The Keystone Kops and the Kase for Ethical Oil

I WAS AT the infamous Portage and Main intersection of Winnipeg when I learned yesterday of US President Barack Obama’s disingenuous move to decline the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. Standing in the open air of that corner on a January morning, my only resolve was to get out of the elements and into some environment under the influence of burning fossil fuel. A current project of our species however must be to find alternatives not only to the organic muck, but this other muck of the propagandist in which we are all now thickly coated.

I held my tongue as the pseudo journalist and village idiot Ezra Levant lectured the world about ethical oil. Here I underscore the soundness of his moral arithmetic, so far as he goes. But then did you really need to be told that Saudi Arabia is run by degenerate playboys, and that it is oil revenue which has sustained their backward and abusive regime? Do you need to be told that oil causes wars and — a nice touch, this — having caused them, fuels and profits from them as well? Or that along their entire cycle, from extraction to consumption, fossil fuels bring us (in addition to all the things we want and need) pollution, cancer, and misery. There may after all be something to the curious fact that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob promised to his chosen people the only land in the Middle East with no oil. In any case, I’ve always thought if there is a devil, he’s certain to be in the petroleum business.

Where Levant becomes preposterous is in his promotion of the Tar Sands and the Northern Gateway Pipeline, a manoeuvre that aligns him with Sinopec and the über unethical regime of China. Last year Richard Fadden of CSIS noted the collusion of Canadian politicians at all levels with the hyper corrupt mafia collective which is the CPC, or Communist Party of China. Not without reason, he singled out politicians in British Columbia — locale both of China’s lumber as well as pipeline interests — as particularly co-opted. While the world was watching the Gulf of Mexico spill, even worse disasters were and are occurring in Africa at the hands of China’s oil industry. The point is, the search for ethical oil will get you about as far as the search for an honourable Republican primary candidate. The ethical oil case is mere propaganda, nothing more, and it is worth noting that its foremost advocates have apropos geopolitical objectives in the aforementioned Holy Land.

In other words, Ezra Levant’s mighty concern with ethics does not much extend beyond the Mediterranean littoral and its immediate environs, otherwise and in this context coincidentally known as The Levant. On this partisan ground stands the gratifying project of cutting out the Arab supply and cutting in the Chinese, even if in small measure. A win-win for the Harper Conservatives and their foot soldier recruits like Alykhan Velshi, alike afflicted by ethical tunnel vision. Outed in this business, the Prime Minister has manufactured an incredible diversionary tactic concerning the poor little oil mom and pop shop’s being muscled out of the neighbourhood by deep pocketed tree huggers from afar. This is generally known as the taking of the low road and leaves unanswered the necessary questions about the advisability of the project.

There might in fact be good evidence in support of the Northern Gateway project, but instead we have oddball claims and hot air platitudes about economic growth and development and ethics. The environmental effects, which in at least some instances are certain to fall on the negative side of the account, need more thorough and candid and disinterested study. More needs to be understood of the ethics of exporting abroad not only raw resources but also the domestic production process itself, and in this case to an authoritarian command-and-control economy run by self-enriching world colonizing bullies. Harper shows his contempt of the critics and also of criticism itself. One must infer from this his resolve not only to export something of Canada into China, but to bring a touch of China in as well.

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