Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is the QUEEN selling the oil sands?

Who and what is a Governor General? He or she is the representative of the Queen. The role and responsibilities cover constitutional responsibilities, he or she is the Commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces, he or she represents Canada, encourages excellence, brings Canadians together and grants armorial bearings. All of this is clearly described on the Governor General's own website. The Governor General is not a cheap salesman hawking a product! Governor General David Johnston became just that on Monday November 28th 2011. He joined the ranks of Ezra Levant to sell the oil sands for PM Harper. As the representative of the Queen he has overstepped the boundaries of his authority and has to be removed from his position. Unless it is the Queen herself who wishes to publicly state that she, her Royal Highness approves of the Alberta oil sands, its production and sale. For in fact Governor General David Johnston has done exactly that.

I now quote from Derek Abma of the National Post, (November 28, 2011): “Governor General David Johnston waded into Canada's oil sands debate Monday, praising the industry as a “Great Canadian development.” According to Derek Abma of the National Post, Governor General David Johnston brought up the issue of the oil sands in a question-and-answer session after his formal speech. I have read the formal speech as presented by the Governor General and in it he avoided all questions or points regarding the oil sands. In bringing up these points after his formal speech he overstepped his authority beyond any acceptable level. Quoting again from Derek Alba of the National Post, Governor General David Johnston said, I know there's a controversy about the oil sands, but that's a great Canadian development, those are resources that were of no use to anyone {until} Samuel Hearne discovered them.” Agent Orange was thought to be a pesticide. Nuclear fusion and nuclear research thought to be beneficial till it devastated Japan and brought the world to the brink of mass destruction. We as human beings strive to explore, to discover it is our nature, yet hope in our maturity to know better is the only safeguard.

Governor General David Johnston has a position of power in the public's eye. He represents the Queen and all her powers with authority to dissolve the government of a sovereign country. He went on to say (again quoting from Derek Abma of the National Post's story) The challenge is for us to mine {the oil sands} in improved, increasingly economically sustainable ways.” There lies the very essence of the whole issue of the oil sands. It is not the environment, the future of our planet or that of our children and grandchildren, Canadian, British, Chinese and alike, it is pure economics. We simply live in a world where greed and a lust for power is overwhelming.

Regardless whether one accepts the reasoning behind the basic need of power and greed it is still difficult to fully understand the motivation behind Governor General David Johnston's public support and selling of the oil sands. As per the Governor General's web page: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of Canada and Head of State. The Governor General is the representative of the Queen of Canada.” Governor General Johnston has in fact given the very public approval and support of the Queen for the oil sands. How was this possible, or why? Further research provides an alarming answer.

Governor General David Johnston overstepped his very public position and authority as the representative of the Queen. There is no question that he should be removed from his post by the Queen. To answer why he had done this is an alarming realization just how those in power see us all as pawns even acceptable collateral damage.

I quote Johnston's predecessor Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, in a letter I received from Rideau Hall, with full lion's crest. These were the words I read: “As you know, the role of the Governor General in Canada's parliamentary democracy is strictly non-partisan.” Governor General Johnston has shown the hypocrisy and the lies behind those words. Using the weight of his position and his title he sold to the world the oil sands. WHY?

The world is joining in a voice that is alarming to Prime Minister Harper. He is sitting on a monstrous pile of wealth, and through wealth, power. It is detrimental to all, in its extraction and as a refined product. Not only environmentalists, but government officials, Nobel recipients, scientists and ordinary people are joining together to tell Canada that our oil sands are a danger in the end to us all. Yet PM Harper has a partner, becoming less silent through such acts as of the Governor General.

A recent headline in the London Guardian reads: “UK secretly helping Canada push its 'dirty oil' fuel,” (November 27,2011). In this UK Guardian story information is revealed how British top officials promised to help Canada to overturn the European Union's move to label the oil sands as a 'dirty' product or a high-pollution product. Whilst the British Prime Minister David Cameron “campaigned on a pledge to provide the greenest government ever” (from The Globe & Mail by Doug Saunders, November 28,2011).

British Petroleum, or BP on its own official website has this to offer. “BP is involved in three oil sands projects, all of which are located in the province of Alberta. Development of the Sunrise Energy Project, our joint venture with Husky Energy, is under way, with production expected to start in 2014. The other two proposed projects, Pike and Terre de Grace, are being appraised for development.” Who can forget that BP was responsible for the worst oil leak in US history, destroying not only the environment in the southern United States but putting innocent lives and livelihood at risk. As the facts slowly emerged surrounding that disaster one point was clear, cost cutting to increase profit was the major concern for BP.

