's 1890 anti-poligamy law has withstood the constitutional challenge and it is a criminal offense to have a committed relationship with more than one person at a time in Canada. The only exception seems to be for teenage girls who marry older men. In this case, only the man is a criminal.

The objections the Canadian Polyamory Association have been over-ruled, indicating that polygamy poses so much harm to the rest of society that it can not be tolerated.

It is a very lengthy document and I have not had time to read it.

Here is the official link - What do you think about it?

2011 BCSC 1588 Reference re: Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An open reply to a letter from Joe Oliver on the Northern Gateway pipeline

The Hon. Joe Oliver
Minister of Natural Resources
Ottawa, Canada K1A 0E4

SJ: Enbridge pipeline proposal is not in Canada’s best interest

Dear Mr. Oliver,
Thank you for your detailed reply to my letter of July 19, 2011. I read your letter with interest and after giving serious consideration to your comments, I have come to the conclusion that the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal would be a major mistake for Canada.
In my previous letter, I wrote that the profits and rewards associated with selling Alberta’s bitumen to Asia would only benefit the province and the multi-national corporate partners. You rightly objected to this statement by pointing out that there are benefits to the rest of Canada through royalties, equalization payments, etc. However, after considerable research and analysis I have concluded that while there are some benefits to the rest of Canada, a significantly disproportionate share of the benefits go to Alberta and the multi-national corporations. For example, Alberta collected 7.5 B$ from total oil and gas revenue in 2010. By comparison, the Net Profit from only 3 of the 10 major oil sands producing companies (Suncor, Imperial and Cenovus) totalled over 7.0 B$ in the same year. Economic benefit to the rest of Canada is a very small fraction of these totals.
In terms of employment, you indicated that direct and indirect employment from oil and gas production is estimated at 500,000 jobs. While this is significant, it must be put in context. Stats Canada indicates that there were approximately 17,000,000 jobs in Canada for 2010 and less than 5% of these jobs are connected to the oil and gas industry. Even in the province of Alberta, the oil and gas industry only provides 150,000 out of a total of 2,000,000 jobs (7%) and in British Columbia, this sector creates 35,000 out of 2,300,000 jobs (2%). In contrast, tourism and recreation in British Columbia creates more than 250,000 jobs and many of these jobs could be threatened by the proposed pipeline.
You also wrote of the positive balance of trade surplus that is related to oil and gas exports. While this is certainly true, it must also be noted that these same oil and gas exports are largely responsible for the high value of the Canadian dollar relative to the US currency. Unfortunately, our high value ”petro-dollar” causes considerable hardship for any segment of the economy that relies on export or tourism. This has recently been evident in the loss of 48,000 manufacturing jobs during October 2011 and over the period from 2006 to 2010, the manufacturing sector has lost more than 350,000 jobs (Stats Canada).
In terms of job creation, pipelines that are designed to export raw bitumen are not desirable for Canada. For example, former Alberta Premier Lougheed recently stated "I would prefer...we process the bitumen from the oilsands in Alberta and that would create a lot of jobs and job activity ... That would be a better thing to do than merely send the raw bitumen down the pipeline and they refine it in Texas that means thousands of new jobs in Texas. (CBC, 9/13/11). Lougheed’s statement has been confirmed by US House Speaker John Boehner who indicated that the delay of the keystone pipeline meant that "More than 20,000 new American jobs have just been sacrificed in the name of political expediency”. In addition to shipping jobs out of Canada, the Northern Gateway and Keystone pipelines ship bitumen at $64/barrel out of the country where it is refined and sold at more than $90/barrel (2010 average prices). This represents a major share of the oil sands value that should be benefitting Canadians.
In terms of National Energy Policy, these pipelines are not beneficial to Canada. Canada currently imports more than 55% of our oil requirements from Norway and the Middle East. As oil supplies continue to tighten, Eastern Canada’s oil supply is increasingly vulnerable and at the same time your government is focused on providing a secure oil supply for the US and China. Why is their energy security more important than our own?
The foolishness of this proposal is even more obvious when one considers that it requires 900 km of pipeline and 9000 km by oil tanker to move bitumen to China. Shipping oil from the Middle East to Halifax requires an additional 9500 km. By contrast, shipping bitumen from Edmonton to Southern Ontario would only require a pipeline of 2700 km which is less than the 3000 km required to ship the bitumen to Houston, Tx.
The Northern Gateway Pipeline would be harmful to Canada through decreasing Canada’s energy security. By comparison, refining the bitumen in Canada would create Canadian jobs and improve our economy through value-added industries. And as a bonus, it would also be much safer for the environment.

