Those ceaseless Conservative attack ads are slowly driving me mad. Not just because of Iggy’s annoying twang, either. It’s the fact that there is a simple, two word answer to the accusations in those ads that nobody seems to have the courage to speak aloud:
Yes, that’s the elephant in the room here. You can talk all you like about biofuels and banning incandescent light bulbs, but there's just no getting around it. The dramatic increase in Canada’s greenhouse emissions over the past few years is due almost exclusively to Alberta’s massive oil sands projects. We’re talking 70-100 kilos of greenhouse gases emitted for every barrel of oil that gets processed. They’re producing well over a million barrels a day. Do the math.
And that’s not even counting what gets spewed out when the oil itself gets burned. Or the pollution of the water table. Or the utter failure of land reclamation efforts.
The Pembina Group presented a study to a Commons committee last week showing that for an extra dollar a barrel, oil companies could drastically reduce their emissions from the processing of the oil sands. Given that the price of oil can fluctuate by several dollars in the course of an afternoon, this sounds like a no-brainer. Right?
Of course not. Oil company reps claim that it would cost too much to make changes to their processing facilities to make them more efficient, and that (more importantly), forcing them to do so would scare off investors. Because really, it’s all about the investors.
I can understand why the Conservatives wouldn’t want to mention any of this in their desperate efforts to appear greener-than-thou. After all, this is Alberta we’re talking about - land of the free and home of their electoral base. But where are the Liberals? Hell, where are the NDP?! Why aren’t they shouting from the rooftops?
Could it be that they hold out hope for an extra seat or two in Alberta come the next election? Are they trying to buy the hearts and minds of western Canadians just as the Tories did in Quebec? Or are they just afraid of being accused of trying to Destroy Alberta’s Economy. After all, that’s the secret Liberal agenda, right? Destroy their economy, steal all their money and turn them all into socialist tree-hugging gun-hating homosexuals.
The fact is, the Liberals could lose every single vote in Alberta and it would make not one whit of difference. Every single seat there is a solid Tory blue and likely to stay that way for a very long time. However, if they could find some way to present rational emission solutions to the people of Alberta without getting themselves tackled by right-wing radio hosts, they might find they have little to fear. Polls show that most Albertans are deeply concerned over the environmental impact of the oil sands and are anxious to find solutions. Fancy that.
Unfortunately, standing up and speaking the truth on these issues in anything above an embarrassed whisper would take something the Liberals haven’t shown much of lately.
I know, it’s a lot easier to work themselves into a outraged froth over a little bronze statue of Lester B. Pearson. Now if they could just work up some of that passion over an issue that actually MATTERS, we might get somewhere.
It may or may not win them votes, but it would certainly earn them some respect. Even in Alberta.