As you read this official web page by BP, British Petroleum a frightening realization comes tingling down the spine from these words under the heading 'Commercial viability of oil sands projects.' “BP requires oil sands projects, like all its investments, to be commercially viable over the life of the project. In gauging this, we factor in BP's view on carbon pricing and carbon regulation evolution; economic forecasts, such as fluctuations in the oil price; and potential policy changes, such as national legislation intended to address climate change.” What can be more frightening than the realization that these words bring. Now put all the pieces of the puzzle together that have occurred slowly.

On September 19th 2011 Environment Minister Peter Kent states that Ottawa will not bring out new rules for greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands this year. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests in Britain by The Cooperative and Friends of the Earth Europe and Greenpeace reveal high-level government officials from both the UK and Canada meeting with senior oil industry executives. Although many of these documents are heavily censored with page size black blocks, e-grams sent between high ranking British government representatives show intense lobbying by the British to bring about a compromise to the European Union Commission. The European Commission has recommended oil sands derived fuel be given a greenhouse gas rating of 107 grams per mega joule, 22% higher than the 87.5 grams rating given to fuel from conventional crude oil. Canada and its officials had been caught off guard by the EU Commission and had no real strategy to deal with this. Briefing notes on meetings held by British Foreign Secretary, British Foreign Offices America's director with Canadian officials leave no doubt how Canada was unprepared to handle the EU Commission and the FQD (Fuel Quality Directive). In one such note between the British Foreign Secretary and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird it says: “Canada was surprised by the rapid timetable for the Commission's FQD proposal but welcomed {the UK's} approach.” (from Jason Fekete, Postmedia News, November 28,2011).

Environment Minister Kent went on to say, “We're doing all this with a sensitivity not to strand capital, threaten jobs or impact consumer pricing” (National Post, September 19,2011). At home Harper and Kent used Levant's 'Ethical Oil' to sell its dirty oil. Though much of that has faltered. Levant and Ethical Oil rely on attack without any facts or evidence. Canada cannot afford a loud vocal opposition to the oil sands as dirty oil. Nor can it really afford the Kyoto Protocol to survive.

Canada has been caught flat-footed by the EU and has 'mama' Britain quietly helping. The British have a huge stake in the Alberta oil sands with both BP (British Petroleum) and Shell expanding their already huge investments. Yet the embarrassing truth is oozing out with documents showing how every attempt has been made by British government representatives to stall the EU and the FQD (Fuel Quality Directive) decision. As posted by The Guardian's Damian Carrington, a portion of a letter sent to The Guardian by LIBDEM minister responsible for the UK's transport fuel's policy Norman Baker, tries to defend the help the British have given Canada and the oil sands. Damian Carrington calls this letter “laughable.

Norman Baker's letter states this: To be clear, we are not delaying action in any way, but we are seeking an effective solution to address the carbon emissions from all highly polluting crudes, not simply those from one particular country.” The EU proposals do not target any one particular country, and the UK compromise to put crude into three bands of emissions: high, medium and low, is designed to stall the decision by the EU. Yet in a copy of an email (obtained through the Freedom of Information by UK environmental agencies and Greenpeace) dated September 27th 2011, between Deputy High Commissioner Corin Robertson and Assistant Deputy Minister at the Department of For Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAIT), Subject: Fuel Quality Directive, it states: “...we are now reaching out to EU member states through our diplomatic missions to explain the UK's position on the FQD.” Most importantly where Norman Baker claimed, “we are not delaying action in any way” in his letter to The Guardian in late November, this followed in the email. “We are acknowledging that devising an effective and practical system will be challenging, especially one that will avoid resulting in extra costs for industry and consumers. We know that working out how to track crude as it goes through the complex refining and transportation system will be difficult and may take time to get right.” So much for not intentionally delaying action.

Yet as the war for the future of our planet heats up apposing politics and big business a new trend is coming to the surface that is alarming. In the letter by Norman Baker the LIBDEM minister, it is the last paragraph, where he blames environmentalists for the controversy. “I have challenged green NGO's to come up with a solution so we can address the carbon problems of all crude sources as soon as possible. So far I have been met with silence.” Damian Carrington of The Guardian had this response from John Sauveu of Greenpeace, ”together with the majority of European governments, we're enthusiastic supporters of the (existing) European plan to prevent the most polluting fuel from entering our filling stations. So Baker is completely wrong to say we haven't put forward a solution to the problem of tar sands.”