Keith Hirsche
1161 Chapman Rd.
Cobble Hill, BC
250 929 5586

cc: Prime Minister Harper
Jean Crowder
Elizabeth May
Alison Redford
Christy Clark
Denis Lebel
David Swann

Monday, November 14, 2011

Toronto Firefighters choose to protect First Nation's sacred fire

At 330 AM on Nov. 14, Toronto firefighters were told to extinguish a fire at Occupy Toronto. After determining that it was a First Nation's Sacred Flame, the fire fighters decided to protect the fire from city officials. This was a tremendous show of respect to the First Nations people and a powerful contrast to the unfortunate events that transpired last week at Occupy Vancouver.

If you want to see a very positive interaction under difficult circumstances, check out the video here.

For another take on the story, check out what CTV had to say.

CP24- Fire crews allow Occupy Toronto fire to burn

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More evidence for a major recession in 2012

During November 2009 I wrote a blog posting offering my opinion -based on oil supply limitations and economic growth projections- that we would be facing another major economic downturn in 2010 or 2011. Over the past 2 years, we have not seen the hoped-for economic recovery, but we haven't exactly seen another major downturn either.

About a month ago, I reviewed the latest IEA data and made a guess that the next major recession would occur in 2012 - once again based on projected oil supply and demand predictions. Here is one more article that supports this possibility.

Unfortunately, I can't see any way to avoid the current climate of economic uncertainty as long as Canada and the US remain completely dependent on easy access to low priced supplies of oil and gas to fuel economic growth. As soon as the economies begin to grow, the growth is stifled by an immediate rise in oil prices - which in turn causes price increases for everything from agriculture to transportation.

There is no way to escape this trap until the US and Canadian governments are willing to make major investments to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and transportation systems and in the expansion of alternative energy generation and the corresponding infrastructure. And as long as our elected officials insist on serving and promoting the demands of the oil companies - I don't see any hope.

BBC News - Oil prices are in 'danger zone', warns the IEA

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Vancouver and the First nation's sacred fire - Truth and the media

We arrived at Occupy Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. The camp was relatively quiet except for the large number of city workers and VFD firefighters who were walking around the camp. As we asked around, we learned that the First Nations people were leading a march past the various mining companies that are guilty of mining of their land without proper permission or compensation. While I waited, I had a long conversation with a First Nations elder from Northern Ontario who told me that they were in conversations with the fire department about the possibility of lighting a sacred flame in the centre of the camp. Not long afterward, a group of demonstrators led by First nation elders returned to the camp.

We returned to the Occupy site on Monday afternoon. Returning to the First nations elder's tent, we learned that an agreement had been reached to light a sacred flame. Soon preparations were underway to clear a large area in the centre of the site. Once a major tent structure was removed, sand bags were brought to the central location and broken to build a large sand basin to form a base for the flame. All of this was done by First Nation people in direct consultation with firefighters.

Once the site was prepared, people were invited to form a circle around the central location and a First nation elder described the dedication ceremony for the flame. Another elder worked his way around the circle to smudge each participant. Soon the other elder began prayers to dedicate the site and the fire that would follow. This was an event of major significance, particularly for the members of the BC First Nations as the site was on the front lawn of the historic BC court house where so many of their rights had been taken away. This ceremony would mark the first time a sacred flame was lit on the site in more than 100 years.

About this time, Jan and I realized that we had to leave to catch our ferry.

Imagine our surprize the next day as we read the press reports about “The city went to court for an injunction to remove the tents on the site after a brawl broke out on Monday night between the police and firefighters trying to extinguish a barrel fire and some protesters who wanted to keep it alight.”

I find it very difficult to believe that the police and firefighters did not know the significance of the fire – especially after witnessing the elaborate site preparation and dedication ceremony. It certainly seemed to me that they were actively involved in the entire process over the previous 24 hours and it leaves me wondering what happened.

