Peter Kent Official Portrait
Most environment ministers' job is to protect the environment; not in Canada. There, the environment minister is a shill for the tar stands industry. The new minister isn't camera shy, either; he is Peter Kent, former TV anchor for Canada's biggest news show. (He is the brother of Arthur Kent, the "Scud Stud" of the 1991 gulf war) His pitch on the tar sands: it's not dirty oil, it's ethical oil.
Kent told the Globe and Mail:
It is a regulated product in an energy superpower democracy. The profits from this oil are not used in undemocratic or unethical ways. The proceeds are used to better society in the great Canadian democracy. The wealth generated is shared with Canadians, with investors."
The Ethical Oil label came to prominence in Ezra Levant's book of the same name, earlier this year. Levant recently told a House of Commons Natural Resources Committee:
I don't know what God was thinking when he was handing out oil, but he gave it to all the world's bastards--Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and Nigeria. Out of the top ten countries ranked by oil reserves, Canada is the only western liberal democracy on the list....
I suggest four liberal values by which we should judge the morality of a barrel of oil: respect for the environment; peace; fair wages for workers; and human rights. I compare oil sands oil with OPEC oil using these four measures. I come to the conclusion that oil sands oil is the fair trade coffee of the world's oil industry.
(Read the whole transcript here)
So now the rants of someone who has been called Canada's Ann Coulter (who last month wrote a column asking Why isn't Julian Assange dead yet?) are official Canadian government policy.
Andrew Nikiforuk demolished Levant's argument in the Tyee:
Saudi oil barons may beat their women and whip foreign workers, but Canada happily employs aboriginals in open pit mines. Nigeria hangs its critics, but Canada just accuses them of being Greenpeace scum. Venezuela censors its media, but Ottawa will bring peace to the planet with the world's most expensive oil. And hey, bitumen has the consistency of peanut butter. It probably tastes good too.
In other words, a $200-billion project developed by the very same corporations that defrauded Nigeria, bloodied the Sudan, vilified climate change science and polluted the Gulf of Mexico has suddenly become a supreme moral force making the world a better place. Only in Canada can CEOs as narcissistic as Tony Hayward morph into Mother Teresa, and companies as morally compromised as Shell play St Francis. Dig, Canada, dig.
So much for it being ethical oil. Having a former newsreader as Environment Minster does make some sense, because every policy comes out of the Prime Minister's office anyways. Just fill the cabinet with talking heads with good hair and be done with it.
More on the tar sands:
What Goes Into (And Comes Out of) A Barrel Of Tar Sands Oil
Society of Environmental Journalists Announces 2008-2009 Award Winners
Canadian Tar Sands: a Hydrocarbon Hurricane