Canada does not - as yet - export much tar sands oil to Europe. So why, you might ask, have the Canadian and Alberta governments been working overtime using tax dollars to fund a massive misinformation and lobbying campaign on the other side of the Atlantic?
There’s a clue in this press release from January announcing Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert’s $40,000 lobbying jaunts to the US and Europe: “The European Union is not currently a major market for Alberta’s oil sands products, but any legislation or tariffs adopted by the union’s government can serve as a model for individual nations around the world. We want to continue to share our story with the legislators so they have the facts about our clean energy strategies”
(I’ll let the “clean energy strategies” rubbish slide for now.)
It’s not about protecting existing markets. At the moment the vast majority of exported tar sands oil goes to the US. For the most part, it’s not even about securing a regulatory environment in Europe that protects future potential markets (although that is no doubt a contributing factor). I’ll tell you why the Canadian and Albertan governments are so worried that they’ve been applying pressure on European legislators to a degree at least one EU parliamentarian has declared “unacceptable”.
Suncor President and CEO Rick George - who is also on the Board of Directors of the Gulf-spilling service company, Transocean - seems to have spent Tuesday stumbling over his own tongue. First, he annoyed Alberta Deputy Premier Doug Horner by supporting a carbon tax that is applied evenly across the country.
That, Horner groused, amounts to a national energy policy, the likes of which no Alberta politician will ever tolerate.
Then, at the same event (an Air and Waste Management conference in Calgary), the Suncor boss both prodded the oil and gas industry to do more research - and then rose incredibly to defend the industry’s current, pathetic R&D record.
Gordon Lambert, Senior Vice President for sustainable development at Suncor, one of Canada's largest oil producers, told a House of Commons committee yesterday that Kyoto targets will not affect their business.
Lambert stated: “We don't predict job losses or impact on the economy (because) of meeting Kyoto. We're focussed on what we can do as a company about the problem.”
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.