Was there a shift change and no communication about what was going on? Did someone over-rule the decisions made by the on-site firefighters and was this not passed on to the First Nations people? Or was it all an elaborate trap to discredit Occupy Vancouver?

And finally, why have none of the media reports even mentioned the First Nations ceremony or even their involvement in the camp?

After reading and watching the media version of these events, I am very grateful that I took photos of the ceremony or I might not believe it even happened.

First - here are two independent accounts that closely parallel what I personally witnessed:

Occupy Vancouver Media Blog

Fire Department Official Sparks Conflict at Occupy Vancouver | Vancouver Media Co-op

Now the main-stream media spin

Occupy Vancouver protest wins overnight reprieve - British Columbia - CBC News

Court grants Occupy Vancouver 1-week reprieve - British Columbia - CBC News

Occupy Vancouver protesters told to leave after police officers bitten, ammunition stolen - The Globe and Mail

Occupy Vancouver site little changed leading up to fire hazard deadline

And lastly, I attach a link to one of the most offensive, racist and least informed articles I have ever read in a newspaper. I was at Occupy Vancouver for 2 days following Ashlie's death and I can't imagine any characterization that is further from the truth than this column by Stewart Brinton.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Next Great Recession - probably coming in 2012

Over a year ago I wrote a blog entry which speculated that the relationship between peak oil and economic growth would result in another major recession - on the scale of 2008 - that would occur in 2010 or 2011. Yesterday I took some time to review the International Energy Agencies data on oil supply and demand and quickly learned that we are living on borrowed time again. For the few quarters oil demand has outpaced supply and the emergency oil reserves held by the industrialized countries are being depleted.

Today I found this interesting article on Limits to Growth which contends that 2012 will be a very bad year due to Peak Oil, food prices, Chinese debt, etc.

Looks like my prediction may have been off by a year or so...

The Oil Drum | Are We Reaching “Limits to Growth”?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jan's reaction to Occupy Vancouver

My wife, Jan Porter-Hirsche and I were on the mainland this weekend and while I was busy with other obligations, Jan went downtown to experience day 1 of Occupy Vancouver. These are her impressions...

My impressions visiting “Occupy Vancouver” Day 1: Perfect weather. The energy was vibrant; all ages; a deep and rewarding sense of percolating possibility; a call to generous community. There was a drum circle, a meditation circle, a Kids play zone, a few tents, banners, signs, info centres (, good looking food, BC Civil Liberties observers, lots of police in casual attitude frequently approached by demonstrators and exchanging friendly greetings. As speaker’s shared messages, the crowd responded not with affirming noise but with silent (hand waving) applause. At the centre an intentionally expansive and inclusive, very patient message crafting process was underway... (As if called to be "loving, hopeful and optimistic!")

Occupy Vancouver Day 3: Still gorgeous weather. More pensive energy, many more tents, far fewer people, but much easier to converse and investigate how well organized this is and how well it is progressing! We also discovered a Uranium company (Boss Power Corp) is suing the BC government for $60 million for interfering in its potential profits (trial begins tomorrow). We were encouraged to join the gathering in support of the families of Missing Women held a couple of blocks away but it was wrapping up as we got there.

Back home today sorting ripening garden veg and apples that Keith is taking to Occupy Victoria today. I need to progress a bit on some research for university but am looking forward to participating and seeing how all this goes!

Boss vs BC: ( or

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why is our Government so willing to build pipelines to ship our jobs out of the country?

Once again, Peter Lougheed - the architect of Alberta's Conservative dynasty is speaking out about the management of Alberta's oilsands. He argues that Alberta is the owner of the resource and should get its' fair share. The natural resources should provide jobs and benefits for the people of Alberta and the rest of Canada.

Why do Stephen Harper's government and the Alberta neo-conservatives disagree?

The Tyee – Nikiforuk: Yes, Refine Oil Sands Crude Right Here

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Response from Minister of Natural Resources: Hon. Joe Oliver

About 2 weeks ago I received a reply to my open letter to Stephen Harper about the economic and environmental cost of our current National Energy Policy (2010). The reply has come from Joe Oliver (Minister of Natural Resources) and it appears that someone has read at least part of my letter.

