Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mulcair, Oilsands, Dutch disease - Politics and the Media

This has been an interesting week in the propaganda war surrounding the development of Alberta's tarsands. The latest round began with Thomas Mulcair, the new NDP leader, pointing out that the high value of Canada's dollar - primarily due to oil exports - is highly damaging to the manufacturing industry and he compared this to "Dutch disease" (the economic impact of Holland's gas exports on the rest of it's economy in the 1970s). His comments were immediately condemned by Alberta Premier Alison Redford who stated that Mulcair was engaging in divisive politics and suggested that he was ill informed about the oilsands. She went further to indicate that he should not be allowed to comment until he took the time to visit Alberta and see the development for himself.

In the wake of this war of words, Alberta's Pembina institute released a report containing economic analysis which largely supported Mulcair's claims. In turn, Ethical Oil launched an attack on Mulcair which condemned him for not seeing the difference between Canada and Nigeria. This was met with a response by Christoper Majka which analyzed the economics and politics of the various positions.

Alberta's oilsands development has obviously become a very heated topic and there are billions of dollars and thousands of jobs in the balance - not to mention the environmental impacts. No matter what your current position on this issue, I would ask that you look at these links and ask yourself the following questions.

Does the story contain factual analysis or simply opinion?

Are the statements designed to convey information or trigger emotional response?

What are the motives behind the statements? Who wins and who loses?

Also consider that Mr. Mulcair has followed through and made a visit to Fort MacMurray. Unfortunately, Premier Redford was not there to meet him - as she was committed to attend a meeting of the Bilderberg group instead.

And finally, it might be worth mentioning that the Alberta Government's 2012 budget documents confirm that the manufacturing sector has been seriously challenged by the high value of the Canadian dollar - which clearly confirms Mulcair's earlier statements.

Since everyone clearly agrees, what is all the fighting about?

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