Canada

Tue, 2012-01-17 20:50Richard Littlemore
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The Enbridge Board: A foreign Special Interest Group

Update: Mea Culpa Below

If Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is looking for ideologues and “foreign special interest groups” who are trying to interfere with the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline hearings, he need look no farther than the Board of Directors of pipeline proponent Enbridge Inc.

Oliver got his lapels all flecked with foam last week over pipeline criticism from Canadian environmental groups such as the David Suzuki Foundation or the Pembina Institute, organizations which, in a good year, might get almost 10 per cent of their funding from U.S. sources. These, he said, were clearly “radical groups” that were “driven by an ideological imperative” - and they were meddling inappropriately in Canadian affairs.

But according to a secret source (okay: it's the company website), Enbridge Chair David Arledge and six of the 12 Enbridge directors are (everyone get ready to gasp in unison): AMERICANS!

Sun, 2012-01-15 10:48Evan Leeson
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Ethical Oil, the Sub-Prime Mortgage Scandal and The Next Great Generation

We are living in difficult times. The ongoing economic crisis started by the 2008 Sub-Prime Mortgage Scandal has all of us thinking about our future. We are vulnerable to unethical appeals to our anxiety in the form of quick fixes and easy profits. The promise of “Ethical Oil” is the worst of these appeals. We have to resist. Even more, we have to take decisive actions that the current leadership will not. To quote a famous man, we have an ordeal before us of the most grievous kind and we need a new generation of leadership to tackle it. We need the next Great Generation.

In 2008, world financial markets collapsed in dramatic fashion due to unethical investment practices, particularly in the previous five years. Toxic subprime mortgages had been injected like a virus into securities like Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). Investment banks around the world were in on this scam and kept pushing it far beyond the point where it was obvious something had to give. Last year, the U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded:

“the crisis was avoidable and was caused by: Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages; Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance including too many financial firms acting recklessly and taking on too much risk; An explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis; Key policy makers ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.“

Fri, 2012-01-13 10:32Emma Pullman
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Cozy Ties: Astroturf 'Ethical Oil' and Conservative Alliance to Promote Tar Sands Expansion

As the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project Joint Review Panel begins hearing over 4,000 comments submitted by community members, First Nations, governments, and environmental groups, the tar sands front group EthicalOil.org has launched its latest PR offensive in support of the pipeline. OurDecision.ca, the new astroturf ad campaign, is another dirty PR attempt to undermine the real and growing grassroots opposition to Big Oil’s plans to ram through this destructive pipeline. 

The controversial Northern Gateway project is opposed by 70 First Nations and a majority of British Columbians, who fear the inevitable oil spills that will accompany tar sands expansion, and in particular the threat of offshore tanker accidents on BC’s coast.

Viewers of Ethical Oil’s disingenuous new ad campaign aren’t being told about the intricate web of industry influence peddlers behind the effort and their connections to the Harper government and oil interests. In the middle of this web is Hamish Marshall, a Conservative strategist deeply connected to oil interests as well as both the Conservatives and ultra-right wing Wildrose Alliance Party. In this case, the lines between politics and big business interests are so blurred, it is nearly impossible to distinguish them.

Thu, 2011-10-27 06:55Emma Pullman
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Why Ethical Oil's Deceptive 'Women's Rights' Defense of Tar Sands is Insulting and Wrong

EthicalOil.org’s new spokesperson, Kathryn Marshall, authored an insulting piece this week on the Huffington Post titled “Care About Women's Rights? Support Ethical Oil”. Marshall’s piece is a response to the October 11 article by Maryam Adrangi at It’s Getting Hot In Here.  Adrangi argues that the underlying motive of the “ethical oil” campaign is to deflect negative attention from the tar sands, not to actually engage in a conversation about women’s liberation.

If women’s rights were of genuine concern to EthicalOil.org” writes Adrangi, “then there would be a conversation about the impacts that tar sands extraction has on women”.

You’ll notice that Marshall’s attempted rebuttal fails to actually address the substantive criticisms made in Adrangi’s piece - Marshall never mentions the impacts of Alberta’s tar sands development on women, but instead repeats the same arguments and general hand-waving that sparked Adrangi’s criticism of EthicalOil.org's conservative pundits in the first place.

Marshall’s promotion of tar sands oil is framed around a central argument that if we care about women’s rights then we must support tar sands expansion, and by extension the Keystone XL pipeline, because Canadian women fare far better than women in petrocracies, such as Saudi Arabia.  But Marshall’s argument doesn’t hold up to scrutiny for three major reasons.

Fri, 2011-10-14 08:49Emma Pullman
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Canadian Corporation Behind Efforts to Shut Down Occupy Wall Street Has Ties to Big Oil

Occupy Wall Street is about challenging the power of the richest 1%. But what happens when that 1% owns the land of the occupation? It has been revealed that a Canadian company was behind efforts to shut down the birthplace of the movement, Zuccotti Park. 

Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD notified Occupy Wall Street participants about plans to “clean the park”— the site of the occupation—starting this morning at 7am. “Cleaning” has been repeatedly as a pretense to shut down peaceful occupations. It was used to evict protesters from the Wisconsin state house. It was used by Bloomberg himself to shut down a peaceable demonstration against budget cuts. The “cleaning” was essentially a ploy to evict protesters, but in a remarkable turn of events, the company backed down from threats to evict the park.