In fact, they rightly call me on my statement that states that "selling Alberta's bitumen to Asia will only benefit Alberta and its' multi-national corporate partners". I would have been much more accurate if I would have stated that "selling Alberta's bitumen will overwhelmingly benefit Alberta and their corporate partners" while the rest of Canada bears the majority of the risks.

It also seems that Mr. Oliver - or whoever answered my letter - also missed the part where I stated that I am Albertan by background and that I have a long career in the oil and gas industry. Otherwise, I think they would have written less or taken the time to be more accurate. More on this in my upcoming reply.

For the time being, here is the response from Minister Oliver's office.

Mr. W. Keith Hirsche
1161 Chapman Road
Cobble Hill, British Columbia VOR 1L7

Dear Mr. Hirsche:
The Prime Minister's office has forwarded to me a copy of your correspondence of
July 19, 2011, regarding Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines project
(the Project) and the need to move towards a sustainable energy future.

You indicated that the profits and rewards associated with selling Alberta's bitumen to
Asia will only benefit the province and its multinational corporate partners. However, there
are numerous benefits associated with Canada's oil and natural gas industries. According to
Statistics Canada, in 2010, Canada's petroleum exports (e.g., crude oil, petroleum products
and natural gas) accounted for 21 percent of all exports and are a key component of Canada's
merchandise trade surplus with the outside world. This surplus benefits all Canadians.

In addition, the oil and gas industry provides an important source of revenue for governments
via royalties, federal and provincial land taxes, and land sales. The four provincial
governments that control most of Canada's oil and natural resource production (Alberta,
Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador) also contribute billions
of dollars each year to Canadian provinces in the form of equalization payments.

Oil and natural gas are used to produce thousands of products, from petrochemicals to
building supplies to plastics. Direct and indirect employment from Canada's upstream
oil and gas industry is estimated at 500,000 jobs.

Currently, Alberta's oil sands account for 52 percent of Canada's oil production. The
Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that, over the next 25 years, the Canadian
oil sands industry alone could generate more than 900,000 jobs and inject more than
$2.1 trillion into the Canadian economy. Clearly, benefits from Alberta's oil sands
development accrue all across Canada.

With respect to the Project, given its complexity and interest in it from Canadians and
First Nations groups, the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment, referred
the Project for a panel review. The Project will be thoroughly reviewed by a three-member
Joint Panel (the Panel) to satisfy the requirements of both the Canadian Environmental
Assessment Act and the National Energy Board Act. The Panel's broad environmental
assessment mandate covers the review of the pipelines, the terminal, the docking facilities
at Kitimat, and the marine transportation portion of the pipelines project.

The Panel recently issued its hearing order and will commence community hearings in
January 2012, followed by final hearings in June 2012. The Panel's review is open to all
interested parties, and information on participation is available on the Panel's Web site
at The Panel's findings will include an
environmental assessment report, including recommendations, for Minister Kent and,
subsequently, a determination of whether the Project is in the public interest. If the Panel
finds the Project in the public interest, the Government of Canada will make the final
decision regarding whether the Project can proceed.

You also noted a concern regarding tanker traffic associated with the Project.
I would like to stress that safety, security and environmental stewardship are of paramount
importance for transportation regulation, including tanker traffic in Canadian waters. Under
federal and provincial law, tankers are free to travel to and from British Columbia ports and
do so currently, safely importing and exporting crude oil and petroleum products.

The shipping of crude oil and petroleum products by tanker is governed by the Canada
Shipping Act, which is administered by the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of
Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities. Should you have any other questions or
comments on matters related to tanker traffic on the British Columbia coast, I recommend
you contact Minister Lebel directly.

Finally, regarding the need to move towards a sustainable energy future, the Government
is committed to growing Canada's clean energy advantage. In fact, the ecoENERGY Retrofit
- Homes program was recently renewed to allow homeowners to make their homes more
energy-efficient. Earlier this year, Budget 2011 announced the ecoENERGY Innovation
Initiative, a new program that supports energy technology innovation with a view to produce
and use energy in a cleaner and more efficient way. These initiatives are key components of
the government's action to achieve real emissions reductions, while maintaining Canada's
economic advantage and its ability to create jobs for Canadians.

