Whew! What a breathtaking week.
It all began with our glorious leader’s cringe-inspiring response to an under-employed oil worker who should “hang in there” – apparently for eternity while the PM steadfastly refuses to indicate that are any conditions possible under which he would approve a pipeline – Energy East – that would run through Montreal.
Nevermind that there has been a pipeline running through Montreal for close to 75 years – that being the Portland-Montreal pipeline that in a good year has carried close to 100 million barrels of foreign (Saudi, Venezuelan, who knows?) oil under the St. Lawrence river.
This probably comes as a surprise to most media such as Le Devoir’s Marie Vastel who regularly wonder – unchallenged by the likes of Rosie Barton – on political talk shows whether enough is known about pipelines, their safety, the threat of spills and whether they can be cleaned up. Hmmmm.
So, we dug around a little and here’s what your journalists – yes, yes, the same folks who have been whining all month about their craft’s demise and how it is vital to democracy, blah, blah, blah – aren’t filling you in on.
The Portland-Montreal pipeline is in trouble because the Energy East project involves carrying Canadian crude from West to East which means no one in Eastern Canada would have to buy oil from people who regularly conduct mass beheadings. A couple of years back, there was a proposal to actually reverse Portland-Montreal, which would have made it possible to not only get Canadian crude to Montreal, it could also then get loaded on tankers in Portland. But in a delightful confluence of the economic interests of the pipeline’s Montreal and Portland owners and the eco-kook lobby, civic leaders in Portland said no to “dirty” oil. This, as we all know, is because it is morally superior to buy oil from medieval kingdoms, west African dictators, South American tyrants, and various other mullahs than it is from fellow Canadians.
And as far as Albertans are concerned, as Ian Robinson – a good Timmins kid – points out: we don’t like them.
Anyway, we don’t think the eco-kook lobby’s biggest concern is that oilsands crude is so “dirty” – what with it being responsible for 0.15% of global emissions and all. No, it’s because there is a lot of it. And so long as there is a lot of oil, its price will remain low and people will still be able to heat their homes, drive their cars, etc at affordable prices – thus delaying the orgasmic day when “green” alternatives are economically affordable and the new Utopia arrives. (the parallels to the Social Gospel movement are unmistakable).
Anyway, the next time one of those journalists/saviours of democracy blathers on like some upper class twit about Quebec not knowing whether oil pipelines are safe, ask them how the, er, blazes they can not know – they’ve had one for 75 years.
#PMJT continues to insist the reason he can’t be sure whether Energy East’s $9 billion infrastructure proposal and its liberating influence on Canada’s largest industry – energy – is because Stephen Harper “politicized” the National Energy Board process.
If this is true, it is an extremely serious charge. What is pretty much just as serious is that you can read, or watch, or listen to just about any report on this accusation without finding the slightest shred of evidence that even one of those doing the reporting asked the fundamental follow up question – how? Like, “Mr. Prime Minister, you just said that your predecessor of violating the rule of law by interfering with the workings of an independent, quasi-judicial administrative/regulatory agency. Exactly how did he do that?”
Nope. No one asked. Not one. We suppose we are expected to accept as the nation’s journalistic elite does, that just because someone says something, it is true. If it is, someone should call the cops about the former prime minister. If it’s not true, the current prime minister is telling lies. But we, the mere public in whose interest these noble guardians of the truth serve, apparently don’t have the “right to know.”
Staying on energy, we were all moved by the government’s speedy response to the economic crisis in the West, weren’t we? Sure you were. How can you resist those doe-eyed glances of sincerity, flanked as they are by Gallic locks and exposed, manly forearms? Come on.
First, it was announced next to his new pal “Rachel” that $700 million in routine infrastructure funding earmarked by the previous government for Alberta would be “fast-tracked.” We don’t know the details regarding over how many years this money was originally intended to be spent (mostly because, again, no one in our media apparently thought to ask) versus how it will now be spent. So, let’s assume it was intended to be spent over 5 years at $140 million annually and now will be spent instead over two years at $350 million annually. Here’s the problem: after two years, it’s all gone. What happens then?
We assume this what the PM – who some are saying is revealing an increasing resemblance to a younger Chauncey Gardiner – means when he talks about Canadians “Being There” for each other.
Then, it was announced with much fanfare that Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Alberta could apply for some short-term assistance that they already were completely legally entitled to apply for that in the case of Alberta amounts to $250 million.
Gosh and golly in Alberta that’s almost a whole $1 billion worth of “assistance” that the province was going to get sooner or later but will now get more of sooner and, near as we can tell, less of later. Impressive.
To be fair – and to relieve our incessant berating of the journos – the announcements were greeted with skepticism by most Alberta-based commentators (none of whom, we note, are ever asked to participate in CBC panels filled with people who live and work in Ontario/Quebec but apparently are, like Hollywood actors, experts on everything).
Most notable among this is the quite reliable Rick Bell who pointed out that $1 billion amounts to $60 per Albertan as compared to the $1,130 each and every Quebecois et Quebecoise gets every year in transfer payments, most of which come from Alberta.
In case you were wondering, as we were, the total amount Alberta has contributed to Confederation – the difference between what it sent in and what got sent back – between 1960 and 2002 at least – was $244 billion.
Following the predispositions of the nation’s national media, we are too lazy today to find out how much more was added to that total in the ensuing 13 years, but we did find this government document that shows that in 2011 alone, Alberta’s net contribution to “Confederation” was just under $16 billion.
You do the math. We are searching for amber fluids.