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.