This week saw our federal, provincial and territorial energy ministers, minus
Ontario, trot out a joint
communique describing the tarsands as “sustainable and responsible”, even as
the Cons were simultaneously slashing the federal Canadian
Environmental Assessment Agency budget
by 43% and its staff by 33%. This was a follow-up to last year’s gutting of the agency’s authority to
carry out environmental assessments at all, buried within the massive Bill C9 budget, by giving the Enviro Minister the power to curb their scope and to exempt any federally-funded projects.
Environment Minister Peter Kent hopes a comprehensive new plan for
monitoring the impact of the Alberta oilsands will boost the damaged reputation
of the industry abroad.
“It will provide the facts and the science to defend the product
which some abroad are threatening to boycott.”
“There is already a great deal of disinformation and misinformation
both within Canada and abroad and we’re seeing it being used in a variety of
ways — sometimes for a variety of purposes — to discriminate against the product
of a great Canadian natural resource.”
Kent said he hoped the monitoring program would help alleviate
concerns in Washington and speed up the approvals
Presumably Kent means speeding up the KeystoneXL
pipeline.approvals process in Washington but gosh, he sure is pretty
darn certain his new objective scientific monitoring plan is going to present
the tarsands in a good light, isn’t he?
And say, was it only a year ago
that the Standing Committee on Environment review (6 Cons, 3 Libs, 2 Bloc, 1
NDP) considered the scientific testimony presented to its investigation of the tarsands
to be so volatile and divisive that the committee held its last seven meetings
behind closed doors before opting to scuttle
its own investigation and destroy all copies of its final draft
Maybe Kent’s world class environmental monitoring plan could
start by looking into whatever scared the crap out of them.