Here in Canada it is Sun Media that has led the attack against environmentalists. First with Ezra Levant and his Ethical Oil. Levant used a mythical creature he named Zoe, a make-believe
individual to ridicule and insult as an environmentalist. Most of what Levant had said has been seen for its real value, hot air, insults instead of fact. Still Alykhan Velshi who ran has been rewarded with a post at the Prime Minister's Office, he will soon become the director of planning. Velshi claimed that the “grassroots” was “100% independent of government and industry.” It is clear how much truth there has been in anything coming from or anyone associated to it.

British Minister Norman Baker accuses environmentalists in his letter to a British newspaper. Lorrie Goldstein Senior Associate Editor of the Toronto Sun goes much further. Goldstein calls environmentalists “dishonest cowards.” He goes on to say that “the green movement has deep roots in anti-western, anti-capitalist, anti-development and anti-growth ideologies...” he continues with, “environmentalists, particularly in Europe, are Marxists, who were put out of business when the Soviet Union collapsed...” Not surprising that Ezra Levant is part of the Sun Media organization.

True there are those who are recognized as environmentalists and who push the boundaries of ethics and credibility with elves, Santa evictions to raise a buck. As there are Sun Medias in the world of journalism, where truth, honesty and ethics may be seriously questioned. But the world is raising its voice to Canada, telling us it's time for honesty and ethics in the real sense. The realities cannot be ignored nor covered up with insults and attacks. Alberta's own Auditor General in his report, “pointed a finger at Suncor Energy Inc. SU-T which has submitted tailings pond emissions estimates that don't include carbon dioxide at all, and are based on old measurements at a pond that no longer exists” (The Globe & Mail by Nathan Vanderklippe and Shawn McCarthy, November 23,2011).

Now it is time to ask is 'dirty really ethical'? Reports coming from Durban South Africa are sounding off alarm bells not only in relation to ethics but of the integrity of a nation. Environment Minister Kent has made enough public statements to the effect that Canada is planning to dump the Kyoto Protocol. His reasons, or at least those given publicly are an insult to intelligence. In an interview with South African High Commissioner Mohau Pheko at the South African High Commission in Ottawa by Mike De Souza (Postmedia News, December 3,2011), Pheko said “she was particularly disturbed by Kent's recent suggestions that he would take a hard line approach against developing nations and challenge founding principles of the existing international climate change agreements that require developed countries to take responsibility for causing the environmental threat over the past 150 years.”

Canada claims that the world's two biggest polluters of carbon China and the US are not taking part in the Kyoto Protocol. South African High Commissioner Mohan Pheko said that her country has been approached by other nations in vulnerable positions that have been lobbied by Canada to leave the treaty. She said: “we must also recall that many of things are linked to aid packages and there's arm twisting.” How does this rate on the ethical scale? What is the reason for Canada to play such a game?

According to Bloomberg, “Canada the country furthest from meeting its commitment to cut carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol may save as much as $6.7 billion by exiting the global change agreement and not paying for offset credits.” Can it be that the consideration of the mighty dollar be a stronger motivator here? Or is it that Canada has a problem on the international stage, its reputation damaged as an environmentally ethical member of the world community. Out of the 191 signatories to the Kyoto Protocol Canada would be the first to annul its emission-reduction obligations. According to Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Toronto, “Canada is the only country in the world saying it won't honour Kyoto.” The reasons for this are becoming more clear than Minister Kent would like. According to the Pembina Institute emissions of carbon from oil sands production has risen to about 6.5% of Canada's total from about 1% in 1990, that figure will likely double by 2020.

So what is the truth here? Rick George chief executive officer of Suncor Energy Inc (SU) said, “Kyoto no longer works, whatever happens with Kyoto won't change our direction.” (Bloomberg, December 4,2011). This is from Canada's largest oil producer, the same Suncor Energy Inc (SU) that the Alberta Auditor General pointed a finger at for submitting pond emissions for a pond that no longer exists, and submitting “tailings pond emissions for a pond that don't include carbon dioxide at all.” It is also the same Suncor Energy Inc (SU) that is responsible for an oil leak at the Commerce City Colorado refinery, potentially putting at risk the South Platte River the source of Denver's drinking water. Suncor Energy faces $130,000 in penalties for more than two dozen health and safety violations at the refinery in Commerce City. Suncor allegedly failed to test monitors properly for hydrogen sulfide, a toxic and flammable gas, and failed to follow safety standards while processing hazardous chemicals, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which issued the citations (National Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Promise November, 30,2011).

