Anything is possible-ness.

Going to Extremes for Tar Sands Oil

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 09:49 -- Paul

Okay, I'm pretty left-wing I guess, but by temperament I consider myself to be a moderate, reasonable kind of guy. I'm not one to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You could even say I'm a bit "conservative" in some ways. I hate it when they move the furniture around in the office where I work, just when I was getting used to the way it was after the last time they moved things around....but I digress. It seems my opinions about the tar sands make me a dangerous extremist, according to the Government of Canada. You see, the Harper government and the pro-tar sands lobby (virtually indistinguishable at this point) have been portraying opposition to tar sands development as the work of foreign-funded "radical groups" bent on destroying our economy (to which all I have to say is this: “MWWAHAHAHAHAHA!”). To them, the imperative of extracting and distributing oil overrides all other considerations: treaty rights, human health and safety, even the right to dissent without being accused of treason by the Canadian state. Oh, and the future survival of the human race on Earth. All of which, I have to say, sounds pretty extreme to me.

According to these people, oil production and transport must increase dramatically. That cannot be questioned. So in the wake of the explosion of an oil-laden train in Lac Megantic, killing scores of people, the only alternative to dramatically increasing the transport of oil by train is to build a whole bunch of pipelines. Never mind that pipelines aren’t really safe either, that we keep hearing of accidents here there and everywhere: if you don’t let us build those pipelines, they say, any future tragedies like Lac Megantic will be on your head! But give us what we want and nobody gets hurt…well, aside from the people whose water gets poisoned. 

I’m not a huge Neil Young fan, though I like some of his songs. Still, I applaud his "Honour the Treaties" tour, which is aimed at raising awareness and money for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and its legal fight against the expansion of tar sands development near its community. But to our government, it seems that these people are just in the way and, as such, expendable. Much as First Nations have always been to the Canadian state. Treating people as expendable: sounds pretty extreme to me.

 The Prime Minister’s office responded to Neil Young’s comments about the tar sands by pointing out that everyone, including rock stars, use oil. Uh….yes. So? People use lots of things, but we generally accept that there are ethical limits on what we can do to get hold of the things we use. Except, for this government, when it comes to oil.

 In fact, this government sounds like a desperate addict. It’s telling us that since we need oil now, any attempt to reduce our dependence on it is a waste of a time; it is mere utopian dreaming. On the contrary, we must ramp up our economic dependence on oil now before it's too late! In fact, we (including you, you pampered left-wing-cultural elite rock stars!) need oil so badly that we must stop at nothing to get our fix!

Perhaps this is why the response of our government and many media commentators to Neil Young’s comments has been so hysterical, resorting to ad hominem attacks and name-calling. But although insults are hurtful, character assassination is not the worst thing a government prepared to stop at nothing in pursuit of its objectives can do to its enemies. That’s why I laugh derisively when I see supporters of Harper’s government talk about how they’re against Big Government’s interference in the lives of people. Oh yeah? Tell me that when the government starts using Eminent Domain to force pipelines through people’s property, and when they sic the riot cops on any protesters that stand in their way! And then tell me who the real extremists are in this conflict.

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