Oil is overrated


Open letter to Yukon Senator Daniel Lang:

I read your piece in Wednesday’s Yukon News, and I still cannot get over how you only refer to the environment once and in such a way as if it is merely an impediment to building those delightful, safe pipelines.

You know something? They can leak. (You only refer to Enbridge as the supplier of a much needed Line 9 travelling through prime agricultural land in Ontario – despite the fact that the Kalamazoo River is not yet clear of oil despite hundreds of millions of dollars of cleanup.)

So the benefit of all this, is transforming Canada into the oil superpower that will give us all access to a higher standard of living – based on what measure? Greater access to bigger wide-screen TVs?

In my world, a good standard of living relates to having clean air, fresh water and the hope of a good future for my children even unto seven generations, as the Bible says, as well as being able to drive my car into town, and occasional treats such as trips. I admit that I am no survivalist.

You accompany your remarks with threats of withdrawing social services if our oil and gas resources are not developed. That is false dichotomy, as there is lots of information out there that indicates that there will be plenty of jobs if we invest in renewable resources and keep the economy diversified rather than running after developing oil and gas where the jobs are likely to be short term and with tremendous environmental consequences.

You also speak of the need for labour mobility. With the Conservative government allowing in all these temporary foreign workers and foreign, especially Chinese, oil companies with appalling human rights and environmental records, with crappy revenue arrangements for our governments, on what basis do you feel able to promise well-paying jobs and significant revenue to local people anyway? We sure ain’t Norway in terms of royalty regimes or protection.

It would have been nice to believe that our representatives could be on the side of safeguarding Canada’s environment, as it seems obvious that is more important in the long-term than some short-lived extra money for the few, with a huge long-term consequences for our already beleaguered planet.

Pitting the environment against the economy is actually bad business. Since I assume that you are among the few who actually benefit from the bad business, I look forward to the day when it becomes bad enough politics that even people like you do something different.

I too hope for a secure future for Canada. So I send my prayers that you can take on board the reality of the situation we are dealing with, rather than fall for your own party or industry spins that leave out many very important facts. We need evidence-based decision making for Canadians, not narratives of the Conservative party’s desire to manifest wealth for its buddies.

Susan Gwynne-Timothy

Marsh Lake