According to Josh Mogerman a spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defence Council in relation to the Commerce City refinery spill, “If the leak involves tar sands diluted bitumen, the contamination could be more severe, tar sands diluted bitumen spills are associated with significantly more submerged oil, which cannot be contained by surface booms.”

In response to the objections to the oil sands mining process there has been a change in the process of bringing up the bitumen. Peter Fairley's story in the current issue of MIT's Technology Review talks of “in situ” harvesting. The process pumps superheated steam underground to melt the bitumen in place before sucking out the mixture for processing. This form of deep mining for the bitumen reduces the number of trees brought down and erosion runoff into streams and waterways. Yet Fairley's warning is alarming. “It creates more than twice the production emissions of conventional oil sands mining. Independent experts say that by the time the bitumen is refined and delivered to gas stations across the United States, it has already accounted for two or three times as much greenhouse gas per gallon of fuel as gasoline refined from conventional crude.” That being said combined with the fact that “much of the region has moved to 'in situ' harvesting” (Forbes, Erica Gies, founder of then more light shines on Canada's fear of the EU Commission and the FQD (Fuel Quality Directive) and the Kyoto Protocol.

According to a Peter Fairley blog post “Cenovus Energy has achieved a 15% reduction in energy use per barrel of bitumen with a hybrid extraction method combining butane and steam, and says optimizing the process could cut another 15%. N-Soly is testing a purely solvent-based process, eliminating steam altogether in a bid to slash greenhouse gas emissions per barrel by 80 to 90 percent.”

One should warn Ezra Levant at and PM Harper that this is not really the answer. Butane and propane are extremely volatile and warnings by the US Department of Labour are alarming in relation to our human health impact. When industry uses the term 'solvents' they are quite vague and the results could cause toxicity to the nervous system, reproductive damage, liver, kidney and respiratory damage and cancer. More of a concern is with the potential leaching of these 'solvents' into soil or water supplies and the cost to human safety then. All of this looks good in the press, it shows that the industry is trying to address environmental concerns. Or is it only a public relations exercise that will result in a greater threat.

Canada and its partners, particularly in Britain, know that the voices against the oil sands are becoming louder. Pressure is mounting with the EU and its Fuel Quality Directive, something that Canada can not really afford. According to Greenpeace's Keith Stewart Canada has not implemented a policy to reach its targets, remember Environment Minister Kent delaying GHG (greenhouse gas) rules “with a sensitivity not to strand capital,” so the Kyoto Protocol is a threat. The British are doing all they can to help protect, shelter and promote the oil sands and its billions of dollars. New mining technology such as the 'in situ' harvesting or the testing of a combination of butane and steam or unnamed solvents is more frightening than exciting for the future of our environment.

When Joe Oliver, Canada's Minister for Natural Resources said, “you can turn off your lights and freeze in the dark, the alternative is to use the energy, which of course you are using, everybody is using,” the sheer arrogance of these words should of been both alarming and an awakening. I simply watch my seventy-plus year old neighbour across the road get in his red truck for the fourth time today for his journey to pick up the peeling lottery tickets, and realize how much does rest in our hands.

Joe Oliver went on to say, “If the world doesn't want our oil, it doesn't have to buy our oil.” It is such intelligence that has driven the British to shudder in embarrassment. When Governor General David Johnston made his statements at an official function in his official position praising the oil sands industry as a “great Canadian development,” are they to be taken as the words of Her Majesty the Queen. HE HAD NO RIGHT TO DO SO! Governor General David Johnston said “I know there's a controversy about the oil sands, but that's a great Canadian development.” Those words have put the endorsement of Her Majesty the Queen on the oil sands. Under no circumstances can this be allowed. He must be removed! Governor General Johnston said “I know there is a controversy...” The world is voicing its opposition even though Britain is trying its hardest to promote the oil sands. British Prime Minister Cameron, ministers like Norman Baker and others may also play their secret dirty games behind doors yet the Governor General has no right or authority to do so. Again from the Governor General's own website: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada and Head of State, the Governor General is the representative of the Queen in Canada.”

There is a great deal to examine regarding the oil sands. It is the future of our world, what we leave for our children and our grandchildren. A reality should tingle down Minister Joe Oliver's spine and that is the simple law of supply and demand. If we curb our demand then you simply have to cut the supply. But can we?

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  1. I'm glad I've found you

    I may have something of interest for your "set things according to the Constitution" campaign.

    I thought I was alone

    but, you too are a voice calling in the wilderness of nescience.

    Robert Ede

  2. Good to see someone following up, that I can follow.

  3. I have lately been calling Prime Monster Stephen Harper, Tar-Sand of the Apes. Look at John Baird, for ape-ness.