Oil industry lobbyists in Canada have taken the country by the reins. At least, that's the implication of the Polaris Institute's new report released today. The report, “Big Oil's Oily Grasp - The Making of Canada as a Petro-State and How Oil Money is Corrupting Canadian Politics,” (pdf) documents 2,733 meetings held between the oil industry and federal government officials since 2008. That figure outstrips meetings with environmental organizations by a whopping 463 percent.
“Canada's increasing dependence on the export of bitumen to the United States has, in effect, served to redefine this nation in the form of a petro-state,” the report opens. Lobbying activities in Ottawa may help explain why “the Canadian government has increasingly watered down or withdrawn its role and responsibilities to regulate the economic, environmental and social impacts of the tar sands industry.”
The report highlights the spike in lobbying activities - of six major Big Oil players including Enbridge and TransCanada - in the period between September 2011 and September 2012, right when the industry-friendly omnibus budget Bill C-38 made its infamous debut. In that same period of time, the federal government met once with Greenpeace.
Since 2008, oil and gas industry groups held meetings with officials 367 percent more than the two major automotive associations in Canada, and 78 percent more than the top two mining associations.
“The amount of face time the oil industry gets in Ottawa in personal meetings and other correspondence greatly exceeds the time afforded other major industries in Canada,” says the report's co-author Daniel Cayley-Daoust
. “No one doubts the hold the oil industry has on this current government, but it is important Canadians are aware that such a high rater of lobbying to federal ministers has strong policy implications.”