Thank you for writing on these important matters.
Yours sincerely,
The Honourable Joe Oliver, P.e., M.P.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The CONservative CON game.

The Republican party in the USA have been pioneering research into ways to persuade people to vote for them - even when it goes against their own self interest. After years of research, they have determined that the best way to get your vote is to bombard you with images that affect you on an emotional level, rather than at an intellectual level. The Harper Conservatives and their allies have adopted these same techniques and are using them successfully to promote their political fortunes. Now Ezra Levant is using this same technique - probably with government support - to convince you that the out-of-control tar sands exploitation is actually a good thing.

The only way to counter this type of psychological con-game is to understand the way it is being played. This website, created by tanker free BC exposes Levant for the Con-man that he truly is.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Open Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper : Shipping bitumen to Asia is not in Canada's national interest

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I recently read that an agreement has been reached by Canada’s Energy ministers that would declare that shipping oil from the tar sands to Asia is in Canada’s National interest. I am shocked and appalled that this conclusion could be reached by our provincial and federal ministers. As someone who was born and raised in Alberta and spent my career in the oil and gas industry, I am aware that oil from the tar sands is a resource that is owned, regulated and controlled by the province of Alberta and not the Federal government. In fact Alberta has fought a long and difficult battle against the Federal government to guarantee this resource, and any associated revenues, remain in Provincial control.

From this fundamental constitutional arrangement, it is clear that the profits and rewards of selling Alberta’s bitumen to Asia will only benefit the province of Alberta and their multi-national corporate partners. It will create jobs for some and immense profits for a privileged few. On the other hand, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and the associated tanker traffic through BC’s Coastal waters will endanger British Columbians and one of the most beautiful and fragile ecosystems in the world. How can this be in Canada’s national interest?

In a world where we are quickly depleting conventional reserves of oil and gas, it is critical for Canada to play a leadership role in moving towards a sustainable energy future. Whether you personally believe in the science of global warming or the oil industry’s corporately- funded propaganda, the rest of the world is seeking to decrease carbon emissions and move towards higher levels of energy efficiency and sustainability. Your Government’s unquestioning support of Alberta’s oil and gas industry over all other provinces and economic sectors is costing Canadian jobs and our economic security. This has been clearly demonstrated in the 2009 TD Bank, David Suzuki Foundation/Pembina Institute economic study and report entitled “Exploration of two Canadian greenhouse gas emissions targets: 25% below 1990 and 20% below 2006 levels by 2020

There is an alternative to selling Alberta’s bitumen to Asian and American markets. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and the associated tanker traffic are clearly not in Canada’s National Interest. Canada deserves better leadership than this.


W. Keith Hirsche

1161 Chapman Road, Cobble Hill, BC V0R 1L7

(250) 929 5586

cc: Jack Layton - Leader of the opposition Rich Coleman -BC Energy Minister

Christy Clark: Premier of British Columbia Jean Crowder - MP Cowichan

Elizabeth May - Leader Green Party of Canada MP Saanich Gulf Islands

Joe Oliver - Minister Natural Resources (Canada )

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A real world perspective on the tar sands debate

As in most conflicts, the first victims in the battle over the Alberta tarsands are people who have little in the way of resources to fight back. However, they are taking real action in ways that cut through all the rhetoric of our usual debate about the needs of the economy vs the environment.

For some important perspective and inspiration, this article on the the tarsands healing walk is well worth reading.

Please read this - it's depressing - but it's for your own good

It's been three years since we left our jobs in the oil and gas industry and embarked on this seemingly random and unexpected journey into the greater world beyond. It's been three years, and I still can't decide what I want to be when I grow up. That can be pretty depressing.

However, in the big picture, I am still confident that we made the right decision. I still don't know what my role is, but I know in my bones that things are going to have to change. Our precious economy teters on the brink of oblivion - and more importantly, the degradation of our natural world is accellerating unchecked.

To put all of this in perspective, take the time to read this article. As stated by Derrick Jensen, "If your experience is that your food comes from the grocery store and your water comes from the tap, then you are going to defend to the death the system that brings those to you because your life depends on them. If your experience, however, is that your food comes from a land base and that your water comes from a stream, well, then you will defend to the death that land base and that stream."

Reading this article could save your life - and certainly the lives of your children.