The attempted eviction comes hours before a global day of solidarity actions. The movement is taking the world by storm with a message that resonates powerfully with the millions of regular people: growing economic inequality is corrupting our democracies and making most people’s lives worse. 

So, who is behind the eviction threats? Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian company, owns Zuccotti Park and the adjacent office building, One Liberty Plaza. The company has an agreement with the city that the park will be open to public use. 

Tue, 2011-09-20 14:23Emma Pullman
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Saudi Arabia and Ethical Oil Group Go Head to Head Over Ads

The controversial Ethical Oil adswhich enjoyed an exclusive run on the Oprah Winfrey Network at the end of August, have earned a new enemy: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The tar sands industry ad campaign, which criticizes our reliance on oil imports from Saudi Arabia due to its poor human rights record, tells viewers that choosing between women’s rights and tar sands expansion is “a choice we must make”. 

The ads argue instead that intensifying tar sands production will actually help liberate women from oppressive petrocracies like Saudi Arabia. They also imply that we must support the controversial Keystone XL pipeline because it will decrease our reliance on “conflict oil”. 

According to the ads, “We bankrolled a state that doesn’t allow women to drive, doesn't allow them to leave their homes or work without their male guardian’s permission and a state where a woman’s testimony only accounts for half of a man’s”. 

A female voice pleads to the viewer, “Why are we paying their bills and funding their oppression?”

The ad has angered Saudi Arabia, who in response sent a cease and desist letter to Telecaster Services from the Television Bureau of Canada, demanding approval for the ads be withdrawn. 

Tue, 2011-09-13 20:16Richard Littlemore
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Talisman funded Friends of Science skeptic film

Calgary oil company Talisman Energy has been outed as the major funder behind a Friends of Science video series that falsely tried to claim legitimacy by tacking a University of Calgary logo on its opening credits.

Postmedia reporter Mike De Souza has an excellent article in the Calgary Herald, exposing Talisman as the largest donor in a complicated campaign to sluice cash through the Calgary Foundation and the University of Calgary to finance phony “education” projects. The University has long since distanced itself from the Friends of Science, although it never disciplined Prof. Barry Cooper, the political scientist, climate change skeptic and Calgary Herald columnist who set up the fake U of C Education Fund to launder oil money that was being used to finance climate denial films, radio ads, political advocacy and public campaigns.

But even after exposing all of its own dirty laundry in an audit, the University continued to protect the funders, keeping donors such as Talisman out of their reports. De Souza, to his credit, finally wedged the name loose in a Freedom of Information request.

Wed, 2011-09-07 07:15Emma Pullman
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Open Letter to Oprah Winfrey on 'Ethical Oil' Ads

Dear Oprah,

I just don't know where to begin. 

I can't find my words because I respect you so much. You're a woman pioneer who has done much to advance the status of women globally. You've donated millions of dollars to various organizations, and have used your talk show to raise the profile of women's issues. Your philanthropy has funded projects like The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, and Women for Women International. You've also used your celebrity to raise awareness of environmental causes, notably the efforts to rebuild the Gulf. 

That's why I'm so stumped right now by your choice to feature ads from EthicalOil.org on your television network. 

I'm all about the work that you do, but the logic of promoting tar sands oil by appealing to our desire for women's liberation, our desire to help protect women in despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia, is deeply flawed and misguided. 

Fri, 2011-08-19 11:45Jim Hoggan
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Thich Nhat Hanh and David Suzuki on How Individual Frame of Mind Has Everything To Do With Saving the Planet

Getting people to believe that they really can make a difference in the struggle to the save the planet from human folly can be just as important as encouraging them to take action, according to one of the world’s leading Buddhist scholars.

In Vancouver for a week of teaching and lectures, Buddhist monk, poet, peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh, sat down with David Suzuki and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson for an hour-long conversation on what it’s going to take to bring about the change in human behavior that is needed to put the world on a path that will ensure a healthy planet for future generations.

Faced with the question “What gives you hope that we can bring about the collective awakening needed to restore health to the planet? the three discussed a range of issues and ideas centred on actions that can make a real difference.

Their conversation, based on the premise that it is well known that humans are harming the earth, destroying its ecosystems and disrupting the climate, focused on the path forward to a more sustainable way of living.

Thich Nhat Hanh warned against the danger of people becoming overwhelmed by a feeling that the challenges are too big to overcome and therefore doing nothing to address them. Individuals need to know that they can make a difference if they remain hopeful and develop their inner strength.

Two short segments from the conversation are available here.

Thu, 2011-08-18 05:37TJ Scolnick
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Shale Gas Outrage Rally And Freedom From Fracking Conference In Philadelphia

On Wednesday, September 7th, opponents of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and unconventional gas exploitation are invited to come to Philadelphia for the Shale Gas Outrage rally. The next day, all are welcome at the Freedom From Fracking: Building Strategies Together conference.

Protecting Our Waters is spearheading the events, and is partnering with another 43 groups from inside and outside of Pennsylvania. Like the Day of FRACtion in New Brusnwick, the Pennsylvania protest intends to send a direct message to industry and government that many citizens are worried and do not want more drilling.

Appearing at the event will be:

Josh Fox, Director of the Oscar-nominated “Gasland;” Al Appleton, internationally respected water systems expert;  impacted families from “shale country”;organizers fighting for the life of the Delaware River watershed, the commonwealth, the Marcellus Shale region, and the nation; and elected officials who have championed the cause of clean water, clean air, and human health.

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