Saturday, 5 February 2011

Canada as lackey to America, environmental armageddon, RBS

Here is (from a discussion forum) a brief thread about the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada. The Tar Sands has been deemed the dirtiest oil extraction process in the entire world. It is also highly energy intensive: it takes one oil-barrel's-worth of energy to extract two barrels of oil. Incidentally, RBS is a major investor in this deeply damaging and immoral piece of environmental armageddon; and we, that taxpayer, have been duped into saving this bank. We now own RBS, so we ought to be dictating what it does and doesn't do. Instead, what we have done is like paying the fine to absolve a hooligan and enable him to go on vandalising.

# Tar Sands, US-Canada relations

Posted by rippon [User Info] [Email User] on February 3, 2011, 4:26 pm

Just watched a documentary about Canada’s Tar Sands.

It all looks very chilling, e.g. the vandalism being done to the landscape. One remark was that the decisions regarding Tar Sands development is basically a ‘ground zero’ for the environment and climate change.

Environment aside, there are also other very interesting political dimensions to this story.

For example, the upshot seems to be that Canada is basically just giving it (Tar Sands oil) away to America, i.e. receiving very little money in return. One commentator described Canada as becoming an energy colony rather than an energy power (a la ‘Saudi Canada’).

This surprised me – probably because I have no idea about Canadian politics. I had always thought (in my ignorance, perhaps) of Canada as a self-confident self-respecting country. Bending over to please the master was behaviour I associated with others, e.g. Britain. If even Canada behaves this way, then that suggests that all America’s ‘allies’ (except perhaps Israel) are actually just lackeys to the Godfather.

Any insights anyone cares to share into these issues would be appreciated.

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* Re: Tar Sands, US-Canada relations

Posted by Hidari [User Info] on February 3, 2011, 4:44 pm, in reply to "Tar Sands, US-Canada relations"

You must remember that the US invaded Canada during the War of Independence, in 1812, and planned to invade on numerous occasions after that (in the late 19th century and in the 1920s and 1930s).

Since then the Canadians have pretty much done what the US has wanted them to do, so an invasion would be pointless.

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o Re: Tar Sands, US-Canada relations

Posted by rippon [User Info] [Email User] on February 3, 2011, 4:53 pm, in reply to "Re: Tar Sands, US-Canada relations"

Yes, indeed, like I said: my surprise about Canada probably stems from ignorance about its history.

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* white people suffering like brown people

Posted by rippon [User Info] [Email User] on February 3, 2011, 5:01 pm, in reply to "Tar Sands, US-Canada relations"

Oh, and another thing …

Another interesting aspect to the film was the paradoxical effect on living standards for working Canadians.

On the one hand, the Tar Sands projects have created a gold rush, with mining towns awash with money. But the workers who rush there to prosper from the well-paid jobs (e.g. a welder who earned six-figures) actually end up worse-off (through a combination of factors, e.g. rents in the emerging town being pushed to sky-high levels).

I think I have a vague recollection that there is actually a name for this phenomenon (because it’s is so well established) – ‘resource curse’ (I think), i.e. any community/country that is ‘blessed’ with a valuable resource (e.g. oil) will suffer, not prosper, as a consequence.

Now, ‘resource curse’ is something one can easily associate with certain places: the Niger Delta (for example) with its oil – because, after all, we are very used to thinking of Africans as being ‘cursed’. So it’s quite striking to see a rich well-to-do white-man’s country like Canada experience resource curse.

In fact, this is reminiscent of the curse of extreme weather events: one is used to seeing disasters, e.g. flooding, afflict brown people in far away places, e.g. Bangladesh, Pakistan. But it’s unusual to see such things afflicting rich white westerners (e.g. Queenslanders). And what is particularly galling about Australia’s floods and extreme weather is that, even when disaster strikes those who have benefitted massively from capitalism and consumerism, there is +still+ no discussion that our societal and industrial structures might be causing this and therefore need to be changed.

The analogy about industrialised society seems to be correct: it is like trying to turn around a super-tanker in football-pitch-size space – impossible.

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* Re: Tar Sands, US-Canada relations

Posted by John Monro [User Info] [Email User] on February 4, 2011, 2:19 am, in reply to "Tar Sands, US-Canada relations"

I'm not sure what you're seeing is unique to Canada. I think it's the result of emasculation of sovereignty to corporatist interests - being the logical conclusion of neo-liberal market economics that sees corporatist interests override those of governments. It is is the amazing and bizarre success of these dogmas how they can persuade so many otherwise intelligent, and in other ways pretty belligerent, politicians to roll over and allow these non-sovereign and unaccountable interests to hold sway, against the interests of their own citizens, whose interests they're supposed to be protecting. We see it in NZ too, the sell off of our important strategic assets continues, after a brief hiatus. It's similar to the success of the Republican Party in persuading the poor and dispossessed that it's un-American to wish the government to look after you, better starve than have government in your life. Who needs guns when lies and self-deception are all that's required?


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